Category Archives: trials & tribulations

praying for blessings

blessings as tears .001

Seems life has been like riding a rollercoaster the last few months.
Up . . . Down . . . Twists . . . Turns . . . Upside-down . . . then, right side-up.
Catch my breath . . . then hold on for the ride.
I pray.  I continue to pray for
peace . . . comfort . . . healing . . . clarity . . . relationships . . . restoration . . . fear to leave . . . understanding . . . patience
  . . . protection . . . suffering to cease . . . 
I know God hears each word I’ve spoken . . . But today, my heart asks . . .But what tone does God hear in your voice?

Does He hear the same tones that I hear in the voices of others?
The tone in my own voice as I speak?
You know the ones that fuel all the negative emotions.
Of course, He does.
He hears the discontent . . . grumbling . . . complaining . . . whining . . . disappointment . . . self-righteousness . . . 
anger . . . muttering . . . indignation . . . displeasure . . . doubt . . . betrayal
I know He hears each word  and that He knows my every need . . .
and today, He reminded me that often times I let my fear take the joy away.
So today, I’m not white-knuckled or feeling my stomach in my throat, or letting out a blood curdling scream as I ride the rollercoaster.  This time, I am facing those fears that want to steal the joy away from me and seeing the trials as Mercy in disguise.
Blessings
by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


forgiveness. resentment. excuses. obedience

366127bc9adf2db594dbfb155c8a5af1

 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Ephesians 4:31-32

Why is it so hard to forgive others?

But I’m in the right, I didn’t do anything against him . . .

She owes me the apology. I’m not the one who started this . . .

Can you believe how they treated me?  I deserve better than this. . .

I find myself struggling with forgiving those who hurt me – be it intentional or unintentional.

And when that happens, it’s like a pot sitting on the front burner of the stove.  The heat builds up and whatever is in that pot begins to boil, bubbles over, and spews out.  My being upset, angry at someone does that same thing.  It builds into resentment.  A resentment that tastes bitter to my heart.

Hurt.  It’s hard to forgive when you’ve been deeply hurt, especially when it’s someone close to you.  And when we’ve been deeply hurt, resentment sets in. There’s that gnawing desire to have them pay for it somehow.  Because . . .

They had it coming.
They shot their mouths off one too many times,
or they broke my heart,
or they didn’t return my calls.
They yelled at me first, and stormed off in a huff.
They turned against me, rejected me. 

Resentment.  Holding that grudge can feel like a sense of power, a sense of strength.

That surge of adrenaline when we’re self-righteously looking down at someone else’s sin, the false power of the unforgiving lording it over the unforgiven.

My mind tells me if I forgive them, ‘they’re just going to hurt me again.  Some how, some way.
So I hold on tight to resentment. I carry that grudge.  Afterall it’s their behavior, their actions, their attitude, their words.

Excuses.  A plea offered up for a fault.  Do I ask God to do just that for me?  Do I ask God to excuse my wrongdoings?  Do I ask Him to just accept my excuses?  Or do I ask for forgiveness?

Forgiveness says, “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” – C.S. Lewis

So, when the hurt comes {and it will} . . .

I will look up at the Cross. Forgiving grace and mercy looks down at me with His shed blood. And I think of the words and actions that have hurt me, the BIG and the small.

I have choices to make.
Do I stuff the feelings down deep inside my heart, carrying them around only to let them fester resentment?
Do I take it out on others around me?
Do I wear a grudge, like it’s a piece of my clothing?
Do I shut down emotionally?
Do I . . .?

~ OR ~

Do I follow in obedience . . . and forgive?

Do I make every effort to kill that bitter taste of resentment in my heart? – Not excuse, but forgive.

Forgiveness – I lay down my right to be right.

Forgiveness – I look at the other person through the lens of grace.

Forgiveness – I lay down the olive branch and forgive {even if it’s just between God and me} instead of becoming the victim of my hurt.

Forgiveness – I don’t keep an account. I don’t keep score.

God is the Final Judge, not me.


my lighthouse

My Lighthouse

 

Lighthouses for anyone living, working, or traveling along a coast are a symbol of constancy.  

A lighthouse provides the light that points out dangers and hazards in darkness and times of storms.

A place of safe entry.

A marker of navigation along the journey.

In my life, the lighthouse is an image of God.  A symbol of His faithfulness and His constancy in the inconsistencies of my own life.

In the hazards and dangers, the trials and the temptations that are part of my life – He is my Lighthouse.

Everyday, He is my haven of safety.  When I am abiding in Him, I am safe.

As I walk on this journey, my Lighthouse marks my way, as a source of constancy that never hides from me.  He is the Light in the darkness of the world.

I am trusting in the promise that Jesus is the Light of the World  and the darkness will not overcome it.  No one, nothing can extinguish it.

So for the last month or so, the song “Lighthouse” by Rend Collective has been bombarding my mind and my heart – kind of like it’s been on repeat on my playlist!  The more I listen to the words, I have my Abba Father speaking to me with HIs loving arms wrapped around me.

