Sunday, February 24, 2019

Blizzard Conditions

 I woke up this morning to blizzard conditions in Iowa. Before we even got out of bed we could hear the wind blowing and my husband's first words were, "I don't want to go out there." But life on the farm didn't give him any other option and it wasn't long before he said, "I better get going. You can get the kids up to clean the bunks."

We'd received more snow thru the night and now were experiencing 50 mph wind gusts, so there were drifts everywhere and the cattle bunks were full of snow instead of feed. Blizzards are dangerous and on the farm they are not fun. My husband wasn't able to get down our drifted road to feed the cattle on our other farm til late afternoon. Before he headed back out, we glanced out the window and he said, "Well, at least the sun is shining. A good reminder this won't last forever."

Friend, regardless of what the weather is like where you are, those are powerful words to remember in the midst of any storm. They're true in our Iowa blizzard and for the spiritual storm that can rage as well.

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart...we've had two deaths in my extended family and my heart hurts for friends who are walking through depression, anxiety, grief, cancer, financial problems and relationship struggles. Friends dealing with sick infants and others with aging parents.

Sometimes life feels a bit like a blizzard. Troubles pile up faster than the snow outside my door. Tears from pain and grief and fear fall quicker than the flakes that fall from the sky. Sometimes the storm catches us off can leave us feeling stranded and alone. It reminds us we're not in control. Just like the blizzard has changed many plans, spiritual storms do the same.

As our snow day passed by, I found myself thinking about the similarities between the two storms and wanted to share the insight God seemed to put on my heart.

Sometimes we have to wait. It would have done my husband no good to try and move snow this morning. The wind was blowing so hard that tire tracks were filled in almost as fast as they were made. When a storm rages, we have to wait it out. The same is true in life...we can't rush grief or have instant healing. It all takes time and rarely do we know how long it will take, so let's pray for patience and remember the SON will shine.

One scoop at a time. When tomorrow comes and it's time to move snow, it won't be cleaned up instantly. It's going to take time...whether it's my husband in the skidloader or son with his shovel, it will all be moved one scoop at a time. This truth reminds me of Elizabeth Elliot's famous line, "Do the next right thing." Friend, if you find yourself in the pit of depression or overwhelmed with grief, do the next thing. Whatever mountain you're facing, press on and climb it one step at a time. This blizzard on the farm has taught me sometimes it's just about the necessities. Today, my husband did the basics...he checked on and fed the animals, that's about it. In the midst of your storm, let go of the need to do it all.

Make the most of it. This morning one of my little guys told me, "I kind of like the blizzard. We can all be home." The past winter sports season has kept us busy and on the go, but today the weather cancelled church and had us all in the house. Blizzards change our plans, but they provide opportunities. Friend, your storm has most likely changed your plans. Who are you spending time with because of it? How can you encourage them? Make the most of it as you cling to Romans 8:28 - "God is working for the good of those who love Him."

Perspective. Though the weatherman has predicted this blizzard there has been nothing we could do to change it. The power of God has clearly been on display, but so has His protection and provision. Friend, your storm may be one you saw coming or perhaps it caught you off guard, either way it didn't surprise God. He knew the waves of grief that were coming, the stack of bills you face and troubles that don't seem to stop. He's not just aware of this and all the other damage a storm includes, but He's working in it and through it. As the winds blow and storms rage, may we set our eyes on Jesus, cling to the Truth and rest in His promises.

Friend, in the midst of the blizzard I pray we can TRUST.

Heavenly Father, 
Lord, you see the wind blowing and the snow falling. You control it too. You understand the effects and are working through the problems it creates. You know my worries and fears. You hear my cries and see my tears. In the midst of my storm, help me trust you. I believe you are good, you are mighty and you are able. In my times of doubt, help my unbelief. In the moments of pain, comfort my hurt. When I feel helpless, remind me your grace is sufficient and your Helper is with me. When I'm weak, may I remember you are strong. Father God, help me trust you with all of my heart and lean not on my own understanding. And Lord, in the midst of this blizzard I know spring is coming; when the spiritual storms rage may I not forget eternity is drawing near. You are my Shepherd. Thank you for walking with me, providing for me and taking care of me. Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell with you forever. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Perfect Timing

They say a picture says a thousand words and the other day this photo from the past came to mind. It's a great memory from years ago, but recently God used it to teach me a lesson. This pic of my baby makes me smile...he had obviously just finished a meal of spaghetti and then insisted on praying. That's about all I recall from that day years ago, but I'm going to share the truth it shows me today.

Our pastor has been preaching through the book of Matthew and two weeks ago we studied the Beatitudes. As I listened to the teaching, I believe the Holy Spirit put it on my heart to pray these verses. It was a great idea and I whispered a prayer in the moment, but a week later I sat in church as our pastor reviewed the previous sermon before he started the current message. I recalled what God was telling me to do and felt bad for not getting it done. 

