The pursuit of Joy. Day 5

The Psalms

“Satisfy us with your unfailing love that we may sing for joy”

1. Mountains and trees sing and shout for joy (if you can believe it). They declare the pleasure and delight of God by displaying his splendor, his greatness, and his power. (89:12, 96:12)

2. When God helps us triumph over our enemies, we shout and sing for joy in the work he’s done on our behalf. Not only in war, but in his unfailing compassion and grace after we act unrighteously or rebelliously. It is by his deeds and nature we are made glad. (66:1, 67:4, 71:24, 81:1, 92:4)

3. Comfort and consolation during grief and anxiety from God brings us joy because of the truth of his sovereignty in trials. (94:19)

4. We can call each other to sing for joy over the wonderful things God has done. (95:1)

5. And yet again it is God who is our source of joy and we ask him to satisfy us in our time of need and plenty. That satisfaction in his unfailing love (who he is and what he’s given us) is what gives us that fulfilling and satisfactory joy for all of our days. (86:4, 90:14, 92:4)

Biblical Joy: to be satisfied and find pleasure in who God is and what He has given us- D.A. Carson.  This is why the pursuit of Joy is really the pursuit of God and glorifying Him for all that He is and does with all that we are and  do.  

Until next time :)

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In the pursuit of Joy. Day 4

What is stealing my joy?

I finally found a definition of joy I agreed with from D.A Carson who described joy as being satisfied and finding pleasure in God and what he’s given us. However, he followed up his definition with something that was really impactful for me: we are grateful for the things that give us joy, but when we don’t have joy its because there’s something that God has given us in our lives or something about who is that we are not grateful for.

So why is that so different? Well instead of forcing myself to consider all the things in life I’m grateful for and trying to choose to be happy and joyful by focusing on those things (like Philippians 4:8 though valuable), I instead ask myself the question: What is it that God has given me in my life that I am ungrateful for?

Oh. I see. Now it’s really about the fact that I’m not trusting His plan with that situation in my life. Or whatever it is. It sucks and the great thing about God is that you can tell him that! You can tell him how much pain you feel. And you can tell him how you don’t understand. And you can ask him for the strength to get through it. And it’s quite possible that only He can provide that joy in that time, and so we ask him for joy in the unpleasant circumstances.

Is it possible that God works all things for the good of those who love him? Is it possible God cares truly about me experiencing His utter and complete goodness? I think so. I know so. This I know because berries taste sweet and because a child’s laughter fills my heart and because music connects dots in my soul and these things have nothing to do with whether I have money or was born into a “good” family. There’s non-circumstantial goodness out there waiting to give God the glory. This I know also because God’s good book says not only that God works all things out for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) or that he desires to give his children good gifts (Matthew 7:11) but that He hears our prayers, forgives our overwhelming sins, fills us with good things from His house, answers us with awesome deeds, is our Savior and the hope of all of the ends of the earth, he formed the entire world including the mountains and the roaring seas, he waters the land and cares for it, he gives us delicious food and all of this causes us to be satisfied and find pleasure in our great wonderful God and even creation itself shouts for joy and sings (Psalm 65).

Until next time.

In the Pursuit of Joy. Day 3

The Psalms

“You have filled my heart with Joy”

1. The joy that God fills our heart with is greater than the joy that success brings to godless people living for the riches of this world. (Psalm 4:7)

2. When we follow God’s commands, it gives our hearts greater joy than when we sin, though it seems the opposite in the moment. If we hate wickedness and love righteousness, God will give us joy. (Psalm 19:8, 45:7)

3. There are times when we do not have joy and our soul is downcast. It takes questioning and searching and pleading to put our hope in God in those times, but he turns our wailing into dancing. (Psalm 42:4, 30:11)

4. When attacked by our enemies if we take refuge is God we will have joy, and of course in victory we will also have joy that leads to singing and praise to God who gives us these victories. He is our strength and shield. We trust him and he helps up and this makes our heart leap for joy. (Psalm 5:11, 21:1, 27:6, 28:7)

5. When those we love are vindicated, when they succeed against their enemies, we are filled with joy and give God the glory. (Psalm 35:27)

6. God fills our hearts with joy in his presence. He is our joy. (Psalm 4:7, 16:11, 21:6, 30:11, 43:4)

In the pursuit of Joy. Day 1

This starts a collection on my study of the word JOY in the Bible, starting from the beginning. A friend of mine gave me an NIV concordance which I hope to wear out dry. I hope to uncover what it means to have joy, what it looks like, when it happens, and how it arrives. So here we go:

“God filled them with joy.”

