Friday, July 17, 2009

responding to life's problems

"Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God."
Psalm 42:11

Feelings can be so fickle. Isn't it crazy that even in the midst of incredible blessings, we struggle with impatience, frustration, and doubt?

What is that all about? I mean really. (Sigh.)

Life is absolutely wonderful right now. Our family is enjoying a really fun and relaxing season. The kids and I put in an intense year of homeschooling and are fully immersing ourselves in summertime.

Our dossier is in Ethiopia and our son's file is just being finished up. Our referral call should come any day.

Geoff and I are completing lots of projects around the house and are enjoying the fruits of our labor.

Life is good. Very good. And yet...

There are still struggles and problems that we continue to face in the midst of our blessings.

Every day, we are faced with the choice between faith or doubt. Trust or worry. Hope or hopelessness. Joy or sadness.

For the past many weeks, our family vehicle has been in the shop. The same week that we sent off another large check to cover our adoption fees, we paid a hefty fee to get some maintenance and repair work done.

The next day, an alarm starting going off in our SUV (while I was driving it on the highway—scary), followed by a really bad sound. Thankfully, nothing dangerous happened and my heart eventually found its rhythm again.

On Father's Day, we took Geoff on a picnic and hike in the coastal range. Afterwards, we decided to drive around the area in search of a new campground. Until he got to experience the dreaded alarm the really bad sound for himself. Over and and over and over.

Not exactly what you want to happen while you are traveling along the curvy roads in the Tillamook Forest.

We made it home safely, albeit totally stressed. (We found out later that it wasn't just a bad sound. God had truly protected us from a potentially fatal accident. He is SO good!)

The next day the car went back into the shop. Only to uncover new problems requiring more money. The cause of the alarm? Yeah, that remains a mystery. They have no idea what's causing it to go off, or, how to fix it. :-(

The repair shop that (apparently) broke our car gave up and advised us to take it to the dealership. Where it has enjoyed a nice, long (and expensive) stay. The saddest part of all of this? They are at a total loss as to how to fix the problem. Even with the help of their specialists! They are now redoing the work done at the first repair place.

Can you say FRUSTRATING?!?

The thing is, our SUV is not old or in disrepair. Geoff's done a fabulous job of maintaining both of our automobiles. The part that really stinks is that prior to it going into the shop, we talked about possibly needing a newer vehicle. However, it didn't seem like a good time to make such a large purchase.

Although now a large purchase seems like a smart choice, it's no longer an option. The dealership won't accept the vehicle for a trade-in until they resolve the problem. And, by that time, we will have invested so many hard-earned dollars into said vehicle, if/when it finally is repaired, replacing it will definitely not be an option.

What a crazy situation we have found ourselves in. We have to believe that God is working for our good in all of this. What that good is, we may never know. He continues to provide for us. And we are so very thankful.

It always comes down to a choice, doesn't it? Wallow in self-pity and frustration—or—trust that God is in control.

Would you laugh or cry in this situation? I've done both! Neither one has improved our situation. (Go figure!)

Despite our feelings, we are choosing to praise God in the midst of this mess and believe that all of this will be worked out—in His time.

And really, the fact that we fully own both of our vehicles and have the finances to maintain them is a blessing unto itself. We have far more than most people in the world. Seems kind of ridiculous to worry or complain about something as small as a car in the shop, eh?

What about you, my Friend? Are you facing problems in your life that seem unsolvable? Please know that my heart goes out to you. Especially if your struggles are bigger than our little automobile conundrum. (It really does pale in comparison to most of life's issues.)

I pray that the Lord gives you everything you need as you wait on Him to give you answers. He will see you through. He loves YOU!

And now I'm off to tell my feelings that I'm done listening to them. Instead, I am choosing to listen to my Creator who loves me with a fierce and devoted love. Isn't He amazing?

LIVING A BLESSED LIFE, in spite of my pathetic emotions.

Sweet blessings,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

fabulously, glorious day


Look at all of His glorious creations. Magnificent, aren't they? Would you believe, my Friend, that about 18 months ago, our family looked more like this pathetically sun-scorched sunflower that my kids and I are trying to grow?

No kidding.

Each of my children were working through some fairly significant struggles (post-traumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit-hyperactive-disorder and an attachment disorder.)

Geoff and I? Well, we just had a whole-lot-o-stress-disorder. Oh, and the I-honestly-don't-think-we're-ever-gonna-survive-this-disorder.

Thankfully, God is the Giver of hope. He is a faithful God. And, He never, ever gives us more than we can handle. Each and every struggle He allows us to experience is for our good and not our harm.

The photographs prior to the "sunflower-trying-to-survive-it's-own-little-disorder", are a testament to God's love, grace, and mercy.

He is SO good.

And I am so very, very, very thankful for all He has done in (and for) me, my husband and each of our incredible children.

He took our brokenness, pain and struggle and made our lives more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

Great is our joy. Full are our hearts. Bright are our smiles. No pain is every wasted. No tear ever ignored.
He makes all things new.
"The created world was bound to fail.
But that was not the result of its own choice.
It was planned that way by the One who made it.
God planned to set the created world free.
He didn't want it to rot away completely.
Instead, he wanted it to have the same
glorious freedom that his children have."
Romans 8:20—21 (NIrV)

Do you need hope? Seek Him. Do you need patience? Seek Him. Do you need a miracle? Seek Him.

