Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas

I woke up feeling a little sorry for myself this morning, sorry for my family, too.  It hasn’t been the Christmas season we expected or wanted, and I’m left wondering: how do you give your kids a good Christmas when nothing seems right in your world?

We’ve spent the entire month of December ill now.  Influenza spread slowly from one family member to another.  Several children ended up with sinus and ear infections. My asthmatic lungs were hit hard and our physician threatened me with hospital time.  Thankfully, it was just bronchitis and not pneumonia.

Just bronchitis, ha. 🙂

A pharmacy worth of medicines clutters our kitchen counters still – fever reducers, cough meds, antibiotics – you name it, we probably have it right now. Or at least that’s the way it feels.

How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Advent, trials, suffering, joy, salvation

Then, this weekend during our church Christmas program practice, our middle boy began complaining of stomach pain. By the time we had removed costumes and were ready to leave, he was on the floor curled up in a ball, crying. It frightened me because he is our tough cookie, the kid who rarely complains of pain.

So, when he started to scream that his stomach hurt, I left immediately for the closest ER!

We spent a day and a half at the hospital under observation, with many people praying – the world over. The surgeon mentioned appendicitis, but his symptoms didn’t fit exactly. Finally, his white blood cell count dropped, his pain subsided and we were able to go home.

We were overjoyed!  He talked about playing with his little brother and sister and how happy he was to come home in time for Christmas.  I grinned in the front seat, glad to have my funny, enthusiastic boy back. We were almost home.

All seemed right in the world again.

And then, suddenly it wasn’t.

Our oldest son woke in the middle of the night with an asthma attack. Then, I got sick and so did he.  On top of that, the only little one who didn’t get an ear infection before complained that his ear hurt.

I’ll admit, friends, my heart travelled straight from rejoicing to complaining because it’s almost Christmas and it just doesn’t seem fair, really.  Our children were back at school for a week, and already ill again!

How can you give your kids a good Christmas when everything goes wrong? How?

 

I know I’m not the only one struggling for joy right now.  In fact, I’m certain that many of you are experiencing trials much deeper and more painful than ours.  If I really knew the depth of them, I’d probably be ashamed of my own complaining.

And maybe you’re a mom like me who doesn’t really mind so much for herself, but for the kids!  Maybe you lie awake at night worrying about life circumstances.  Maybe you’re experiencing the pain of loss or separation from loved ones. Maybe you catch hold of joy for a few moments only to  quickly lose it again.

Whatever your lot might be this Christmas, know this: you can still give your kids a good Christmas.

You can give your kids a good Christmas without health, without money, without extravagance. You can give your kids a good Christmas in spite of pain, loss, broken relationships, and whatever other trials you might be experiencing.

You can because He came.

Luke 2

And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He came!  Emmanuel, God WITH us – that’s what Christmas is really about. Christ, the Hope of the world, in human flesh, for love of our wandering hearts.

We have to let go of this expectation of holiday perfection and embrace the reality that human life is flawed, messy, painful, even at Christmas. Christ came right into the midst of that mess, born in a stable – there’s nothing clean about that.

You want to give your kids a good Christmas? Let go of the worry.

Embrace Christ.

How To Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Advent, Jesus, Hope, Salvation

Show them Hope, Love and Peace.

Teach them of the Savior who willingly left Heaven’s splendor to suffer alongside us here on Earth. That’s a Love like no other, my sisters in Christ. He chose us. He chose pain. He chose death, so that we might experience life in abundance. He did it for you, for me, for them. He did it “for all the people.”

The wonder of Christmas has little to do with presents and food and fun. The wonder of Christmas is the keeping of a thousands-of-years-old promise, hundreds of promises, really.  The wonder of Christmas is Christ.

Romans 8

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Do you feel it, sisters?  The joy of Christmas is spreading right through us. It cannot be contained. The whole of creation leaps with joy – He is born! Promise fulfilled, salvation at hand, redemption nigh. Hope in human flesh.

How to Give Your Kids a Good Christmas, Christmas, Christ, trials, suffering, hope, joy, peace

Here’s how to give your kids a good Christmas: tell them the story of Jesus.

It’s the only thing that truly matters.

Clinging to hope and joy along with you this Christmas season,

Jen 🙂

Also sharing with: Monday Parenting Pin It Party, Mama Moments, Mom’s the Word, Wholehearted Home, Missional Women

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Courage to Face a Giant

Have you ever asked the Father for something big, something miraculous, and been so afraid that He might choose to say no that you avoid His presence altogether?

I have.

So you hide away, like the original sinners amongst the leaves in the garden, and when He calls, you cower because what if you don’t like what He has to say?  What if you don’t have the courage to face what’s coming?

Yeah, that’s me lately.

Courage, fear, cowering, hiding, avoiding

You feel this yearning to give in and stumble to His arms, yet your stubborn heart resists with questions like why? and right now?

My sisters in Christ, have you ever felt like David before Goliath,  wondering what happened to your army, praying for the courage to “fight the good fight” even if it means you’re doing it alone?

Yeah, that’s me, too.

And perhaps, like me, you feel more than a little lonely standing there with your simple slingshot in hand. Maybe you long for a superhero sidekick or two…or three.

As you stand there, wind in your face, jeers wafting through the air from the Enemy’s camp, you hear a still small voice speak, “Courage!”

“Take Courage, my daughter.”

That’s the message I’ve been receiving from the Father all year long.

He’s been sending it to me a million different ways. Through a Beth Moore simulcast.  Through Bible Study.  Through a talk He had me prepare for a MOPS group. Through prayer and quiet time.  Through facebook posts and pintrest pins… you name the method – He’s used it.

At times I’ve soared gloriously on that message, that promise.  Other times I find myself a doubting Thomas, looking for evidence, asking for proof.

And I keep looking for rescue to come in human form, but He tells me, “Courage.”

Galations 1:1-0

 For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

At first, I thought He meant the message for me in one specific area – that of pursuing writing and speaking.  But after a while I began to see that Courage applies to so many other areas of my life – marriage, parenting, trusting God, finances, and lately… well, this potentially life-changing  Giant.

