Just a teeny commercial break in our current series “Ain’t No Fairy Tale”. I decided to promote FLURISH after reading the devotional below. It was written by Sarah Young who is a missionary as well as a writer. Some think her writings are controversial, some love her writings. All I can tell you is I have found the following passage to be absolutely true! It is the heart of FLURISH, just expressed in a different, concise way.
Check it out.
“Live first and foremost in My Presence. Gradually you will become more aware of Me than of people and places around you. This awareness will not detract from your relationships with others. Instead, it will increase your ability to give love and encouragement to them. My Peace will permeate your words and demeanor. You will be active in the world, yet one step removed from it. You will not be easily shaken because My enveloping Presence buffers the blow of problems.
This is the path I have set before you. As you follow it wholeheartedly, you experience abundant Life and Peace.”
Sarah Young—- JESUS CALLING
Psalm 89:15-16; Psalm 16:8; II Peter 1:2
So what are your thoughts? Share in the COMMENT section.
Blended families. What sort of picture does that phrase create in your mind?
The Brady Bunch?
Cartoonish characters stuffed into a food processing machine?
A mismatched unhappy family pretending to be happy?
Or something else?
I will say that my experience as a blended family member turned out to be much better than I thought at the beginning. However, each family has its own set of variables. I was never good at math equations but even I know that the more variables in a given group the more complicated the equation. This is so true of blended families. Then throw in some unknowns and a few loose cannons into the mix and you got a real challenge.
If you read Part III of this series you may remember the staggering and sobering statistics concerning the failure rate for second and third marriages. With each marriage outside the original there is a possibility of multiple children from each parent and for sure there will be ex-spouses. Now multiply that times the number of re-marriages on each side. Its an explosion of personalities and drama.
All that to say that less is more. LESS marriages involved, MORE chance for success in the marriage you’re considering. Guess that’s why God hates divorce. HE knows all the pain involved and pain extrapolated into the future by remarriage. So please proceed with caution and much prayer.
My personal least favorite ride on the step-parent train was the weekly drive to and from the ex-wife to drop off and pick up our daughter for a visit. The ride could be unpleasant and saturated with anxiety. Dwight and I tried to do this together as much as possible to regularly strengthen our united front. And of course we never knew if we’d have to face any drama with the ex.
It’s extremely helpful to have a peaceful and cooperative relationship between the biological parents (IF at all possible) so important issues can be discussed and resolved for the child’s welfare. However, communication often is difficult between ex’s but your child is worth the effort. Any issues where both households can agree to be on the same page will greatly benefit your childs’ stability.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 New International Version
Usually the two households involved in any split marriage are diametrically opposed and our situation was no exception. I had to brace myself every time we picked Cortney up especially after a weekend visit. There was always this adjustment period. Being in a different environment for several days definitely affected her attitude and who knows what else? I was just learning.
I was always glad when ‘our’ Cortney returned and acted the way we were accustomed to and it usually took a day or two to get to that sweet spot again. I wonder how bouncing back and forth between households has affected Cortney and countless others over the course of their young lives?
It definitely ‘Ain’t No Fairy Tale” for the children.
“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’ ”
Ruth 1:16 English Standard Version
Children are completely at the mercy of whatever their parents decide. If their biological parents divorce, the child/children is always deeply wounded and has no way to protect themselves from the pain. Even in the most amicable divorces there is pain, trauma and transition for all involved, especially the children.
If one of both of the parents decide to remarry, the child is placed in yet another precarious tangle of emotions and transitions. Because of this, Step-Moms need to be aware that it can take up to two years for a child to adjust in the most positive scenarios. More time is needed depending on the character variables involved and the age of the child/children.
Be sensitive. Be patient. Time is needed. Understanding and gentleness are needed. As a Step-Mom you have to be the bigger person in stature as well as in character and maturity. Realize that the children are reacting out of this hurt and pain and it is not a personal attack on you. Let God’s grace soothe and strengthen you. It can be a time of tremendous opportunity for your growth and positive influence on these children.
And by all means REMEMBER that your husband is caught in the crossfire between wife, ex-wife and children. His stress levels are off the charts trying to juggle responsibilities, expectations and keep the peace. Told ya this AIN’T NO FAIRY TALE!
