Friday, February 26, 2010

Light Affictions

Sometimes the Ways and Whys of God are a complete mystery we just have to trust in the perfect Will of God and we have to trust in His Goodness. Sometimes we have to hear what Paul heard "MY Grace is sufficient for You: for MY strength is made perfect in your weakness." 2 Cor 12:9. Sometimes we might think life is too hard or too painful, or too something... Our adversary doesn't have to throw too much at us for us to start believing that God is not there, does not care, is not good. Look at the children of Israel, after all they had seen and "such a great salvation" from Egypt, miracles OUR eyes have never seen. It only took them THREE days of being thirsty to believe God had left them. EVEN though the cloud by day was still there and the fire by night was still there. It doesn't take much...

But, sometimes God shows us a little something of what He is up to. A little morsel to keep us from going off the deep end. I thank God that I have had one of those times lately. I can't say that I have always been faithful to pray and read. I love God's word, but I have been very hit or miss with my quite time and my prayer life has been non-existent. Lately however something has changed for me. I have recognized my complete and utter dependence upon the Lord. So, I have been up in the morning praying and reading and taking God at His word that whatsoever I ask in Jesus name He will give to me. I believe that means if we ask anything that is IN the WILL of GOD. And, my requests have been for the betterment of my Family so I KNOW He will answer those... Somehow though things started to get worse instead of better. I began to get discouraged. Another tactic of the enemy...

This time though instead of giving up I went to the Lord with my honest heart. I told him how I felt (in reverence). I cried and told him what I saw with my eyes and that I was disheartened. I told Him I would continue to seek Him even in this time and that I would choose to praise Him, because I know He is Good and He deserves my praise. Before I was done praying this prayer something AMAZING happened. My Husband walked in the room and got down on His knee and began to pray with me. He began to pray for our family as the Spiritual leader and authority of our Home. Earlier when I had been reading my bible the Lord had shown me something that began to make since right at that moment.

2 Cor 4:14-18 "Knowing that He which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For ALL THINGS ARE FOR YOUR SAKES, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many abound to the Glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 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."

What the Lord was showing me was that all the time God is working in me, but sometimes the afflictions I go through are not just for me, but for others sakes. Sometimes God is working in the lives of those around us and He uses us to get their attention. One of the things that my husband said in is prayer is "I don't know if this is about me, but if it is I GET IT." Exactly what that verse I had read this morning had said to me.

Thank you Heavenly Father for a beautiful Husband with a soft heart. Thank you so much for loving me with an eternal LOVE that is CRAZY. I remember where I was and who I was before You brought me out of the deep pit. It is amazing to me that YOU the creator care so much about me that you would give me your time and meet me every time I come to meet with you... You are WAY beyond my understanding. The more time I spend trying to figure you out the more lost in You I get. I say with David "What is man that you are mindful of Him?"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Building strong muscles...

I was reading this morning in Proverbs 24:10 "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." I have also been praying Proverbs 31 every morning asking God to make me a Virtuous Woman... One of the verses says "She girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms. Another says "Strength and honor are her clothing..." Like I said I've been praying these verses every morning lately... But, instead of feeling stronger I have been feeling weaker... Funny how the Lord works.

I'm not going to get into the situations and circumstances that have contributed to this because I would only be trying to win your sympathy and some of you are not at the same stage in life so you might not even understand... BUT, I believe you do understand no matter where you are being tired, discouraged, weak, and maybe feelings of not having enough of you to go around...

Anyways, today I was mulling over that verse in my head as I feel like I'm about to drop dead from emotional and physical exhaustion. "If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small." Over and again I repeat that to myself... Man my strength must be pretty darn small if I'm fainting at this. Then I started to pray to the Lord. I love the verse that says the Spirit makes intercession for us because we don't even know what to pray for. There have been times in my life where I pray something thinking that it was my own thought only to a few minutes later realize that God put that prayer there because He was about to show me something... I love those times because I KNOW that He cares for my little stuff and I KNOW that He understands and I KNOW that He will be my strength when I am just too weak... I love Him so...

So, I'm praying Lord, you know I've been praying for strength and I know that I have to go through all this stuff so that you can make me stronger, but Lord I feel weaker. AND then He said the craziest thing to my heart. He said "Beloved, you only feel weaker, but YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU USED TO BE." Then He gave me a mental picture of how physical exercise feels like it's making us more tired, but it's not it is actually giving us more energy. Physical exercise makes our muscles hurt at first, but only because they are getting stronger. We would never endure anything if we never exorcised and so it is with God. I have been praying to be stronger and feeling weaker, but this is all necessary for me to have the strength to endure what ever comes my way next. This time of weakness is making me stronger for next time. When I am weak, He is strong. The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.

