Singing in Chains

I’m not going to lie. This past year has been a huge challenge for me. From a difficult pregnancy with HG, to adjusting to life with a newborn and being a mom of three, to moving across the country with a three month old, to the daily battle of postpartum depression.

During these times I struggle spiritually. Cognitively, I have faith and hope and trust, but on an emotional level I have, at times, felt abandoned by God. I have cried out, “LORD, where are you? Why have you brought me to this place?” The darkness can be overwhelming.

Then there is the guilt. The guilt for not supporting my husband and children to the level and depth I feel I should. The guilt for not being able to be present with friends and family for this season of my life. The guilt for not being enough. The guilt gives way to numbness and impatience. I lose the ability to connect and move to a place of simple survival.

Then I cry out, “LORD, where are you now? Why can’t I see You? Why can’t I hear You? I need You now! I can’t meet you half way. I can’t give You all of me, there is nothing left to give! Where are You? Why aren’t you here?”

I grasp at every straw I can find, pleading for a breakthrough, begging to feel His touch, longing to feel human, to feel anything again. But still . . . nothing. No answers. No comfort. No healing. Only fear, and guilt, and loneliness. Only a voice inside screaming to give up, telling me I’m all alone.

Yet. There is something deep inside me still that says no. No. I am not alone. That is a lie and it is whispered from the father of lies. I know that He who is Truth is with me. I must be patient. I must continue to wait and to grasp. I cannot give up.

And then a light, a glimmer, a word.

21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

~ 1 Peter 2:21-25

It touches something deep within. Am I waking up? Am I living again? I am reminded of Paul and Silas. I am not entirely unlike them. My chains are not made of iron but they shackle me tightly and have no mercy. I am not loosed, but I have breath enough to sing. And I will sing. I will sing with all that is in me and I will hope.

And as I sing, new life swells within me. He is here. He has never left me. He never will. My songs of praise will not cease. Even more, His love, care, faithfulness, and deliverance knows no end. He will free me. I need only sing.

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Fear vs. Trust | 2 Timothy 2:1-7

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Proverbs tells us that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10). But what does that mean? According to Google, fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”  That doesn’t seem to make sense in this context, as fear is often debilitating.  However, if you keep looking, google provides an archaic definition of the word fear: a mixed feeling of dread and reverence. Aha! That’s what we are after!

I, however, have noticed over the last few months how many people live and operate in the first definition of fear – a constant state of feeling like something bad is going to happen.  This becomes their M.O. For some it’s a fear of failure or not being good enough. There is fear of the future and future failure from today’s mistakes. There are those who live their Christian faith constantly out of fear that they will slip up and lose their salvation or that they are too “bad” for God to love.  All these fears break my heart.

Yet, if I’m truly honest with myself, I have been living with an awful lot of fear lately. I have had such a challenging pregnancy, and an upcoming delivery. Based on my past experiences in this department, it’s so easy for me to let myself become so overwhelmed with fear and dread that it can be paralyzing. But when I come to the feet of Jesus and see His truth I am reminded again and again not to worry, and not to fear. God is not a God of fear. He is a got of love and trust and security.

Paul’s words to Timothy ring true for us today, “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity [or fear], but of power and love and sound judgement.” (2 Timothy 1:7) God’s design is not that we live in or operate out of fear, but that we trust His power, His love and the truth of His word.

I have decided to accept the simple verse in one of my children’s scripture songs: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). I am looking forward to reading what else Paul has to say about leaving behind fear and living in total trust of my God. My hope is that by filling my mind with the truth, all fear will be crowded out. Will you join me?

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The Beauty of Salvation

You bring God joy. Think about that for a minute. Not only does the king of the Universe know who you are, but you, in all your humanness, bring Him joy.

Sometimes this can be difficult to comprehend. It’s easy for us to look at the tangled mess of our lives and see all the ways we fall short of the glory of God and His perfect plan. It seems like God would find more disappointment than joy in us. But that is the beauty of Salvation. No matter our afflictions or trials God’s salvation covers us, turning even our darkest parts into works of art.

So go today. Be saved. Be beautiful. Live life like one who brings her Heavenly Father great joy, because you do. You really do. And while you are at it, praise the one who makes you beautiful every day.

Everything that Has Breath

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A Psalm of Praise. That is the title given to this short Psalm. And that is just what it is. “Praise the Lord!” (vs 1). But what does it mean to praise the LORD? How can I praise Him?

According to Google, the word praise means, “express warm approval or admiration of.” David writes of doing this through song and in various places, but how do we praise Him without continually breaking out in song and dance? How do we praise Him when our voice is weak? Even a weak voice has breath, and the challenge here is that everything with breath should praise the Lord.

So today, that is my challenge. I am going to look for ways to praise God through the fog of exhaustion. I will find ways to tell my children of His wonderful goodness. I will seek to see the awesomeness of simply who He is, beyond what He does for me. And you know, even just as I sit here and think about the many ways to Praise the Lord, (especially the opportunity to point my children to Him through the joy of a new fruit on our plum tree or thanking Him for granting courage to face a scary dark room) my joy grows.  What a wonderful blessing.

