Category Archives: contentment

joy in Your presence

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In your presence, Lord, there is joy.
Am I far from your presence?
Am I missing your glory when I focus on my pain?
I am weak.  You are great.
Have I forgotten what is truly important?
Why do I not feel the joy that once proved so precious to me?

If you can be glorified through my weakness, will I be content with it?
If you become bigger though my pain, will I give you thanks?
Can I live in gratitude despite exhaustion? Or frustration? Or confusion?
When it’s a sacrifice, will I still choose to praise You?

How long, Lord can I go on like this waiting for your voice?
Help me to listen. Help me to see it.
Help me not to focus on a conclusion as my answer, help me to focus on You.

For You are my answer.  You are my hope.
In Your presence I find my joy.
You drew me out of my pit.  If you’ve done that, why do I doubt?
Why does my heart cry out in anguish and fear?

You’ve proven your faithfulness time and again
Why is my soul downcast yet again?
I look to You. My feet are on You, my Rock.
My ways are secure.  Though hidden in darkness for now.

I will rest.  I will hope.  I will have joy.

a look back

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thanks for your patience with me as i’ve been noticeably absent the last month or so.  i hate that my blog has taken a back seat so drastically, because if for no other reason, it is always encouraging for me to go back and look over what God has done in my life.  I was especially encouraged a few weeks ago to look back and see an overview of what God did in the past few years.

So, keeping up with the tradition, here is a brief overview of 2009…

The year started off on a very low note – with me working through some very difficult issues from my past and having to face some personal heartache that I would have much rather left buried.  Thanks to the help of Matt and Julie and many others from my church, I continued to learn what forgiveness looked like, but not without many tears.

That struggle began several months of discouragement and at times hopelessness.  Looking back now, I am so grateful for my friends who stuck with me, upheld me, and encouraged me each step of the way… and at times, did everything necessary to turn my gaze off myself and back to the hope found in the cross.

I learned through that time, that my safety and comfort must be found in Jesus alone.  That though others disappoint, and at times cause severe hurt and pain, that Jesus never fails.  I learned that like Eustace, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that at times God strips away ourselves, but it is always done with a hand of love and mercy.

2009 also was a year in which I started to see my health improve.  This year brought for the first time in years the first consistent season of sleeping normally and the first period of weeks with no migraines.  I’m grateful to God for the help of the doctors and others, but ultimately, for His hand guiding my health and my life.

then began a season of questions… should i remain at my job? where should I live? should I pursue moving to another state?  if so, where?  i began pursuing a long-standing desire… to move to the Washington DC area… for months, I investigated, prayed and talked with people.  By late spring, I felt a peace about pursuing it and by mid summer I was convinced I was moving… as soon as God provided a job.  I spent 10 days in the DC area on a fact finding mission, found a place to live, spent hours driving in traffic and was excited about the pending change.  Then God closed the door.  It was clear to me that the door was closed tight and that I was not to pursue any further.  Yet it was also abundantly clear that this change was for my good and was given to me by a God who knows what is best for me.  So, my roots are in Greenville.  But my hope in God grew through that time, and though the “move” was unsuccessful, the lessons learned were well worth the months of questioning.

This fall brought changes once again to my life.  September 13th was my first date with Ted Riley, a man whom I have since grown to love.  We met in August via e-harmony and i am grateful for how God (not merely 29 dimensions of compatibility) brought the two of us together.  I could not imagine a better fit for me and look forward to seeing what God does with our relationship.

The past 4 months have been times of continuing improved health (despite the doctors telling me in August that they thought I could have pancreatic cancer) and new areas of learning to trust God.  Contentment looks different in this season (not “is there even possibly a good guy out there who would like me?” but “when will I get married / when will I have kids / when does the next “season” start?”) but the struggle remains the same… so I keep learning that no matter the circumstance, that my confidence and hope must be in the only One who remains unchanging.

In October, I began writing weekly online devotionals for Devotional Christian.  It has been an encouraging and challenging step for me… in learning to be more thoughful about what I write and growing in being more theologically informed.

I’ve seen reconciliation in relationships this year.  I’ve seen improvement in health.  I’ve seen new changes.  But through it all, I’ve learned more of the faithfulness of our God.  Through every change, He has remained true to me.  And through every time I haven’t remained true to Him, He lovingly corrects and draws me back.

What a God we serve.  I look forward to the challenges and blessings of 2010, confident that through every step, He will be by my side.

my hope

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Here I am again
In this raging sea
On my knees again
Deep calls to deep
I feel I’m drowning
My arms are
Just too tired to swim
I feel like I’m sinking
On my knees again
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true

Chorus:
And I put my hope
And I put my trust
And I put myself in You
In You, Lord [2x]

Here I am again
In need of you
Broken, Beaten
Needing You
In the roar of Your waterfall
In the wonderful storm of You
May You find me holding on
May You find me true

(Chorus)

Bridge:
Wash me clean
Set me free
Hold me close
And cover me

(Chorus x4)

Here I am
Here I am…

David Crowder Band

overwhelmed and overwhelming grace

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When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul. Ps 94:19 

I woke up this morning overwhelmed.  The cares of my heart were many.  Anxious thoughts seemed to be multiplying exponentially.  That quickly spiraled downward into a feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  then I got out of bed.  and it all got worse.

yup, its been one of those days.  more than I can handle. more than I CARE to handle.  Thanks to all of those of you who have been praying for me today. 