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 English Standard Version
Being a successful Step-Mom is hard work. The odds are unevenly stacked against us in most cases. If you are not yet married and an official Step-Mom, count the cost carefully. Do not enter into this role of Step-Mom lightly. Truly it AIN’T NO FAIRY TALE!
Being a good Step-Mother is definitely a calling. You’re only fooling yourself if you think you can do it without the help of God. Don’t even try it on your own, there’s too much at stake. Consider these staggering statistics from the US Bureau of Census:
The average marriage in America lasts only 7 years.
One out of two marriages end in divorce.
75% remarry (creating new stepfamilies)
Over 50% of US families are remarried or recoupled.
2100 new stepfamilies form everyday
Divorce rate for second marriages when only one parent has children is 65%
When both partners have children divorce rate rises to 70%
Divorce rate for third marriages is 73%
The good news is with God ALL things are possible! (Matthew 19:26) I found myself in the 73% chance of divorce category. The Lord kept impressing on my heart not to be afraid of Cortney or of being her Step-Mom. And so I stepped out in faith to Step-Mothering.
That was 12 years ago and Cortney is grown and married now. I thought you may like to hear things from her side so stay tuned. . .
“Your WORD is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 New Living Translation
Fear and Selfishness were my constant adversarial companions as I contemplated what I saw ahead of me. At this juncture I found myself genuinely head over heels in-love with a man, BUT he had an 11 year old daughter. Marriage was a package deal, my brain shouted at me as it ran ahead into the future. I could not get permanently involved without considering this precious child.
First thing was to get over my fear by submitting it to the Holy Spirit every time it tried to whisper sweet frightenings into my ears. I had to trust Him to guide me through the anxiety, the doubt, the second guessing, worries etc.,
Every time I took an attacking thought captive, the Holy Spirit strengthened my resolve and shed light on the correct path before me. Progress was moment by moment, painstakingly slow but the results were durably enduring.
I remember a particular incident early on in my relationship with my new daughter;
Dwight and I were taking her to a local festival during 4th of July week. We thought it would be fun and educational for Cortney. What a foolish thought. Cortney fought us from the gitgo by lagging far behind us in the admission line. She did not heed her father’s gentle pleading to give it a chance. She deliberately poked around and her facial expressions clearly screamed, “I Do Not Want to be Here!”
Entertaining and educational reenactments didn’t help.
Delicious food didn’t help.
Comedy shows didn’t help.
And oh my, she was too big for pony rides!
Frustrated we decided to leave after just a few hours but were not willing to give up. W e decided to take her to something she loved, a roller rink that had inline skating. Surely she would be happy there.
Dwight and I donned our old fashion roller-skates while Cortney laboriously put on her rollerblades. We skated carefully as a couple while Cortney sat sulking outside the rink. After 20 min or so she reluctantly entered the skating area. After 15 minutes she seemed to be flying around the rink enjoying herself, but later refused to admit it, of course. The little rascal!
It took half a day to pry a smile out of her and it didn’t last long but I counted it as a small seed of victory. These tiny triumphs are what step-moms need to move forward on the road to winning their child’s heart.
Practical Tips for Step-Moms:
*Build a strong union with your new spouse providing a safe, stable environment for the children.
*Never try to take the biological Mother’s place of your child/children.
*Get to know your new child/children, spend time learning about what they do and do not like.
*Be genuine, allow them to get to know you and see you realistically, flaws and all.
*Give your children choices when asking them to do something or make a decision.
*Ask God specifically for long-suffering with your children, not patience, or you will find yourself knee-deep in problems.
*Speak respectfully of your child/children’s biological parent, or say nothing.
*Let the child/children’s father lead in discipline.
I found these tips to work wonders where my relationship with Cortney was concerned. I hope they help any other struggling step-moms as well.
“These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children. . .” Titus 2:4 New Living Translation
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
One thing I NEVER EVER thought I would be was (cue drum roll), a Step Mother!
I grew up watching all the Disney animated features and the two that stuck in my brain the most were Cinderella and Snow White. These two stories each had a common villain robed in deceptive beauty, a Wicked Step-Mother.