Here’s the thing I’m learning about Courage, sisters: it’s not supposed to come from me or you or any human source.

Surprised? I was.

When you search for the word Courage in the Old Testament, you often find it used in connection with the phrase “be strong,” especially in the early years of Joshua’s leadership.

Keep in mind that Joshua was new in his leadership role, and he had some big shoes to fill. I mean, who wants to follow Moses, the man with the burning bush experience and the credit of leading the Israelites out of slavery?!

In addition, Joshua faced the enormous task of leading the people of Israel to conquer the Promised Land – hooray, right?!  Well, sure that sounds good after wandering in the desert an extra forty years, but something I didn’t realize until this year is that the Promised Land wasn’t empty.

No.

The Promised Land was filled with “giants” and well-fortified cities.  Joshua faced this very land.  No more Moses to look up to and learn from.  He was flying on his own set of wings now with a seemingly impossible task lying before him.

I’m sure Joshua was afraid. I’m sure he wasn’t completely certain that he was up to the task.

I’m positive because the Lord reassured him again and again in the first chapters of Joshua that He would be with Joshua.  He commanded Joshua four times to “be strong and courageous” in the first chapter alone!

And I’ve realized something about myself this year: I’ve taken the world’s view on Courage – you know, chin up, man up, just do it, what’s the worst that can happen, and all of the other sentiments we use to get past fear.

Maybe you have taken that view, too, without even realizing it.

But that’s just not God’s view, my sisters;  that’s not what He’s telling Joshua. It’s not what He’s telling me or you, either. Because when you look up the Hebrew for “strong and courageous,” you find both words or phrases (be strong, take courage) linked back to the Hebrew root “chazaq”  (pronounced khaw-zak’).

Last year I wrote about that root, but I was more focused on waiting patiently.

This year He’s telling me, “Take Courage!”

We must take it, you see, because “chazaq” doesn’t come from any human source. No, chazaq comes from a supernatural act: as in David’s triumph over Goliath, as in Samson pushing down the pillars, as in angel armies going before Joshua as he led the Israelites in battle for the Promised Land.

Don’t you see? The courage comes from Him, sisters!  He doesn’t expect us to muster courage up within ourselves. He offers it from His very nature, for our taking!

courage quote, fail or succeed, take courage in the Lord, be strong and courageous

It’s true. We’re destined to succeed in whatever He sets before us when “chazaq” comes into play.

So, I’m asking for some BIG things right now, Father.  And I’m a little afraid, so I’ve been hiding out, avoiding your Presence.  Hiding has only served to leave me feeling lonely and a little bit miserable. But like my friend Arabah Joy wrote, I’m asking for “rain” and I’m taking my umbrella with me.  I know I’m lacking in the courage department right now and the fear seems to be winning a little bit.  But I hear you say, “Courage, daughter,” and I know that means that You’ve got this. Chazaq – it’s Your Courage, not mine.

It’s Your battle, not mine.

Suddenly that giant doesn’t seem so big.

And I’m crying, but I’m grinning, too, ‘cause I’ve missed you, Father.

I’ve missed you.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lordyour God is with you wherever you go.

I hear Him whisper Courage to me, and to you, too, sister.

Do you hear it?

Jen 🙂

Sharing with: #TheLoft, Cornerstone Confessions, Rich Faith Rising, Missional Women, Jennifer Dukes Lee/Tell His Story, Work in progress Wednesdays,

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Verses That Pack a Punch (and #TheLoft)

Verses that Pack a Punch, spiritual battle, encouragement, Satan, scripture 

Two weeks ago, I shared about my personal weight issues here on the blog because the Lord just wouldn’t leave me alone about it. 🙂  I was afraid to open up that part of myself, but I trust that He knows best. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and even resulted in a speaking engagement for me.

Needless to say, I was elated!  It felt like a major spiritual victory to walk in obedience and see such immediate fruit.

Of course, as soon as I began to rejoice in the work the Lord was doing (in spite of me!), the murmuring voice began.

You’re not a speaker.  Who are you to think you have something to say?

You just ate donuts last night, and here all these people are praising you for keeping up the good fight. You’re a fraud.

You’re not worthy.

You’re not worthy.

You’re not worthy.

I felt the arrows of the Enemy, sisters, and I even let a few of them pierce me before I remembered who that voice belonged to.  Even once I recognized the slippery snake, I struggled to ignore his murmurs.  And the more I resisted, the louder he became.

I found myself in the midst of an unexpected battle and I felt unprepared. I had not put on the full armor of God that morning.  My belt of truth was quickly slipping as the arrows came in quick succession.

I cried out for mercy!

Our Father was quick to answer with truth from His word. He reminded me of my pre-approved status. He reminded me that I am a work-in-progress, not yet complete, but fully loved, fully accepted.

My sisters,  when you experience a victory in some area of your life, don’t be surprised to find the Enemy lurking just around the corner.  He loves to set a trap for us when we are the most joyful, the most productive, the most faithful, the most determined.  He delights in seeing us fall from the greatest heights to the lowest depths.

We must be prepared for the spiritual battle,my sisters, for it IS coming.  The Word aptly describes Satan as a prowling lion seeking for someone to devour.

One way to be prepared is to put on the armor of God, specifically the sword of the Spirit.  So, this week at #TheLoft, we’re sharing our favorite fighting verses!

When facing temptation and discouraged by sin:

Romans 7  and 8 – Anytime you feel stuck in sin or discouraged in your walk, read these two chapters. They are too lengthy to post in entirety here, but these verses from chapter 7 sum up the transition between the two well:

22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

When disappointed in our short-comings:

Eph. 1:6

  “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Rom. 8:1

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Cor. 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

When feeling unloved or unlovable:

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

Zeph. 3:17

   “The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When experiencing trials:

Psalm 34:17-18

 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When you feel you have nothing left to give:

2 Cor. 12:9-10

 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(emphasis mine)

For when I am weak, then I am strong, even when you don’t feel it.

For when I am weak, then I am strong, keep saying it until you believe it.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Jen 🙂

For more scripture that packs a punch, visit the link-up at the bottom!

