Category Archives: faith

a steadfast heart. and unwelcome news.

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this morning I was praying and thinking of Psalm 57 “My heart is steadfast O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music.”

I wrote the poem below as I was thinking through that passage and the fact that my heart is  steadfast because of the nature of my God, not my circumstances.  I had a moment last night where I thought “what did i just do!!??… i just quit my job and walked away from it all.” and immediately my mind went to this verse.  My heart has felt such peace since Ted and I made the decision to quit my job.

We know that this is what God is calling us to do.  My last day will officially be September 10th.  So, right after lunch, I got a phone call.  It appears my grandfather had a heart attack last night.  I don’t know the details but it seems it wasn’t a major one (whatever that means) though he was crying and begging God to just take him home at one point because he was in so much pain.  So, I call my husband to give him the news and where is he but stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire on his lunch break.  Great, just great.  Instantly I feel the freak-out-ometer rising…

And then my mind goes back to this morning… steadfast because of God, not circumstances.  Steadfast because the God who changed my life controls my days as well.  steadfast because I have example after example of how trustworthy He has been.  So, I trust.  God loves my Pop-pop.  He knows what will happen.  I will choose to be steadfast there…

Steadfast is my heart o God
As I fix my eyes on you
Through every test and trial, Lord,
To me, you have been true.
You’ve guided through confusion
You’ve led me every step
With patience, care and tenderness
You brought me from the depths.
So I sing with joy, for you’ve redeemed
This sinner from the grave.
You’ve change my nature, changed my name
No longer to death a slave
With joy I serve you Lord, my King,
My Master and my Guide
I trust you hand to keep me safe
From the trials on every side.
Guard my heart, keep my thoughts fast
As I fix my gaze on you
With confidence and trust may I
Trust what you plan to do.
My heart is steadfast, Lord, it is
Steadfast with trust for my King.
The One who redeemed, the One who gave life
The One who caused my heart to sing.

sometimes God gives you what you want to reveal that its not really what you want

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its interesting how God works at times… i find that He’s merciful in giving us what we ask for, though He knows that later we will look back and see what we’ve asked for is not really what we end up wanting.

for years i wanted a career in international business. it’s what i went to school for.  it’s what i know.  it’s what i wanted to know.  i’ve fought to be here… i’ve fought to see myself as a success.  i’ve gloried in the fact that others saw me as a success.  and today i resigned.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Over the past seven years I have seen women in my church live by that verse and “sacrifice” career and worldly success for something that God deems to be praiseworthy.  I mocked them.  I ridiculed their resolve.  I didn’t understand and I continued my pursuit towards success.  And in many aspects, God gave that to me.  Yet, I wanted more.  I wanted to be more of a success.  It wasn’t enough that I had a good job that paid well… i wanted more security, more pay, more benefits, more recognition.

and yet i continued to be surrounded by women who in some way, though i didn’t agree with their choices, i was beginning to respect.  i was seeing wisdom in what God designed as their roles.  Not that there’s no place for a woman outside of the home, but i began to see a benefit FOR them investing at home (which before I never really had cared to see).  And as I saw their lives, and compared that with God’s standard of success, my heart began to praise them as well.  I’m not sure this was a conscious choice or simply a result of seeing the power of God at work in them… women who you don’t know.  Women who aren’t known for success.  But women who in my eyes are more successful than Oprah or Katie Couric or Sarah Palin.  These women are Julie and Robin and Kelli and Corri and Judie and Erin and so many more I can’t name.  These women are my example.

They do their husbands good.  Their husbands trust in them.  Their children rise up and call them blessed.   They work hard and diligently and care for their families.  They are generous.  They laugh at the days to come.  They are my examples.   I want to be like them.

I don’t want to measure my success by worldly standards.  It might be weird that a 29 year old “successful” program planner at an international manufacturing plant would just up and quit with no big career goal.  But I have a big God and my goal is to serve Him.  And its gotten to the point where I can’t do that to the degree He’s called me to and stay here.  So, I go.