He is reminding me that He will not walk out on me when I mess up, when I fail or when I doubt or question.

He is there in the silence – when it seems that there are no answers.

When the way seems clouded or a full-ranging storm, He is my Peace.

He is the fire that goes before me.  He leads me through, no matter if the skies are sunny or stormy.

  

“My Lighthouse” ~ by Rend Collective

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are my peace in the troubled sea
You are my peace in the troubled sea

In the silence, You won’t let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are my peace in the troubled sea
You are my peace in the troubled sea

My Lighthouse, My lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, My Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore
Safe to Shore
Safe to Shore
Safe to Shore

I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You’re the brightest
You will lead us safe to shore


wishing and hoping

well

Ran across this quote from Eugene Patterson the other day… made me think of how I use those two verbs . . .

wishing and hoping.

It is essential to distinguish between hoping and wishing. They are not the same thing.

Wishing is something all of us do. It projects what we want or think we need into the future. . . .

Hope desires what God is going to do—and we don’t yet know what that is.

Wishing grows out of our egos;

Hope grows out of our faith.

. . . . Wishing has to do with what I want in things or people or God;

Hope has to do with what God wants in me and the world of things and people beyond me.

As my faith has been tested and tried throughout life, it is Hope that carries me.  It is Hope that I cling to as I let go of my wishes.


never alone

Wide as the Sky.001

A few nights ago my sweet man was working on some video stuff and downloading music.  When I heard this new song, Wide as the Sky, by Matt Redman, my memory took me back a number of years ago . . . to a time that I had buried deep in my heart.  

. . . There was something holding me back from opening up myself to worship . . .  I mean . . .  Real Worship.

I’ve always loved singing [in and out of church], but I would watch vicariously as others would open themselves up to unashamed real worship.  And then one day, it happened.  It was a rare occurrence, the three of us – my middle son, my daughter and me – sitting all together at the late worship service.  Admittedly, I was in the throes of walking through a dark season in my life.

Life was falling apart.

As the 11:11 worship band was playing [sadly I can’t remember what the song was], my eyes were fixed straight ahead.  But to each side of me, I saw the hands of a son and daughter raising up. It was in that moment, I no longer felt the constraints holding me back.

Life was falling apart.  And my hands were reaching up, so my heart could begin to open up.

I did not know where this battle in the dark season would take me.  As alone as I may have felt, I knew I was not walking it alone.

Looking back over the last 10 plus years since that day, I know . .  . Never once did I walk alone.

CLICK TO LISTEN:  NEVER ONCE by Matt Redman


even in the dark

 

john 1_5.001

It never ceases to amaze me . . . when I’m on the hunt for something to share with someone . . . The Word speaks to me.  Sometimes it’s a tug on my heart.  Or maybe a tap on my shoulder or a pull on my arm.  And then there are the times when it hits me smack in the head.  That’s exactly what happened the other day when I read Ann Voskamp’s post, How to Get Through the Dark Places.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can defeat me. I can say, “I get it.” N.O.T.H.I.N.G.
And there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

The darkness doesn’t understand the light, doesn’t comprehend the light, doesn’t get the light, doesn’t overcome the light, doesn’t master the light.

Darkness doesn’t have anything on light, on hope, on faith.

The darkness that sucks at the prodigal kid doesn’t have anything on the light of his mother’s prayers.

The black of pornography that threatens at the edges doesn’t master the blazing light of Jesus at the center.

The pit of depression that plunges deep doesn’t go deeper than the love of your Jesus and there is no place His light won’t go to find you, to save you, to hold you.

That low-lying storm cloud that hangs over you can’t master the light of Christ that raises you.

Darkness can’t drive out darkness. Only light can do that.

Only words of Light can drive out worlds of dark.
Only deeds of Light can drive out depths of dark.
Only lives of Light can drive out lies of dark.

Darkness can never travel as fast as Light. No matter how bad things get, no matter how black the dark seeps in, no matter the depths of the night — the dark can never travel as fast as Light. The Light is always there first, waiting to shatter the dark.

You can always hold His Word like a ball of light right there your hand, right up there next to your warming heart.

You can always count on it: Jesus is bendable Light, warmth around every unexpected corner.

So press on.  Keep running the race – even in the dark.


like the feet of a deer

Psalm 18.33.001

When things seem to be going all wrong . . . 

stop and affirm your trust in Me.

Calmly bring these matters to Me, and leave them in My capable hands.

Then, simply do the next thing.

Stay in touch with Me through thankful, trusting prayers, resting in My sovereign control.

Rejoice in Me—exult in the God of your salvation!

As you trust in MeI make your feet like the feet of a deer.

I enable you to walk and make progress upon your high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility.

from Jesus Calling


in the cave

cave,dark,landscape,nature,silhouette,waterfall-16d4ecfc89123b6205edc19287d11e6d_h

I cry aloud to the Lord;
I plead aloud to the Lord for mercy.