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic 🙂

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah
Kathy
Arabah
Jen
Rebekah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Fighter Verses” (What are some of your favorite, well worn scriptures? Which ones do you find yourself going back to again and again? Tell us what spiritual warfare looks like for you and how you use God’s Word to be victorious. We look forward to learning from each other!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Potluck” (Periodically, we’ll have a “potluck.” This is a blogging version of bring-your-own-dish. So pick a post and link up any post you want to share with our community!)

 

Add Your Link Here:

 

 

Also sharing with:

A Little R & R, Cornerstone Confessions, Messy Marriage, Whole Hearted Home, Jennifer Dukes Lee, My Freshly Brewed Life

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Choosing the Struggle

Yesterday was Five Minute Friday, and while I avoided it for a day, I can avoid no longer. 🙂  So, I’m joining up with Lisa-Jo Baker and the rest of the brave free-writing crew.  The word for this week: choose.  Join us if you like!

choosing the struggle, rough day, feeling defeated, struggle with discouragement, hope for the weary

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”

It’s the first thought that runs through my head.  And the obvious choice.  Yes, I choose Jesus.  I want to serve the Father.  I want to follow hard after Him.

But some days, the choosing is a struggle, isn’t it?

The choosing is easy enough when the sun shines and the warm breeze blows and the blessings flow and joy abounds.  But those days when the fiery darts strike in quick succession? And just as you rise, the wind gets knocked out of you once more? Those days the choosing feels near impossible.

And that’s exactly what our Enemy wants, my work-in-progress sisters, for us to feel helpless! Incapable! Paralyzed! Weary! Defeated! We just want to cry, “mercy” and throw in the towel, admit defeat.

Those lies about our failings will carry us right away if we let them, won’t they?  Carry us right away into a sea of despair, a void of apathy, a pit of depression.

What if we choose the struggle instead, sisters?  In those times when we can’t find it in ourselves to choose joy, when we can’t count our blessings for the crashing waves before us, when we feel incapable of making a choice at all, maybe it’s enough just to choose the struggle.

Even though we may not be winning, we choose fighting the good fight.   We don’t give up, we don’t give in. Even though we fear defeat, even though we falter for a step or two, or even a mile or more, we choose to press on.  What if we throw off the chains of perfection and choose instead the road of imperfect progress? And maybe even some days that road looks less like progress and more like simple survival.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is

and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

So by faith, we wait on the Lord.

By faith, we cling to the promise of grace and we seek His face.

By faith, we choose the struggle.

And some days, that’s the best choice we can possibly make.

Let’s choose it together, sisters.

It’s the choice that leads to victory!

Jen 🙂

Sharing with #TheLoft.

You may also find me linking up with some of these lovely places.

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Confidence Born of Chaos

If you are a faithful follower, you’ve probably noticed that the new posts on Being Confident of This have been few and far between lately. I apologize!  I feel as if I’ve been in an extended period of wrestling with the Lord, like Jacob.  I vacillate between patient waiting on my Redeemer and repeated attempts to escape this difficult lesson.

This season of trial has been just that – trying, and at times I feel so keenly the attempts of the Enemy. I don’t want to bore you with a list of everything that has added to our burden lately, neither do I wish to complain about our temporary trials.  “When it rains it pours” and Noah’s storm lasted 40 days and nights with weeks of patient waiting to follow, right?! 🙂

But in this time of waiting on the Lord, I’m also learning.  One of the things I’ve been learning is to let Him have control of everything, including the words that end up published here.  And He seems to be telling me to stay silent often lately, to be still, to simply listen and wait for Him.

So, while I’ve been resting at His feet, waiting and listening, I’ve thought a lot about the title of this blog: Being Confident of This.  What exactly is it that we are confident of?  When I first claimed Phil. 1:6 (look for it in the sidebar) as my very own, my life verse, I did so because I knew I struggled with perfection, since as long as I can remember.  This verse offers comfort to those who, like me, know their desire to please the Lord, their desire to do right, maybe even to be perfect, but they also deeply understand their own flaws.

In the beginning, being confident of this meant that I was confident God would never give up on someone like me, so flawed, so imperfect. I was confident He would keep His promise to carry out the “good work” He began in me.   It also meant that someday I would be free of the chains of perfection!  Hallelujah! I have no words to even begin to describe what that means to me – that because of what Christ suffered, I can find freedom!  In fact, because He suffered, I am now a co-heir with Him, positionally perfected by His blood.

As I’ve grown in my Christian walk, especially in the intensity of these last few years, I’ve begun to learn another kind of confidence, the kind of confidence born of a certain amount of chaos.  I think this lesson in confidence first began about 5 years ago, when we discovered we were expecting twins!  I knew myself, my desire for my agenda, and my impatient nature.  Although I’ve been a baby-lover from a very young age, I sincerely doubted my ability to handle twins, especially after the frightful toddler years with our second-born, strong-willed ball of energy and enthusiasm. 🙂

Yet, the Lord carried us through every hurdle we faced, even when… our babies were born six weeks early and ended up in the NICU. Even a few months later when our infant son began to have seizures.  Even when we lacked money for necessities.  Even when we faced developmental delays, and head-shaping helmets, and corrective eyeware,  and one specialist after the other, etc.  He’s been faithful every step of the way!

A few years later, when He asked us to say yes to moving wherever…like Abraham going forth into the desert with no destination in mind, He remained faithful.  We truly didn’t know what we were saying yes, to, but it just so happened that we said yes to leaving a comfortable job with benefits for a full-time ministry position that required a move, albeit thankfully a short distance.

We waited for a year, with half of our belongings packed away, for Him to sell our home so that we could move to our new community.  He proved faithful every step of the way, providing a place for us to stay when we were temporarily homeless (thanks, Mom and Dad!), a place for our belongings to be stored, furniture for our growing family, a better mower for our bigger yard, and the faith and boldness to jump into a new-to-us church with its old-to-them problems. 🙂

I was so excited about where He was leading us that I temporarily forgot the pain of moving and the insecurity of building new relationships.  How can an MK like me forget such things?!  But I did.  And then I remembered…when winter came… and loneliness settled around us.  We mourned the loss of friends, the comfort of familiarity, the quiet of just “being” with family.  Even then, especially then, He showed Himself faithful.  He carried us through that darkest winter and right into the hope of spring!

