Reflections from Life Group

This past Sunday in Life Group we talked about listening. Listening to God and also to our children. Listening can sometimes be hard. I know that listening to my children is important, but at times I just don’t want to do it. There is only so much Pokemon I want to hear about. lol. My second son Jordan and I have a thing we do now every day in car line while waiting to pickup my oldest son from school. Jordan gets into the front seat and we talk or play the animal guessing game. Honestly, I would rather be quiet during that time. I don’t get many quiet moments in my life with four young kids and I am the type of person that needs my share of quiet. But I have come to realize that this time with Jordan is special. I don’t get a lot of one on one time with him during the day, so this is time I have to take advantage of.

Listening to God can be hard also. Sometimes we don’t want to be quiet and listen to God because we might not like what we hear. Maybe we want to do something and He might tell us “no”. Maybe there is something in our lives we have to change or get rid of. No one wants to hear about those things, but they are necessary. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to God because I have a neat little plan all laid out and simple for my life, and I just know He is going to mess that up. He usually does. If I had my way in things I would only have one kid, lol. God knew better. He always knows what is best for me and I have to trust that whatever crazy journey He might lead me on is for my best. It takes courage to listen and obey, but the benefits far outweigh the price.

How does God speak? He speaks in many ways. Sometimes it’s that still small voice in your head that you know didn’t come from you. Sometimes it’s a comment from a friend, or maybe it’s a word from a source you would not expect to listen to, like a donkey, for example. Sometimes it comes through a series of seeming coincidences that could not have just happened on their own. Lately, He has been doing that for me. He speaks in a variety of ways, be on the lookout for Him to speak at the times you least expect. The more you train yourself to listen the more you will hear Him speak. You have to be willing to obey, whether in large things or small, when you hear him speak and tell you something to do. Listening takes practice, but it’s well worth it. Listening to someone else lets that person know they are important to you. It’s worth more than a thousand words you could ever say.

Posted in God

Provision

I was reading today in Joshua 5:10-12. These don’t seem to be very important verses in the Bible. They are stuck between the Israelites crossing the Jordan river and defeating Jericho. However, if you look at them closely they are significant. They tell us about the Israelites celebrating Passover and then it talks about the manna they had been eating all the while they were wondering in the desert stopped. It stopped because they finally got to a place that had food they could eat off the land.

This is significant for a few reasons. One, is that can you imagine walking around in the desert for 40 years and having nothing to eat except that which God literally rained from heaven in the form of manna? There was nothing to eat in the desert. They were at the mercy of God to give them nourishment. And they could not stockpile the manna, they tried and it went bad. I am a couponer and I have a pretty good stockpile of food. My family could eat off of it and be just fine for a few weeks at least. It makes me feel comforted to know I have food for my family, should I need it. But that was not the case here. The Israelites got only the food which they needed for that day. Can you imagine living like that all the time? Some of us do, I am sure. We all go through seasons in our lives where we have to depend on God to such an extend as this. Where we may not have food for that day, but not often. That must have really been an exercise in faith for them, to have to depend on God in such a significant way. And I am sure it was for most, but you find that in the Bible some of the Israelites actually had the guts to complain about having to eat manna day after day. Bless their hearts! I don’t think I would have done that, but in some ways I do complain about God’s provision for me at times. Sometimes it doesn’t come when I want it to or in the way I think it should. And I complain.

God did provide for the Israelites everyday, just as He does for us. Sometimes we can get so comfortable in our own provision for ourselves that we forget it’s all God’s. God is the one who gives you the money you have, all of it. He is the one who allows you to have a job and blesses you to have whatever things you have, large or small. In these verses in Joshua, we find that God provided the manna for the people until the exact time at which they could then gather food for themselves. I think that detail is interesting. It proves to me, as if experience didn’t already, that God is a God of details. He is on time. He does things in just the right time when we need it. He does not often give us things in advance, but we can trust that if we need something it will be there, at the exact moment we need it. He does this so that we will know it is He who is in charge and not us.

God provides for us in the desert places and also in the promised land flowing with milk and honey. We all have desert places and places of abundance in our lives. Whichever place you are in right now, God is providing for you. Don’t forget that everything you have is God’s and you did not gain any of it by your own power. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Give freely, knowing the God has given what you have freely to you. Trust that He has it handled, and He will provide all your NEEDS, whether in the desert or the place of abundance.

