Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He is faithful! (follow up from previous post)

Sometimes the only words that explain something are "He is faithful!" 

In my last post, I shared about some of the trials my family has faced this year.  The most recent one being a fractured leg for our little Noah (2 1/2).  I asked my blog friends to pray. 
Well, I need to give you an update. Yesterday we took Noah back to the doctor for more x-rays.  Guess what they found.  He is all better!!  No fracture.  Although his leg was a bit stiff (from not using it for 10 days), he was able to walk.  Like me, all the nurses in the nurses station held their breath and let out a gasp as they saw him walk stiffly from the doctor's office to the sticker station.  He left there without a splint or cast.  Amazing!
There's really only one explanation for it...God's healing hand!  The doctor couldn't explain it.  And I have to admit, although I had prayed for it to happen, I was so surprised (God never ceases to amaze me!).  My heart flooded with joy and praise to the Faithful One
"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!  His faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 118:1
I spent the rest of the day watching with delight as my little boy enjoyed walking and even running around the house along with his big brother.  Both of them giggling.  Admittedly this is something I most often took for granted before.  My heart rejoiced for all that we have...life, health, joy...the list goes on and on.
I realize that God doesn't always answer prayers this way. This time He did.  He is faithful no matter how He answers.  He deserves our praise for all He has done and all He has given.  Every good thing comes from Him.  And He helps us through the hard times. 
God answered our prayers.  He continues to show Himself faithful.  ALL praise, glory, honor and thanks to Him!  His faithful love endures forever!
P.S. Thank you to those of you prayed!  I pray this increases your faith and strengthen your prayer life. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Faithful in the Hard Times

Sometimes you wonder why trials seem to come "all at once"...

This has been quite a year for me and my family.  Starting last December with an ER visit for stitches for our oldest and gluten intolerance tests that lead to 7 months of a gluten free diet for my youngest, to my husband's ER visit and appendectomy in January, to my Dad's brain tumor diagnosis in February, to my miscarriage and d&c in March...STICK WITH ME HERE...this is not a pity party.  Just stating some facts so you know where I'm coming from....Then, there was my Dad's surgery and a few trips to a fertility specialist (since we'd had 3 miscarriages) to get meds that ended up making me sick.  After that another ER visit in July, this time for me...I had an unidentified infection that made me very sick.  All of this in the midst of the worst drought our farm has seen in over 20 years.  Last month (September) I got very sick, and ended up having my gallbladder removed.  

Now it's October.  What is it this month?  Well, it's a fractured leg for my 2 1/2 year old.  Goodness gracious!! 

As you can see, he's in good spirits.  Poor little fella!
It was such a simple thing, I stopped the swing, he hopped off, grabbed his leg and said, "Oww! Leg hurt me."  I thought he was fine, but later that evening he couldn't bear any weight on it.  I felt terrible...and still do!!

This brings with it more complications than just a splint on his leg (although that's hard enough)...like Mommy (me) needing to carry him (35 lbs of solid boy) everywhere...while still under weight restriction after surgery.  Active little boys should be able to run, play and ride trikes.  We've had to be creative to find ways to keep him busy, without being up.

You know, after a while, you really do start to wonder why so many trials come "all at once".
Today I found solace in I Peter 1.  Verse 6 says, So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.

I'll admit some days it is hard, but I remind myself that I must keep eternal perspective.  This life is but a vapor.  This world is a fallen, imperfect place where "stuff" happens...and sometimes those things happen all at once.  This place is not my home.  Something better is coming.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (vs 7)

The question is, is my faith genuine?  It's easy to say we have faith, but what about when the hard times come.  Faith is taking God at His Word. 

He says He has good plans for us (Jer 29:11). 
He says He works all things together for good for those who love Him (Rom 8:28).
He says that if we trust Him and seek Him, He will direct our paths (Prov 3:5).
He says He is faithful and will do what He says (I Thess 5:24).

Do I believe it?

You love Him even though you have never seen Him. Though you do not see Him now, you trust Him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls. (vs 8-9)

Oh, I believe...Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).  Although I have never seen Him, I have seen Him.  He has proved Himself faithful time and time again.  Yet, I long to know Him more.  To trust Him more whole-heartedly, undivided and unwaveringly.  Yes, I love Him.  I know He loves me.  So, I choose to walk in faith.  I know that often circumstances are not what they seem on the surface.  I believe He will see us through this fire...and whatever lies ahead!  And, I believe, afterward, we will have a deeper level of trust in the One who made us (I'm praying this for my husband too). 

"When you are in the midst of your trials, your Lord will reveal His character to you in ways you never knew. You will experience His strong and comforting presence. Like Job, you will learn that your Lord will remain, even when everyone else abandons you. You will see God more clearly as He takes you through the dark times. Then you will experience God in ways you had previously only heard about from others." ~ Experiencing God Day By Day ~ Blackaby

As I choose to trust and lean in on Him for strength and hope through the craziness, He reveals Himself to me in new ways.  I praise Him for all that's going well...and it's a lot really.  Truly we are blessed!  When I remember to see, I rejoice with a "glorious, inexpressible joy".  When I practice faith I am filled with the peace that passes all comprehension.  God is good...all the time! 

