One Thing to Cling to When Things are Tough

Where’s this blogging girl gone?
Well, after a week spell of intense editing and rereading into the late nights, sickness has slammed the family. And slammed the door on the writing momentum.

And when your husband, and your kids, and your pregnant self are all horribly sick, violently coughing through night after sleepless night, aching and feverishly enduring day after long day,and it hurts to breath,and you can’t talk (trying clapping to the kids to communicate to them each day) and you can’t quite keep up with all this (and who needs what, when):

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

The many attempts at fighting this misery-inducing beast off.

and you start fantasizing about how you might manage to get yourself hospitalized so you can at least get breathing treatments, strong pain meds and SLEEP,

you can start to lose your bearings.

You can forget whose you are, and how He works in His children’s lives.

You forget that,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

But rather, it is in the heat and pressure, and tension and struggle of those desperate situations that somehow God is working and moving and refining and sharpening a mother who on more than one occasion through this past two weeks of weakness has found herself saying,
“I’m in way over my head. I will never have my life together. Look at this messy house. Look at these snotty, sick kids. Look at your impatient sick self trying to yell at them through a fiery throat and intense coughing spells. Who am I KIDDING trying to bring another child into the world, much less adopt another one into our family?”

But,

Desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction.

A.B Simpson writes:

“The other day, my friend and I were passing by the power plant that produces electricity for the streetcars. We heard the hum and roar of the countless wheels of the turbines, and I asked my friend, “How is the power produced?” He replied, “It simply is generated by the turning of those wheels and the friction they create. The rubbing producers the electric current.

In a similar way, when God desires to create more power in your life, He creates more friction. He uses this pressure to generate spiritual power. Some people cannot handle it, and run from the pressure instead of receiving the power and using it to rise above the painful experiences that produced it.

Opposition is essential to maintaining true balance between forces. It is the centripetal and centrifugal forces acting in opposition to each other that keep our planet in the proper orbit. The propelling action coupled with the repelling counteraction keeps the earth in orbit around the sun instead of flinging it into space and a path of certain destruction.

God guides our lives in the same way. It is not enough to have only a propelling force. We need an equal repelling force, so that He holds us back through the testing ordeals of life. The pressures of temptations and trials and all the things that seem to be against us further our progress and strengthen our foundation.

Let us thank Him for both the weights and the wings He produces. And realizing we are divinely propelled, let us press on with faith and patience in our high and heavenly calling. ” (Taken from Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman

So, those desperate situations do not necessarily mean God’s dissatisfaction…

They might actually mean His favor.

Follow the Cloud

“…the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.”

 Deuteronomy 1:33

He did this very thing.

My husband had been telling me to write a book for the past three years.

I just laughed at him.

“About what?!?”

“What do I possibly know enough about to actually write a whole book about?”

Well, as my plans to return to Newark, faded into the upcoming move to Atlanta last spring, Danny kept saying,

“I really think this might be the season for you to write a book.”

Still, I had no idea how that would play out.

Then late May of 2013, my friend who was living in Swaziland, contacted me:

“I know this sounds crazy, but as I continue to pray for you, I can’t help the feeling that we are suppose to embark on some sort of writing project together.”

Ok, Lord, I get it,

And the cloud started moving.

So after we moved and got settled in Norcross, GA we started scheduling time to sit and listen to the Lord and ask Him what sort of writing project we were to embark on and what it was suppose to be about.

Mind you, we were in different countries, different continents, different time zones, different hemispheres. And the same cloud that moved in my heart, moved in hers, and we started piecing together what this book might be about, what it might be called, how it might be formatted.

And little by little, piece by piece, a book began to be formed. Lots of listening, and journaling, and scribbling on little notecards was engaged in. We recruited prayer warriors.  We spent time on our faces.  We spent time listening to Jesus on the cracking phone line because making phone calls from Swaziland isn’t the easiest experience.

I popped in another Veggie Tales movie, when I should have been homeschooling my 4 year old and monitoring my 3 and 1 year old, and I typed.

And I stayed up until 3 and 4 am at least once a week typing away, studying away. The Cloud was saying “move!” push forward, write every spare minute, move forward. And I did.

And it came together, our book called,

Radical Tabernacle

God came to dwell among us. That He might dwell in us. That we might dwell among them.

A discourse on the elements of the Old Testament Tabernacle, the ways they were fulfilled in Christ, and how they continue to be fulfilled in and through us, as Christ lives in and through us.

