518,400 minutes

There are many of you out there who are familiar with the song “525,600 Minutes” reflecting on the minutes that make up 365 days, one year. 518,400 minutes is 360 days and as I was continuing to study the word #JOY in scripture this morning, I pondered what a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend I had, the joy I felt in the many wonderful moments shared with my two youngest daughters. This morning as I reflected, my thoughts went back to this time in my life just last year.

We had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, three of my four kiddos were home. (My oldest called me and we had a nice visit). First, I got to sing with one of my daughters at church Sunday morning, followed by being taken out for lunch. We continued to have a fun afternoon, watching movies and just being silly. It was a day filled with much laughter and love. My youngest baked me a chocolate cake from scratch! The day ended at the movie theater, watching the newest action flick of the summer. I felt happy and blessed.

This Mother’s Day I had my youngest two at my side as we headed off for Sunday worship and once again I was blessed to be singing with my daughter, this time her younger sister would join us. As I thought about what to sing, I thought about all that this past year has entailed for me, for us as a family. So, even though we sang it last year; I chose to sing the song “Blessings” by Laura Story again with my girls. It just seemed very fitting, this last year has certainly brought more pain and tears if you only look at the earthly aspects of this thing we call our life. Yet, for me, for my family–we know the blessings that can come from the trials and pain that God allows to come our way. (Let us not forget about His faithful servant Job). He is most certainly our comfort in the storm. In this past year, we experienced one of the worst storms we have had to face as a family to date.

518,400 minutes ago, on this day my phone would ring and after an initial familiar voice would start the conversation, a stranger would give me the terrible news. There had been an accident, it should have been fatal, but my daughter was doing well. They had been able to remove her from the wreckage and were proceeding to take her to the nearest trauma center.

Conscious. Broken bones.

The words still seem so fresh, so real as if they are being spoke again, right now in this moment. My son was still home, which I am forever thankful for. I doubt he will ever really know how much his presence in those early hours, days meant to me… how much he helped hold me together. I called one of my “moms” from our church family, to fill her in on what had occurred and to start the mighty power of prayer. As we drove the hour to where they were taking my daughter, an officer would call with additional information.

Fatal accident. Miracle.

I could smile through my tears as he said the later. Yes, through my silent tears I could smile; because my God is in the business of miracles. In those earliest days, I would share with others that I believed without a doubt that God must have big plans for my girl.

We would arrive at the hospital literally just behind the surgeon. As I glanced past my daughter to the corner where the docs and nurses were looking at her Xray, even an untrained eye would know it was bad. She would have surgery that night and our journey would begin. 518,400 minutes ago I nearly lost of of my children. Yet God, had other plans for her, for us as a family and we look on this moment, so many minutes ago as a way to show others who He is and how He can not only heal, but protect in the most awful of situations.

This Mother’s Day morning as we prepared to sing, my mamma’s heart was smiling as we lifted our voices, right here in the kitchen, praising Him. Thanking Him for all He has done in our lives this past year. We headed off to church (still singing in the car) and the girls waited for me to be done rehearsing with Worship Team before we did a mic check and sang through our song one last time. Then came the time for the girls to join me at the front of the church. I had decided to not share any words with our congregation as I was worried I would get too emotional and then not be able to sing at all.

We started singing, and after the first time through the chorus, as my daughters were singing the second verse, I could hear Kayleigh’s voice trailing off. I glanced over and watched as she swept away a tear or two. Then as they continued a bit further, she was just overcome with the emotion of it all. I pulled her to me and as she wept on my shoulder I sang with my younger daughter… praising Him, thanking Him because I indeed had a daughter to hold. By the final chorus she had joined us once again and our voices filled the sanctuary of our church with our simple act of praise.

What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

518,400 minutes ago we were allowed to experience this particular trial. It was in the midst of this storm, through every difficult moment, every hard night… we were also allowed to experience mercy, His Mercy, His Grace–His Presence in the midst of what seemed nearly impossible to bear. 518,400 minutes ago God gave us the opportunity to be His light, to share who He is. To be a living, breathing example of thankfulness and love.

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Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is Good – All the Time.

