Monday, May 28, 2018

And when you turn back, strengthen your brothers.

Sometimes it takes going through a challenging time to knock off some of the rough edges that we never knew existed in our lives. Peter was one of those people who needed some rough edges knocked off.
Most of us are familiar with the way that Peter failed Jesus by denying him three times prior to the rooster crowing. . . just as Jesus said he would. . . and just like Peter insisted he wouldn't. What many don't catch in the Bible is that Jesus also admitted to Peter that there was a deal made with Satan over Peter's life.

Luke 22:31-32 says,  “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Satan has asked to "SIFT YOU AS WHEAT". (gulp) wow! Seriously? Satan wanted to tear Peter apart, to break him down, until there was NOTHING left of the poor guy. Jesus tells Peter that he has prayed for him that he would get through the "sifting", and his faith would not fail, and that he would be instrumental in strengthening others with his faith when he comes out stronger after his ordeal.

I'll admit, the first time I read this I found no comfort in it at all. I couldn't get past the "sifting as wheat" comment, and I questioned why any deal should be made with Satan at all. Like, why does he have to get involved? Shouldn't he just leave the good Christians alone?

Something shifted in my mind after I went through a time of "sifting" myself that lasted much longer than I was comfortable with. I saw those verses differently when I tried to process my own personal sifting experience.

After the sifting comes a breakthrough and from that breakthrough comes a movement of others being strengthened. The trials that Satan wanted to put Peter through actually made him stronger, and because he was stronger, he could use that as a teaching tool that would then go on to strengthen others.

This was the hope I could cling to... that the terrible things that were happening that I couldn't make sense out of could somehow be used for God's glory, and therefore, not be all-for-nothing... or more importantly, not leave me weak, vulnerable, and alone, which is what I feared all along.

How about you?
Maybe you have already been through a challenging time that felt like a "sifting". Maybe you are going through that challenging time right now.

If you are in the middle of what feels like you are being sifted as wheat, take heart, and do these things:
  • Hold onto your faith. God may be using this time to refine some things in your life and that is okay. 
  • Continue seeking God. Pray, and read your Bible. Meditate on God's word, digging for nuggets of truth that speak directly to where you are at in your life right now.
  • Stay close with fellow believers who will help keep your accountable in your faith.
  • Make your question, "What are you teaching me here, God?" or  "What are you revealing about yourself to me right now?"
OH! And take notes... you just might be "strengthening your brothers" someday!!!


Friday, February 7, 2014

life.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”
-Mother Teresa

Friday, December 27, 2013

Ten years of marriage.


I met my husband in college. Freshman orientation. He had on a plaid shirt, and he had a full facial hair thing going on. He was in a group of about four guys. The guys I met him with that day would be the same core group of friends (give or take a few) that he would have all the way through college. I, on the other hand, was joyfully friend-hopping. I was swept up in the idea of meeting TONS of new people, and I wanted to meet each one. Our interaction was a very brief and informal meeting: "Hi. What's your name? Oh.  My name is...Oh okay. Well, see you around!" I might not have even remembered that brief interaction, except that I remember thinking that he looked too old to be a freshman, with the great big beard thing going on.

We didn't actually start dating, or even really hanging out, until our junior year of college. 
When we did hang out he was funny. 
And he was fun. 
But he was also serious. And I didn't understand him...

...and he continued to come around, 
and he continued to grow on me.

By the end of junior year I was wondering why we weren't married yet. We got married December 27, 2003... just a few months after we graduated.
Today we are celebrating our ten year anniversary. 


It dawned on my today how much has changed since we met, and got married. Scott has a joke he likes to tell, "Men marry women thinking they will never change. Women marry men thinking they will change....And both of them are disappointed." He waits for the reaction, and then he adds, "We laugh because it's true!"

I have changed a lot. There are many reasons for that, and Scott has embraced the changes and loved me through them all. Scott, on the other hand, he seems to have only become a better version of who he already was. All of the character traits that stood out ten years ago are the same ones that would prove to be refined with time and stand out like gold. When I was first getting to know Scott, I was impressed by his honesty, his confidence, his consistent integrity, and his impressively even-tempered personality. I felt secure with him, because I could trust him. 

 None of those things have changed, but have only increased in value with time.

Unlike Scott's character, things in life will continue to change, and so I thought I might take a few minutes tonight to write a brief  list of a few specific things that I appreciate at this point in our marriage. Scott, this one is for you...

