Day 10 of My Challenge
All my Fears were for naught….
Day 8 of My Challenge
Day 3 of the Challenge
Remember The Rainbow
The Rainbow—-it can inspire hope, it can calm nerves after a storm—it is a literal sign from God.
God gave mankind the sign of a rainbow, after He sent the floodwaters to destroy the earth. He promised never to destroy the earth again, by floodwaters.
When our son died 9 years ago this September, something was destroyed in our family. The age of innocence for us was gone. The worst evil had found us—the evil of death.
We will never be innocent of this evil again. It has been difficult to come through this time and find hope, and to trust God.
There is a song that perfectly expresses what I think God has been saying to me, and my family. It’s called: Just Be Held.
There is a line in it that goes, “Your world’s not falling apart, its falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.”
This year on my husband and my 33rd anniversary, we saw a beautiful rainbow. It came after a truly violent storm.
As I looked at that rainbow, I thought that God had a message for us in that rainbow. But I did not know what the message was. Then two days later, we found out that our son’s family was in great danger during a hike, but they survived and came back safely to us.
Then our two year old granddaughter came close to peril, but she too was found and brought back safely to us. In addition to all of this, one of our daughters almost drowned, but was saved by our other daughter.
During these times, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Remember the rainbow.”
I do not know if in the future, one of my children or grandchildren or husband or myself, may be in peril—but I think “Remember the rainbow”, means that God does know—and He is in charge. He has not stopped being in charge—even when I’m frantic and anxious—He has not stopped being in charge, even when my loved ones are in danger—He has not stopped being in charge—even when I can’t see around the next corner–and I don’t know what is going to happen next.
Remember the Rainbow means that everything that comes into our life, has to come through God’s Hand of love. It may not seem to be a loving thing; it may be something that shakes the foundations of our world—but it can not separate us from His love. We can never be separated from His love. Not even, by death. Especially not by death.
Remember the rainbow, means God’s on His throne—and I can stop trying to control everything, —I can stop holding on so tightly to everything and everyone, and just be held.
So–Remember the Rainbow and Be Encouraged!!
Focus and Breathe
When I was pregnant with my first child, I went to a Lamaze class, and one of the things the nurse taught us, was to have something to focus on, during one’s contractions. I chose a verse–Hebrews 12: 1,2. Was that helpful? Yes, it was really, really helpful. The class also taught us not to give in to the fear of the unknown, but to breathe and focus throughout labor. Was this helpful–yes, it was really, really helpful. (In fact after our first child was born, my husband turned to me and said, “That wasn’t as bad, as I thought it was going to be.”)
What is the point of this story? Right now, many people are feeling very, very anxious. We just came through a pandemic, with shut downs and quarantines. We have seen gas prices more than double in the past year. We are seeing food prices rise, and are being told that we could see massive inflation by the fall. There is good reason to be anxious.
So what can we do—we can focus our thoughts, and we can breathe. Why? Because it really, really helps.
We can focus our thoughts on the truth.
Lately, I’ve been focusing on one truth in particular:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
What does this mean? In Romans Chapter 6—It spells out what this means—I am going to paraphrase it for you—it says that when Jesus died on the cross–our sin natures were crucified with Him. So our sin natures are dead, and we are new creatures in God’s eyes. He sees us as His children, without sin before Him.
Now–we don’t ‘feel’ without sin, we in fact still give in the temptation to sin. But God says–sin actually has no power over us–anymore–in fact–we are dead to sin, and alive to Christ.
We are to present ourselves to God, and He will give us the power to turn away from sin. He sees us as a new creature—the old creature is dead in His eyes. He wants me and He wants you to see ourselves in this way too.
The new creature wants to obey Him. The new creature wants to please Him. The new creature wants to walk with Him. The new creature loves God and loves others. The new creature forgives. The new creature gives grace and kindness to others.
So—when I am aware that I am acting like the old person that has passed away, I say to myself, “That is not me. That is not who God has made me to be. I am a new creature. This old person is dead, and has no power over the new creature. I surrender to you Lord, so that I can live out Your truth–that I am a new creature.”
