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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Psalm 60:11-12

"Give us help for the hard task; 
human help is worthless.
In God we'll do our very best;
he'll flatten the opposition for good."
Psalm 60:11-12 (The Message)

Who's the opposition in my life right now? Satan. Sure, there are others, but ultimately, the opposition is Satan and God will flatten him. I may not feel that way all the time, but I'm learning that feelings don't necessarily mean reality.

My husband and I are facing a hard task. So are you, if you're a parent. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. We all make mistakes. We all sin against our loved ones. And when we do, sometimes it's hard to make that right. I could just sit back and pretend I do no wrong. I could be like some parents and not give a crap if I do something to break the heart of one of my children. But, I do give a crap. It causes me great pain to step back and see the damage that insensitive or angry words cause my loved ones. 

But, you know what causes me pain on top of the pain that I already feel? When you go to a place called a "GUIDANCE Clinic" for help and you are made to look like a monster and are pretty much told "you're on your own" because we have health insurance. Health insurance that has a $5,000 deductible with a $10,000 family deductible and who we have to fight to get any sort of help from at all. We need help with our parenting. And when you go to a place that is supposed to help and they don't, it very quickly becomes apparent that human help IS worthless. 

Am I giving up on getting help for my family? No way! I know we can't do this alone! I know that God will lead us to the right place for our family. And I won't stop looking until we get that help that we need so very much. 

When human help is worthless, don't quit. Put the situation in God's hands and pray for guidance. God is guiding us and I'm hoping and praying that the way we think he's guiding us is the way of healing. I'm sure I'll keep you posted in future blog posts, but for now, please join me in praying that if this is the way we're supposed to go, God will just open door after door after door for us. There will be a bit of a wait, so pray that the Lord leads us to someone who can help in the meantime. Preferably someone Christian, but if not, then at least someone who is open to the Christian faith. Because unless God is involved in this, hearts will not be completely healed - only partly healed. And I'm looking for complete healing and restoration in my family!

Psalm 59:16b-17

"For you've been a safe place for me, 
a good place to hide.
Strong God, I'm watching you do it,
I can always count on you - 
God, my dependable love."
Psalm 59:16b-17 (The Message)

Sometimes having an adopted child is so very difficult. Scratch that... sometimes having a teenage daughter is difficult. It seems every time we start to make progress, something happens to cause a major setback. Either I flip out, or she flips out. I'm not sure what it's going to take to have a decent relationship with each other. But, I do know that I can count on God to make it happen. I do know I can't make it happen, so when things get rough, God is my safe place. He is where I can go to hide from the chaos for some time of peace.

I'm not a perfect mother. I make my fair share of mistakes. Oh, I wish I was perfect! If I was perfect, maybe things would be better. Alas, I am not and things get better for a time and then they fall apart again. All I can do is keep putting my life and the life of my daughter into God's hands and pray for a miracle. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Joshua 23:8a

"...Cling tightly to the Lord your God..." 
Joshua 23:8a (NLT)

Satan is attacking me. I've been faithful to read God's Word every day, looking for ways the Lord might be speaking to me. Silly me... I forgot that when we're following God's will for us, *that* is when Satan will attack. As I said in my last blog post, which you'll notice has been several days, I sinned in a great way against one of my children - using words that were meant to hurt. I'd been doing so well in guarding my tongue and then one day, for no real reason at all, I just snapped. Satan is sneaky. And boy - did he sneak up on me!

Since that day, I have been fighting with guilt and shame. I've felt unworthy to read my Bible. Unworthy to pray to God. Unworthy, even, to be in my own home. And you know what? That is Satan! My friends have been telling me this for days now, but I haven't been able to fight it. Finally, this evening, I realized that even if I don't feel worthy, I need to believe in the Truth of what the Bible says. And that Truth states that God loves me. That it is Jesus who makes me worthy, not any act of my own! I realized that I need to keep in the Word, even though I felt I didn't deserve to be in the Word. 

So, I opened my Bible and this verse is what I read. "Cling tightly to the Lord your God." How do I cling tightly? By continuing to read the Word despite what Satan is trying to get me to believe. By praying to God despite feeling like I'm a hypocrite. And to get myself to church despite thinking that if people there knew what I had said to my child they would throw me out in a heartbeat. I mean, seriously! We're all sinners here! My mom said it so wonderfully in an email to me the other day, "God has forgiven you so who are you not to forgive yourself?"

My therapist says, "Belief is faith. We cannot live our lives based on our feelings. We believe and then our feelings follow." (Or something like that.) So, what can I do with that? I can decide that, today, I am going to choose to believe what God's Word says - that I am forgiven and I am loved - even if my feelings don't match that Truth. 

"Lord God, thank you for forgiving me and loving me despite my sins. 
Help my feelings line up with your Truth. Amen."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Psalm 103:6-18

"God makes everything come out right;
he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work;
opened up his plans to all Israel. 
God is sheer mercy and grace; 
not easily angered, he's rich in love.
He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges that last forever.
He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
Men and women don't live very long;
like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
leaving nothing to show they were here.
God's love, though, is ever and always,
eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said."
Psalm 103:6-18 (The Message)

I sinned Friday afternoon in a pretty big way. I (emotionally) hurt one of my children and as much as I'd like to take my words back, I can't do that. As a friend said, "It's like trying to put toothpaste back into the toothpaste tube." Nothing I say is going to make a difference at this point. The only One who can fix this is God. 

I feel like ripping my heart out. It is so black with sin and I wonder if it will ever be clean. The Bible says that He "washes us white as snow" but my heart is so stained that I wonder how that can be. I think that there will always be a stain there. 

I don't ask God to make this all come out right for my sake. But for my child's sake. I don't want this child's forgiveness for me - Lord knows, I don't deserve it. I want it for the sake of my child's heart. I don't want my child to have an unforgiving, bitter heart. I've been there - it's ugly. I've seen people whose lives have been wasted by unforgiveness and I don't want this for my precious child! 