Thank you Lord for being faithful to answer our prayers even when we don't see that you are. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Your WAYS so much higher than mine. Your WAY of doing things is PERFECT, and my understanding is so limited, but YOU are so kind that sometimes you will even explain to your child, your servant, your creation what you are doing... Thank you that when I am in the refining fire you are sitting there intently watching me so I am not destroyed by the heat. Thank you Lord that you will not allow me to stay the way I am. YOU are AMAZING... I am undone in your presence...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Making Home made play-do...

One reason I love home-schooling is because I get to watch ALL (ages) of my children together doing things they thoroughly enjoy... Right now they are in the kitchen making home made play-do, even the 19month old. They are talking to each other and laughing and making messes. I am truly blessed and it's moments like these that make it all worth while. They love using the real bowls, and the real spoons. I really like these three little people I think I will definitely keep 'em...

And, if you're wondering if we ever get any work done I promise we do that just comes later!!!


Monday, February 22, 2010

All uphill...

Do you ever feel like parenting is an uphill battle? Imagine yourself at the bottom of the hill with you're sword panting and groaning trying to fight the enemy knowing you have half the energy that they do. You're down there getting hit with rocks that are being thrown from the top by miniature warriors that are laughing the whole time. It's not even like you're enemy (in this case your children) really hate you or anything, they are just fighting you for the simple fact that they find great joy in resisting authority.

As I write this I'm thinking about my beautiful daughter... She is my first born. I know this little warrior has a heart for the Lord. She loves to do what is right for Jesus, BUT with Mom it is a different story. I can see her little face with twinkle in her eye and mischief in her mind when she's looking up at me as I reprimand her about something. Oh, she's trying so hard not to smile, but it's not working. As I talk I see her mind working and her thoughts saying "Mission Control, I think we're wearing her down. Continue with the attack." She is almost more gorgeous when she is driving me crazy than when she is obeying all my commands?!?!? What is that? Then there are the two little boys, I don't even really know what to say about these too. I know I am lost when I look at them!!!

I think thoughts like "Will they EVER get this?" or "This is too hard, it would just be easier to let them do what they want."

Then I read verses like "Train up a child in the WAY, they should go and WHEN THEY ARE OLD THEY WILL NOT DEPART FROM IT." Ok, as a parent that can bring encouragement or great discouragement depending which part you focus on... I just want the they will not depart from it part and I want it right now. AND, then I think of the daunting task of training them up in righteousness and how many lessons that is going to take. I mean look how big the bible is. There are lessons on obedience, truthfulness, kindness, love, patience, self control... need I go on?! It will take a life time to teach all this stuff!!! And, if they resist you at every turn even longer. And, then there is the constant reminding of the things you already went over!!! Yeah I think uphill battle would summarize what I see before me...

BUT, then the Holy Spirit in HIS wonderful faithfulness and loving way reminds me that He has to do the same thing with me. He reminds me that being conformed to His will is going to take a lifetime, but He will never get too weary to correct me. He encourages me that He knew from the beginning that it was going to take a lifetime to perfect me and that I wouldn't be ALL that He desired for me to be until I get to Heaven, and that HE is okay with that. He is going to do the job anyway diligently and faithfully and patiently. He knows that I really don't want to do things His way, but He is so proud of me when I choose His way anyway. He reminds me that I am selfish and disobedient alot of times and even though He may have shown me something 1000 times I still forget. He tells me no matter what behavior I display He will never forsake me or give up on me. Because love ALWAYS HOPES, ALWAYS ENDURES...LOVE NEVER FAILS. That's really the issue. Do we love our children with the LOVE that God loves us? DO WE??? I ask myself again Do I love my own children like God loves me? Is my Heavenly Father my Model???

In Sync...

Last night I was watching the Couples Figure Skating and I was blown away by the couple from the US. They were so in tuned to one another you could see that they had spent alot of time together practicing their routine. They knew exactly what the other person was going to do and some of the moves that they did you would have to have COMPLETE TRUST in the other person to do.