The new creature is not afraid. The new creature is not anxious. The new creature knows her God, and trusts in His love and provision.
The new creature focuses on the truth, and the new creature breathes in the truth.
Will this help during these trying times? Yes, I promise you, this will really, really help!!
May We Be Encouraged!!
Blooming!! My Rose-of-Sharon bush that I pruned last fall, is now blooming!! When I pruned it, I knew I was doing the right thing for it, but it was still difficult to do. I pruned it way back—so I was not sure if it would come back well. And now it is blooming.
I pruned my lilac bushes as well, and they are also flourishing—they are full leaved, and abundant, whereas before their pruning their branches were straggly, and not very full. Now they are exactly how I hoped they could be.
Just as I pruned my bushes for their health, and benefit, God prunes—or disciplines us—for our health and our benefit. In Hebrews 12, it says that we discipline our children, doing the best we know how to do for them in our limited wisdom and understanding. Our Heavenly Father disciplines us—with all knowledge, all wisdom, all gentleness and all power. He does this for our best, to make us complete—or Holy—as He is Holy.
This past year of Covid—I have experienced God’s pruning in my life. I did not enjoy the quarantines—(I know some people who did—they liked the slower pace of life)—I did not appreciate the shortages of supplies—I did not love wearing the masks—I did not like not having social times with family and friends—I reacted to all these situations with annoyance and anger.
Then God started working in my life, and my attitude. He started taking my focus off me, and onto Him, and others. I started thanking Him—that He was still the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. He had not left His throne. (It sure felt like He had—but the truth was—He had not)—He is in charge over life and death. He still knew the plans He had for us, to give us a future and a hope. He still knew us before the foundation of the world and knew the number of days we would each have on this earth. He is still sovereign over the affairs of men.
This week, I went to our community’s school board meeting. I have homeschooled my children, but my grandchildren attend public schools, so I wanted to see this meeting. They were talking about a variety of issues that people have conflicting opinions about, (i.e. masks, critical race theory, LBGTQ, etc, etc.)
There was a great deal of passion and some anger in that room. After the meeting, I went to talk to the Superintendent of the school board, and I told her how much I appreciated her calmness in the room. Beside her was my neighbor, who is an administrator of the schools. I told them that I would be praying for them in this coming year and thanked them for doing their jobs in the midst of a very difficult season of life.
My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and this past year, I have taken her lunch and her baby to nurse during her lunch break, and so I have seen and heard first-hand the struggles and trials of the teachers as they seek to teach our children, during the age of Covid.
What is the point of all of this—we have all been tested this year. We have been pruned. We have been put in situations where we have gotten angry with each other. We are annoyed with each other. We have differences of opinion with each other. We feel powerless, and out of control.
I am here to say—that is ok. We never did have power. We never did have control. The Bible tells us to be angry, but do not sin. What does that mean? Some things should make us angry—to see evil oppressing and winning the day—that should make us angry. But our battle is not against flesh and blood. What does that mean? It means we are fighting a spiritual battle—against Satan and all under his dominion, and God has already won the war. He won it on the cross, two thousand years ago. He bought us back from the Kingdom of darkness, and into His Kingdom of light and Holiness.
We experience the reality of that victory through our faith and trust in God and His Word. We experience the reality of that victory as we spend time with God and His Word, as we pray in faith, and appropriate His power in faith, in the spiritual realms.
We need to rest in the victory that God has already brought us through the cross, and rest in Him—as soon—every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord!!
We can love each other with the love of the Lord!!
We can be kind to those we disagree with—for it is the kindness of the Lord, that leads to repentance. It is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance. Romans 2:4
And it is the pruning of the Lord—the discipline of the Lord—that leads to our Holiness—that we may experience the reality of the freedom that Jesus sacrificed to give us and bear the image of our Father—to the world.
So that we can bloom!!
So let’s be encouraged!!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline,
and don’t give up when He corrects you.
For the LORD disciplines those He loves,
and He punishes each one he accepts as His child.”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as His own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father?