So I kept my guard up whenever I spent time with a friend who had a step-mother. Although it was not prevalent in my childhood world of the 60s and 70s, today it’s all too common in families.
I made up my mind early in life that I could probably be open to adoption but not to step-parenting. I couldn’t bear the thought of sharing a husband’s affections with the memory of a former spouse or struggling for a spot in the heart of a child who already had a mother. Then there’s the difficult task of tiptoeing around a Daddy/Daughter relationship… LORD, help me! And HE did.
First of all I must say this became a FANTASTIC opportunity not only to grow as a person but also to nurture some spiritual fruit on my empty vine. Would I seize the opportunity or act like a spoiled child myself?
Have you ever been here? A place where you know the path will be difficult ahead but somehow good for you in the end? It’s so easy sometimes to run refusing to be stretched but I can tell you that a FLURISHING life needs times of intense stretching to become flexible like elastic. It’s much easier to maneuver through life like elastic than stiff unless you enjoy being broken over and over. Think about that until we continue the Step-Mother saga.
“Enlarge the site of your tent, stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, do not hold back. Lengthen your ropes and drive your stakes deep.” Isaiah 54:2 Berean Study Bible
What would you consider to be your most treasured possession?
I took a poll recently to discover how some of you would answer that question. The following is a brief list of answers:
Dan Wesson Pointman 9 Pistol
Kansas City Chiefs Autographs from 1971
Stuffed Black Lamb
Cards and Creations from Daughters
Rare Trade Dollar Coin
All of these cherished items are fine in their proper place in our lives and minds.
The last three people gave the same answer—- Cell Phone. Consider with me that out of fifteen people three said their phone was the possession they prized the most. That’s a fifth of those questioned. Assuming for a moment this same poll was done on a much larger scale, do you think the results would differ? I’d venture to guess they would remain the same or increase in percentage for cell phones as the highest ranking answer.
Recently I lost my own cell phone somewhere in our house. My husband and I searched for it, calling it from his phone but we heard nothing. I used the Find My Phone app but it was too late, my phone battery was already dead and could not respond.
After a few days of searching, I concluded that God may have a lesson and possibly a blog post (tada!) in mind for this lost cell situation so I stopped searching.
I trusted HE knew exactly where my phone lay in hiding. I asked HIM to help me find it. I searched but to no avail. I concluded it was not yet time for the phone to be found.
Could you live for a month without your phone? A fifth of you may say “No Way.”
Cell phones like computers have become a staple in most of our lives. They perform innumerable functions so their value is great. They’re a portable tool for modern humanity that connects us globally beyond what our forefathers ever could have imagined. And yet we sometimes allow them to control us rather than using them responsibly.
“Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:4
New Living Translation
How many times have you heard someone complain about how much time they wasted on Face Book, Instagram or some other Internet forum? It can be intoxicating and without our notice, addicting. We can become obsessive about having the phone with us at all times.
I found my phone at a very unlikely place 27 days after it went MIA. It was a forced technology fast but it was rather refreshing.
Have you ever considered a technology fast? I know people who do this regularly. If you find it easy for your phone to consume your time and energy in a negative way fasting a few days from phone/computer use can give you a right perspective on things. It can prevent your phone from becoming a coveted possession.
God wants our undivided attention and HE doesn’t want to share it with any type of idol even metallic technology. So be aware and take care not to be a cell slave.
“Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. How can you turn back and become the slaves of those weak and pitiful powers?” Galatians 4:8 + 9 Contemporary English Version
How many of you honestly enjoy your daily life? Are you truly FLURISHING? We all have ups and downs, difficulties and challenges but underlying it all, do you feel good, do you sense the peace of God that passes ALL understanding? Do you have a private joy in the depths of your soul?
I have just come through a long depression that lasted about 5 months. It most likely was triggered by the death of my mother back on New Year’s Day. Could have been the grieving process? I may never know but it has been a difficult year. I leaned on familiar passages of scripture and continued trusting in the loving kindness of my heavenly Father. There were good days, blah days, tired days, unmotivated days and horrible days within my soul. Yet, as I kept looking to Him HE WAS EVER FAITHFUL!!!
