Encouragement

God, Where Are You?

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God, where are You? Where are You when the waves of grief begin washing over me?  When I gasp for air to fill my burning lungs, and clutch at the tightness growing in my chest…where are You? Where are You when I beg for the pain to end? When I plead to wake up from this nightmare and for it all to have been a bad dream, where are You? Where are you when all I can see is the darkness and all I can hear is the silence? Where are you when the fear of the unknown creeps in and I’m too scared to even move. Where are you when I’m broken God? When I’m shattered into a million pieces? When I just want the hurt to go away?  God, are you there? Do you hear me?

I woke up a few nights ago from a terrible dream. A dream that made me relive one of the most difficult times of my life. A year and half after my second miscarriage and the pain still sears through my heart as if it were only yesterday. This dream…I saw it all again, I felt it all again, I experienced it all again. I woke up in a panic believing that it was real. The tears were streaming down my cheeks. My heart was racing and my mind was swirling with thoughts and emotions that I had buried.

I got up from my bed and stumbled through to our living room. I sat on the couch, wiping the tears from my cheeks, and trying to calm myself down. All of my children and my husband were sleeping. The house was so quiet (In a family of 8, quiet doesn’t happen very often) It was painfully quiet. Every time I tried to close my eyes, the images from the dream and all of the painful thoughts and memories were there.

I tossed and turned on the couch for several minutes. I prayed for God to comfort my heart and mind. “If I could only have a few minutes Lord, just a few minutes of peace! Please!”

As I sat there alone in my dark living room, I just wanted to be held. I just needed to be held. I wanted to be held and comforted, and told that everything was going to be alright, that is was only a dream and that it was all over. I walked back into our bedroom and gently grabbed my husband’s hand. He looked so peaceful while sleeping and I felt bad for waking him, but I needed him… I really needed him.  He could tell I was distressed and he asked if I was okay. All I could reply with was “Please, just hold me”.

He held my hand as we walked back into the living room and sat down on the couch. He wrapped his arms around me and held me so tight. There were no words exchanged…he just held me. His embrace said everything that I needed it to. His strong arms made me feel so safe. He leaned down and gently kissed me on the forehead while stroking my hair. He sat there and held me while I cried and poured my heart out to him. I soon fell back asleep in his arms.

The next morning started early, as usual, with the pitter patter of little one’s feet running through the house.  We went about our daily routine. Staying busy helped to keep my mind occupied and offered little opportunity for my mind to wander. While I was busy cleaning up from our breakfast, my 3 year old came running into the kitchen. “Momma, will you hold me? I want you to hold me”.

I scooped him up in my arms and walked over to our chair. His little arms wrapped around my neck as I held him close. As we sat there, I kissed his little cheeks. He reach up to rub his sleepy little eyes and then quickly nuzzled himself back into my chest. He felt so safe and secure wrapped up in my arms. I knew that feeling and how wonderful it felt. I didn’t have to say a word to this little guy for him to know how loved he was in that moment. I just held him.

It was then that God spoke to my heart and told me ” This is how I comfort you”.  How many times have I cried out to God in fear, pain or heartache and have been met with silence?  “God, are you here? Do you hear me? God, where are You?” In my brokenness I would feel so alone. Did God really even care about me or how I was feeling?

As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;” ISAIAH 66:13

     So God, where are you? You’re here…You are right herewith me. It’s in the moments that are cries are met with perceived silence that we are being held. It’s not that God isn’t there or that He doesn’t care. He does…more than we could ever comprehend. God knows exactly what we need, and sometimes, we don’t need words…we just need to be held.

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God, today I pray for all of those that are hurting. I don’t know their circumstances Father, but I know that You do. I know that You see every tear that they cry and hear every single word…even those that are unspoken. Lord, I pray that You will hold them tightly in Your loving arms and speak peace into their hearts. Help them to cast their cares upon you Lord and to know that You care for them! Help them to rest in Your embrace and to stand on Your promises. Give them a renewed hope and song Lord! I thank you for what You are doing in their lives today Lord. I praise You for Your goodness, Your mercy, Your faithfulness, and Your unfailing love. I ask these things in Your son Jesus’s name. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

Oceans of Grief and Islands of Grace

Your life for the most part has been smooth sailing. Sure, you’ve encountered your fair share of choppy waters, but you have bravely mustered through while maintaining your composure. The storms, though fierce, have always quickly dwindled. The waves swiftly settled, the winds ceased in blowing, the clouds began parting, and they soon gave way to the sunshine again. After basking in the warmth and glow of the sun for a season, you never imagined that a storm of such magnitude could materialize so abruptly. You never even saw it coming. You had no time to prepare for this, and this is not what you had envisioned. You feel lost and helpless against it.

