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Week 7: “He shall give His angels charge over you…

…to keep you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11

Three different road trips this weekend and three terrible accidents in full view brought this comforting Scripture to mind. You heard a bit about my broken down car a few weeks ago. The rest of the story is that my husband and I had just traveled the “NASCAR” beltway to the big city. Our axle broke as we gently and slowly rounded the corner on a quieter city street near an alley. Obviously it was not our appointed day of death! Despite the fact that our only car became a total loss to us — the weight of the broken axle ended up damaging the transmission — we were blown away by the miraculous protection.

Even more touching was the outpouring of love by a few of God’s people. We are up and running with another old vehicle kindly donated to us. Ladies, I know all about the financial strain that frequently accompanies any sort of health issues. Chronic illness has many ways of draining your bank account. More posts of encouragement on the topic of finances will follow.

Before I knew what or how God was going to provide for our desperate need for a vehicle, I had written a note stating Jehovah-Jireh which means: the LORD will provide. I found great comfort in that promise based on one of the very names of God.

What is your dire need in this moment? I realize I am a little behind in posting this tonight, just as running a few minutes behind spared me not once, but twice this weekend from potentially being involved in a bad car accident. I feel very comforted by knowing God can take these words and mostly HIS Word to be just the protection and comfort you need. When Satan hisses in your ear that God has forgotten you, shield your heart and mind behind His faithful promises.

“He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4

 

Week 5: Better Than I Deserve

As I sit and write this, my car is in a city dead-end nook waiting for a moonlighting mechanic to replace vital parts so that we can have wheels again.

I had already scribbled down my thoughts of encouragement, good thoughts from God’s Word that encouraged me this week, as it was not a week on my favorite list. I can point you to Genesis and the life of Joseph, first of all.

“But as for you, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good…”(Genesis 50:20)

This statement of Joseph to his brothers who had literally sold him into slavery has continued to bless my life when times are tough. God’s covenant grace and promises are a golden thread weaving through the Old Testament to the New. He is the SAME yesterday, today, and forever! For an amazing read, check out Genesis 37-50.

We all struggle with anxiety, doubts, and ingratitude when trouble strikes.

We are never really told of Joseph’s inner battles while sitting in Pharoah’s prison for more than two years. No family or friends  were nearby to comfort him, but the Bible gives us this insight: “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison…(vs. 21) …the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it to prosper.” (vs. 23)

Whatever comes my way, it is better than I deserve!

Really! That is hard to write and even harder to get a grip on at times. We live in a me, myself, and I era. Entitlement runs rampant — like the homeless man on my front porch who recently refused a bowl of my homemade chili or even a sandwich. He wanted ROYAL FARMS chicken or nothing at all. But what do I mean? The Bible clearly tells us our hopeless, wretched heart condition in the sight of a perfect God and Creator. If you do not know what I mean, Romans is a good place to go after reading about the fall of man in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1-3.

“There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God.” Romans 3:10 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

That is the bald, naked truth about each of us. Not good! But the God of covenant mercy and grace did not forsake us in our desperate need.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” Romans 5:6-9

I am now encouraging myself so that it is hard to stop! I want to reread all of Genesis and Romans. Our car is still sitting there broken. We were still ripped off by our local mechanic who replaced this axle in January of this year. But, we could have been in a terrible accident. We are sitting warm and well-fed in my brother’s house. Of course, I would love your prayers that this repair would go smoothly this afternoon!  I hope you are encouraged today in whatever hardship you are facing. You and I, if you are a believer in Jesus, are recipients of eternal mercy so undeserved. If not, read and pray over the Bible words that I have shared. You do not want to face this life and the next one alone.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

 

Week 4: My Tears in Your Bottle

“You number my wandering; put my tears in Your bottle; are they not in Your book? When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; this I know because God is for me. ” Psalm 56:8-9

For you ladies who are in my shoes, I think you will understand when I say that I have lived at this Psalm address for the past year especially. The past twelve months have rocked our personal world. We were used to living in that uncanny rhythm you develop with chronic illness. Survive through the rough days and make the best of the good days is how we roll. I plan my house projects around times of year when my hubby perks up a little.

The pain of this past year has made it hard to breathe at times. Not one but three devastating diagnosis for my husband have been delivered at intervals with barely any time to adjust to the ramifications of the prior news. On top of crushing, inescapable reality, financial hardships and family stresses piled up like a mountain.

