Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hope

            A few years back, I went through the hardest part of my spiritual journey so far.  I was facing a lot of stressors at once: my parents divorced (again), a son had Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, I had my fourth child, the recession brought us a lot less income, we were living in a moldy rental that we couldn’t afford to get out of, and we were desperately looking for a home to buy because it was way past time.  And during this time, God left me.  At least that’s how it felt.  When I needed Him most and when I fervently sought His Will, He hid Himself.  And He remained silent for years. 
            And this threw me into the greatest emotional and spiritual crisis that I’ve ever been through.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Spider

            It was just a simple prayer my husband said as we laid in bed falling asleep, a sweet prayer really:
            “Lord, bring Heather some more deep, godly friendships with other women.  She needs that!”
            I felt the stinging tears spring to my eyes immediately.  Dang!  He wasn’t supposed to see that.  How’d he know? 


Monday, January 27, 2014

Thank You for the Thorns

            Lord, thank You for the thorn of loneliness . . . for it makes me look even harder for You in the quiet places and helps me learn to be content with Your friendship.
            Lord, thank You for the thorn of discouragement . . . for it makes me pour out my pain to You and seek Your help because I need to know that You are walking through the hard times with me.
            Lord, thank You for the thorn of losing control . . .


Friday, January 24, 2014

My Everyday Prayer, Part 4

            "I once again commit my family and my path to Your gracious, wise care.  May Your Will be done in and through our lives.  And may all we do be for Your glory.  Help me remember to live for eternity, and not for the temporary."
            It’s all too easy for me to panic about my fears over health, my kids, our safety, and any problems that come up.  I have struggled constantly with discouragement and worry over the years.  I am not one who skips and hums through life.  I wring my hands and “wait for the other shoe to drop” and always feel like God is going to test me like Job by taking away anything or anyone I love.  I’ve lived my life on edge for years.


My Everyday Prayer, Part 3

            “Pour out on us Your love, grace, and mercy, for we are bankrupt without these.  Protect us from evil and surround us with Your Heavenly angels, for we are desperate for Your care and protection.  We cannot fight this battle without You!”
            I have a hard time praying that God pours out His blessings on us, like the “prosperity gospel” preachers teach.  Instead, I am learning to pray that He helps me be content with the life He has given me, to notice the blessings that are already there.  To find Him in it.


My Everyday Prayer, Part 2

“Heavenly, Holy, Gracious Father,”
            Every day, I need to remember that He is a God that is far above me, heavenly and holy.  And that He is gracious, that He pours out His goodness to me every day, in many ways.  If I have the eyes to see it.

            “Thank you for another day.  And for loving me enough to send Jesus to die for me.  May my life be a Thanks offering for that beautiful, priceless gift.”
            I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like I don’t have much to be “happy” about.  My life isn’t what I would have wanted it to be.


My Everyday Prayer, Part 1

            I want to share with you a prayer that I wrote, my personal version of The Lord’s Prayer with verses that mean something to me and reminders that I need.  And then I will explain this prayer over the next few posts.  I call it My Everyday Prayer.  It’s the one I go to in the morning, especially when I can’t think of where else to start.  (I don’t manage to do it every day, but I try to say it often.)  And then I just continue to talk to God spontaneously the rest of the day.  But I like to say this one first because every line means something to me and is there for a reason, and I’ll explain later.  So here it is, My Everyday Prayer: 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Battle for Souls and Glory

            I am reading a really good book right now by Tony Evans called The Battle is the Lord’s.  (I think I read it before, but it’s hitting me new all over again.)  It’s on spiritual warfare.  And something that I just read really rang out true.  He said that the spiritual battle is really about who gets the glory.  It’s a battle between good and evil to gain as much glory as possible for either the Lord or Satan.  And to gain as many souls as possible.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Supernatural Stuff and Spiritual Armor

            I don’t expect anyone to believe me, but I’m going to share my story.  It’s my story about how I came to fully trust in Jesus’ name and to passionately cling to Him, to never be able to doubt the existence of a spirit would, to place such a high priority on prayer and God’s Word, and to always remember my need for spiritual armor.  And once again, you don’t have to believe me.  (But don’t say I never warned you.  And if you are a skeptic and get nothing from this whole section, just remember this: “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to leave.”  In case you ever need it.)


And God Said . . .



