July 31, 2012

Never Once...

This is one of the times of year that I always look back at the blessings GOD has given my family, and I feel a sense of peace that HIS hand has been on us the whole time. Why? Because 9 years ago my husband and oldest son were in a jet-ski accident that rocked our world and changed everything for us. This past week in worship we sang a Matt Redman song, Never Once, and it just spoke to me not only about how GOD was with us through that accident, but how HE has been with us (me) through everything! My mind was just filled with instances and circumstances that I knew GOD carried me through. As I sang this song in worship to my KING, I thanked HIM for never once leaving me on my own. My story is not yours. Some of these may seem  trivial to you, but they are vital to who I am today and what GOD has done for me. These are just snippets of the things that were going through my mind as I sang in worship:

Standing on this mountaintop
2012: I have been blessed with 16 years of marriage to my best friend, and I have  4 beautiful children!!
Looking just how far we’ve come
2012:Nineteen years ago we met and began our journey
Knowing that for every step
YOU were with us
1996: I was blessed to marry my high school sweetheart and best friend. GOD carried us through a 2 1/2 year dating period where we were separated but learned about each other through our letters and phone calls.
1998: We found out we were pregnant with our first baby! We bought our first house! I graduated from college!!
1999: We found out we were pregnant with our second baby!
1999: We found out we were pregnant with our third baby!
2001: We found out we were pregnant with our fourth baby!!
2008: We found out we were pregnant with our fifth baby!!! We bought our second house!

Kneeling on this battle ground
1993: My family moved to Carthage, TX during the middle of my senior year.
Seeing just how much You’ve done
1993:I met Ben the first day of school
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
1984: We moved out of the  house I had grown up in. My parents told us they were getting a divorce. Nothing in my life would ever be the same.
1999: At the 8 week sonogram with our second baby we were told there wasn't a heartbeat where there should be one.
2000: I was put in the hospital with polyhydramnios when I was 26 weeks pregnant with our second child (third pregnancy). The doctors told us he may not live.
2003: Ben and Cole were in a terrible jet-ski accident. I had to fly in the helicopter with Cole while Ben was life-flighted in a separate helicopter.
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
2003: Sitting in the hospital with my 4 year old son the night of his accident he asked to pray with me. He prayed to GOD, "Thank YOU for protecting  me and my dad on the jet-ski today". He then told me that he knew he and his daddy were alive because JESUS was riding on the jet ski with them! Tears of joy flooded my face as I held my little boy and thanked JESUS for a child with such a pure heart.

Never once did You leave us on our own

2003: When Ben woke up from his coma he was able to correctly describe the ICU room he had been in (but had not been awake in). He said he saw JESUS sitting on the counter across from him.....what he described seeing was more like fire....no distinguishable face, but he knew he had not been alone.

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
2000: Ben had to learn what it was like to be a single dad for 6 weeks while I was in the hospital in another state. I was only able to see my family on Friday-Sun.
Seeing just how much You’ve done
2000: The time I spent in the hospital brought me closer to GOD and renewed my faith in HIS goodness.

Knowing every victory

Was Your power in us
2000: Our second son was born 7 weeks early weighing in at a healthy 6 lbs 7 oz! The doctors were amazed!!! The doctors did numerous tests to find something--anything--wrong with him and they never could!

2003: The doctors initially thought Cole had a broken jaw and injury to his brain after the jet-ski accident. He simply had a cut on his right check that only required a butterfly bandage. (That and a bad headache!)

2003: Ben sustained a closed head injury from the accident. The doctors didn't know the outcome, but worst case scenario would be that he wouldn't be able to speak, take care of himself, or work again. Within 4 months Ben was back to "normal"! :)

Scars and struggles on the way
2008: We had 30 days to move out of the rent house we had been living in. We had nowhere to go.

2009: I found out I had anti-bodies in my blood that would fight against my baby I was carrying.
2009-2010: I lost my job, we lost income, and we eventually lost our house.

But with joy our hearts can say
2008: Our pastor and his wife graciously allowed us to move into their basement while we looked for a house.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
2009: The antibodies I was carrying caused our baby to be born jaundiced, and he needed a blood transfusion and blood exchange. After 1 week in NICU he was able to come home!!!

Held within Your perfect peace
2000: Sitting beside my son in the  NICU after he was born 7 weeks early, I knew that GOD gave him to us for a reason and would carry us through.
2003: Sitting beside my husband in the ICU I knew GOD was in control and had HIS hand on the situation.
2009: Sitting beside my son in the NICU I felt a peace about his health.

Never once, no, we never walk alone
2010: GOD had a place for us to move  

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
We have always been blessed with work. GOD has always provided for our financial needs to be met.
Our family has always been blessed with health.
GOD has given us so many opportunities to worship HIM and share HIM with  others...in and out of the church building.

Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
GOD has been so amazing to show HIMSELF to us in so many situations.
I have the opportunity to share GOD with my children as I raise them in this ungodly world.
I have been given the opportunity to show GOD to my students every day that I have them in my classroom.

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I pray that I am faithful in speaking out to others about my GOD and HIS love for them. I want to be able to use the stories I have, the lessons I have learned, and the fire GOD has put us in to show others that, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, you can go through the fire, but you don't have to come out smelling like smoke. 
Daniel 3:26-27 "Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

I pray that I am never silent, but am ever diligent in being salt and light in this world.