And now, now I feel we are in the midst of the Refiner’s fire again.  It’s painful, but also beautiful. Even here, right here in this tough spot that seems to last for eternity, He is faithful.  He does not leave me, nor forsake me. He reminds me of my blessings.  He reminds me of His promises.  He reminds me of His faithfulness.  Most importantly, He reminds me that I belong to Him.

Great is His faithfulness, time and time again. That’s what confidence is beginning to mean to me, my sisters in Christ.  I’m confident that He will see us through this current set of circumstances.  I’m confident that even though my faith may at times falter, it will never fail.  I’m confident that when I am weak, He’ll be my Strength and when I am poor, He’ll be my Provider.  And when I just need to be held and comforted, He’ll be my Rock.

faithful one, Great is Thy Faithfulness

That’s a confidence worth keeping, right?  Let’s not throw it away.

If you find yourself struggling as I have been, cling to this truth, sisters.  He is faithful; we can be fully certain of that.  When the road ahead looks to be too dark and you find yourself fearing, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When the burden grows so great that you want to throw it off altogether, remember His faithfulness and be confident.  When you find yourself stumbling and sorrowing over sin, remember His faithfulness and be confident.

Be confident of this…

that the God of the Universe who walks by your side is the Faithful One.

And that you, you belong to Him.

Jen 🙂

8 Comments »

It Will Be Worth It All

When we see Jesus, encouragement, hope

Last week we took our four-year-old twins to a doctor’s appointment for a check-up.  Our daughter was excited, but fairly calm.  Our son, on the other hand, demonstrated a major case of ants-in-the-pants!  He combed over every inch of that examination room, up on the table, down on the floor, inspecting every nook and cranny.

By the time the physician’s assistant arrived, I was feeling quite flustered. Then, because it was our first appointment at this office, she began to ask a battery of questions that required actual thinking, which is really hard to do when you are also trying to keep your rambunctious boy from destroying the room!

It’s not the first time I’ve felt such frustration with my sweet son.  Homeschooling for pre-K gives birth to those same feelings of frustration and inadequacy because our son is a very easily distracted learner (typical for his age)!  Even throughout the day, when I’m trying to get his attention or correct his behavior, he pulls away from me, eager for the lesson to be over so that he can move on to better things.

twins fall, hope, faith

I know he’s just being a four-year-old, caught up in his own little world of fun and furious activity.  I just didn’t realize how like him I am, until recently.

I wrote several weeks ago about waiting on the Lord in the midst of seasons of trial and about finding that light at the end of the tunnel, the hope we can only find in Him and in His purposes.  But I must admit, sisters, that I’ve been so eager for the lesson to be over, to escape the trial and get on with what I want to do, that I’ve been an impatient learner.

I keep jumping up from the Father’s feet, scurrying away from this place of discomfort in an attempt to find my own way to peace and joy and rest, thinking that I’ve learned my lesson.  But He knows, He knows the hard work isn’t finished.  He knows the lessons I still need to learn, so He patiently calls to me. And when I don’t listen, He leads me back to this place of physical and emotional trial to resume the lesson because…it’s what is best for me, even if I can’t see it in this moment.

He does this for me because He’s my Heavenly Father, perfectly loving and perfectly knowledgeable. He loves me too much to let me continue down my own path when He knows there is a better way.  Just as I attempt to reason with and teach my active four-year-old son out of love for him, so my Heavenly Father yearns to teach me.

Of course, Satan would have me believe a host of lies about this place of trial:

It’s too painful.

It’s too difficult.

It’s too long.

It’s unfair.

I’m all alone.

But this week, the Lord gave me a few verses that perfectly fit my current circumstances:

2 Cor. 4:16-18

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,

you will receive what he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

We throw away our confidence, my work-in-progress sisters, when we give ear to the Enemy’s lies.  We throw our confidence when we (and I’m so guilty) wallow in self-pity.  We throw away our confidence when we tell ourselves we can endure no longer.

We forget that we serve a loving Savior.  We forget that He promises to never leave nor forsake us. We forget that our Great High Priest understands and sympathizes with our every pain!  We forget that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We forget that our hope and strength can come from Him alone and instead convince ourselves that we must somehow manufacture them within us. 

We throw away our confidence and sometimes the weight is so heavy, so, so heavy that we even lose heart.

But the Father, in His goodness, gave me this verse as well:

 “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying,

yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory

far beyond all comparison,

 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;

for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Cor. 4:16-18

My physical body is really frustrating me  lately.  I’m dealing with a lengthy recovery (from the injury at Buttkill Falls), and lately I’ve had other medical issues as well.  And I know many, many others who suffer daily even more so than I.  But the lesson is hard right now, sisters, so hard that I’m tempted to throw away my confidence almost daily.

But we can’t lose heart or the lesson will not be learned! (And this is one I definitely don’t want to have to repeat!) 🙂  Our bodies may fail us; our children may fail us; our marriages may fail us; our finances may fail us; our churches may fail us; even our friends may fail us….but our inner selves can be renewed day by day if only we quit looking for escape.  We cannot pull away like impatient children who are too wrapped up in self to listen.  We must learn to wait for the things that are not seen, the rewards, the promises that we stand upon.  We must persevere!

Because even if the only thing we gain as reward from such trials is a closer, sweeter walk with Him, then it’s worth it, isn’t it?  Even if we must wait until eternity to receive the reward, it’s worth it, isn’t it?  He promises, the glory will be “far beyond all comparison.”

I want it, don’t you?

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,

Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;

One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,

So bravely run the race till we see Christ. 

Let’s run bravely, sisters, not losing heart, not throwing away our confidence, persevering to the very end because it will be worth it all

…when we see Jesus.

