Category Archives: thanksgiving

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.

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 life right now

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so, for Thanksgiving, Ted’s parents are in town.  We’re getting together at his grandma’s house and since this is the year for my sister and brother-in-law to be at his family’s house for Thanksgiving, my parents are coming with me.  I’m so glad that we all get to spend the holiday together!

i’m really excited.  i love Thanksgiving!  its probably one of my favorite holidays!  And I love being able to spend it with the folks I love.  :)  I”m also excited because everyone is making the food gluten and dairy free for me (and Ted’s nephew TJ who is also allergic to dairy).  I’m grateful for folks who are so understanding and willing to serve me in this way…

on Friday, Ted and I are getting up to go shopping at 5 am!  What an amazing guy… he must really like me to get up that early to stand in lines with a bunch of crazed ladies.  haha.  i’m hoping to get most of my Christmas shopping done that day… we’ll see how it goes!  i have a list of quite a few things I’d like to get…  then later that day, we’ll meet up with some other folks in his family to do some more shopping and then end the day with a yummy dinner at the Melting Pot with his parents and brothers (and families).  Yay!

Saturday Ted and I get to go to lunch with my sweet friends Christa and Wendy.  I’m still mad at Christa for moving to NC last January, but i guess i have to forgive…. sometimes its just SO hard…  :)  then on Sunday i’m getting together for coffee before church with my other friend Christa.  Fun times!  I’ve missed both of them.

then next Tuesday, Laura (my roommate), Ted and I are going to decorate our Christmas tree.  Even though Ted and I are going to be out of town from December 24th through January 4th, I’m still putting up the tree… it just seems criminal to not have it up…

Christmas is only a month away… wow… time flies!  We’ll spend Christmas eve with my family and then drive that night to Mississippi where we’ll be until December 28th.  On the 28th, we’re driving from MS to Pennsylvania… 16 hours!  I figure if we can make it through that, we can make it through anything! :)  Then we’ll spend a few days with both sets of my grandparents and will get to see my aunts and uncles and cousins!

I’m really looking forward to the next month!  yay!

 

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

great things

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But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.

1 Samuel 12:24

 

God has done COUNTLESS great things for me… so many that I’m not even aware of all He does to care for and protect me. 

I love my Savior and am so grateful for the amazing grace He has shown me. 

  • He has saved me. I was running from Him and He saved me.
  • He has changed my desires.  I was selfish and only did what I wanted.  Now, though I’m still selfish, He is changing those desires one by one to be conformed to His holiness.
  • He has adopted me as His child. 
  • He provides for me every day….I have a home, health, friends… so many blessings…
  • He has promised to complete the work that He began in me.  This gives me much hope.

What about you?  Feel free to leave comments of what Christ has done for you…  He’s great. Let’s magnify this great God together…

God answers prayer…

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I got an email from a friend of mine today.  We’ve been praying for years for her grandma’s salvation…  and this is what she had to say today about that…  I was so excited that I had to share it with you all too…  :)  Praise God that He draws hearts to him… even when we lack faith in trusting Him to save…

 

… Just wanted to let you know that God is so good! That through Him all things are possible, that He indeed does answer prayer. I learned a lesson last night about God’s faithfulness, that there is no hopeless situation. God does hear our prayer, He does love us. I also learned last night how faithless my prayers are and how faithless I can be. But despite all that He does hear them. I know I’m babbling and caring on and repeating myself, but I can’t help myself. I’m so excited and so happy. I keep getting teary eyed. I bawled last night.

My Grandma called me last night with the best news! She had been to visit Dr. Davis (He’s the pastor of First Baptist Durham) a wonderful man of God. My whole family highly respects this guy. Anyway he took her through Romans 9 and God reached down and touched my Grandma’s heart and saved her!!!!! I need to stop thinking about this; people won’t understand why I’m crying. :)  But I can’t stop thinking about it and praising God! It’s surreal in a way… it’s wonderful!

fearfully and wonderfully made

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I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14  “Preach truth to yourself, Em. Don’t let your feelings or emotions walk all over you…walk all over them with the TRUTH!!!”