Sometimes praising God is easy, but in the dark it can be hard. Yet, He is still worthy of our praise. And in through praising Him we can find light.

How will you praise the LORD today? I would love to hear the wonderful things He is doing for you and in your life today!

And, just for fun, here is a song to help you keep the voice of praise in your mind today:

Reading Through the Psalms . . . Backward

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I know I’ve been MIA on here for a while. It’s interesting how life has it’s ups and downs. It’s busy times and slow times. It’s happy times and sad times.  Reminds me of this passage actually:

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NASB)

In our family, it is a time of struggle, and a time of great joy. A time of reflection, and a time for preparation. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of baby number three to our household. This brings us much joy and excitement as we can’t wait to bring a new little life into this world. It is also a great time of struggle as pregnancy is difficult for me. I have suffered through Hyperemesis Gravidarum through both of my previous pregnancies, and while this pregnancy has been gentler to me, I have spent many, many days on the couch just trying to survive and not throw up more. It’s hard on my kids. It’s hard on my husband. It’s hard on me.

All of this turmoil, mixed with excited anticipation has led to a time of great reflection. During these times I’m brought back to the feet of Jesus, recognizing my great need for Him. While emotions run the gamut of sheer joy and excitement to despair and survival, I struggle with consistency. I long to dive deep into the word of God and fill his comfort, yet, I feel a need to focus on the milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2) when my brain is so fogged.

After taking some time to pray this morning, I have decided to simply focus on the Psalms. These are the prayers of David in good times and bad. These are the heart cries of a human being longing to know His savior more, longing to trust Him during rough times and praise Him even when his world seems to crumble. Yes. The Psalms are where I need to go to connect with my God.

I am going about this a bit oddly though. Psalms is a big book. I often start at the beginning, but fail to make it all the way through, so this time, I’m starting at the end and working my way forward to discover all those gems I often miss.

I hope you join me as I study through Psalms. I know some days I will be filled with energy and excited to spend my time with God, and other days it will be all I can do to cry out to Him in prayer. As such, I plan to share a Psalm with you every other day. Please be patient with me if there are gaps. Thank you for learning and growing with me. I pray it will be a blessing to you as I know it will be to me.

P.S. If you’d like to receive my morning meditations on Psalms as they are posted, feel free to sign up for e-mail notifications. 🙂

What You Have is Enough | A Widow’s Mite and Mustard Seed Faith

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Today I’m straying from our study in Genesis. Something else has been on my heart.

The past couple of days have been a struggle for me. Sometimes there is a real need, a need that must be met. A need that I long to meet. Yet, I am unable. Whatever the reason, I truly don’t have enough ability or resources. I am not equipped to meet the need.

Usually when I hit this point, it’s actually easier for me to move forward, trusting that God will work a miracle, trusting that He will provide that need. Yet, sometimes He says, “No, not this time. That’s not what I’m calling you to.”

I’m struggling with “no.” My head gets it, it truly does. But my heart doesn’t understand. Why is God asking me to support from the sidelines, when I long to do more. Suddenly, I feel like what I have to give isn’t enough. I feel like what I have to offer won’t truly make a difference. I feel like what I have doesn’t matter.

But wait . . . that’s not what God says. Remember the widow who had two mites? Jesus saw her gift and was filled with joy by her offering. When God speaks about faith, He doesn’t ask us to have loads and heaps, only faith the size of a mustard seed. There are so many more stories like this in the Bible.

God does not want us to become discouraged by focusing on what we can’t do. He wants us to faithfully and with a joyful heart give what we can and trust that HE will do the work to grow our gifts to whatever they need to be. Wow. For some reason, that seems to take so much more faith than getting in there and doing it myself. Yet, I know, that by giving God the canvas AND the paint brush, the masterpiece will be so much more beautiful.

It’s easy to look at our meager offerings – be it two mites, a simple prayer, five minutes, a smile, a small gift of cheer – and feel like it’s only a tiny band-aid for a gaping wound, but we must not become discouraged. Especially during this season of giving, it’s so easy to feel like we have so little to give. (I’m reminded of the Drummer Boy song here.) We must not let that discouragement let us stop giving.

If you feel God tugging at your heartstrings, don’t listen to the voice that says what you have is not enough. Listen to God’s voice saying, “Give what you have cheerfully, my child, and I will bring forth the harvest. You plant only a small seed, but I produce a mighty tree.”

A Needle in a Haystack | Genesis 24:27

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A needle in a haystack. I’m sure that’s what Abraham’s servant felt like he was searching for when embarking on his quest to find a wife for Issac. There were some seemingly impossible criteria to be met. Yet the task was not impossible.

I don’t know why God was so gracious to make the work so easy for Abraham’s explorer, but the very first encounter was a great success.

Sometimes God asks for the impossible. It is so easy to get discouraged and become overwhelmed, but I’m seeing a strong pattern throughout the life of Abraham; God will never ask us to do something without giving us everything we need to follow His plan. The biggest struggle seems to be lack of faith, but Jesus told us that all we need is faith the size of a teeny tiny seed (Matthew 17:20). 

What is God asking you to do today? What impossibilities lay before you? Take heart and trust that God is enough. He will supply all you need.