As I sat there I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart. As you may know He has been impressing upon my heart the absolute NEED for me to be connected to the vine. The need to be FILLED with His SPIRIT. The NEED to DIE to my flesh. He is showing me continually through triumphs and failures that "I can do ALL things through Christ" and "I can do nothing apart from Him".

My question to myself last night was how much time do they (the skaters) spend together to be that In-sync? How many times does the girl have to be thrown in the air and caught before she gets to the point that there in no fear in her? How well do they have to know each other to be able to anticipate what the other person in going to do? How do you learn to TRUST someone else that much?

I'm sure you know where this is going... We can't spend one day a week at church and think we have a relationship with Christ. I can't spend 10 minutes every couple of days reading the bible and praying and think that I know the mind of Christ. God has a lot to say to us through His word. I have to spend time digging into it so that I can KNOW what He would have me do in any situation. I have to have few hundred practices with Jesus before I learn to TRUST Him completely that He will never let me FALL. I have to have been in scary situations to learn that I have nothing to fear in Christ. I read this morning about Jesus sending the Comforter who would be with us continually and lead us into all TRUTH. I have to spend time with the comforter to be comforted and I have to spend time with Him to be lead into all truth.

If it was Jesus's normal custom to go apart and pray and commune with His Father shouldn't it be mine. In Romans 12 it says " Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Paul was talking to Followers of Christ, not the lost. He was saying that it is a continual process to have our minds renewed. I have to spend time with Jesus to be IN-SYNC with Him. I have to spend time with Him to know HIS WAYS. I know some may be thinking OKAY Angela why is this so hard for you to understand?!?!? WE KNOW THIS, but I guess that I feel like I have been walking in the flesh for a while thinking that just because I was a follower of Christ that I was FOLLOWING CHRIST. My arrogance and my pride and being deceived and blinded has caused some problems in my home and I don't want that to happen anymore. So, I realize that I HAVE to spend QUALITY TIME with Jesus and m y bible to change me and my way of thinking.

Lord, please continue to show me my need to be transformed and that your work is no where near done. I pray that you would help me fall in love with you so that it is not an obligation, but a date when we get together... Please fan the flame of my love for you and be my ALL IN ALL. YOU deserve everything you're asking from me so I pray that I would give you anything with a willing heart knowing that you are GOOD and YOU ALONE satisfy...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Failure is not fatal...

I have been joking with people lately about why in the world God would allow me to have 3 children and one on the way if He knew I have absolutely no wisdom in raising children. I asked the same thing a few years ago when my husband and I were struggling in our marriage. Why didn't God show me everything I needed to know before marriage. Now don't get me wrong I know most of my lack of knowledge is because I so proud that I thought I knew EVERYTHING. WOW. WOW. My Preacher says something to the effect of "The older I get the more I see that I really don't know anything." Isn't that the truth.

I have had a lot of friends lately talk to me about their own struggles in marriage. Some have said they just don't know what to do and they think the situation is hopeless. Really I do know how you feel. BUT, I'm starting to see that God allows us to fail in anything we do because that is the only time we will run to him and say we don't know what we are doing and we need His WISDOM. Think about it. Where do you run for advice before things get really bad? Me, 1st the Internet, 2nd a TV show, 3rd a book or magazine. And, some of these things MIGHT sometimes have a good tidbit here or there of advice, but that's it. OH, YEAH the big one. Our Girlfriends, Moms, Sisters, the lady at walmart... And, again some of the people in our life MIGHT really be Godly council. BUT, from where do we need to seek WISDOM and GUIDANCE? You already know... God's word and Prayer, but WHY are these always last resorts?

The Bible is filled with TRUTH for every situation... It is amazing that when we ask God He really does begin to give us wisdom liberally just like James says. I mean I have been reading stuff lately that I have read 1000 times and just now I'm gleaning parenting truths from passages that before I didn't even know could be applied to parenting. It is ridiculous now that I look back as ALL the things I have TRIED and now after just asking for God to give me wisdom He begins to show me all these wonderful TRUTHS. Not that I have arrived. Far from it. Just like in marriage. I thought that I knew what I was doing after God showed me from His word. BUT, God is showing me over and over and over how I have to be connected to the Vine and that I have to be walking in the Spirit. Carnal minds cannot understand Spiritual things. And no matter how far I think I have come my mind is very carnal and my heart deceitfully wicked.