Until the next moment-

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When the Silence is Deafening

Today has been the sort of day I have not had in a while. One where I feel lost and alone, overwhelmed. And to tell you the truth, I still can’t pinpoint what it really is. Those old recordings are once again playing in my head. Perpetually on “repeat”, only this time I can’t actually hear them. I know they’re playing however because of the sick and heavy feeling I had when I first woke up today. But instead there is just this sick silence; nearly as maddening as the recordings themselves. I got my daughter off to school, oblivious to my state of mind. As soon as she left I set at the table, took a quick peek at Facebook to see if I needed to add anyone to my prayer list and then settled into my time with the Lord. Or, I should say I tried…

I must have read my devotional at least three times, before its words even began to break through the barrier created by the silence in my head. One would think that if you mind is in such a quiet state, it would be free to absorb whatever information you try to put into it. Perhaps, if it’s truly empty and not just masquerading as such. Instead, in my case, “empty” is merely hiding behind a mask of silence. A silent facade, holding in dark moments from my past. My routine is that I read my devotional, look up the scripture with my You Version app and share on Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, I select one of the scripture references and create an image with it. I then share an abridged version of the part of the devotional that spoke to me that morning. This morning it was Psalm 89:15-16, the devotional itself reminding us to stay close to His Presence. To relax in it, to allow our mind to be molded, our heart to be cleansed. To remember when we keep our focus on Him, every moment can be precious. I was not finding that peace this morning, my heart and mind were fighting with my dark and silent past.

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I then set here looking at the three sections of my Prayer Board, lost as to where to even start. Normally God just places on my heart a starting spot and I then just move around the board until everything is covered in prayer. I didn’t know where to start this morning, my mind could barely form whole thoughts. Broken fragments of nonsense were bubbling to the surface, finally forming tears. I immediately jumped back on Facebook and asked the women in my Bible Study to pray for me. Then I headed to the one place where I can talk to God when I feel this lost, where I can cry out, even sob to Him and pray that He could get me through this particular moment… my shower. And before you utter “TMI” understand that this has been my safe spot since I was a very young girl. When I was growing up and my father was abusing me, the bathroom was the only room in the house with a lock on it. I would come home after school and take my homework into our bathroom, lock the door and feel safe, at least for the moment.

As an adult, I still retreat to this small quiet room; to be alone, regain composure, to pray… Sometimes, it is in the shower, where the sound of the water can drown out my tears. Where the wall often holds me up as I sob uncontrollably. But just as the water washes away, falling down the drain. So do my tears, they are just gone. The ugliness, sadness, anger, fear, all of it; is gone too. I can step out, feeling a sense of calm, renewed, re-energized; suddenly able to take on the rest of my day. I promise you that the only reason I am able to do this is because He hears me as I cry out to Him in my desperation. He hears me as I cry out and ask Him “Why”? He listens as I repeat everything on my heart that He already knows. He listens and He gives me what I need to move forward. He provides me with my immediate needs and quietly whispers that He is taking care of things. As I was crying in the shower this morning, I realized that I am still worried about money and my finances. I do have a part-time job now, but how in the world am I going to take care of myself and my child on a part-time salary, not to mention catch up on months of unpaid bills, which include months of rent. He knows all that, He knew before I uttered one word, shed one tear.

I continue to read from Max Lucado’s “you’ll get through this”. The story of Joseph and all that he went through; sold into slavery (by his own brothers, mind you), thrown into prison, and all the ugliness and hurt that came along with it. He never gave up, because he knew God had something better planned for him, even as a young boy, he believe it. Today, after a good crying session, I once again believed it too. We are all His children, and He, only He is in control of our ultimate destiny.

You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. God will use this mess for good.

As I write this my heart is good again, the silence has left my thoughts free to move around in my head, as they see fit. I can concentrate once again. I was able to read from the two books I am currently reading; including being led to some very appropriate and encouraging scripture. Thoughtfully reminded by 2 Corinthians that once we become a part of Christ, we are His, not just for a little while, but always His.

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Our past doesn’t matter any longer, even though the enemy wants you to think differently. We pinned them (our past sins) to the base of the cross when we trusted our life to Christ. His death on the cross paid for all our sins, the ones we have already done and those still to cause us to fall short. In the book FerVent, author Priscilla Shirer encourages us to use the following strategy when being harassed by Satan. When in prayer we can:

Praise: Thank Him completely for forgiving you, cleansing you, changing you.  –   Repentance: See the foolishness of anything that perpetuates old sin patterns, and by His Spirit walk away.  –  Asking: Ask for freedom, for release, for the ability to detect lies and embrace truth.  –  Yes: Because you, by His resurrection power, can now walk a new way of life.

Today, I end with a prayer. Lord Jesus, forgive me for my fear and uncertainty. Forgive me for allowing the enemy to build walls that keep me from you. Thank you Lord for giving me the tools to tear them down before they are fully built. Thank you Lord for loving me, my past imperfections and all; for easing my pain, ultimately healing it with your blood. I am a new creation, beautiful and perfect in you. Amen

Until the next moment,

When Life is Throwing Lemons…

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thes 5:18

This is easier said then done sometimes. When life is handing you, no… THROWING lemons at you, I’m fairly sure you don’t happily start preparing to make lemonade. I know I don’t. I sit there in bewilderment and wonder why I am being pelted, often out of nowhere. That’s when we need to drop to our knees and ask the only one who knows the answer. We need to turn to Him in our moments of despair and disarray and ask for guidance, His guidance to get through that particular moment.

