Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cleaning Up

Being the mom of two young boys, I clean up a lot of messes.

Noah is in this stage, at nearly 10 months old, of flinging food from his highchair tray. He seems to take joy in seeing how far he can make it fly. He giggles and I clean up.

Some of you may remember writing about one of those messy days back in May, when I shared about Andrew writing on our light tan carpet with one of “the most washable markers in the world”. Yeah, not so much. That was a whale of a mess. A stain is still there.

On an average day at our house there is finger paint smeared, formula dribbled, and toilets misaimed (boys!). There is food dropped and bath water spilled. There are fingerprints on windows, mirrors and furniture. There are toys scattered about. There are runny noses and dirty bottoms to wipe. Not to mention all the laundry and dishes that never seem to end. Oh, and most recently, toilet paper rolls unrolled (over and over).

Thanks Noah. :) 

Hey, it’s all just part of having children.

BUT I’ve come to learn that it’s better when I “stay on top of things”. It’s best if I clean up the juice on the linoleum (or the marker on the carpet) right away rather than wait until it’s a dried up sticky mess.

Most messes can be cleaned up rather easily, if they’re dealt with right away. If I don’t let me guard down and keep on top of it, the house won’t end up in shambles. Nor will it be as overwhelming to clean a little at a time, as if it would be if I left all of it for later.

You know, sin is kind of like that too. I’m starting to learn that when I stay on top of things, confessing sin as soon as conviction comes, I’m much better off. They call this keeping “short sin accounts”…in other words, giving account to God for our sin as quickly as we recognize it as sin. This means dealing with it “head on”. Confessing and forsaking (turning away from) our sin as the Spirit convicts our heart.

Our sins can be dealt with more easily when they’re not allowed to take root. If I keep on top of things, confessing and forsaking my sin as the Spirit convicts, I probably won’t end up with a life in shambles. Nor will it be as overwhelming as dealing with all of them at once later. It could save us from some “sticky” messes.

Oh, and even if our sin caused a whale of a mess (like Andrew’s marker on my carpet), NO MESS is too big for God to clean up! Confess and forsake. He will forgive and forget. His blood cleanses us whiter than snow.  No stains!

Remember repentance is not a one time thing, it’s an ongoing process. We, as Christians, need to recognize sin in our lives as it comes. Confess and forsake. Keep things clean, friends.

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness (or unrighteousness).
I John 1:9

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

Do you have sin that needs to be dealt with today, friend?

If you've never repented, admitting your sin and your need for a Savior to cleanse you, this is the day for that too! Read the scriptures above.  He is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from ALL sin!  All you have to do is ask!  That's the BEST kind of cleaning up!  :)  And remember there's no mess too big for Him to clean!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Prayers for Rise & Shine '11

Some changes in leadership are taking place this year for Rise & Shine Women's Retreat. Changes that won't change the quality of Rise & Shine Women's Retreat. No, you can still count on a day full of blessings which includes a terrific women's speaker, great worship, fabulous food and some nice little details to pamper you throughout the day. But, things are changing a bit behind the scenes. We thought Rise & Shine's faithful fans would be interested in knowing. And we're hoping that you will be willing to pray with us as well.
Jill Beran from the Rise & Shine leadership team has prayerfully chosen to step down from her position for this year...  PLEASE READ MORE by clicking this link to the Rise & Shine Women's Retreat page.

THANKS for taking the time to read the above link...and for praying with us!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Storm

SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011 or so they say. It was a typical winter day here in northeast Iowa. Bitter cold, wind and a little more snow to blow around and drift.

But as I listened to the proclamations of weather doom for the Midwest yesterday, my mind drifted back to nearly 4 years ago when another storm raged.

My oldest son Andrew was only 3 weeks old when the electricity went out. We were facing a severe ice storm. When my husband Alan had said he was concerned about the power going out, I thought, “What’s the big deal?” I grew up in a small town in Indiana where the longest I ever remembered the power being out was 4 or 5 hours. He mentioned the possibilities…the complications on the farm, no power for DAYS. I seriously thought he was being overly dramatic (he loves weather and so I thought he was a bit excited). I sarcastically said with a rueful smile, “Days?!” He didn’t look amused when he said, “This is Iowa!“ He was serious!

