He Remembered

The story of Hannah and Samuel is a story of hope, perseverance, and God coming through. We can all relate to something in Hannah’s life: Her simple dreams, her unfulfilled longings, or maybe seeing every one else having what she wanted. Her humble life made a huge impact for the kingdom of God after all was said and done.

1 Samuel 1 tells about how Hannah was unable to bear children for years, while her husband’s other wife kept popping them out. (Yes, that is the technical term used by the author.) Hannah had her husband’s love, but her heart longed to also be a mama. It must have been sheer torture to see children running around that were not hers. When you think about the culture of the day, a woman’s purpose was to have kids. There were no fertility treatments available. She would have been looked at like there was something wrong with her for her to be punished like this.

Poor Hannah.

Many of us today feel forgotten and overlooked. Sometimes it is because we have a desperate desire for a spouse or child. It may be for a close friend or a fulfilling job. None of these things are bad, and yet they are denied to many of us.

Verse 19 is my favorite verse in the story. “The Lord remembered her.” Now, God had not forgotten Hannah in the years leading up to her conceiving Samuel. He knew everything about her and her heartache. He knew this time tested her faith and strengthened her for whatever may lie ahead. It also gave her a great story for when other people came up to her at the well with their own tales of sadness. She would be able to say to them, “I kept praying for a baby and God gave me more than I asked for.” Maybe she even dropped the mic after that. What more would need to be said?

The problem we often have is we give up asking for what we want or don’t even ask for it in the first place. Hannah didn’t give up her dream and she didn’t blame God. She didn’t decide God was against her. She simply kept pouring her heart out to God and trusting Him for the outcome. Samuel’s name literally means, “I asked the Lord for him.” She put it out there for all to know.

God gave Hannah the gift she had pined for. He didn’t hold back on her and He won’t hold out on you. Trust God and hold tight to His promises. When you do, you won’t be able to hold the blessings He pours over you.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Advertisements

Gardening and Electronics

Linger. Persist. Prevail. Stand. Endure. Perch. Reside. Remain. When we remain with Jesus, we stay well watered and nurtured. When we pull away and do our own thing, we wither.

Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think about vines and plants that much. That may be because I kill everything I touch, but maybe not. I love the idea of remaining in Jesus and Him in me, but a vine is difficult to picture.

Thinking of Jesus as my power source makes sense to me. When I stay plugged in to Him, I am calm and at peace. I have more wisdom and understanding and can share it with others. However, the days I don’t make time to connect to my power source, I am more frazzled and easily irritated. I make bad choices and don’t give people the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t let my phone battery get low, so why would I let my spiritual battery drain? Isn’t the condition of my soul worth more than a Facebook status?

People fall away from their faith when life gets hard. I want to be one who stays strong and remains with Jesus. I want to be one who bears fruit and whose actions lead to big things being done for His kingdom. I want to be one who lets Jesus shape her and who wants what He wants.

I don’t want to lose my connection by wandering too far from my Wi-Fi signal. I can’t allow myself to put down my charger because I decide I am fine without it. On my own I am unable to do anything, just like my electronics need their sources.

When I have endured with Jesus the rest of my time here on earth, I will have much waiting for me in heaven. I can’t forget my daily doses of Jesus or forget all He has done for me or else I will strive to live on my own power. I will wither like a branch who has lost its vine or a phone who has lost its power cord. Whether you relate to plants or electronics better, both of these are bad outcomes.

If you are an iPhone or a leafy branch, there is only one good option. Stick close to Jesus, your source of life, and you will thrive and maybe even light up the world.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Your Face I Will Seek

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” James 4:8

The last few months I have been taking this more literally than I ever have before. Out the window are some time wasters. Gone are activities that don’t serve well anymore. In their place is more of seeking God’s face. Between reading the Bible, writing out verses, and spending time in silence trying to listen to God, things have become more real. God has become more real to me.

I will admit, when I started sitting quietly for 12 minutes at a time, it felt pointless. My mind never stills enough. I always keep bringing it back. But now that this is routine, I find myself praising and thanking God, bursting into worship songs and hymns, and feeling His heart on situations. No, I have not heard audibly, but I feel His presence. My thoughts are different too.