Posted in God

Keep Moving

This morning I sat down for my quiet moment with God. I say ‘moment’ because with four kids and a house to keep up with sometimes it is literally just a moment, but God knows I make the effort. Anyway, so I opened the Bible to Joshua 3. I read the entire chapter. It is about Joshua crossing the Jordan river. A few things stood out to me that I wanted to share.

Recently, Glenn and I have been praying and asking the Lord for direction in our lives in some specific areas. We have prayed and prayed and I confess I have been waiting for some big billboard to come and tell me what to do, exactly! I know that’s not likely to happen, as I know God doesn’t usually work that way. Usually, it’s in smaller ways. Anyway, something in this chapter in Joshua that stood out to me is that God told the people of Israel to cross the Jordan. They were unsure, actually very doubtful, that this would happen. The river was at flood stage. I am told that it was more than a mile wide at flood stage. It was not a quiet flowing river either, we are talking about a rough river and it would be impossible to cross as it was. But God says, take the people and walk into the Jordan. That had to take great faith! They were facing certain death by doing that. But they were obedient to God and He stopped the waters and they crossed.

How this spoke to me about my situation is that I have been waiting for God to tell me when and where and how to do what He has called me to. But in this story God told the Israelites the day before they were to cross the Jordan, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Then the next day they did what  the Lord told them to do. There wasn’t a lot of deliberation or debate about whether or not they should follow God or when to do it, they just did it. There are defiantly times when God asks us to sit and listen and pray for a season, but then there are times when He tells us to just keep moving. Proverbs 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” That verse implies the you have to be moving before God can tell you which way to walk.

I am not saying we should make rash decisions and do things without consulting God about it. However, there are times when God has told us a million times what He has called us to do, but we have failed to do it out of fear. Usually we are waiting for an angel to appear and tell us exactly what to do. That doesn’t happen much, more often than not we have to start in the direction that we believe that God is leading us and then wait for Him to give us directions while we walk. My father in law says “if you seek to be in God’s will, He will not let you get out of it”. You have to trust that God will keep you in His will if you are honestly seeking it.

Is there something God has put on your heart to do? Is there a dream you have yet to fulfill because you are waiting for the “perfect time”? Pray and seek God’s will in the situation and then step out in faith and see if God is opening the door for you to walk through. He will make it clear if you are heading in the wrong direction.

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Unconditional Love

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“We love because he first loved us” I John 4:19

This verse took on new meaning for me recently. I love all my children, but I would be lying if I said it isn’t easier to love them when they show you love in return. When babies are first born, we love them simply because they are our children, not because they have done anything to deserve that love or to love us in return. But then slowly they begin to respond to us and give us love in return and it becomes easier to love them. Elijah is at the age when he is starting to show some affection for us and it is so wonderful to get some love back for all the love we have expressed to him. Joshua has been slow to show us love. It took him longer to smile than most kids, but he was so rewarding when he finally did. Now, he will allow you to hold him in your lap, but doesn’t want to be cuddled. I don’t know if it’s just a personality thing or if it has something to do with his special circumstances, but he is not what I would call cuddly. He has never hugged or kissed us and hasn’t even laid his head on my shoulder, ever. Honestly, it’s hard. I pray that someday he will do that and some day he will say, “mommy, I love you”. But until then we keep loving and expect little in return.

The other day I was lamenting this to God. To be honest, this is especially hard on me as the mommy. I love to cuddle my boys and get hugs and kisses. It doesn’t bother Glenn as much because he doesn’t need all that to feel loved. But for me, that is how I show affection. Some of my boys like hugs more than others, but they all allow me to hug them or show them physical affection in some way. All but Joshua. He just doesn’t want me hugging him. I know that I have rejection issues, I admit that, and that compounds this issue, but his lack of affection feels like rejection sometimes. I have had to work through those feelings and just hug him anyway, no matter what his response is. So, as I was talking to God about all this He pointed me to this verse above. He showed me that we were all like Joshua once, we didn’t want His love, but He gave it anyway so that we might be saved. We rejected Him, but He still loved us. What a humbling realization for me. I still reject God’s love at times. Sometimes I am too busy to spend time with Him. Sometimes I don’t listen to His still, small voice and reject his directions in my life. There are many ways I don’t always accept His love and it hurts Him just as Joshua’s rejection hurts me at times.