July 6, 2012

El Roi

The kids and I have started a daily devotional using the book Praying the Names of GOD by Ann Spangler. It is a 26 week study teaching us about the character of GOD as HE reveals HIMSELF through HIS names. This week we studied El Roi...."the GOD who sees me". Hagar gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her "Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, 'YOU are a GOD who sees'; for she said, 'Have I even remained alive here after seeing HIM?'"(Genesis 16:13) Studying this name has really caused me to reflect on the things that are happening in the Christian world and being deemed as acceptable...."healthy" even. I have read many blogs and reviews, posts and comments on the movie "Magic Mike" and the book "50 Shades of Grey". I have read MANY things that hint on the fact that if you say it is wrong or sinful then you are just a "self-righteous mommy who[is]judging others when we are really called to love". That statement has bothered me since the first time I read it. Why? Because it hit too close to home. It is how I have felt so many times when I wanted to justify what I was doing. It is the mindset that the Christian community is beginning to embrace, and it scares me. What if you got a cut on your leg, and the cut got infected? Your leg would get all red, and swollen, and sensitive to the touch. If your friend walks up, pokes the swollen spot and says “Hey, does this hurt? You should get that looked at.” You’d likely recoil and say “OUCH! Don’t touch that, it hurts!” Is the problem the poke, or the infection itself? Is your friend being self-righteous and judging you for your infection? Or were they trying to help you by calling your attention to an unhealthy situation? Many Christians today are not telling their friends to get the infection looked at because they know they have had an infection themselves. Would you do the same with your children? Would you allow them to get sick even if you knew what they could do to avoid it? Would you ignore the things they are doing for fear that they would get mad at you? We are a family.....we should help each other. I get infections, too. And, if for some reason, I don’t realize I have been deceived, I hope that someone would feel called to love me enough to point it out to me. I am not judging anyone on their infection, just pointing out the problem. If we as Christians continue to shrink back and not point out the infection or the unhealthy situations our sisters (and non-sisters) in CHRIST are putting themselves in then we are sinning by not obeying GOD when HE tells us to speak the truth. Yes, Paul tells us in Colossians 3:12-14 "...clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the LORD forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony." However, you can't take that verse alone and use it as justification for sin. Paul also said (Colossians 3: 2-3), "Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life and your real life is hidden with CHRIST in GOD." Was Paul being self-righteous and judging the people of Colossae when he said (Colossians 3:5, 6), "So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust and evil desires. Because of these sins, the anger of GOD is coming."? No, he was admonishing them, praying for them, and wanting the best for them! The phrase "lurking within you" gets me every time. Studying the name EL ROI has really brought to my attention that GOD doesn't just see me....the physical me. HE sees my heart, my thoughts, my desires...the things lurking within me. I Samuel 16: 7  tells us "for GOD sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." I don't know about you, but this is enough to make me want to keep my heart clean, and I can't do that if I am watching a movie about strippers or reading a novel about sex. I know because, ashamedly enough, I used to read "romance novels", and nothing good came of it. It wasn't until after I was married that I stopped reading them. I felt like I was cheating on my husband....and I was, even if it was with a fictional character. I know how captivating those kind of books can be, and I won't let myself even pick one up because I know how easy it is to be "addicted" to that kind of "romance".  I found ways to justify reading them....anyone can come up with a reason to justify sin, but here's the thing: you don't have to come up with a justification for something that isn't sin. I don't have to justify reading the bible. I don't have to justify watching Pollyanna or some other "old fashioned" movie. If we spent as much time reading the bible, praying, and learning about GOD as we do coming up with justifications for why we sin, then we would be much happier, fulfilled people. I know I fall short in many areas every day, and when I do I pray for GOD to create in me a clean heart. I don't want to be sitting in a theater watching a movie or laying on my couch reading a book that I know is not healthy for me or my relationship with my husband. Psalm 33:13-15 "The LORD looks from heaven; HE sees all the sons of men; From HIS dwelling place HE looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth, HE who fashions the hearts of them all, HE who understands all their works." 
The bottom line is this, would we as women and wives be okay with a bunch of men standing around church talking about the latest edition of Playboy? Would we be okay with them talking about the strip club they went to the night before? Would we watch the kids for them while they went out and lusted over other women? I know the answer for me is a profound NO! Then why are we okay with women doing the same thing? Why do we laugh about it and talk about how great it is? It is NOT OK!  I know that I am not going to make many friends, and I may offend some friends that I do have, but I am okay with that. If my touching your infection and telling you to get it looked at saves your leg then it is worth the pain it caused you when I touched it. I would expect nothing less from my friends.


Proverbs 15:3 tells us "The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." There is no place I can hide from GOD! One of my favorite verses is found in 2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to HIM." I want to be fully committed to HIM. I want HIM to see my heart and strengthen it.

I want to see GOD.....not Magic Mike. I want to keep my eyes on HIM....not the pages of some novel. I want to shine like the sun and have no reason for shame. Psalm 34:5 "Keep your eyes on the LORD! You will shine like the sun and never blush with shame." Oh, I want this to be me!