Yesterday was such a sweet time between God and I that I got teary. My soul was focused on God and all that He does for me. There may not have been words spoken back to me, but there didn’t need to be.

One thing I have never liked is to not know what is going to happen. I don’t like waiting for test results. I don’t like feeling in limbo. Just tell me what is going on so I can deal with it. Now that the time is almost upon us to actually begin fostering, much of my life is up in the air. I don’t know when we get a placement and what that child will be like. I don’t know how to make summer plans. I have no clue what I will be doing for a job in the fall. Nothing. When I think of the future, all I see is a blank space.

In the past, this not knowing would be a huge issue that would have me tied in knots. I would think of every scenario that *might* happen and worry. I would lose sleep. I don’t want to say that is the “old me” and the “new me” is so much wiser. There will definitely still be times of worry and sleepless nights. I know my tendency to anxiety will never go away.

Instead of being a stressed out mess, I now have joy. I am peaceful and content. Several times over the last few weeks I have thought about how calm I feel. My life is full of unknowns, and I don’t care. That is what I call progress.

When I made the conscious effort to sit with God and let Him mold me, He got to work. He has always known me inside and out and given me everything, but until recently, I didn’t give Him what He truly wants from me: my attention. God just wants me to spend time with Him. For the first time probably ever, that is what I want more and more.

When we give God our time and attention, He gives us His peace. He gives us His wisdom and His mercy so we can extend it to others. He does all of this because He loves us. He is waiting patiently for anyone who wants to hear from Him.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Why is This so Hard for Us?

As kids, we did things that made us happy. No one had to ask us to be selfish with our time. That just came naturally. Now as adults, we want to do our stuff and more out of a compulsion to look good on paper, but at what cost?

Earlier this year, I said no to a volunteer opportunity. I knew I couldn’t take it on but felt so flattered to be asked. I took a few days, not to pray about it, but to work up the nerve to turn it down. They thought of me!

More recently I left a volunteer group that I had never really been that involved with, and it still filled me with such dread. Saying no to these things initially gives me a feeling of shame and embarrassment. I must not be enough to be able to do this and everything else. But I just have to remember these aren’t the right fit for my place in life right now.

We come at these at the wrong angle. I am not here to just fill up my time with projects. I need to be doing the right projects. In a few weeks we hope to have a school age child move in with us. This child will have court hearings, visitations, and doctor appointments. Their care will take up my time and patience in a way nothing else has. A few years ago, fostering was not something I was able to invest in, but the time has come.

At one of our home visits, the woman said I will need an outlet, the way my husband has tennis. Now, I had been thinking this and looking for something. Why is it that it takes someone else telling me to take care of myself before I do it? Days after being told I should find something, I signed up for 5 yoga classes on Groupon. Yoga has been something I have been wanting to try in a class, but I didn’t do anything about it until now.

All of us do this in some way. We don’t eat right or quit smoking until a doctor tells us it is life or death. We don’t begin counseling until we can’t sleep anymore or our past torments us. And we don’t seek God until our lives are in ruins. Waiting until the last minute to do something we know we should do doesn’t help anyone. Whether the reason we hold off is pride, guilt, shame, or plain old fear doesn’t matter. God wants us to take care of the bodies, minds, and souls He gave us. We should have respect for them and not run them into the ground.

Life is short.  There is much we can do while we are here, but what is the right thing? Only you know that for yourself.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Repay with a Blessing

It’s not that I have a rage problem. At all. It’s more that sometimes I have a glitch that makes it difficult for me to move on from anger. Or frustration. Or hurt. You too?

One day recently I started thinking about what I like about someone who hurt my feelings. It felt impossible in the moment, but the longer I did it, the more impossible it became to stay hurt. I had to come to the realization that this person is human and makes mistakes. They aren’t all bad.

At the same time I thought about this person’s good qualities, I found Bible verses that applied. I gave my frustration a double dose of the antidote, so I could delete it from my brain. Negativity doesn’t stand a chance when my thoughts are turned toward goodness and the Bible!

