Category Archives: Contentment

Did You Know Marriage Takes Work?

 

Rich and I have been married 41 years this May. There have been great times filled with joy, growth and love. And there have been times of struggle and pain. There have been times when we’ve hurt each other deeply.  There have been times when we’ve blessed each other immensely.

Mom and Dad cancerIt helps to know that we have had strong mentor roles in both of our parents who cared for each other and stayed by each other through very difficult times. For example, in 2002 both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer in the salivary gland within 4 weeks of each other. I watched them devote themselves to care and love each other through the difficult times of chemo, radiation, meds and health changes.

I saw my mother-in-law struggle with cancerearl and betty laughing of the stomach, liver, lungs and bone for five years while my father-in-law encouraged, supported and cared for her. Then my mom struggled with the debilitating effects of Parkinsons disease and dementia, and my dad showed a level of care and patience for her I never had seen before. When my mother-in-law was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy where the muscles in her body progressively shut down, I saw the love and commitment to God shine through my father-in-law as he devotedly cared for her. There were days I’m sure both dads wanted to just cry out “Why?” or “How Long, O Lord?”.

Sometimes difficulties in marriages can be just petty things – squeezing the toothpaste differently, putting the toilet paper on the “wrong” direction, leaving dishes laying around. But other times it can be serious difficulties. Sometimes it can be withdrawal or detachment from the relationship. Illnesses, such as depression, cancer, addictions, autoimmune disorders, all can alter the way “marriage is supposed to be”.

In the past few years Rich and I have been going through some challenging times. Through these difficulties, God has brought us closer and closer to Him. We have both found strength, comfort and encouragement from His word. We both work hard at spending time meditating on a small portion of God’s word so that it gives us hope, encouragement and guidance for our journey together. I guess that may be why when I was reading Romans 12:9-10 [New Living Translation] verse 10 really struck me:

Bleeding Heart

Delight in Honoring each other Rom 12 10b

Wow! Have I really loved Rich with GENUINE AFFECTION – God’s unfailing and unconditional love type of affection – especially when life has been difficult and Rich hasn’t lived up to my expectations? And then even more so – Do I really take delight in honoring him?

If something Rich did hurt me deeply, do I pretend to love him, or do I still really love him? And can I, through God’s leading, hate what is wrong and hold tightly to what is good about him?

This passage has really challenged me in the past few days to keep my focus on loving Rich with God’s unconditional love –

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. ”       ~ Romans 12:9-10 NLT

You know, when we put our hope and trust in God, we are filled with His unfailing love. And He tells us to share His unconditional, unfailing love with others. Maybe doing that should begin at home!

Praying for you as you work through your relationships, that you trust in God’s unconditional and unfailing love to guide you.  ~ From a continual work in progress – Faye

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God Knows Your Needs

There’s really not much more to say. Do you hurt? Are you scared? Do you have a need, a concern that is more than you can handle?

Rest in the knowledge that God already knows all about your needs and He cares completely for you. Surrender your hearts to Him. Trust in Him. Wait on Him.

Praying for peace for you ~ Faye

Blessings Abound!

Lately I’ve been thinking often of the old song Count Your Many Blessings.

Count Your Many Blessings

I think some of this comes from looking at the beauty in the Autumn colors. What incredible blessings abound everywhere you look.

Some of you know that I have been dealing with a lung infection since mid-August. Yesterday I heard the good news that it is improving with medication. YEAH!

So I thought I’d share some of my abundant blessings lately:

Lung Infection Meds to help it improve it
Rheumatoid Arthritis IV drug has to stop No major R.A. symptoms without IV
Wearing a mask in public Most people very friendly and most are understanding
Can’t work at garden center Most of my work can be done from home
Fatigue from lung infection Family & friends who have given prayers, food, support & encouragement
Rich is retiring God has provided in incredible ways after 38 years at Rockwell
Rich is retiring He will be busy in his shop catching up on blacksmith projects
Rich is retiring He will work on my “honey-do” list
Rich is retiring Road trips, vacations, time at the lake, Bumpa & Ama time
Rich is retiring He will be around to process all the butternut squash, spaghetti squash, Delicata and acorn squash from the garden

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. [Refrain]

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. [Refrain]

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. [Refrain]                                             ~ Johnson Oatman, Public Domain

May you enjoy God’s abundant blessings in your life as well ~ Faye

Come. Rest.