Work has been chaos.  My mind is overwhelmed knowing that I’m moving tonight to a new apartment and i’m not ready for it.  I”m discouraged because I want to be losing weight faster.  I want relationships to be easy.  Some days its so hard to just keep fighting and pushing onward in this race we call the Christian life.  Today is one of those days.  One foot in front of the other… one step at a time.  And even that seems almost too much to bear. 

I’m grateful that in my weakness, I can look to my Rock who never changes, no matter what storms prevail.  He’s bigger than confusion. He’s bigger than my pain.  He’s bigger than my brokenness.

Thanks to Jessica for passing along this quote earlier today… it was very helpful to my anxious soul…

So he supplies perfectly measured grace to meet the needs of the godly. For daily needs there is daily grace; for sudden needs, sudden grace; for overwhelming need, overwhelming grace. God’s grace has given wonderfully, but not wastefully; freely but not foolishly; bountifully but not blindly. -John Blanchard

refined, not consumed

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The Lord has been pleased to put me in the fire; but, blessed be His name—I am not burnt! Oh, that I may be brought out refined, and that the outcome may be to the praise of His grace and power! The Lord drew near in the day of distress, and gave me some degree of peaceful resignation to His will. Yet my evil heart of impatience and unbelief displayed itself, and I have the greatest reason to lie ashamed in the dust, and cry “Unclean, unclean!” But truly God is good; He considers my frame; He remembers that I am but dust. He delights in mercy—and therefore I am not consumed.

Our faithful God will surely make our strength equal to our day! It will not be long before He will wipe away all tears from our eyes. Therefore let us not fear—whatever sufferings may be yet appointed for us—they shall work together for our good! They are but light and momentary, in comparison of that exceeding and eternal weight of glory to which we are drawing nearer every hour!

The day is coming when all the Lord’s people who are scattered abroad, who praise Him in different ages and different languages, shall be collected together, and stand with one heart, consent, and voice before the throne! Oh, the glorious assembly! How white are their robes! How resplendent their crowns! How melodious their harps! Every hour the chorus is augmented by the accession of fresh voices! Before long we hope to join them! Then shall we remember the way by which the Lord led us through this dark wilderness world; and shall see that all our afflictions, our heaviest afflictions, were tender mercies—no less than our most pleasing comforts. What we shall then see, it is now our privilege and duty to believe.

“I will bring this third through the fire and make them pure, just as gold and silver are refined and purified by fire!” Zechariah 13:9

exerpt from a letter by John Newton

blindness and sight

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John 9:1-3 As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

 Isaiah 42:16 And I [God] will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.  These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

 

 As I was thinking of these verses this morning, I saw a picture of a blind man, crying out to Jesus.  As others saw this man, they assumed that God had not answered his prayers because of sin, particularly the sin of unbelief.  And the blind man was also aware of his own sin and unworthiness.  He knew he needed mercy and was powerless to change.  The next thing I saw was God reaching down and guiding this man by the hand.  But this time, He did not heal the man’s blindness.  The man still could not see, but now instead of sitting, God was guiding Him.  He was leading the blind man to walk in spite of the darkness.  God was graciously leaving him in darkness so that he could better understand the presence of his God who had promised never to forsake.  The encouragement to me was that whether God heals the blind eyes and allows sight or leaves you in the darkness, that in both circumstances, He is working to display His greatness and He is the God that does not forsake His children. 

 

The idea was sparked by a quote I read this morning (one of the quotes in my post below)… 

Often I have heard people say, “How good God is! We prayed that it would not rain for our church picnic, and look at the lovely weather!” Yes, God is good when He sends good weather. But God was also good when He allowed my sister, Betsie, to starve to death before my eyes in a German concentration camp. I remember one occasion when I was very discouraged there. Everything around us was dark, and there was darkness in my heart. I remember telling Betsie that I thought God had forgotten us. “No, Corrie,” said Betsie, “He has not forgotten us. Remember His Word: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.” Corrie concludes, “There is an ocean of God’s love available – there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never to doubt that victorious love – whatever the circumstances.”   Corrie Ten Boom

trusting God

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Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make  straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

This past Sunday, I attended Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg Md.  I was there for the Worship God 09 conference, and my friends and I decided to stay through the weekend and drive back after church.  Its funny how God’s sovereignty works… 

