Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buckle Up!

It's been so long since I've posted, I was half-way expecting my computer to spaz out on me from shock when I clicked on the "New Post" button. Ha! :)

Actually, today's post is not written by me. I wish I could claim it as my own though! I have had so very many ideas and word pictures that God has given me through the past several months, but at this moment in time, for reasons unbeknownst to me, He's not allowed me to expound on any of them.

When God begins preparing me for something, He repeats himself. The most recent lesson I've had to learn was, "Be Still." Everywhere I turned, everywhere I looked, everyone I spoke to had the same message: "Be Still." I certainly don't have that lesson down pat yet, but I have slowed my life down considerably from where it was. However, I think we're about to kick it up a notch. I'm honestly not quite sure what all God is up to, but I know it's big. He's given me several Bible verses & has confirmed the message to me in a variety of ways that can be summed up by saying, "Buckle Up!"

While cleaning out some papers from my computer cabinet this morning, I happened upon this story (I don't remember where I got it from, and there's no name on it either). However, I thought it was appropriate in light of what I feel may be lying ahead for me & my family.

"Years ago, I was enthralled as I listened to a pastor who for several years had faithfully served the church. His executive responsibilities had taken him all over this country. As he concluded his message, he told of one of the most frightening yet thought-provoking experiences of his life.

He had been on a long flight from one place to another. The first warning of the approaching problems came when the sign on the airplane flashed on: Fasten your seat belts. Then, after a while, a calm voice said, "We shall not be serving the beverages at this time as we are expecting a little turbulence. Please be sure your seat belt is fastened."

As he looked around the aircraft, it became obvious that many of the passengers were becoming apprehensive. Later, the voice of the announcer said, "We are so sorry that we are unable to serve the meal at this time. The turbulence is still ahead of us."

And then the storm broke. The ominous cracks of thunder could be heard even above the roar of the engines. Lightning lit up the darkening skies, and within moments that great plane was like a cork tossed around on a celestial ocean. One moment the airplane was lifted on terrific currents of air; the next, it dropped as if it were about to crash.

The pastor confessed that he shared the discomfort and fear of those around him. He said, "As I looked around the plane, I could see that nearly all the passengers were upset and alarmed. Some were praying. The future seemed ominous and many were wondering if they would make it through the storm.

Then, I suddenly saw a little girl. Apparently the storm meant nothing to her. She had tucked her feet beneath her as she sat on her seat; she was reading a book and everything within her small world was calm and orderly. Sometimes she closed her eyes, then she would read again; then she would straighten her legs, but worry and fear were not in her world. When the plane was being buffeted by the terrible storm when it lurched this way and that, as it rose and fell with frightening severity, when all the adults were scared half to death, that marvelous child was completely composed and unafraid." The minister could hardly believe his eyes.

It was not surprising therefore, that when the plane finally reached its destination and all the passengers were hurrying to disembark, our pastor lingered to speak to the girl whom he had watched for such a long time. Having commented about the storm and behavior of the plane, he asked why she had not been afraid.

The child replied, "Cause my daddy's the pilot, and he's taking me home."

There are many kinds of storms that buffet us.

Physical, mental, financial, domestic and many other storms can easily and quickly darken our skies and throw our plane into apparently uncontrollable movement. We have all known such times, and let us be honest and confess, it is much easier to be at rest when our feet are on the ground than when we are being tossed about a darkened sky.

But let us remember: Our Father is the pilot. He is in control and is taking us home. Don't worry."

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Race

In this day & time, so many things clamor for our attention, luring us away to what this world has to offer (empty promises of fulfillment & great satisfaction), when it's really just a distraction that takes us from the path God chose for us & abandons us in the middle of nowhere surrounded by brokeness, emptiness & desperation. I want to encourage each & every one of you to "throw off the sin that so easily entangles & run the race set before you with perseverance." (Hebrews 12:1)

A few weeks ago, my friend Debra & I went to exercise at the high school track. After walking (the curves)/jogging (the straights) about 3 miles, we decided to attempt jogging an entire lap. We started off strong & determined, but the farther we ran, the harder it became. My body (believe it or not), wasn't as tired as I thought it would be. The battle was centered more in my mind. I kept telling myself, "You've gone far enough. It's okay to quit. You've accomplished more than you expected. Go ahead & stop. Walk the rest of the way." Then to distract me even more, Debra started 1/2 talking to me through her gasps of air. I didn't have the breath to answer her-it was taking everything I had to remain focused on my goal. My eyes-my mind-my body-everything was fully engaged & locked in on the finish line! As I saw it drawing closer, my footsteps became that much more firm & determined to stay on track & finish strong.

