What is "Building A House"?

"Building A House" is a blog about my journey back to God. The name comes from Proverbs 24:3-4 (The Message), "It takes wisdom to build a house, and understanding to set it on a firm foundation; it takes knowledge to furnish its rooms with fine furniture and beautiful draperies."

No, this isn't going to be a blog about making my house look pretty - at least not pretty on the OUTSIDE. But, I'm going to be working on getting my house
"pretty" on the SPIRITUAL side. I'm coming back from a pretty dark place in my life after losing 8 babies to miscarriage. This blog is about my journey back
to the Lord.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Psalm 89:29-34

"I'll guarantee his family tree
and underwrite his rule.
If his children refuse to do what I tell them,
if they refuse to walk in the way I show them,
If they spit on the directions I give them
and tear up the rules I post for them - 
I'll rub their faces in the dirt of their rebellion
and make them face the music.
But I'll never throw them out,
never abandon or disown them."
Psalm 89:29-34 (The Message)

What a comforting passage! I know this was written and it was talking about David, but I believe this promise of God to "never abandon or disown them" is also meant for us. If we have accepted Christ and truly believe that he died and rose again for the payment of our sins, then God's love is with us forever. Truly, His love for us is with us even before we accept Christ, but we have to accept his love - through Jesus Christ - in order for us to KNOW his love for us. 

It is my prayer that all those in my life come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I can't force it on anyone, but I can definitely pray for them! And I do, every day. I want my friends and loved ones who don't know the freedom that comes from having a relationship with the Lord to find that freedom. I've talked about God with so many of my friends who aren't Christian and so many of them feel that God is an angry, judgmental God when he isn't! Yes, he gets angry AT sin, but he doesn't hate the sinner! He loves the sinner and his heart aches when we refuse to follow his direction. 

If you're a parent you know what I'm talking about. You love your child no.matter.what. Do you always love their behavior? NO WAY! I can honestly say that when any one of my children blatantly and willfully rebels against us, I hate it. It breaks my heart! I literally ache for the decision that they are making at that moment. Why? Because I know when they willfully choose to rebel, they are choosing to remove themselves from God's grace. I'm still there, waiting for them to turn back to me, but oh, how my heart aches at their disobedience! 

God is the same way. He WILL allow us to "face the music" of our actions,  but will he discard us when we sin? No way! He will be there, waiting with open arms, for us to come back to him. And he will celebrate when we do. Oh, how I wish I could get certain people in my life to understand this! I think their lives would be so much richer and meaningful if they did! So, I continue to pray, trusting that seeds are planted by my words and actions and hoping that they allow the Holy Spirit to water their souls so they can blossom into beautiful children of God!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Proverbs 9:6

" Leave your impoverished confusion and live!
Walk up the street to a life with meaning!" 
Proverbs 9:6 (The Message)

Before I begin, I want to define some of the words in this verse:

Leave:  to go away from; to terminate association with

Impoverish: to deprive of strength, richness, or fertility by depleting or draining of something essential

Confused: disoriented with regard to one's sense of time, place, or identity

Live:  to attain eternal life; to be thoroughly absorbed by or involved with

Walk:  to pursue a course of action or way of life; to be or act in association : continue in union

Street:  an environment 

Life:  the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual

Meaning: significant quality; especially : implication of a hidden or special significance

Significance:  the quality of being important

Do you ever feel jealous of other people? If the person you're feeling jealous of isn't a Christian what do they really have that you need to feel jealous of? Sure, they may have lots of stuff. Their houses may be gorgeous. They may have the best cars, a big boat, or expensive jewelry. But, do they have what's truly important in life - salvation? If not, they deserve our pity, not our desire. 

The verse I chose to use today tells us that we are to terminate association with a life that is deprived of something essential. A life that isn't sure of it's identity. When we don't have Christ in our hearts, our lives are missing something extremely essential - even if our homes are filled with beautiful things. We can't be sure of our own identities because we don't know the One who identifies us. And we're lacking the true strength that we need to even face our lives!

To live isn't just simply to be alive - to be breathing air. In this verse, Lady Wisdom is inviting us to have eternal life and to be thoroughly absorbed with Wisdom. With God. We can have all the beautiful things in the world, but if we don't have God's Wisdom, what good will it do us? We can't take it with us into the next world! It just becomes junk that our children have to deal with once we're gone. (Not to mention how obsessed we can become with the stuff we have - kids want to play in the house? Oh - they better not or they might break the big-screen TV! And we HAVE a big screen TV, so I'm not just picking on people here. I'm speaking of myself as well. I have to remind myself that it's better for my kids to create memories of playing in the house than of constantly being told not to break anything?)

I digress...

God wants us to be absorbed with Him. He wants us to make Him a part of our existent whole. He doesn't just want us on Sunday mornings. Or at our small groups during the week. He wants to be absorbed into us. Do you get that? Do you truly get that? (I know I don't most of the time!) God wants us to pursue a way of life where we are in union with Him. He wants us to have a life of meaning and significance. All the gold in the world won't give us that! And He doesn't just want us to have a life of significance - He wants us to have special significance! He designed us to have a particular purpose. That purpose does not entail racking up the dough or stuffing our garages full of things. His purpose for each one of us is to know Him and then to tell others about Him, hopefully leading them into their own life of significance in Christ. 

Having a nice car, a beautiful house, or the best gadgets doesn't give us significance. Only Christ Jesus can do that. So, if you're a believer of Christ, then know that your life is significant! You have a greater purpose and the relationship you build with Him will give you such immense blessings in Heaven that all this earthly stuff won't even matter. 