If God doesn’t discipline you as He does all of His children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really His children at all.
Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in His holiness.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
The Gift of Sleep–has been taken away.
Recently, I’ve been having some sleepless nights. This is a rare event for me—the gift of sleep is something I have enjoyed since I was a baby. After Sean died, several of my friends, (who are doctors), offered to prescribe me something to sleep. I told them no, I would be able to sleep— and I did. I have been given the gift of sleep.
I am not sure why now, of all times, sleep alludes me. Perhaps, my anxiety levels are so high, that sleep is not a gift I am enjoying these days.
I have been reminded of a story in Genesis, chapter 16. (My daughter and I read this story recently, as we are reading through Genesis.) These words struck me again, as they have many times in the past:
“You are the God who sees.” These are the words of Hagar, Sarai’s slave, whom Sarai gave to Abram as a wife, so Sarai could get a child from Hagar. (This is the first recorded event of a surrogate mother.) Hagar did get pregnant, and the Bible tells us that Hagar despised her mistress, because Sarai could not get pregnant. Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so Hagar fled from her. Hagar ended up alone in the desert, probably facing death for herself and her unborn child. An Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her to go back.
Hagar was astounded by the thought that the God of Heaven and Earth, would notice her and her plight—that He saw her.
The first time this story struck me, I was 23 years old, and I had moved to Columbus Ohio, starting my first job after graduating from college.
I was so lonely and felt so friendless; I read this story in Genesis and thought that even as God saw Hagar, God saw me. That thought brought tears to my eyes. God was seeing me!! I was not alone; God was with me!
(I love how the Bible does not sugar coat situations or people—people are presented with their flaws and foibles. They are presented as people needing the Savior who is to come—in the Old Testament; and the Savior who came—in the New Testament.)
Hagar’s words— “You are the God, who sees”, reminds me that nothing escapes God’s attention. He knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, and how many hairs we each have on our heads. He knows each star by name, and the number of grains of sand on earth. He is the God who sees.
I have been hearing stories of people dying, (not just by the COVID-19 virus, but just dying). Stories of women being pregnant, and fearful for their babies and themselves. Stories of parents being fearful for their children. Stories of children being fearful for their parents. There is a lot of fear these days. Maybe it has been there all along, but now it has made its way to the surface.
Hagar also said, “Truly here, I have seen Him who looks after me.” Genesis 16:13
God does more than see us, He looks after us. He takes care of us. I need to remind myself of all the times God has taken care of me and my family. God does not change. He is the same today, as He was yesterday, and will remain the same tomorrow. He will continue to take care of me and my family. He will continue to take care of you and your family.
I hope to remind myself of these things. (Maybe, I will relax enough to be able to sleep.)
I hope to remind any who read this—that the God of Heaven and Earth—is the God who sees and the God who takes care of us.
May we find peace in this thought. May we find peace in Him!!
May we be encouraged!!
All My Fears Were For Naught
Fear – It can do funny things to you. When I was 46 years old, I gave birth to my fifth child. When I was pregnant with her, I was afraid. I knew the statistics, and they weren’t good.
Chances were this child would have something genetically wrong. There was a possibility that I would die – but since that possibility exists with each child born, I wasn’t as concerned with that statistic. I tried to ignore these fears and continue with life.
We were in the middle of remodeling our home, and since my husband is a builder, our home was also going to be on the Parade of Homes.
I was homeschooling all the rest of our four children, in the middle of a remodel, while being pregnant, with morning sickness.
And I was afraid. My fear would pop out at the most inappropriate times for me. I would be at a gathering of friends and would start crying. I was mortified. I hated crying in front of others. Now – I have cried so often in front of others—it doesn’t bother me at all.
What is the point of this story?
I had my baby. She was healthy, and perfect, and all my fears were for naught.
All my fears were for naught.
Right now, we are all in lock-down. We are seeking to be safe from the COVID-19 virus.
There is a great deal of uncertainty. There is fear of the unknown. There is anxiety.
