Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Broken and Poured Out

But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. Philippians 2:17

I know I am taking this verse slightly out of context but it is what God is teaching me today. Am I willing to be broken and poured out like a drink offering for someone else's faith. Will I allow God to use my life to bring someone to Himself? For me to pour out what is within me I have to be broken. That is how it pours out. I am not one who willingly will say "oh, let me pour out of myself as a sacrifice for YOUR faith". No, God needs to break me and then it pours out.

Well, Lord, I am willing. Willing to be broken. Willing to poured out. Others may come to faith and in that I will rejoice. Can't believe you want to use me, that still amazes me. But there again, is the story of your great love and mercy. And who am I to say that I won't go through the breaking process. After all You sacrificed for me, I cannot say no.

It's easier to not feel the pain. Easier to just be at peace with my circumstances. But for some reason you don't want me to stay there. Don't get complacent. Keep learning, Sheryl. I can hear you cheering me on , Lord. But it's hard. Use my pain to reach others, let's not let it be wasted. Use my pain to take me to a place where I can feel the pain of others. Where I can learn to see them as You see them, to love them as You do and to be willing to be poured out for their faith.

Once the pieces of this broken pot are all put back together, I know it won't look beatiful on the outside. But that is not what you're concerned with. It's what is on the inside. Your beauty will shine through all those cracks. It is really you who will reach those around me, not me. But I am willing now to be that vessel.

I am breaking, Lord. Pour me out as a sacrifice. May others come to know you through my brokenness. Right now I can think of no greater joy.

Broken and poured out. Are you broken today? Have you stopped to think that God is breaking you so that you can be poured out in order to bless others. Breaking is painful but the process is so worth the end result of looking more like HIM.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Here We Go Again

This is one of those posts (once again) where I am compelled to write, but I don't know what. That's when I really know God is teaching me something or showing me something. So, you're along for the ride and will learn with me I guess!!

Don (my husband) has been gone for 5 months now. Honestly, the time has flown and that in itself is a little scary to me. You would think the days would be dragging by and I would be missing him and sad. I don't know if it's God's mercy that the sadness hasn't set in, if I was just ready for the heartache to stop or if I am once again stuffing how I feel. I'm asking God to reveal Himself to me and if there is anything that needs changing in my heart, I want to know.

This is what I do know...God is softening my heart towards Don and I want to cry out "stop it, please don't make me go there". But HE knows best and I will follow -maybe with a little kicking and screaming. For some reason I have found myself defending Don lately. (you know how it's okay for YOU to say something bad about a family member, but nobody else better do it?) Well, that's me right now. I am seeing him as a hurting man who needs Jesus. He is trying with the kids, he really is. It may not be what I would do but it is what it is. And yet the kids don't respond. There's been a little movement but they still haven't seen him. Honestly, I think he deserves their time and they need to see him. That is when I wonder "who am I, and who has overtaken my body?"

Please pray for Don that He would come to know Jesus. Pray that God would reveal Himself. That Don would put his guard down long enough to let the Healer in. He needs healing. But don't we all? I love my husband, I just don't love his behavior. I love my children's father, I just don't like how he parents. Well I am not the judge! Who cares if I like it, I am still called to pray! I cried today for him. My heart breaks for him and not so much for myself. Yes, I miss him, yes it's lonely, but he is a broken man. I have the assurance that I am a child of The Most High God who is slowing putting the pieces of my life back together.

Soften me Lord. Give me a heart of compassion. Take away my pride. (oh I hate it) Put me back in that refiner's fire for another opportunity to look more like you. I feel it happening deep in my soul, something is shifting. I am scared but I know you are in it. Wherever you are is where I want to be.

These are the verses God has shown me over and over from Isaiah 40:28-31...Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

HE does not grow weary. His understanding we cannot fathom. He will give us strength and power. I can soar on wings like eagles, I can run and not grow weary if I hope in the LORD.
I want to place my hope in the LORD, how about you?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Random Beauty

Beauty from ashes...you know that's my "life verse". It's what I am waiting for. The other night I realized again, quit waiting and count the beauty now. That's what I plan to do. Tell of the beauty...thus far. Had I not gotten sick, had my marriage not fallen apart most of this beauty would not have occurred. I am still holding to that promise for my marriage but I want to share the beauty along the way.

David (my son) left on his mission trip to Mexico a couple weeks ago with a heavy heart. You would never know it unless you were his mother. He is a kid with a permanent smile upon his face but I knew his heart was heavy. He hurts for me, he hurts for his sister and he hurts for himself. I had prayed that God would just bless him in a huge way and that he would come back changed. Well, boy did he!! David had an amazing time. God worked on him while he worked on building a home. All of the beauty from this cannot be counted because it will be life-long. But for now I will tell you this, David sent a text to his dad. That is huge. That is the first contact that David initiated in 5 months. I'm not saying anything more will happen, but to me that is beauty. Here are a couple pictures of my son, in whom I am well pleased.