Now to get myself to believe that when I see a flashy boat skimming across the water while mine sits broken in our garage...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Psalm 88:13

"I'm standing my ground, God, shouting for help,
at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak."
Psalm 88:13 (The Message)

Wow. This just convicted me in a mighty way! I keep whining about how things are going in my family, but have I really prayed like *this*? No, I haven't. Oh, I've prayed all right! But, not in a very consistent fashion. I'll pray for my family one day, sometimes many times a day, but then I'll miss a few days until I'm left wondering why things feel like they're falling apart. 

I love the picture this brings to my mind. Satan tries to make me give up. He attacks - and he attacks hard! But, I need to stand my ground against him, knowing that God wins in the end. And I can be loud about asking for God's help. I don't have to go sit in my room and whisper my prayer or even just think it in my mind. I can be bold. I can shout. I can scream if I need to. But, I need to be praying! 

So, if you read this and feel led to do so - please hold me accountable. If you hear me venting about things, or you see me being especially whiny, ask me gently, "Have you prayed for your family lately?" Don't get on my case if I haven't or try to shame me, just gently and lovingly remind me to that before I say another word - or type another letter. Thank you! :-)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Psalm 86:15-17

"But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
not easily angered, immense in love,
and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
give your servant the strength to go on,
save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
put me back on my feet."
Psalm 86:15-17 (The Message)

I haven't blogged in awhile. I've been reading God's word, but nothing has really jumped out at me. Tonight, as I was reading Psalms, this passage struck me. 

Things here have been a bit crazy. Ok, so to be honest, I have felt pretty hopeless when it comes to my relationship with one of my children. I am weary. So, very weary. And the question has been coming to mind, "What was God thinking by calling us to this journey?!?!" 

Then, I read this passage and I was reminded, again, that God will NEVER quit on us. He called us to this adoption journey and he won't quit on us. He will give me the strength I need to go on. He will save his dear child - and I'm not thinking of myself when I read that line. God will gently and powerfully put us all back on our feet! 

And knowing this gives me the strength to keep trying despite my wondering why I even bother sometimes. I bother because I know I'm not in this alone. I know God is with me and I know that his immense love - which is indeed, tender and kind, will get us to the finish line. He doesn't just want us to survive the next few years together - he wants our years together to be filled with abundant love. 

So, if he won't quit, neither will I. I'm just so thankful that on the days where I just can't do it anymore, he will place me back on my feet and give me strength. Thank you, Jesus!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Psalm 82:11-13

"But my people didn't listen,
Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, 'Run!
Do it your own way!'

"Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
Israel, will you follow my map?"
Psalm 82:11-14 (The Message)

This is one of the many things I love about God. He doesn't force us to obey him. He gave us "free-will". We can choose to follow his map for our lives or we can choose to go our own way. But, if we make the choice to go our own way, we darn well better not accuse him of wrong-doing if our way falls apart! Which it almost always will.

I went through a pretty dark period in my life where I literally told God to get his hands off of my life and leave me alone. He did. I can picture him now, taking a hands-off approach with such sadness in his eyes - knowing what pain was awaiting me. And boy! Did I go through some pain! My heart became bitter and dark. I wanted to spit when I heard praise music. I wanted to throw my Bible across the room whenever I saw it. I sat in church and went through the motions all the while accusing God of hypocrisy.

Do you see the amazing thing about this particular passage of Scripture? God let the reins go and allowed the Israelites to go their own way. And after they totally messed it all up, did he tell them he was staying away? Did he condemn them to a horrible life for their sin? No! He called them his "dear people" and asked them to follow him again. In fact, when I read this, I almost hear a sense of pleading in his tone. He was pleading with his people to come back to him! In fact, if you keep reading the rest of this Psalm, you'll see God telling the Israelites he'll take care of their enemies and give the Israelites a feast. 

He'll do that with us as well. If you've had enough of trying to live life on your terms, why don't you come back to the One who can make everything right in your life? The weight can be removed from your shoulders and you can have peace. All it takes is confessing your desire to do life on your terms and asking God to take the reins again. He will. And he will celebrate with you upon your return!

2 Kings 1:3

"...Is there no God in Israel? 
Why are you going to Baal-zebub,
the god of Ekron, 
to ask whether he (King Ahaziah) will recover?"
2 Kings 1:3 (NLT)

This verse is being spoken to King Ahaziah after he fell off a balcony in his home. He sent his messengers to consult Baal-Zebub rather than have them consult God. For consulting a false God rather than the One true God, Ahaziah never again left his bed until the day he died. 

What does that have to do with us today? I think it has a lot to do with us! How often do we seek other people's advice before going to the Lord for direction? If you're anything like me - you almost always go to others first. This has convicted me that from now on, I go to God first. 

Does this mean I can never seek the counsel of anyone else? Absolutely not! God can use other people to direct us in his ways, just as he used prophets in Biblical days. I have some very wise people in my life and I know they would lead me down God's path. But, sometimes I rely on those people too much. Sometimes I seek their advice, never seeking God's advice. 

So, for me, I'm going to start taking my questions and concerns to the Lord and if I need further direction, then I will seek out the wisdom of my friends. I need to start to rely on God more. He is truly the only One who will never let me down.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Proverbs 20:6, 9

"Lots of people claim to be loyal and loving,
but where on earth can you find one?...
For who among us can be trusted
to be always diligent and honest?"
Proverbs 20:6, 9 (The Message)

Today I was betrayed by someone I had hoped would never betray me. I'm still a bit shell-shocked by it all, but a dear friend reminded me that the only person who will never betray us or break our trust is God. I have a decision to make and it's not an easy one. Do I continue in a relationship with this person or do I walk away? I simply do not know. 