In January,  we had gotten 90% of the book done, when a literary agent asked for a book proposal. We scrambled to even figure out how to write one, then put it together to present.  That’s when we got our first rejection letter, due to too small of a platform.

And now, due to a very challenging pregnancy, it has taken the past three months to finish this last 10% of the rough draft.  The Cloud has said , “camp” simply through a body and foggy brain that can hardly get three meals a day ready for five children, much less stay up late to write a book. I am so thankful that the Cloud said move hard, move fast last fall, and that I followed, for at this point, and this pace, this book would NEVER have been written.  But God, in a certain window of intense availability and energy, He prompted us into this adventure.  May I never miss another prompting, simply for the the miracle I have seen Him bringing about in this process.

~~~~~~~~

But here we are now, ready to enter into the heavy editing phase, and the Lord has kept bringing us to Scripture about the consecration of the Tabernacle and the rededication of the Temple (the permanent Tabernacle).

Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. Then anoint the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils; consecrate the altar, and it will be most holy. Anoint the basin and its stand and consecrate them. Exodus 40:9-11

and then in 2 Chronicles 29:15-17, after a long rebellion of the Lord, the people reconsecrate, clean out, and anoint the elements of worship in the (now permanent) tabernacle

When they had assembled their fellow Levites and consecrated themselves, they went in to purify the temple of the Lord, as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord.  The priests went into the sanctuary of the Lord to purify it. They brought out to the courtyard of the Lord’s temple everything unclean that they found in the temple of the Lord. The Levites took it and carried it out to the Kidron Valley.  They began the consecration on the first day of the first month, and by the eighth day of the month they reached the portico of theLord. For eight more days they consecrated the temple of the Lord itself, finishing on the sixteenth day of the first month.  2 Chronicles 29:15-17

And now we clean up, we reconsecrate our manuscript, we listen long, and sort through and we ask the Lord, “What stays?” “What goes?” and “What is still needed?” We pray over and ask for the anointing of the Spirit of God over each element of this manuscript. And we would ask for prayer as we enter into this task.

Nicole, my co-author, has blogged about prayer requests as we enter into this phase, if anyone is interested in helping pray us through this process. And for all of you who have been praying, and cheering us on,

Thank you.

And may each of you continue to follow the Cloud of the Presence of God as He leads you and prompts you, the thrilling adventure that awaits is never a dull one….and never an easy one.

From the Mouths of Babes…Little Evangelist with Ulterior Motives

I was soaring in my short lived spurt of energy in this long, draining pregnancy.

So I wanted to make the most of it and finally go visit my Muslim friend from Bangladesh who hadn’t seen my face since January (because I’ve been barely eeking out an existence). We baked her, and her disabled son, a loaf of bread and I was planning on delivering it that evening.

I tried to recruit visiting partners.

Me: “Benjamin, do you want to go with me to Amari’s house to give her the bread you helped me make?”

Benjamin “Who Amari ?”

Trinity: “Remember, Benjamin, you got to watch TV while Mommy talked to her last time?” (in her best prodding, convincing voice)

Benjamin: “I not know who Amari is….”

Me: “Remember, Benjamin?  She gave you a donut last time we went there?”

Benjamin: “OH, YESSS!!! I want to go to Amari  house!!”

Me: “Well, Benjamin, she might not have donuts this time…”

Benjamin: “Dang it*.”       “I not want to go to Amari house”

 

*After I finished laughing, I asked him where he learned to say “dang it” and he tells me,

“YOU. You say it when sumfin not workin”

There we go, my little, exposing mirror…. Oops.

 

How to STAY where God puts you

Ever since I was sixteen I wanted to go.

After this happened, and the Lord literally lifted me out of the miry pit of depression, and gave me a firm place to stand,

He put a new song in my mouth…

And I wanted to sing it to the ends of the earth.

And all my plans, and preparations to go,

has landed me in staying.

And now, even as I stay in bed many days, due to the life formation that is drawing all of my life out of me,  and I read of these adventures, of women I greatly admire, the longings to go pull at my heart.

But, for now,

I stay in faith.

but also long that,

I faithfully stay

With eyes wide open to opportunities God opens for me to be a witness here, rather than there.

And for those other women whose hearts long for the going, I share this poem about the staying.

May we stay in faith, and faithfully stay.

“Stay there until I tell you. Matthew 2:13

I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord,

Though I wanted so badly to go;

I was eager to march with the “rank and file,”

Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.

I planned to keep step to the music loud,

To cheer when the banner unfurled,

To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,

But I’ll stay where You’ve put me.

I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I’ll work, dear Lord,

Though the field be narrow and small,

And the ground be neglected, and stones lie thick,

And there seems to be no life at all.

The field is Your own, only give me the seed,

I’ll sow it with never a fear;

I’ll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,

And rejoice when the green blades appear;

I’ll work where you’ve put me.

I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord;

I’ll bear the day’s burden and heat,

Always trusting You fully, when sunset has come

I’ll lay stalks of grain at Your feet.

And then, when my earth work is ended and done,

In the light of eternity’s glow,

Life’s record all closed, I surely will find

It was better to stay than to go;

I’ll stay where you’ve put me.