And yet, as I write this, I keep hearing this voice in my head saying, "But, if YOU don't accept my forgiveness for your sin then YOU'RE going to go right back to having that unforgiven, bitter heart yourself." I know this is the truth, and I can believe that God forgives me, but the biggest obstacle for me is forgiving MYSELF. 

"Oh Lord. help me to accept your forgiveness and your love. 
Make everything in this situation come out right. Heal hearts. 
Help everyone to forgive. Help me to accept your forgiveness. 
Help my child to accept my repentant heart. 
Put my child back on their feet. 
Help this child to see and feel Your love, 
as well as my own love.
And help ME to forgive myself - 
despite my feeling so unworthy."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proverbs 16:9

"We plan the way we want to live, 
but only God makes us able to live it."
Proverbs 16:9 (The Message)

Did you have specific plans for your life as a child? I did. I was going to grow up, get married and be a mom (I never really worried about how many kids I was going to have, I just knew I would have kids). I also wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, I never really thought I'd adopt, but once I got married and became stronger in my faith, I knew I wanted to. As a mom (of both biological and adoptive children) who home schools one of her kids (and soon to be more), I'm pretty much doing what I planned on doing all my life. :-)

What I didn't plan on was being the mom of 10 children, but only getting to see and hold 3 of them. Our plan to adopt was when our biological son was older, but having 8 babies born straight to heaven changed that plan. Actually, it was after the third baby went to heaven, that we decided to adopt. I also didn't plan on my husband, who had years of sobriety, drinking again. And I didn't plan on severe depression entering my life. 

What I did plan on was having God by my side. And, while there have been times I've felt abandoned by God, I believe with all my heart that he has always been here with me. It is his strength who has gotten me through all the unplanned things in my life. It is his love which has brought me out of depression and back into the Light. It is his healing that is getting my husband back on the wagon. And it is his grace that has allowed us to have the three beautiful, wonderful children we have here on earth today. 

Sure, in all honesty, there are some things I wish I didn't have to go through in this life. However, I truly wouldn't change the things that got me to where I am today. I have a beautiful life! It's been a difficult life, to be sure, but it is a beautiful life, nonetheless. Things didn't go as I planned, but God made a way for me to live as close to the life I had planned as I can today. I am so incredibly blessed!

Psalm 58:1

"Is this any way to run a country? 
Is there an honest politician in the house?" 
Psalm 58:1 (The Message)

Oh, so much could be said about this verse right now! I won't get into specifics of what I believe about the leaders in our country because I really don't have the energy for a hot debate right now, but suffice it to say that it's difficult to find a moral politician in any branch of our government right now. The lies, the bribes - it all disgusts me and makes me really wonder where our country is headed. 

Needless to say - we need to be praying for the politicians who run this country to start stepping up to the plate and doing what our forefathers expect them to do. Uphold our Constitution;  have fair judges who judge based on the United States of America's Constitution and NOT on international law; Senate and House Representatives who don't make decisions based on how much money they are receiving from either side of the issues;  and a President who actively seeks the will of God. 

Our Pledge of Allegiance says:

I pledge allegiance 
To the flag
Of the United States of America,
 And to the Republic for which it stands
One nation UNDER GOD, indivisible,
With liberty and justice for all.

"Under God", folks. No, it may not have been in the original Pledge, but it was added, and so long as it is there, we need to live by it.

Joshua 18:3

"Joshua addressed the People of Israel: 
"How long are you going to sit around on your hands, 
putting off taking possession of the land that God, 
the God of your ancestors, has given you?" 
Joshua 18:3 (The Message)

This verse stood out to me. Can we all say, "procrastination"?  ;-) Not that I know anything about this word! *rolling my eyes* I am one of those who works best under pressure, so I'll wait until the last minute to do something before I finally get moving to get it done. However, while I say I work best under pressure, I don't think my BODY works best this way. I can feel the tension build as the deadline for whatever it is I need to do draws closer. I get more demanding of my family and a whole lot less patient. I often wonder what damage I'm doing to my heart by procrastinating so much.

Why do I do this to myself and my family? *sigh*

Sometimes it's because I just don't want to do what needs to be done. It might seem boring to me. Or I committed to something I really didn't want to do in the first place. Sometimes it's because something better comes along and I get distracted. Sometimes it's just because the task at hand is so large! 

We adopted two of our children from Haiti. You know who did almost all the paperwork for our adoption? My husband. Why? Because I was so overwhelmed with it all that I didn't know where to start. Looking back, I could have been a lot more help had I taken the time to sit down and organize what needed to be done. Instead, my poor husband had to work insane hours at his job, then come home and work on getting all the paperwork together that needed to be put together to bring our kids home. I think I owe him an apology. ;-) 

Seriously, though... I can't allow myself to procrastinate just because I'm overwhelmed or because the task isn't "fun". I'm not a kid anymore who has parents to do everything for her. I'm a married woman who is a helper to her husband and I need to start "playing the part". So, to my husband.. thank you for all that you've done for me. I truly do appreciate it. But, it's my turn to help you! Just tell me what to do! 

Lord, help me to stop procrastinating so much and just do what needs to be done.

Mark 15:34

"At three o'clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, 
crying loudly, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' 
which means, 'My God, my God, 
why have you abandoned me?"
Mark 15:34 (The Message)

Have you ever been in a dark pit of despair? Where no matter how hard you look, you just can't see God? I have. It was a very scary place to be. I had no hope at all. And when a person has no hope, what do they have to live for?

(I'm a bit scared to write this post, but I know I'm not the only one who has ever been in this dark hole. Maybe you're reading this and thinking, "That's where I am right now!" It is for your sake that I'm going to make myself vulnerable here. Because the last thing you need to believe is that you are alone, when you truly are not!)

I was drowning in despair and guilt. Why guilt? Because I had children who needed me, but I couldn't be there emotionally. Oh, I went through the motions and did a darn good job. I plastered a smile on my face for everyone on the outside to see, but inside I felt dead. I mean, literally dead. Emotionless. It was a very frightening place to be.