Now to give equal time to all members of this family. The other beauty that God has brought forth involves my daughters. Yes, that is plural. Even though P belongs to Don from his first marriage, I still call her my own. Awhile back I told you that was a long story, so here is the short story....Don and his first wife divorced when his daughter, P, was less than 3. He moved many many states away and never saw her again. (He did all the "right" things, child support, etc. but no contact). Our children had been in contact with her over the computer so last Christmas I invited her to come and stay with us. Even though she hadn't seen her dad in 17 years, she came. Isn't God AMAZING!! This summer she came back and stayed here. She feels like the kids and I really are her family. There's no relationship (yet) with her dad but it will come. In the meantime what beauty to have another daughter and for my kids to have an awesome older sister. Here are Ellie and P. Beauty, huh?

Now for some other random beauty....believe it or not before my illness I really did not spend time on the computer. I did some work on it and I emailed but I would have never spent time on it for pleasure, to read blogs and certainly wouldn't have thought I could "meet" friends. What a surprise!! God has led me to help facilitate a Bible study online with a forum that has over 200 women. Through that I have met some of the most amazing people ever. We are sharing, taking off our masks, getting real, praying and finding freedom. And God is letting me be a part of it all. Beauty. I've seen women really leave their pasts behind, others have cried out in loneliness and found friends, old ladies are learning to type again (ha), addictions will be overcome, God is so good!! I'm not saying this is happening because of me, I am saying that God is showing me beauty in the midst of my ashes. And I love Him for it.

Don't wait for the storm to clear. Don't wait for the wounds to be completely healed. Start looking around now for the beauty. It is there. Let me tell ya, I would not trade the beauty God has bestowed on me and my family over this past year for anything. Not even my health.

Beauty from ashes.....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Do You Have Faith In?

Really, what DO you have faith in? When you go to sit in a chair do you stop to think about if it will hold you? (no jokes here) You get in your car and turn the key, you don't stop to wonder if it will start. You set your alarm and you don't stay up all night worried about if it will go off. You plug in a lamp, no worries about if the electricity will work. There are so many things that we have faith in. We don't fret about them. It is just known, believed in, taken for granted that it will be as it always has been.

I've been thinking about my faith. Real faith. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I think that describes a lot of those examples above. We are sure of those things happening even though we don't see how they work. How can I have such faith in those things and then question God. Will He come through? Does He really understand what I am praying? Maybe I should just keep control over this situation because I'm not sure I fully trust God. Are you kidding? What is my problem! When I fret and worry and hold on...I have no faith. I don't trust Him.

Has there ever been a day when God forgot to tell the sun to rise? Has there ever been a day when God said He was taking the day off and would not be hearing your prayers that day? Do you remember any verses in the Bible that say there are certain situations that He just cannot handle? Has He ever, even once, really needed YOUR help to solve a problem?

It sounds ridiculous. But I know it's the way I behave and I bet it's the way some of you behave also. Let me just hold onto this one situation and worry about it. Let me keep fretting and controlling....God has too many other things to worry about.

When I pray, I want to pray in faith. Not that God will answer my prayer in the affirmative. But faith, real faith, that He is listening, that He cares, that He loves, that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. The same God who parted the Red Sea - that is the God I am talking with, praying to.

Lord, keep growing my faith. After all these years, I still have a long way to go. I want to be a person who takes you at your word. One who places everything into your hands and trusts you completely! I want to be certain of what I hope for. What I hope for is a closer walk with you, less fear, security in your love and to be used by you for your purposes not mine.

Faith...what do you have faith in today?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Our Father

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6 : 18

Do you see that? He will be our Father! I am HIS daughter. Unbelievable. It's not conditional. He doesn't say, "if you do this and this, then I will treat you like my child". Yes, I need to receive His gift of salvation. But then that's it, He is my Father. He is your Father. He is also the Father of my children.

As many of you know, my son David has been gone on a mission trip. I heard from him last night. Hadn't spoken with him in a week. What a sweet gift to hear the voice of my son so on fire, so filled with passion and compassion. They built the house for the family working alongside of them. When it came time to hand over the keys, you can imagine there was not a dry eye. David had become very close with the family and the surrounding town people. He cried. My 15 year old "very cool" son has had his heart changed forever. I prayed that he would come back looking more like God's son and I believe he will. Still praying that his heart will come back softened toward his earthly father also. David may be the one who God uses to speak to his dad. But for now David knows the love of his Heavenly Father like never before!! Praise Him.

