Monday, August 22, 2016

When plans change

I like plans.  They don't need to be specific plans, just a general 'hey, around this time, this is going to happen.'  Incidentally my children thrive on specific plans so that has been a struggle for me, but that's a post for another time.  Also incidentally, I think my husband rebels against all plans when he's at home, because his work outside of the home requires a lot of planning; but I love him anyway ;)

Anywho...plans.  My plans have seemed to be changing a lot lately and I don't like it.  It feels as though God, who is far wiser than I am, has decided to tweak me.  I don't like that either.  It's annoying, it's frustrating, it hurts my flesh, my pride, my sense of control.  Why does my Lord, in his infinite wisdom feel the need to change my plans on such a consistent basis?
"For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives."  Hebrews 12:6 NASB
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials..." James 1:2

I don't know about you, but that's not very encouraging.  We as believers like to gloss over the hard stuff, but the Bible is full of hard stuff.  It's also full of the love story God has for us, but a lot of hard stuff too.  I don't know why life can't just happen the way I plan more often; heck, I'd be happy with 60% of the time, but that's just life.  Perhaps I'm being "driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6) but...I don't know.

Maybe I'm just being ungrateful.  Yes, finances are tight, but we have a regular paycheck.  Yes, my kids make me crazy sometimes, but consider the picture of the the little boy from Syria in the back of the ambulance.  Yes, there's a lot of housework that hasn't got done, but we have a home to live in.

I don't know, I guess I'm just whining.  I'm frustrated because all the things I wanted done this summer didn't happen and it's time for school to start again.  School was supposed to start today as a matter of fact, but we all got really sick these past few days and I can still hear my pulse in my ears.  I'll leave you with this:  "Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12
The moon over the water at sunset

Friday, August 19, 2016

Why we need to be filled with the Spirit of God

One of the old hymns sings to Our Father, "I need thee every hour, every hour I need thee" and oh how true that is.  As a believer, it is easy to fall into the trap of only seeking God in the moment you need Him; but what about the moments a need isn't immediately in front of you?  I don't know about you, but my record of seeking the Lord on a regular basis is spotty at best and how I react to stress certainly shows it.

On a bad day life can come at me from every angle; waking up to someone having an accident in bed, a baby that wants to eat now, and the dishes I was too tired to do at 9 o'clock the night before.  Throw in a moody (almost)teen who wants to argue, first thing in the morning, about whether or not he should be able to play video games all day or how he needs a smart phone because some of his friends do, and a moody threenager who needs you to wipe her butt, and the day certainly starts with a bang.

Now I'm sure there are practical things that can be done to help with this mess, getting over the being tired and making sure I wake up to a clean kitchen, or simply making sure I'm up before the kids so it's not coming at me the moment my feet hit the floor.  But if I'm not taking time to be with the Lord, none of the practical stuff matters.

The perfect example of this is my nine-year-old's desire to embroider a pillowcase.  I'm constantly encouraging (sometimes forcefully) my kids to find things to do that are not screens, so when we were at Hobby Lobby getting stuff for the upcoming school year, she asked if I would get her some iron-on patterns and embroidery floss so she could.  Of course I said yes and the game was on.  Now anyone who knows my daughter knows that she has one of the most beautiful, generous hearts you could ever want in a friend, but patient she is not.  Once we got everything ready, she started her project.  It didn't take long before a stitch didn't happen the way she planned and all the marbles were thrown from the basket.  Now, on a bad day, I would have lost my marbles as well and we would have ended up angry with each other.  But on this day, the Spirit of the Lord was upon me and I was able to talk her down.  The marbles became projectiles a few more times before she finally said (not me, her) "I think I need a break because I'm getting too upset."  The reason this is a cause of celebration for me is because this is my child that will insist on continuing in whatever endeavor she's working on, even when things obviously aren't working.  So for her to put it away by herself is a big deal, momentous even.

I won't lie, when it was all said and done I was spent!  There was an actual feeling of depletion in my chest.  I should have taken a moment to 'recharge' and spent more time with God, but....  The day ended with a mom's night out so it all worked out ;)

I do want to say, I am by no means saying that God is some kind of genie able to conjure patience and a good temper at will.  And there are certainly days where I do have my quiet time and the day comes crashing around my ears.  But to fill the cups of our children, our husbands, our friends, we must first be filled with the Holy Spirit ourselves.

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me
and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me
you can do nothing...
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be made full."
John 15:5, 11 NASB
My joy

Saturday, August 13, 2016

In the book of Habakkuk, the prophet asks God many of the same questions we ask Him.  Why?  "Why do You make me see iniquity?  Why are You silent?  Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously?  I cry out to You, Violence!  Yet You do not save."  (chapter 1).  Why Lord?  Habakkuk demands an answer of God during a time of rampant immorality in the nation of Judah.  And in the second and third chapters, God answers.

My 3-year-old wanted to help take the picture :)
He reveals a small part of His redemptive plan for His people and isn't that the way with God?  Through all the heartache and hard times, God is still there.  God will deliver us; He will deliver you.  I not only know because the Bible tells me so, but because I have been blessed through trials and tribulations to sit here and tell you that His Word is true.

There was a time in my life when I was pregnant and alone, throwing up in the back of a moving Greyhound bus.  I even left that little baby with neighbors I barely knew so I could go buy some pot.  I don't think you get much lower than that. I didn't know then how God could possible still love, still want to be my God.  But God, God redeems.

Beloved, it is okay to ask God why, it's okay to rail and shake your fist.  It's even okay to make bad choices because of the unbearable hurt you feel inside; the hurt that makes you empty.  Just come back to God.  Take your questions to God.  Beloved, allow yourself to be hurt, allow yourself to be depressed but take it to God; He will see you through.  He has a redemptive plan for you, for your family.  He will deliver you.  We all know Jeremiah 29:11, but what about the verses after that?  They tell us to call upon Him, to pray, to search for Him.

"'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  'I will be found by you,' declares the Lord, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you.' declares the Lord, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'"  Jeremiah 29:11-14 NASB

God will deliver you, even when there is no end in sight.  Rest in Him beloved.  Take your questions to Him.  Take your anger and your sadness to the One strong enough to handle it.  Let Him love you.  Habakkuk ends the book that he began by questioning God and His goodness, by praising Him:

"Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation, The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places."  
Habakkuk 3:18-19 NASB