I was so torn earlier today about this. My mind wouldn't stop racing with questions about what to do. What ifs were all over the place in my head. So, I drove up to the top of a mountain near where we live, found a secluded spot, rolled the windows down and spent some time with the Lord. 

I was listening to some music when I looked down and saw a Bible on the floor of the car. So, I got it out and started reading in Psalms. Then, I remembered that I downloaded a Bible app for my phone, so I got that out and searched for verses about betrayal. I read a few of those. I decided I wanted to sing a bit, so I got out my "Until the End of the World" soundtrack CD and listened to one of my favorite songs, "Calling All Angels" by Jane Siberry a few times, singing along with it without a care in the world because I knew no one was around to hear me. (Ok, maybe my singing is why Bigfoot didn't get me as one of my boys always warns me about him when I go off into the woods alone...) I ended my time with purging all my racing thoughts and hurt to the Lord. 

I felt the Lord telling me to just STOP, be still and LISTEN. So, I did. I sat there listening to the wind gently blow through the leaves until I felt the Lord telling me that it was OK. I didn't have to make any decisions right then. I could simply wait. So, that's what I'm doing. I don't know what the future holds for my relationship with this person. But, I do know that the Lord will never forsake me. My trust is in Him - not in human fallibility. And for tonight - that is enough. I'm simply going to basque in the peace the Lord has filled me with and rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Proverbs 19:8

"Grow a wise heart - you'll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head - you'll find a good life."
Proverbs 19:8 (The Message)

I've blogged about this verse already, but I just needed to write my thoughts about this verse again. I sincerely hope it doesn't sound like I'm tooting my own horn, because what I'm about to say is a gift from God, pure and simple. Trust me - the changes in my are definitely not of my own doing! They are a result of me finally allowing God to have complete and total control over every aspect of my life (at least the majority of the time).

I've been reading the Bible pretty much daily now since January. In that time, I have read Proverbs 3 times and am on my 4th time now. Each time God speaks to me in different ways. I've been trying really hard to apply what I hear God say to me. In doing so, my heart is growing wiser. I have a very, very long ways to go yet, but God is working. My head is clearer - especially when I get frustrated with my husband or my children. I'm keeping my cool more and while I have moments/days where I just feel like I'm at the end of my rope (as I did today), I'm also enjoying a better life than I ever have before. 

I have more self-control. I'm not so quick to lose my temper. And when I do get frustrated, I'm able to be quieter about it - more clear-headed. Am I perfect in this? By no means. But, I'm improving. And isn't that what we hope to do each day in our relationship with Christ? 

I pray the Lord continues to work in my heart. I pray that he continues to work in the relationships I have with my family and friends. I pray that he continues to teach me his wisdom so that my life just gets better and better!

Psalm 79:4-5a, 8b-9, 13

"We're nothing but a joke to our neighbors,
graffiti scrawled on the city walls.
How long do we have to put up with this, God?
...Hurry up and help us; 
we're at the end of our rope.
You're famous for helping; 
God, give us a break...
...Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
will thank you over and over and over.
We'll tell everyone we meet
how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!"
Psalm 79:405a, 8b-9, 13 (The Message)

This is how I feel these days: like a joke to one of our children. This child defies us, mocks us, and challenges us on absolutely everything we say or do. I know a lot of this is the age of this child. But, some of it is also because of the hurts in this child's heart from things in his/her past. Even so, my husband and I are tired. We feel as if we're at the end of our rope. And I'm sure our child feels the same. We all need a break. Including the other children in our home. 

We need God's help. I have been begging for God's help, yet the turmoil persists. Does this mean God isn't working? Absolutely not! God is working, but he's working with fallible human beings who are all stubborn and strong-willed. Who all have pride issues that we're dealing with. Who all have a hard time admitting when they're wrong. But, he's also dealing with human beings who all want life in our home to be different. We all feel like giving up, but due to our stubbornness, I don't think any of us will. 

The key is that we each be willing to allow God to work in our hearts. I can't speak for the rest of my family, but I can speak for myself when I say that I am trusting that God will help us through this. I may say, "I'm done." I may say, "I just want to drive away as fast as I can, as far as I can, and never come back.". But, I could never actually do that because I know God is going to bring healing to my family and I plan to be here to see that happen. 

When it does happen, you can be certain that I will be thanking God over and over and over again and will be telling everyone I meet how wonderful God is!

Proverbs 18:14

"The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,
But who can bear a broken spirit?"
Proverbs 18:14 (NKJV)

I have spent the last 5 years going through one medical issue after another. Miscarriage (after several weeks of bedrest), asthma issues, another miscarriage (after a couple months of bedrest), dislocated knee, torn cartilage in my wrist (which required surgery), depression and mono are just some of the things I've had to deal with. As difficult as it's been to deal with one thing after another, I have maintained a good spirit. I was able to function (except for some rough times after the miscarriages) and do what needed to be done. 

But, give me a broken spirit and just getting out of bed is a battle for me. It feels like a heavy weight is on my chest and my body weighs 500 pounds. Keeping my eyes open is a battle; I find myself falling asleep two, sometimes three times a day. Fixing dinner for my family is a chore I can't even get my brain to wrap around, let alone grocery shopping for them. 

I can't seem to beat this broken spirit. 