Ted and I feel a little blind right now.  We are not sure what’s coming. But we truly have a peace in following God through this and a hopeful anticipation of what is to come.  I look forward to continuing to learn how to care for him and how to follow him as he follows God.  I look forward to finding ways to earn extra income to serve and care for my family.  I look forward to finding ways to save money and provide with wisdom.

i’m excited.  God is up to something.  He has changed me and that means something.  this might seem strange to some, but i’m okay with that.

my “unnecessary” prayers

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in church a few years ago, we studied the book of 1st Peter.  I learned how God works through suffering, I learned that the character of my God does not change when life is one trial after another.  And I learned this by being thrown into one trial after another.  Physical struggles, emotional pain… at times it really seemed there was no end to the suffering and trials that had become my life.

Then God brought me past complaining to the point where I could see His goodness through the trials.  I began to see what He was teaching me and how He was using hard times to mold me into His image. And I understood that the Christian life involves many trials of all kinds.  It is filled with thousands of ways to take up your cross, deny yourself and follow Jesus Christ.

Somehow in the trials, though I always believed that God COULD bless me, I was tempted to doubt that He would.  I seem to be the type that learns the hard way (just take a look at my life…) and I resigned myself to the fact that God would use trials to continue to mold me to His image.  Though I often struggled with this, I learned to rest in His sufficient grace and realize that if God chose to use suffering, but in the end the result was that I was more like Him, that it was worth it all.

But then the wheels started turning again as God was preparing my heart to see yet another facet of His character… this time it wasn’t a sustaining and all-sufficient God through trials, I was unknowingly being prepared to meet a God who delights in doing more than I ask for… and through that, in revealing more of Himself to me.

But it all started with a closed door.  Or several years of closed doors.  And questions. and doubting.

When God closed the door to move to Washington DC last year, it opened the door for me to meet my husband.  He is the most amazing gift from God to me and I could not have imagined a year ago that I would receive a gift so wonderful.

I had prayed that God would provide a husband, but I honestly never prayed for someone like Ted.  He was “too good… too much of a dream” and asking for that would have been asking God for too much.  I had basically been praying for someone who would simply love God and care for me.  The extra details (like a quirky fun personality) were things that I could give up.

God surprised me.  He gave me more than I asked for.  He gave me a man perfectly suited to lead me.  He gave me a best friend.  He gave me a godly man who loves me with his whole heart.  He even answered the prayers that I was afraid to ask because I knew they were “unnecessary.”  And He did it to show me His character and blessings.  And as I watched that unfold, my heart grew in amazement and worship of my God.  I continue to be amazed.  I continue to grow in worship.

God has chosen yet again to answer an “unnecessary” prayer.  This week Ted and I adopted two dogs: Rex, a 2 year old boxer/German shepherd / chow mix and Cody, a 5 year old yellow lab/ chow mix.

For years I have wanted dogs.  But living in apartments and working full time it wasn’t really possible.  I mean, i could have had little rat-dogs that weigh 2 ounces and yip all day, but i wanted a DOG!  A dog you can take running, a dog who scares strangers, a dog who has a mean bark but a sweet temperament.

Ted and I have talked for several months about the possibility of getting dogs one day, but were aware that financially that would probably come later rather than sooner.  But I kept looking and hoping that maybe we would find good dogs for free somehow.

Two days ago, I found them!  Their previous owner, who has had them since they were both about 6 months old, is moving to Colorado and can’t take the dogs with her.  They had all their shots and even came with paperwork.  She threw in the bowls, leashes, and 40 lbs of dog food as well.

What a blessing.  I have cried so many times the past 2 days as I am once again overwhelmed at God’s blessings… this time in the form of 2 barks and 8 legs.  Once again, God knew the desire of my heart and blessed me abundantly.  And once again, my faith is strengthened and my view of God has grown.