I became suicidal. I'd drive up to a mountain near our house and sit there, fighting with myself not to drive off the edge. I was terrified and felt so out of control of myself. I had SO MUCH to live for - 3 beautiful children, a wonderful husband who loved me so very much. Yet, the darkness consumed me. I felt I had no way out. I cried out to the Lord nearly every day, asking why he had abandoned me and wondering where he was. "Why won't you help me?!" was the cry of my heart. 

I don't have any answers as to why he remained silent during this time - other than the fact that I wasn't listening for him. Bitterness and fear had taken over my heart and I don't think there was any room for God in that. I believe it was also a chemical issue with my brain. So many people look at this stuff in their lives and think "I'm just weak". I'm sorry, but it took STRENGTH not to drive off those cliffs! (A strength that, in looking back, I can see was God, pure and simple.) 

I don't know why God allowed me to walk this path of depression. But, I do know that he's getting me through it. I ended up checking myself into a hospital - mainly because I just needed help sleeping - there isn't much a person can do with their mental sanity when they aren't getting decent sleep at night. I was able to get some medication to help me sleep and I stayed there for 3 days just resting so I could come back home and really get on with healing. 

I started taking an antidepressant medication - something I vowed I would NEVER do! Let me tell you this... I will NOT allow society to condemn me for needing a medication to keep me alive. I have no qualms about needing to take this drug. Did I wake up one morning and say, "Hmmm... I think I'm going to be suicidal from now on?" No, I did not. And no - I wasn't trying to seek attention as some people may believe. I mean, seriously? Do you really think I wanted the kind of attention that suicidal tendencies bring? I see absolutely no difference between needing insulin for diabetes or chemotherapy for cancer and medication for depression. We don't choose to have depression. If I had a choice, I'd choose feeling joyful and exuberant over feeling depressed every day. But, with the medication, and with my relationship with God getting back on track, I do feel joy more often. And that, my friends, is worth every pill I have to take! 

If you're struggling with feeling suicidal, please talk to someone. Go to your spouse, a parent, a friend, a pastor, or call a suicidal hotline (I have some numbers listed below). Just please - get it out into the Light. Satan loves what we hide in the darkness - he thrives on that environment and he will do anything to get you to succumb to death. But, God will work when we bring our thoughts out into the Light. In fact, he wants to work in your heart right now! There IS hope. God has not abandoned you! Please, reach out for help. Your life matters to me and to many others.

Suicide Hotlines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

or to find a hotline specific to your state, visit SuicideHotlines.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Proverbs 15: 26

"God can't stand evil scheming,
but he puts words of grace and beauty on display."
Proverbs 15:26 (The Message)

I had a thought while I was reading this verse: Do I put my kids' words of grace and beauty on display? More times than not, I don't. It's so easy, as parents, to see the wrong things our kids do and quickly call them on it. But, how often do we jump on the beautiful things they do? We've all seen the kids who act out negatively because that's the only time they get attention from their parents and they figure negative attention is better than no attention at all. Our kids may not be acting out negatively, but are they hearing that we see and notice the good things they do?

This verse convicted me to start finding something of grace and beauty from my kids' mouths or actions every day. I don't know about you, but I'm quick to forget when I have thoughts like this and by tomorrow I would forget I even decided to do this. This is where my cell phone comes in handy. I'm off to put a reminder in it right now - before I get distracted and forget. If you decide to join me on this, please comment below and share what beautiful things you see your kids doing and saying! And while we're at it - let's focus on the beautiful things our spouses and even our friends do, as well!

Psalm 57:1-3

"Be good to me God - and now! I've run to you for dear life. 
I'm hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over. 
I call out to High God, the God who holds me together. 
He sends orders from heaven and saves me, 
he humiliates those who kick me around. 
God delivers generous love, 
he makes good on his word." 
Psalm 57:1-3 (The Message)

This is the passage I'm currently memorizing. I hope to memorize the entire Psalm as I've found this entire Psalm to be quite useful when your facing the attitudes that can fly in a house with a teen daughter and preteen boys. The hurricane being the negative attitudes, of course. ;-) 

Something that has helped me so much is when the attitudes begin to fly, I excuse myself from the situation, go into my room and work on reciting this passage. In a sense - "I run to God for dear life" because I know that all it takes is one wrong response from me and the hurricane can destroy everything. But, if "I hide out under God's wings", the hurricane will blow over. And while I'm hiding out with God, he is "holding me together". I literally feel as if his wings are keeping me from walking out and really letting the kids have the full force of my wrath. 

God does "deliver generous love". He does "make good on his word". And if I can just remember to do this each and every time my temper gets set off, our home can be a home of peace. 

If you're a parent, I encourage you to read the rest of this Psalm - I especially like the wording of the Message Paraphrase. Imagine the pride of lions being your kids and it might even make you chuckle a bit. ;-) When it talks about how "they booby-trapped my path" imagine what it's like when your kids all gang up on you and hound you to no end. And when you get through that "attack" notice how David thanked God, singing his praises. (And realize that this can really drive your kids batty when they've "attacked" and you're calmly singing God's praises. Yeah... I have a dark side...

And remember, "the deeper God's love, the higher it goes; every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness". (Psalm 57:10 The Message)

Psalm 56:3-4

"When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. 
I'm proud to praise God; fearless now, 
I trust in God. What can mere mortals do?" 
Psalm 56:3-4 (The Message)

Like verse 4 says, "I'm proud to praise God." I used to be a quiet Christian. I think most of my friends growing up knew I went to church and that I believed in Jesus, but I didn't share my faith with people like I am today. I can't say I was ever 'embarrassed' to be Christian, but I certainly didn't praise God openly. Today, I'm not afraid to do this. If it causes me to lose friends, so be it. The only One who truly matters is God anyway. And I'm "fearless" when it comes to people - they might lie about me, they might physically hurt me or kill me, but they cannot take away my eternal life with Jesus. 

