The Envelope

I received a card through the mail from the leader of my BSF  (Bible Study Fellowship) small group.  She wanted to remind me that God would watch over me.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

When I received the note, I smiled.  I thought it was a kind gesture.

And then I found out that she died only a few days ago.  I don’t know the details.  I don’t know if she had been sick this summer.  Or if it was sudden.

But I do know that her encouragement struck me a little deeper.  She took time out of her last moments to spread God’s love and kindness.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if she sent out these notes of kindness to every one of those ladies in our group.

In that prospective, I am embarrassed at the preoccupied thoughts of my happiness, my children,  my marriage,  my obligations…

But so many times, I have stood in this place.  And wanted to be a bigger part of God’s master plan.  Wanted to teach my children more of His love.  Wanted to show more of His love.

But today, I stand no longer.  I am down on my knees.  And begging God to move me to action.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:18 NIV

But as I stare at this letter, God’s big plans are not always BIG actions.  Sometimes His love comes in tiny packages.

And sometimes in an envelope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Great is Our God

DSCN7508When the boys were both preschoolers, they were fascinated by babies.  They loved it when I was pregnant with Leesy because they could feel her kick.   And they would press their little ears up against my belly to listen for her heart beat.

Eli informed me one day that he remembered living in my belly.  And that he played with Abby and Zaiah while he lived in there. Their little imaginations ran wild with the prospect of a baby living inside of me.

Especially as an adult, that whole concept of God’s creation living in me is incredible.  It’s such a precious and honored responsibility.

But I know very few women that haven’t suffered the pain of miscarriage, serious birth defects, or the death of a child.  While the the loss of my second child to a miscarriage was painful, I cannot begin to sympathize with those mothers who have endured a loss further into the pregnancy.

In pain, in loss – it is easy to question God’s goodness and His love.  But despite what I may feel, I know that God does love.  And that He is good.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever  Psalm 23:6

I don’t understand loosing a precious little life.  It doesn’t make sense to me.

But that is where faith steps in.

God always loves.  And He loves that precious little baby – a precious little life that now lives in heaven in the presence of God.

And so, even when I couldn’t understand that love, my faith must trust that His love is living in me.  And in that moment, I must praise Him.

I can still feel that moment driving with my husband to the office of my obstitrician.  We were going to confirm the miscarriage I had experienced over our family vacation.

And the tears rolled.  My heart was so heavy.

And yet, joy filled up my heart as we sang about just how Great our God is….

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome  Deuteronomy 10:17 NIV 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKLQ1td3MbE[/youtube]

 

Child of God

Before our first child was born, we looked up endless baby names and their meanings.  But we finally settled on a name meaning ”joy” and “grace”.    I pray that she grows up to be a living testimony of God’s joy and grace.

There is a lot of power in a name.  Even back to the Old Testament.

Jacob fulfilled his name’s meaning…. ”he grasps the heal”  or “he decieves.”  He manipulated his brother and father ultimately stealing his brothers birthright and blessing.

But God renamed him Israel.  This deceptive man became a man of faith and carried the name of a great nation.

But I have an even greater privilege.   God gives me a new name.  A new identity.  I am a a Child of God.  And with my new identity comes God’s love.

          His purpose.

And His worthiness.

.. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  Romans 8:37 NIV

Love, Protection, and Deliverance

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When Abby, who is now eight, was a toddler – she choked on a stringy green bean.  It scared her enough that she would not eat green beans for several months.  But even now, she carefully inspects her green beans for signs of those chokeable strings.

When I have an unpleasant experience, I too am much more cautious of any sign of potential threat.

I have had episodes involving severe pain, large fluid loss, passing out, and an ambulance.  But now, I take medication at the first sign of the oncoming doom.  I have learned that if I wait too long, I cannot prevent the trip to the emergency room to rehydrate and kill the pain.   And now I am very cautious to stay far away from my pain threshold.

But it is not just the physical stuff.  I react to an unpleasant emotional experience, too.

I have learned over the last couple years that I do NOT like being depressed or anxious.   And it tends to come together in some degreee.

During my first experience with depression – and uncontrollable anxiety – it was all new to me.  I felt out of control and hopeless.   But once some counseling and medication helped lift the cloud around me, I knew that I needed to prevent myself from falling so far again.

And so, I built a solid foundation around me.  I put my relationship with Christ in a new, and more appropriate  place in my life.  And I positioned my family and friends around me to keep me accountable and encouraged.

But God doesn’t promise elimination from my problems.  And so, yes, I did walk down a path of anxiety and depression again.  But this time, I knew to seek medical intervention, and most importantly, to fall straight into the arms of my Savior.  He didn’t immediately deliver me.  But He did carry me through it.

And so, I sit here tonight.  And yes, I am a little worried that my mind has been racing.  That my hands are a little shaky.  Worried that the anxiety will come back to attack me again.

But I am not where God wants me.

Yes, it was a an unpleasant experience.  I felt helpless.  Out of control.  And yet, God never abandoned me.  He didn’t just take my hand.  He carried me the whole way.

