Sometimes There Are No Words…

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Mourning

This week has been a hard week and I know that I have words to write but they are just not ready to come, so I wait on God just as I have done this past week.  I have waited for God to call my mother in law home and into his glory.  I pause to mourn the woman who brought my best friend and life partner into this world.  She went home this week, and I am so happy that she with her Lord and Savior.  Yet, I am sad that she is gone from this earth.  So, I must take a moment to celebrate and mourn her.

Sherry Benfield Long – June 5, 2018

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Copy of Jim0503

Closing Verse:  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Challenge:  Spend each day loving others and living life because it is far too short.  We will miss you Sherry.

MY MOM

As I mourn the passing of Sherry, today I celebrate my Mom and her birthday.  I am blessed to have a Mom who has taught and loved me into the woman I am today.  Thank you for all you have done!  Happy Birthday!

 

Life Happens and God Draws Near

Brokenness

Coffee is brewing and the warm smell fills the room and I want to linger here in the presence of my Father.  He is calling me and I have not been listening.  I have been avoiding, living my own life, believing I was still in relationship with him only to find myself afraid, alone, and on my knees.  “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18.  I know I have not been listening, but God has my attention.  I know that he held my life before me and called me back to him.  I am here in your presence once again, not pretending to be whole, but broken and needy.  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”  Psalm 147:3.  I am binding my wounds.

Self-Righteous

Who have I been?  I have been a selfish, self-righteous person, yet Romans 3:10 reads, “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”   I have not put others first, I have failed to not just be strong in myself, but allowed myself to wallow in self-pity.  I see all the ugliness inside of me.  Who did I think I was?  Did I feel I was better than others?  Did I forget to walk in others shoes?  How did I find my way back to this place?  I know I have allowed Satan a crack into my life and he encouraged me to think only about myself.  Why did God choose to bring me out of this pit?  I feel the weight of my selfishness lifting off of me as God is showing me my lack of relationship with him and begins to heal the brokenness.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17.

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Broken Vessel

Walking along in my selfish life, I suddenly found myself in a situation that was like deja vu deep from my past.  Where did that ugly person come from?  This person that I thought was lost suddenly emerged like a monster from the dark.  Yet, probably not as suddenly as it seemed.  Recently, I have been a “Debbie Downer”.  I have been a self-righteous pompous person.  So finding myself selfishly raising my ugly head like a monster in the dark may have seemed sudden, but now I see that I was racing down a path of destruction. The humiliation means I want to hide, but I know that I have to move forward.  Although, the pain that comes with seeing my selfishness hurts deeply, it has been nothing like facing the emptiness where God should be in my life.  It is nothing like knowing he could choose to take my life with each breath, but has chosen to hold my beating heart in his hands.

My heart is broken because I have broken the most important person in my life.  I alone have created deep pain and sorrow that is hard to forgive.  I have hurt my husband deeply and that pain is like no other pain.  I imagine that the pain God has felt is much the same, watching his son hang upon the cross for my sins.   Words and sometimes even actions can not repair such damage, but I pray that our relationship can weather the storm.  Romans 5:1-5 promises me, “Father, we feel the burden of our sin, and it is exhausting to try and make ourselves whole.  Our hearts long for your presence.  We rejoice in our sufferings, know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”  I am a broken vessel… (a few lyrics from a powerful song)

Broken Vessels

You take our failures, You take our weakness
You set Your treasure in jars of clay
So take this heart Lord, I’ll be your vessel
The world to see Your life in me

Oh, I can see You now
Oh, I can see the love in Your eyes.
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  Corinthians 4:7

(1° Broken Vessels – 00:00 2° Touch The Sky – 09:32 3° Say The Word – 13:55 4° Heart Like Heaven – 18:19 5° Closer Than You Know – 24:49 6° Even When It Hurts – 33:34 7° Oceans – 39:52 8° Love Is War – 48:48 9° Captain – 56:05)

Worthy

As I contemplate my sin and move toward Christ, I realize that I am worthy in God’s eyes.  I feel God drawing near to me and feeling his strength now I can see where my focus should be.  First and foremost I need to focus on him and ensure he is the priority in my life.  “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”  James 4:8.  So I seek his presence in prayer and in my daily walk.  I think of others before myself.  I smile so others might smile.  I seek the happiness in my life that is my choice and no one else.  I trust in God.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6.  I am focusing on my heart once again in order to put my Father first in my life.

