Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Whenever I start doubting the day to day, I put this song on repeat and play it over and over until I'm solidly where I need to be again.

by Natalie Grant from her CD Relentless.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Life Verses... from where else? Lamentations.

I really am, if you know me at all, an optimistic and hopeful person. Over all. But I must admit that there are times that I get caught up in the hard stuff, and when I sit back and think about it, there have been some real moments of trial in my life, times of testing, going through a fire if you will. And sometimes, I've ended up a little bit (or a lot) bitter...regretful, but true.

But you know what? It always comes down to the lovely recall that my Savior is faithful. My God is the one true God, and in spite of my venting...fighting...shaking my fist at God, each and every morning he returns to me true, full of mercy, full of never ending love, always faithful.

And that knowing is why my life verses come from the oddes of places for a hopeful person, the book of Lamentations. I speak of the day that it became apparent that my the crux of what matters in my life were contained in these verses in this post. It's actually a sermon (sorry.) that I was privileged to preach when our much longed for daughter Bug was a month old. She came to us through a long and winding road that includes infertility and loss and adoption and on that morning we were celebrating her joining our family with our church family through a shower for our daughter. It really was glorious. And the song I chose to close the service was this one... Great is They Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions,
they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

And that wasn't the first time we've used that song in celebration. Our wedding day we sang it together with the 400 and some family and friends who joined us for that amazing day. And since our wedding day, we've had this favorite hymn a part of the celebration of Bug and Si's dedication ceremonies, when we committed to raise them to love Christ, giving them back to God for His use. Because of what this song represents to me, I can't get through it ever without tears flowing, hands lifted in praise for I know He is faithful. He is. All I have needed His hand does provide.

And these verses from Lamentations are the crux of life for me. Where I end in my own attempts to keep up the hope, when I can't find peace, I needn't look further than the only One in whom we can find true HOPE... a faithful God whose mercies fall without measure, whose love is sure and endless.

When you start the book of Lamentations, it sure doesn't look like this is where it is going. The author of this book is definitely at the end of his rope. There's nothing, absolutely nothing that has happened in his (or her!) life that makes sense, that "feels" good, that seems right. And still, he/she gets to the point of nothingness... no joy... and...

Even at times when my soul can't find peace, when the happy stuff is hard to see from here, this ONE thing I call to mind and then I have HOPE... the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is Your Faithfulness. The LORD is my portion. And therefore I will hope in Him." (From Lamentations 3)

from Sara Groves' CD Conversations

That is where my hope is found... wholly, solely in a God who loves me unfailingly, whose mercies cover my sins, my fears, my struggles, my life.

Sometimes hope can only be found in the end of knowing what it is to live without hope. Sometimes hope shines brighter when you've gone through the trial. Maybe that is what makes the trial, the something to lament about, worth it. I cling to that... and hope.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Fear? Jesus shows his storm-killing power.

One day Jesus got into a boat with his closest friends, the people who (supposedly) knew him best, and he said to them, "Let's go to the other side." So they started across the lake and while they were sailing, Jesus fell asleep. A huge windstorm swept across the lake, and the waves were fiercely beating the boat, which was filling with water faster than the disciples could get it out, and they were in danger. They went to where Jesus was sleeping quietly on a soft cushion, shouting and screaming "Master, we are dying here! Don't you care about us????" Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and shouted to the sea, "PEACE! BE STILL!" And then he turned to his beloved friends and said, "WHY ARE YOU AFRAID? Do you have so little faith in me?" They stood there in awe and in fear and said to each other, "Who is this, that even the wind and the waves obey him?" (From Matthew, Mark and Luke)...

I forget, so easily forget in the middle of the storms in my life, that my Beloved Friend Jesus has power over the winds and the waves. He will never fail me, even when it seems he is sleeping through the worst of my pain. I believe always...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why Fear? Even though I am powerless, He is Strength.

Have you not known or heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint.
He does not grow weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint.
He strengthens the powerless.
Even the youngest will faint and be weary...
even the young will fall exhausted.
But those who WAIT ~ HOPE ~ for the LORD, shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
They shall run and not be weary.
They shall walk and not faint.

(Isaiah 40:27-31)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Speaking of Fear...

This series of posts has been in the works for a couple of years, really. For most of 2007 and early 2008, I spent an afternoon a week heading to see a Christian counselor in order to make sense of some of the things that had happened in my life. Regardless of how much faith I have in a "God is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20), I struggle with an anger that sometimes scares me and often affects the most important relationships in my life.