Its cool being a “mama” to Rex and Cody.  Its cool being married to my best friend.   But its more cool that God cares enough to answer my “unnecessary” prayers.  What an amazing God we serve…

sent by God

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“Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In unforseen events let me not forget that all are sent by You.”.

Does our faith rest on having prayers answered as we think they should be answered, or does it rest on that mighty love that went down into death for us? We can’t really tell where it rests, can we, until we’re in real trouble. I prayed for that mother, prayed for healing of the cancer (we are told to make our requests known to God), but prayed above all for her peace. In His will alone, as Dante wrote, is our peace.”.

Elisabeth Elliot

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

whirlwind

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wow! the past few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind for me. i’m glad to be back home. i’m hoping things calm down back to some degree of normal…

I left Greenville on June 20th for vacation in Washington DC and haven’t really stopped since.  I got back from DC on the 28th, spent 4 days working, unpacking, cleaning, etc, and spent the last 4 days in NC visiting a friend.   

Though the past few weeks have been great, I am exhausted.  Lately God has been reminding me that rest and peace don’t mean that life is not in chaos – it means remembering that He is faithful through all the changes and confusion.

Emotionally I feel worn pretty thin… like I really haven’t had any time to think, process, pray, recuperate, etc. And I really have been missing my church… its been 3 weeks since I’ve been there and in many ways I feel very alone.  Physically, my body has been thrown through the ringer due to eating out so much and that doesn’t agree so well with my food allergies.  And I haven’t slept well in about 2 weeks as a result of it all.  Today starts a 2 week detox diet so hopefully things will start to get back to normal soon.

Yesterday at my friend’s church in NC, the sermon was on Philippians 4:6-7 (do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.)

What a helpful truth to be reminded of.  I’m so prone to anxiousness and worry.  I am glad that my God is in control of everything… even the changes that make no sense to me.  And I’m glad that though He is aware of my weakness and failure, that He grants me the gift of peace, that He guards my heart and mind, and that I am secure in Christ Jesus.

the answer to my fears and questioning

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I found this in my journal today… a prayer and the “response from God.”  I love going back and seeing what God has reminded me of in the past… for I find that I often need the same reminders. 

Lord Jesus, reveal Yourself to me in a way that draws me, pursues me, holds me, and keeps me.  May I grow and be led to better glorify You. May I respond to the Truth You speak, the Word and promise You bestow, knowing Your sovereignty and Your delight in identifying with me, that I might know its hope and truly rejoice! 

 You are forming me!  You are growing me!  Use this, O Lord, to put a fire in my heart.  Let that truth cause my heart to rejoice and to trust wholeheartedly in You!

His response:
Doubt not My ability, nor my willingness to provide graciously and abundantly – I know all that you need.  Fear not!  Take heart.  Know Me.  Be full of faith afresh.  My child, have I not bought you?  Will I not also hold you and keep you?  This is not your home.  This is but a shadow, a season of anticipation to point you to that which is completely other. 

I AM He who has created you and is preparing a place for you that is all of grace and peace unending, yes, unfailing.  You are mine.  Hear My voice.  Receive My love and know My heart for you.  I have caused you to be born into this living and abiding hope.  I will never let you go. 

Dwell on Me.  Submit your cares, your heart, and your fears to my Throne.  You are covered in the blood of My Son.  I am the Trustworthy One. 

 Live.  Be free.  I am a God who loves to give good gifts to My children, My beloved.  Accept this to be warm and satisfying bread, not a stone.  Take.  Eat.  You have been set apart.  I promise to hold you, guide you, encourage you, sharpen you, correct you, accept you, forgive you, and sing over you.  You are mine.  I will care for you, and I can and will to do no other. 

comfort

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Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

 Listen to me o house of Jacob and all the remnant of the house of Israel.  You have been born by me from birth and I have carried you from the womb.  Even to your old age I will be the same. And even until your graying years I will bear you.  I have done it. I will carry you and I will bear you and I will deliver you.