There are so many hardships, trials, pain and difficulty in life.

  • Typhoon in Philippines creates horrible damage …
  • Murder, abuse, assault, theft …
  • A friend is waiting a week of unknown as test after test is performed …
  • Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, Heart Disease …
  • Depression, anxiety, fear, worry …
  • Separation, divorce, children in the middle …
  • Abandoned children and families …
  • Confusion over health care, politics, finances …

The list goes on and on. It’s hard not to spiral downward in hopelessness, worry and defeat. But Jesus reminds us of His continual love and care in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11 28 webThe invitation is clear – Come.

It’s given with open arms ready to receive you. It is filled with unconditional love and abundant grace – Come.

The invitation is for those who are weary, tired, worn down, burned out, sad, depressed, brokenhearted, those who carry heavy burdens, great trials, overwhelming circumstances – Come.

The invitation is given by Jesus, our Lord and Savior – Come.

The promise – Rest, Calm, Peace, Serenity, Tranquility – Rest for your souls.

Take a moment to stop and breathe in that Rest.

Be filled with God’s PEACE.

Let the burden be lifted off of you as you Come and Rest with Jesus.

Praying you are filled with God’s abundant grace and rest, rest for your soul, as you Come to Him and give Him your burdens ~ Faye

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Piano with timerYears ago I took piano lessons. I hated doing scales and wanted to just sit down and play the songs I enjoyed. Of course, those who play piano realize that practicing those arpeggios is what helps to make the fingers move with greater dexterity over the keyboard. My mom would set the timer, set it on the piano and I would begin practicing. I know there were many times I moved the timer a minute, and the next day two minutes faster, and so on. I HATED to practice, I just wanted to PLAY.

I was reading the July/August Worship Leader magazine, and a few things caught my attention.

Spontaneity often comes from practice being made perfect. Seems like an irony, but listen to this quote from Ben Patterson on the honing of our skills and spontaneity in our worship:  “A good metaphor for the true freedom of disciplined Christian worship can be found in the dancer’s art. Nothing looks more free and spontaneous than a great dancer performing. But beneath all of that freedom and spontaneity are years of drills, repetition, sweat, strain and more drills. Sunday morning worship is to the rest of our lives what cultivation is to a garden. We weed, prune, water and feed to the end that the garden may be beautiful – spontaneous – gardens are not; disciplined – gardens are.” (go.wlmag.com/wlpatterson)

In an article by Rick Lee James, titled Billy Joel Taught Me How to Pray,  James tells how Joel shared his routine for writing songs. He would sit at his piano for at least one hour a day. He’d play scales, familiar tunes, or anything that came to mind. Sometimes that period of time would drag on when no creativity surfaced, but other times one hour turned to many more as he showed up at the piano, got involved and waited for something to happen. Joel noted that “If I hadn’t been there, I would have missed it.” James likens this to spending time with God. How often does God want to shower us with His blessings, encourage us with His words, or enfold us in His love but we are too busy running. Some of the things we are so busy with are good things like taking kids to their next practice or leading worship a worship service. But we’ve allowed the busyness to encroach on our personal time with God. Just spending time with Him. Meditating on who God is. Being filled with Him.

Sometimes we are so busy doing things for God that we don’t take the time to just BE WITH GOD.

At times it is very frustrating to continue bringing the same requests for a loved one to God in prayer when it seems like the prayers are never answered. In reality, those requests are not unheard. They are shaping, preparing and posturing us in our relationship with God. So many times during the quiet periods from God where it seems like He isn’t listening we grow frustrated and want to quit spending time with Him. When in reality if we keep “showing up” for time with God He surprises us in ways very unexpected and often more meaningful.

Our church is encouraging each other to share the gospel message of God’s salvation plan through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. This can happen off the cuff in conversations, but more often than not, the conversation flows much easier when we’ve spent time with God. For me sometimes the hardest thing to do is sit still with NO distractions and just BE in God’s presence. However, when I “practice” it on a regular basis – it becomes more precious and incredibly spontaneous, personal worship occurs.

