Thursday, March 31, 2016

Finding Shelter During Life's Storms

It's been a tough week...a very tough week and it is only going to get tougher. This week we will bury someone who died much too young. I love this man. (I say love because the love for him is still there even though he is in Heaven)

I love his grieving wife who was my first friend when I moved to the town my husband grew up in. 

I love his children who I have watched become amazing people, (even if the majority of that watching was through Facebook posts because they moved). 

I love his sweet Momma who provided a safe place for my husband (and many other teen boys) to hang out long before I met him.

Along with sorrow and grief...I am battling huge storms of anxiety. The anxiety is so bad, I find myself not being able to sleep. This week is a week of sorrow, grief, anxiety, and no sleep. (Not the prettiest combination if I say so myself)

To battle the anxiety, I've walked a lot. According to my wrist fitness tracker, I've walked 36.20 miles since Saturday (it is currently Wednesday night/ Thursday morning). If I wasn't concerned about safety, I'd probably be walking now, but since its 2:30 am I figure its safer for me to meet you in this place and share a moment of peace I had today...while I was walking.

Hopefully, as I write about it and you read it, we can both find our way to a place that provides peace, comfort, and shelter from the battles that are raging around us and in us. (I'm sure you have a few of your own "unsettled " or "unsettling" storms)

In the midst of all the above stuff happening, regular life has had to go on. I needed a form notarized for my daughter and decided that I would walk the 4 mile round trip instead of driving. I had never done this before and underestimated just how busy and noisy the roadway would be. The constant noise of cars swooshing by did nothing to calm the anxieties I was hoping this walk would conquer. I encountered something pretty spectacular though...right there in my path.

I looked up and there was a group of overhanging branches. They seemed very "out of place" from the rest of the landscape I had walked through. These branches created a "tunnel" type effect over the sidewalk. I thought it was so beautiful that I paused and took the photo you see here. 

I remember thinking that it looks almost like a bird wing sticking out to cover baby chicks. As I walked under it, though, I had to pause and just stand there. In this "tunnel"...Under this 'wing type' overhang of branches... the noise of the rushing cars was muffled. It was there, but the feeling of eminent destruction that accompanied the sounds before entering this overhang was miraculously not there. There was a sense of serenity and peace. Nothing had changed in my circumstances or environment except for me entering this odd place that seemed to protect me from all that was threatening me.

I thought of the scripture.


That is exactly how I felt huddled under the overhang of branches along a noisy roadway. In looking at the entire chapter, I believed God wanted me to read and hold on to all of it during this week of difficult things. Maybe He wants you to hold on to it too...so here it is. I'd love to hear how it blesses you.

Psalm 91

Thursday, March 24, 2016

When a Glass of Water Isn't a Glass of Water~Surprise! (A #FMF Post)

I had been in the yard working in my flower beds. It was an incredibly hot day in Texas and I entered the house parched. There was a cold pitcher of water in the fridge and I eagerly poured myself a glass. I took one big swig and SURPRISE! 

My taste buds were awakened by the sweet flavor of Clear Ice Gatorade invading my mouth.

What I anticipated as bland water, turned out to be a treat that was deeply satisfying. I eagerly gulped down the first glass and poured a second. 

Isn't it that way sometimes when we sit down and open the word of God? We expect it to be bland and less than satisfying, but then something there stirs the taste buds of our heart and we want more. We have the pleasure and surprising joy of "Tasting how good God is."


My prayer is that was are all SURPRISED by the goodness of God today!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Post 2 of Divine Appointments Through Surgery: I'm Glad I Didn't Miss Them

Today is 5 days post neck surgery. I shared the details of one divine appointment with nurse "K" a couple of days again. You can read about that by clicking here.

Details of my second divine appointment have fallen in to place over the past few days. 

I woke up from surgery in the recovery room. I remember talking to Nurse "D" and asking her if God had become real in her life. She told me that she had recently started a relationship with Him. 

At about 2:15 she also said that they had a room for me, but were waiting for it to be cleaned. God had other plans and I didn't make it to that room until after 6:00 pm. 

The gentleman next to me didn't recover as well as I did. I remember Nurse "D" calling people over because the gentleman stopped breathing. He didn't respond as they tried to rouse him. He also had no response when they began "bagging" him.There was only a curtain separating me and the bustle of activity that erupted in an attempt to bring him back. It easily could have been a scene from an emergency room trauma movie.

I was alert and prayed throughout the event. 

My family knew someone had "Coded" because they kept hearing "Brahms Lullaby" play over the intercom. My mom was nervous that it was me since they had not been allowed to see me. 