I put "fearless" in parenthesis because, for the most part, I am fearless when it comes to people. I'm not foolish however. I won't go walking down the street at night without my dog or my husband. I'm not going to go walking through the rougher parts of town alone. I'm not going to do foolish things that could get me hurt. Yes, I trust in God, but he also calls me to protect my life. (See my blog post from Feb. 12 regarding this statement.) 

Does fearless mean I don't get hurt - emotionally or physically? No. But, when I do get hurt, I continue to trust God because he will get me through whatever comes my way. And I will no longer be silent about my praise to the Lord. He has done marvelous things in my life and he deserves honor and praise for those things! This is why I share these thoughts with you all. To, not only share my testimony with people, but to be able to publicly give God glory. Everything I have, the person I am today, is all because of God's work he's doing within me. I can take no credit because prior to this, I didn't even want God in my life. He's the One who kept whispering to me to come back to him. And I praise Him for never giving up on me!

Mark 14:71-72

"Now Peter got really nervous and swore, 
'I never laid eyes on this man you're talking about.' 
Just then the rooster crowed a second time. 
Peter remembered how Jesus had said, 
'Before a rooster crows twice, you'll deny me three times.' 
He collapsed in tears." 
Mark 14:71-72 (The Message)

After I had a few miscarriages and handled each one the same way - blaming and condemning God - I vowed that if I ever had another one, I would keep my eyes on Christ and just trust in God's plan for my life. I truly wanted to handle the losses in a manner that would glorify God. 

Then I had a few more miscarriages and handled those even worse than I did the first few. I wanted so much to keep Jesus close to my heart and instead, I denied Him. I turned from Him and felt so lost and alone. 

I imagine Peter must have felt that way. I'm sure he probably considered suicide for denying the Lord. I know I did. But, Jesus forgave him - even before Peter denied him. He told Peter what that he was going to deny him but he didn't throw him out. He took Peter with him as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. He wanted Peter there with him while his heart was so deeply troubled about what was about to happen. 

I know Jesus wanted me with him as well. It was my own actions that caused me to feel distant from the Lord. I'm sure Jesus was coming to me, saying, "What's the matter with you, Jen, that you can't stick it out with me?!" just as he did with the disciples in the garden. And no matter what I wanted to do, I simply couldn't keep my eyes on Christ in my heartache. 

Now that I've made it through that dark time in my life, I look back on how I turned from God and it causes me to weep. How things would have been different for me had I just trusted in the Lord. Had I allowed God to carry me through the heartache I was going through, instead of pushing him away, blaming him for everything. I'd say I wish I could have a do-over, but I'd really rather not have anymore miscarriages. I think I'll just confess my failure and my sadness to God and allow his forgiveness to wash over me. 

Yes, I pulled a "Peter", but like Peter, God has forgiven me and is bringing me into an even closer relationship with Him. And for that, I praise my Father in Heaven!

Proverbs 14:12-13

"There's a way of life that looks harmless enough; 
look again - it leads straight to hell. 
Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, 
but all that laughter will end in heartache." 
Proverbs 14:12-13

There have been so many celebrity deaths lately and I can't help but think of this verse when I think of them all. I am, in no way, saying I think these celebrities are in hell - only God knows their hearts and where they stood with Jesus. But, I do know that the way they lived their lives was hellish. 

  • Former Weezer bassist Mikey Welsh died from a suspected drug overdose in a Chicago hotel room.
  • Amy Winehouse - lived a party lifestyle, drinking and doing drugs and was only 27 years old when she died. 
  • Mike Starr was the original bassist in rock band Alice in Chains and suffered from a heroin addiction.
  • Elizabeth Taylor was married 8 times in her life. 
  • Yvette Vickers was found after she had been dead for nearly a year. Imagine - no one notices your missing for a whole year? What a lonely life!
  • Michael Jackson who spent his life trying to change himself and basically living in hiding. 
  • Whitney Houston who battled a drug addiction for most of her career. 

Their lives, outside of the addictions, divorces and lack of self-esteem looked pretty harmless. They were having fun making lots of money, gaining lots of fame. But, their lives were a pathway to hell. Alcohol, drugs, failed marriage after failed marriage, hating themselves. Was there even a time in their lives when their laughter was real? Or were they living in utter heartbreak? Of course, I can't know as I am not them, but I can say that aside from the insane amounts of money they made, our lives are not much different. 

When we go after fame and fortune, our focus gets skewed. We think, "If I just have this amount of money, I'll be happy." If we're fortunate enough to get the amount of money we think we need, it doesn't take long for us to start living outside of our means and then we think, "If I just have this amount of money, I'll be happy." And for some of us, if we can't find happiness in money, we turn to outside things to make us happy - maybe we fall into drugs, alcohol, shopping addictions, sex, etc. 

But, none of it brings true joy. Our lives become empty - a living hell. That's why we need Jesus. Jesus is the only way to true joy. And with Jesus, I can have joy in the midst of turmoil - because my joy doesn't come from outside things. It comes from within - the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me. 

So, other people can have all the fame and fortune their hearts desire. My heart desires one thing and one thing only. To be in relationship with Jesus Christ. Without him, my life leads me straight to hell.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Psalm 55:7-8, 16,18, 23c

"I want some peace and quiet. I want a walk in the country, 
I want a cabin in the woods. I'm desperate for a change 
from rage and stormy weather... I call to God, God will help me... 
My life is well and whole, secure in the middle of danger...
And I trust in You."
Psalm 55:7-8, 16, 18, 23c (The Message)

Peace and quiet. How I need thee! I've been dealing with Mono for the last (almost) 3 months now. Having Mono keeps me pretty worn out and tired on a daily basis, so needless to say, my house is looking pretty cluttered. I haven't had energy to go anywhere. And I'm desperate for a change in my physical body. 

We just had the most mild winter we've had in a long time. The weather has been gorgeous and I've been stuck inside sleeping my days away. I could have been out hiking every day. Or mountain biking. Or doing school at the lake with the one child I home school. Instead, I've been sleeping all morning, every morning. Waking up to fix lunch, do a little bit of school with my child and then taking another nap so I have energy to get through the evening - getting dinner made, making sure homework and chores get finished. To say I'm "desperate" for a change is an understatement!