Jen 🙂

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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How to Love When You Feel Unloved

In the spirit of truth-sharing, I’ll tell you that being the wife I am called to be is my weak area, my Achilles heel. I never feel so much like Paul in Romans 7, battling with the flesh, as when marital issues arise. How can I love my husband when I myself feel so unloved? Often Satan and sin have me so ensnared that I even become confused as to what “right” really is.
How to love when you feel unloved, Christian marriage, difficult marriage, feeling unloved

Lately I’ve been reminded of this weakness as our marriage is under extra strain.  I could make excuses.  Truthfully, the pressure just brings forth what is already there, lurking beneath the surface, waiting for the perfect opportunity to rise up.  Like many married couples, we tend to get caught up in the cycle of an argument that’s been played out time and time again.  And that can be so frustrating!  Revisiting those same issues makes us feel like failures, trapped by the past, stalled in our progress.

marriage, troubled marriage, feeling unloved, encouragement for marriage

But I’m not satisfied with a marriage that’s merely okay, and I mean that in the best of ways, I really do.  I desperately want to grow ever closer to the type of intimacy God intended for us  to experience as man and wife. I don’t want to be fatalistic or resigned in my outlook, even though I may feel that way at times.  Because if I settle for “this is as good as it gets,” then where is my hope in the God who transforms souls, including my own?

Marriage is hard work, just like parenting is hard work.  If it were easy, we would not be challenged to grow!  Marriage teaches me things about myself that I loathe: how selfish I am, how easily offended, how weak and needy.  But unless I see the truth of where I stand, what chance do I have to move on from that spot?

By far the most difficult times in our marriage occur when we are both bearing unusual burdens that slowly wear us down, burdens like extended illness, or financial stress, or parenting issues, or major decisions, or unpredictable catastrophes.  We’re both weak.  We’re both worn and frayed.  We’re both longing for rest.   You’ve been there before, I’m sure – those times in life when you both feel like you need a good long vacation from reality.  🙂

As much as I’d like to blame our marital strife on my husband’s inadequacies, I know the issues at hand aren’t his alone.  We’re called to be sacrificial in our love for one another, but when I’m already at the end of my rope, I often feel there is nothing left to give.   I become selfish; I withhold kindness.  I justify.  How can I lift my husband up when I can barely lift myself up, Father?

Sacrificial Love, marriage, how to love, feeling unloved, hope

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this, this desire we wives have to be rescued by our husbands when the going gets tough.  This desire to have men of strength come charging in to save the day. This desire to let ourselves be the weak ones for once.  This desire to feel protected and cherished and cared for.  Because for all of our outward strength (and we mamas are masters of disguise), we often harbor needs that remain hidden.

The problem is that in wishing my husband would take on that role of Rescuer, I’m asking him to fill a space only our Father God can truly fill.   When I ask him to fill up that empty space, I’m asking to be disappointed.  My husband is imperfect.  Sometimes he lets me down, as I do him.  Sometimes he needs a Rescuer just as I do.  Sometimes he is weak.  He is only human after all.  My desire for him to be what even I cannot is quite unfair, isn’t it?

I’ll be honest. As a busy mom of four, I wrestle with this idea that God should be my sole supply. After all, God cannot help with the bedtime routine or sweep the kitchen or sign permissions slips or pay the bills, at least not in a physical sense.  I wrestle, too, with feelings of disappointment and unkind thoughts toward a husband whom I truly wish to respect.

So, how can I demonstrate love for my husband even when he’s not demonstrating love for me?  How do I overcome the seeming injustice so that I can be the wife after God that my heart desires to be?  How can I be so filled with the Spirit, with the Father’s love for my husband, that I have a constant and abundant supply to give?

Honestly, I have no clear answers. I have only ideas, inklings of what it takes.  Prayer would be a good start.  Telling God where I’m really at, even if it’s ugly.  Letting Him know how unfair it feels, how hurt I am, how afraid.  Asking Him to bring light to the Enemy’s lies, lies about how it will never change, about how it never has changed, about how you’re stuck.  They are Satan’s favorite lies. You’re trapped in this loveless marriage forever! He’s unfair!  He doesn’t appreciate you!  You shouldn’t have to put up with this! (I think Satan might be the biggest drama queen of all.)

Fear versus Trust

Praying for supernatural intervention helps.  God can change my husband’s heart, as well as my own, quicker than an hours-long “discussion.”  He can give me a supernatural love for my man, something that is not naturally “in me.”  He can help me see the truth in the situation and  who my husband is in the Father’s eyes, a dearly beloved son.

The Father can melt my stubbornness, soothe my anger, hold my hurt, and forgive my sin, too.

He can remind me of how big my husband’s shoes are, how broad his shoulders.  He can help me see clearly the load that often sits there and understand why my man sometimes stumbles beneath it.

When I see that truth, who my husband really, truly is at heart, I’m overwhelmed by compassion and ashamed by my traitorous thoughts.  I may not feel any stronger.  I still desperately need rescuing.  I may even carry wounds from the wrestling.  But at last I see that we two are the same: lonely, weary hearts in search of love and acceptance and a Rescuer.

You’re tired?  Me, too.  You want to escape from life right now?  Me, too.  You feel inadequate?  Me, too. You hurt?  Me, too.

Instead of being angry with my hubby for failing to rescue me, we can turn hand in hand to the Father, the One who rescues us both.

This is how we love, sisters, by gazing into the face of Love Himself.

Greater Love has no man than this…

And so we stand, my husband and I, in the face of Perfect Love.

Side by side.

Fear washed away.

Compassion in our eyes.

Forgiveness on our faces.

Wearing our Grace-colored glasses.

Because we serve the God of all Hope!

We’re merely works in progress here on Earth.

But we are not alone.

And this is not our home.

Jen 🙂

When do you feel strain in your marriage the most?  How do you take it to the Lord?