1. Being in the presence of God, dwelling with him, and seeing his glory and appearance gives us joy, and complete joy worthy of celebration. (Leviticus 9:4) (1 Chron 16:27, 29:22) (Ezra 6:22)

2. When God establishes the work of our hands and blesses us (such as with bountiful food, success, good Godly leaders) we can celebrate with joy, even for days! It is worth celebrating! (Deuteronomy 16:14-15) (1 Chron 13:40)

3. We are a joy to one another when we give willingly and do things or treat each other honorably and in good faith. (Judges 9:19) (1 Chron 29:17)

4. We have joy when we obey his commands and remember continually all the things he has done, such as the things in point #2. (Ezra 3:13, 6:16)

5. God fills us with joy. (Ezra 6:22)

Lost in Transition

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic lately listening to “For Good” from Wicked. It was the class song of the graduating class above me, and while it wasn’t my class that sang it, in that class was the majority of my friends who would be moving away to college.

Recently, I’ve been listening to that song not because I particularly miss my friends from high school, but it seems I’ve found myself in a similar place once again.

Transitioning out of college has been an adventure in a half. Friends are getting married and moving away, other friends moving out, some changing ministries in the church, some changing churches all together, others getting into relationships, others are having babies, and some are getting full time jobs. It seems that a lot of lives around me are changing and we’re all going places, but it feels kind of like this:
grand-central-terminal

We’re all going somewhere and I jump on for the ride not really sure where I’m going to end up.
The only thing is when the train pulls up to the station and everyone gets off to where they’re going, it feels kind of like this:
Woman on train

and I’m just like… “Where’d everybody go?” And it’s not like I’m not going places with my life right? I’m applying for grad school now to get my Masters and I’m planning a trip to either Greece, Ireland, the Grand Canyon, or maybe Halifax with my roommate. I’m on staff with my church part time and I help out with some down and out kids in our community. My relationship with God is ever growing relative to my humbleness and I get to influence people for Christ. Where I’m going isn’t the problem, but its who I’m with and lately it seems like, now, everyone’s going new places without me and it’s starting to feel a little lonely.

Where I’m going isn’t the problem, but its who I’m with and lately it seems like, now, everyone’s going new places without me and it’s starting to feel a little lonely.

Over coffee (or actually hot cocoa and water) a sister and I were empathizing with one another as we feel we are in similar places since her childhood best friend is getting married and moving away. We joked about how one day, though now pretty content in our singleness, we will really appreciate being in a committed relationship because it semi-guarantees a person will actually stick by your side. They’ll be around, you don’t have to worry about them getting a job that moves them away… they’ll basically never leave you or forsake you, right?

“Sounds like God” one us said. “Yea, funny how that works.” A woman at a bible study gave a message the other day about her husband dying in October and just how lost and purposeless she feels. Even at the end of her life, and me at the beginning, it’s funny the same truth is what fills that space. Through the bitter conquest of war, to the bottom of our pocketbooks, to the loneliness of our hearts and love beyond death God reminds us “Never will I leave you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:6, Heb 13:5)

And while that doesn’t make it easier, it does show us that we’re built for an eternal relationship with our God. We can’t fulfill that in one another, but in the meantime, we can make an impact on one another for a short time. And we do, we help each other grow and grow towards Christ.

And so having the song “For Good” stuck in my head has actually been quite perfect. People come and go in our lives and they make an impact and its sweet or hard, but people change us and God uses them too. And we must learn, maybe as one friend leaves at a time, God’s the one that never leaves, and we can depend on that.

And we must learn, maybe as one friend leaves at a time, God’s the one that never leaves, and we can depend on that.