 He who began a good work in me will complete it.

 Neither death nor hell can separate me from the love of Christ.

 The Lord is my helper. I will not fear.

 For God alone, o my soul, wait in silence.  He only is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer.  I shall not be greatly shaken.

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth be shaken, though the mountains crumble into the sea.

 Come to me all you who are weary and burdened down and I will give you rest.

 I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

 Fear not, do not be dismayed. For I am your God. I will strengthen you, yea, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 Since then we have a great high priest, who is able to sympathize with our weakness, let us draw near, with hearts sprinkled clean by the blood of Christ, to find mercy and help in our time of need.

 “It is finished.”

 “I will, be clean.”

 In according to your steadfast love, blot out my transgressions.

 He drew me up out of the pit of destruction, set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

 He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me.

 The Lord is my light and my salvation. The Lord is my strength and my song.

 And we know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame

Let us not grow weary in well doing.  For in due season we will reap if we faint not.

Put on the whole armor of Christ, that we may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.  And having done all, stand firm.

When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.

Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your labor is not in vain.

My grace is sufficient for you.  My power will be made perfect in your weariness.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Good and upright is the Lord, therefore He instructs sinners in the way.

Be content with what you have. For He has said “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Therefore we can confidently say “the Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Consider your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, to the only wise God, be glory, dominion and power forevermore.

The Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord will give grace and glory. No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

the clouds you dread

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You fearful saints, new courage take,
The clouds which you now dread
Are big with mercy, and will break
In blessings on your head.

William Cowper has continually been such an encouragement to me.  He suffered during his life from extreme depression and despair and wrote much poetry describing that feeling, such as…

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If ought is felt, ’tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

Yet I find great comfort in knowing God faithfully sustained him.  I spent several hours on Sunday reading through each of the poems he wrote for Olney Hymns, a collaborative hymnwriting effort with John Newton, his dear friend.

How encouraged I am by this man’s faith, and even more by his faithful God.  Though his emotions were often clouded by his circumstances and feelings, it is obvious by his poetry, that his heart and mind were ultimately controlled by his desire to know his God, the One who controlled the waves and storms. 

The saints should never be dismayed,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Savior will appear.

I made a horrible mistake at work this week.  It happened on Monday and the actual effect of it is only beginning to be understood today.   Hundreds of processes are affected, shipping schedules are having to be changed, vessels are having to be brought into port earlier than planned, production may end up stopped due to a lack of parts… its a worst case scenario.  And my name’s all over it.  My error in calculation caused it.  And my lack of a clear understanding of how my calculation affected other processes only made it worse.  And now everyone else is having to scramble to fix it.   As I was talking with my boss this morning we were trying to find a “silver lining” in the cloud…  we quickly realized that the silver lining (if its there) is so tarnished its black. 

Immediately my mind went to this song by William Cowper… the clouds I dread.  I dread the cloud of making a mistake so big it could cost me my job.  I dread the cloud of knowing others have to fix my mistakes and suffer the consequences of it and there’s nothing I can do now to fix it.  I dread the meetings that are coming to discuss how to not have this happen again. 

but as I was dreading all of those, God reminded me that the clouds I dread, these big black silver lined clouds, even those are dripping with mercy.  When they break it will be a flood of mercy for me.  it might also be a flood I don’t like… a flood of losing my job or at best having someone look over my shoulder for months to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  but its a flood from a God who can redeem my mistakes…

Fierce passions discompose the mind,
As tempests vex the sea;
But calm content and peace we find,
When, LORD, we turn to thee
.…

’Tis I appoint thy daily lot,
And I do all things well:
Thou soon shalt leave this wretched spot,
And rise with me to dwell.

 In life my grace shall strength supply,
Proportioned to thy day;
At death thou still shalt find me nigh,
To wipe thy tears away.”