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places. 🙂

You can find more great posts on marriage here:

For the Wife Who Doesn’t Feel Like Celebrating Love

6 Ways to Stir Up Love in a Difficult Marriage

Life in Grace

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The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The Light at the end of the tunnel

If you follow this blog, you know that the last month or so has been very trying for our family (read part of the story here). Now that I’ve rested at His feet for a while and regained strength, I feel like I really can “count it all joy” in spite of present circumstances.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about suffering and why the Lord allows certain suffering to come into our lives.  He’s omnipotent God, after all, and could supernaturally prevent such trials if He chose to do so.  Obviously, this suffering is part of what makes us human, but it wasn’t His original plan!  Adam and Eve lived in a perfect atmosphere – no sin, no death, no sickness, no hardship of any kind.  That’s the sort of existence our Father God intended for us to experience!  Even their marriage relationship was perfect.  Can you imagine working alongside your spouse in perfect harmony?  It sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?! 🙂  So, what happened?  Why is our world so full of evil, pain, suffering, and trials?  Why does life have to be so difficult sometimes?

Suffering because of Sin

In the Bible, God’s message to us, we find that several reasons exist for suffering.  The first suffering took place when man first sinned.  As a result guilt and death entered the world; an animal was sacrificed to cover their nakedness.  Before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, they never experienced guilt, never experienced death. It must have been horrifying to realize that because of their choices, an innocent animal must be slaughtered.  And even more horrifying to realize they must leave paradise and could no longer walk alongside the Lord God.

So by this token, sin leads to suffering, and sometimes our present-day suffering is directly related to the natural consequences we experience as a result of our choices to follow our own ways and ideas rather than God’s.  We choose not to stay inside the fence of His protection and leave ourselves open for calamity.

But there is still good news!  We serve a God of grace.  Even though Adam and Eve brought sin and suffering to the world, God did not leave them to suffer alone.  Instead, He promised a Deliverer, the Messiah, who would one day restore man to a right relationship with Him.

Consider the prodigal son in Luke 15:10-32.  Even though he sinned by leaving his father’s home to live a worldly life that lead to his own ruin, his father welcomed him home with rejoicing, not grudging acceptance, but rejoicing!

It’s the same for us, Chosen Children –no,  even more so!  For if an earthly father could forgive an ungrateful son and welcome him home with full acceptance and even rejoicing, how much more can our perfect, loving Heavenly Father welcome us back when we make wrong choices?  So, even if we suffer for a while because of sin in our lives, God promises redemption and restoration.  Although  we may feel too ashamed to ask for His help, He willingly offers it!

James 4

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Suffering at the hand of Satan, For the Lord’s Glory

We also read in 1 Peter 5:8-9  that suffering and trials can be brought upon us simply because we follow the Lord.  Satan is God’s enemy and does not desire that we should exist in a harmonious relationship with God.  I Peter says he is prowling like a lion, seeking to devour. Even the very world we live in is also our enemy because of our beliefs according to this passage in John.

John 15:19

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

In our home, we have never experienced Satan’s obvious persecution to the extent that we have the past year.  However, his attacks make sense.  My husband is a full-time pastor and we moved a year ago in order to live in the community that God has us ministering to.  That move was a huge leap of faith for us. Satan desires to limit our reach in this community, of that I am sure.

Thus, sometimes our suffering is a result of the Enemy’s attacks.

Never was there a clearer picture of this type of suffering than the life of Job, a man who lived uprightly.  His suffering was two-fold.  Satan asked for permission to test his faith and the Lord granted it.  Why?  So that through his endurance, Job might bring glory to the Lord!

But the story doesn’t end there, sisters.  Because the Lord required great things from Job, including losing his family and all of his possessions and even his very health, He also blessed Job abundantly by restoring him and even adding to all that he had before.  And through it all, the Lord was glorified!

Consider also the blind man in John 9:1-3.

 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

When asked why this man suffered with blindness, Jesus declared that the blindness was not due to sin, but was meant to bring glory to the Father.  Then, He restored the blind man’s eyesight miraculously!

What suffering have you endured that the Lord might want to use for His glory?  We sometimes like to hide away those painful things, but what if our restoration can only be found in surrendering those things to the Lord to do with as He pleases?  The longer we hold onto them and attempt to control them, the longer that healing process takes.

Suffering for Refined Faith

Isaiah 48:10

 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.

In the Bible, we read that trials will refine our faith, like gold is refined by fire.  Such suffering is not a punishment from the Lord, although it may certainly feel like it at times.  Rather, these trials are intended to grow our faith, to help us better understand who God is and who we are through Him.

It’s for this reason alone that James can admonish us to “count it all joy” when we suffer.

James 1:2-4
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We can count it joy, not because the suffering is painless, not because we don’t want to wish it away,  but because we believe that God is faithful to use it for our benefit.

1 Peter 1:6-7

 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire,

may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Sisters, our perspective is skewed.  We see and live in the here-and-now.  Any present suffering feels bad, unbearable even. But God’s view is all-encompassing because He is all-knowing and eternal.  He can see how something that looks bad can actually result in good for us.  He can also see how the lives we live today will not only affect those around us and perhaps even our children or grandchildren, but also how our lives will affect generations upon generations to come. Who knows how our suffering might be used for His glory?!  Do you think people like Job or Corrie Ten Boom every imagined the reach that their suffering would have? I doubt it.

Even if the only “good” that comes out of our family’s present circumstances is that we draw into a closer walk with Him, that alone is cause for rejoicing, is it not?  But it truly doesn’t stop there, friends; it doesn’t.  Because I have seen already how the Lord continues to use this season of trial not only to lift us up, but by our witness of His goodness, to lift up others who are suffering up as well.

verse for comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction

with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

(emphasis mine)

This, this right here is the light at the end of the tunnel, sisters.  Not the deliverance, although we’ll be grateful for that when it comes.  It’s the purpose, to know that we do not suffer in vain.   To know that we are not being punished by an angry God, but pruned  and pursued by a loving God.  To find rest in Him when we feel we can no longer go on. To soar on the wings of eagles when He lifts us up!  To find joy even in the midst of pain! To watch Him keep His promises time and time again!

And, oh, the beauty of it all, ladies.  It’s so beautiful. When He takes my insignificant pain and suffering and uses it to comfort a sister in need.  I’m just in awe .

This is the God we serve – Who can take the ugly and make it beautiful,

Who can turn weeping into rejoicing, pain into promise,

Who lifts up the humble,

Who chooses the weak,

Who redeems the sinner and exalts the unworthy!

