August 17, 2016

My Father's Eyes

Lately, I've been taking stock of myself.

I feel like I'm able to look at myself more honestly lately than I ever have in my life. I am able to look at my weaknesses and my bad patterns very clearly and then make a clear decision on whether or not I'm going to change.

I think several years ago this would have been too painful for me. I hid myself from myself. I glossed over my weaknesses. I purposely ignored my failures.

This morning, I was thanking God for the strength He's given me lately to do this and God surprised me again with His grace.

He told me how much He loved me~how precious I am to Him. He reminded me that He has always seen my weaknesses but He sees my strengths and mostly He sees me the way He intended me to be. He sees my potential. And He never wants me to forget that. He wants me to always see myself as He sees me. He wants me to remember that we're not done yet. And He appreciates that I'm always wanting to improve and become more like Him.

As I was thanking Him for letting myself see myself honestly, I was thinking of writing it down for all of you. And when God began to speak to me, He told me, "Tell them this!"

"I love YOU so much~You are precious to me. I have always seen your weaknesses but I see your strengths too. Mostly I see you the way I intended you to be. I see your potential. And I never want you to forget that. Always remember the way I see you. We're not done yet. And I appreciate that you are always wanting to improve and become more like Me"

            Love, Your Father

Have a wonderful day!

love and blessings~

August 11, 2016

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

We left our beautiful home in Colorado 23 years ago and moved to Opelika, Alabama for my husband to get his PhD in Economics at Auburn University. We had built a house in Colorado that I loved five years earlier. Our daughter was seven and our son was 18 mos. I did not want to go.

In fact, inside, I was kicking and screaming. On the outside, I was doing my best to be a submitted wife but inside I was brokenhearted to leave our home, our family, our church and our friends.

We bought a house in Opelika, Alabama, which is the small town next to Auburn. It was not nearly as wonderful as the house we had owned in Colorado and one of the hardest things for me is that it was dark inside. The sun shines in Colorado about 300 days out of the year and the humidity is very low and Alabama's climate was a huge adjustment for me. And the winters were cloudy, damp and dark. I was homeschooling our two children and so was home in our dark house a lot.

One day, I took a walk out into our back yard. It was a sunny day but the small forest of 75' tall hardwood trees in our backyard kept the sun from getting to our house. As I was walking around and talking to God, I pointed out to Him the trees that I would like down so that the sun could reach the house. It was just musing, as I knew we couldn't afford to pay someone to take these huge trees down.

About a year later, as I mentioned in my last post, we experienced Hurricane Opal. The combination of the hurricane and the tornadoes that spun off it brought down a lot of trees in our community. We were without power at our house for four days. Our neighborhood really gathered together helping each other get the damage cleared away.

We went to church on a Wednesday night soon after the hurricane and everyone was telling their story. Most of them were saying how the storm passed right over them and they had no damage. We had seven trees down; three on the house, and one through an upstairs window!

I went home that night and it's one of the few times I can remember being mad at God. I lay in bed that night and told Him 'How come we have all these trees down and others don't? And now we have a $500 deductible on our insurance and we are going to have to pay that money! We can't afford that! How can that be a blessing?!"

Within a couple of days, the insurance company came out and gave us an appraisal on the damage. Then a company came out, cleared the trees out of the yard and got them off our house and repaired the damage on our roof and window. We have pictures somewhere of the trees down - their whole root base torn out of the ground - and laying on their sides!

We received a check from the insurance company. When we got the bill from all the repairs and removals, we had money left over! We had actually made money! Little did I know that the insurance company did their appraisal and then took out the $500 deductible before they issued their checks. When all was said and done, we had an extra $300!

And one day in the middle of all of this, I realized that the only trees that we lost were the ones I had told God I wanted gone!

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I still am amazed by what God did in that season in my life. He showed me that even though I don't always understand why He takes us where He does, He always has our best interest at heart. He is always listening even though at the time, I may not feel like things are going my way. And He is pursuing me with blessings~over and above all I can think or imagine!

And the biggest lesson I learned is that what may look like a storm, with nothing but bad consequences, can be a blessing in disguise. Because God is good all the time.

love and blessings~

August 8, 2016

Sharing the Love of Christ

When our children were little, we moved next door to a family that didn't know Jesus. We typically started our homeschooling day with reading the Bible, memorizing a verse and praying together as a family. One morning after realizing that this family did not know Christ, we prayed together that we would be a witness to them.

The next day, their little boy punched our 8 year old daughter in the stomach! I sat down for a minute when she came home with her story and injury and talked to God. I told Him that we had just prayed for this family and look at this!

And the Lord brought this scripture passage to mind:

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons ofthe Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36

And I had a revelation. I realized that it's easy for us to be an example of love when everything is good. It's when things go wrong, when people are unkind, when there's really a reason to be offended, that people will notice the difference. When we surprise them with love and peace in the face of adversity and offense, they will see Jesus.

We walked over to their house and met with the parents, heard both sides of the story and found out our daughter wasn't blameless, and we asked forgiveness and gave forgiveness. From then on, we had a very good relationship with their family.

One day, about a year later, we lived through Hurricane Opal. Our power went out at 9 pm and we spent a scary night in the basement listening to the multiple tornadoes come up our street and trees crashing all around us, and even one breaking through a window and coming into the house. When we got up in the morning, we had seven hardwood trees down in our backyard, three of them across our roof, and one, like I said, into a window. Our neighborhood was a mess but thankfully, not a single person in our town was injured!

Several neighhbors gathered in another neighbor's yard to cut and remove trees from their driveway. The kids were running all over and enjoying the chaos. Soon, several of the kids rang the doorbell telling us that our 3 year old son was hurt. I ran outside to see blood pouring down his face. When the neighbors realized I was there because he was hurt, all the chain saws stopped and they wanted to make sure he was ok. I asked him what had happened and he told me he wanted to pet the little neighbor dog and that she got a mean look on her face and jumped up and bit him.

She had clipped him right above his eye brow and below his eye and the two tiny wounds were bleeding profusely. I immediately wiped the blood away, saw the small injuries, scooped him up as I spoke gently to him and started to carry him home. The mom of the neighbors we had prayed for ran over to see if he was ok and I smiled and said that it looked minor.

Forever after that, she would tell me whenever she saw me, that she couldn't believe how calm I was. I've thought about that a lot since then. I've wondered what she was used to. She would come and talk to me whenever she had a chance and she would always mention it.

We lived next door to them for five years. We continued to pray for them while we were there. I hope we were a blessing to them and God has brought our prayers, and other's for them, to fruition.

But because of that situation, I've learned to look at adversities as an opportunity to shine in Christ. I look at bad situations completely differently and watch and listen to the Holy Spirit to see how He wants me to use that opportunity. And because I know that 'Jesus is interceding to cause all things to work for good for those who love the Lord' (Romans 8:28) I stay in peace.

love and blessings~