I want to go hiking. I want to go camping. I want my house to look and feel peaceful. But, this isn't to be right now. So instead, I keep calling out to God. He will help me. 

Aside from having Mono, my life is "well and whole and secure". My family is getting along better than ever. My relationship with my daughter is doing phenomenal. My boys are growing into amazing young men. My husband is taking steps to better himself, his relationship with us and his relationship with the Lord. I have no needs that aren't being met right now and my life is secure. My husband is here with us. He's not drinking, he's laughing with us. He has a job which provides for all our needs and many of our wants. My life is very, very good right now. And I'm not going to allow Mono to destroy all that. 

Most of all, I trust in God. He has a reason why he's allowing me to take so long to heal from this illness. Perhaps he wants me to focus on the relationship building that's happening in our family right now and not focus on how clean my house is. I don't know. But I do know that I trust Him. And I will continue to put my life into His loving hands, knowing that He has plans for my life.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mark 14:32-37

"But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven's angels, 
not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, 
for you don't know the timetable. It's like a man who takes a trip, 
leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, 
and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. 
So, stay at your post, watching. 
You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, 
whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. 
You don't want him showing up announced, with you asleep on the job. 
I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch." 
Mark 14:32-27 (The Message)

The verse that really stuck out at me with this passage is "Stay at your post. Keep watch."

This passage is talking about Christ's second coming. If you have read the text prior to this passage, you'll see that Jesus is warning about false prophets. They will predict when Christ is coming, just as they have all through the years, but they will be wrong. However, their message will seem so right that even Christians will be led astray.

So, first of all, how will we know if someone is a false teacher? By staying at our posts and keeping watch. What is our post? The Bible. The only way that we'll be able to discern whether a person is of God or not is by knowing our Bibles - inside and out. We need to "stay at our posts and keep watch" by continually reading the Bible and getting the words committed to our minds. Then, we will be able to see if what the person is preaching is True and from God. But, if we don't know our Bibles, how in the world can we possibly know what is truth from what is falsehood? 

I love the questions that my husband's Life Application Bible lists for knowing if someone is a false teacher or not:
  1. Have their predictions come true, or do they have to revise them to fit what's already happened?
  2. Does any teaching utilize a small section of the Bible to the neglect of the whole?
  3. Does the teaching contradict what the Bible says about God?
  4. Are the practices mean to glorify the teacher or Christ?
  5. Do the teachings promote hostility toward other Christians?
Now, as to when Christ is coming? We won't know that until he is here. But, the Bible is quite clear that his coming will be so awesome that no one will be able to mistake it:

"Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds 
with great power and glory. and he will send out his angels 
to gather his chosen ones from all over the world - 
from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven." 
Mark 13:26-27 (NLT)

So, "stay at your posts. Keep watch." There will be no mistake when Jesus Christ comes again! Are you one of his chosen ones? If not, I encourage you to take that step before it's too late. It could be tonight. It could be next week. But, it is definitely going to happen! 
If you're not a follower of Christ, please accept him today. Don't wait. He loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. It is as easy as praying this:

Dear God,
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I have tried 
living my life my way but I now know that I need You to guide 
me. Please forgive me of my sins [if you'd like to, list some here]. 
I want the freedom that a life with Christ can bring me. I believe 
that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe he rose again. 
I want to live with him in eternity. Thank you for forgiving me. 
Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, for me. 
In His name I pray. Amen. 

If you just prayed this prayer, please leave me a comment. I would love to pray for you as you begin your journey with the Lord. I encourage you to contact a local Christian church in your area. You can also read this article at Focus on the Family for more information as to what to do next. You may also contact them and they can help you as you begin your walk with God. I encourage you to get yourself a Bible and start to read it. The Book of Romans or the Book of Mark are great places to start. If you don't have the money for a Bible, please contact The Gideons and I'm sure they would love to give you a free Bible. (This is the group who provides Bibles in hotel rooms.) May the Lord bless you as you begin your new life with Him!

Proverbs 13:3

"Careful words make for a careful life; 
careless talk may ruin everything." 
Proverbs 13:3 (The Message)

If you have children, particularly a teenage daughter ;-), you probably know already, how important it is to choose your words carefully - especially when in the middle of a conflict with your teen. My daughter is my first teen and let me tell you - I have made some pretty interesting mistakes with her. The biggest being using careless talk. 

Let's look at some definitions that I feel are important for total understanding of this verse:

  • Careless = spontaneous or disregarded
  • Spontaneous = proceeding from natural feeling or native tendency without external constraint; arising from momentary impulse.
  • Disregarded = to pay no attention to: treat as unworthy of regard or notice
  • Careful =  marked by attentive concern and solicitude; marked by painstaking effort to avoid errors or omissions
  • Solicitude = attentive care and protectiveness; an attitude of earnest concern or attention

Do you notice that the definition of spontaneous says "natural feeling" or "native tendency"? What I get from this is that our careless words come from our natural sin nature. It takes effort and attentiveness to use careful words. 

When I get upset with one of my kids, my natural tendency is to want to yell. I want to dish out a consequence and I want that consequence to "hurt" - not physically, but emotionally, so "maybe they'll think twice before doing whatever it is they did, in the future." Is this what God wants, though? I don't believe it is. 

I believe that God wants us to show concern for our kids, even while angry with them. Especially while angry with them. If we're careless with our speech it won't take much to destroy our relationship with our kids (or our spouses, or our friends, or our co-workers, or our neighbors, or our... you get the hint).

When I'm careless with my speech, I'm not showing attentive concern to my child. I'm showing my child that their feelings and thoughts are unworthy of my attention - when just the opposite is true! Just because I'm angry with my child, doesn't mean I stop caring about them. Or stop wanting to protect them. But, my sin nature comes in and sometimes, I just want to make them mad right back! (Yes... I have a lot of maturing to do in my heart.) 