The realization that you have now lost all control of your situation hits hard, and you soon find yourself capsized in the middle of a bottomless ocean. You feel the fear and panic slowly creep up into your throat. You cry out for help, but are met in return by only the sound of the crashing waves around you. The waves have repeatedly pulled you under, and as you fight to surface, you gasp for your next breath, which is barely enough to fill your lungs. The current is becoming stronger and stronger, and your energy is rapidly depleting. The waves have tossed you back and forth endlessly, and every muscle in your body aches and burns from your futile exertion to swim to safety. You’re exhausted and cannot fight the strength of the water anymore. It’s over. Just as you feel yourself giving up and letting go, you see it.

 

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A small beam of light catches the corner of your eye. You quickly become fixated on this unknown light source, and feel a small glimmer of hope flare within your spirit. This beam begins shining… brighter and brighter. You consciously decide to stop fighting the current, and feel your body being swept by the waves toward this light. As you draw closer, the light begins to reveal itself. It’s a lighthouse.

The light, almost blinding by this point, illuminates your path as you exhaustedly thrust yourself upon the safety of the small sand bank. You climb the shelves of jagged rocks finally reaching an elevation of safety that the water can no longer reach. In the presence of this beaming light, the storm continues to rage around you, but you are safe. SAFE ON THE ROCK. You draw a full breath of oxygen deep into your burning lungs, and begin to cry… RELEASE. It’s in this surrender that an unexplainable peace begins to flood over you. You are being held. This battle is not yours to fight. You are not alone. He is going to carry you through this storm…

We mistakenly exhaust ourselves, fighting the current, and attempting to hold onto all of the scattered pieces of our lives when all we have to do is surrender it entirely to God. He alone is our place of safety. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. In the midst of our darkest storms, his light continues to shine…guiding us, leading us, encouraging us, and comforting us. God IS the light and in Him is NO darkness! His grace will meet you right where you are my friend. His arms will never tire of holding you up, and when your strength fails, He is right there to carry you.

I don’t know the storm you might be facing today, but I know that God does. When those tears begin to flow, don’t fight them. Let them fall. Release your pain to Him. Only He can calm your heart and give you peace. God knows your sorrows, and He hears your cries my friend. This storm is not going to last forever. Continue to stand in the warmth of His love… the sun will come back out. When you feel yourself sinking and the water starts closing in, simply stretch forth your hand. Your lifeguard, He’s there…and He walks on the water. 

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Encouragement

Hearing God’s Voice In The Chaos

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Are you feeling tired today momma? Are you drained, exhausted, depleted, and overwhelmed? Oh geez, I am right there with you! A nasty stomach virus took up residence in our house this week with a serious vendetta against the GI tract. (In less picturesque words, I have cleaned up an UNFATHOMABLE amount of from my 6 children) EWWWWW An annoying headache (my eyeballs have a heartbeat) has taunted me all day. While on a business call this morning, my 2 and 3 year old successfully recreated a “Moses parting the Red Sea” rendition in our bathroom that would leave Charlton Heston in utter awe and disbelief. I gathered up all of the wet towels and carried them to the laundry room where I defeatedly tossed them onto the gargantuan mound of dirty laundry that has accumulated since the Bubonic Poop Plague has hit our home. Yeah, I was feeling pretty discouraged by this point. I plopped down in the living room chair, apparently unable to conceal the myriad of emotions coursing over me, when one of my little ones crawled into my lap. She started patting me while telling me “It’s okay momma. Don’t worry”. As I reach out to hug her sweet little neck, she peeled a slobbery, half eaten, gummy worm off of my elbow…and then the tears came…a lot of them. “Lord, I need your help! I’m running on empty and I don’t know if I can do it all! I need you!”

     Then, He sent His word to comfort my heart. (ISAIAH 40:11) “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

He speaks gently to my heart and reminds me that I am not alone. He reminds me of His presence in the chaos. He reminds me that He will equip me to get through today…and tomorrow…and the next. He reminds me that with every spill that I clean up, every load of laundry that I wash, every scraped knee that I kiss and bandage, every diaper that I change, every meal that I cook, every hug that I give, every correction that I offer, and every hug that I give… these are opportunities… opportunities that He has blessed me to have. These are opportunities to witness to my children. These are opportunities to show God’s love and His grace to my children… to plant seeds of forgiveness, understanding, and unconditional love. God has given me a ministry… a ministry of motherhood.

This mom thing is hard… REALLY hard. There’s a whole lot of work to be done and very little sleep and energy to accomplish it with. Let’s not forget that in all of the chaos and noise that we have been given a gift. We have been given an opportunity to witness and minister to our children. Hang in there mommas! What you are doing is making a difference and it doesn’t go unnoticed. Love your children and love them well mommas. The days seem so long, but the years are short. If you’re feeling tired and burnt out momma… talk to Him about it. He understands. Grab your Bible and begin to read. He will comfort your heart and remind you of your worth. He will be with you every step of the way along this beautiful and crazy journey of motherhood.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family” – Mother Teresa

 

 

 

 

 