In Him you find everything you need and oh-so-much more.

When I say that I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE, my Friend, I truly mean it.

He is a good God. And He loves YOU!

(By the way, He's worked so many miracles in my life that I'm still holding out hope that our sad little sunflower will be delivered from it's own disorder as well! Stay tuned...)

To Him be the glory,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

be still (and quiet!)

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."
Psalm 46:10

My Table 20 girlfriends and I were encouraging each other via email the other day. My beautiful friend, Tara, has a passion for digging deeper into God's Word. She loves to pull out all of her reference books and research what each word and verse mean.

Tara shared with us that in Psalm 46:10, the Hebrew translation for "be still" actually means to "drop your hands." (Did your spirit jump at that? I know mine did. Definitely hits home doesn't it?)

The photograph above is one that Geoff took while hiking with his Portland to Coast team from church. This is one of the team member's dog who is apparently still learning the meaning of "be still." :-)

The first time I saw this photo I totally cracked up. Until I realized that it's the exact thing I do to myself when I get stuck in my flesh and start striving.

I forget that God never asked me to get myself all worked up and stressed over making life happen.

That long list of to-do's I wrote this morning? Sure the jobs need to get done; but in God's time and with God's strength. All of them. Every last one.

Sure, I can get myself worked up and feel overwhelmed and inept, but what good is that going to do? It certainly doesn't get my jobs completed.

As I was thinking about the true translation of being still, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs, "The Stand."

I absolutely love to worship my Creator and King with full abandon. When I do, my arms are raised to the heavens and my mind and heart are focused solely on Him. The physical act of being still and in His presence. (When my hands are raised, it's impossible for me to strive!!!)

Can you see the difference, my Friend? I can choose to get myself totally worked up in my doing that I end up totally immobilized. (See Exhibit A above. Thanks Mr. Puppy. I know you weren't any more amused that I am when I end up like that!)

Or, I can make the choice to stop striving and just be in His presence--which, funny enough, actually relieves all of my burdens and stress and equips me to do the work He is calling me to be. (See Exhibit B below. I chose this video because seeing photos of God's creations just leaves me feeling so very humbled and in awe. Enjoy.)



The choice is always ours. God is gentle, patient and full of compassion.

I don't know about you, but today I needed to be reminded that my to-do list does not own me and God truly knows what is best for me.

Today, I am choosing to drop my hands and return to LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Turning my eyes back on Him,

Monday, July 13, 2009

tending fires

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
Psalm 51:12

I read a devotional yesterday that really spoke to my heart and got me thinking.

We all experience times in our lives when our passion for God's work begins to die out. The author pointed out that wise person will tend to their calling in the way that one would tend to a fire. When the flames begin to die out, they add more fuel to the fire.

As I began to think about this, I realized that a well-tended fire will develop hot coals. (You know, the kind you work hard for in order to roast the most perfect marshmallow?)

If the fire has been tended to properly, the embers stay burning even if the fire seems to have gone out. As soon as more fuel is added, the flames will immediately come back to life.

The key is to keep a watchful eye on the fire, adding fuel when necessary. It's important to stay focused on the task at hand and not allow the enemy to distract us from our purpose.

If a fire is left unattended, it will eventually die out. That's never a good thing. Thankfully, God is the Giver of dreams and purpose. He can bring life back to those things He has called us to. (After all, look at what He did for Elijah!)

But what does this mean in my day-to-day life when my passion for God's purpose in my life is beginning to burn low?

The author of the devotional reminded me that the first thing I should always do is seek the Holy Spirit for insight, guidance and wisdom.

With God all things are possible. He will show me where I got distracted and how to get myself back in line with His will for my life.

He will gently show me if there are areas of sin that I need to address, if there are things in my life I need to let go of, or if I need to simply recommit myself to Him.

Psalm 51 is wonderful to pray when I find that I'm struggling in life. David's words oftentimes mirror what my own heart is feeling. (He just says it much more eloquently!) :-)

Life can become so full of activities that I forget the dreams that God planted in me so long ago. When that happens, I miss out on countless blessings and joy.

Fulfilling dreams requires dedication and perseverance. On my own, I struggle greatly with both of those. Thankfully, with God all things are truly possible.

My Friend, are there fires in your life that seem to have died out?

I encourage you to seek the Lord. Ask Him to stir to life those things He has for you to do today. Search His Word for wisdom. Pour out your heart to Him. And then, wait to hear what He has to say to you. (I tend to forget that important part.)

He has things He longs to do in this world that only you can accomplish for Him (and with Him.) Good things. Exciting things. Amazing things! And you will be blessed simply because He loves you!!!

(Remember, we don't earn God's love, or our salvation. The passions and dreams He plants in our lives are gifts He bestows upon us. When we respond to His love for us, the work we do for Him is easy, light and oh-so-enjoyable!)

When we allow the Lord to stoke our fires they become unquenchable . He is glorified in and through our lives.

And that, my Friend, is a beautiful thing.

Keep seeking Him and enjoy LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Heading back to my fire,

Sunday, July 12, 2009

hearts

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it:
'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Matthew 22:36—39 (NLT)

Saw this t-shirt at Cannon Beach while Chelsea and I were shopping.

The shirt made me laugh, but the words of my Savior make me smile.

I'm so thankful that He has my heart. For it is only in Him that I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Happy Sunday!