Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Opportunity to Praise

We were helping Rebecca move on Tuesday evening when we got a call from Mark's mother. I could tell from the sound of her voice as it resonated from Mark's phone, that something was wrong. Mark hung up the phone and said Dad had been taken to the hospital and apparently had internal bleeding. We quickly told Martha and Danny about the call and headed for Clarksville. My mind immediately went to thoughts of loosing another dad so quickly. Then remembering that we had been down this road before and nearly lost dad sent waves of fear pounding on the door of my heart. I then remembered a conversation Danny and I had just had in the the office. We talked about praising God for every trial in our lives. Not just saying 'thanks for the trial' but really praising Him for the difficulty. I immediately began to pray and thanked the Lord for this opportunity to draw near to Him. The privilege to be a witness in the midst of trouble and show Christ-like love to Mark's parents.

Peace began to flood over me and I felt so at ease. Nothing could happen that God could not handle and therefore, I only needed to trust Him. What we did not know was that our friends who were helping with the move were praying for us.

We arrived at Mom and Dad's and let Mom explain what had happened. Then scooting off to the ER to check on Dad, we wondered what we would find. But God had given Dad a little peace of his own. Dad's pain was still coming in waves but farther apart. We reassured him we would stay with Mom. We waited until they put Dad in a room and then went back to spend the night with Mom. At 1AM we fell into bed.

Long story short: Dad will be fine and we are thanking God for his protection and the gift of more days with Dad. We are still staying with Mom as she can't be left alone for very long.

God is so good! Just when we think we can relax and not trust Him as much as yesterday, He reminds us that trust is for every day. Every opportunity, both good and bad, every moment of every day. Letting go of our lives and learning to let Him have our days. His ways are not our ways. We wanted to be holding our grandson by now, but God had this opportunity in mind for us to love on Mark's parents. I don't know why and I really don't care why. I just feel blessed to be used by Him.

So let our "fields be destroyed and our cattle be gone". We will still have Jesus and He will still have us.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grace and Praise

When life goes wrong from our perspective, we don't always remember that God has a plan and that in all things we are to give thanks. From my perspective, the way I want things to go, life has not gone well over the last couple of months. When you look at all that has taken place in our lives over the past 11 weeks it is amazing that we are all still sane! Amazing that is from a human perspective. If we look at it from the view point of Heaven's Eyes, it is a picture of grace.

Just to give you the quick run down: May brought Mark's diagnosis of borderline diabetes and hypertension, my gall bladder surgery, adjustment to new Thyroid medication. June - Andrew in the hospital with blood clots in his lung, Angie in the hospital for premature labor, sick with a cold, Dad's death, Angie's bout with gall bladder issues. July - Wedding cake on the 5th, quick trip to Indiana to be with family, fell at the hotel and hurt my arm, Andrea goes to Virginia to help Angie out, Chancellors death, trip to Ohio for his funeral, Mark had kidney stones removed by outpatient surgery, JohnDavid (grandson) spent the night in the hospital, Dad's memorial service - back to Indiana, Angie back for a night in the hospital. Still waiting for Baby Luke to arrive, and we still have a couple days left in July.

How did we get through it all? The grace of God. There is no way we could have gotten through this summer on our own. Many faithful saints have been on their knees on our behalf. God has heard their prayers and answered them. There were several times that I depended on the strength of the Lord and He was faithful to hold me up. When we are weak He is strong. I know I say that often but it is so true. Our strength is limited, His is not. When our strength is gone, He is there to sustain us. Always. We do our best to endure the trials on our own and when we finally realize we have nothing left with which to persevere, we humble ourselves and ask for His help. Just three words, Help me, Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:9,10 - And He has said unto me. "My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am sure it sounds strange to say but I am thankful for this time of trial and distress. It draws me closer to Him. Is there any thing better than to be drawn to the God who loves you? Makes me remember that it is His power and grace that sustains me. Praising the Lord and truly being thankful for the trials keeps things in perspective. Our eyes focus on God and His strength, Christ and His suffering on our behalf instead of our own pain. It reminds us how blessed we really are. In an effort to bring a smile to my face a friend said to me, "Look on the bright side, you are not covered in boils that you have to scrape with a rock." And oh, how true that is. Even if everything was gone. All our loved ones were gone and we had absolutely nothing, we still have Christ! How wonderful!

Psalm 13:5,6 - But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

God is the strength of my heart....forever

If I wrote the script for a soap opera and described all the things that have taken place in our family over the last couple of months, the network executives would think it was too unbelievable to put on television. It might actually make a good reality show. But it is true life for us right now. God knows all that has taken place and He will sustain us. His mighty arms of comfort and power have held us up for many weeks now and it is wonderful to know that His arms do not tire. He is as strong today as He will be 25 years from now.

Mark and I had a wonderful time of rest and relaxation during our trip to Indiana. I got a great deal of physical and emotional rest. As we drove home it felt quite odd. I almost felt guilty for having such peace about my father's death. The Lord's comfort was amazing. Mark did a fabulous job of allowing me time to recoup and his tenderness toward me was such a blessing. I felt so loved. He even bought me new clothes, something he enjoys doing. I am thankful for my husband. He is far more tender hearted than he wants anyone to know.