It's the same way in our Christian lives. Our time here on earth is quickly drawing to a close, & Satan knows that! He is called the "Father of Lies" (John 8:44) & will do anything & everything he possibly can to get our eyes off Jesus "on whom our faith depends." (Hebrews 12:2) Whether it's through the lie that you're all alone & no one understands you, that you've messed your life up too much & it's beyond repair, or that God is holding out on you, so to go ahead & settle for less than His best...remember who your TRUE ENEMY is!

"For we are not fighting against people made of flesh & blood, but against the evil rulers & authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, & against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

Keep your spiritual eyes & mind on Christ-who alone can save you!

"Don't copy the behavior & customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good & pleasing, & perfect His will really is." Romans 12:2

I pray that we will have a soft heart, open ears, a sensitive spirit, strength to endure, courage to obey whatever it is God's calling us to do, & feet that are prepared to carry us across the finish line!

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm Stuffed!!!

Not physically, but I have had (and still have) quite "a lot on my plate" over the past few months...hence the reason I haven't had the chance to write in so long!

I will spare you all the nitty-gritty details, but suffice it to say I have been served three oversized helpings of life that now sit before me as I try my best to consume the portions bite by very small bite.

I know my God loves me & is working everything out for the good of those that love Him. I have nothing to fear and can trust everything He does or allows in my life & in the life of my family. But until my plate is empty & I've ingested everything God is desiring for me to learn, my presence here may be very sporadic. I covet your prayers on our behalf...we could use a good helping of peace, joy, endurance & wisdom.

So with that said, I need to go pick up my fork!

"For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." Psalm 107:9

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while." 1 Peter 1:6

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

God's Word is Like a Smoke Detector

My main priority in homeschooling N is to focus first and foremost on his character-not academics. So even though we're taking it easy on the "official" learning for now, there are so many opportunities in our day in/day out lives that lend themselves to a teachable moment. And this just so happened to be one of them...

N and I had started our devotional this morning by reading this Bible verse: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16,17

This was the second verse: "But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says." James 1:22

As if on cue, the smoke detector in my bedroom started beeping its low battery warning! Can we say, "Teachable moment?"

I told N, "Pretend that we never changed out the battery-we ignored the warning. Then, if the house ever caught on fire, would the smoke detector be able to do its job and wake you up, alerting you to danger? It's the same thing with the Bible. His word is full of instructions, warnings-alerting you to dangers, encouragements and directions for how to live our lives and to keep us out of danger; but if we're not reading His word and putting it into practice, it doesn't do us any good either!"

And better yet, God's Word doesn't run on batteries! It's always fully charged. ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm Bringing Home My Baby!

No, I didn't just give birth!

After lots of prodding by the Holy Spirit, prayers for discernment and wisdom (and lots of courage), P and I have finally made the decision to pull N out of public school.

Why, you ask? Well, do you want the short version or the long version?

The short version goes like this, "God told us to!"

The longer version goes like this (you may want to pull up a seat and stay a while for this one):

"We placed N in PPCD back in the Fall of 2004. It was a year filled with much anxiety, fear, frustration, trips to the principal, etc, but yet, looking back, it was by far his best year of the 6! He should have come home a long time ago! I homeschooled our oldest 2, J & E, for a couple of years and really enjoyed it. But N needed some extra help that I didn't feel I was prepared to give him at the time-and to be quite honest, I needed a break! So, off to school he went. After the year in PPCD was completed, we made the decision to put J & E in public school, but I felt God leading me to pull Noah back out and bring him home with me. P didn't agree (and being the leader of the household, we did what he thought was best and let him continue on in Kinder).

Each year has progressively gotten worse...we've had so many talks with the teachers, visits with the principals, ISS days, swats, lunch detentions, apologies to other name it, we've done it! My mind is literally boggled at the thought of all we've been through-I may write a book one day. ;) All the while, I felt God telling me to pull him out. Yet, P was adamantly opposed to the idea. So anytime the thought of homeschooling came to mind, I would just tell God, "I hear you, but you're going to have to change P's heart. There's nothing I can do."