I'm learning to be more careful with my words. When I get angry with my kids, I try to step back from the situation. I give myself a time-out. In my perfect world, that time-out would consist of me praying or repeating a Bible verse I'm trying to remember for times like this, but I'll be honest and say that sometimes, that time-out looks more like me yelling into my pillow, every spontaneous thought that comes into my head. I mean really, who out there hasn't done that from time to time? ;-)

I'm seeing that when I have an attitude of concern when it comes to what I say to my children in those times of conflict, it helps to keep everything calm. In a sense, it makes for a careful life. My kids typically don't react to my carefully chosen words in the same manner they do when I allow my spontaneous thoughts to come rushing out. They respond better, which causes me to respond better. Which keeps our lives a whole lot more peaceful!

Am I saying not to give your children consequences when they disobey? Absolutely not! But, when you're giving the consequence, choose your words wisely. Be attentive to what their body language is telling you about what and how you're saying what you say. If you need to, take a break to really think about what you're trying to say so you know that your message is coming across and not getting muddled with the emotion you might be feeling from their disobedience. And above all, make sure your love for them shines through! 

Oh - a comment I want to make that doesn't really go along with this post, but does fit with the verse: Does living a careful life mean we can't have fun? I don't see where this verse or the definitions I wrote says that. We are to protect our lives. We are to avoid errors or omissions. And we are to pay attention to our lives. So, for those who find pleasure in "living on the edge" - do it to your heart's content - just make sure you're well protected while doing so. Avoid making mistakes in your life - pretty self-explanatory. Avoid omissions - don't ever miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Don't ever miss out on something that you want to do - so long as it goes along with God's will. He wants us to live life! He wants us to experience all that life has to offer - so long as it doesn't go against His desires for your heart. And He wants us to pay attention to our lives. Don't just sit back and watch the world go by. Get out and experience life! Live a little! Have fun! Just keep your eyes on Christ while you're doing it. :-)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Proverbs 11:14

"Without good direction, people lose their way; 
the more wise counsel you follow, 
the better your chances." 
Proverbs 11:14 (The Message)

Accountability. That's what I get from this verse. Do you have anyone you need to be accountable to? Your spouse, perhaps. When we're young we're accountable to our parents. What about someone outside of your family, who helps keep you on track. People in Alcoholics Anonymous have sponsors that they're accountable to. People in Weight Watchers are accountable to someone. But, what about us folks who aren't in programs like those? Who do we turn to, outside of our family, for accountability? 

I'm sure everyone reading this is thinking I'm looking for the one answer that's always right: Jesus. And that is correct. But, I'm talking about a person who we see, in the here and now, in flesh and bone. Yes, Jesus is the ultimate accountability partner, but I'm talking about another person that we can meet with face-to-face. We need wise counsel and good direction from fellow believers. 

I have a few close friends I can turn to for accountability. And my husband and I were just invited to a discipleship group at our church, which we're doing. I have also attended another women's group which is great for accountability for me. So, I do have a few things, but I haven't always used them to keep me accountable. I don't open up and share what's really on my heart with them. Well, I do, at times, with my close friends, but not often enough. 

What holds me back? Fear. Oh man - there's that 4-letter word again! I get afraid to let people in too close because I don't want to be judged. Because, like so many humans, I want to look good. "I can't let people know what I'm struggling with because they might not think I'm as good a Christian as I want them to think!" When I think like this, I'm no better than a Pharisee. They looked oh, so holy on the outside, but on the inside they were rotting flesh. And that's what I'm like when I don't allow people in and seek wise counsel. 

Does this mean I should just bear my heart and soul to everyone I know? Of course not. We need to determine who is a safe person for us - someone who doesn't gossip would be a great choice! Someone who is following the Lord, so that when we're struggling, they will keep our eyes focused on Christ. Someone who has walked the paths we're walking in our lives. And it can be more than one person. I have friends I turn to for different things. Friends who have adopted, get my adoption-related questions. Friends who have older teens, get my teen-related questions. Friends who have walked the path of a loved-one's addiction get my 'having-an-alcoholic-husband' questions. 

It is so important to have people in our lives who can help keep us on the right path. We can't afford to lose our way in this life! There are too many treacherous things out there. We need to keep wise people in our lives so our chances of making it through this life are better. Those wise people need to be people who have a relationship with the Lord, because there ARE going to be times where we wander from the path and get lost, and we're going to need people with strong faiths to get us back on track. 

I am so grateful to all the people I'm blessed to have in my life who have walked the treacherous path with me and have lovingly brought me back to the right path time and time again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Proverbs 10:8

"A wise heart takes orders; an empty head will come unglued." 
Proverbs 10:8 (The Message)

Ok, so it's true confession time. I am a person filled with pride. Not in all things. In fact, if you were to ask my therapist she'd say, "Jen? Prideful? She needs to think 'higher' of herself!" But, there is one area, in specific, where I really suffer with pride. And that area is taking orders. I become like an empty-headed teenager when someone tells me what to do. It'd be comical if it wasn't so horrible. 

Just today, I was already going to do something, but when someone told me to do the exact same thing I was already going to do - and not in a demanding way, but in a "let me ask you nicely" way - my teenage rebellious side kicked in and I found myself getting grouchy and wanting to snap back, "No! I'm not going to do that now that you asked me to!" 

Seriously!? What's that all about?! 

I often feel like the child in the book "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" who says, "I'm doing it because I want to, not because you told me to!" 


Yes, I still have a long ways to go before I am mature... Oh Lord, give me a wise heart that is able to accept correction and direction.

Psalm 53:6

"Is there anyone around to save Israel? God turns life around. 
Turned-around Jacob skips rope, turned-around Israel sings laughter." 
Psalm 53:6 (The Message)

"God turns life around." Oh boy! Does he ever! In my "old" life, I was a smoker. A person who used the most foul language. I starved myself, among other self-destructive behaviors. I was on a slow path to death. And, probably like the Israelites, I considered myself to be a girl who loved God. I'm sure if you asked the Israelites back then, "Do you love God?" they'd have answered yes. Even though they were breaking so many, if not all, of God's commands. 