My Worth Is Not What I Own 

Two wonders here that I confess
My worth and my unworthiness
My value fixed – my ransom paid
At the cross

I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul

Closing Verse: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Challenge:  Protect Your Heart.

Seeing Sin Through Rose-Colored Glasses

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Life of Sin

I know I want to write this post but my mind and fingers just can’t find the words to type what I feel deep down inside.  Although, I know that I am born a sinner and will die a sinner, as a Christian, I do strive to be an example of Christ’s love to others.  This means not letting sin shine from me but allowing Christ to shine the brightest in my life. But, sometimes sin can really bring me down into the trenches of life.  I know that my flesh is sin as Galatians 5: 19-21 states, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  I want to shine, but I find myself buried in the guilt of sin, and in need of some time with my Father to seek myself again.  To know that I am loved and forgiven.  This is hard when I feel like unconditional love should not belong to me anymore.  I don’t want to deceive myself, but recognize my sins, cleanse myself, and as 1 John 1: 8-10 reads not believe that I am not a sinner, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Rose-Colored Sin  

Knowing that I am a sinner and a Christian, my eyes are open to my sin.  I can not be a Christian who appears better than others, who does not understand others, and one who believes less of others.  Galatians 5:16 reminds me, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”  I know that I am blessed to walk with my Lord and Savior through life and I pray that I am an example to others, but I can’t do that if I am looking at my sin through rose-colored glasses.  I can’t compare my sin and believe it is less than others.  Sin is sin.  My sin can not be sugar-coated or viewed differently than others.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”  Romans 3:23.  I know wearing rose-colored glasses to look at my life is easy to do.  I want to see how good I am and not the sin.  It is easy to compare myself to others and believe the lie that I am better, but I know deep inside that I am not.

God’s Word

So what does one do, dig and dig and dig into God’s Word and know that He is my Father.  Yes, He is a Father of wrath, but his is also a Father of forgiveness.  God provided me a gift through the sacrifice of his Son.  A gift of forgiveness that I can not even fathom.  Just thinking of this sacrifice makes my eyes water and tears fall.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 6:23.  and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.  I search scripture to cleanse myself of unrighteousness and seek the comfort of His word for forgiveness.  I find myself on my knees with head bowed praying and begging for the forgiveness and love of my Father.  Thank you Lord for your gift, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

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Sin Scriptures for Study

Closing Verse:  “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  James 4:17

Challenge: Look closely at your life and ensure that you don’t perceive your sin differently from others.  Sin is Sin and the rose-colored glasses will not change it in God’s eyes.

Life’s Failures

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Moment In Time

That moment in time when I know something is wrong, something in my gut.   I can’t control what I feel, why am I feeling it.   I don’t feel like jealousy but is it jealousy.  I find myself on my knees begging for God to open my eyes and teach me.

Jealousy is an ugly beast that can raise its head every once in a while.   Why are we jealous of what other have, the lives others lead, the “things” that they have, the things that they do.  I am soul searching for whether it is jealousy or something deeper.  What am I missing from God?

Maybe it’s not…

Maybe it is not jealousy at all. Maybe at that moment I see something missing in myself.  Maybe I really am identifying my own shortcomings, but it is easier to thrust that painful knowledge somewhere else.  Maybe what appears as jealousy is really just looking closer at what I have failed to be or who I have failed to love.  I yearn for the words in Psalms 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  In a split moment I realize the pain of not caring for relationships.  Maybe the pain needs to be somewhere else all of a sudden to save me from the realization of my deeper failure as a person..