For Good:

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them and we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…

Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you I have been changed for good

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime so let me say before we part
So much of me is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me like a hand print on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end, I know you have re-written mine by being my friend…

Like a ship blown from its mooring by a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a sky bird in a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done you blame me for
But then, I guess we know there’s blame to share and none of it seems to matter anymore

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better

And because I knew you I have been changed for good.

My Mother’s Story

My mom became a member of the our church back in Wisconsin and apart of that was sharing your testimony with the pastor and elders last week. My mom didn’t know quite what to say, so she wrote a prayer poem to the Lord… so I thought I’d share. To know how far my mom has come and all that she has been through… this is only a tiny peek, but I’m so blessed and amazed to have been in her life and apart of this story that it really makes all that I’ve been through worth it. Hope you enjoy my mother’s story.

Lord Jesus when I was little,
I knew just who you were.
Great almighty and powerful,
always willing to hear your word.

I believe you guided my parents,
as they taught me wrong from right.
Sending me to Sunday school,
and praying with me each and every night.

I attended Catholic Church,
I attended Catholic school.
There I learned about you Lord,
and the 12 most important rules.

Often when I attended school and Church,
I was not the happiest there.
I felt like I was being judged,
Like they were not being fair.

So it was then I fell from my Church,
That I attended regularly.
Tried to make it on my own,
and now its no surprise to me.

Yes Lord, I have stumbled,
Struggling through the years.
Looking hard to find you,
knowing you were always near.

Lord I come to you a sinner,
Lord I have made the most terrible mistakes.
Before you Lord I ask forgiveness,
please keep me in your grace.

When asked once how I found you,
the words seemed hard to find.
And then with thought, how it occurred,
the very place and time…

Yes it was in a car ride,
you know going from here to there.
Through the words of my little girl,
she asked me just to share…

When at first she asked me…
Mom, how are you and God today?
Was Christ my Lord and Savior?
Was it clear I knew the way?

I was caught a bit off guard,
Not sure of exactly what to say.
Patiently she heard the explanation,
that I thought of right away.

I assured her, Christ is my Lord,
he has always been in my heart.
That I have always looked to him,
confident that he guided my heart.

It was just then that I began to realize,
that there was so much more that I needed to do,
to make my peace with God,
and my Lord and Savior too.

I needed to make a commitment,
with all my strength and might.
To live each day with the Love of God,
and Christ as my guiding light.

I know that I am human,
and my temptations can be strong.
There will be times I need to pray,
to stay the path I am on.

Lord you are my savior,
its you I want to serve.
Make me your disciple,
help me to learn and teach your word.

Help me to learn your holy book,
search the words each and every day.
Help me to hear the sermon,
and understand this is the only way.

Now I stand before you,
God in the house you have built.
Please let this be my home,
now free from my past sins and guilt.

Lord I give myself to you,
I know you will guide the way.
Lord, each day know that I will seek you,
and give you all the glory each and every day.

Carry on in faith and love,
Teresa

Man of Many Mistakes.

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I leave a trail of mistakes behind me like leaves caught in the autumn wind. Maybe you can share that experience.

I lose things. I act like a fool. I follow my own heart way too often. I let my emotions seep out too far and they get the best of me. I speak when I should listen and forget to listen when I’m trying to listen. If there’s ever a gracious word to say, I usually think it after the conversations over (after I’ve already dug myself 6 feet in the ground). I forget things all the time.

Wisdom always seems to be the opposite of what I actually do. (Sure there’s moments, but those are few and far in between)

Most of the time the only “wisdom” I experience is when I look at other people’s lives and say… you know that’s really not a wise thing to do. Sometimes I think that way about Bible stories, forgetting I have the advantage of how the story ends. Such as with Joseph. I’ve thought to myself “You know Joseph, if you wouldn’t have shared those dreams you probably wouldn’t have ended up in the pit.” Or maybe Samson, if he hadn’t entrusted himself to that woman, he probably wouldn’t have lost his strength. Or Dinah: maybe if she hadn’t wandered off into the city alone, she wouldn’t have been raped. Adam and Eve… if you just wouldn’t have eaten from that tree. (Not that this criticism is right, but this is my tendency).

