Category Archives: God’s Character

truth from “the trenches”

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I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:3) 

Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.  Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me. (Psalm 69:16-17)

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:24-26)

Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (Lam 3:19-22)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:6)

For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps. (Job 34:21)

For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death (Philippians 1:18-20)

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed (Hebrews 12:12-13)

 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. (Philippians 4:6-7)

But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O LORD, why do you cast my soul away?  Why do you hide your face from me? Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am helpless. (Psalm 88:13-15)

How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? (Psalm 89:46)

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:24-26)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:16-17)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5)

“For this God is our God forever and ever! He will be our guide even unto death!” Psalm 48:14

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3)

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  (Revelation 21:4-7)

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.

a new thing

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Remeber not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new things; now its springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

“Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me since i appointed an ancient people.  Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen.  Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.

Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard my voice of my pleas for mercy.  The LORD is my strength and my shield, in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to him.

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.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!  For he satsifies the longing soul and the hungry souls he fills with good things… they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst thir bonds apart.

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling but the LORD helped me.  The LORD is my strength and my song, He has become my salvation.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope, my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning…

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.

stay always by my side

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Thus says your Beloved “I am your salvation” your peace and your life. Stay always by my side and you will find peace. Cast away all the goods of time and seek those of eternity. For what are these passing things but snares for your soul? And how far could all created beings serve you, if you were forsaken by the Creator? Leave, then, all earthly things and offer yourself to God as a good and faithful servant, that so you may gain for yourself the only true happiness. Thomas a Kempis

unattractive paper

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Dear friend, God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper.  But do not worry about the wrappings, for you can be sure that inside He has hidden treasures of love, kindness, and wisdom.  If we will simply take what He sends and trust Him for the blessings inside, we will learn the meaning of the secrets of His providence, even in times of darkenss. -A.B. Simpson

the last 18 months… and a very faithful God

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I just want to take a second and look back to remember what God has done, specifically over the last 15 months of my life. All too often, I get discouraged by an apparent lack of growth or what I perceive as changing too slowly. But God in His faithfulness is training me and keeping me at this marathon pace, though my heart would rather be zooming along at a sprinters pace.

February ‘08 – on Sunday, February 24th, during worship rehearsal, Katie Britt came up to me with a little piece of paper. On the paper were these words… “His strength is made perfect in weakness.” Little did I know how those words would define the next season of my life. I woke up the next day with a splitting pain in my head. Imagine a migraine. Then make it exponentially worse. That day was the start of many long and painful months ahead… months of confusion, months of crying out to God, and months of things just seeming to only get worse. This month also was when I began writing poems.

March ’08 – On March 7th, I had my first MRI of my brain. I was terrified and in so much pain that I didn’t know how I would stay still throughout the procedure. And since the doctors were running ahead of schedule there was no time for sedation. God brought to mind the passage of 1st Peter 1 that I had just memorized. He reminded me that He was working… that He had a plan for me (an inheritance that is sure) and that even in my current trial, that His goal is that my faith and hope would rest in God… my loving Father. It was a sweet time, yet I was overwhelmed and confused as to what God was doing.

April ’08 – I had to stop teaching German. The migraines continued. I lost count of the doctors I visited and the tests that were run. There seemed to be no answers.  And though my body was exhausted, sleep wouldn’t come.  Matt preached a sermon that when God brings us into the waves, He is always behind us, holding us secure. He won’t let us drown. He is doing this because He cares for us and wants us to know the freedom found in trusting Him.

May ’08 – May was a month of answered prayers.     I got a new position at work, which was an answer to several years of praying.  I was diagnosed with and treated for a bacterial infection in my brain (similar to meningitis), which had been one cause of the migraines.  I think God was just reminding me here of His faithfulness… and that He hadn’t forgotten me.  However, May was also a month of new trials.  I became very sick with what I thought was the stomach flu.  New Attitude (singles conference) was a struggle.  I had gone expecting great things from God.  I left disappointed that there was no “thunder and lightning” simply a “I’m faithful… trust Me.”