Your witty sense of humor.
The creative way you take care of problems.
The sound of the garage opening and you coming through the door in the late afternoon.
The kids jumping up and down when they hear that daddy is home.
The way you eat my food without complaining. 
The way your hand swoops across my back as I pass you in the kitchen.
The sideways smile you shoot my way after one of the kids does something crazy. 
The subtle way you communicate things that are unique to just you and me.
How you make me laugh so hard that I have to stop you and gasp out, "Wait! I have asthma!"
Going on long trips for no reason just to enjoy nice conversation.
The way you patiently listen...even if it means hearing me say the same thing over and over again.
The way you patiently listen to everyone. 
The soft answer that brings perspective when I am desperately lacking it.
 The gentle way you lead our family.
The firm way you deal with necessary discipline in our home.




The way you lead by example. 
How you drop me off at the door, and then go park, on cold days.  
When you surprise the kids and take us someplace special.
Cuddling.
Laughing. 
The sweet, quiet times of reading to the children and praying with them at the end of the day.
The humble way you work and serve those around you.
The way you make goals, plan, and work hard to achieve your goals. 
Your faithfulness to the things God calls you to.

God knew that it would take a man like you to deal with a woman like me.  I appreciate you Scott Michael Hughes, and I am glad I get to do life with you. It's funny because when I first met you, all I saw was a guy with facial hair. Now all I see is a man who does what he wants. :) Same guy, different perspective. I don't know where I would be without you.

Thank you for being a rock when things get hard, a light when things get foggy, and a safe place to land when everything settles.

I love you.

Happy Anniversary honey!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blessed.

"Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him." ~Psalm 33:1

Thursday, February 7, 2013

He will sustain you.

This is a song I was listening to with my monkeys this afternoon while they bee-bopped around on a mattress in our living room. This one is straight from the Bible without any extra fluff and stuff, so I won't bother adding any fluff and stuff either.

Awesome song time.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Comfort for when you are dealing with fear, stress, or anxiety.

When our first born, Preston, was just two years old, we took him to a resale shop that was having its grand opening. The store was Once Upon a Child, and they had a couple of people in Dora and Diego costumes waving to people out by the street to create excitement and draw people in. We pointed them out to Preston as we pulled into our parking spot, thinking he was going to love it. Well, we were wrong. Preston immediately started expressing his disinterest in them, using words like "scary" to describe them. We reassured him that they were out by the street, so he had nothing to worry about. We took him into the store and began our shopping. While we were in the store, however, the "costumes" decided to come in and greet the children. I wouldn't have even known that Dora and Diego were in the store except for Preston's reaction to them. He ran over to the corner of the store and wedged himself into the corner and started yelling, "SCARED," while sobbing. I looked over at him and saw him being hysterical. From what I could tell, there was nothing wrong around him, but he was clearly panicking, which made me scared. I asked him, "Preston, what's wrong?" and then he pointed, and I realized what was happening. Other kids were lining up to hug Dora and Diego, taking pictures, laughing, and having a great time. Meanwhile, my child was being traumatized. He kept staring at the "costumes" like he was seeing the Devil himself. "PRESTON! Look at mommy!" I tried to shout over his crying. I wanted to reassure him it was okay, but I couldn't get him to look away from the thing that was scaring him. "Look at mommy, Preston! You're okay!" Eventually I had to give up on the idea of consoling him while in the store and carry him out of the store. He settled down once we were outside. Just a few minutes later, though, Dora and Diego came outside, and we had to start the calming process all over again. For months afterward, any time we went to a store, he would ask if there were going to be any "costumes" there, and we would have to tell him, "No, Preston, there will not be any costumes at Walmart." (or JCPenney. . . or wherever we happened to be going that day).

Preston is almost seven years old now and has completely forgotten about his first trip to Once Upon a Child, but I still think back to that moment sometimes. . . The moment when he had a choice to make: to look at me and be reassured and comforted, or to continue to look at the thing that was scaring him and feed his fear.

Where do you look to when you are afraid?  There are times when I am more like my two-year-old son than I would like to admit. Sometimes I stare at my fears until they look bigger than they really are, when I really should be looking to God and praying in faith, knowing that God's got me and it's going to be alright. I have been reading the Psalms lately in my devotional time, and I have been reminded over and over again of many things. Here are just a few:
1. God comforts us with his love and faithfulness, 
2. God offers peace as we trust in him,
3. God offers his protection and provision as we look to him. 
I have been sharing some podcasts this week from my Pastor, Gene Tanner, on the names of God, because I have found that taking the focus off of myself, my worries, my fears, and my stresses, and reflecting on the names of God instead has been a great source of strength and comfort for me, and I wanted to pass that on. Today we are going to look at another name of God. Jehovah Shalom translates to "The Lord is Peace."  If you could use some peace in your life today, you might want to check this one out. Click on the link below:
 
Jehovah Shalom