"The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lordyes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears."(Pslam 18:4-6, NLT)

I wasn't the one dying, but I have no doubt God appointed me to be there that day, at that time to pray for this gentleman as well as the medical staff who worked on in. God heard my cries on this gentleman's behalf. By the time I left recovery, the gentleman was visiting and talking with the doctors and nurses. 

I am honored that God used me to stand in the gap through prayer for a man I don't know.

I have more divine appointments through surgery that I'll share as I am strong enough to be at the computer. 

Dear Lord, Thank you for using me even during times when natural circumstances say I shouldn't able to be used. Thank you for hearing my cry and rescuing that gentleman from death that day. Help me continue to be sensitive to your guidance and prompting. In Jesus' name I pray ~Amen

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Post 1 of Divine Appointments Through Surgery...I'm glad I didn't miss them

I had neck surgery Monday morning. Between the busyness of trying to make sure things were good for my family while I am out of commission, a book launch party to release my latest book, as well as concern (not fear) over what I would experience as recovery...I could have easily become consumed by me and my agenda. I am so thankful I had an open heart and mind going in. I intentionally asked God to help me see how He wanted to use me as I walk this path. 

I was in the Hospital for 28 hours and experienced 3 Divine Appointments. I am so humbled that God would use me in these ways.

Since I work in the area of Grief and Loss, a common theme I hear from clients is "I wish we could have had one last "I love you" or one last "Goodbye." 

While I didn't believe God was going to call me home during this process, I knew there was a gift I could leave me family...just in case God's plan was different than my own. I wrote my husband, children, and parents each a final "I love you, goodbye" letter. I asked the sweet pre-op nurse if she had an envelope that I could seal them in. 

As it turns out, she is having surgery tomorrow (Please pray for nurse "K"). She had been having nightmares of loved ones surrounding her in ICU as she lay dying. I was able to share a fer scriptures with her. 

"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, oh Lord, will keep me safe.", (Psalm 4:8, NLT)
and 
"Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw His unfailing love from me.",(Psalm 67:16-20, NLT)

Nurse "K" decided she was going to write similar letters to her family members. She was going to cling to these verses to have faith that she would come through her surgery fine. It could have stopped there, But God wasn't done with Nurse "K"

Turns out the father of her oldest child died in January. She needed to hear the message of hope and how Conquering the Grief that Stole Christmas (For more information click here) could bring hope to her child and the rest of the hurting family members.

As I prayed for Nurse "K" she wept and said, "I'm supposed to be here for you, but God brought you in here for me today."

I love how God works. The enemy and my human nature would want me to focus on what was happening with me during that time...but God granted me a Shifted Vision to see how I could be His hands and feet towards sweet Nurse "K".

I have two more amazing Divine appointments to share, but physically I am not up to it at the moment. Just know that God will use you no matter the circumstances...you must have the heart though to say, "Here I am God, use me!"

Dear God, Thank you for allowing me to introduce your hope into the life of Nurse "K". Help us all gain the ability to have s Shifted Vision to see how you want to use us even when we have things going on in our own lives that could easily draw our full focus. Thank you for allowing me to see you and your purpose in the midst of my own turmoils. In Jesus' name I pray~ Amen.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Stone Rolling Away: Bringing Life and Relationship with God



Today is the final day of my series "31 Days of Laying Down Our Stones." If you are interested in seeing the other posts, please feel free to check them out here.

While we have spent the past 31 days learning to trust God with different "stones", there is one stone, that as it was moved, brought hope and life to each of us. I'm thrilled that Jesus rolled the stone of the tomb away to conquer the enemy and bring new life and relationship to us.

Forever Lyrics

from Majestic


Kari Jobe - lyrics Majestic Other Album Songs

"Forever" is track #7 on the album Majestic. It was written by Johnson, Michael Edwin.

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Savior of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him
One final breath He gave
As Heaven looked away
The Son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive
The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive
Forever, forever
You have overcome
Your resurrected King
You have overcome the grave
You have overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
We sing Hallelujah
The Lamb has overcome
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive (Forever)
Forever, He is glorified
Forever, He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen
He is alive
He is alive
Songwriters
Johnson, Michael Edwin
Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, O/B/O APRA AMCOS


Read more: Kari Jobe - Forever Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Stones of "What If": Letting God be Bigger

Today I am disappointed to the point of deep heart sadness. I honestly could cry, and I very well might crawl in the shower once I post this and bawl like a baby.