And in this time of counseling, it became increasingly more clear that my anger had become a crutch to NOT deal with what was underneath.


Fear was underneath.

Fear of an uncertain future.

Fear for my kid's health.

Fear for my family's well-being.

Fear for what hard thing would be coming my way next.


Fear turned to an outpouring of anger that hurt those around me, and I couldn't...wouldn't let it keep happening. That time taught me so many things. Since my counselor was outwardly Christian, we could talk about how much of my anger was directed at God for fear of what HE would do next to us. The downside at times of being a follower of God is that you can grow to expect good things from him, and get lulled into the belief that obedience garners his favor. That surely if I am doing His work, with all that I've sacrificed to be His servant, surely his favor would be on us, and only good things would come our way.

And then they don't and unacknowledged disappointment can sometimes turn into a seething that breaks up the soul. And I was heading down that path, and it was plain scary. I could see life falling apart if I didn't get control ~ my first thought, although it was really healing and understanding I was looking for ~ of it... loss of relationship with the people I loved most ~ Hubby, my two precious kids, dear family, friends, even the God I serve ~ loss of comfort in not knowing myself, loss of hope for a future that has years of potential left, and so much more.

That seething... scary... sad... when faced to the truth that it was less about what I had felt others and God had done to me, but more about how fearful I was of the unknown that might be lurking around the next corner, or in the dark shadows ~ that seething became less my comfortable friend ~ living mad ~ and more the adversary I had to fight.

So I turned, as I have learned to do so many times in my life, but of course, fail to do often enough, to the Place with the Answers, my Bible, the Book where you can get to know God better to understand the "whys" and "whats" and other "w"s that mark the questioning life.

And in it I found word upon word and passage upon passage about what God thinks of fear. How God expects us to handle the fears we encounter in living in an uncertain world. And most importantly WHO GOD IS in the world and why that means we can live the fearless life.

Over and again, as I found hundreds* (literally!) of places where God addresses our fears, turth was revealed. In the end, fear, whether for my own safety or the safety of my family can be very real. But you can't live there. And even further, MOST of the time, my fear came from the possible growth that might happen if there were more hard circumstances to come in my life. I wanted to curl up and say "God, have we not done enough work in this area? What more do you ask of me?"

And in the end, the question, the only question that remained is this:

Do I not trust God, know him enough, to know he’s taking care of me?

His WORD reveals who He is to anyone who wants to know him. So what does the Bible ~ the whole of it ~ say about my fear, and who God is in the middle of a world that leaves me fearful. Who is God to me that I don’t have to fear?

After searching his Word to know God more it became clear that God doesn't just coddle us into trusting Him. He commands it. He demands us to trust him. And He ALWAYS says these things...


Be strong.

Have courage.

Be still.

Know me.

Seek me.

Trust me.

In these commands lay the hope for my future, one not laced with anger and fear but with optimisim and joy. It is truthfully the way I've been striving to live these last many months. It is a journey of healing, of seeing His Light, and learning again how God does have my best in mind, even through the hard stuff.

The next several entries will be just a tasting of the many passages that brought God's truth about fear to light for me. I hope they do for you as well.

*My Scripture search was very basic and didn't require the Seminary degree I have (although that came in handy). I started on a personal prayer retreat, opening my Bible to the concordance and listing all the passages found there. And in reading those passages, I found cross-referenced passages that led me to more and more verses on the topic. This is for me, how I truly begin to know and understand God, not by staying in the main stream (although many of the passages I am choosing to outline in this series are main stream) but seeing the stuff in the lesser known corners of the Bible alongside the lauded and well-loved passages. That's just a hint of how you might go about doing your own study on a "topic" you need to hear from God about.
Sometimes it is hard to feel like He is listening.

Does He hear? Does He care about the things that matter to me?

But in this doubt, it hits me time and again.
He has proven Himself true.
I can trust the Unseen because He is not unknown to me.
And he wants me to cry out to Him with my needs, but in the end, He also wants what is best for me.

"What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He didn't keep His own Son from us, will He not give us everything else? Can anything ever separate us from the Love of Christ? Does it mean He no longer loves me if I have trouble, or distress, or feel hunger or pain? If I'm attacked or in danger, does that mean He no longer cares? I AM CONVINCED that NOTHING can ever separate us from God's Love. Neither death nor life, angels or demons, neither our FEARS for today nor our worries about tomorrow. No power in the sky or on the earth... nothing will separate us."

(From Romans 8)...

I am NEVER alone.

By BarlowGirl from their CD Another Journal Entry