Due to some  personal challenges recently, I’ve had to lean on God a lot, and yet I have felt so drained because I let the busyness of the circumstances steal my focus on just BEING before the face of God. I need to get back to my Billy Joel teaching – “If I hadn’t been there – I would have missed it.”  I need to spend much needed time with God, for when I do – He blesses me in ways that are too wonderful for me to comprehend. One of those was standing at church yesterday talking with two precious friends and receiving their reminders of God’s love and grace through the difficult times and the blessing of just BEING with God.

Celebrating the abundant blessing of God’s encouragement to “Practice, practice, practice!” ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Today’s Trouble is Enough for Today.

Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.I’ve been struggling what to write for a post since last week.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in God’s word and in other readings. As you know, I’ve been writing and reading about The Quest for Serenity, but it seems to have evaded me this week when it comes to finding peace in a focused topic. So here are some late-night ramblings …

Life has so many unexpected adventures and experiences. How difficult life can get for some that they end up overwhelmed, struggling with depression, health issues, financial burdens, to the point where they can’t cope and just can’t find peace. Recently someone I used to teach in youth group decided to end his own life.  There are so many unanswered questions when someone decides this. It is such a burden and loss for the family and friends left behind. It leaves such an incredible void. It really made me do some serious thinking once again about what is really important.

In my small circle of friends, family and acquaintances, there are people dealing with all types of issues:  divorce, financial difficulties, job uncertainties, infertility, countless health issues, problems with parent-child relations, problems with other relationships, and job stress. Life is full of trials. My husband had a heart procedure in January and will face another in July. I find myself playing one of my not-so-favorite games – “What-If?” I’ve done it with so many changes in life. I should realize it is such a waste of precious time and energy (and sleep). Instead, over and over I play the different scenarios of what the future holds.

Here are a few things that have played in my mind the past couple of weeks:

In The Quest for Serenity, G.H. Morling shares from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, when Paul was in prison. Paul tells them, “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)  Paul also wrote these words,

“I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.  For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.  I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.  Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what He is doing through me.”    -Philippians 1:20-26

Morling shares this quote:

Competency to deal with things as they arise and the confidence that goes with it are essential to serenity.

I am challenged by that quote to be filled with the truths of the verses above.

I find myself becoming concerned and then progressively worrying about life’s issues:  Will I get something in writing to post on this blog?  What lies ahead with Rich’s procedure?  Will the pain in my friends’ lives ever go away? Will a planned family gathering go well?  Will the health of family members improve or continue to decline?  The list is seemingly endless.

Yet God reminds me of these precious words:

“I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’  These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  – Matthew 6:25-34

If I take the time to remember that God is in control, so I don’t have to worry about the details, I am so much better off and filled with His peace and serenity.

Basking in the blessing of serenity that comes from God’s perspective and grateful for His strength in difficult times ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Waves on beach like the Holy Spirit filling us I like the following quote from Paul Tournier,

The yield of our life does not depend so much on the number of things that we do, but more on the quality of self-giving that we put to each thing. In order to add this quality, we must depart from this atmosphere of the modern world which is completely obsessed with activism, even in the church: do, do, do always more. Let us rather, once again, become inspired and tranquil men.

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of where I was in my 20s and 30s. I was busy raising a family, starting my own secretarial business and serving God. At least that’s what I was telling myself I was aspiring to. But in reality over the years, I’ve learned that too often I was “doing” church. My  husband and I remember our very young son, at the time, in the back seat of the car once asking, “Are we going to church again tonight?” We had been there 3 times for meetings during the week and twice on Sunday. It made us rethink WHY we were involved. Were we looking for the accolades that come with being “committed” to serving God? Were we hoping to “earn a jewel for our crown” by doing one more thing? Were we hoping to appear more holy to God? Were we simply seeing a need and filling it, but quite possibly at the expense of our own spiritual lives? Were we actually enjoying serving God out of grateful hearts? Looking back, I think it was some of each of these.  There were Sundays when we showed up to worship God, but were so busy with teaching, leading, or some other task that we missed the opportunity to truly worship and praise God, giving thanks for the blessing He gave us that week. We were too busy “doing” church and not taking the essential time of giving glory to God for ALL He has done for us.