When I first had kids, I learned what it meant to become unselfish. Those of you who are parents know what I am talking about. Once you have kids you can no longer just do whatever you want, you have to think of someone else’s needs first. When you have a child with special needs that is compounded. It teaches you to weed out whatever selfish needs for affection you might have, in my case, and realize that I have to love Joshua not based on what he does in response to me, but just because. Love is a choice and not a feeling. No matter what other people might tell you. Love is action, it’s what you do. There were times when we first got Joshua that I didn’t feel all warm and gushy about him, but I realized that wasn’t necessary to loving him. I loved him every time I changed his diaper, or feed him. I loved him by DOING things for him. There are times still when I don’t feel gushy about my kids, but I still love them. I love them by doing their laundry and cleaning their house. I love them in a million ways every day. Love that is based on what someone else will do for you, is shallow love and not the kind of love God calls us to. Motherhood, and especially mothering a special needs child, has taught me that. But there is one person that will love me always, no matter what my response to Him, and that is Jesus. I can lean on that love and know it is always there, just as my children can lean on my love and know that no matter how they respond to me, I will love them anyway.

300

Recently, I everywhere I turn I hear the story of Gideon and his 300 men. You can find it in Judges 7 if you would like to read it, but I will give you the short version. God calls Gideon, in the most unlikely of places, the threshing floor of a winepress. I find it interesting that when God calls Gideon he says, “One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!” (Judges 6: 11-12). At this point Gideon was in the winepress hiding from the Midianites, but yet God calls him “O mighty warrior”. He doesn’t look like a mighty warrior to me, but I am not God. Obviously. God can see in us what we are going to be, not what we are right now.

So, He calls Gideon to go fight the Midianites. “But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?”

15 Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.” (Judges 6: 14-15). Have you ever said that to God? Me? Really, God? I am nobody, and you want me to do this? I certainly have. I say it all the time. Really God, me? You want me to adopt this child with special needs? Really God, me? You want me to lead a Bible Study? Really God, me? You want me to raise 4 young kids? The list goes on.

So, after testing God with his fleece, Gideon goes to round-up an army. He has about 3,200 men. God says that is too many. So, he works it down to 300. I find this extremely interesting. Why did God do this? Well, it tells us in Judges 7:2 “You have too large an army with you. I can’t turn Midian over to them like this—they’ll take all the credit, saying, ‘I did it all myself,’ and forget about me. ”

You would think that God would want Gideon to have as many men as possible to defeat this army of it looks like about 15,000. But, God didn’t want Gideon or his men to get a big head. He wanted them to know that only He could have defeated these armies. Which He did do at the end of the story.

Do you feel like you are being asked of God to walk into battle with 300 men? Is there something in your life that He is asking you to do that seems impossible? I have to say that I know for a fact God has been bringing this story to my attention (no less than 5 times in the last week from different sources, no kidding!) because He has called me to do things that I am incredulous about. I have fear and doubt about doing them. But I know He is saying to me today that nothing is impossible with Him. He wants the credit for the big things He has called us to. He wants to make it so that there can be no doubt who has done this. However, it requires our action. We have to make the first step of faith and walk out of our hiding places to do big things for God. What is God asking of you today? Will you step out in faith and do it, even if it seems impossible? There is a song on the radio right now with a line I really like, it says, “doesn’t matter what you’ve heard, impossible is not a word, it’s just a reason, a reason not to try.” If you never try to step out in faith to do what God is calling you to do, you will never know if you could have done that impossible thing. You must come out from your safe place, though, in order to do it.

 

 

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Leaving

This week my son’s good friend who lives across the street from us moved away. They didn’t move that far, but still they are not right across the street anymore. It was sad for my son and his friend. They have played together almost every day for the past year and a half or so. It’s hard to watch your son go through something that hurts him. But it’s apart of life and it’s not something I can shield him from.