For those of us living in the mistake, it can be really discouraging to hear someone say, “Well you know… if you would have done this… if you would have known” because it’s too late. I’d do a lot of things differently if I had wisdom staring at me right in the face at every decision I make with a helpful arrow or maybe real life subtitles projecting in front of me. Problem is, wisdom must searched for like silver and hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:4).

But, what about that big trail of mistakes following me around like leaves in the autumn wind? What do I do with the ones where I missed all the words of wisdom flashing in bright and blinding neon lights?

Well, I was reading in Acts a bit recently and found this really encouraging, its the common told story of the storm when the apostle Paul was on his way to stand on trial in Rome for declaring Christ had come, and died, then rose back to life as the long awaited Messiah foretold. This is what it says:

Acts 27:18-25  We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard. On the third day, they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.

After they had gone a long time without food, Paul stood up before them and said: “Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss. But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.

God’s plan was to have Paul stand before Caesar. We know this because an angel told Paul. While, yes, the crew all missed the big arrow and subtitles in the sky saying that a big storm was coming (Paul mentions this before they leave) and ended up in the storm anyway, God was still faithful to accomplish his will. Paul was going to end up where he needed to be, at Rome, no matter what. And that’s what Paul says to the men to encourage them: that God will do what He has told He will do.

I think there’s great encouragement to be taken from this. At least that I take from this. Regardless of my mistakes, God will be working greatly. Regardless of the times I say the wrong thing or go the wrong direction, pull the wrong lever, make the wrong choice… God’s plan will be accomplished. We see that in His nature from the very beginning after Adam and Eve sinned and how Eve will bear a child [Jesus] that will crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15), God’s will was being accomplished even through their mistake. And so it goes for the rest of creation and even up to me and the rest of us until eternity.

Romans 8:28 For we know, God works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his great purpose.

Maybe my trail of leaves is just proof that God’s power is made perfect in weakness as I walk humbly with my Lord, in the house of God forever.

When in Peace.

I’m not sure how many people have this experience, but do you ever reach a point when you’re not really in the midst of a huge trial that plunges you into the word and prayer and tears night after night… and then you’re like “what do I do now?” 

I’m out of the valley… now what? Besides the (maybe) obvious answer that is “PRAISE GOD!” I was reading in 2 Chronicles and found this example really fitting: 

Chapter 14: During the reign of Asa, King of Judah:
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He removed the foregn alters and the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, and to obey his laws and commands. He removed the high places and incense altars in every town in Judah, and the kingdom was at peace under him. He built up the fortified cities of Judah, since the land was at peace. No one was at war with him during those years, for the Lord gave him rest. 
“Let us build up these towns,” he said to Judah, “and put walls around them, with towers, gates, and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God; we sought him and he has given us rest on every side.” So they built and prospered. 

Later when an army comes, Asa and his army rely on the Lord and they defeat their enemies, the Cushites. 

I think Asa had a couple options here. He could have used this down time to tell everyone to catch up on their sleep, hang out, eat all day (though I’m sure there was celebrating), shoot the breeze. Instead he has them build up their walls and prepare for the future. He took the time of rest to fortify the walls and build up the towns. 

This encouraged me a lot. How do you use your time of peace? Do you use it to veg out, watch TV (insert potential menial task here) or do you spend it in the word and pray, building up your fortitude? 

I generally walk around my room aimlessly. This semester compared to last semester has been incredibly different! While, yes, I still come across things I need to work on and grow in, God’s given me a lot of peace time this semester. Last semester with Jeff dying and me having to drop out of a class after almost failing 3, there was a lot of time I spent in the word and prayer because I knew if I didn’t I wouldn’t make it through anything. (Yet, I think I am still convinced of this even now) 

I have a couple options here. I could use this mountain top time for my worldly pleasures, maybe reading less, or I can use it to grow my spiritual armor, my defense. The truth is, you never know when the next battles coming. If I want to stand strong, I better use this time to fortify my heart with the truth… so when enemies come, I can fight them off. Might be some old stones that need replacing or some holes that need mending. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Cor 16:13-14)

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Let’s fortify the city! 
Carry on in faith and love!

-Teresa

Nope, not by your own righteousness.