Satan was working to condemn while God had clearly convicted. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit helped me take my thoughts captive and rather than beating myself up, I moved forward in what God was asking me to do. Below, you will find the prayer I wrote and hopefully will continue to pray based on the words of Jesus. If God leads you to pray it, I trust He will bless you too. I also hope He uses this to remind us all that there is a perfect time to pray. 

We tend to pray before we eat, but just like my little guy we can pray when the meal is over. Scripture tells us there is a perfect time to pray and it's NOW. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Pray without ceasing." Ephesians 6:18 tells us, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people." In Romans 12:12 we read, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."

So friend, as we move forward in our walk with Jesus, let's pray before and after, now and later, let's go to the Lord always! He hears and answers. 

Beatitudes Prayer
Lord, in your Word and through your Word you teach me, I come to you now because of that teaching. May the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart be pleasing to you. 

I ask you to make me poor in spirit. Help me declare spiritual bankruptcy Lord. Without you I am nothing. Help me take my eyes off self and things of this world and put them on you.

Lord, you bless those who mourn. I'm thankful for your comfort when I grieve. Help me not just grieve for those I miss and opportunities that are gone, but may I truly be grieved by sin.

Father, you are God and I am not. Make me meek and humble. Help me submit to you and be gentle with others. I give you control and trust your perfect plan.

Sometimes I physically eat the wrong things...unhealthy foods that don't satisfy, help me not do the same thing spiritually. Give me a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Like Jesus may my food be to do your will and accomplish your work. Feed me with your Word Father.

Lord, you are merciful, help me be the same. Give me eyes to see the people around me, ears to really listen and the desire to truly invest in others' lives and feel their pain.

God, I ask you to purify my heart. Help me see and deal with the sin in my heart. Make me holy. Make me more like you. 

Father, the world is full of conflict and fighting so I ask for your help in being a peacemaker. I don't want to be a peacekeeper or peacefaker, but long to help others resolve conflict. You are the Prince of Peace, help me point others to you so they can experience peace too.

Lord, following you brings peace, joy and hope, but in a world that doesn't know you or always welcome you help me remember to expect persecution. May I remember you will provide the strength to endure this and set an example for how to embrace it. 

Lord, I thank you in advance for the blessings you will bring. I'm grateful for the kingdom of heaven, your comfort and mercy. I'm thankful to be your child and I look forward to seeing you. 
In Jesus' powerful and precious name, I pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Thoughts for Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday...a day that means different things for different people. I haven't thought much about this years game, but God brought this post to mind as I prepped for the day. It was good for me to reflect and remember what I truly need to be ready for, I pray it does the same for you.

From February 5, 2012-
I typed the words, "Are you ready?" and in my mind could hear Hank Williams Jr. singing, "for some football, for a Super Bowl party!" In case you didn't know the big game is today, but chances are you do and have maybe even been getting ready for a party this afternoon.

I've prepared some food and our little Jesse man is ready for his first ever Super Bowl! He's even sporting colors of one of the teams!

But last night the title of this post was on my mind for another reason. I'd just received a call that loved ones were involved in a car accident after they'd left the hospital visiting loved ones who were sick. Thankfully, it's just the vehicle that's a loss and not someone's life. I thanked God for answering specific prayers we'd prayed earlier for safety. He is good!

Though I was grateful and at peace my mind was still at work as I reflected on yet another day that didn't go as planned. It began with a loved one on life support, 6 of the 7 people in my house getting sick, a friend's mom having major surgery for a brain tumor, my dad tipping over his skid loader and then the accident yesterday. Honestly it has been quite a week and as I thought about it all I said, "Wow, could have been much worse."

I am beyond thankful that it is not, but I know this is not a perfect world and someday the news won't be what I want to hear. As I thought about this, the opening three words to this post came to mind...I could hear God whispering, "Are you ready? And the ones you love, are they ready?"

Honestly thoughts of dying are not ones I prone to ponder, but this post keeps begging me to write it, so I will.

Personally, when I ask myself this, I'm not ready when I look at things from an earthly perspective - my kids are young, they need me, their mom, to raise them up; my husband and I have many years in front of us; I have dreams and desires I long to see unfold, but I know that's not what God is asking.

He's asking if I've accepted His Son, Jesus, as my Lord and Savior and yes, yes I have. Romans 10:9 says, "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." That I have done and that I believe, so I know when my time comes I will be saved. I am ready.

Friend how about you? Are you ready? Remember being ready isn't accomplished by going to church, being a good person or growing up in a christian home. Matthew 7:21-23 says, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" God doesn't desire rituals or religion, He wants a relationship. Friend being ready is about knowing HIM!

Perhaps today, maybe even right now He is standing at the door of your heart and knocking. If you hear HIS voice and open the door, He will come in. (Rev. 3:20) Friend I encourage you to do that now! Make yourself past week is proof that we don't know what tomorrow will bring.

The Giants and the Patriots have spent two weeks preparing for this game and some of them will say they've spent their life working towards this goal, they are ready!! But when the whistle blows and the game ends, win or lose life will go on. Those athletes are preparing for a game, but today I pray you will apply this question to thoughts about your eternal home!