 

A dear friend of mine sent me this verse & message yesterday morning.  I was complaining to her that I hadn’t been feeling well and the medicine I am taking has made my stomach even worse.  Physically the past week or so has just been hard.  And emotionally it’s been a roller coaster of epic proportions.  I haven’t slept well lately and seem to just need help to make one aching foot move in front of the other.  So, I have found myself struggling to have joy, to trust in God and to run to Him as my sweet Comforter… and then I’ve been discouraged as I see my piles of overwhelming sin and weakness.

 

Over at the Blazing Center, the post yesterday morning was about the “pitbull widow”… the widow who kept coming with a tenacious faith, pleading and begging for justice.  My first thought was sinfully, “I’m tired of asking God for answers…I’m tired of having faith… I’m tired of Him not answering me… I’m tired… I’m tired… I’m tired…”  My second thought was worse than the self-absorbed first.  It was “why doesn’t God care?  Why won’t He answer?  He knows how tired and weary I am…”

 

Then I left those thoughts and quickly got wrapped up in the day.  Well at lunch, I re-read the email from my friend.  And God just really spoke to me and encouraged me with a few things.  I realized that no matter how I feel, the truth is that I am wonderfully made by an all-wise, all-loving Creator.  This body that hurts for no reason, the migraines, the weakness, the pain… was wonderfully planned by a God who is not limited, as I am. 

 

It’s not an accident.  It’s not an oversight.  It’s not sign of a God who does not hear or care… All that happens in my life is planned by a God who loves me… a God who delights in me coming to him in my weakness, with a humble dependence on Him, tenaciously bringing my requests with a pitbull like confidence and trust in His goodness. 

 

I often find it hard (or nearly impossible) to praise God for my body.  It’s so hard to praise God for weakness.  And I’m so aware of the weakness and imperfections.  And yet, as the Psalmist says “wonderful are Your works, my soul knows it VERY well.”  So, though I don’t have the strength to praise God for this, I am praying for grace that He would empower me to do so in spite of how I feel.

 

God’s amazing works of redeeming me, of adopting and accepting me, of providing physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. for me is overwhelming.  He has not forgotten me.  His faithfulness is with me.  The Almighty Creator of the universe made me … with all my imperfections, so that I would use my days to bring glory to Him.. that He would be glorified in my weakness. 

 

For all I have done against this holy God, I should be in hell.  Yet in His gracious lovingkindness, I am not.  Through the blood of Jesus Christ, I am forgiven.  And in God’s mercy, I am living a full, rich life where I have food every day and a bed to go home and sleep in. 

 

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:14

perfect peace

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my soul this week has not been characterized by peace, let alone perfect peace.  many times, for many reasons, i have struggled with worry…  worry over health, worry over seeing friends walking through very hard situations, worry over the future…  i could write a long list of the things i’ve worried about over the past few days.  but i know I should focus on where I know God wants me to focus… on His care for me, His power over my life and His goodness…

He has blessed me lavishly.  I don’t deserve His kidness.  I am overwhelmed at His patience with me.  I so often am tempted to see my sin as greater than Christ, but then He reminds me that its not.  What hope that gives to me when all seems dark. 

A friend of mine reminded me about a year ago that it is when life seems the darkest that the stars shine the brightest… and don’t forget to look up.  As I was reading through my journal last night, I came across that reminder again.  So, though my heart feels overwhelmingly dark right now and each step is clouded by confusion, here are a few of the “stars…”

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!  Psalm 27:13-14

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Has he said, and will he not do it?  Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?  Numbers 23:19

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.  I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me…Psalm 57:1-3

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.  The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  Psalm 103:2-8

fear not

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My child, do not be afraid. Every day of your life was ordered before you were even born. I was faithful then, to call you to me before you desired me, before you knew me, before you lived for me. I loved you first. There is no need now for you to be afraid in this storm.