Before we had kids I used to watch King of Queens a lot. It’s a really funny show, although I didn’t realize that there was so much inappropriate language and stuff in it until I had kids. Anyway, there was this one show were the main character, who is in his thirties, goes home for the holidays with his wife. They see his dog while they are visiting his parents. The wife asks how old the dog is and they say that the dog has been around since the guy was a kid??! Finally, the main character realizes that his original dog died years ago but his parents kept buying new dogs so that he wouldn’t realize that his beloved dog had died. It’s a silly example of trying to shield your kids from pain.

Hopefully none of us would do that in real life, but we do, in small ways. What I have discovered in my life is that pain happens. It’s good to show your children how best to deal with pain, than to pretend that it doesn’t happen. When we had our miscarriages a few years ago we let our children see us cry. We didn’t let them see the angry grief that we had, but we did let them see some tears. We showed them that we were hurting and that it was okay to cry and show your hurt. But then, we stopped crying, and told them that everything was going to be okay because we had God in our lives and He would see us through. I think this helped my son deal with other losses he has had since then, like his good friend moving away.

There are comings and goings in life. You cannot stop it. If we never knew what pain was, we could not fully experience joy. Loss, although painful, is good for us, it makes us appreciate what we have and what we will yet have.

What?

My 5-year-old loves to ask “what?”, all the time. It drives me crazy! I know he hears me when I tell him something, but he says, “what?” anyway. So, now I have started telling him that I will not repeat myself more than once. Why does he not listen to me the first time, does he just want to hear my voice or something? I think it might be that he doesn’t like what I said. It’s not the answer he wanted.

I am like that sometimes. I don’t like the answers I get from God. Over the past few weeks I have been praying about a situation in my life. God told me the other day to call a certain person about the situation. I didn’t want to because I was pretty sure that what this person had to say was not the answer I was looking for. So, I prayed one of those prayers where I try to do what God wants me to do but also get my way too. I told God if He really wanted me to call this person then to have Glenn tell me to do it. I knew this was very unlikely to happen since Glenn never talks about this situation. So, I knew it was very unlikely he would ever tell me to call this person.  I went about my business for a week, thinking I had gotten away with something. That something being not doing what God wanted me to do. So, night before last we were going to bed and Glenn said out of the blue, “are you going to call this person about this situation?” I said, “what?”. So, he repeated what he had said. Then I said, “who?”. He repeated what person he had mentioned. I knew full well what he had said I just was in shock that my great little plan hadn’t worked. I told Glenn I didn’t think it was the right time to call that person and he said “okay, whatever, I am not really sure why I said that anyway.” I, of course, knew I HAD to call that person now. God wasn’t going to be quiet about it. So, I emailed that person the next day. The person has yet to email me back, but that doesn’t really matter. I was finally obedient to what God said to do, whatever the outcome may be.

I have a feeling I know exactly why my son says, “what?” all the time. It has nothing to do with a hearing problem, it’s a listening problem. I have it too!

 

Is there a catfish in your tank?

I was driving to preschool this morning and I was listening to a pastor on christian radio preach a sermon on persecution. I almost turned it off when I heard what the topic was, who wants to talk about persecution? I certainly don’t. That’s one if those things I rather avoid, if possible. Anyway, he used a really cool illustration that I wanted to share.

There was a fishing corporation on the east coast that wanted to ship codfish to the west coast. They were having trouble doing this. First they shipped the fish dead after they caught them, but they were spoiled when they got to the west coast. Then they tried to freeze them, but they were mushy when they got there. Then they tried to ship them live, but they died before they got there. Then, they found a way that worked. The mortal enemy of the codfish is the catfish. They shipped the live codfish in a tank with a catfish and they got there alive. The fish had to keep swimming in order to stay safe from the catfish, so that kept them alive. I thought this was a really cool story. He then asked the question, do you have catfish in your tank? In other words, sometimes God puts people or situations in our lives that stress us or persecute us to keep us spiritually alive. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, what do you do? You swim, swim, swim.

I often feel like I have a catfish in my tank, I am sure you do too. I never really thought of the idea that I need that catfish in order to stay alive and growing spiritually though. I know God uses difficult situations in our lives to grow us. I can look back on my life and see that God has used the toughest times in my life to change who I am and grow me into a better person.