Well, a few months ago, I got a(nother) phone call from the PE teacher telling me everything N had been doing that day in class. I got really frustrated with him and under my breath mumbled, "What am I going to DO with him???" Then God very plainly said, "It is NOT what are you going to do WITH him! He is NOT the problem. It's about to be what are you going to do FOR him!?" Very humbled, I apologized and then started grappling about in fear with questions..."But God, I can't even teach 3rd grade!!" Again, I heard his voice say, "He's not even on a 3rd grade level!" I started getting excited about the thought, but once again, told him, "You're going to have to talk to P about that one." A few minutes later, P came to pick me up for a lunch date, and as we sat talking, I told him once again (we've had this conversation many times over the years) what I felt God leading me to do...and ended with saying, "I know you don't agree..." He cut me off by saying, "Bethany, I am NOT opposed to you pulling him out!" I about fell out of my chair-I KNEW this was God!!! I continued on with my story and told him of my fear-questioning whether I would be able to teach 3rd grade (remember, I had done K and 1st before, but never beyond that), when P interrupted me again by saying, "Bethany, he's not even on a 3rd grade level!" I just started crying because 1) I knew in my heart that God had answered my prayer by changing my husband's heart, and 2) because I was so overwhelmed with the thought of all the changes that were about to take place (homeschooling was not the only change God had been opening my eyes to)! I honestly felt like I was standing in front of a tidal wave that was going to crash over me at any moment and I was totally helpless to stop it!

Over the next few days, I started asking God, "Now what do I do in the meantime? You've told us to pull him out, but when? Do I start reading, researching, etc? Show me what to do!" That very morning, when I went to check the mail, my dear friend Lori (Hi!!) had sent me two books-one on discovering your child's learning style and another one on the top 100 homeschool curriculums. Can we say, "Answer to prayer?" I began to read (that was what I did all week in Arkansas when I went to visit my brother while he was at work), but didn't really feel any further leading.

Eventually, I sensed God telling me to bring N home, but I didn't...I needed more confirmation to make "sure" I was hearing him if the stories above weren't enough.

Then several weeks ago, God spoke to me again through this situation. I had told N to do "something" and he failed to obey immediately. When I called him on it, he said, "I did too obey!" Then I heard myself saying, "No you didn't. Obedience is doing exactly what you're told immediately when you're told to do it." I sensed the Holy Spirit saying that to my soul as I was saying them to my son. Ugh!

Have I mentioned yet that I'm a big planner? Ya, well, I still didn't obey Him, because I needed time to plan and read some more and organize, etc, etc, etc. Then...I told J to go start the dryer. She's normally pretty cooperative, but this time she started stalling and asking me a zillion questions that sounded like this, "But how do I...? What if...? But then if...? How can...?" Then it dawned on me as I told her, "J, you don't have to worry about any of that. Just do what you were told to do." AGAIN, the Holy Spirit told me the SAME thing!!! I'm pretty hard headed, huh?

The last thing God used was my dearly loved sister-in-law, Angie. She has a true gift from God, and she sees so clearly through things and speaks directly to the heart of a problem unlike anything or anyone I've ever seen! We were chatting on Facebook one day just a couple of weeks ago, and the first thing she asked me was, "Have you pulled Noah out of school yet?" I told her no, and her response was, "I say this in all love, but sister, you know exactly what you need to do."

Here I am a couple of weeks later and have YET to obey Him! Yet, God is not and will not give up on me! As I was driving home this morning from dropping the kids off at school, for some odd reason, I began to recall the scene from when the nurse wheeled E into my room at the hospital. Noone was with me at the time, and I began to panick! I had already had one baby, mind you, but for some reason, I started thinking to myself, "What am I supposed to do with him??? Take him back!!" Ha! I was overcome with the same terrifying feeling thinking about bringing N home from school, and I heard God saying, "You'll figure it out. Just take it one day at at a time."

So, I have now printed out the withdrawal form, and will mail it off tomorrow. I'll inform the school that Friday will be his last day and then I'll get to bring my baby home!

Yes, I'm still terrified! Humanly speaking that is. But God has made it SO abundantly clear that this is what He's calling us to do though, that spiritually I'm at peace.

There is much, MUCH more to this story, but this is all I have time for at the moment. I covet your prayers for all of us as we begin this new journey!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

We All Need a Good Washing!

I admit...I hate getting my hands dirty-especially when it comes to washing dishes! It makes me shudder to even think of touching left-over food on a plate that one of my kids didn't scrape off into the trash, or to clean out the mystery dish(es) that've been forgotten in the fridge a litle too long!