Years of reading God’s Word, listening to messages, reading books like The Quest for Serenity and Celebration of Disciplines by Foster have encouraged me to really think why I am “doing” something for God. During a time when my R.A. was really interfering with my lifestyle, I couldn’t “do” much of anything physically. I found myself having a purposeful “slow-me-down” from God. During that time I grew in my relationship with God because I knew my “doing” had to be mostly emotional, mental and spiritual instead of physical.

Too often Christians love to be busy for God, but we miss the resting in God. Once we life restfully with God and in God, we will be filled with restful lives.  The Westminster Catechism reminds us that “Man’s chief end is” – not personal happiness – “but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Don’t let your lives become so busy DOING that you don’t take time BEING filled with God’s presence. The calm and serenity is really worth it.

May the blessings of God rest upon you.
May God’s peace abide in you.
May God’s presence illuminate your heart
Now and forever more.

~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Inexhaustible Grace

God's grace is not only sufficient - it is inexhaustibleWhy does guilt plague me? I feel guilty, not just bad, for not getting more things posted since I started working. At least I did struggle with the guilt feelings until God had another sit-down talk with me. God reminded me that this is His blog, I’m just His tool. He has always given me something to write about that has been a benefit to myself and/or others. So why do I let worry and guilt fester?

As I was sitting in the infusion chair yesterday, I was continuing to read from Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell. God’s timing being ALWAYS PERFECT, I found myself in a section that talked about overcoming the struggle with guilt. I thought I’d share a story from the book,

A minister in the north of England, who oppressed by guilt, had a breakdown, was advised by a wise doctor to concentrate on biblical passages expressing love, mercy, and forgiveness,temporarilyputting aside the ones on condemnation and judgment. The minister followed the doctor’s advice, and he was wonderfully restored.

I was waiting on a 20-something lady the other day who was struggling to make her hands work to get the money separated for payment. She was quickly apologizing for the time, and I was blessed to be able to say, “It’s okay. Take your time. I have R.A. and remember what it was like to struggle to pull up the bedsheet with my fingers.” Immediate relief seemd to pour over her face at not being judged or pressured. God’s grace is like that. God isn’t there ready to condemn – He’s ready to pour out His abundant grace on each one of us who believe in Him as Lord and Savior.

Paul says in Romans 5:20 – God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.

God gives us His grace – abundant, freely given, unconditional, and inexhaustible in supply. Psalm 23 tells of God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. Too often, we are our own worst enemy heaping on guilt and not being filled with God’s grace which in turn brings spiritual rest, peace, serenity and joy.

I’m praying that you will be blessed with the joy and peace that comes from resting in God’s inexhaustible grace ~ Faye

P.S. The incident with the young lady, reminded me of how abundantly God has blessed me – a good rheumatologist, medicines that have given me the ability to work a full day, and the support of family and friends.

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Serenity – Developing the Inner Peace We Desperately Need

As I’ve said before, I’m rereading The Quest for Serenity by G. H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell.  Some thoughts that have been a blessing to me as encouragement or challenge:

Serenity doesn’t come from a life without trials. Look at the life of Jesus. He faced betrayal, hatred, beatings, family and friends disowning Him, poverty, and yet He was filled with an inner peace and calm. This calm came from KNOWing the Father intimately.  There are many things in life that rob us of serenity – resentment, jealousy, bitterness, worry, pride, and busyness.  I have learned over the years how much  more I am filled with God’s peace when I am in His word daily. Being busy working in a garden center during spring, I’m finding I can always find more work to do, but I’m also having to intentionally remind myself to stop – slow down – and spend time in God’s word. If I don’t spend time with God daily, I’m finding that my times of walking and talking with Him aren’t as peace-filled, my life doesn’t have an inner calm about it.  I realize I am missing what I really desire.  Fortunately the boss wasn’t pushing me to keep doing, I was. Once again I need to reprioritize my time and refocus where God wants me to be.