But, I know who can. Almighty God. While I may struggle to get daily living things done, there is one thing I can do - and that is to read God's Word. In fact, it's the one thing I truly hunger for these days. Even if I don't feel like I have it in me to open it up, I wind up with it sitting open my desk, bent over reading as much of it as I can, soaking it up and waiting to hear God's voice in what I read.

It's as if I'm sitting in the lap of my Father, his arms wrapped around me and I can finally relax. My body is tense every time I check on it. But, when I'm reading the Word or meditating on his Name, my body relaxes completely. He is a balm to my soul. I cling to these moments throughout the day. When my muscles ache from being so incredibly tense, I open to Psalms and soak up the words of the psalmist. I close my eyes and just rest in the words that I've read. 

I can't bear this broken spirit. But, God can. And he is carrying me through this time and is giving me the strength I need to get through each day. Praise be to God!

New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Psalm 77:11-12

"Once again I'll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts."
Psalm 77:11-12 (The Message)

If you read this entire Psalm, you'll see that Asaph is feeling like God has abandoned him. His friends tried to tell him that everything would be ok, but he didn't believe them. He can't sleep. His life feels like it's fallen apart. Sounds a bit like he's down in the dumps, maybe even in full-on depression, doesn't it?

These two verses are key to what we need to do when we feel depressed. We don't need to give in to the depression - we need to think about the things that God has already done in our own lives. If that doesn't work, meditate on the things God did in the Bible. The miraculous ways he worked and the small ways he worked. Make a list of the things he has done. Read it daily. Hourly, if need be. 

For many who are feeling depressed this will be enough. For some, it may not be. You might have a chemical imbalance that requires some sort of medication. But, don't just medicate yourself and expect to get better. Get on some medication, if that's what you need, then think about all the ways God has worked in your life. Write them down in a notebook and read the Bible, specifically looking for ways God has worked in the lives of our ancestors. If you need someone to talk to, find a good, Christian counselor. I'll even go so far as to say, find a secular counselor if you need it. I've used both secular and Christian counselors and have gotten so much help from both. Just please, make sure a secular counselor will support you in your faith-walk with Christ. Some won't. And I believe we can't get true healing from depression without God.

Above all, ponder the things God has accomplished in this world so that you can see that he is, indeed, alive and working. And he is, indeed, a loving and compassionate God. If you are suffering from depression, please leave a comment so I can be in prayer for you.

1 Kings 19:11-12

"A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains 
and shattered the rocks before God, 
but God wasn't to be found in the wind; 
after the wind an earthquake,
but God wasn't in the earthquake; 
and after the earthquake fire,
but God wasn't in the fire; 
and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper."
1 Kings 19:11-12 (The Message)

A couple different things struck me when I was reading these verses:

First, God doesn't always show himself in big, attention-getting ways. In fact, he rarely shows himself in these ways. When he speaks to us, it is usually in his still, small voice. It's easy to think God isn't working if we don't see huge, miraculous changes in our lives, but God doesn't always work that way. Sure, he can, but he wants us to be listening for his voice so I believe that's why he chooses to speak to us in whispers more often than not.

We are often looking for God to work wonders for us instead of sitting there listening for his quiet voice to guide us. This reminds me of the story of the man who is in a flood. He climbs to his rooftop to wait for God to rescue him. A man in a boat comes and tells him to climb in and he'd bring him to safety. The man on the roof waves him off and says, "I'm trusting God to rescue me!" Then, a helicopter flies up and they call to him to grab the ladder and they'd fly him to safety. The man declines, again saying, "I'm trusting God to rescue me!" Finally all the rescue efforts are over and the man drowns wondering why God hadn't rescued him. Is that crazy, or what?!

Pay attention for the quiet ways God works in your life. Too many times we don't see them until we look at our past and then see the gentle ways God was working. But, if we take the time to stop and listen for him, we'll see that he is here with us, guiding us in our everyday lives.

The other thing that struck me while reading these verses was that God works even in the midst of turmoil. Everything around us may be going crazy - we may feel like our lives are swirling around like a crazy hurricane or things are falling down around us as if we were in an earthquake - but if we take time to really listen for God's voice, we will hear it. In times of crisis it's so easy to think God isn't there because we can't hear him. But, if we stop and try to drown out the chaos, we might be able to hear his voice. No... we will be able to hear his voice. 

Things in my life have been so insanely crazy lately. Today was one horrible day for me. It would have been so easy to not take the time to listen for God and just let my emotions run wild, but I took 30 minutes out of the chaos to go into my bedroom, shut the door, put on my headphones and listen to a meditation I have for healing from grief. During that time, I was able to see Jesus and feel his healing hand on my heart. I was able to allow God to stop the craziness and hear the Lord speak calm into my heart. Did he literally "speak" to me? No, but I felt his still, small voice telling me that everything is going to be ok with me and my family. 

Take the time to read God's word and meditate on it - especially when you're going through  a hard time. That's when we really need to lean on the Lord and he will be there for us if we go to him. Never stop listening for his gentle and quiet whisper.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Luke 12:25

"Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten 
taller by so much as an inch? 
If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all?"
Luke 12:25 (The Message)

Oh my! This verse just popped out at me tonight! In context, this is talking about not being worried about having enough or getting more because God loves you so much that he'll provide for all our needs. 

But this verse... Wow. 

I've had some medical issues for a couple years now. Asthma, a difficult pregnancy which led to bedrest and my 8th miscarriage, and mono. All things that have kept me down, unable to do any sort of exercising. Add that to being in my mid - Ok. Fine... LATE 30s and I've put on some weight. And for a person who suffered from an eating disorder for most of her young adult life, this added weight can cause me some angst at times.