I’ve been reading through the old testament (slowly) for the past couple of months. Though now trekking through the Dueteronomy, I was in Numbers earlier and at several points had a reaction sort of like this:

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Because sometimes it gets a little scary. I was left feeling like Boo who accidentally caught my Father getting really mad and destroying people (Numbers 16:49). It was scary and I didn’t really know how to react. I did however pray that the Lord would give me the right perspective, because its says a bazillion times we should fear God… but I don’t think it should be a fear that keeps us from trusting Him or that makes us run from Him. (But stand in awe of him because he has ALOT of power!) Then I read a verse in Psalm 33:5 that says “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” God’s wrath is an interesting thing to try and grapple with, but if the Lord LOVES righteousness and justice… he would not punish the innocent. “The Lord detests differing weights and dishonest scales do not please him.” (Proverbs 20:23) God’s promise was that if they (the Israelites) obeyed his commands and kept his decrees, God would bless their lives and keep them from disease along with a lot of other good things (Deut. 7:12-15). He even gave them signs and wondrous miracles in Egypt to prove He was God (7:19). And so I find myself in Deuteronomy feeling more assured that God in fact carries out justice, though it is hard to imagine the depth of their hatred towards God (and yet, I think I can). Better yet, God explains himself clearly (as He always does when I seek) that while He was humbling Israel for the hatred and forgetfulness towards God in the desert for forty years to reveal their true hearts, he was specifically disciplining them like a good father should. As God commanded Israel to defeat certain nations, God points out something very clearly: it was not because of Israel’s righteousness that they were allowed to defeat these other nations as they traveled to the promise land, it was because of those nation’s wickedness. 

Deuteronomy 9:3-6 (Moses is speaking to the Israelites) “But be assured today that the Lord your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. He will destroy them; he will subdue them before you. And you will drive them out quickly, as the Lord has promised you. After the Lord has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.” No, it is on the account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and Jacob. Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to posses, for you are a stiff necked people.”

God will punish the wicked. That’s a hard to truth to tell, but I’m grateful that He does because that means justice. I think its hard to watch people die, and I’m sure it breaks God’s heart too as he desires all to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but from reading the Old Testament I can trust that God really does love righteousness and justice and He wouldn’t punish those who didn’t deserve it. It’s hard to imagine that people are so turned away from God, so cold, and distant… but it’s true. All God asks is that we turn from our stiff necked ways and fear Him, remember what He has done (in our lives and on the cross) to give him the glory He deserves

If I don’t trust, while reading about God’s wrath, that He is still good and loving, my understanding of God starts to fall apart. When I start making excuses for people’s sins, I start giving the devil a foothold to take my perspective of God and twist into something that isn’t true. Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding… right?

 

I’m thankful I have a mighty savior who stands to test against my questions and give me answers. 

Pizza and learning to play without the queen.

(This is a long one, but a long time coming! God has done some great work!)

First I think I need to describe my grandfather. Yes. This is a good idea.

He was average height and dark skinned. Polish. I remember him best seeing him growing his giant, tall tomato plants in the garden; always shirtless, his skin was tight but also wrinkly. When he spoke his polish accent shaped every word, it was a low grumbly voice. Inside the house, he would always offer us (the grandkids) gum. My favorite was finding really old Big Red in a drawer because it would snap when you bent it. My grandpa was a hard worker and spent time in a concentration camp as a POW during WWII, but he never talked about it because somethings in life “were best left in the past”. He coined the catchphrase in our family “you can do it like a lion or you can do it like a lamb, but you still gotta do it” and that was the mentality my mom passed on to us kids. My grandpa didn’t have a mother figure in his life, apparently she had died when he was five so his dad raised him and taught him to play chess. When my great grandfather taught my grandpa and his siblings to play, they learned to play without the queen: to teach them that the other players had very important roles and could win the game without her and then also to show them that as they depended on each other (the knights and rookies, pawns and bishops) they would work wonderfully together and if the queen came back into the game, the rest of the pieces knew how to function to their ability and could compliment the queen. This my grandpa passed down to my mother as well, as her mother was diagnosed with delusional schizophrenia and was placed into an institution so my mom too had to learn to play without the queen.