So, at those first signs of increased stress, I don’t have to fear that anxiety.

Because I have a powerful and loving God waiting for me.  Waiting for me to simply fall into His arms.

Into His love.

His protection.

His deliverance.

 How precious is Your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.  Psalm 36:7

The Heart of a Mama

I watch them playing and am reminded of something one of our close friends, who is also a parent, explained to us before we had children, “It’s like having your heart grow legs and walk around outside of your body.”  Their description is the closest anyone’s ever come to describing how we feel about our two little ones.  When I look in their direction it is as if my heart had leaped out of my chest.
I am overwhelmed by the strength of my emotions when I hold one of these little ones.  I wondered how God could forgive the ugliness and the sin in my life, and the ugliness and sin in the world; and then I look at one of my sons, a walking and breathing part of me with it’s own legs; and I know how God could forgive.  He longs to hold us and be near us in the same way I want to be close to my children.
 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.  James 4:8 NLT
Our loyalty is divided.  We must reposition ourselves into a posture of gratitude to accept His gift of grace. Just as I want to hold my baby boys close to me; God wants to hold you close to his heart.  Draw close to him – confess your distance, ask to be near him, praise his Holy name, and pray for his presence.
let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10:22 NLT
Jesus Christ came to this world as a ransom payment for our distance (and sin) from our Heavenly Father.   Don’t grow legs and run away from Him…  run into His loving arms.
My eldest knows how to pull at my heart strings.  Whenever he needs me he says, “hold you, hold you, hold you,” until I give in.  How can I not give in?
That’s my heart with legs walking around outside of my body.
I pray you are wrapped up in His heavenly arms today.
In His Grip,
Monica
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The Topless Bottle

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Last night I dreamed that Leesy woke up and I could not find the top to the bottle.  So she drank out of it like a cup.  This morning I found a half empty, and topless, bottle on the kitchen table.

I am suspicious that it was, perhaps, NOT a dream.

Like my confusion last night, there are many times that I confuse my dreams with God’s purpose.

It’s hard to know.  There are so many decisions.  Good choices.  And it is easy to either stop trying or over commit.

But God has been working in my heart.  I don’t have to know all the details of His plan.  But He does want me to know His voice – to know Him.

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live..  Isaiah 55:3 ESV

 

Dearly Loved

dearly loved

Leesy refuses to sit in her highchair.  We held her food hostage until she sat in the chair. We bribed her with candy and bottles.  But after days of battling, and a super cranky baby, we moved her to a booster seat.  She was happy to sit with the big kids and we were happy that her mess was confined to something – even if it includes a sticky table.

I know a few no nonsense mothers who would shudder at the thought of giving into a stubborn child.  But really, it just wasn’t a battle worth fighting.

But I do know a battle worth fighting. The battle we cannot see.

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Ephesians 6:10-13

Sometimes, it overwhelms me.  I see the absence of absolute truth and the sin that darkens a corrupt world.  I look at the battle within my own self.  And I see the steep barriers that my children will face.

This world is dark.  Sad.  Fallen.  Evil.

But, isn’t that the beauty?

God sees the worst.

I have spent many seasons in life consumed in myself –  in my own failures, hurts, and problems.  Caught in my own anguish, I have denyed compassion to the very people God purposely set before me. God sees my selfishness. My thoughts.  My corrupt heart.

And still, He loves me.

 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.   Ephesians 2:4

Even when my heart was boldly centered on myself, God dearly loved me.  And that is so much sweeter, so much fullfilling, and so much more amazing than loving me at my best.

He loves me at my worst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective

Perspective

This morning, the kids had on neatly pressed cloths.   I painted all the girls nails – sparkly glitter included.  The boys gelled their hair and cut their dirty fingernails back.

Then we went to church.

And the message included clips from a movie about a family who survived a Tsunami.  Even though the family was ultimately united, it was heart wrenching to watch the desperation as they searched through the devastation for one another.

It certainly put fingernail polish and hair gel into perspective.  And it really made me question my sense of urgency – the urgency that God has called in us to search for the lost.  To share His love.

Quite convicting.  My life is so self centered.  I live mostly within the bounds of my family.  Largely oblivious to the desperation in this fallen world.

But now, the question remains, how can I move my conviction to action?

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.         Luke 19:10

 

Big

Tell Eli you love him.   And you will get one of the following responses:

O.K.

I love you too, Chicken.

Ha, ha, Broccoli head.

I love you.  You are a Chicken Booty.

There is not a serious bone in Him.  And yet, he does take 0ne thing serious.  He has a BIG God.

He gets scared like all little kids.  But he knows that his God is bigger, tougher, and mightier than anyone or anything.

And it gives him courage.

That tough, courageous boy bursts through even in the midst of fear.  Not because he is strong  but because his God is strong.

And when I fear, I thank God for my little boy.  Because he reminds me of just how BIG my God is…

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.  Jeremiah 32:17

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-6YdT1DEO8[/youtube]