What is the worst that could happen to you? Death? I am the God who is faithful to old age, even to death. A lack of answers of clarity? I am the God who knows all. No answer is hidden from me. Darkness? No direction visible to you? I am the God who leads the blind along unknown paths. Loneliness? I am the God who will never leave you. Pain beyond your ability to handle? I am the God who gives strength to the youth who are weak and faint. I am He who provides grace to the weary and help to the tired.

What is it you fear that I in my power am unable to provide? You could bring care after care to me until you have no more and still every care will find a balm in my healing and help. Every need is provided in me. I love you.

Do not doubt my care because my hand is pruning. Do not doubt my love as you feel the winter’s cold wind blow. You are precious to me and I will protect and care for you through every storm. Rejoice, sweet chosen, adopted and dearly loved child of mine, for through this trial and pain, you are seeing the benefit of years of plenty. Now, when it seems there is no fruit on your tree, you are learning that your roots do indeed go deep and this faith I called you to only a few short years ago, that faith is real. It is being tested even now and it is standing firm. Be encouraged, my child, I am producing growth. This trial is bringing endurance and the more you see my hand at work through the unknown, you will grow in faith and hope.

My Son, Jesus, who died to bring you to me, is praying for you right now. He is standing here saying “Father, forgive her weakness, forgive her lack of faith. Be satisfied in her struggle. Look to my payment and be satisfied.” And you know, child, I am fully and completely satisfied with that payment on your behalf.

So come to me, in your weakness, nakedness and need, confident in my affection and care for you. Even now, when you don’t know what to say, my Spirit is also praying for you. He is interceeding on your behalf, interpreting your tears and pain and carrying your woes before my throne of grace. So, child, cry. Cry out to me.

I loved David and I loved to see his dependence on my power as expressed so often through his tears. Cry, even when there seem to be no words. The Spirit of God is carrying those cries directly to me. They are not lost. I am listening and my arm has never been too short to save. Be confident, in the midst of this trial, of my unchanging faithful love to you.

The steadfast love I showed to your fathers, the guidance to Abraham, the protection to David, the redemption for Jonah, the transformation for Rahab, the love that did not forsake Naomi, that provided for Ruth, and that blessed Hannah…sweet child, I am that same God. And I offer those same things to you. I would delight and joy in you coming to me in hope and faith, not cowering in fear. Judgment is paid. Freedom is yours. Live there. Rejoice there. I will never forsake.

But when you feel forsaken, remember my promises. When you feel tempted beyond your strength to endure, remember I will empower you to stand firm against every attack of the evil one. Even Satan is under my control; there is no need to fear his attacks.

Rest. Rest in the storms, for I hold you safe. I never slumber and darkness does not blind me, as it does you. Don’t you see? I want you to be free, not bound by fear. This trial is producing sweet freedom as you are learning of my sovereign care and provision. Like I said to the shepherds the day I sent my son “do not fear.”. Like I told the disciples the day my Son left them and returned to Me… “do not fear.”

And now you join their ranks…the ranks of the weak and helpless of this world whom I have chosen and loved. “Do not fear.” “This trial was given to you as a gift from a hand of love. Though you do not understand the purpose of the gift you do know the hand. You have seen my care and love proved time and time again to you.

And now, sweet child though you do not understand why, take this gift of pain, suffering and confusion and accept it as a good thing given by a Father who loves you. At this time in your life, what you desire is not a good gift. That is why I have chosen this. Won’t you rest in my arms? I can see tomorrow.

This “mistake” will make sense one day. And even if I never choose to show you the reason why, don’t forget I am using this to bring glory to myself and draw others to see my power displayed in you! Is that not enough? My power at work in you? That is why I don’t wnat you to fear. I know what will come tomorrow. And it is good. Rest. Rejoice. Lean on me. I will never ever let you go.”

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