chess-shutterstock

My mom was telling me this story tonight as we sat at a local pizza place (its much too classy to be called a ‘joint’) in my hometown.  I want to share with you an amazing story that unfolds to show God redeeming love and power! Last Thanksgiving break I remember my mom telling me that I couldn’t understand disappointment because I had such an easy life; I remember responding with tears and shouting as I confessed to her that I had been suicidal and stuck in depression for most of my childhood. Before coming back she had blamed me for the riff in her relationship with my dad, words that stabbed far deeper than any knife could and I cried myself to sleep listening to Hold My Heart by Tenth Avenue North praying and waiting for the pain to stop. Coming back to school, surrounded by believers I sought to allow God to change my circumstances and to change my heart. Exodus 20:12 says “Honor your father and mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” and Ephesians 6:2-3 quotes Deuteronomy by saying “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” I went to a conference over Christmas break that year on the same topic. I knew regardless of how I felt about it or how much I thought she earned or deserved honor, I was going to honor because of the promise God made if I obeyed. It’s been a roller coaster of humbleness since.

Now that I’ve caught you up on the mess (and you can read plenty of previous posts on the matter) I’d like to tell you where we are now.

My mom and I sat at the restaurant for an hour talking about the magnificent work Jesus has done in our lives and the brokenness it has come through. Both of us. Mainly her. Oh Frabjous Day! Cahloo! Callay! How I chortled in my joy!Better yet, we wept beside one another in a church in my hometown yesterday when singing From The Inside Out by Hillsong. What is the cause for this change?

God is at the end of your rope. A couple times a week I pass a sign outside of a church on the west side of Ames and that’s what its said for the last week. God is at the end of your rope.

I mentioned in my post Lord the Healer and Redeemer that my mom’s boyfriend Jeff was diagnosed with cancer and only had a limited time (3-9 months) left to live. 3-9 months turned out to be three weeks. I received a call one night from my mom that Jeff wouldn’t make it through the night. God put it on my heart to share the gospel with him so I left everything and a beloved sister (my kindred spirit) drove 6 hours with me. In the span of 22 hours, we drove there, met his wife and kids, and paced and prayed for 7 hours (well, my friend slept somewhere). I had no idea what I was doing- but I knew that as the hour grew later (or earlier I should say) my time was coming as his time was ending. 6 am I asked to speak to him alone. His body was frail and almost non existent on the hospital bed. His eyes yellow. He reached out often to grab things that weren’t there, but when I called his attention he would look at me. As I shared I asked if he wanted to accept Jesus as his payment for his sins, but no answer. I left it in God’s hands. 5 hours later I gave him a hug and said goodbye, I whispered into his ear to watch for Jesus and lifted up the rest to God. I left and couldn’t hold in the tears. The sadness was too real. I hugged my mom tightly and we talked of Gods love. My friend and I drove back to Ames. 22 hours. The next morning was a friday and my mom had called to tell me he had passed. It’s been God’s healing work ever since.

I had been praying recently in the last month for my mom, that she would find a church to get plugged into and another believer to come a long side of her. Last week (or so) my mom called me on a Sunday to tell me about her time at church for the 3rd week in a row and how she wanted to make it her highest commitment. No excuses. She just ordered glasses and as soon as they came in she was going to start reading two pages of the Bible everyday. I’ve been sending her messages on CDs about topics I think will help bring healing to her heart and songs about God’s love to bring comfort. She’s been going to church with a woman named Judy, who I was able to lift my hands of praise next to at church. I couldn’t wipe away the tears fast enough.

Its like- in the depths of ALL of this brokenness that just thrives all around me, knitting my family together, God is working powerfully. Theres still more work to do. But if you are encouraged by anything out of this, let it be that God can and will change your life and your family’s life if you seek to obey His words. It may take a long time, but let it be worth it. It makes take hours of tears and heart wrenching pain, but get through it. Keep fighting the good fight of faith. Keep thanking God for the hard stuff even when nothing in you wants to. Look your self in the mirror and say “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfied your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5) And don’t let your self forget it.

This thanksgiving I’m thankful for everything above written. Even the messy stuff. It was worth it just to experience the glory of God within my family.

What are you thankful for?