“This I know, because God is for me.” This pile of trouble upon trouble has proven to me over and over again that I am God’s beloved daughter cared for so personally by Him. “He shall send from heaven and save me…Psalm 57:3” When I have felt lonely, overwhelmed, forgotten, His love and provisions have come just when I needed them. Yes, even before I knew I what I would be needing, His help appeared!

Let me tell you about my fifteen minute mad dash through Wal-mart this past summer. I had just a few things I really needed and just a few minutes to get my errand done. Five minutes in, I recognized a lovely mother of three littles that I had not seen for a few months. We exchanged hurried greetings, but she expressed a great desire for company for the two hour round trip to the homeschool conference we were both attending in the coming week. My attendance was required so that I could tutor to offset my daughter’s tutorial fees for her classes. Voila! We exchanged phone numbers, and she planned to pick me up on Monday.

A few aisles later I ran into another friend. He told me that he and his wife would pray for us — my husband had a blood clot in his leg at the time. Also, he expressed a sincere wish to help in any way they could.

The very next day five minutes into our trip to church, we knew our only car was in need of the ER! I was being shuttled to the needed conference on Monday as my husband got the news that our car needed open heart surgery, basically. For eighteen days I barely had to worry about transportation because friend number one and friend number two had already offered their help. Despite having an exterior water leak that required my sister and I to dig down three feet so the pipe could be repaired, despite my husband’s incapacitation at the time, I knew I was loved and cared for. Alone? Forgotten? Not for a moment! An accidental meeting? No way!

Maybe that is why you found my blog. Our Heavenly Father knows we need companionship and comfort in our trials. My hope is to share His comfort with you. How is God comforting and caring for you? I would love to hear your story.

 

Week 2: Don’t Let My Mind Fall In the Sewer (a.k.a., …”lead us not into temptation”)

 

“Your mind is a sewer, and only Jesus can keep the lid on it.”

A crowd of restless, hormonal teens were listening so intently that you could almost hear the war raging inside of them. This was NOT the message that pop culture constantly flooded them with. As the older, wiser, twenty-something counselor,  even I held my breath and bowed my heart under the truth of my inner sinfulness. What I did not know was how many times this little phrase would convict me, and help me stay the course with the light of Scripture to guide me.

But when you got married, you didn’t sign up for celibacy, right?

I’m right there with you. Most likely, your spouse didn’t sign up for chronic illness either.  Cancer, illness, and injury all stem from the effects of death entering the world after the fall of man in the garden. And, no, I am not advocating a celibate marriage. All too often chronic illness robs marriage of many things, sex life included.

Christ was in ALL points tempted, yet He did not sin.

Think about it with reverence and awe. Quite clearly, Christ was single, and was tempted to sin in this area. Thirty-three years of vibrant manhood, and he did not cave in to temptation in body or mind. If you are His child you are a joint-heir with Jesus, and His divine power is able to keep you from falling.

Three powerful ways to keep from falling:

  1. Flee temptation! Like Joseph in Egypt, leave your very garment behind, because Satan still is in the business of ruining lives. Think of those whom you would devastate by your unfaithfulness. Keep the sewer lid closed by avoiding books, movies, and music that would fan the flames of unfulfilled desire. Get out of Dodge!
  2. Cry out to God in prayer! “God, help me in Jesus name.”  Think of Christ sweating blood in Gethsemane in agonizing prayer. Ask for cleansing. (I John 1:9) When a lurid thought crosses your mind, send it back to hell where it belongs. You are a beloved daughter of the King. You don’t need Satan’s junk food.
  3. “Love the Lord YOUR God with all your mind.” Find time in His Word daily. Jesus defeated Satan after 40 days in the wilderness by answering with God’s Word. Remember His Day to keep it holy. When we give one day in seven to the Lord, He meets us and strengthens us through the Word to face this sinful world. Delight in the beauty of God’s lovely world, art, beautiful music — whatever is good, true, and lovely.

Did I mention prayer already? Find a prayer partner. Ask for prayer. Pray for a prayer partner. With a sewer in our minds and a battle every time we face the world, we need some serious prayer coverage,  you and I. If you comment here, I really do pray for you. Pray for me. I’ll take all the prayers I can get.