I pour our my complaint before Him;
I reveal my trouble to Him.
Although my spirit is weak within me,
You know my way.
Along this path I travel they have hidden a trap for me.
Look to the right and see:
no one stands up for me;
there is no refuge for me;
no one cares about me.
I cry to You, LORD;
I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142:1-5 (written by David when he was in a cave)

The question posed today was ~ “Where do you go when life gets overwhelming?” Like David in Psalm 142, we all have our caves.

What cave is your escape? Where do you run to when things seem to come at you from all directions; when things aren’t going like you plan/think/hope?  When other people’s lives or problems seem to overflow into yours?

Is it the cave of addiction ~ sex, drugs, alcohol? The cave of depression? The cave of mindless entertainment – a place to escape reality, not having to really having to interact with people?  The cave of surface relationships?  We all run to some place of escape and solitude.  The real question is, do we “do” life in this cave; do we stay in this darkness?

Pondering these verses, I was reminded of my own caves, seasons where I felt like I had nowhere, no one to really turn to.  Trying to keep all the plates spinning on my own,  I was not doing it well at all. Life in the cave of denial beckoned me.  Going there, I didn’t have to face what life was throwing at me; I could just pretend like everything was ok, even though it seemed as if everything was disintegrating all around me.  The problem with hiding out in a cave is that the problems don’t go away, they only intensify.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I became a walking shell of a person letting my fears and denials control my life, living in the darkness.

I turned to the only place I knew ~ my Abba Father.  His Word, His Truth.  Crying out, I did question God.  I did ask “Why, God?” Pleading, I cried for His mercy.  I poured myself out to Him.   I stopped playing the ‘blame game.’ Yes, others’ actions, consequences, and their words did affect my life.  But I had made my own choices of how I responded.  I admitted my own weaknesses and my fears and my vulnerabilities. This  is the only way He could fill me with His strength.    And just like my earthly dad does when I walk through his door, my Abba Father welcomed me with open arms.

I realized I couldn’t go anywhere and be out of the reach of my Father.  I couldn’t hide in a cave, or lose myself in the darkness of denial and regret.  HE is calling out to me in a whisper, “What are you doing here?”  That still, small voice. There is no yelling or screaming  or pointing fingers at me.  Just as I have experienced during different times in my life with my own precious dad, there is only loving-kindness.  

He called me out of the cave, out of hiding.  “I didn’t make you for the darkness, for hiding.  I made you for more!”

The difference is found in Christ, not the cave.


patience

patience Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint;
    heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
 My soul is in deep anguish.
    How long, Lord, how long?
Psalm 3:2-3

Through the years I’ve heard it said more times than i probably care to remember, “If you pray for patience, you’re only asking for difficulties, for things that will ‘make’ you patient.” yet I continue to pray for patience because through every difficult situation, every trial, I have seen God’s faithfulness.  Does that mean that I look back on these times and say each one was a piece of cake? do I say each one had the ‘timely’ outcome I envisioned?

Absolutely NOT. I look back on these times, and each one is a reminder that God is faithful, He shows his mercy.

Yet during times of waiting, times of uncertainty, seasons of trial and feeling aloneness, there are moments of asking “how long, Lord, how long?”   And just like David in the Psalm, I call out this question because my heart is  filled with longing.  And yes, sometimes there are even moments of grumbling.  Some days I  just want to give up. But there is something that keeps burning inside me.  It isn’t something, it is Someone.  It is knowing in my heart that I am not alone.   1 John 4:13 reminds me “This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit.” 

Is it my fretting, the tapping of my fingers, the shaking of my foot nervously back and forth,  shifting around from one position to another, or is it my complaining [or maybe call it whining?] that moves God or His timeline? Not in the least little bit.  It is me stepping out in trust and knowing He is Sovereign.  Me stepping into His Masterplan. waiting for Him to do what He will.  As I have learned to surrender and to listen to the Holy Spirit, I see God’s handiwork in my life’s journey.  Prayers have been answered.  difficult situations and circumstances have become blessings and a part of my story.  He has salvaged the bad for good, His Good.

Patience doesn’t come naturally. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit. He strengthens our resolve to endure without complaint when progress seems sluggish. After all, God is slow only from a human standpoint. From a divine, eternal perspective, He’s always working at the perfect speed.


oceans

last look at sunset on our wedding day

Hillsong United recently released a new song “Oceans ~ Where Feet may Fail,” that has been speaking to me from the first time I heard it.  Being one that rather likes to feel the earth beneath my feet, for me the ocean is so beautiful, but yet so very daunting.  

Listening carefully to the lyrics, my own personal struggles not only flood my heart, but so do those of our family and friends who are also facing struggles and trials.  There’s the precious couple who suffered a miscarriage, another facing infertility, several friends dealing with major health issues, despondency and depression, the family whose three-year old daughter will never walk or develop normally because of a freak accident, the healing of a marriage, the untimely death of a former student, difficulties at work, a heart hurting from a broken relationship . . .

All we have to do is look around us and the oceans are there.

The way we go through trials reflect to others how we go through life.  Our feet can not carry us, but His grace abounds in the deepest water.


click to listen

Oceans ~ Where Feet may Fail
Hillsong United

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine


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