“O restless heart-beating against the prison bars of your circumstances and longing for a wider realm of usefulness-allow God to direct all your days. Patience and trust, even in the midst of the monotony of your daily routine, will be the best preparation to courageously handle the stres and strain of a great opportunity, which God may someday send.”

Poem and excerpt from Streams in the Desert by L.B Cowman, March 17 entry

No one ever said Death was pretty…and how to work through it.

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ” John 12:24

I face death every day.  I Corinthians 15:31

And we talk about “dying to self”.

But no one ever said Death was pretty.

Somehow, I seemed to have forgotten that. And when we found out we were having our sixth child and I prepared to endure the nine months of a thousand little deaths to myself so that new life could emerge, I boldly claimed and expected that God would meet us in the struggle.

He has. He is. and He will.

But there is some bloody, stinky death going on here. And  I forgot that death is never pretty. Even when God is in it.

There’s the death to my self-sufficiency, which I can so easily rely on when I have my normal amount of strength and energy.

There’s the death of my pride, as debilitating fatigue has landed me on my bed, at the mercy of people making meals for us and randomly being willing to watch a kid or two.

There’s the death of my banking on my ability to stand on the promises of God’s Word, and all my emotional and mental mess comes oozing out and I’m not “strong in my faith” or “able to keep it together (with the help of Jesus)”.

And then there’s the death of the logistics, like my kids showing up to church with mismatched socks, and a husband who reminded me again that he doesn’t have any clean boxers, and the incredible number of crumbs all over my kitchen floor (when you are lying down ON the floor, you get a great view of it all…I mean, of course I wasn’t sprawled out on the kitchen floor while I waited for the casserole to finish cooking), and the peanut butter smeared all over my black shirt when I showed up for the school meeting because I was too tired to change and too tired to care.

Over here, death just isn’t pretty.

And when life spins out of control, and you face the actual death of a loved one and all the despairing grief that comes with it, or you’re faced with cancer or a chronic illness, or you’re called into ministry in an intensely hard place where loneliness and fear can suck the life out of you, and whatever it might be, you, in faith (and fear) move into that place of personal death, over and over again,  and then you find yourself in a muddled and messy mix of emotions, doubts, strivings, and dimmed hope.  “Where did my faith go?” you might ask.

Maybe you, too, have forgotten that Death is never pretty.

So stop expecting it to be.

But as I recall, it wasn’t very pretty 2,000 years ago either.

There was blood spilled when Jesus was scourged, and there were probably bruises and disjoined limbs, and drool coming out of that busted lip from being beaten by the mocking soldiers, and there was an inability to even carry his own cross up the hill of Golgotha, and there was heavy panting and a desperate crying out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?!?!”

Its OK to have a bloody mess of emotions dripping down your face. Its OK to cry out in agonizing pain. Its OK to whimper there, try to catch your bearings and suck in your next breath. Its OK to ask those questions, “God, where are you?”.

Death isn’t pretty, and it isn’t naturally desired. But if we are a people called out, made different, made new by the very Presence of God within us, then our minds about death will change.  Our minds will change, because our hearts are changed by the One who was the Forerunner into ultimate death, so that all the deaths we die are just a folding of ourselves up under Him bearing it all for us. Our hearts and minds will be willing to embrace death, in all its messiness and agony, and declare in hope and faith “There is resurrection to come!” even when heart is hurting, and tears are flowing and mind is reeling.

For as we gaze on the face of the Forsaken One, with all blood dripping down and heart bursting, we remember what came three days later.  Resurrection. Yes. Resurrection. There is a joy, a glory, a resurrection on the other side of all the messy death we suffer through. And just like Jesus did, we will set our hearts on the joy set before us, enduring the cross, scorning its shame that we might sit with God on the other side.  (Hebrews 12:2)

For as Christians,

there IS another side.

to this messy, ugly death we face.

Lent (A Little Late): The best thing to give up for Lent

Lent.

A time to prepare our hearts for the sacrifice of the One who was sent to save people from the judgement they deserve.

A sacrifice necessary to gain us favor in the eyes of our Holy Maker.

And in honor of His sacrifice, we choose to sacrifice for 40 days leading to Easter.  All that we might know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Phil. 3:10)

And every time I open that age old book, hungry for some soul-sustaining Truth, I see it.

Sacrifice.

Funny, how you’ll drag tired body out of bed in order to read about animals being butchered. But in my Bible reading plan, I just finished reading through Leviticus and Numbers, and sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice is made.  Insane numbers of animals sacrificed, on a daily or regular basis. (to be honest…it seems like such a waste, I mean they could have eaten all those animals in their desert wanderings…but thats a whole different blog post)

And then I read that God doesn’t even care about all those animals He so specifically told Moses to sacrifice.

I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?

Psalm 50: 9-13

Well, great. Now I’m wondering why God won’t make up His mind. He commands them. Then He says He doesn’t want them.  But I read on. And sacrifice pops out from the pages once again.

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

Psalm 50:14-15

And the very next morning, not so early (it was a painfully fatigued day), but during a few stolen moments while small children built forts with couch cushions, and very successfully unorganized the entire playroom, it pops again.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;

you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;