I still didn’t take it seriously myself…never imagining that when the power went out it would stay out for EIGHT days and NINE nights! The longest eight day and nine nights of my life! I couldn’t be Amish, ya’ll!

When the electricity went off I wasn’t prepared for what came next. We had to pack up our stuff including everything required for a 3 week old baby (and that’s a lot of stuff folks!) and head up the road to Alan’s parents’ house. They didn’t have power either, but they did have a brand new home that was well insulated. We would run the generator 2 hours a day…1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon/evening. Those were some long days. Do you know how quiet a house is when nothing is running, not even a refrigerator? Do you know how loud a baby sounds in the middle of the night without any other noise? Do you know how hard it is to play UNO by candlelight?

Today, it probably would be tolerable. But under the circumstances it was terrible.

You see, worse than the storm that raged outside was the storm raging on the inside…of me! I was facing down a severe case of postpartum depression. Not the baby blues. No, outright, suffocating, deep depression. The kind of depression that feels as if it’s gripping you around the neck and is pulling you down into a pit of despair.

Only a couple of weeks before I had been on “cloud nine.” The highest of highs. Rejoicing over the birth of my first child! I was thrilled to be a mommy. I had the most beautifully perfect son, a loving husband. My life was perfect, everything I’d ever dreamed of and I praised God for it! Yet, that didn’t keep the depression from seeping in. A chemical imbalance the doctors said and perhaps they were right. Yet, a spiritual battle quickly broke out as well. The Father of Lies saw his opportunity and took full advantage. It was scary. It was lonely. It happened despite the fact that I was a born-again Christian. Despite the fact that I knew God’s Word and His Truth.

The electricity came back on. We went home. My mom came from Indiana to help out. Still the storm raged inwardly.

I spent a lot of time crying. Wishing I would die. Wishing to not feel.  Wishing I could just go to sleep. Yet, when I did sleep, I experienced terrible dreams and woke up in a cold sweat. Being a Christian, I felt guilty. Shouldn’t I be able to overcome this with my faith in Him? If I really loved my baby, wouldn’t I be able to "snap out of it" and think of him instead of myself? Boy, the Enemy was coming at me from every angel. If he couldn’t get me with anguish, suicidal thoughts and fear, he’d be sure to get me with guilt.

Torment! That’s the best word to describe it.

Despite the pain, despite the lies going through my mind, despite the darkness that consumed me, there was another voice whispering still. The Truth! Yes, the same Truth that fills my earliest memories. The Truth that penetrated my heart day after day, month after month, year after year before this storm came raging. As the lies of the Enemy filled my mind, the voice of Truth quietly filled my heart. Sometimes the words came through my husband, other times through my mom and even a couple of times from Christian friends. Sometimes (often to my own surprise) they came out of my own mouth as I cried out to God for help. Out of my heart flowed the Truth that filled it long ago, even though it was now harder to hear and believe.

I held on to small glimpses of hope. My mom read scriptures over me. She sat on the floor, crying and praying with me. My husband was my rock, solid and steady. Each of them pointed me to the Truth.

Like the storm outside, the storm within me eventually subsided. Thankfully it didn’t last too long, although it seemed like an eternity when I was in the midst of it. I saw the Truth for myself and I held onto it! He lifted me out of the pit and steadied me on my feet once more. Again I rejoiced over my blessings! Perhaps rejoicing even more than before, because now I grasped how blessed I was to have a God who protected me through the worst storm of my life. I realized how faithful He was, shining bright even in the worst of my own inner darkness. Despite the lies of the Enemy and the torment in my mind, God never left me. He saw me through the storm!

No matter what STORM you face, He is in control and will see you through! Fill your mind with His Truth! Prepare yourself now for the storms that come...and even as it rages, grab onto the Truth and hold on! Know there is hope in the Truth! TRUST Him to see you through...and be safe in any storm, friends!

"When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation." Proverbs 10:25

Thank you LORD for your powerful, loving protection! You promised you would never leave nor forsake us, your children. Help us to stand on that Truth so that we can see past the storms of this life. They come to us all at one time or another, in one way or another. Help the Truth of your Word to penetrate our hearts in such a way that we will be safe even as we face the darkest of times, both inside and out, because of the hope and peace that we have in You. Thank you, dear Jesus! Amen.