So to avoid having to touch them, I use one of these little gems:

Unfortunately though, it still doesn't work on everything as well as I would like. Take for example, this one set of measuring spoons I have. They're smaller on the bottom for 1/2 the amount and then get wider at the top for the full amount...leaving a little ledge that has to be cleaned by hand.

As I was washing it out yesterday, this thought came to mind...Depending on what I last used it for (Peanut butter vs. salt for example), a simple quick rinse in cold water from the faucet may not be good enough to clean the spoon properly...much in the same way that a quick rinse in God's living water may not be enough to clean our hearts either.

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and opened the napkin to find a dirty piece of silverware? Do you overlook the dried on, crusty piece of food attached to your spoon/fork and continue to use it, or do you give it back to the waiter and ask for a clean one? Ya, we both know what the answer to that one is! ;)

We are utensils in God's hands. He cannot overlook the sin or bad habits that have attached themselves to our lives and continue to use us for His kingdom work! He loves us and wants to use us...but first, we need a good washing!

Depending on the issue that's at hand, sometimes God has to turn on the hot water, and allow us to soak a while. When the time is right, He'll roll up his sleeves and get up close and personal with us while He really scrubs us deep down in order to remove all the baked on, putrid, rotten, smelly sin out of our hearts until it finally lets loose and comes to the suface.

When you feel like you're about to drown in problems that are swirling about, or you feel swamped in a life that isn't exactly as easy or comfortable as you would like...perhaps you're stuck in a job where you desperately want out-don't jump up and run away. Seek God's will in the matter first. Maybe you need to soak a while in order for God to soften some hardened areas...things you may not even be aware of. Ask Him-He'll show you...and eventually, you'll be able to see His reflection in your life.

"Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?" Proverbs 20:9

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:22

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." Psalm 51:2

"But now, this is what the LORD says..."Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior..." Isaiah 43:1-3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm Going to Connecticut!

Yes, just call me the world traveler. ;) I just got back from Arkansas and Missouri, and now I'm heading off even further up North! The story of how this came about still cracks me up, so I thought I'd post it.

I was at my friend Connie's house looking around on her computer for the Gaither Vocal Band's tour schedule. They came down our way a few years ago and I was hoping they would be doing the same sometime this year as well. Unfortunately, they weren't scheduled to be in our area, but I was even more excited to find that they were going to be in Myrtle Beach, SC the weekend of my birthday in October! I went to Myrtle Beach 13 1/2 years ago and have wanted to go back ever since!

So, I went into the living room and told Connie, "Paul said I can have a get-away twice a year, and the Gaither's are going to be in Myrtle Beach the weekend of my birthday! Let's go!!!" She started to give me excuse after excuse..."I don't have enough money, etc." I told her, "We have 10 months to save up, Connie! Let's do it!"

Then she remembered that her sister-in-law Shelly (married to her brother Ronny) has a brother who just "happens" to own a condo on Myrtle Beach! She said, "Oh! I wonder if they would possibly let us use the condo??" IMMEDIATELY as soon as the words came out of her mouth, a text message came through on her cell phone from her brother Ronny and all it said was, "No!" We busted out laughing! As soon as she caught her breath, she called him up and when he answered she asked, "What do you mean, NO??" He explained that she had just sent him a text asking if he was still asleep? Apparently, a text she sent the night before (and meant to send to another friend) wound up getting sent to her brother! :)

She then told him what we were discussing and he said, "Connie! Shelly and I were just talking about wanting to go see the Gaither's! Why don't y'all come up here? They're playing 45 minutes from our house in March." He booked our flight, purchased our concert tickets (7th row) and so Connie and I are flying to Connecticut in March!!!!

I just love a story with a happy ending, don't you?! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Life-His Purpose

What comes to your mind when you hear the word, "Surrender?" Maybe it's just me, but I think of captivity. A burden. To give up. Not much hope.

Now what comes to your mind when you hear the word, "Abandon?" To me, it makes me think of freedom and relation to Christ that is.

Lately, I've been feeling God wanting me to walk down a certain path that humanly I don't feel quite ready or prepared for. I'm a planner at heart and haven't been able to spend an adequate amount of time preparing for this role...I have books to read, people to talk to, etc, etc, etc. It's hard to let go and trust sometimes...yet I know He'll prepare the way. His plan is so much greater than my own!