Week 1: Fifty weeks of challenge and encouragement

Looking back at my sporadic blog posting this year I realize how much more intentional I need to be. The goal of this blog has always been to provide thoughtful, real, Biblical encouragement to the small niche of Christian women who are in my shoes. This past year I have had times of being a double-caregiver with both my husband and my lovely sister-in-law seriously struggling with ill health and a 70 mile distance to span.

My dear sisters in Christ, I truly do plan to do a better job offering a loving word of encouragement and challenge to persevere. I need your community, too. We are the lonely bruised reeds and smoking flax that Jesus does not quench or crush.

So here is my commitment, by God’s help and grace. I will post at least 50 posts this year to stand by your side on this difficult journey. You are on my calendar. Even if I only give you one verse from Scripture a week, well, God’s Word is powerful. Mine are weak.

“Therefore comfort one another and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11

Please! My heart can use comfort also. I would love to hear what God has comforted your heart with this year.

Sanity in an insanely awful time…

When your eleven-year old daughter dramatically states that this was the worst year of her life, your heart turns over and your ears tune in. Why?” You gently pry as all good mommas should. The words come tumbling out. You listen and pray you can respond in a way that will reach to the bottom of her soul. You find your thoughts echoing her pain.  How to encourage this child on the brink of such a challenging life in a troubled world?

The news of this year has shattered her innocence. Paris, the beautiful city she admires from afar, Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts when her biggest wish has always been another living, breathing sibling, and much closer to home, her beloved young aunt fighting stage four cancer, papa’s constant battle with chronic pain and illness, and the death of her far-away great grandfather whom she had a great wish to meet.

“But I’ve had a lot of fun times, too, Momma.”  I breathe an inward sigh of relief. In a desperately awful year, I have striven to find a path for joy, gratitude, and the wonder of being alive to enjoy God’s creation and the air He grants us to breathe. Maybe all is not lost. All those moments of saying, well, the car may be broken, but look how God has provided rides to where we need to go. Or, God cares for your aunt and hears the cry of the humble. Finally, King Jesus will fix this broken world in a way we can’t even imagine. I could hear the hope in her voice as she remembered the blessings. 

Thanking God for our blessings and remembering His promises of future justice has kept me sane in an insanely awful time in our lives and in the history of our nation. To remind you of our future hope:

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:1-6….. Even so, come quickly, LORD Jesus!…

On Being Married and a Mind-Virgin, Part I

Who knew? Who knew that a married woman might need to commit to being a mind-virgin? (No, I did not coin this term. Click on over to girldefined.com to read that lovely blog.) With all the moral ruckus and rubbish swirling in the news, this topic? Now? Because, Christian sister, you are more vulnerable than most married women.

Sex, legitimate, saved-for-marriage sex was one perk of tying the knot, right? Then chronic, life-changing illness struck, and one sure sign that your man was not malingering his illness was that your sex life was gone or mostly absent. Especially in a young, virile man — not a normal problem.

Sex, being God’s magnificent plan, has His blessing and wall of protection around this beautiful garden: marriage. So what happens when you watch your lovely, private garden wilt and fade? You hurt and grieve. When you watch other families in your church and community bloom and grow, enjoying the fruits of their garden multiply, you may be tempted to be bitter and sour. Many days you may feel like a half-widow with many needs unmet.

Many of us have to leave our gardens and be bombarded by neon signs that say “Free pleasure, this way!” Or, “YOU deserve the best.” We toil and labor to meet our family’s physical needs, and sometimes it seems our husbands are locked away in a world of pain that we have no key to enter.

I am thrilled to remind you that if you are a daughter of the King, there is always a sparkling, flowing fountain of Living Water in your garden! READ ON!

Remember John 4? Jesus had a divine appointment with the woman at the well, who was,well, for lack of a better word, a sex-addict! She had tried marriage five times, and was currently fornicating when she met Jesus. Her garden wells had left her unquenchably thirsty.

‘Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life’.” John 4:13-14

Above all else, remember you must keep returning your heart’s focus to Jesus. Simple words, but ASK HIM for living water. Ask Him to encourage and fill your heart and mind for this not-so-normal pilgrimage. If He would give living water to the Samaritan woman, He will give it to you. Must. Have. Living. Water!!!

Stay tuned for more on being a mind-virgin.