I am here today to encourage you not to give up seeking the face of God amidst whatever you may be experiencing. This is the purpose of my blog, to remind you that HE is ever faithful and wants to be close to you and experience all of your “stuff” with you. HE wants the best life possible for you, the abundant FLURISHING life HE knows is possible for each of HIS children.
So, all that being said if you know these verses listed below, don’t just pass them by. USE them and BELIEVE them for your current situation. They may be well known but if they are not well used they will not help you.
And, if the verses are new to you, read them over and over allowing them to sink into your heart and memory so you can use them when needed. His Word is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. He is alive in these Words so USE it, that’s why HE gave it to us.
If you are FLURISHING currently, don’t forget to praise God for the blessing. Thank Him for His goodness in your life.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4 New Living Translation
If things are rough going at the moment, cry out to Him for help.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” II Corinthians 1:3 + 4 New International Version
If you are tired, burned out from exhaustion, come to Him for strength and let Him help you with your load.
“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.” Matthew 11:29 New Living Translation
If you feel blah and lack motivation call on His name to renew your zeal and revive your spirit.
“But those who trust the LORD will find new strength. They will be strong like eagles soaring upward on wings; they will walk and run without getting tired.” Isaiah 40:31 Contemporary English Version
If you are overcome by sin and guilt, talk to Him, confess your sin and depend upon His mercy which endures forever.
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I John 1:9 New Living Translation
Read about His mercy in Psalm 136
“For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 New Living Translation
Ten minutes before the start of the Conference, I stood in the Pastor’s study as he and Dwight prayed for God to use me that night. My God-focus generated confidence and energy within me as we opened the session with Praise and Worship. The last song was one I requested and it felt like the Spirit of God was blessing our time together from the start.
The Pastors wife introduced me and I breathed a quick, “Here we Go, Lord” and walked to the podium. This time I was not flat! I could feel the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. There was excitement and expectation in the air as I began. The audience responded well to the message and participated throughout the conference.
The one screen issue forced some added exercise for the ladies to turn around every so often but perhaps that was not a bad thing? Kept everyone awake.
After the first night I had several women tell me it was an inspiring message. There were two older ladies well past retirement age who remain active in YWAM and encouraged me the most. The oldest one, an 80 year old woman told me the message and time spent together was “cleansing”. She had never been able to share and unload some parts of her life with any Christian community up until this conference. That alone was worth it all! To be a blessing in this way to a loyal saint of God still touches my heart every time I think of her.
There were several others who asked for prayer afterward. I pray all the women in attendance received one new thing the Lord revealed to them about Himself and their relationship with Him during our time together. I further pray that they continue to allow His healing in their hearts.
We ended the conference with a lovely fellowship meal. A beautiful woman named Gricelda cooked all the food for the conference. She had a squad of ladies assisting her, busy slicing fruit and preparing desserts. She and her team did a fabulous job. They made me love authentic Mexican food like I never fathomed possible for me, a Pennsylvania Dutch girl.
And so dear fellow FLURISHERS those are the highlights of the 2018 Christian Women’s Conference from Tyler, Texas. Until the Lord opens new opportunities,
“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
II Corinthinthians 4:7
DO YOU HAVE TROUBLE FACING CHALLENGES? PERHAPS YOU ARE FROZEN IN FEAR? I CAN TOTALLY RELATE:
For months I strained over how to compile notes and story threads for two hour-long sessions to be presented at the women’s conference earlier this month in Tyler, TX. It was the first time I’d be speaking for more than an hour and I wasn’t quite sure how to go about organizing all the information. I literally had scattered notes covering an entire dining room table. My inadequate organizational skills stared me in the face.. This was new territory for me and a bit scary.
I don’t usually have trouble filling time talking but I wanted my words for this conference to be edifying to the heart and soul of each woman in attendance. I didn’t want to waste time with my own vain babblings. I wanted the precious Holy Spirit to speak through me.