He is the Lord and is worthy to be praised!

verse on suffering

Take heart, my sisters in Christ.

Whatever trial you are going through,

there is purpose in the pain.

Jen 🙂

 For resources on this topic, visit here:

http://rachelwojo.com/resources-understanding-pain-suffering/

You may also find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

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Waiting While Sea Billows Roll

Image

It’s more than a bad hair day and more than spilled milk.  It’s one of “those” days, the ones you really do weep over, when wave after wave of some new trial sweeps over you as you struggle to swim.  And just as you gain your feet, another waves swells up before you.  We all have them… those days (sigh).  In the midst of such trials, we can do little else than cry out for mercy, for deliverance.

And sometimes “those” days last longer than just a day or two, or even a week.  Sometimes, we experience whole seasons of “those” days, whole seasons of trial, and illness, and heartache.

If you read regularly here, you know our family has been in the midst of such a season for a while now.  I’ve been wanting to share with you all some of my “discussions” with the Lord about this spot He has us in, but I’ve honestly been confused about the message He’s trying to give me.  I don’t want to wallow in self-pity, but I do want to allow myself the grace to rest and recover when needed.  I want to keep using  those Grace-colored glasses He’s been teaching me about.

You see, it’s not just the practical and physical difficulties of a trial that make life on one of those days oh-so-difficult, but it’s the emotions that come along for the ride, too.  Emotions like frustration, guilt, doubt, confusion, sorrow.  I’m frustrated by the condition of my physical body and even by the condition of my fragile emotions.  They’re letting me down!  And I feel guilty about my absence as the Mom, the flusher-of-toilets, the light-turner-offer, the schedule-keeper, the cooker-of-food, the kisser-of-boo-boos, the one who makes a home a home.  I see my husband grow weary with the extra burdens, and I wish I could bear my fair share.

What I really wanted to give you was a how-to post:  how to survive when Mom can’t be mom.  I do have a few ideas about that one, a few tips the Lord has been helping me with.  He’s been telling me to lower my expectations.  So what if the twins watch an extra hour of cartoons?  So what if beds go unmade and the soccer shirts aren’t clean on game day?  If at the of the day, we’re all fed and alive, then we’re surviving!  Or what about Teamwork – be a team with your spouse?  Yes, that’s a good tip, too.  When I feel overwhelmed by circumstances in life, I often fight against my husband instead of with him.  In return, I reap the added burden of marital strife to an already trying situation. So, teamwork is good, blaming my husband for my own limitations and frustrations is bad.  Okay, I got that. 🙂

Resist Satan’s Lies – tip number three.  Of course, I know that in spite of my guilty feelings, I’m doing the best I can and that’s enough for the Lord.  Of course I know that He promises to be my Deliverer.  But sometimes I just don’t want to wait for deliverance.  I’d rather try to fix it myself, right?  Are you with me here?

Lean on the Lord for both physical and emotional strength. That’s a good one, right?  Chin up, soldier because God is on your side.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  And all of the other platitudes we like to splatter about when someone is suffering a trial.  They’re all true; they really are, but sometimes they do little to comfort the weary soul. Sometimes instead of lifting us up, those verses make us feel like crummy Christians.  Because if I’m not “counting it all joy” every single day of this trial, then I’m once again failing somehow, am I not?

And what about “count your blessings,” which goes right along with “think of those less fortunate”?  You know some days that really works for me. Most of the time, I can see all of the good things around me that the Lord has blessed me with.  I can find the silver linings.  I know that my temporary suffering pales in the face of what others have gone through before me, namely Jesus.  But some days I can count my blessings, think of others,  and still feel frail.  Some days I know I’m not clinging to joy, I’m not embracing peace, because I have no strength left to do so!

So while I sit and think on all of these good things I feel I should be doing to try to help myself in this season of trial, the waves grow all the stronger and more ominous around me. Crashing, crashing, always crashing, this storm in my soul. I feel like Jacob, wrestling with the Lord, and I wonder, what’s wrong with me? Why can I not seem to overcome?  Am I not obedient enough?  Not trusting enough?  Not hopeful enough? Have I sinned in some way I’m not aware of?

Then,  I read this post here about not having a formula for success in the midst of trial but just “hanging on for dear life” and this post here about resting in the mud, in the mess of it, because He’s willing to sit right there with us.  I began to wonder if I was seeing it all wrong, if I was trying to earn favor rather than be willing to receive favor.

I’m beginning to hear a new song from the Lord, a new song to my weary soul. His song tells of a Shelter in the storm, strength found less in doing and more in waiting, a peace gained not from a change in circumstance but from His very presence.

In my devotion time this week I feasted on these lines that seemed to be meant just for me:

“We must learn to wait on the Lord and look for His return…. As you wait on Him, you will discover that this attitude renews your spiritual strength, clears your perspective, and reduces your giant-sized problems to manageable size.  Let David’s words become your marching orders: ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.’” [Excerpt from Joy of Living Bible Studies: Hebrews, pg. 102]

Image

In the original language, this word wait is qavah (pronounced kaw-vaw’) and is a verb meaning to look for, to wait for, to hope for.  I found it even more interesting that the original meaning was one of binding together by twisting, as in a rope.  And here I am, dangling at the end of mine. 🙂   I found that this verb is very active, not an idle sitting by the wayside, but an expectant waiting.  We are to actively be on the “look out” for the Lord to work on our behalf. While we wait, qavah, we are also to be strong.

The phrase “be strong” from the Hebrew word chazaq (prounounced khaw-zak’) is also a verb.  Maybe you’re not as nerdy as I am about grammar, so that might not mean much to you.  However, in essence, this chazaq is an act, something done rather than a state of being.  It was used numerous times in the Old Testament to describe a scene of supernatural strength: David vs. Goliath, Samson’s final act, Joshua’s entrance into the Promised Land.  So this being strong is an act that comes not from any natural or human means, but only from the Lord.  Thus, it’s impossible for us to “be strong” in the chazaq sense on our own. [NASB, Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible]

So, how does that look, practically speaking?  I mean, how can I wait and be strong without striving and stressing?  I can be quick to meet Satan’s lies with truth from the Word.  I can earnestly seek moments of joy in a day full of trials.  I can watch to find His hand already at work in the situation and trust that it’s happening even if I can’t yet see it. I can speak words of hope.

