Sunday, July 17, 2011

Morning Blessings

Starting the day like this really isn't a hardship (though I still don't like the getting up part of mornings), indeed, it's truly a blessing.

Here's the 180 degree view from my comfy spot on the porch swing where I get to spend precious time reading God's Word, humming His praises, and hearing all the beautiful sounds of the morning and the creek that tumbles along just past the treeline directly in front of me.

From East...

to Southeast...

to South Southeast...

to South Southwest...

to Southwest...

to West.

Surrounded by God's beauty, both in view and in hearing!  How could I not know how blessed I am?

(note:  only the Rhododendron in the last picture was here when we moved in 2 1/2 years ago - aside from the grass, of course)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Personal Testimony

So, have you ever put your testimony, or story of how God changed you, down on paper before?  Maybe you have one of those stories where you know the hour and minute that your conversion happened.  Maybe you grew up in a Christian home and have always walked with God from a young age, growing deeper in relationship with Him over the years.  Or maybe the when and where of salvation in your life is hard to put a finger on - then you'd be just like me (or not)! 

We host a Christian Apologetics group in our home weekly throughout the school year where parents and children of all ages meet to learn how to answer some hard questions.  It's based on 100 questions, statements or definitions from the Apologetics category of the NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association).  The kids working on "cards", or a presentation of each subject, range in age between 10 and 16, and we have "timers" who are as young as 7 years old.  The fathers (and church elders or deacons) in the group present teachings each week on a new topic for the kids to get a start for where to do their research.  And each week they ask if anyone would like to share their testimony.  For almost a year now I've been trying to get my story figured out enough to write in out (so it's intelligible and not rambling) in order to be able to share it with the group.  Well, it was crunch time as yesterday was our last meeting of the year and the parents had been instructed that instead of the kids giving their cards, the parents would share their testimonies.  

Gulp!  I'd better get mine done!  So, after lots of prayer and several people listening to my (almost) whole story and giving some great feed back about some theological questions I had about salvation (can one walk in rebellion and still be 'saved'? etc.), I finally got it down on paper.  After that I only had to get it typed (in the last 10 minutes before our meeting!).  Now, fully typed up and already shared, I thought maybe I'd share it here for you all to read.  I would like to say that for those who know me very well or for very long will see that I left a lot out of this story, but I hope that I've portrayed a real picture of the rebellious and hopeless periods in my life without all the gory details.  This, after all is an overview, meant for a "G-rated" audience.

Without further adieu, here's my testimony:

Who here likes a story with a happy ending?  Me too!  You know, I think there is something built into every one of us that longs for good things.  But every good story always has its moments where there’s that tension and you wonder if good can really triumph over evil after all. 

Well, I know one of those kinds of stories.  Would you like to hear it?  Yes?

Once up on a time there was a little girl who was told about Jesus and His great love for her, how He gave up His perfect life for her very own sins.  How sorry she was for those sins that caused Him to die, and she asked Him to come take away her sin, make her clean.  Oh!  What a joy it was then for her to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and know deep within just how very true it was.

But this little girl didn’t live in a home where her parents taught her what it meant to love and follow Jesus.  She lived in a home where she was taught to only believe the things she could see or hear or feel or touch or taste.  Those were the only REAL things – you know, the thinks that science could prove.  She was also taught that if she believed in spiritual or religious things, well… that was just in spite of the facts, so, it was really like believing in a fairy-tale.  But, even with this training at home and in school, a small part of her heart never gave up believing in Jesus, though at times it was almost overwhelmed.

Well, this little girl grew up, and as she grew, she began to openly rebel against her parents, against what her conscience told her was right, against what she had first learned of God’s laws for His children.  Her life was being filled with dark, angry and hurtful things.  She eventually got married, had children, lived what looked like the American Dream, and even went to church on Sundays.  But, her heart was still angry and hurt and full of pain.  Sometimes she wondered where all the joy of her childhood had gone. But, mostly she just trudged on, trying to do things right and then always failing.

Then one day she decided to take a class that taught her some very important things she had never heard before.  It taught her that she had been wrong!  She learned that there really was evidence for believing in God and His Son Jesus, that the Bible really was trustworthy.  And you know what?  She started to feel joy again, a tiny bit at first, but ever so slowly it grew.  Hard things happened in her life, and though she had learned that God was trustworthy, the habit of trusting in herself and things of this world for strength was still strong.  And gradually the joy in her life was being squelched again, and though she could feel it happening , she didn’t know what to do.  So, she kept on doing the normal things – cooking, cleaning, teaching, living, but she felt dried up inside and she wondered if there could ever really be joy for her heart that would last.  More hard things happened in her life and she got angry again.  But this time she decided to tell God about it.  So she drove off to the mountains to a quiet place near a river and she told God just how angry she was, how much she hurt, and how much she wanted His joy.  Then she just gave up.  She told God she didn’t want to rely on herself or anything else anymore.  She just wanted to trust in Him and His strength.  She surrendered.  And peace entered her heart.  Joy began to fill her up to overflowing.

That was 658 days ago and I’ve never been the same since!