When this year has ended, I pray I remember how faithful He was, especially on those days when this life's unavoidable trials come again.  Then, I pray that, one day, when I stand before Him, He will find that I also was faithful!

This is not only true for me, readers.  This is true for you.  No matter what you're going through you can choose to trust Him through it.  He promised He would go with you (Is 43:2), that He would never leave nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).  Will you take Him at His Word?  Choose to see all of life's blessings and praise Him today.

P.S. Friends, will you please pray for my little Noah as he goes back to the doctor on Monday for additional x-rays?  The x-rays will show how bad the fracture is or is not and the doctor will decide whether he needs a cast or not.  I appreciate faith filled prayers more than you know! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Religious Holes ~ ReNEWed Life '12

Where did the past month go?  I meant to write this post much sooner.  I can tell you that I haven’t written because I had gallbladder surgery 10 days ago, that it’s harvest time on the farm and that I have many (perhaps too many) irons in the fire…including homeschooling our big kindergartener.  All of that is true. 
Yet, I think the real reason I haven’t taken the time to write is because I promised a post about “empty religion” and how it once limited and defined me.  I knew this one would be a hard one for me.  One I’ve wanted to write for a long time, but haven’t because words escaped me.  Today, I hope to keep it simple, to the point and free of trying to show my thoughts from every angle.

On August 11th, I was privileged to be at ReNEWed Life Women’s Event, a women’s conference I was blessed to help organize in our rural community in northeast Iowa.  National speaker and author Lisa Whittle challenged and encouraged us, sharing three messages that day.  The second message she shared was titled, “Holes Bring Hope”.   Lisa said, “While holes keep us from some things, they also provide us a way to God, an opportunity to move toward God…If we’re desperate enough, our lives will change.”
Lisa Whittle also said, “Holes limit and define us.”  She talked about the holes of empty religion, roles and experiences.  While I have let roles and experiences limit and define me, it was the holes of religion that stood out to me as Lisa spoke.  Because, you see, I once had some major religious holes.

I grew up going to church, went to Christian school from kindergarten to graduation day and knew all the “right” scriptures and religious answers.  It was a bit confusing because as a teenager I went to one denomination’s school, another denomination’s church and was taught yet another religion at home.  They were all very different, but they had one thing in common…they taught me (whether trying or not) to focus on my “performance” (as Lisa Whittle put it).     
In my early twenties I became so discouraged.  I had tried and strived and felt I had failed. There were so many rules to follow.  I ran toward religious perfection and fell flat on my face.  I saw it happen to many of those around me too.   I believed I could never measure up, that I would never be good enough.  So why try?  Of course, those were lies straight from the pit of hell.  But, that was the hole these religions had left in me.  My focus was on performance ( what I could do),  rather than His grace (what He had already done).

I turned my back on religion, and God.   I paid the price.  I came to a place of utter misery.  One day I literally fell on my face before God.  It was right there in my bedroom, face down in the carpet, I cried out to Him.  Because He is gracious He heard me and answered.   I surrendered my life to Him that day, not to a religion, but to a relationship with the one true God, through His Son Jesus. 
“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.” Psalm 86:5

The more I get to know my gracious LORD, the more I understand His love.  The more I understand His love and grace, the more I love Him.  Religion most definitely can limit and define you.  But relationship, oh sweet relationship with Him, it sets you free…and fills holes.
As Lisa said, “…holes can also provide us a way to God, an opportunity to move toward God.”  I’m so thankful I didn’t stay stuck in empty religion, that in my desperation I turned to a relationship with the one true God.  He changed everything! 

Today I am a member of and serve in my local church.  I am a women’s ministry leader.  But I know I am not defined by my religion or my roles or my performance.   Although I long to obey Him and see improvement year after year, it’s not about following a list of rules.   I know I’m not defined by what I do.   I’m defined by who I am…His!  And with Him as my constant companion, I am not limited.  Nothing is impossible with Him!
Have you ever felt trapped in empty religion, either now or in the past?  There’s a big difference between knowing  about God and actually knowing God.  Do you wish for a more fulfilling, thriving relationship with the one true God?  What’s holding you back?  Move forward today!  I beg you, friend.  Jesus did not give His life, so that you can live in bondage to man-made laws and hollow religious practices.  Too many people never move past religion.  Don’t be one of those people.  He wants a vibrant relationship with YOU!  He’s waiting…

Trade in empty religion for authentic relationship, you will find the one who fills your God shaped holes!
Have questions or need prayer?  E-mail me: rachel76x@yahoo.com
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
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