As many of you know there have been a lot of moments, even more lemons that have been tossed my way these past eight months. As I sit here to write this and look back, its hard to believe that it has been that long. That I have been stuck in what seems to be an alternative universe; my life turned upside down in so many ways.

Recap: March 26th I was fired from my job, one that I had been at for nearly four years. May 15th, my middle daughter was in a near fatal car accident. July 20th, I had minor back surgery. August 29th, although released to go back to work, my job (of which I had only been able to work three weeks) is unable to let me return due to lifting restrictions. September passes, marking six months with little to no income from being employed.

October started out being filled with a lot of opportunities and job interviews, with nothing being the right fit. All this was discouraging to say the least. Then, in mid-October, I begin to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and real opportunities begin to arise. It is important to say that this is too when I made one specific change in my daily routine, which in turn helped to heal my hurting heart and changed my vision of the world around me.

What did I do you ask? Well, I signed up for our Ladies Bible Study which was to be studying the book FerVent, inspired by the movie WarRoom. The study was to start on Oct 15th and I had the wonderful chance to see the movie with most of my kiddos the Saturday previous. Inspired cant begin to say what happened to me, or how I felt over the coarse of the next 48-72 hours. The small group I am a part of  attended the matinee showing of the movie Sunday afternoon and again I was just “on-fire” for making changes in my prayer life. In the past I have tried to make a decent effort in regards to prayer, but I always falls short; as I allow the enemy to distract me. This time it was different, not only had I been inspired by this amazing film, but I had the opportunity to join women in my church who wanted to grow in this manner too. Our first study night was a wonderful night of fellowship and encouragement,  a great stepping stone into this new way of thinking, of spending time in prayer. We were joining together to get prepared for battle, learning how to be specific, strategic, and fervent in our time of conversation with Him.

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Unlike Miss Clara, I do not have a spare closet to clear out and call my WarRoom, so I decided to create something tangible that I could move from room to room with me, to still have a visual of the prayers and scripture I was lifting up to the Lord. As you can see in my photo, I purchased one of the tri-fold boards that our kids often use for reports and demonstrations and it works great! *neat side note: One of the other women from our group had a similar idea.

So now, most mornings I sit or stand in front of my kitchen table, and have conversation with God. WHile I am at the end of my unemployed stage, I have unlimited time do to this, and often just pray until I feel like I’ve said all that I am supposed to, no time restraints… just precious quiet time with my Lord. It has changed how I pray for my family and friends, how specific I allow myself to be, being mindful to always ask God for His will, not my own. It has significantly changed the way I was praying about employment. Those changes paid off, in the last 2 1/2 weeks, I had not one, but two second interviews and I will be having a third this week. Two of these three jobs would be in management, with good salaries. I was offered a seasonal psoition at the beginning of this week while on the initial interview! God providing; blessing me for my efforts and I am overwhelmed by His love and generosity.

The last few days have brought me some downtime from school (only because there are some technical difficulties in getting online) so I have started reading the book I received from KROA (My Bridge) just in the last couple weeks; “you’ll get through this” by Max Lucado. The first chapter reminds us of the story of Joseph and how much his brothers despised him; all the really horrible things happened to him as he lived his life according to God’s plan for him.

 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. Gen 50:20a

Lucado shares that the NASB uses the word “meant” and that the Hebrew translation is a verb meaning to “weave”; thus the verse could read like this; “You wove evil, but God rewove it together for good.”  Also reminding us that God is the Master Weaver, Master Builder. Whatever the situation, HE is in control of it. When we find ourselves in a mess, a struggle, jobless, or stuck in the deepest pit. Don’t despair, Satan will try to trick you. He is fearful of you, because he knows you are a part of God’s plan. When you carry God with you, you carry who He is too; you are noble and holy, you have wisdom, kindness, and mercy. If Satan can stop your efforts, he can keep you from influencing those around you. Let the story of Joseph be a reminder that good trumps evil; that what Satan intends for evil, God will most certainly redeem for His good.

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So look up from the pit, to the outstretched hand of the Living God. It may not appear when you want it to, or when you feel it should. Remember, His timing, His will… not our own. Most importantly, remember: “you’ll get through this”.

 

Until the next moment,