Thankfully, the Lord has pretty much healed me from the eating disorder, but Satan knows where I'm weak so he likes to attack my thoughts and get me being critical about my weight gain. It doesn't help that, according to Wii Fit, I am considered "overweight". (To which my amazingly wonderful, awesome children yell at the TV, "NO SHE'S NOT!" I love them, but I'm sad to say - the Wii Fit is correct. I AM a bit overweight right now.)

We don't have many large mirrors in our house. Not on purpose - it's just sort of worked out that way. But, there are times I get dressed in front of my dresser mirror and when I catch a glimpse of my body, I fret. I pinch. I examine. And I hate. *sigh* 

But, the Word of the Lord is correct - like it always is. Is all my fretting going to take any inches off my belly? Not a chance. So why fret? I literally cannot do any exercising right now or I could have a serious mono set-back. On top of that I'm dealing with a respiratory illness which could trigger my asthma at any moment. So, for me to try to exercise right now would be detrimental to my health - and isn't my ultimate goal to be healthy - in ALL ways? 

So, I focus on what I can do. When I crave sweets, I'm trying to reach for fruit instead of chocolate. I don't always succeed, but I'm eating more fruits now than I ever have before. I try to get outside every day to get some sun. I'm starting to go for short walks - when the weather behaves. So, that's taking care of my physical health. 

I'm trying to get to bed earlier - which I'm not getting done tonight, but I'm going to afternoon church tomorrow, so I can enjoy the chance to sleep in, in the morning. I'm listening to a quiet meditation every night when I go to sleep that is designed to heal depression/grief/trauma so I'm learning how to breathe better and relax. I'm working on keeping myself calm when things are stressful with any of my kids. All of which is taking care of my emotional health.

And for my spiritual health I'm reading my Bible every day. I'm listening for how God speaks to me. And I'm spending more time in prayer. I'm working on getting to church more often and now that we've found a church home that I love, that's easier for me to do. So, my spiritual health is really my best thing right now. 

Considering that's the most important thing, who cares if my waist is several inches more than it used to be? I can work on that WHEN I am physically healthy enough to do it. But, my heart is with the Lord so I have all that I need. 

Proverbs 15:23

"Congenial conversation - what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time - beautiful!"
Proverbs 15:23 (The Message)

Congenial conversation. I've had a lot of that lately having our friends staying with us! It's been such a gift for me to have another adult woman in my home! I enjoy the conversations we have with each other because we feel the same about so many things. However, there are a couple things we don't feel the same about and before realizing we don't feel the same about them, I have opened my mouth and inserted my foot. Thankfully, my friend understands that we're not going to enjoy the same things or agree with the same thing. I just wish I'd think before I speak because I realize now that the comments I have made have been rather judgmental towards certain people. (For instance, my view on motorcycles.) 

I used to be a very judgmental person and have changed quite a bit. In fact, I thought I had gotten rid of all judgmental attitudes (except towards myself *sigh*) before realizing that I've made at least two very judgmental comments in the presence of my dear friend. And I could feel the tension when I did it. I did tell her I hoped my words didn't offend her and she said no, but this Proverb stuck out at me tonight. I guess I need to work on that judgmental attitude a bit more after all. 

Thank you, Lord, for revealing my sin to me before I cause anyone serious hurt in my home and in my life today. Help me to stop before I speak if my words have the risk to sound judgmental or may hurt someone else. May my words be pleasurable and not hurtful. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Psalm 73:21-26

"Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant - 
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you.
Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever."
Psalm 73:21-26 (NLT)

Oh boy - do I know the pang of bitterness! The psalmist gets it right when he says he was "all torn up inside". That's exactly how it feels. You know what you're feeling is wrong, but the more you try to fight it, the worse the bitterness becomes. It gets so strong you can taste it. And the thoughts it leaves you thinking; the feelings it leaves you feeling... well... it's like you're being taken over by the bitterness monster of stench. And you can't just wash it off of yourself. 

Yet, despite how bitter my heart was becoming, God still claimed me for his own. He still guided me, when I would let him, to what I'm trusting will be a glorious destiny. God never gave up on me during that time of bitterness. People did. People I never thought would leave my side left me standing with my mouth gaping open in shock. But, the Lord my God, never, ever left me. Oh - I left him for a time, but he was always there, waiting ever-so patiently for me to return to him. 

People may fail me. My own mind and body may fail me. But, my God "remains the strength of my heart." He is mine forever. And no one can take him away from me. My Lord, My God - I do desire you more than anything on earth!

1 Kings 8:28, 29b

"Pay attention to my prayers, 
both intercessory and personal, O God, my God.
Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout,
that I'm setting before you right now...
Listen from your home in heaven
and when you hear, forgive."
1 Kings 8:28, 29b (The Message)

Oh, how my heart and soul pray for God's action! I know I am a sinner who is in need of a Savior! I know that no matter how much I try not to, I will always sin - it's just human nature. But, I praise God that he has made a way for me to be righteous in his eyes. 

My prayers are for his forgiveness of my sins, particularly my sin of wanting to give up on certain things or people in my life. Sometimes I just get so worn out and I just need a break. And lately, a physical break just hasn't been enough to bring my heart and soul peace. I need a spiritual break. And I find that when I get into the Word. Suddenly, everything around me just ceases to be and all is quiet. I'm focused on what I'm reading and it's as if the Lord is speaking directly to me through his words. And I get the respite my soul is longing for. 