I prayed for guidance. I asked for courage because what I would share was very personal and painful. Simply acting as keynote speaker terrified me if I took my eyes off Jesus. But I remember a song from Audioadrenaline’s 1996 BLOOM recording called “Walk on Water”. The line that repeated in my head is:
“If I Keep My Eyes On JESUS I Can Walk On Water!” Taken from Matthew 14:29.
I had to remember I can do anything HE calls me to do IF I keep my eyes on Him, further backed up by the Apostle Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 4 verse 13: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” New Living Translation
I persisted in asking God to help me and little by little as I trusted Him, the presentation began taking shape. Over the weeks in April and May He gave me idea after idea to keep the audience engaged and remain interested. The table in our dining room slowly cleared and actually looked organized with neat stacks of paper.
My husband worked tirelessly on a two part powerpoint presentation involving movie clips and stills. He stayed up late on work nights just to perfect everything into a professional looking presentation. I so appreciate his tech talents.
Just before leaving for Texas, onslaughts of fear and anxiety, dread and depression took turns tormenting my mind and emotions. I had to fight back because I knew the more opposition the enemy threw at me the greater the need was for someone to hear my message at the conference.
I leaned heavily on God’s words to Joshua in the first chapter of the book bearing his name, verse 9:
“This is my command— be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” New Living Translation
And from God’s word in Revelation:
“And they defeated him (satan, the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.” Revelation 12:11a New Living Translation
I had to trust God that He wanted to use my testimony, no matter how inadequate I felt. I had to trust Him and not give in to any fear, doubt or worry. We boarded the plane flying West and the adventure began.
The Pastor and his wife of “The Lords House” in Tyler, Texas welcomed us into their home. They encouraged me with their enthusiasm and I continued in faith.
My husband gave advice and suggestions to tweak the final version which we got to practice once with the sound system at the church. I barely got through it. The near 100 degree temperatures and traveling had left me exhausted. Even my dear husband’s face expressed the same conclusion— it was flat. But I had made up my mind by now that God wanted to use my message.
Deep inside a still small voice assured me all would be well the next day when the conference began.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 New International Version
Earlier this week Dwight and I had the pleasure of jet skiing on Lake Tyler in Texas. Pastor Samuel Priddy provided us with this exciting experience along with his lovely wife, Amy. I am so grateful we had this redeeming opportunity and blessed with such good friends.
You see, this happened to be my fourth time on jet skis. A bay in Honolulu in 2001 marked my maiden voyage. I drove the jet ski myself with trepidation around the still water at first but became somewhat confident after an hour. Weaving in and out of the buoys and gaining speed. I loved it.
Second time I rode with someone at a local lake in Southeastern Pennsylvania. This was on a high power jet ski with an experienced driver. We zipped and zoomed across the water at higher velocities than I can imagine. I hung on and what an adrenaline rush!
Third time arrived during my honeymoon in St. Lucia. I wanted to share the thrill of the jet ski experience with my new groom. He loved motorcycles so I figured a jet ski is like riding a motorcycle in the water, right? I talked him into renting a jet ski at our Sandals resort. The problem arose when we discovered that the area where we rented to ride involved only the open sea! Not a bay, not a lake, not calm waters! The swells were about four foot that day.
My precious new husband Dwight did not tell me he was scared to death but bravely took me out onto the open sea. I smiled as I expected a similar experience as I encountered previously, anticipating the fun and exhilaration. Instead, both of us clung on for dear life as we plowed through the gathering waves. Thank GOD for life jackets because Dwight never learned to swim. My heart pounded fearing all sorts of sea creatures lurking below waiting to get a nibble on us if we capsized.
After that harrowing episode I promised never to ask Dwight about jets skiing again. However, the desire never left my heart to someday share a positive jet ski escapade with him. So when Pastor Sam invited us to go on Lake Tyler I was so proud of Dwight for not letting past fear stop him. This time his experience was 100% different than in St. Lucia! He loved it and tore all over the lake! We had a blast!
By the grace of God and His goodness, the positive jet ski adventure has been redeemed! (Click on below)
Are there events in your life that scared you in the past? Things you’ve been avoiding due to fearful memories? Let God redeem the experience. Don’t allow the enemy to steal your opportunity because of fear. Fight back with your shield of faith, fully trusting in the Lord’s care and help. Pray now for His courage to overcome past fears. When occasions present themselves, you’ll be ready to meet and enjoy the challenge in Jesus’ Name!