I am concerned for how the shutdowns are affecting people living on the edge economically. What is this doing to them? Will businesses be able to survive? What will our country’s future look like?
Again – there is fear. There is uncertainty. There is anxiety.
During the Great Depression in our country, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “There is nothing to fear, except fear itself.”
Fear makes people do crazy things. We have all seen people do crazy things during this time.
The opposite of fear is faith. One can still fear and have faith at the same time. Faith is not the absence of fear. Faith is just choosing to believe God and do what He says.
God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
God tells us to love Him, first and foremost. Many of us have put our security in money. Money has been our God. During this time, we can repent of that, and ask God to be the One we worship first and foremost.
Perhaps, that is the true point of this time, to return to the One who made us and gave us life.
He has said, “Cast all your anxieties upon Me, for I care for you.”
I believe that when this time is over, it will be clear that, “All our fears were for naught.” I believe this—- because in the words of Becky Crain, who died of breast cancer at the age of 36, “When you face the thing you fear the most, you realize you have nothing to fear, because God is with you through it all.”
God is with us through this all.
So Be Encouraged!!
Peace, Baby, Peace
Have you ever taken a ride on an airplane and looked down and everything seems so small? — Small houses, cars, buildings, trees. I love looking down and seeing the world get small. I feel such a peace when I am looking at life from that angle. Why? Because it reminds me that it is all a matter of perspective.
Often, when I focus on a problem—the problem can seem so big, so huge, so unsolvable. For example, in marriage, my husband and I often have differing opinions from one another. That is to be expected, we are two different people, we had different backgrounds, he is from the East Coast, I am from the Mid-West, (I don’t have to explain any further than that—the cultural differences alone, explain most of our differences.) There have been a few times in our marriage, where our differences were so extreme, that I wondered if they could be overcome.
It’s all a matter of perspective. It’s all in how I look at the situation. Often, reading the Bible will help me find perspective. I find God’s point of view—His eternal view, and that makes everything else seem small in comparison to His view, and I have that same sense of peace.
When I was in college, I began my relationship with the Lord. One of the verses that I read over and over again was, Philippians 4:6,7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer, supplication and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
I heard a great talk by Josh McDowell, on this verse. The talk was about taking every concern to the Lord in prayer and the result will be—peace. Not that I will necessarily have what I ask, but that when I put things in God’s hands, with an attitude of thankfulness and respect, God gives His peace.
Peace is a gift. It is not being anxious but being calm. It is realizing that “it”, (whatever “it” is) is all in God’s Hands, and He is motivated by love. He can be trusted with the “it”.
Every time, I have lost someone I loved, I have been forced to look at God and look at that belief that He does love me. He is in charge. He can be trusted. How do I deal with finding my way back to God when my heart is torn, battered and my soul is reeling?
I look at what I know—I know that Jesus did live, and He did die, and He did rise again. (I am not going to go into all the apologetics of how I know this, but I will give you a link, so you can start doing research yourself into these topics.) Click here for apologetic videos.
I know that scripture is reliable and can be trusted. Click here for a video about this.
I know prophesy in scripture has been fulfilled, showing me that God knows what is going to happen, and He is Sovereign, He has a plan, His will—will be done. Click here for video on fulfilled prophesies.
The Holy Spirit continues to speak in my heart, reassuring me that I am God’s child, that I am loved, that I belong. (Romans 8:16)
There was a song that I learned when I was in college, (I was on summer break, working up north with the children of migrant workers, and attending a little tiny church—where this song was sung), the words to the song are: “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.” I loved that song. I would sing it, over and over again. Click here to listen to song.
That was a time in my life, when I was coming to the end of college, and my future was full of question marks. This song, helped to remind me of God, the One Who holds my hand, and the One Who holds the future. The song helped me to focus on God and He helped me to gain perspective and peace.
God holds your hand and He holds your future too. God loves you with an everlasting love. When we doubt that, our peace is destroyed, as it is difficult to trust and follow God if we doubt His love for us. So, remember—all He has done to demonstrate His love to you, all the Evidence He has provided so you can know what you believe is true and Be at Peace and