Back to the topic at hand. I am so thankful that with God what He says is true. "AND WE KNOW that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to HIS purpose." Who would have thought that my failures would bring for the righteousness of God?!?!?! Don't let your failure keep you down. I'm so thankful that David says in Psalms that GOD remembers that we are just dirt. Can you believe He takes dirt and make sons and daughters out of it?! Is my God amazing or WHAT?!

But, now to the hard part. Now that we know that failure is not fatal we have to have GRACE upon others. We have to allow our children to fail. We have to allow our spouses to fail. We have to allow our Spiritual leaders to fail. We all know the saying "People learn from their mistakes!" Let's give eachother a break and allow our failures to make us better. Give ourselves a break and don't allow our failures to hold us back. Let our failures show us just where God can give us wisdom and knowledge. To God be the Glory for our failures and successes. IF WE GLORY LET IT BE IN CHRIST JESUS...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Man and the slave...

I remember the day like it was yesterday... I was a slave on the selling block. I don't remember how long I had been there. It could have been days or years. I had had many owners before. I had been beaten, bruised, and used. I no longer had any value of my own. The sun was beaming down and I knew every one could see the dirt staining me. All those people just staring and laughing. I heard the comments "Who would want her." "Shouldn't they just throw her away." "What's the point of her life?" It was constant and I KNEW they were right. I had lost hope long before that it would ever be different. That would take a miracle...

One day that started out like all the rest I was standing in the Hot sun listening to the comments, wishing for death to relieve this shame and humiliation. All of sudden there was a commotion... A man walking up and everyone could tell that this man was not like the rest. He was good and pure and I don't know how I knew it, but I did. Something about this man was like no other. I watched Him with lowered eyes curious what He would do. Who was He looking for? The slaves with strength and grace? I was sure there were plenty up there who could meet His need whatever that might be, but I knew He would never even see me.

After a few minutes I just looked off and went to some other place in my mind. As I stood there unaware of what was going on around me I felt a hand on my chin lifting up my head. I had not been touched in that way for a long time. When people had touched me it was either harsh or forceful. This touch was gentle and kind. I looked up startled by this touch right into the eyes of the most amazing man I had ever seen. He smiled and turned to the rest of the stunned crowd that was watching and said I'll take this one. I didn't even know what He said because the words were so foreign. For a moment He left me there to go haggle for my price. I think the man in charge said the man could just have me, but this man refused. He said he wanted to pay the greatest price for me...

In a daze I went along with this man as he took my hand and led me to his home. He told me many things on the way. Things like I was no longer a slave. He said I had many brothers and sisters and that He would adopt me in his family. He told me that no matter what He would never leave me or forsake me. He said He would never abuse or use me. He said He loved me with an unconditional love that even He said I would never understand, but it was true anyway. As He talked He said "I really wanted you to listen and believe, because it would really make a difference." He seemed to always be telling me wonderful things.

As much as I wanted to believe these things I just knew it was too good to be true. So, I continued to think like a slave. I tried to earn his love, but I knew I never could. I ran away many times. On one of those times I had run back to the chains of slavery He came after me and this time things went terribly wrong. I had sold myself back to a horrible master. When the man came chasing after me this time the slave master said my freedom would cost more than the man could pay. The man would have pay with His life if he really wanted me to be free... To my shame and horror that is exactly what the man did. Right there in front of my eyes He gave His life for me. There I was FREE, but at such a GREAT PRICE. Why had my freedom cost His life. For three days I just sat there. Stunned by the actions of this man. Paralyzed by guilt. Then all of a sudden something too amazing to believe happened. The man who had laid down His life for me was standing in front of me. ALIVE AGAIN. Standing there with an outstretched hand. I would never be the same after that day.

Because of what He had done I now believed that He could do anything He said. I believed if He loved me then I must be worthy of more than slavery. I was convinced and I will never be the same again...

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life."

I Cor 6:20 "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Romans 8:15 "For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby, we cry, Abba, FATHER."

Phil 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He which began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Thank you Heavenly Father for the MAN who laid His life down to REDEEM me. I am unworthy!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Learning never stops...

I recently came to the realization that I desperately need the Lord's wisdom. I guess in the past my quiet time has been a hit or miss, do it when I can, get around to it kind of thing. BUT, as my family has gotten bigger and my children are outnumbering me I have come to the place in my walk with the Lord and I understand now what He means when He says "I am the vine and you are the branches". I have a tree in my yard and the limbs are kind of sickly. I don't know what made them that way, but I do know that they have to be removed. The are dead and not producing. But, the tree as a whole is fine. The other half of the tree seems to be doing quite well. As I have watched the tree God brought this verse to life for me.