But it’s more than that, isn’t it?  Because some days I don’t have it in me.  That’s the key right there – it’s not in me to wait and be strong.  What is naturally in me is to despair, to cry “Mercy, Father, it’s too much!”  And maybe sometimes that’s just the best place to be: at the Father’s feet, completely undone, utterly dependent on Him alone.  No strength of our own left.  Completely at His mercy.  Humbled and low-down.  At the end of the proverbial rope.

I’ll be honest, that’s a really hard place to sit in.  I much prefer to jump up and busy myself doing something because at least then I feel useful.  But what if that’s not what He desires?  What if what He most desires is to hear me admit, I can’t do it, Father – I’m not capable –  I need help I think the most difficult aspect of learning to walk a road of suffering is understanding when to “be still” and when to “soldier on.”  I still don’t have it figured out. I seem to pendulum swing between the two, trying to find that balance.  Some days I’m all “onward Christian soldiers” and others I’m moaning about like an Israelite, lost in the desert. 🙂 It’s all part of His work in progress in me.

So this is the heart of my struggle, really.  What is it you require of me, Lord?

Here’s how I believe He’s answering me:

Daughter of mine, wait for Me.  Listen for My voice.  When it’s time to get up and walk, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for you to sit and take rest at my feet, I will tell you.  And when it’s time for me to carry you because you have absolutely nothing left to give, then I will carry you.  Stop trying so hard and just rest in my embrace.  No squirming now, not yet.  Sit. Relax. Cry if you need to.  Confess if you need to. Question if you need to.  I’m big enough to handle all of that and more.  Just let Me hold you because that’s all I really want.  You, beloved daughter.  I want you.  Take heart; rescue WILL come, for I am the Faithful One, God of all Hope and Comfort.  But for now, just wait.

Because the truth is that our Father God loves with a perfect love, so much more perfect than ours.  Which one of us mothers would look at wounded, heartbroken child and chide her for her tears? I’m not talking about tantrum tears or even repentance tears, but tears of helplessness and hurt.  Does their sorrow not bring forth our very compassion?   And which one of us mothers would not come rushing to the aid of a child calling urgently for help?  Which one of us would refuse to comfort and console?  Which of us would leave that child to struggle alone?  We would not.  We cannot because our love compels us to respond.  If this is the way we imperfect humans feel about our children, how much more so does our Father God have compassion for us, His beloved, chosen ones?

With that perspective, those crashing waves don’t seem so ominous anymore.  They still knock me down from time to time, but maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly where I need to be.  Perhaps those waves of trial aren’t reaching up at my waist in order to suck me under, drown me, but to push me to a better shore.  If I would just quit fighting them, give in, and ride the momentum, I’d find myself safely on the other side.  And there I can find the rest my soul is so desperate for.

My sister in Christ, if you’re struggling in the surf of suffering today, take heart.  You are not alone. Rescue is near.  He welcomes you into His embrace and asks that you just sit a while. Listen for His voice.

And just wait.

Jen 🙂

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

http://sarahjofairchild.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/just-one-of-those-days-again/

I’ll also be linking up at any of these places.

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Five Minute Friday: Fall

Oh how I wanted to skip this Five Minute Friday because I knew immediately what I needed to write about.  And it’s oh-so-personal and painful.  Like any painful thing, though, there can be beauty in the ending.  So, I pray you will find the beauty here.

Nothing can separate us from God's love, fall, sin, forgiveness

Fall.

Sometimes, when life circumstances or sin issues overcome us, we fall.

And so last Fall, I fell, and I fell hard.

After a long year of trying to sell our home, we spent the summer moving to a new town, with a culture all its own.  It’s a small country town, and I love the quiet of it, the friendly feel of it.  The summer was a whirlwind of remodeling and unpacking and general chaos.  So, when the long, quiet, isolated days of winter came, and I had little to do but sit with my thoughts, I began to mourn.

I mourned for the family and friends who used to live nearby.  I mourned for our YMCA with its child watch room.  I mourned for the fellowship of our previous church. I mourned for my work-out buddy. I mourned for the amazing children’s section of our old library, the convenience of grocery stores and Walmart, the trusted babyistters who lived nearby, and on and on.

At the same time, my marriage relationship was under a great deal of stress, so I was mourning the temporary loss of my best friend, as well.  And as I sit here and write this, tears fall because the pain of loss was so, so great.  It overwhelmed me.  I felt alone and abandoned, even by God.

And that’s when I fell.  I quit believing that He only allows things into my life that will be worked out for good.  I quit believing that He was by my side, mourning right along with me. I  failed to understand the purpose in His choice to remove almost every comfort from my life simultaneously.

Falling is hard.  It’s painful. It brings sadness and shame along with it.

But on the other side of falling, is being picked up.  Just like when my sweet little daughter falls and scrapes her leg. It hurts and we want the pain to go away, but there is also comfort there.  There are loving arms to envelope us, to chase the sadness away.

Sometimes we fight those arms and we fail to find comfort.  And that’s where I sat for a time.  I blamed God for so many things in my life, even my own sin (gasp! yes, it’s true).  But He never let go of me, even as I thrashed about and begged for release.

In a weird way, I’m glad I fell because it gave Him a chance to show me just how full His love is for me.  That even when I’m downright nasty and ugly to Him and sometimes even to those around me, He loves me anyway.

When you fall down, He picks you up.

Because He loves you anyway.

Praise the Lord!

Jen 🙂

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy this poem:

http://www.livenourished.net/five-minute-friday-fall/

or this article:

http://forfunreadinglist.blogspot.com/2013/06/keep-falling-from-being-failing.html

Five Minute Friday is a challenge, a free-writing exercise for bloggers.  5 minutes of writing with no editing, etc.  If you’d like more information, check here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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