Saturday, April 25, 2009

"What is Love?"

“What is Love?”
A phone call to say, “Hello,”
A letter in the mail.
An unexpected visit,
A gift just because.

“What is Love?”
Cuddles with a child &
Hugs from the heart.
Words that say, “I care,”
Someone listening when you talk.

“What is Love?”
Quality time with another,
Prayers prayed together.
Jesus on the cross &
God’s blessings from above.

“What is Love?”
A gift without a price,
That can never be returned.
One we must graciously give
And willingly receive.

The other day I read a Proverbs 31 devotional that asked this very question, which made me think. Renee Swope posted about it on her blog as well and if you haven't read her words I encourage you to check them out.

God's love is something that is difficult for me to wrap my mind around, but we must receive it before we can give it. Do that today and take a minute to ask a spouse, child, or friend - "What is love?" Don't just ask the question, but think about your answer as well. I pray you feel loved today!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Might Have Been

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 7 and a half months since I wrote this post. It was back on August 30th, the day we realized we would never hold the baby we'd only known for a short while. Prior to that, Dr.'s had predicted our child would be born today, April 19th.

Last fall this day seemed far into the future, but today as my mind thinks about what might have been that Saturday in August seems like yesterday. Time has lessened the pain, but today, the day I'd circled on the calendar seems to have brought it back.

Especially the loneliness of the loss. Had our baby been born, there would have been smiles of joy and calls of congratulations. In the future, this would have been a day many would remember, one we'd celebrate with cake and candles every year to come. But that is not the case - instead it seems I'm alone thinking about the child God is holding while I cry.

As I think about that, I'm reminded that He remembers. He will never forget the tears I cried, the little one I loved or the pain I felt. He also reminds me of the strength He provided, the comfort He offered and the hope I have in Him. And of the truth, that someday I will see this little one.

Though I am grieving the loss of a child I never saw, I know the last 9 months have provided other new beginnings. This growth will never take the place of my little "J," but yet I know it's all part of God's plan.

I once heard Tony Dungy talk about the purpose of pain and how it connects a child with his or her parents. He went on to share the same is true for us as adults - when we are in pain, we look to God for help because when no one else can carry the burden, understand the hurt or change the situation, He is there.

God showed me that quite often in the days following my miscarriage and today as I experience emotions others don't understand, He is reminding me once again...

God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1

For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:5

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

So on a day that began with me thinking about what might have been, God has reminded me that it's not about my plans, but His. Tonight I will rest in His peace knowing that (even though at times I don't understand and sometimes life is hard,) God's word says, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you." Jeremiah 29:11-12

And just as God knows the plans He has for me, I know the same was true for my little "J." And for you!

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm not needed...

The title to this post may sound a little crazy and as a mom of three little ones I agree. It seems I'm constantly needed, "Mom, I'm hungry!", "Mom, she hit me!", "Mom, I can't find my shoes!" You get the idea and if you're a Mom, you understand. But my thoughts are running a bit deeper as I think about a phrase our pastor shared a couple of weeks ago.

He said, "People don't need me, they need Him (Jesus)." How true that is! And as I step further and further out of my comfort zone as I follow God into the land of the unknown, it was just what I needed to hear.

You see not everyone is in favor of or understands what I'm doing. They think I'm being too religious and can't put their minds around why I would share some of the things I am sharing in my book that will hit the shelves this summer.

As this all becomes a reality, worry about what others think seems to be running a bit deeper. There have been times my desire to please people, some close loved ones especially, has tempted to push stop. Those worries cause me to question so much.

I find myself thinking, "Am I sure?" "Did I hear God right?" "Is this really what He wants for me?" Then I think of my pastor's comment.

People don't need me, they need Christ. Though I fear my steps of faith may damage some relationships, I know these people could survive without me and though it's hard to say, my life could go on as well. God is there to carry me through - He will comfort me, protect me and guide me even if those who did those very things for me as a child don't.

But my prayer is really two-fold - 1, that He keep reminding me of my pastor's words. None of this is about me, but what He can do and how I, just like everyone else need Him! My job is to obey because what was true for Paul is still true for us today. In 1st Thessalonians 2:4 he says, " we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts." Lord, help me live that way!

My second prayer is that through all of this, those who don't understand that they need Christ would come to know Him more. Just this past Sunday we focused on and celebrated the resurrecting power of God and if He allowed His own Son to walk through the suffering He endured, I shouldn't be surprised with the pain I'm feeling. At the same time I shouldn't worry, if He can raise Jesus from the dead, He can restore my situation as well.