I did love God. And I also knew the things I was doing were wrong. I often thought, "Oh, if only I was born Catholic. I could become a nun and live in the Church every day.", because church was the only place I felt I was truly "good". I didn't curse at church. I didn't smoke at church. I felt like I was a good, little Christian girl at church. And I figured, if I could just never leave church, then I would measure up to God's standards.

Then I realized that I don't have to live at church to measure up. All I had to do was truly accept Jesus. When I did that, suddenly, everything else just fell into place. I quit smoking because I wanted to protect the life within me (my bio son), not because I felt like I was a horrible sinner. I quit cursing because I realized I didn't want my son's first word to be *$*@)!, not because I felt like God would never accept me if I talked like that. 

You see, God had accepted me - just as I was. I didn't need to be a good person before he would accept me! I just needed to accept His love for me - sent through His Son, Jesus Christ! 

Did I change overnight? *chuckle* No way! It has taken almost 13 years to change! Do I still slip up and sin? Each and every day! No, I don't smoke anymore (praise God!) but I have days where I might scoot closer to a smoker just so I can get a whiff. Do I still curse occasionally. Yes, I do but it's a whole lot better than it was! Do I still struggle with an eating disorder? Nope! This is one area where God has completely and totally healed me! I still struggle sometimes with feeling overweight (and it doesn't help that Wii Fit tells me I am LOL) but I am no longer able to skip meals - even if I desperately want to. I don't understand it myself, but I am physically not able to not eat. Sometimes that makes me so frustrated, but honestly - I feel free. And I praise God for that! 

The picture of myself I used for this blog truly is what I feel like inside. I am free! God has turned my life around and I can skip (ok, so not really because I have a bum knee, but my heart skips for joy, if that counts for anything!) and I can laugh on a daily basis now - because of what Christ has done for me. My life today is so amazing and I am so incredibly blessed!

Deuteronomy 33:27

"The ancient God is home on a foundation of everlasting arms." 
Deuteronomy 33:27 (The Message)

When I read this verse, I felt such a sense of peace. God is home. Reading my Bible every day has made me feel like I am coming back home. These last several years I have felt so distant from God. It was all my own doing, although I tended to blame God for feeling so far away from him. It's easy to do that, don't you think? But, seriously, how am I supposed to feel close to God when I'm not doing anything to allow him in?

I wouldn't pray. Oh, I said I "couldn't" pray, but the reality is that I wouldn't even try. I wouldn't read my Bible. Again, I said I "couldn't" but I wouldn't even attempt to open it. If I picked it up at all, it was to move it to a different part of the room or because I wanted to throw it across the room in anger. I would go to church, but my heart wasn't there. My mind was arguing with everything the pastor said. He'd say, "God is a loving God" and my mind would say, "Oh really? If what he's done for me is 'loving' then I want nothing to do with a god like that!"

I pushed God out of my life. I even told him to stay out of my business because I could do a better job than he obviously could. I was in full-on rebellion. And I knew it. And I lived in fear every day. I didn't know if I would go to heaven if I died that day. And since I was borderline suicidal, well.. let's just say fear was my ruler. 

I'm so thankful that the Lord gently led me back to him. He didn't force me. No one told me I had to get back to God. (Partly because no one really knew where my heart was. I have no doubt that a couple certain friends, had they known exactly where my heart was and just how far into rebellion I had gotten, they would have lovingly, yet firmly, set me straight. I just have awesome friends like that!) It was all God's doing. And he gets all the glory for my life today.

His everlasting arms lovingly wrapped me in up in love and forgiveness. He has brought me "home" to him. And he is my foundation.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Proverbs 9:11

"It's through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, 
and the years of your life ripen." 
Proverbs 9:11 (The Message)

What does that mean - "the years of your life ripen"? When I look up the word "ripen" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions says this:

ripen = to bring to completion or perfection

another one says this:

ripen = to age or cure (cheese) to develop characteristic flavor
odor, body, texture, and color 

So, through wisdom, your life is brought to completion. It's brought to perfection. It develops characteristic flavor. I like that one: "characteristic flavor".  It's got a certain ring to it that just makes me think "awesome!" 

Who among us doesn't want their life to be brought to completion? I don't care what religion someone claims to be or not to be - we all want our life to feel complete. But, I just simply cannot imagine feeling like my life was complete without Jesus. The times where I've run from him, my life has felt so empty. When I have a closer, personal relationship with Jesus Christ, my life truly feels complete. When I'm reading the Word of God, my life feels as perfect as it can possibly be here on Earth. And when I'm living out what I'm learning from the Word, my life begins to develop characteristic flavor like I've never known. (Maybe that's because when I am in a relationship with Him, I want to serve Him by serving others and when I do that, I feel like my life has a purpose.)

Deuteronomy 31:6

"Be strong. Take courage. Don't be intimidated. 
Don't give them a second thought because God, your God, 
is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. 
He won't let you down; he won't leave you." 
Deuteronomy 31:6 (The Message)

Have you ever been afraid? I mean, really afraid? Where the panic sets in, you can't breathe, and the room starts spinning, afraid? That has got to be the worst feeling in the world. Especially when you don't even know what you're afraid of. The panic just takes over and all you can feel is fear. 

I've had to do some things in the last few years that have been terrifying for me. Therapy forces you to look at the dark places in your life; places that you've been trying to hide from for a long time, years sometimes. Decades even. It's terrifying to go to those places. I've run from it at times. I've refused to talk about it at times. I've regretted opening my mouth about certain things from my past. But, the thing that has gotten me through it all is this verse. (Only I usually sing the song I taught my kids for this verse "Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged. For the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.") 

When I remember to be strong. When my therapist reminds me that the past can't hurt me anymore. When I can look fear in the face and know that God is going ahead of me through this dark place, bringing Light unto it, then I can face the fear and do what I need to do. I'm still trying to get to the place where I don't give it a second thought, but hey - I'm a work in progress. :-) 

I don't have to be afraid of the people who hurt me when I was a child. I don't have to be intimidated by the group I was in as a teen. They can't touch me anymore. God is with me and with his strength, with his courage, I can have healing in my life. And God will not let me down. He will be by my side through the entire process. Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Proverbs 8:17

"I love those who love me; those who look for me find me." 
Proverbs 8:17 (The Message)

Have you ever felt like God was missing from your life? Like he had abandoned you, despite his promise never to do that? I have. Many, many times. Looking back, I see that it was ME who had abandoned God. 