Lately, God has overwhelmed me with the burdens of others. Since my ministry has to be from home now, He has given me plenty of ways to still serve Him. I am so grateful for that. But there are so many hurting people. Illness. Marriages falling apart. Parents losing children. Abuse. Addiction. Loneliness. Rejection. Financial struggles. Job loss. Questions. Unsaved family. The list is endless. I have learned to pray in a way I never have before. It's as if their burden literally becomes mine. It hurts to carry burdens, it's heavy. But we are all in this together, helping to lighten the load for others by going to the cross on their behalf. As I know so many of you are doing for me and my children and my husband.

Learning and growing. Letting go and picking up. Striving and being still. Crying and praising. God is doing a work in me and I know in so many of you. It's so fun to visit with you and see how God is molding and using each one of you. May we each do what we're called to do. Wanting to please our Father. Just as children want to please their parents. After all we are His sons and daughters.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Okay, Okay, I Get It...

Do you have those times where God is practically beating you over the head trying to get you to understand something? You know, where a verse is repeated over and over, or you hear the same message from different places, or the same song. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Well, God has been doing that to me lately. I'm a little slow, but I think I'm getting it.

The theme is: who and what are you going to believe? I've been participating in a Bible study this summer by Kelly Minter. The title is No Other Gods. Usually I do a Bible study in my home with real live people. But this time I'm doing the study with my "imaginary friends" inside the computer. There are many women from all over the country that are going through this study "together".

Anyway, we're learning about idols and our false gods. And that false gods are all steeped in lies. Yesterday I was listing lies that I hear in my head. They are ugly and when I write them down, I think to myself "how could you even begin to believe those to be true"? God is so good to reveal Himself to me. By exposing those lies, I can then go back to what is Truth and tear down the lies. How freeing.

Satan has been feeding me the lie that God cannot restore my marriage and even if He could, it's not worth fighting for. When did I start believing that? If you've been with me for awhile, you know I've been convinced that God would bring beauty from ashes. I knew it in the very center of my being. But somehow, I let satan weasel his way into my mind and I started feasting on his lies. God can do ANYTHING and a marriage IS worth fighting for. I had committed to not speaking badly about my husband and I've found myself slipping into a pattern of letting some of that ugliness spew out of my mouth. No more!

So, back to the theme being repeated. I was listening to Beth Moore this morning teach on "What to do when you don't know what to do". The battle is the Lord's. Bring your complaints before God. I don't need to complain to everyone around me, I can tell on my husband to God. I will start praising God for what He is going to do because I know it's going to be amazing! I learned a long time ago that I behave the way I behave, because I believe what I believe. I choose today, to believe you God. And I'm going to behave like someone who believes. I may have to start over again tomorrow but your mercies are new every morning. Thank you for that.

This isn't just about believing God is going to restore my marriage or my family or my health. It's about simply believing God is who He says He is.

What lies are you believing? Stop believing them and take God at His word!!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My Son

This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Matt 3:17

I know this verse is spoken by God in reference to Jesus, but today they are words straight from this mother's heart. My 15 year old son, David, headed out at 3 am this morning for a mission trip. He will be in Mexico building homes for families that have never had one. For the next 13 days he will be serving the Lord and then praising Him at a convention with thousands of youth. I love my son and I am well pleased. There have been moments where I thought maybe I was too prideful that he was going on this trip. But that's just satan trying to steal my joy. David has a heart for others. (don't get me wrong, he loves himself too, he's not selfless, he is a teen after all). But I've watched the way he has loved me over the years and I knew he had a heart that was sensitive to the needs of others. David, I pray these next 2 weeks will be life changing. That you won't miss one thing that God has for you. That you will understand the love of your Father like never before. I will miss you but I love you and am well pleased.

To all of you out there, thank you all for your encouraging words and your prayers. I've always liked the passage in Galations about carrying each other's burdens but until now I don't know that I have really known the meaning. I've not been on the receiving end of it like I have been over the past few months. What comfort it brings to know that others are going to the Lord on my behalf when I have no words to pray. What comfort that others feel my pain and are carrying part of the burden with me. There are no words to adequately thank you!

God is doing a big work in my family. The kids and I will never be the same. And as I've said before that's not always a bad thing. Striving to be more like Christ. It's painful at times but the result of being more Christ-like, having an unshakable trust, knowing we are loved by the Father...it's worth the pain. It really is. I'm not saying that I'm loving life right now but God is teaching me to look at the eternal and not the temporal. This will pass. Everything will. The goal is not to walk through this life without pain, it is to be presented to the Father and here Him say "this is my son/daughter, whom I love;with him/her I am well pleased".

Thank you, Lord, that you love each of us enough to not leave us in the state we're in. That you keep refining. That you see something in us that we don't see and you're allowing circumstances to mold us and make us more like you. Thank you for giving me my son, I pray he comes home looking more like yours!