Jesus said if the branches don't produce fruit they will be removed and thrown into the fire. I know that as His child he will not remove me and throw me in the fire, but I have no life apart from Him. I have to be connected. I have to receive His life giving flow. I need that flow daily. As a follower of Christ I know that I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me and I know that all truth comes from His word. I know that He is to be my first Love. I know that I need to spend time in prayer with Him daily. I haven't done those things faithfully so I have been like a branch that cannot receive what I need from the root. I have been disconnected. Thankfully God is so faithful to use whatever means necessary to draw me near Him once more.

As a Mom and Wife there is no better way to do that than for my home to be disrupted, dysfunctional or unpleasant. I am at the place now where I see that I can not do this on my own. I need wisdom that doesn't come from a book, tv, or the Internet. I need guidance, I need peace, I need patience, joy, love...

So, lately I have made my quiet time a priority. I have made praying a priority. I have begged for wisdom. I have pleaded for change (in me first), in my home... AND, I do not brag because as always God revealed my need and God drew me to Him. HE leads me in to all wisdom and truth. It is nothing I have done. Oh, He is faithful. James says if you lack wisdom ask of God and He will give it liberally.

I couldn't begin to share all that God has done in the last few days to answer those prayers, but He has been faithful to show me. The most important thing that He has shown me though is in Galatians where Paul speaks of the fruits of the Spirit. It goes on to say that we must walk in the Spirit. Well, we can't do that if we are not connected to the Spirit. I have prayed that He would show me what to do in each situation, but He can't do that if I am not walking in the Spirit.

So much of this parenting and marriage journey has been a teaching lesson for me. Learning a new way. Learning things about myself and trying to change those things. I always want to blame others when things aren't working, but again and again God shows me that "It's me O, Lord standing in the need of prayer."

I pray Lord that I would have a willing and teachable Spirit. I pray that for your Glory and not my own you would lead me in righteousness and teach me how to lead my children. You are so faithful and so good. I'm so thankful for the many things you have been showing me to implement in my home. I have had to only search for you and you have shown me the way. I'm sorry for my tendency to always want an answer to my problem instead of seeing my problem as a chance to seek YOU.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

And for this reason...

We must go through times of trial and tribulation. Why? Why I always ask am I going through this?! If GOD loves me... I know you know what I mean... Unless you are more spiritually mature than I am. If you are you know why. You know these times are not times of punishment or abandonment, but these are times of growth. It's taking me a while to understand.

When I was a much younger Christian I thought that God was punishing me for some wrong I had done. Now looking back I can see how the sin in my life then had natural consequences and just because I was now a christian did not mean I got away with my sin... You reap what you sew no matter who you are.

I guess at some point I "grew" out of that way of thinking... Don't get me wrong I know God disciplines those he loves, but he does not punish... But, for sometime now I have been in this cycle of thinking that if I served God and followed his commands then He owed me a life of ease and freedom from frustration and pain... I know it is sounds foolish to me too, but that's where I've been. I guess I overlooked all the wonderful people in my life who had experienced hardships. I guess I also overlooked the pain that my Savior endured on the cross... I mean the bible even says He was a man of many sorrows. Or what about the martyrs who have been murdered for their faith in Christ. Or the apostles who suffered and Paul who had many troubles that he said didn't even compare to the promise of heaven...

You get the picture... Recently God had revealed in my heart why he is allowing different hardships or trials or whatever you want to call them. And the amazing thing is I actually see it working to some extent I guess now that I know the reason I should be more open to this process. This morning as I was reading God showed me this verse. I have read it a thousand times, but I didn't really GET IT until now.

Romans 5:3-5 "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation produces patience; and patience, character; and experience, hope: and hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

He loves us too much to allow us to stay the way we were. I'm so thankful that God is faithful to complete the work that He started in me so long ago. I'm thankful that He knew this was going to be a long process and that He has been so patient with me. I'm thankful that the testing of my faith is making me stronger. I'm thankful that when I feel so weak that Jesus is so strong. I'm thankful that one day there will be no more pain and no more sorrow, but for now the pain and sorrow is doing a work in my heart that would not be done otherwise. To God be the Glory for the great things He has done.

God has also shown me that for me it's only when things get bad that I look up and seek God.