The Lord knows what my heat's desire is. He knows what my soul longs most for and I know that he is working. I know that he can bring healing to broken relationships and that he can bring restoration. He pays attention to what I pray for - no matter how many times I pray it. He listens to my cries for healing and he gives me glimpses of his work to show me that he is, indeed, working. And those glimpses, no matter how tiny they are, keep me hoping for a brighter future and trusting that complete heart healing will happen. I just need to keep putting it all into God's hands and stop trying to make healing happen. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Proverbs 11:25

"The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped."
Proverbs 11:25 (The Message)

I've already written thoughts on this verse so I wasn't sure I should write more, but as I started to delete what I wanted to write, I felt a strong pull to continue writing, so here goes:

My husband and I were blessed to make some good money a few years ago. Because of that, we were able to buy some things that we now wouldn't have been able to buy. A boat (which doesn't run right now lol) and a camper are two of those things we were able to buy. They were paid for with cash, so we didn't go in debt for them. And what a blessing they have been! (Ok, so the boat isn't such a blessing right now since it doesn't run, but the little time that it did, it blessed our family a lot!)

We've been able to go camping a lot - sometimes in spots where we have to pay, but most of the time we go where it's free. Free fun with the family - what more could a parent ask for?! We have had so much fun getting that camper in and out of spots that are... well... a tad frightening trying to get in and out of! But, the thing that blesses me the most about having the camper is being able to open our home to friends who need a temporary home for a time. In doing so, we have not just been a blessing, but we are getting abundantly blessed by getting to know our friends in more intimate ways. We now have 3 families who are not just our friends, but our family, due to us opening our home to them. Talk about being blessed!

We have family members we are related to - some of whom we are close to and some of whom we are quite distant to. But, now? We have 20.5 new family members on top of the family we already had! That's 3 new brothers, 3 new sisters, 7 new nieces and 7 new nephews with one new niece or nephew on the way (thus the .5).

Tell me... who's more blessed? The friends we were able to help out? Or the friends who gained 20.5 family members in the process?

Helping others is a wonderful thing! Thank you Lord for blessing us so that we can bless others and get even more blessed in the process!

Monday, April 9, 2012

1 Kings 3:9

"Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well,
discerning the difference between good and evil.
For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?"
1 Kings 3:9

God asked King Solomon to name anything he wanted. Solomon could have asked for gold or silver. He could have asked for the Israelites to obey his commands as king. But, he didn't. He asked for wisdom. This verse may be King Solomon's request to God, but it should also be our requests to God - especially if we're parents. 

Our children are also God's people and as parents, we should want to lead our children well. We need to be able to discern between good and evil and in order to do that well, we need to have God-listening hearts. In other words: wisdom. But, how many of us parents truly pray for the Lord to give us wisdom? 

I know my heart's prayer is often for my children to obey me better. To listen to me. To do what I say so that my life is easier. In reality, I need to be praying for God's wisdom to know how to handle when my children aren't obeying according to God's will and also to see when they DO God's will so I can show them that I see the good they do, as well. 

I, on my own, am not capable of leading God's children; MY children. My glorious children. I must have God's wisdom in order to do a good job.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Psalm 71:12-14

"God, don't just watch from the sidelines.
Come on! Run to my side!
My accusers - make them lose face.
Those out to get me - make them look
Like idiots, while I stretch out, reaching for you,
and daily add praise to praise."
Psalm 71:12-14 (The Message)

I'm nowhere near a perfect mom. And my husband is nowhere near a perfect dad. But, we do our best. We meet our kids' needs and give them much of what they want. We love them. We provide for them. We have fun with them. And, we try not to embarrass our kids by disciplining them in front of each other and especially not in front of friends or strangers. But, you know what? When one of my kids decides to tell us, day in and day out, that they hate us - and don't discriminate based on who may or may not be around - well... it gets tiring. And eventually, these parents are going to snap. 

Thankfully, the way I snap today doesn't look like it did in the past. Today, the "snapping" looked more like confronting the child in front of our guests and then, due to the child's continued display of disrespect, sending the child to bed. I'm sorry. I'm not a perfect mom, but a mom can only take so much hearing of the words, "I hate you" before she just needs to confront it. 

I'm worn out. I'm tired. And I pray that I can hold it together and keep my arms reaching for God, continuing to praise him, despite the hatred that is being spewed at me every.single.day from one of my children. May this child lose face from acting like this and may this child not drag me down with them. May I keep my focus on Christ and what He has done for me - and yes... even for this child who spews such venom. May I be the best parent I can be in each moment, teaching all my children to love God in the process.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Luke 11:10-13

"Don't bargain with God. Be direct.
Ask for what you need.
This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in.
If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, 
do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?
If your little girl asks for an egg, 
do you trick her with a spider?
As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing - 
you're at least decent to your own children.
And don't you think the Father who conceived you in love
will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?"
Luke 11:10-13 (The Message)

I have struggled with this passage in the past. It seemed so much like whatever I asked for, God did the opposite. Especially when it came to being pregnant. I still don't have the answers as to why he answered my prayer to have a healthy baby with the death of so many of my babies, but I do know that when I asked for the Holy Spirit's help, He was there. He carried me through the pain and bitterness that came after the loss of my babies and he has brought me to a new understanding of his love for me. 

Is it fair that I lost so many babies when women who do drugs during their pregnancies or go on to abuse their children got to keep their babies? No. But, do I know God's plan for those babies who were born into this world? No. Who am I to question what he does? God sees everything from a totally different perspective than I do and while I would love to sit down with him and demand to know the answers, I also know that when I get to heaven I will be with my Father and none of this will even matter anymore. I will be with God and that's all that I'll need.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Proverbs 4:5-7

"Get wisdom; develop good judgement.
Don't forget my words or turn away from them.
Don't turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
And whatever else you do, develop good judgment."
Proverbs 4:5-7 (NLT)

How do we "get wisdom". We aren't just born with it, we have to learn it. Some of the ways we do this are learning from our parents, our teachers, our pastors, and books. One specific book has all the wisdom we'll ever need. This book is The Holy Bible. 