Failure and Pain

Maybe there is just too much pain.  Everything in life seems to be full of pain all of sudden.  It is overwhelming and the little things become areas to redirect and place this pain.  Maybe it is not jealousy at all maybe it is just a place for the pain because all of a sudden the pain of life and those people I have failed to love fully just all collide in one moment and what seems like jealousy that I  know should not be there is really just my failure to love, failure to hold, failure to be the person I  know I should be for those I love.

Maybe it is not an incident, person, or things but just that it represents so much failure in my life.  I believe that failure can be a learning moment, a challenge to move forward and even though at this moment it does not feel like I will move forward, I know that God will bless in this moment.  I know that he will bring the good from this moment.  He will make it better because I believe.

Learning From Failure

Learning from failure means realizing the pain that I have brought to others, the responsibility I have given others in my own suffering.  Suffering and loss that is not theirs to own or bear, but where I placed it because I could not carry it myself. Placing this on others is not where it should be placed but in the hands of my Father who wants to carry the burdens for me.  Matthew 11:28-30 lightens my heart, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”Give him the burden and the pain and just love those fully that he has given as a gift.

Closing Verse:   “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Challenge:  Give your failures to the Lord and you will be forgiven.  Only he can truly wipe the tears away.

On My Knees

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Brought to My Knees

I am on my knees and trying to figure why I am down here, but God has a way of getting your attention when you least expect it but when you desperately need it.  That is where I am this week, in desperate need of my Father.  He knew it was coming and that I had been unfaithful to him, so he showed up and brought me to my knees.

As I have stopped to reflect on everything that has happened this week, I see God so clearly calling my name, wanting me to seek him first.  The introvert in me turns every more inward to search for what he is trying to say to me.  This past Sunday the sermon was titled, “Nowhere to Hide” from Revelations 2: 18-29.  What did it reveal to me that I was not hiding, but that God was watching me.  I felt it deep down inside his presence with me, I was moved to evaluate my life and our relationship.  This began my inward turn, my soul-searching and I felt like I was in a battle or struggle much like Jacob in Genesis 32: 24, ” And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. ”  Was I wrestling with God?  Why would I be?   Was he making me stronger or bringing me down? I asked these questions, but searching the sermon even deeper I felt like Joseph’s brothers when the gold was found with the grain in their bags.  Even before Reuben was feeling convicted of his sins, but God needed to bring them to their knees to show them all his glory.

Seeing Clearly

I pray as I struggle and fall on my knees my eyes will clearly see God and the glory he wants to bring to my life , if I will only stay focused on him.  When the blessing flow again, I pray for strength and guidance to stay focused on God and not slip away.  Philippians 4:12 reads, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”  This verse reminds me that I will have times of abundance and times of need, yet the Lord will stand with me through both, but I must stay focused on Him.

Leaning on the Lord

God has my attention now that I am on my knees.  I am searching for his wisdom and know that he will answer.  I know that the pain of this week will turn for good because I believe in his name.  Romans 8: 18 promises, ” For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us..”  This promise that joy is coming is why I cling to the cross and his word in the midst of the pain that I feel.  I will stand and rejoice that God has claimed me as his own.  “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice”, as Philippians 4:4 exclaims!  I know now that I can rejoice because he is near.  2 Timothy 4:17 states, “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me…”  I feel him near me and I feel his strength building inside of me.  I feel his love and passion overflowing my heart.  I feel my Father back home.

Closing Verse:  “The Lord is greater than the giants you face.” 1 John 4:4

Challenge:   You can face anything with the Lord by your side.  Stop, fall on your knees, and pray.

 

 

Stopping to Rewind

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Overcoming Hurt

I need to push rewind again, Lord.  One of my first blog post was about how people hurt each other, and I wrote that if we could push rewind and hear what we had said, how would we feel about the words we spoke.  No matter how many times I pray for guidance with my tongue it is for naught when I open my mouth and speak without thinking about those who are impacted by my words.   Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” is beating through me right now.  I am eating the fruits of my tongue.  I did not stop before I allowed my tongue to bear it’s sour fruit, so now I must partake of the fruit.  Yet, even in this moment when I know that God is the only one who can control my tongue.  James 3:8, “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” These words are a reminder that I alone can not tame my tongue.