Our pastor at church talked yesterday about John the Baptist. John was a man who grow in favor in God’s eyes, but honestly, the world thought he was crazy and persecuted him. Do you feel as thought the world thinks you are crazy? I certainly do. I know the world looks at us with our four young kids, one of whom is of another race and asks why we would do that. I have had to answer a lot of questions from people I come in contact with about why we do what we do and why we adopted. It’s a great opportunity to talk about God. I know even those Christians around us think we are crazy at times. But just like John the Baptist, often times when those around you are nay saying and think you are crazy, you are right where God wants you to be. Just remember God uses the catfish in your tank to keep you on your spiritual toes.

Posted in God

Grandma

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day my Grandma went to live with Jesus. That was over 20 years ago, but I still remember it well. I was 10 when my grandma died. I didn’t get to see her often because she lived far away but those times I did were special. I was her only granddaughter after 5 grandsons. I was a little rotten. lol. We usually would visit her at Christmas time. She lived in Florida, so Christmas there isn’t like it is here. There is no chance for snow, and you will most likely be wearing shorts instead of coats and hats. She had the proverbial old person house. It had 70’s furniture and had that old person smell. She always had Pop tarts and Coke for me. She also always had orange slices, the candy. I still buy those every now and then and think of her. The other great thing about her house was that she had a grapefruit tree in her backyard. You haven’t lived until you have eaten grapefruit off a tree freshly picked!

One fun memory I have of my grandmother as I got older, was her false teeth. She would take the out for us, it was hilarious to a then 10-year-old. Sometimes when we were at grandma’s my mom and I would “escape” to Wal-Mart because her house was so warm. Older people like warm houses. She also had a spoon collection. She had spoons from every state and other places throughout the world. She also collected Precious Moments figurines. I still have some of those from her house. They are special to me.

My grandmother was special. The best thing about her, and what I remember her most for was her faith in God. She had some of the greatest stories about God’s faithfulness and love in her life. She attended church every Sunday, even when no one else went with her. One of my last memories of her was her lying in a hospital bed being very sick from cancer. She gathered me and my cousin over to her side and asked us if we had invited Jesus into our hearts. I think she knew that her time on this earth was short and she wanted to make sure that we had a relationship with Jesus so that she would see us again in Heaven. She was a great woman of faith and her life was evidence of that fact. When I have times in my life when I don’t know if things will work out and I can’t see God’s hand in things, I remember a story she told me or something she said and it always points me to God. I look forward to the day when I will see her again in Heaven. I look forward to getting to know her as an adult. But I know how blessed I am to have known her here on earth. She was a foundational person in my life and in my faith in God. Her legacy of faith lives on in my life and also in the lives of her other grandchildren.

Is there someone in your life that you can point to as your spiritual mentor? If not, seek someone out that you admire, spiritually, to mentor you. We are not all blessed to have believing grandparents in our lives, but there are many “adopted” grandparents I have had over the years. There may be someone in your life like that. Be thankful for that person. You might also be able to be that spiritual “grandparent” for someone else.

More

During this season of Christmas shopping, it has become apparent to me that the world would like us all to believe that we need more of everything. We “need” more clothes, more food, more electronics and more of just about anything else you can think of that costs money. It is only November 30 and I am sick of Christmas craziness already. I lament the fact that Christmas is all about presents and stuff, at least as far as the commercials are concerned. I actually considered not buying any presents this year, but my husband quickly brought me back off the proverbial ledge of that one. 🙂

I agree with the idea that we all need more of certain things, I would just suggest that its different things than you would see on TV.

We need more love

We need more compassion

We need more prayer

We need more generosity

We need more selflessness

We need more peace

We need more of Jesus, everyday.

As a couponer, I really can fall into this line of thinking that I need more of things. But I have to stop and ask myself, do I really “need” 50 boxes of pasta? No, I don’t. I think I personally can get to the point that I put my faith in what I have, instead of Jesus. I can put my faith in my savings account or how much food I have stockpiled. I can put my faith in my plan for my life and how I have every detail worked out just so. Then I stop and realize that these things are meaningless and can all be taken away in a minute. I really need more Jesus and to put my faith in Him for my security. The world can be sneaky about this whole “more” business. I almost waited in line all night on black friday for a new TV thinking I “needed” it, when I have a perfectly good one already. God wants me to trust Him for things and not in what I have. That’s a hard lesson to learn and really live out, but in the end it is what we need more of.

Posted in God