God began His miracles in my life long ago, when I was that young little girl.  He made me alive and gave me the gift of faith in Him.  And He preserved that faith in me even throughout my years of rebellion, pride, selfishness and confusion.  In His infinite grace and love, He is changing me more and more into what He’s calling us all to be, to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He’s been working miracles in my life over the years, but in really obvious and amazing ways of the past 658 days.  He’s changed my heart to where I really want to obey Him.  He’s shown me what I was designed for (a wife and mother) and how to really love my family and obey my husband (still a work in progress there!).  I have joy and peace even when things aren’t easy.  And maybe one of the biggest areas in which He’s changed my thinking is in regards to children – what a blessing they are and how big a responsibility it is to train them up for God.  Second biggest change is in truly desiring to submit to my husband in all things!

I have watched my husband step out and begin to lead our family.  I have watched rebellion be replaced with love.  I’ve seen my oldest son transformed.  I’ve watched as joy grew in my youngest son.  I’ve discovered myself letting go of things I’ve always tried to control – and found joy in it all!  [If you had really known me years ago, you wouldn’t recognize me now.]  There has been so much good change in my life, yet I’m not finished changing, it’s an ongoing thing.

Someday though, for those who trust in Jesus, our transformation will be complete – all the old habits, sins, and struggles will fall away like broken chains and we will be truly free to enjoy God forever!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Random Pictures

Images captured this spring that remind me of God's creative works and beauty!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On the other side

In Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday, February 7th, 2011, the event we had been praying for, saving for, and dreaming about for over a year finally happened!

Dr. Levin performed the surgery that made my tubes whole and unblocked.

God is responsible for it all, and whatever comes next!

Do we hope for children? Yes.
God has written in His Word that children are a blessing and that we are to raise up for Him a godly heritage. Of course we want His blessing! And we earnestly desire to produce and raise up for Him a godly offspring. Yet, we're not the ones who control conception - that is God's.

How has this affected our faith?
I believe it has grown our faith and trust in the sovereignty of God, and in His unfailing grace and mercy which we all so desperately need. He has most definitely bestowed upon us unmerited favor, yet for His precious Son's sake, it is merited! Oh, how we glory in that!

God, You are so good! Your beauty is beyond my comprehension, though we see poor reflections of it in the face of a child, in a vibrant and glowing sunset, in the way the sunlight floods across the snow and illuminates even the darkest shadows! Thank You for the gift of Your Son who was obedient even unto death that I might live to see your Glory! Thank You for the promise of a future in Your presence, triumphant over sin and evil, by the indwelling of Your Holy Spirit! Father, refine me! Show me my idols and my sin. May I not be blind to the things that separate me from sweet fellowship with You! Thank You, Lord for granting repentance even to one such as myself! May I be transformed into one who bears your image more and more clearly each day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Count Down!

Have you ever had something coming up in your life that you knew, just positively knew, that your life would never be the same after it happened?

Well, one week from tomorrow, my life will change!

Oh, I know it has changed already, and even if surgery never happens, I'm still sold out to obedience to the One whom I've made LORD (as in, controller, ruler, master) of my life.

But... when the surgery does happen and it's all reversed, every day will be lived out in faith! It just naturally will change everything! And I'm so excited for that day when each new day will take all the faith I have, and maybe even stretch it a little!

So, I'm counting down the days until there's absolutely no going back, it's ALL in, and I can completely live for God!


Oh, I can hardly wait! It's worse than when I was a kid at Christmas!

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A year's journey!

So, have you noticed just how fast a year can fly by (when you're not 10 years old!)? This past year seems to have gone by so quickly, looking back on it, yet some parts of it seemed to take forever!

Almost a year ago Charles and I had our lives changed by God's Providence, drawing us into deeper obedience to Him and convicting us of our rejection of His sovereignty over our fertility. We repented and have since been seeking to have a Tubal Reversal (TR).

We have learned so much this past year about waiting on the Lord, trusting Him to work all things for our good. He has blessed us beyond measure as we've grown in Him, desiring His will above our own. Now, not to say that we've done everything in obedience to Him or that we haven't slipped back into some of our old habits, but even then, He was faithful to call us back to Himself!

We've loved our new Church family over the past year - loved getting to know them better through fellowship and prayer and dinners and lunches and meetings and... well, living life with them! We are so thankful for the opportunities for growth we have had through these people whom God has placed in our lives!

We've been blessed to be a part of my Grandmother's home-going to be with Jesus and all the wonderful legacy of prayer and faithfulness that she has left us. Along with that legacy, we were also gifted with my grandparent's home which my grandfather built for my grandmother when I was a small child. It's really been a wonderful blessing to us as we have traveled back home through the holidays to have our own place to be settled!

Through all this past year we've been endeavoring to pay off bills in order to start putting funds aside for TR surgery, and we've made a small amount of progress, but our goal was still such a long way off. After prayer and discussion on the issue, we decided to apply for a home equity loan on our new property to a)pay off all other bills, b)make all the necessary repairs to our new home, and c)pay for surgery. It's been quite a process to bring to completion (something about an archaic property description and a boundary survey and wrong addresses and FedEx-ing documents and ... well, you get the picture!) but on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 we received our funding. Almost everything is paid off (I still have to schedule 1 more bill payment) and ... yes, surgery is paid for and scheduled for February 7th, in Kentucky!

Almost a year (minus about a week) to the day that the Lord showed us our sin and our forward course, He provided the funds to allow us to have our TR. We are rejoicing in God's goodness to us! Please pray with us that we all remain healthy and that we have safe travels to Kentucky when we fly out on February 3rd (just two weeks away). We pray for a successful TR surgery and whatever blessings the Lord bestows in the years to come, yet mostly, we endeavor to pray "Not my will, but Yours be done."

Yes, Lord. Your will!