I have learned so much by reading my Bible and I continue to learn new things each time I read through it. My heart latches on to the words it needs to hear in order for me to grow spiritually and emotionally. I love this about reading God's Word! It never ceases to amaze me how God speaks to me through His Word. 

I've also learned some amazing wisdom from the people around me. My parents, of course. I also had some great spiritual leaders in my life - a couple dear teachers (an elementary teacher named Mrs. Rose as well as a high school French teacher named Mme. Hull), several different pastors in my youth and today, many godly friends as well as pastors/elders in our community. I've learned so much from all these special people in my life and I feel so blessed to have had them in my life, but I'm also blessed that God allowed me to be open to being teachable. 

Do you have wise people in your life who can help you grow in Wisdom? If not, I encourage you to start seeking people out from whom you can learn. Wisdom is a beautiful thing. And good judgement can save your life. 

If you're interested in knowing what's in the Bible, but you don't have one, please let me know in the comments section. I can direct you to where you can get one for free. 

Psalm 68:19

"Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!
For each day he carries us in his arms."
Psalm 68:19 (NLT)

Today was a rough day. Every single member of my family is sick. Some have sinus infections. Some of stomach bugs. And some have both. I was one with a stomach bug. Emotions in my home have been up and down, and then with everyone getting sick, I wasn't sure how I was going to get through this day. But, the Lord carried me through it. 

We have a family of eight staying with us right now. I love having them here, but it's tough to have guests when you're not feeling well; I was worried about how I could be a pleasant hostess when I was feeling so sick. Then it turned out that they were all gone for the day. I had spaced out that they were going to the city for a medical appointment. So, I was able to get some much needed rest this morning without worrying about being a good hostess. :-) By the time I woke up from my morning nap, I was feeling ten times better, so I was able to do some cleaning up in the kitchen and even make spaghetti - from scratch. 

The Lord truly does carry us along day after day!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Proverbs 3:5-6

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he's the one who will keep you on track."
Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

Right now in my life things seem pretty topsy-turvy. I don't see much hope for the future in regards to one of the relationships in my life. I don't know why we have to go through this difficult time, but what I do know is that if I stop trying to figure out why this is all happening and start listening for God's voice, I will stay on the track that God has called me to. 

While I don't know why exactly God called us to adoption, I don't believe God's intention was for our world to feel like it's falling apart. So, I fix my eyes on Jesus, trusting that he will do his good work in my family.

Psalm 66:8-12

"Bless our God, O peoples!
Give him a thunderous welcome!
Didn't he set us on the road to life?
Didn't he keep us out of the ditch?
He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires,
Brought us into hardscrabble country,
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place."
Psalm 66:8-12 (The Message)

Anyone who knows anything about my life knows that I have been through a refining fire. I've often been heard repeating myself, "I think God put me in the fire and then walked away forgetting about me, like I forget about a pot of boiling water on the stove." While I know this isn't the way God works, this sure felt true to me at times!

Some days I feel like I don't have it in me to get through another issue. But, then God gives me the strength to do what needs to be done. Believe me when I say I've been through hell and back. But, also believe me when I say that God has, indeed, brought me to a well-watered place. Things are still incredibly rough in my life, but the more I lean on Christ, the more at peace I become. It's as if I am sitting on a rock in the middle of a raging river, but all around me is peaceful water. I breathe in God's peace and I know it will all be ok. That God is working and his will is for my life to be whole - with him as the head, it IS whole. I give him thunderous praise!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Psalm 65:5

"You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds,
O God our savior. 
You are the hope of everyone on earth,
even those who sail on distant seas."
Psalm 65:5 (NLT)

Psalm 65 paints a beautiful picture of how God takes care of his earth. It goes into quite a bit of detail of the things he does to make the things of earth grow and blossom. If God takes the time to care for his earth, how much more does he want to take the time to care for us, his children? 

My prayer right now is for my family to be whole again. This is a righteous prayer. A prayer that God can, and will, answer - if the people in my family want it as well. We are given free will and if one member (or two, or three...) decides to give up on the family, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. But, what I can do is pray. Because God can change hearts. 

God is my hope for my family. He will work, if we let him. Will you please pray with me that we will all allow God to work to bring wholeness and healing to my family?

2 Samuel 7:29a

"Bless my family; 
keep your eye on them always."
2 Samuel 7:29a (The Message)

Isn't it so nice to know that even when we can't see what our children are doing, God does? His eye is on them always. Now to get our kids to see how important it is for them to live as if they believe this fact. *sigh* 

Please Lord,
My family needs your blessing. Things are so stressful right now and we need peace. When my children make bad choices, please keep your eye on them and open our eyes to the truth. Help their hearts to want to keep on the path you desire for them. When they sneak behind our backs, bring their behavior into the Light so we can know what's happening.

Thank you for doing this today when you showed us what one of our children has been sneaking around doing. I praise you that it wasn't anything dangerous and I seek your wisdom in knowing how to handle this. Thank you for giving my husband and I a like-mind of waiting until we've had time to pray and seek wise counsel. 