a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

Psalm 51:16-17

And the pondering and praying I had been doing on what to give up or do for lent, (meat?…no this pregnant body is desperate for it these days, even-earlier morning prayer sessions? no this pregnant mamma needs more sleep, not less. Coffee? I’m sorry but my children would bear the brunt of that each day) it all came clear as to the sacrifice I was to make for these forty days leading to His magnificent one.

A sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

A sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart.

And how could the two go hand in hand?  Well, for me to praise the Lord and give thanks in the midst of physical suffering? Well, thats a sacrifice of brokenness. Broken of my own desires and agendas. A sacrifice of me being on the throne and dictating to God how I want my world to be run. A sacrifice of my will, to declare “whatever You give is good, and I will thank You for it”.   And a sacrifice of praise is one contrition and repentance, for I simply cannot do it.

But I know the One who can.

And as I share in some suffering, and choose thanksgiving in it, I choose CHRIST. I choose Him IN me to accomplish it. And I choose the resurrection that comes when Christ is alive in a dead tomb of a struggling mamma.

And the sacrifice of self,

leads to the Resurrection I long to experience.

So, the best thing to give up for Lent

is myself,

for this is where I meet Jesus in that dark garden and know Him in me intimately as I, too, cry,

 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 ESV)

And choosing to praise Him no matter what, is a constant declaration,

not my will, but yours be done.”

More Lenten helps

And to help with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I downloaded this app on my phone to help me record all those things worthy of giving thanks to God for.

With the kids in the afternoon (when I can gather some of the neighborhood kids as well) we are doing this Lenten devotional.  There are only 17 entries which is perfect for late starts and moms who can’t get their act together on some  most days (namely, ME).  We always take time to observe and recount what we see in the painting (most DEFINITELY a homeschool activity as they learn to observe famous historical art, as well as get their hearts probed by the Word)

Last year’s Lenten endeavors.

Fifteen Years Ago Today….

Her story is here.

Her impression continues to be here.

Her famous recipe is here.

For a mother whose mothering continues to inspire and spur on this weary one.

The Real Secret to Real Strength.

Because all I’ve got is a lot of weakness right now.

All I’ve got is irritable mood swings.

All I’ve got is a lot of failure under my belt.

All I’ve got is this longing to be Repunzel and get locked in a remote castle (where I can sleep all day!), at least until this baby’s born and my energy is restored and my hormones aren’t going crazy.

All I’ve got, and all I can give, and all I can do,

is repent.

But not the kind of repentance I was taught in my Southern Baptist high school those many years ago.

No, a life-giving repentance.  One that infuses real strength, in a really weak person.

“Real Repentance is hilariously exciting. It is facing the facts of life, recognizing how God made you, how you were intended to function, and then being restored to that relationship of mutual interavailability that the Lord Jesus enjoyed between Himself and the Father, a mutual interavailability in which you are prepared to let Him be God.  That is true repentance.

Real repentance happens the moment you genuinely admit,

“I cannot-and only God can.”

Deriving from that repentance is the attitude the Bible calls faith.  It means bowing to the fact that you cannot and only God can. It means acting on the assumption that this is true and exposing every situation to Him moment by moment, for Him to accomplish what you cannot while you tell Him, “Thank you!”

You give Him

your hands for Him to work with,

your feet for Him to walk with,

your lips for Him to speak with,

your eyes for Him to see with ,

your ears for Him to hear with,

your mind for Him to think with,

your heart for Him to love with,.

You tell Him, “Thank You for being my Creator within the creature. YOU are in business!”

Taken from: The Indwelling Life of Christ, by Major Ian Thomas

And this, my friends, is the real secret to real strength.

For the Strong One is doing all of the heavy lifting.

From the Mouths of Babes…Birthday Grace

IMG_4151

Super Dad had taken over for the evening. I lay sick and exhausted in bed, for I had used every last ounce of my strength to take Trinity out to buy a birthday present for Katy-Grace (with her own money). And we had made cupcakes and assembled snack bags for the Little Chef’s party (NO way I was going to execute that on this  utterly depleted energy level) Now go-to-the-movies-to-see- Frozen-and-get-to-sit-and-be-still-for-2-hours birthday party the next day.

Anyways, there I lay, half comatose in bed and Trinity COULD NOT WAIT to have Katy-Grace open her present, so she had opened it that evening, the day before her birthday. I hear them brushing teeth and getting ready for bed after the “grand surprise”.

Trinity: “I’m so glad you like your make-up set. You totally deserve that present for your birthday.”

Katy-Grace: (in her passionate, somewhat disgusted voice) “What?!? After all the mean things I do to you?!?!?!”

I died laughing.

At least she owns up to it. She knows she’s a sinner. Undeserving of grace.

And, in a particularly rough patch with her, I remember telling Danny, “You know, we named her Katy-GRACE because I was praying she would be full of grace. But I think God wanted us to name her that, so I”m ALWAYS reminded that she NEEDS GRACE”

But the hope is, that with the measure she has received, she will measure out to others and the grace that has had to be poured out on this passionate, willful, impulsive  (but also incredibly indearing!) child will fill her tank up so full, that one day, that grace will come spilling out to others that need to know the grace of the Father too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

How to be a Lifesaver.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.

 Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.

Proverbs 31:8-9