God’s Guidance and Healing

As I pray for God’s guidance for reconciliation for the words I have uttered, I find myself seeking God’s guidance from Proverbs.  Reading these words, I see that God is showing me both my wrongs and bringing peace to my heart.  I know that I can not heal the wounds that I have opened, but I pray that God will, as I learn from His words and seek his guidance.  My heart remembers God’s promise in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  This verse gives me hope that God will heal and bring good from my tongue.

Proverb’s Lessons

Proverbs is full of painful verses at this time for me, but lessons that I need at this time. God’s word is special that way in knowing just what you need to read or hear whether for comfort or to teach.  Here are my lessons:

Proverbs 12:18, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 13:3, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

Proverbs 17:27, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

I pray God is speaking before you speak.

Closing Verse: Ecclesiastes 3:7, “A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;”

Challenge:  May God give you more wisdom when using your tongue so it brings knowledge and understanding instead of poison that stabs at those you love.

 

Did I Do The Right Thing?

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The past week in our house there has been a focus on the Dove House and their annual fundraiser.  My husband and I became involved 3 years ago with the Dove House and each year we feel our hearts pulled more and more to become involved with this organization.  This year I spent the week really looking over myself again and the decision I made or really didn’t make many years ago.  Many people know that my husband was a victim of a sexual predator.  When he was in the 4th grade, his teacher earned his trust and that of his parents and changed his life forever.  He wasn’t his only victim there were many others, little did we know how many till it all came out.  As he grappled with realizing the truth of what happened as he matured and believing that no one would believe him, as the teacher had earned so much trust from his parents and the community,  he hid this secret away.

One day while we were dating and soon to be married a door opened where he had the opportunity and chose to give me some insight into this part of his past.  Just a little piece of what had happened to him.  I chose to listen, question little, and to also never bring it up again.  Did I do the right thing?  Even with this decision I know God answers prayers, because I have spent our entire marriage not just praying for our marriage, or just for him, but praying for God to heal him.  Deep down I always knew that he was suffering and prayed for God to heal this pain.  Over those 22 years of pain, I was blessed to watch a slow healing process that prepared him for the time when he would really heal and get the opportunity to tell his story, face his abuser, and feel the relief of a conviction.  This alone does not end his healing or my prayers, but God has answered my prayers in helping him find healing.  As always I pray knowing that God answers prayers his way as Isaiah 55:8 reads, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.”  This verse brings me comfort that God was working in my decision.

Now as I look back, I have to ask myself did I do the right thing?  Did I make the right choice?  Should I have prodded for more back when he first confided in me?  Although the answer is yes every time I ask myself, I am thankful that God is in control and in his timing was able to provide my husband with the healing even so many years later in his life.  His blessings in our lives reminds me that I am not in control and that he is as Romans 8:28 states, ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” and for this I am thankful.  I believe that the Lord has been fighting for him all these years even while he was silent.

His silence struck me again this past week while listening to the radio when I heard the song “Still“.  The singer, Hillary Scott, spoke about how she wrote this song about the verse Exodus 14:14, “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” As I was driving to work, tears just welled up in my eyes, I immediately thought of how my husband had been silent, but then was reminded that the Lord had been fighting for him all these years.  He had prepared him for this time.  The Lord has been fighting for me as well in my silence.  God is Good!