June ’08 – I found out in June, shortly after my 27th birthday that I am allergic to dairy, wheat, oats, food dye and several other things.  Unfortunately I found this out the hard way, after weeks of not being able to keep food down.  On June 26th, my good friends Dave and Melissa lost their baby.  Melissa was 6 ½ months pregnant and went into labor.  I will never forget singing “blessed be your name” while standing in front of a casket not more than 1’x2’.  Their steadfast faith through that unthinkable trial encouraged me to keep looking to our loving Father, no matter what.

July ’08 – on Sunday July 13th, I was baptized.  July was a month of trying to figure out what I could eat and what makes me sick.  My grandparents celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary.  Doctors visits continued.  Migraines started coming back as I was testing food options.  July was a month of learning that blessing and suffering go hand in hand.

August ’08 – August was the month of diagnoses.  The doctors found out that what I thought was a stomach flu back in May, was actually salmonella food poisoning from a puffed wheat cereal.  This was a mixed blessing because though it threw my body into overload, the doctors were able to also diagnose that I have Celiacs disease, something that has gone undiagnosed for about 10 years.  This month was another month of physical weakness.  I had no energy and constant migraines.  The Worship God conference was encouraging and this month began my study of the Psalms.  The Psalms CD quickly became one of my favorites.  At the worship conference, I was able to see God miraculously heal my friend Dave Johnson, after suffering for many years with kidney stones.  Still to this day, he has not had one!

September ’08 – Migraines began getting worse.  Due to the fact that you can’t take migraine medicine every day, the doctor put me on an anti-seizure med that is effective for treating migraines.  After a few increases in the doseage, the migraines began subsiding.  This was a month of ups and downs, along with very little sleep.  September was also the month I decided to move from living with a family in the church to getting an apartment with two friends.  Emotionally, there were many struggles, as I was working through where God was leading me to.

October ’08 – I started having some severe reactions to the medicine and the doctors had to quickly take me off, depsite the risk of seizures.  This was one of the scariest times I have ever faced, not sure what was happening, if I was dying or what to do.  Thankfully, my pastors were extremely helpful in reminding me of my hope in God, the God who knows all, is in control of all and who loves me.  The doctors changed my medicine and I only got worse.  I met with my pastors one afternoon and they prayed that God would heal me.  Sleep was unknown at this point now.  Oh, and on top of that there was the physical and emotional stress of moving, yet again…for the 7th time in 5 years.

November ’08 – November was a hard month with relationships.  And with dealing through issues from my past.  I found a new doctor who diagnosed me with sleep apnea, and a severe vitamin B deficiency.  We were able to take me off all the migraine meds, except to treat the occasional migraine.  I am grateful to have found this new doctor.  I am grateful because slowly, it seems that God began healing my weak and dying body.  I didn’t know He was just beginning to work on the heart and emotions.

December ’08 – if i had to summarize December it would be “face your fears.”  December was a difficult month as I continued working through some pains from my past, thanks to the help of Matt and Julie.  My body continued to improve.  I started having more energy, but still wasn’t sleeping.  In December, the doctor did a second sleep test. Oh, and during my Christmas break from work, I almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning and an allergic reaction to wheat.  Both in the same week.  It was a draining week.

January ’09 – As the new year began, I was continually reminded of the word “peace.”  I was reminded that God is the One who brings peace and that this was His goal for me in the coming months… to learn peace, not because there are no storms, but because I am held by the God who controls those storms.  “the flame shall not hurt you I only design your dross to consume and your gold to refine.”  God seemed to be saying that the coming months would be a clear picture of God’s care and a refining of my dross.

February ’09 – in February I took a trip to Charlotte NC to visit a friend.  I was encouraged to realize that some of my sin struggles are the same things she struggles with.  I felt God say that this weekend would be pivotal in freeing me from certain sins and strongholds in my life.  I returned home, only to fail.  As I saw those waves of condemnation crashing down, I again became very discouraged with my lack of trust and faith in God.  And the emotional scars continued and in some ways only seemed to increase.