I found I have been reacting to the events around me and as the spring-planting frenzy grows, I was thriving on the busyness of doing, but was suffering from the serenity that comes from resting in God. Whether that is quiet time talking, praying or reflecting on His word and acts in my life, reading His word or singing His praises, I know I desire that serenity even more during the busyness of life.

An old hymn, written by Horatius Bonar, reflects where God wants us to focus:

I heard the voice of Jesus say, ‘Come unto Me and rest; lay down, thou weary one, lay down, thy head upon My breast.’ I came to Jesus as I was, weary, and worn, and sad; I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad.

I pray that the blessing of “God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

Leave Quietly to God …

Leave Quietly to GodI have talked with several people this week who are concerned over loved one’s behavior and choices, or facing serious health issues, or decisions about their future employment or move. I’ve spoke with a parent who is beating themselves up about their child’s lifestyle and how they could have changed things somehow, maybe …   I’ve been in conversations about the mistakes – no, let’s call it what it really is – sin – we as Christians make daily and how that is observed from an unbeliever. Over the span of a few days I’ve found myself wanting to fix problems that were out of my control. I’ve found myself wanting to be bolder in my faith to have answered when someone challenged about someone calling themselves a Christian and yet spent time gossiping. And I’ve struggled with God trying to find the wisdom to know what I should do in certain situations.

We all want do-overs in life. There’s a part of us that wants to live a perfect life, but sin is ever-present in this earthly world. I’ve enjoyed reading The Quest for Serenity by G.H. Morling and Ruth Graham Bell several times over the past decade. Morling wrote the chapter, Leaving It All Quietly to God, based on portions of Psalm 62. Bell included a poem that reminded me not to live life with regrets but to give them over to God so that I may live a life filled with serenity that comes from God alone.

Leave quietly to God ~ My mistakes.  The sins and shortcomings of others.  The mistakes of others.  That which is none of my business.  Politics and world affairs.  That which I cannot get done.  And that which I cannot get undone.  The un-understandable.  That for which I am not remotely responsible.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands.  Psalm 138:8

Praying you will be blessed with God’s serenity ~ Faye

I’m linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory.

 

W-A-I-T-I-N-G

I was reading through our Maundy Thursday worship service and was just humbled by what Jesus has done for us.  The service is first person readings of accounts from Gethsemane to the crucifixion. One portion is Jesus telling how He was praying alone in the garden after leaving Peter, James and John a little farther away to pray. After praying an hour, he returned to find his closest friends asleep instead of praying for Him. Jesus say, “Why now, Father, I need comfort and support from my disciples and Satan lures them into sleep.” After it happens the second time, Jesus is portrayed as thinking, “My Father knew I needed support as I prepared for what was coming. Yet Satan was determined that I should walk this path alone.”

 I’ve learned from a lot of people who suffer with chronic illnesses that there are so many times they feel alone. It gets old when someone asks, “How are you doing?” and you have to decide how much to tell them. The meds have changed again. The weather is affecting how your body responds today. You overdid yesterday and you are paying for it today. Dealing with insurance claims and payments are more burdensome. People who used to be close friends have distanced themselves because they don’t know how to help. … The list goes on. These types of thoughts and feelings lead those who are suffering with an incredible feeling of facing life alone. I know, I’ve been there. Fortunately, it’s only been for short periods of time.

I have learned that no one can give me the support and understanding that I need 100% of the time. My husband has job stresses. My daughter is busy with her family. Friends are dealing with their lives. I have learned there is only ONE CONSTANT, and that is God, my Heavenly Father. I’ve shared about the job loss two years ago, and sensing every time I prayed for new clients, a new job, what to do, God kept leading with – WAIT! Two years can go by quickly, but when you are waiting for something and you don’t know what it is, it can be forever.  However, when we wait relying on God, we are filled with a calm (that Satan will definitely try to steal) that goes beyond understanding and human logic. Reading this perspective of what Jesus went through and the cry of, “Why now God, when I need You so much, do You seem so distant and my friends can’t support me either?”  