So though my kids seem to need more than I want at times, today I will try to remember that really what they need is Him in me. Maybe we'll work on patience today...

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Joy of Easter Morning

Easter morning joy is more than the looks on my little ones' faces. It is in remembering what happened years ago on this very morning. Though kids are excited because of the candy, baskets and eggs our Pastor reminded us all what the excitement is really about.

During the children's sermon, he took a little time and built a house out of dominoes. And with piece he laid down he explained what it represented in our Christian life - he began with the birth of Christ and then came to the middle "board," the resurrection. He then continued on until he was finished and said, "What happens if I remove the center piece of the foundation?"

The kids were right, the house would fall. And as he took out the resurrection piece the house came tumbling down, which is the same thing that would happen with our faith had there been no Easter morning. Had the tomb not been empty, our pastor's job would be pointless and our faith would be worthless. But thankfully that is not the case - He has risen and like Pastor taught the kids to say, "He has risen indeed!!"

The beauty in that goes beyond the joy of yesterday morning, but ultimately it gives us great reason to trust the One who created us. If God has the power to raise Jesus from the dead, what do you think He can do in your life? His resurrecting power is still alive today!! Trust him, there will be joy in the morning!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Reflections

"From the Garden to the Hill"
It all began in the Garden
when Satan first deceived
and man began to fall.
Sin broke God's relationship
with the ones He had created.

Sacrifices were made,
but restoration was not complete,
so God sent His Son for
a job no man could do.

The boy was born,
He grew and began to teach...
Until God's plan was carried out -
Jesus, the babe from a manger,
the One who'd done no wrong
was sentenced to die.

He endured the pain,
carried the cross and
died a death He didn't deserve.
But because of His obedience,
His Father's plan was complete.

The bridge has been built -
though man is full of sin,
Jesus provides the way -
He has taken the punishment
and God gets the glory.

So what began in the Garden
was finished on a hill
when God poured out His love
and man started to believe.

Why would God send His only Son to die?
...because He so loved the world.
Why would Jesus endure the suffering?
...because He submitted to His Father.
Why would He forgive those who hung Him on the cross?
...because it's what He wants us to do.
Why would God do what He did?
...because He wants to live with you and me!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

thoughts for Easter

He walked a path
no man had taken.
He bore a cross
no man could carry.
He experienced pain
no man could survive.
He died a death
no man would want.
He rose from the grave
so no man shall die.

He lived a perfect life, mine is full of sin.
He walked a difficult road, but with Him my burden is light.
He paid the price, but the gift is mine.
He suffered the pain, which was all for my gain.
He felt the nails, while I held the hammer.
He died on the cross for those who hung Him there.
He rose from the dead so I might live.

I pray you have a blessed Easter!! Take time to reflect on what Jesus did, why God did it and what it means for you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

No Fear

I have begun reading Micca Campbell's book, An Untroubled Heart. Two chapters in I'm looking forward to what lies ahead. Fear, whether we want to admit it or not, is something we all live with, deal with and struggle with.

Chapter 2 is titled, Fear Factor, which probably sounds familiar, but Micca's words have nothing to do with the TV show. Instead as I read, I thought of a popular brand of t-shirts back in the day - No Fear!! As an avid athlete and sports fan, I enjoyed their message, but I rarely lived it.

Now Micca isn't encouraging us to live with reckless abandon, but she does remind us of God's words, "Fear not!!" And as she says that actually appears in the Bible 366 times! Do you think He's trying to make a point?!?!

God calls us to do things that require no fear. I am in the midst of a few of those experiences right now - writing a book that shares my life story, one that puts a quiet, shy girl out there for the world to see. Scary? Yes!! And as many of you know, I'm also working to help organize a women's conference that will bring Renee Swope to Iowa. Beyond me? Yes!! Then there's the role of mom and the fear of what if I mess up? Possible? Yes! Probable? Even more so.

But does God want me to be fearful of these and every other situation? No! He calls me to move past my fears and trust in Him! The only fear I need is fear of God and then He will help me overcome all the fears Satan creates to bring me down. Because like Micca said, that is what he will do. He deceives because it's a given if we live in fear, we will never do and be all God created us for.

I loved how Micca put it, "Sadly, most people stay in the safety of the boat their entire lives and wonder why life seems so empty, miserable, and dull. Those who live with anxiety are living below the mark of what they were created to be." That's not where I want to be!

So again using her words, I'll remind myself and all of us what we need to do - "Relying on our faith allows us to live fearlessly."

I just might go find that old "No Fear" shirt! The slogan holds a hole new message today!!