Here are 7 verses to help in times like these. I am writing out and focusing on one a day, and hey, there happen to be 7 days in a week!

When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil a way to defeat you. Ephesians 4:26-27

Always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily, because anger will not help you live the right kind of life God wants. James 1:19-20

The Lord hates evil thoughts but is pleased with kind words. Proverbs 15:26

Whoever forgives someone’s sins makes a friend, but gossiping about the sin breaks up friendships. Proverbs 17:9

If someone does wrong to you, do not pay him back by doing wrong to him. Try to do what everyone thinks is right. Do your best to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18

Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

All of you should be in agreement, understanding each other, loving each other as family, being kind and humble. Do not do wrong to repay a wrong, and do not insult to repay an insult. But repay with a blessing, because you yourselves were called to do this so that you might receive a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9

These are tough words to hear when I want to hang on to my anger and disappointment. The problem I have is that I am a verbal processor. This isn’t so bad if I talk to James about a situation and work it out so I can let it go. It becomes a problem in those times I then talk to a friend or two about being wronged. Then it becomes gossip. Gossiping enables me to rehash the bad feelings, and then they don’t go away, but grow stronger.

It is so difficult to repay someone with a blessing, but it makes everything so much better when I can do this. If not a blessing, at least I need to let go of the bad feelings. They are too heavy to carry around anyways.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Step by Step

After my post about my lesson in trusting God last Tuesday, I received another chance to trust hours later. He knew I needed more opportunities to grow and that I will need that  growth in trust in the coming months.

Tuesday night I looked at our dog and yelled for James to come see him. The poor thing looked like half of a chipmunk with a big hard knot under one eye. He seemed to be in no pain and could eat and drink just fine, but I didn’t want him suffering. That night I kept telling myself not to worry and that God will take care of Champ.

When I started thinking about little Champers, I would start singing the chorus from a song I hadn’t sung in decades. “Step by Step” by Rich Mullins says, “Oh God, You are my God And I will ever praise You. Oh God, You are my God And I will ever praise You. I will seek You in the morning And I will learn to walk in Your ways. And step by step You’ll lead me And I will follow You all of my days.” It calmed me and I slept well. The next day, whenever his sad little face popped in my mind, I would find myself singing it again. I was able to get him to the vet that afternoon and it turns out he had an abscess. They drained it and put him on antibiotics. This Friday I have to take him back to have the tooth pulled. I am not looking forward to paying $500, but God is taking care of us.

The next day, Lauren woke up with a stomach virus. It felt like the week would never end and we would never see Friday. Friday afternoon we were having our first foster care home visit. I had been trying to get the house ready, and now I had germs to get rid of (and not catch.) Then hours before the home visit, we learned that James’ uncle was put in hospice care. He passed away the next day. It was all I could do to breathe with all this stress.

But you know what?

The visit went great and there are less changes we have to make to our house than the 7 page checklist implied. We are all still here and healthy. Later this week we will pay tribute to a great man and see lots of family. Life has ups and downs, but one thing remains steady: God’s love.

Yesterday morning while I was thinking about all of these events, another song came to mind. “You’re a good good father. It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are, And I’m loved by you. It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.” Just like Chris Tomlin says in “Good Good Father,” God is perfect in ALL His ways. The ride of life is bumpy, so I need to trust and hold on. God will keep taking care of me.

Linking with Holley Gerth

We Just Need to Smile

This has been the coldest winter I can remember in my 20 years in Georgia, and I know the rest of the country has been suffering. In honor of the fact that it is supposed to be Spring, here are a few jokes to make us all smile!

What flowers grow on faces? Tulips.

What do you get when you pour hot water down a rabbit hole? A hot cross bunny.

What did the dirt say to the rain? If this keeps up, my name will be mud!

Why do mother kangaroos hate rainy days? Because then the children have to play inside.

What did the fog say to the light rain after her vacation? I mist you.

What do you call a snowman with a six pack? An abdominal snowman.

Spring is here. I’m so excited, I wet my plants!

I hope Spring really arrives soon and we all start to thaw out. Even if it doesn’t, I hope these jokes made you smile more than groan!