Although, God has blessed us through this healing process by putting great friends around us, new friends who have suffered and understand his pain, and the great people of the Dove House, my heart tells me that I should have done more.  I feel it every time I have to tell his story and then my role and feel the guilt for not helping him sooner.  I feel the guilt that I know my husband has carried all these years for not speaking up sooner to protect other future victims.  I feel it when I think about the demons that have tormented him for so many years.  I feel it when I look in his eyes and see a new man now that has been freed of this terrible secret.  God gave him a voice at the time appointed, and he would want me to tell you that as he went through this process of court, jury selection, and sharing his story with strangers; he has been struck and moved by how many victims of child sexual abuse have been silently hurting.  He shares his story now empowered by God to bring darkness to light and let others know they are not alone.

Our blessing now from God is that forgiveness is real.  The promise of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  is God’s provision through the sacrifice of his Son that causes us to realize that we not only have to forgive easily each other but those who hurt us.  It seems so hard, but it is so fulfilling to release the pain and hurt to God and let him be the final judge.

Moving forward we support the Dove House because they do the work that is so desperately needed in our community and so many communities.  They support children as they move through the court system and finally recovery.  They make it safe to tell the truth and stop the abuse.  They save children.  I read this verse this week and it reminded me of the Dove House, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13.  The Dove House watches over, stands firm and is strong for those who aren’t.  May God continue to bless their work as they help others heal.

My constant prayer now is that God continues to heal those affected by child sexual abuse and, as my husband reminds me, there are many layers of victims even those that don’t think they are victims.   Family and others in the community today still do not believe that his abuser was guilty and he continues to have their trust.  May God show us the best way to use the truth to help others now that this secret is finally free, and that we will learn to be still while God is fighting.

Closing Verse: Romans 8:38-39 – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Challenge: Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  Be constant in prayer for God is always fighting and working for your good.

Please Share….

 

Listening to God

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Funny how God works on you sometimes, preparing you for the future that is to come.  I can look back now and see God at work for months in my life of my family.  I am the person who thinks I have it all worked out for everyone and then God comes along and turns my world upside down.  I have worked on this post before only to be moved to write something else, but now I am here again writing as God has spoken and now I am finally listening.  I have been mentally making plans for the future for one of my daughters.  I really believed that I had it all worked out for her.  I mean the Lord showed me closed doors and everything. Although, I knew the passion in her heart and what she wanted, and I did pray for the right doors to open that would show her the way.  Yet, I never expected that her persistence and prayers would be answered as they have been and my world rocked.  I am listening now God.  I know that I have not been.  Now, I can see how I did not stop to listen to your answers Lord because I was sure of mine.  I turn my ears back to you and to scripture.  James 1:1 reminds me, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;”.

These are powerful words that we forget in our daily lives especially – “quick to hear”.  As I strive to be a better listener to the students I work with, the adults who are my colleagues, and the world around me, I have to be reminded that it is most important to listen to God and hear him when he speaks even if those words are coming from the mouth of my own child.   Scripture is a keen reminder to me of how God’s people have chosen not to listen to him.  So many of these times his people failed to listen and suffered the consequences of failure to be “quick to hear”.  Did I fail his test?  Was he or is he testing me?  “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” are words from Deuteronomy 13:3.  These words are a solemn reminder to me that I have to trust the Lord with all my heart and soul.

About a month ago this quote from Kyle Chandler showed up on my daily calendar, I am not sure why at the time I took a picture of the quote, but as God rocked my world this last week my thoughts went back to this quote.  Not for me but for the persistence of my daughter to get what she wanted for her future.  Now that I have been forced to listen to God and allow my daughter to walk her own path and not the one path that I was choosing for her,  I turn to God in constant prayer that will cause me to listen more intently to his words as he prepares not just her future but also mine.  It is important to me now that I have had my world rocked to stop and see the plans that God is laying for my family and that includes me.  I pray that the Lord hears my prayers as Psalm 61:1 states, ” Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;”, and I constantly humble myself as Romans 12:12 reads, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”  I humble myself and pray and listen so that my prayers might be heard as John 9:31 reminds me, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” I am listening now Lord in order to do your will.

Closing Verse: ‘But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,’  Acts 4:19

Challenge:  Are you listening to God or making your own way?  My challenge to you is to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” and find comfort in God’s plan.

Please share…