Please give all our children a heart for you. Don't let them go down the path of dishonesty and sneakiness. Fill my house with your Holy Spirit and pour out your blessings upon us. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Luke 8:48

"Jesus said, 'Daughter, you took a risk trusting me, 
and now you're healed and whole. 
Live well, live blessed!'"
Luke 8:48 (The Message)

Jesus is talking to the woman who had suffered from a bleeding ailment for 12 years. She had reached out and touched his robe, trusting that all she needed was a little touch and she would be healed. She touched him and she was healed. The part where she was taking a risk is the fact that back then, if a woman was bleeding, she was considered unclean and was not allowed to touch anyone until she was done bleeding and had been purified. Jesus could have gotten angry with her for touching him as technically, he was now unclean himself. Instead, he healed her; he acknowledged the risk she had taken and blessed her for it. 
Knowing what we know about Jesus today, we know it's not risk-taking to trust him. But sometimes, the things we go through cause it to truly feel as if we are taking a risk when we trust Jesus. I know I have struggled with this in the past. It seemed everything I prayed for, the opposite happened. I prayed for a baby, and God allowed me to miscarry - eight times! I prayed for children through adoption and we hit one snag after another. I prayed for my children to be safe and one child was hit by a car. I prayed for my marriage to remain strong and our marriage nearly ended in divorce (Praise God, it didn't!). 

Needless to say, trusting Jesus became a very difficult thing for me to do.  It began to feel as if I would be taking a huge risk if I put my life into God's hands. To this day, I struggle with this. But, each day, I take a risk. I make the decision to trust God with my life and with my family. Sometimes I have a lot of fear when I do this - apparently Satan likes to use this struggle in mighty ways in my mind - but I also make the choice to believe that Jesus is stronger than Satan. So, I make a conscious decision each and every day to take the "risk" to trust Jesus. And I do feel blessed for doing so! I do feel as if I am living well when my life is in His hands! 

No, things aren't perfect. Prayers still sometimes get answered the opposite of what I pray, but instead of becoming bitter with God over this, I'm learning to trust that his ways are not my ways and that his plan is always better than my own.

Proverbs 29:8

"A gang of cynics can upset a whole city;
a group of sages can calm everyone down."
Proverbs 29:8 (The Message)

We could change this verse to read:

"One child with a bad attitude can upset an entire family;
wise parents can calm everyone down."

We almost had some problems tonight. It was the birthday of one of my children and another one of my children seemed to be having a bit of a difficult time with the attention the birthday child was receiving. This child sat there scowling and looking miserable. I knew it was a matter of time before the other two children in our family realized what the one child was doing and knowing where their patience level was with all the drama, I knew I needed to do something to intervene. So, I just quietly told the miserable child that they could go get ready for bed since they seemed so tired. The miserable child looked surprised that I would make them leave the table during the middle of the birthday celebration, but this child must have known that I wasn't going to have a "scene" being caused on this special day because this child quietly said, "Ok" and went to get ready for bed.

This child, the one who was so miserable tonight, has a tendency to try to control the family with their mood. If this child is upset about something, they make sure everyone ends up upset. As the parents in our home, we are not going to stand for this anymore. If any child in our family decides to bring down anyone else in the family because they feel miserable, that child will be sent to their rooms where they can be miserable while being alone. We are taking back control of our family and it is not going to be a family that walks around on eggshells to make one person happy. 

It is my prayer that the Father works in this child's heart to help them see that being alone is not as much fun as one might think it would be. It is my prayer that this child decides being a member in a family is truly a treasure and something this child begins to want. Will all who are reading this pray this with me? 

Only God can change hearts - when I try to change one of my kid's hearts I only make things worse. So, I give up. I give all my children over to God and will allow him to do his miraculous work!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Proverbs 28:1

"The wicked are edgy with guilt, 
ready to run off even when no one's after them;
Honest people are relaxed and confident,
bold as lions."

My family just went through a very stressful time. While I was a nervous wreck during this time, my nerves from me not being in control of the outcome. I was completely honest with some people we turned to for help. I admitted my sin and wrongdoing - despite really, really wanting to hide the truth out of fear of what people would think of me or what action could be taken. Some would say I shared too much info. I say, I shared what I felt God leading me to share in the hopes that our family would finally get the help that we need. 

While I don't know the final outcome of this whole situation yet, I do know that I can be relaxed from here on out - because I know I didn't hold anything back. Everything is out of my hands, but the truth is out in the Light, not hiding in the darkness, so I am confident that, regardless of what happens, everything will be okay. 

Psalm 63:1

"O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water."
Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

OK, so while I don't live in a place that is parched with no water, I do live in a house with 2 teenagers and one almost teenager (with special needs), so sometimes it feels as if I'm in a parched and weary land. Definitely weary... ;-) And lately, my thirst for God has been so strong! I find myself hurrying through something I'm working on just so I can sit down and read another chapter. (It helps that I'm currently reading in 1 Samuel when David is running from Saul - it's like reading an action-adventure novel that I just can't put down - even though I know how it ends!) I love this type of thirst! 

In my searching I'm learning more about who God is. Some have said that the God of the Old Testament is a vengeful God. A God filled with wrath. And to an extent, yes. This is true. God's wrath does pour out on his enemies. But, he showers grace upon grace on those who love him. And God's grace isn't just for the Israelites of the Old Testament. It is for all of us as well! 

He wants to be in relationship with me and I'm deepening that relationship with him each and every time I open the Word of God. (Ok, so yes, I have to actually READ the Bible - a deep relationship doesn't happen through osmosis, I've learned!) I'm learning more and more about who God is and I'm loving what I see more and more as well! I can't wait to see what the future holds!