March ’09 – God continued to remind me that He brings beauty from pain.  And that my life, which has involved a good deal of pain, is meant to bring Him glory.  Each step I’ve taken and each tear I’ve cried was not lost to His care and love.  As my hours kept getting cut at work due to the economy, I found trusting in that love a struggle.  But I remembered where I was a year ago, in the tube for the MRI, and was refreshed to remember that my God is providing for me.  Since I still wasn’t sleeping, the doctor put me on a sleep med, for the next 3 months to try to train my body to sleep again.

April ’09 – Migraines are more an occasional occurance now instead of a daily trial.  Physically the changes in my body have been phenomenal since last October when my pastors prayed for God’s merciful healing hand to touch me.  I’m even training for a half marathon at the end of this summer!  Lord willing, I’ll have the physical strength to make that goal a reality.  The struggles to trust God to provide financially became greater as I saw to greater depths the mess I’ve created.  I was confronted about a relationship issue that I had left unresolved.  God used that to show me grace in a new and special way.  I was surprised to see such grace to me… a clearly undeserving sinner.  God overwhelmed me with that grace.

May ’09 – Again, God has overwhelmed me with His grace.  I’ve had many nights of restful sleep.  He has provided for me financially in some spectacular ways and has again and again proven Himself to be my faithful Provider.  I’m also amazed at what a gift my friends are and how God has used them to show me His care.  They have sacrificed so much just to simply show me God’s love.  I’m grateful… and overwhelmed.

So, that’s the last 18 months.  I don’t know what the next ones will contain.  But I know that the faithful God who has carried me through many physical, emotional and financial pains time after time, will continue to carry me through every storm He has ordained for me.  I continue to struggle with fear… fear of the unknown, fear of future pain.  But God is faithful in comforting me with the truth that no matter what trials come, He is with me.

what are you doing, God?

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ever have those times where you ask “What are you doing, God?”  I know His ways are higher than mine.  I know that He loves me and give and takes for my good.  I know what He’s given me, He also has the right to take away when He should choose.  And I know looking back that every time God has taken something from me its always been for my good, even though immensely painful and gut-wrenching at times.  I know that though things can be taken, that nothing can separate me from His love.  How I need that love to hold me close today.  How I long for my war-torn heart to rest there. 

God seems to be shifting me from one furnace to another.  And I am as unhappy with this appointment as I was with the last.  How I long for it to end.  Trials are a funny thing like that… you beg and beg for them to end and as soon as they do you realize that you’ve learned so much more than ever possible had you not gone through that trial.  So as incomprehensible as it seems to your feelings, you find yourself thanking God for what you just walked through.  And simultaneously you pray that you’d never have to go through it again.  In many ways, that’s where I’m at.  I’m grateful for the trials that God has carried me through because I know to a greater degree the depths of His love, care and compassion towards me.  But as I face yet again another trial, I approach it with the same dread and horror as I faced the last.  Horror because as God is calling me to pick up my cross and follow Him, I’m seeing the death, pain, suffering and heartache that accompanies that cross.  And nothing in me wants to go there. 

Yet somehow my loving Shepherd has promised to be with me each step of the way.  He has promised to complete what He has begun.  He has already cared for me time after time and He is faithful.  Because of that, through His strength to hold me, with His help, I will rest in His control over this.  I am choosing to look past the pain, to look past the cross to my Strong Deliverer, who defeated the power of death and the cross.  He will preserve me by His mercy.  He is my Rock in the middle of the storms.  God has promised to complete what He’s begun, therefore I can have hope that He will keep me safe and true in Him…even here, even in this, even though nothing in me wants this.