Almost every time I’ve had a “waiting from God period” it has turned out to be a blessing that I couldn’t see. God was using that time to prepare me for what was to come. Recently, He showed me that even my obedience in writing this blog has been a learning experience for what is to come on the job He provided 2 years later. I’m bowled over by His planning, providing, leading, preparing. He is the master life-coordinator. If I just surrender to, listen and obey what He is telling me to do, it would happen without so much doubt, pain, frustration, impatience, etc.

I remembered the part of the Holy Week story where Jesus is “abandoned” by God on the cross. Where Christ suffers hell for us. But I guess I hadn’t really thought about His understanding that He knows the pain we feel when answers aren’t coming easily, when friends don’t support us, when family members aren’t there for us, or even when God is silent. He knows our pain and hurt.  So He holds us closely when we cry to Him, “How long?” “Why?” “Where are You?”  He knows the pain in our heart and empathizes in ways we can never show.  When you’re struggling with feelings of being abandoned, alone, unloved, unsupported – run into His loving, open, understanding arms.

Praying you may be filled with God’s peace as you listen and wait for His leading ~ Faye

I am linked with Good Morning Girls and Beholding Glory

Incredibly Blessed

I don’t have a lot to say today. I’d like to share how I experienced abundant blessings from God Friday after a beautiful snowfall during the night. I was up early and reflecting on Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout  all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”

I dressed warm, grabbed my camera and headed outdoors right at sunrise. It was pristene white, peaceful, and quiet. God blessed me with His beautiful creation. I saw eagles closer than I’ve been to them before in the wild. I’ve been praising God all weekend for the way He blesses us over and over again with the beautiful from His creative hands.

I pray you will be blessed by these photos as well. I especially pray that you will be able to see the beauty of God’s love and grace all around you ~ Faye

God’s Gracious Blessings

From His abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. John 1:16 NLT

Christmas is the time for celebrating, anticipating, hoping, baking, cookies, presents given and received, special worship services and parties with family and friends. The holiday season can be a wonderful time with many blessings. But for some it is a time of loneliness, stress, tension, broken relations, unmet expectations and/or loss.

As Satan tries to steal my joy during this holy season with concerns over family relationships and dynamics, I have to continually counterattack him with reminders from God’s word that God knows my hurts.

Think of it. God grieves when His creation sin. He loves us so much and yet we willingly turn away from Him.  God sent His Son to suffer, die, be rejected by his earthly family and while in the depths of hell His heavenly Father. He had to deal with loss and betrayal of friends so He could save us and give us eternal life. Jesus knows personally the pain that comes from broken relationships and sin in this world.

When Satan attacks your heart and tries to steal your spiritual JOY, make sure you turn it around – remember how much God the Father and God the Son LOVE you and understand where you are. God wants to have His children talk to Him, rely on Him, bring their hurts to Him. He will pour out His gracious blessings from His abundance.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.   Romans 5:6-8 NLT

During the difficult times of the holiday season, I pray you will be filled with the abundance of God’s gracious blessings so that you are deeply content. Rely fully on God so that nothing can shake you.

I am blessed by a quote of Nancy Guthrie in her new book, Abundant Life Day Book.

“In the midst of the trouble and struggle and sorrow, you find yourself deeply secure, profoundly content and happy in [God.] To know [God], walk with [Him], and share life with [Him] – that is the essence of blessing.”

Praying you enjoy God’s abundant blessings of grace and peace ~ Faye

Content in Waiting

It’s Advent – a time of anticipating the coming of Christ’s birth; actually remembering and celebrating Christ’s birth more than 2,000 years ago.

I just finished my Bible study of 1 John. God loved us so much (even before we were born) that He sent His one and only Son so that we may have eternal life. The Apostle John is so persistent in wanting us to know this that he repeats it in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 1 John 3:16a – “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. …” 1 John 4:9 – “God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

John wants us to know all we need to do is believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as our Savior and Redeemer. We will be saved. And one day, we will receive the gift of eternal life.

Advent is also a time of anticipating Christ’s coming again.

I was studying the bride of Christ recently and learned the future groom comes to the future bride’s father and gives a dowry as a betrothal that is a vow/covenant with the promise that he will come again to claim his bride. The man then returns to his father’s house to prepare a home for his future bride. Not until the man’s father says everything is ready for the bride does the groom return. He doesn’t even know when until the Father tells Him.