One of my favorite prayers I heard in my Mother Wise Bible Study several years ago goes like this, "Lord, bind my mind to your mind and my thoughts to your thoughts. Bind my heart to your heart, my will to your will, and bind my life to YOUR purposes."

I envision this stem of a flower or vine growing together in the same direction...our minds, thoughts, hearts and wills entertwining with His and becoming one. Yet when it comes to letting go-abandoning our lives to His purposes, He grows each one of us out in the direction that He's chosen-allowing us to grow, taking root and blooming...ministering to those around us, using the gifts He has given us.

Don't just "surrender" yourself to Christ today, but abandon yourself to Him! He's up to something in each and every one of our lives if we will simply follow His lead.

"Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..." Hebrews 3:14

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Are You Breaking His Heart?

My heart was crushed, my trust broken, my dreams shattered.

I was desperate for his love. I longed for him to be true to me...only me.

But he wasn't.

He would keep me at a distance-giving me just a taste of the delicasies my heart desired, to keep me coming back and begging for more with promises of the good stuff...but would be sorely disappointed to be fed only scraps.

His words would lure me in and then I would take the bait...only to find myself trapped in the undertow-which would suck me under, then allow my heart to come up momentarily gasping for air, only to be sucked under once more.

Sadly, this describes a relationship I was in several years ago. After being separated from this man for about a month and a half, I met my (now) husband. With the excitement of a new relationship, I didn't take the time to sift through all the past hurt and confusion. So I just stashed it in the recesses of my mind-assuming the memories would decay and fall apart on their own...yet 13 years later, I found out that God had something He wanted to teach me through my pain.

A couple of weeks ago, God dusted off the box, and allowed it to resurface. He lovingly forced me to sift through the ashes while I sat at His feet. I had no idea what He was about to show me!

I asked Him at one point, "Your Word says that you've experienced everything we've gone through and that you know our hurts...but Jesus, you were single! How in the world did you experience this kind of pain??"

I was not expecting this response. This is what He told me:

"Because that's exactly how much my heart breaks when you put other people/things in my place."


Humbled, I started crying all over again...but this time, it wasn't over what had happened TO me so long ago. It was what I had done TO Jesus here and now.

I had no idea! I had ignorantly believed that He a) didn't care or b) was mad when I allowed my heart to wander. How differently I see it now.

Allow Him to search your heart and see what He shows you.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:22-24

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Let it Rain, Let Him Reign

I was just cleaning out some of my old pictures from my SD card and happened upon this one. I realize it's very dark, but I had to capture what I could of the moment, and this is the best I could do. Sorry! ;)

The day this picture was taken, we were in the middle of a drought. Both physical and spiritual. I believe the yearly average for rain fall between the months of January through July is like 23"...up until this point, we had maybe 1 1/2-2". Spiritually, my heart felt just as dried up as the dirt here on our place. Satan was waging war in our marriage, on my husband, in our was not a pleasant time for our family!

The kids and I were sitting outside on the swing set when we noticed a pretty massive, dark rain cloud. I personally love thunder storms so I half-heartedly asked God to let it rain simply so I could listen to the thunder and watch the lightning. Then P came outside, and he and the boys took off down the driveway on their bicycles while J and I made our way to the picnic table in the back yard. We sat and talked about lots of different things, and I told her, "It's going to rain. I just feel it. I don't know when and I don't know how much, but it's going to rain." We started praying and thanking God for the rain that He would eventually send our way. Little did I know that at that exact moment, P and the boys were at the end of the driveway watching the storm cloud that was drifing away from us, turn and come back right over our house. The wind began to blow like we've never seen cap blew off across the yard, the wooden bench began to roll across the pasture...the rain drops started blowing sideways, and then hitting us so hard, it felt like we were in the middle of a sand storm!! The thunder and lighting was astounding!!! It was an amazing sight...seeing my children watch with their own eyes...seeing God answering their/our prayers. N was literally down on his face worshipping and thanking God for the rain we so desperately needed! J and E were praising him and thanking him, jumping up and down with excitement! I finally took shelter in our garage and watched from a distance as my chilren and husband continued to play in the storm. At that moment, God said to me, "This is the first of what's to come. Not just physical rain, but spiritual as well."

It's been a rough road to walk at times, but I know my God and I can trust my God. He can create something out of nothing. And He is my true shelter from the storm! Let Him be yours as well!

"You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance." Psalm 68:9