Encouragement

He Wants My Heart

     you-own-the-skies-and-still-you-want-my-heart-23308054     It’s 8:00 AM and your alarm begins blaring…an hour later than it was supposed to have gone off. You must have been so tired last night when you set it, that you hit the wrong button. It feels as if you’ve only blinked while you slowly creep from your warm bed , stumble to your coffee pot, and recite the mental checklist you’ve quickly compiled in your mind of everything you need to get accomplished before heading out the door to make morning service. You were 15 minutes late last week and you are determined to be on time this Sunday. You jump in the shower and quickly put yourself together and begin waking up the children to get dressed. Your husband hits the snooze a few more times before finally making his way out of the bedroom and into the shower for himself. Breakfast is cold cereal again this morning, but the children don’t seem to mind. Everyone is moving slower than you had anticipated and you find yourself starting to feel slightly anxious. Time is ticking and there is still so much to be done. In the rush of the morning, the beautifully pristine home you worked your entire Saturday on has unequivocally earned a guest spot of the next episode of Hoarders. Patience is diminishing and anger begins to surface. While you exhaustedly run around looking for the mates to lost shoes (I will never understand how all of my children can lose one of EVERY pair of shoes that they own simultaneously), your husband calls out from the bathroom stating that he is unable to find his beloved striped shirt. He’s looked everywhere in the closet, but just it isn’t there. He’s absolutely sure of it. You go to the said closet and retrieve his “absolutely not there” striped shirt with a begrudged smile, and hustle back down the hallway to check on the progress of all of the children who are supposed to be getting dressed in what you had originally planned to be beautiful frilly dresses and freshly ironed clean slacks and dress shirts. There is no time this morning, so wrinkly jeans, t-shirts, and leggings it is. Upon the realization that you have apparently been talking to yourself for the last 30 minutes because everyone is still leisuring in their pajamas, you lose your temper. You raise you voice and spout things out of anger before you even realize the extent of what you have said.  Your mind is teeming with thoughts… “Do they not realize how much hard work and effort it takes for me just to get them out of the front door? Do they not care how hard I work? They really don’t appreciate me. I’m just wasting my time. I worked on this house all day yesterday and look at it now. I bet other mother’s don’t go through this. What does it matter anyways. I might as well just give up!” You fight back the tears while packing the last of the diapers in your bag. You’re aforementioned outburst has everyone tiptoeing around you quietly afraid of triggering another outburst. You feel like a jerk for yelling but FINALLY, everyone is dressed. You are mere moments away from loading your crew into the van when the baby spits up on your dress. You run in to change yourself and the baby and by this point, your frustration has reached a new high. “I don’t even want to go anymore. It’d be easier to just stay home this morning. I just don’t have the energy to deal with all of this today.” You take a few deep breaths, choking back the tears of defeat and discouragement, but just as you snap the last button on the baby’s clean onesie, you hear Him. You hear Him speak the words ever so softly. “I only want your hearts”. Those words spark a revelation that makes the tears spill over despite your best efforts. God doesn’t care how clean my house is or if the kids had to eat cold cereal for breakfast. He doesn’t care if the jeans are wrinkled or if all of the kids even have matching shoes on for that matter. He doesn’t care about any of that… He cares about me. He cares about my husband, and he cares about our children. He wants our hearts and that is all.

     We too often fall into self made traps of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations that we have set for ourselves. How many times have we set the mom bar at unreachable levels for ourselves, pushed ourselves to extreme limits, and have given up when we are completely exhausted with the outcome? We allow society, social media, and even the opinions of well intentioned individuals to make us feel like our best is simply not good enough, but Momma, you ARE enough. Your worth doesn’t come from your accomplishments. It doesn’t come from how sparkly your kitchen countertop is or how perfect your daughter’s french braids are. It’s not found in your bank account, your education level, or your circle of friends. Your worth is not found in who you are but in WHOSE you are.  You are His and He loves you! 

This mom thing… it’s hard. It’s really hard, but mommas, we can’t lost sight of the gift and the opportunity that God has given us as mothers. He has entrusted us to raise these children for Him. We have been given a privilege to instill big seeds in little hearts. The enemy wants to steal the joy that comes from motherhood with small trivial occurrences that discourage us and make us feel depleted. The piles of dirty dishes and mounds of dirty laundry seem daunting and overwhelming to us now, but 5 years from now we won’t remember them. We will remember the meals eaten on those dirty dishes and the trips to play in the rain that helped to add to that mound of dirty laundry.

Give yourself some grace today momma. It’s okay if you don’t get it all done. When the enemy makes your frustrations outweigh your joy, strive to give the same grace to your family and to yourself as God gives to you. We make mistakes, we don’t listen to Him, we operate on our own timelines, we are unappreciative of all of the blessings that He has given us, and we throw up our hands and quit the moment things don’t go our way… in essence we’re all just really big toddlers trapped inside adult bodies. God will always forgive us, offer us loving correction, and encourage us to keep going. God will never give up on us or stop loving us no matter how many times we mess up. What you are doing in your home matters momma so don’t give up. You are changing the world one set of sticky fingerprints at a time.