Comparing the church to the bride of Christ, it struck me that even Christ is anticipating His return. Christ has to wait – actively because He is preparing rooms for each one of His believers when He brings them home to eternal life.  Christ has to wait because He doesn’t know when He will return, only the Father does.

Our waiting should be active as well. I think one of my favorite and goal-setting verses from 1 John is 4:17 – “And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.” I CAN’T WAIT to see my LORD face to face. And I want to be able to boldly and confidently approach His throne because I have lived for Him filled with His love. There are many days I’m afraid I would be ashamed if Christ returned at that moment. However, if I remain in /abide in /belong to Him, I will live for Him and like Him. That will allow me to be bold and confident to approach His throne because I am filled with His love and humility.

Too often I find myself worrying about tomorrow or thinking of regrets in the past. I need to live in today loving and serving my God and King. I am being challenged by several readings lately to be content. A quote I read recently said “Contentment is a hallmark of living fully in the present, not in the past or future”. At first I totally agreed, especially if looking at the past involves regrets or the future worries. But I believe God has been challenging me to be content in all times.

Content in the past – It’s done. I continue to learn from what has happened.

Content today – Because God provides for all my daily needs.

Content in the future – even with all its uncertainty because I know Christ will return. I live with the anticipation from Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the LORD and this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”

Praying you may be blessed while you wait with anticipation for Christ’s return ~ Faye

Contentment

I seem to be surrounded with this topic this past week from Bible study, to worship planning, to family questions. So thought I’d share what I think contentment means to me. A quote from Dr. Billy Graham reminds us that we can be content within, even when everything seems to be very difficult:

The happiness which brings enduring worth to life is not the superficial happiness that is dependent on circumstances. It is the  happiness and contentment that fills the soul even in the midst of the most distressing circumstances and the most bitter environment. It is the kind of happiness that grins when things go wrong and smiles through tears.  

The Apostle Paul says he has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). Those words sound simple, but look at Saul/Paul’s life. He spells out some of many things that have happened to him (2 Corinthians 11:23-30 – imprisoned, beaten, left for dead, stoned, shipwrecked, always in danger, hungry, sleepless), yet later he says he’s learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

But is it always that easy? My nephew asked a questions this morning on Facebook, Why doesn’t God heal amputees?” There is no easy answer. God does what He decides in His timing. But when we rely on Him, we are filled with a calm assurance He is in control. He knows the bigger picture about what is best for us. Not necessarily what we want or desire, but what we need to help shape us into the person He wants us to be.

I think too often I focus on me, my pain, my discomfort, my fatigue. I don’t step back and look at the bigger picture – my faith has grown during my life, but it has really GROWN during the deepest trials.  I’m not content with the trial, but I am content knowing that God is with me. He’s living in me, guiding me ahead each day, giving me strength for what comes next.

My husband is a men’s quartet fan, and so we have listened many years to the Cathedral Quartet. Years ago, George Younce read this poem by Red Foley

 

Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her….she seemed so gay….and wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch; but as she passed….a smile!

Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs. The world is mine!

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him. He seemed so glad. If I were late, t’would do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes. The world is mine.

Later while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play. I stopped a moment,
When I said, “Why don’t you join the others, Dear?”
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.

Oh God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I’d go, with eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
with ears to hear what I would know….

Oh God forgive me when I whine.
I am blessed indeed. The world is mine!

After the poem, they would end with We Are So Blessed, by Bill and Gloria Gaither

We are so blessed, by the gifts of Your hand we just can’t understand why You loved us so much. We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, “Thank You, Lord, for Your touch.” When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.

We are so blessed by the things You have done, the victories we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all everything, Lord, we bring it to You. When we’re empty You fill us ’till we overflow. When we’re hungry You feed us, and cause us to know. We are so blessed, take what we have to bring, take it all, everything, Lord, we love You so much.

A lot of contentment is just about perspective. Take time to see how God is pouring out His abundant blessings on you today. Have you seen Him? Please share, I love His divine appointments, encouragements, acts.

God’s abundant blessings ~ Faye

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