In the past, when I've gone through hard heart-wrenching times I stopped doing something that was very important to my having a strong relationship with the Lord. I stopped reading my Bible. That, my friends, is one of the most vital things we need to do if we want to feel God's presence! It's how he speaks to us, for cryin' out loud! How can we possibly expect him to be able to speak to us, if we're not in the Word?!?! {I'm yelling at myself here... LOL)

I'm going to be real blunt here. Satan lied to me, and I chose to listen to him! Satan told me that God was punishing me for sins by killing my babies. Satan told me that I must be a horrible mother and therefore God was saving my children by allowing them to die in my womb. Satan told me that I had spoken out about childhood abuse and this was my punishment for having done so. And I believed him! Knowing full-well what I know of Satan - that he is the father of lies. I chose to believe Satan over my loving Father. And this just breaks my heart. 

While that is heart-breaking to fall into that trap, there is a rainbow of grace here. Even in my darkest moments, I still longed for God. I had a deep, deep longing for God to help me through my heartache. I knew that God was the only One who could heal my broken heart. I wasn't able to read His Word for a very, very long time, but then, once I picked it up, I've been having a very difficult time putting it down. I kept looking for God and I am finding him again! I say "finding" because I'll never truly KNOW him until I get to Heaven. In this part of my journey, he is revealing more and more of himself to me and I am seeing how incredibly blessed I am! 

I pray that if you are in that dark place, wondering where God is, that you keep searching for him. Do whatever you have to do to pick up your Bible and read. Psalms is a great place to start when dealing with a broken heart. David wrote most of the Psalms and he knows a thing or two about having a broken heart. He sinned mightily against God, yet he was still called "A man after my [God's] own heart." because he continued to trust and love God. Don't believe the lies that Satan may be telling you. Look to the Bible and find the Truth of what God says about you! You are loved! And God desires to have a personal relationship with you! 

If you're not a follower of Christ, please accept him today. Don't wait. He loves you and wants to be in relationship with you. It is as easy as praying this:

Dear God,
I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I have tried 
living my life my way but I now know that I need You to guide 
me. Please forgive me of my sins [if you'd like to, list some here]. 
I want the freedom that a life with Christ can bring me. I believe 
that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe he rose again. 
I want to live with him in eternity. Thank you for forgiving me. 
Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, for me. 
In His name I pray. Amen. 

If you just prayed this prayer, please leave me a comment. I would love to pray for you as you begin your journey with the Lord. I encourage you to contact a local Christian church in your area. You can also read this article at Focus on the Family for more information as to what to do next. You may also contact them and they can help you as you begin your walk with God. I encourage you to get yourself a Bible and start to read it. The Book of Romans or the Book of Mark are great places to start. If you don't have the money for a Bible, please contact The Gideons and I'm sure they would love to give you a free Bible. (This is the group who provides Bibles in hotel rooms.) May the Lord bless you as you begin your new life with Him!

Deuteronomy 30:2,6

"If at that time [after Israel loses everything due to disobedience to God] 
you and your children return to the Lord your God, 
and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul 
all the commands I have given you today... 
Deuteronomy 30:2 (NLT) 
God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart 
and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, 
with your whole heart and soul and live, really live." 
Deuteronomy 30:6 (The Message)

You know what I love most about this whole section of Deuteronomy (Chapters 28-30)?  At first, it sounds just awful - horrifying really - what God says will happen if the Israelites break God's commands and begin to worship other gods. Cannibalism?! Even cannibalism of our own children?! I mean, can you even imagine making the decision to eat a person, let alone your very own child?! It's horrific! If I knew that this was a possibility if I broke God's command, I'd like to think that would be enough to stop me from sinning. 

Unfortunately,  I'm a sinner. I was born a sinner. I was destined to be a sinner even while in my mother's womb. I don't stand a chance. Of course, now that Christ has come, I DO stand a chance, thanks to his sacrifice. But, back in Old Testament days, there was no Christ. It was: You sin. You suffer. But, despite all that - God still showed his love for his people. His mercy. 

So many people think that the Old Testament is just a bunch of rules and laws and it's all about God's wrath. *wary grin* I used to think that about the Old Testament. But, the Old Testament is really chock-full of God's amazing mercy!

You see, almost every time God tells the Israelites what bad will happen to them, he then goes into: but if you turn from your sin and come back to God, ________ blessings will come upon you. And here in Deuteronomy 30 there is no exception. God could just give up on us humans. I mean, we sin time and time again - usually the same sin we just repented for the day before - or even the hour before! I'm sure he gets pretty fed up with our antics at times! Yet, even here in Deuteronomy he says that if we come back to God and love him with all our hearts, he will cut away the calluses on our heart which will free us to love God with all our hearts and souls and we will really live. And then, he lists everything the Israelites will get in blessings for having done so. 

What an amazing Father he is! I mean, seriously, how many of us parents give our kids a consequence for their misbehavior - and in the same breath say, "Oh, but if you turn from your sin I'm going to give you ________ blessing and _________ blessing and _________ blessing!"? [said in the perfect game-show-host tone of voice] We don't usually do this because we want to know that our child is serious about their behavior becoming right. But, God does this with us. He is so gracious to us! He loves us so incredibly much that my brain can't even comprehend how to measure it!

I mean - who wouldn't want a Father like that?! Who punishes justly when we sin, yet offers us hope in the same breath? So amazing! And what a wonderful example for us as parents to strive for. When disciplining our children, are we making them feel like failures who will never be able to measure up, let alone escape from God's wrath? Or are we building them up, teaching them that despite their sin, they can measure up thanks to Jesus; that they do have hope for their future!?