Angie was in the hospital twice this past weekend with premature labor. Making a long story short, she is doing well. Still contracting but pretty mild now. Andrea flew out the Virginia to stay with Angie and Jeremy until the baby comes. They are both exhausted and in need of help with the kids and the house. Mark and I have tried to get Andrea to get a full time job, but this is one of those times where working part time has made her available to serve our family and our church family. God knew people would need her. The doctors think the baby will arrive in the next couple of weeks. Angie is only 34 weeks along. The baby looks good and we are praying for a safe delivery.

Just a few days after returning home, a lady from our church brought me a planter from our Home Fellowship Group. We had a great chat as she expressed love and concern for my family. As we stood by the door saying our goodbyes the phone began to ring. Mark answered and I told Pam thank you and closed the door. Mark came around the corner and said "You need to call your Mom". I know something was up.

My oldest sister had been in Guatemala and upon her return on Monday was told that her grandson had drowned in the flood water of Ohio. Chancelor we just 12 years old. He fell into a drain and was swept away. He body was recovered later in a field down the road. My heart just sank. Many things ran through my mind. But foremost, was the question what is God trying to teach us through this time of many trials? What is it Lord, that we are not learning?

As I made phone calls to my other sisters to find out the details God once again brought that peace that passes all understanding. We may never know why all these things are happening to our family but I do know that God is faithful. He loves us and cares for us and He knows exactly what is happening. Our job is to trust in Him. To rest in the reassurance that nothing happens to us without first going through His hands. To bring glory to His name.

I am flying to Ohio on Thursday (thanks to some very generous friends)for the funeral and to see my sisters and my nephew. I don't know what I will say but I am praying that God will use me to convey His love for my extented family. I pray that they will see only Christ through me. I pray God will be glorified with my behavior.

Please pray for Avis (my sister) Jamie (Chancelor's father)and for the rest of their family. They need to experience the Lord's comfort and His sustaining power.

Psalm 73:21-26,28
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant; like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. but is is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, That I may declare all your works.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Walking in His Sufficiency

Yesterday was a difficult day as emotions were running high in my family. The staff has graciously given me some time off for which I am so very thankful. It is really hard for me to stay out of the office. Serving the Lord by serving His people is my hearts passion. My church family is my family. We rejoice together and cry together. We care for one another in a way that is indiscribable. To be away from them is a struggle for me.

I told someone on Monday that I know how to help someone through greif but I don't know how to do it when it is me. It has been a long time since I greived the loss of a loved one. It feels frustrating and lonely at times. My friend Doug said it best in his blog (I will paraphrase) "The people in our lives fill a specific space. When they are gone we suddenly feel the vacancy of the space they occupied." Dad had a specific space in my life and the lives of my children. Now the space is empty and barren. A space that can only be filled by the love and comfort of God.

It feels awkward to be walking in this place of greif. Awkward for me to be the 'comfortee' instead of the 'comforter'. But as I read yesterday during my devotion time, the refreshing river of God's grace flows full and free. Both in summer and winter. Good times and bad. His grace is sufficient in all things at all times. I pray I walk in His grace. Not in my strength but in His. I pray my witness of His sufficiency in my life is clear and evident to my lost family. I pray they see not only my greif but the comfort of my Lord.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Trusting Still More....

There are times in everyone's lives when you just feel like you have had about enough and wish that the Lord would provide the rest that you so desperately need. This week has been one of those times. The trials continue to come in waves and the Lord's amazing grace continues to sustain.

Since the last post, Angie has had a bout with her gall bladder and for a day or two we thought she would be having surgery. The scare has passed and she is actually doing well for now. God has kept his hand of protection on her and Luke. We are so thankful! I have been struggling with a bad cold that has come on very quickly and decided to stay around.

But Monday brought one of those phone calls you don't want to get. You know as soon as you hear your mom say, "Cindy, It's Mom." you know something is up. And then the words came through the phone, "It's your Dad. He had a heart attack this morning." "Is he gone?" "yes." We have known for years that Dad was living on borrowed time. His heart was in really bad shape. The Lord has given us about 8 years more than we thought we would have. He is so good!

Death is always surprising. Always painful to those left behind. Once the shock is gone and the pain begins to subside we see the love of the Lord in it all. There is never a time in our lives that we need to fell loved and cared for more than when we are grieving. Our hearts are raw and bleeding. God's soothing balm of comfort is applied with His gentle hand. His peace envelopes us like a warm blanket of comfort and brings sweet rest. The love of God is sufficient for every outburst of tears, for every pain of the heart, for every moment of loneliness. He is truly all we need.

God's sovereignty still reigns. His love is still complete. His grace is still sufficient. His salvation is still available. Though my life has changed, He has not. This time of trial is yet more opportunity to strengthen my faith, walk closer to Him and experience his love and care.

Please pray for my family, especially for my stepmother, Penny. Pray that the Lord would reveal His comfort and love to her. May she see that Christ is all she needs.