            When I was going through my “four-month funk” last year, I was so stressed and depressed about life.  I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, and yet I kept trying and trying to accomplish something, anything.  All day, I would ruminate on all the things that were wrong, all the ways I was failing.  And I would plead with God to show me what more I needed to do to succeed.  My shoulders ached from being tense all the time.  My head hurt.  And the tears were always ready to burst forth.
            And one day, as I stood in my kitchen doing dishes, I asked God to help me.  To tell me one thing that He wanted me to do.  Whatever it was, I would do it.  I was failing, failing, failing, and I just wanted His leading in my life because I couldn’t do anything on my own.  What else did He want me to try?  What did I need to give up?  What needed to be pruned from my life?  What did I need to do to make things better? 
            And do you know what He said, the big advice that He gave me? 

I Just Want to Finish Well!

            Once again, I found myself in a small funk last month, feeling like I can’t accomplish anything.  Can’t give any one thing the effort and time it needs.  I am so stretched-thin in places.  The housework never gets done.  The construction never gets done.  There’s not enough money to fix this place up.  My cooking has seen better days.  There’s not enough time to do everything I want when it comes to homeschooling, so, of course, my boys are going to grow up to be great big drains on society. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Dearly Loved Humanity

            I was at a parade one year, looking at all the people around me.  Jelly bellies, beer guts, gray hair, wrinkles, missing teeth, gangly arms, pimples, glasses, bald spots, age spots.  And my first thought was, What a sorry bunch of people we are!  And then I thought, These are the people that God loves so much!  How much He loves this sorry group of people!


God Never Promised Smooth Sailing

            I think somewhere in the back of my brain, I thought that when God blessed us with something, it would come easily.  Such as this house.  We knew it was His answer to our years of prayers, and yet it’s been one problem after the next.  With no money to fix it up.  But you know what?  The more I read in the Bible, the more I realize that God’s blessings don’t mean smooth sailing. 


Joy vs. Happiness

            Okay, I’m going to tackle this issue once more.  It’s one that keeps popping up.  A friend and I were talking about whether it makes you “happy” or “joyful” to take the time to notice the blessings in each day.  So, what is the difference between joy and happiness?  Why do I say pursue joy, not happiness?


Yoga: Harmless?

            Okay, I know that I’m not going to make any friends with this post (reprinted from my other blog), but I want to share with you something that I think is concerning.  Yoga!  It’s everywhere.  Even Christians do this without thinking much of it.  But did you know that yoga is actually a form of Hindu worship?  Those poses are meant to join you with the gods and the “universe,” where “all are one”.  (Look it up on the internet and see what you think.)


Make Your Vote Count!

Make Your Vote Count
            Anytime we engage in something or buy something or support something, we are casting a vote.  Every decision we make about where we spend our time and money is a vote for or against something.  And this will impact the moral condition of our country, the quality of our food, and the world that we pass onto our kids.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

When You're Mad at God

            What do you do when you are mad at God? 
            If you are a “good Christian,” you might try to deny the way you feel.  You might smile and take it, trying to put up a good, pleasing front to convince God that you are handling it in a “good Christian” way.  After all, you wouldn’t want to offend or displease God, would you?
            If you are not a Christian, you might think that God wants nothing to do with you if you are angry at Him.  You might keep your distance from Him because you think that He would never allow an angry person in His presence.  Who do you think you are, anyway, that you should be angry with God?  Doesn’t that deserve lightning bolts?
            Or maybe you feel like you might hurt God’s feelings?  Or make Him angry with you?  Or cause Him to reject you? 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Remember Who and Whose You Are



            Someone was recently telling me that they believe in “God,” just not the God of the Bible - because they couldn’t accept the idea of a wrathful God or one who allows suffering.  What kind of a God would do that? God is supposed to be loving and mushy and soft.
            A lot of people have this view.  They want a “God,” they just don’t want Him to act like one.  They will admit that some Great Being created this earth, but they don’t give Him the right to run it.  (And obviously, they don’t realize that God also has a “holy and just” side.  They just want the soft, loving side.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Transparency is Better

            Do you want to please God?  Do you try hard to make sure that your prayers are polished and pleasing-sounding?  Do you “pray the right words, in the right attitude, in the right position”?  Do you make sure to keep all the ugly thoughts and feelings to yourself – the fears and doubts and anger – so that you don’t offend God?
            If so, then you need to know something: God is waiting for you!  God is waiting for you to stop being so concerned with “pleasing” Him and to start being more concerned with drawing nearer to Him. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Friends with Loneliness

            I’ve already talked a bit about my ongoing struggle with loneliness.  Over time, I have learned to be content with it, to not fear it so much (for the most part).  In fact, I’ve learned to enjoy it (kind of . . . in general).  And while it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of answer, I want to share with you some keys for learning to be lonely.  And they would probably work for other types of discontentment, too.  So, in no particular order, here they are:


Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Lord's Prayer



            “Our Father in Heaven, (if You really are listening and care at all about what’s happening here on earth),
            hallowed be Your name (even though I carelessly say “Oh my G**,” “G** D*** it,” and “J**** C*****” all the time),

God's Missionary

            (Reprinted from my other blog, sweetlybrokengirl.blogspot.com)
            I wish that the message of letting God interrupt our plans was given during more graduation speeches.  I think it’s so important for people to hear, especially as they set out into the great wide open, with all their grand plans about how they are going to use their education.  And since I will probably never be asked to give a graduation speech, I’m going to share the message that I wish I had heard at my graduation. 
            Pretend right now that you are in the audience in your cap and gown.  And you are graduating from the School of Life, where we train you to go out into the “real world” to do great things for God.  And I step up to the microphone, take a deep breath, and deliver the speech that I want to send you off with:


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Beautiful Failure

            There’s another big thing that helped me through that “four-month funk.”  Another lesson that I remember every time I walk down our stairs.  And I smile. 
            When we first moved into this house over two years ago, the first purchase we made was new paint.  I had never owned a home before, never been able to pick out wall colors and make a place “my own.”  And I was really looking forward to this project.  But unexpected repairs came up that meant I had to put it off.  And so, two-and-a-half years later, I was thrilled to finally be able to engage in this wonderful right and joy of home-ownership.


Valuable Depression

            I used to think I was a happy-go-lucky, glass-half-full kind of person.  But then I grew up and realized that life is much harder and more unpleasant than I thought it would be.  The drone of every-day housework doesn’t make you feel like you accomplish anything worthwhile.  The lack of friendships makes you feel like you don’t matter.  The constant struggle to pay your bills makes you feel like you can never really rest and simply enjoy life.  It’s always work, and failure, and struggle, and exhaustion, and loneliness.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bittersweet Loneliness

            I’ll admit something here.  I have always been a lonely person.  I have prayed for deeper friendships, and I have sought to establish strong relationships with others at various times.  But many of these efforts didn’t work, and I still found myself lonely.  And I lamented this for years, feeling like something was wrong with me and like it had to be different for me to be happy.  And this is one big “should” that I have had to face, to give over to the Lord. 


The Dangers of Abundance and Happiness

            I’ve noticed that a popular teaching out there is that because we are the children of the King, we should be living in royal abundance.  And this is an attractive idea because we all want things: more things, better things, impressive things.  We don’t like to do without, to be in need, or to settle for less.
            But this kind of teaching is off-base Biblically, waaaayyyy off-base. 


The Blessings of Daily Bread

            “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”  (Phil. 4:12) 

            As I said, we have never had a lot of money.  We’ve always had “just enough,” sometimes even less.  When the economy tanked, my husband thankfully still had a job, but his hours were cut way back.  We had already been living tightly.  But we had to learn to live even tighter. 


Getting Rid of The "Shoulds"

            We moved into this house over three years ago.  It was a huge answer to prayer because we had been in a two-bedroom rental for 11 years.  But that two-bedroom rental became a one-bedroom for almost a year because of mold problems.  Four kids and two adults in a “one-bedroom” house for a year.  It was bad.  And there was mold on the main level, too, which caused us to close off the whole back area.  (Yes, it made us sick.  And no, no one else but me could smell it, so every time I called the landlord in to check, they decided that it was nothing.) 
            But having no money, we couldn’t just rush out and pick any place that we liked.  We had to desperately pray, and to rely on and wait for God to open the next door.  We didn’t want another rental, to move our stuff more times than we had to.  It was time to find a house to buy.  So the hunt was on for a place that would fit six people and that we could afford on one small income.


The Blessings of Giving Up

            “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  (Matthew 6:27)
            “We live by faith, not by sight.”  (2 Cor. 5:7)

            What do you do when life falls down around you?  When you find leaky pipes in your basement and need to get your front yard dug up to replace the old lead pipes coming into your house as soon as you can?  For several thousand dollars?  When, try as you might, you can’t get ahead in life because caring for a family of six on one income is very difficult?  When your house has been in “construction mode” for years because you don’t have the money to fix it up and you have to rely on the gracious, free help that you get now and then?  When your family has all moved away, leaving you to feel a little like an orphan?  When they find a brain tumor in your mother-in-law a few days before Thanksgiving . . . and the prognosis doesn’t sound good?  
            What do you do?  I think after years of perfecting my ability to worry, I might have finally found a different answer.