Somehow I’m excited to see God provide.  As He keeps taking and in my mind its getting even more difficult for Him to provide, I look to my Jehovah-Rophe with hopeful anticipation to meet my needs and comfort my sorrows.  I haven’t really known what to say lately because it seems there are no words to describe the unutterable ache in my soul.  Nothing seems sufficient other than crying to my Maker… the One who knows me and will never leave me alone.  So, in my loneliness, I look to the One who will never leave, abandon or forsake.  In my pain, I look to the One who suffered in my place.    In my despair, I look to the only One who was ever forsaken by God with gratitude that He will not leave me here.  And in my moments (or days) when I just want to complain, I remember how good He has been to me.  The God who restored my broken soul and gave me life, the God who gives me a reason for joy in my mourning, the God who drew me through His kindness and irresistable love… that God will not quit.  So I look to Him.

where i’ve been

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i know this blog has been quiet lately.  for those of you who read regularly, i apologize.  there are several reasons for my silence.  the first is that i’m on vacation.  i left last saturday for a visit to MD, PA, VA and NC.  Currently I’m in PA visiting my grandparents.  Our manufacturing plant is closed until next Tuesday which means i’ve got some time off work.  So, i decided to take advantage of a less than preferable opportunity of “forced vacation” to visit my extended family.  So far its been a great trip… but more on that in a minute.

the other reason my blog has been silent is because i really haven’t known what to say.  this has been a different season for me… one of loneliness and yet again, new questions.  one of just not knowing what to say.  simply stated its just been a season of mourning in a way… mourning over things i can’t change… mourning over things i wish i had done differently…wondering why God doesn’t step in and longing for heaven.  but i know i can’t spend my time focusing on what “could have been.”  so its been a season of private journaling, of crying out to my God to deliver me from this darkness, and of learning what it means to look to Him, believing He is constant and faithful through every storm… of learning greater depths of His grace and mercy.  of crying out for more grace and more mercy.  and of waiting for it…

so, i am grateful for a week to just get away from it all and refocus.  on the drive up (12 hours in a car alone can be a wonderful thing), i began listening to an audiobook: John Newton: from Disgrace to Amazing Grace.  I still have about 5 hours left of the book but its been very encouraging so far.  i’m grateful for God’s grace… so undeserved to such a wicked sinner like John Newton… and me. 

another thing God has been reminding me of is His power.  though at times i’m tempted to question whether or not He is lovingly overseeing each aspect of my life, I know He is.  Not gonna lie, when I got pulled over and charged with “reckless driving” while going 82 in a 70, i wanted to get angry.  angry because i was staying with the flow of traffic… angry because God knows I don’t have extra funds to pay for a ticket now too.  and then almost immediately, the Holy Spirit began reminding me that He is the God that works in mysterious ways, and that He wants me to look to Him, even here, even in my failure, even in my weakness, even now when i just want to cry.  i’m not sure how this one will end up, but i’m trying to look to my God, my great High Priest who knows my weakness and has promised me mercy and help. 

last weekend, i visited my friend Leanne.  it was encouraging to finally meet her.  :)  and encouraging to see how God is working in her life… even in little ways like providing a second drummer for their church.  YAY!  :)  I went with her and her husband to church on sunday morning.  Worship particularly was very encouraging – just being reminded over and over again that my weakness is not greater than God’s grace and help.  i feel really weak.  and when i fail to feel His grace and help, He has promised still to be there.  so i cling to that.  worship was just a reminder for me of that truth.  then on Monday night, I met my friend Sara for coffee.  it was encouraging to hear of God’s faithfulness through her health issues in the past year.  it was faith-building to see God working in greater ways and deeper depths than i’m aware… to see Him doing great things beyond the walls of my little world.  she was encouraging me to keep my focus on God, remembering that its not all trials.  that God really does love and have what’s best in mind for me.  i’m clinging to the fact that its true. 

so, for the next week or so, my blog will be silent.  i’m leaving tomorrow for my other grandparents house, then DC, then Raleigh, and won’t be home until next Monday.  i’m praying that God uses this week of reflection to refocus my thoughts on Him and to encourage me with His unchanging love.  i’d appreciate your prayers as i’m learning that my God is bigger than all circumstances, no matter what they are.  :)