Saturday, December 8, 2018

May all who seek you rejoice and be glad!

I was reading Psalm 40 tonight.

It started when a random verse popped into my head...

"I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit. Out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

As the words played in my head I was reminded of a time when I cried out to God and said, "LORD! I'm waiting for you. Please do this for me. Lift me out of my slimy pit and give me a firm place to stand."

You see, I really could NOT lift myself out of my pit. It was slimy, and I was weak. I knew it would take a God clear things up. I didn't have control of my mental illness, or the circumstances, or the people in my life, but I knew that God was big enough, great enough, and strong enough that HE could muddle through the mess with me and make things clear again, so I prayed for His faithfulness to be evident in my life.

So, tonight, when that verse was pulled from nowhere and plopped into my head, I could recite it to myself without looking it up, but I couldn't remember where it was from in the Bible. I googled and I found it... and then I read the rest of the chapter.

Back then, I didn't read the rest of the chapter. I stopped reading after, "Gave me a firm place to stand" and started crying out to God, "Give me a firm place to stand!" But now I was in a different head space and I was curious, "What exactly did David say after that verse?" Did God just give him a firm place to stand and that was it? Certainly not. There had to be more.

So I continued to read.

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." (I liked that. I wanted that)

What would a new song look/sound like? Such an optimistic thought! I loved that. I wrote it down in my journal.

"I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart." (So pure. And good. And right. And, yes, I can honestly say this, so I wrote it in my journal.)

"Do not withhold your mercy from me Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me."

How did I miss THAT verse before? This was a verse I needed back then too!  Why did I stop reading...

"Lord, do not withhold your mercy. Protect me, God, with your love and your faithfulness to me." This will be my new prayer, I thought...

But as I kept reading I realized something really important! "Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me."

"May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for saving help always say, "The Lord is great!"

Woah...

Here's the thing: Those who seek the Lord - for His saving grace - should never be turned to shame. What a heap of rocks we throw on someone when they cry out for grace and instead are given shame!

Those who come to God, asking for forgiveness, seeking His mercy with sincere hearts, should not in that moment be reminded of His wrath and walk away in shame, clothed in guilt. I mean, if there is stuff to deal with, deal with it... but bring it back to grace... and don't wrap it all up with shame.

Ugh... My heart breaks just thinking of it!

No. This is not God.

Of course, someone in that place would say to themselves, "I'm in a slimy pit!"

Those who come to the Lord for His saving grace, they should only always rejoice and be glad because they have experienced the freedom of His grace and then...

then, they can say with sincere hearts, "The Lord is GREAT!"

No one ever hangs their head in shame and says, "The Lord is great!" 

Please, please, please, Christians, do not be the reason another believer hangs their head in shame when instead you can be the reason they rejoice and say, "The Lord is great!"

Psalm 40:16...

But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

Lord, may I never be the kind of person who is heaping extra doses of shame onto those who are already weak with consuming guilt. May they never come away from me discouraged saying, "I'm in such a slimy pit and I can never get out". 

Such a tragedy. And so, so, so far from who YOU ARE!

Instead, Lord, help me to be the kind of Christian who readily offers the kind of grace that lifts spirits and gives others a reason to say, "The Lord is GREAT!" 

That they can come away with hope - that is a gift worth giving! Help me to see others through the lens of your love and grace so it will genuinely flow out of me when the time comes and it matters most. 
 
Amen. 

Do you want to get the verse stuck in your head too? ... Here you go... 



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!!!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Your mind will always believe what you tell it.


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.