~~~~~~~~~~

Already emotional, I sat in the doctor’s office getting blood pressure, weight, and heartbeat checked.  She ran through the traditional questions, and came upon the ones concerning the (upcoming in 6 long weeks) 20 week appointment.  “Now, do you want the optional screening for birth defects then?”

I told her “No thank you, we’ve never gotten that one done for any of our pregnancies. “

“Oh, right.” She said.  “Because you wouldn’t abort the baby anyways.”

It was so matter of fact. Like I was an exception to the rule. And it stung.

At my first appointment, my doctor (who I actually really like) and I had a talk about how many children we have and why we have so many  and how we value life,  and we take literally what the Bible says about them being a blessing.  But she also practices “medicine” in a culture where abortions are SO run of the mill, SO easily performed, and SO naturally resorted to, especially if there is something “wrong” with the baby. These decisions about life and death are made for baby who has the miraculous imprint of the image of God upon him or her, but is not yet developed enough to cry out in their own defense.

I cried the whole way home.

And as I suffer through this tremendously hard pregnancy,  I long to not only give this child a chance, but to give others a chance as well.

So, might I suggest, that you, that I, might do something to stand for justice? To be a life saver?

I know, I have been silent long enough.

~~~~~~~~~~

Rescue those being led away to death;

hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

 If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”

does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who guards your life know it?

Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

 Proverbs 24:11-12

~~~~~~~~~~~

You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods.

Deuteronomy 12:31

A good friend of ours helped with the filming of this video recently, and passed it along to us.

~~~~~~~~

Just some ways to move towards speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves:

1. Watch AND SHARE the above video

2. Pray regularly for the end of this child slaughter, and for the mothers who are fearfully considering what pregnancy means for them.

3. Check out this website.

4. Find out the inner workings of the abortion industry.

5. Give financially to help those trying to affect legislation concerning abortion.

6. Consider becoming an adoptive family.  Giving another option to at least one mother in need.

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 120 other followers