The conference was very challenging physically for me.  Due to the noise and busyness of the week, I had many migraines and other health issues.  I was grateful to be able to attend at all, though there were many sessions I was either resting on a couch in the lobby, or sitting on the floor in the back.  I really enjoyed the songwriting seminars and learned many helpful tips to incorporate into my writing…

Well, on Sunday, Josh Harris got up to preach.  Their church is currently working through a series on Proverbs and the topic this week was about trusting God.  His passage was Proverbs 3:5-6.  He talked about what it means to trust God, what it means to lean on Him and what it means to acknowledge Him. 

i think it is the only time in my life that I cried through an entire sermon.  God revealed so many areas in my life where I fail to trust Him.  I fail to trust that He is good, that He loves me, and that He has my best in mind.  Instead I often trust my own understanding… “this doesn’t make sense… God must not love me… or He must have forgotten about me…” 

He mentioned that leaning on God does not mean simply resting like you would against a podium but when the podium is taken away you’re still able to stand just fine.  Instead its a full dependence of “God, if you are not there to catch me, I will fall flat on my face.  Help.”  I spend much of my life trying to avoid this feeling, but this is where I was created to live… in utter dependence on God’s grace and strength and provision. 

There are so many unknowns in my life right now…  What’s going on with my health?  Will I be “stuck” in Greenville forever?  Where am I supposed to live?  Will I ever get married?  have kids?  be financially sound?  oh, so many unknowns…

How grateful I am for Josh Harris and this past Sunday.  I am grateful for the comfort that comes from being reminded that my God has not forgotten me… He is not angry at me or withholding goodness.  His steadfast love and faithfulness have followed me all the days of my life.  He has led me through valleys.  He has led me through paths of rejoicing.  And He has promised not to leave… even now, in confusion…

when the dots don’t connect…

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lately i seem to be back into a season where the dots just don’t seem to connect.  i’m weary.  physically i’m weak.  emotionally i’m tired.  spiritually i’m worn down and dry.  mentally i’m… well, i guess i’ve never been right in that area… :)

i have failed to cling to my hope in Christ.  i’ve failed to trust Him to provide.  i’ve questioned whether God really wants what’s best for me.  i’ve accused Him of forgetting me… or simply leading me on only to later disappoint.

i’m powerless to lift myself from the pit that i am in. 

and then i’m reminded of the gospel… Christ came to lift me from my own self-made destruction and misery.   He came to give me a rock of hope to cling to that will never fail… not in physical pain, loneliness, confusion, darkness… never.  He promised He would never leave me. 

that applies not only to the day He redeemed my soul 4 years ago but for today as well. in the middle of a migraine, He holds me.  In the middle of my questioning His goodness, He holds me secure in His arms of love.  In the middle of loneliness, He never leaves my side.  In my tired weariness, He reminds me that He is the God who watches over me and He never sleeps.  There is never a moment when He is not in control of every event of my life. 

I’m reminded of the hymn “Be Still my Soul.”  While visiting Covenant Life a few weeks ago, we sang this song… its been in my head ever since.  It is such a great example of “talking to yourself” instead of “listening to yourself.”

 I think my favorite line is “be still my soul your Jesus can repay from His own fulness all He takes away.”

In the past few years, its obvious with even a brief glance at my life that God has taken much.  He’s taken friends.  He’s taken people I looked to and respected.  He’s taken a sense of belonging and home.  He’s taken my health.  He’s taken much more. 

But I have the promise that He will never take His presence from me.   And knowing that, nothing else matters.  I’d rather Him take my health, security and comfort than to leave all those and take His presence.. 

That is the reason that my soul can be still.  That is the reason my weary soul can find hope.  I am just praying for grace that God will connect those dots…

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.  On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.   Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. (Psalm 62:5-8)

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt you better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to your Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all your words and ways,
So shall He view you with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.

Christ is All

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May 31, 1775

My dear friend,
You ask how I am–but I know not what answer to give. My experience is made up of enigmas–but the sum and solution of all is, “That I am a vile creature–but I have a good and gracious Savior!”

He has chosen me–and through His rich grace–I have chosen Him! There is a union between Him and my soul, which shall never be broken, because He has undertaken for both parts–that He will never forsake me, and that I shall never forsake Him. Oh, I like those royal, sovereign words, “I will,” and “they shall.”

I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts–that they shall not depart from Me!” Jeremiah 32:40

How sweetly are they suited to the long experience He has given me of my own weakness, and the power and subtlety of Satan! If my spiritual conflicts terminate in victory–it must be owing to His own arm, and for His own name’s sake. For I in myself have neither strength nor plea.

If I were not so poor, so sick, so foolish–the power, skill, riches, wisdom and mercy of my Physician, Shepherd, and Savior–would not be so signally illustrated in my own case!

Upon this account, instead of complaining, we may glory in our infirmities. Oh, it is pleasant to be deeply indebted to Him, to find Him, and own Him, all in all

Our Husband, Shepherd, Brother, Friend,
Our Guide, and Guard, our Way, and End!

“Christ is all!” Colossians 3:11