I have attempted two "family" times in the past 15 hours and neither of them worked out. My husband knew I had planned a nice meal and even rented a movie from Redbox so we could have a nice family evening. He received a phone call from a relative who lives out of state and stayed on the phone for two hours, essentially ignoring my planned special family time. I finally told the girls to eat and we began the movie without him.

This morning I got up early and made homemade waffles for my crew. I started waking them up in time for us to share a sweet breakfast together, only to have grumpy tired teens not want to cooperate with a peaceful family moment. Sure, everyone ate but it was a hurried-shove it in your face- experience that didn't give me the quality family time I am longing for.

What is going on with me? Why is this family time so important? I will be having a pretty significant surgery Monday...and the monster of "What If" is tearing at my peace. What if I don't make it through surgery? What if they make a mistake and damage nerves leaving me unable to serve my family? What if there are complications and I never have an opportunity to have this desired family time again. What if my surgery Monday steals these special opportunities from my children's future. What if this rushed and hurried morning is the last time I am capable of making them homemade waffles? (okay, I'm crying already)

When it comes to the "What if's" of post surgery I am acutely aware of the many things I have no control of. As a result, I find myself grasping at any opportunity to give myself a sense of control over things I think I can control (like special family times)...only to find out that I have no control over those things either.

The other emotion that is there, threatening to swallow me is fear. I'd love to tell you I have absolute certainty and faith that everything is going to be fine when I wake up from surgery Monday afternoon. Unfortunately life has taught me that things don't always go "fine". What if, in my attempt to become pain free, I sentence myself to a life more painful than the one I am experiencing now. Yes, I hurt...I hurt bad. But I can still make a special dinner or breakfast whether my family cooperates or not. (crying again)

The more I focus on the multitude of "What Ifs" the less I seem to trust God. Once I stop my crazy "What If" Dance, I am free to notice how BIG God is! 

So today I choose to anchor to Psalm 91 and allow God to become BIGGER than my "What ifs"

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LordHe alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.  I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” (Psalm 91, NLT)

Dear Lord, Help me cling to you instead of my fears. As I am tempted to fear what lays ahead, help me choose to trust you. As my heart connects more to you, let your presence evict the "What ifs" that want to steal my peace. In Jesus' name I pray~ Amen. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Stones of Betrayal:Friends Become Enemies

12 
We were the best of friends. We shared everything with one another and were practically inseparable. I considered her a sister even though we didn't share any of the same DNA. Having her in my life brought much joy. 

One day all that changed. My friend turned on me. She stirred others against me and used all the things I had shared in confidence against me. I could have managed or handled the assault had it of come from someone I didn't know very well or care about. Her betrayal broke my heart in ways I had never experienced before. 

David experienced the same emotions.
"It is not an enemy who taunts me—I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.",(Psalm 55:12-14, NLT)
I tried to mend things with my friend as well as understand why the betrayal happened...what did I do to offend her so deeply to cause the rift? I made no headway and gained no answers. There was nothing left for me to do except cry out to God. I clung to this verse praying that He really did hear my cries.
But I will call on God, and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the Lord hears my voice.", (Psalm 55:16-17, NLT)
As time went on, more and more emotional wounds were inflicted as it seemed my "friend was determined to destroy everything that was special to me. It became a constant battle that affected every area of my life. I had to trust God in ways that I had never had to do so before. David had faith to believe that God would keep him safe during his time of betrayal.
"He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me.", (Psalm 55:18, NLT)
I longed to lash out in revenge...to defend myself...but I had no way to do so. I also loved her too much to cause her the wounds she so eagerly caused me. 
"God, who has ruled forever, will hear me and humble them, For my enemies refuse to change their ways; they do not fear God.", (Psalm 55:19, NLT)

 The following verses of Psalm 55 felt so familiar they hurt.
 As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers!",(Psalm 55:20-21, NLT)

In my place of hurt, all I can do is give my burden to God and trust Him with it. 
"Give your burdens to the Lordand he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. But you, O God, will send the wicked down to the pit of destruction. Murderers and liars will die young, but I am trusting you to save me.", (Psalm 55:22-23, NLT)
The relationship with my friend has never been repaired. I have never understood the source of our falling out or parting of ways. What has happened is that I my relationship with God grew deeper as I relied on Him to take care of me and not allow me to be crushed under the weight of the betrayal and assault. 

Dear Lord, Help me treasure my relationship with you over all the others in my life. I trust you to protect me when wounds come from the ones I love. Give me the courage to continue to love and trust even though I have been wounded. Help me to not reject future relationships because of the scars of old ones. In Jesus' name I pray~ Amen.