“I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 34:4 New International Version
If you are a woman reading this, what is it that you want most? Anything jump to the forefront of your mind?
For me I’d have to say I most want to be appreciated and understood and at the least acknowledged as a positive life form (thought well of) from those I consider close to me. I don’t expect these things from anyone else. How about you. What do you really want?
Remember one of Mel Gibson’s movies entitled “What Women Want”?
The movie came out in 2000 about an extreme ladies man who gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts after he has a freak accident. One particular woman he hears at his office is a file girl played by Judy Greer. She is well aware that she goes unnoticed day after day in her work place. Mel Gibson’s character now hears her thoughts. She believes her life matters to no one. She’s contemplating suicide.
The world the file girl lives in is fast paced and people are not paying attention to her, at least not until Mel Gibson’s character hears her dangerous thoughts. Most of us live in this same type of hurried situation day in and day out.
You’ll have to watch the movie or google it to see how things resolve but do you ever feel like the file girl? Like you don’t matter in this rat race life? That no one sees or cares about the details of your day to day existence? Perhaps you are facing something tragic or challenging? Don’t try to run, hide or worse.
In Genesis 16 Hagar was running away because her situation with Abram and Sarai was difficult and complicated. She was a servant used as a surrogate mother and now that she was pregnant she felt resentful. Used, unwanted and abused she probably felt a lot worse than the file girl in Gibson’s movie.
But as Hagar hid in the wilderness, God found her and spoke to her about her life and future, giving her hope. Genesis 16:6-12. Hagar responded by calling God El Roi which is a Hebrew term meaning “the God who sees me”.
I am extremely grateful that God is never too busy or preoccupied to notice us, His children. All we have to do is call out to Him and He hears us. He knows everything about us everyday, every minute, every second. Only an all-knowing, almighty God could keep up with so many people and love each of us as if we were HIS only child.
Today remember HE sees you! Focus on the truth of HIS abiding presence. HE is available if we want Him, He’s only a breath away, call Him. He sees you. He’s waiting.
If I am seen, known and loved by my Lord that really is all this woman wants. What about you?
“Never trust anyone completely but God. Love people, but put your full trust in God.” —Lawrence Welk
I admit I know very little about Midwives. I did try to watch the popular tv drama “Call the Midwife” once but I was too squeamish to finish even one episode. But I do have a little story to share involving a Midwife.
Over 35 years ago I had a friend who was adamant about not wanting to have children. She never gave details as to why. She complained when women’s magazines printed articles on children and parenting. She felt they over focussed on childrearing and took personal offense. I listened but didn’t know what to say that would not offend her further. So I remained silent and let her vent whenever she felt the need.
This same friend also claimed to be an Agnostic. She believed there was not enough evidence for or against the existence of God. We had many discussions over the years about our differing belief systems.
In the late 80s she divorced her husband and later remarried. Imagine my surprise when she told me in early 1992 that she was pregnant! I couldn’t believe it! Was this the same woman who complained at length about children?
Nine months later as she gave birth in a local hospital she experienced a change of heart and mind. Seeing the birth of her daughter was proof enough to her that God does indeed exist. She adored her baby and became a loving mother at age 34.
Shortly after her daughter turned one, she moved several hours away to a sparsely populated area in the North. We continued to keep in touch and I visited on occasion when time afforded a road trip. I encouraged her and her budding faith as often as I could.
In 1995 she told me she would be having another child the next spring. This time she wanted a more natural child birth experience at home with a Midwife. I admired her for her courage.
Months rolled by and one day I got a frantic call from my friend. Her delivery time was approaching and her husband was out of state on a business trip. She was scared because the only Midwife in her secluded mountain area had taken a full-time job and could only assist with delivering babies on certain days during certain hours. She asked me to pray that the baby would come when the Midwife was available.
So I took her urgent request to my ladies Bible study group and asked them to join me in praying. Now I must tell you these dear women loved the Lord. They were older mentors for me and each of them had gone through childbirth themselves, some several times. I was the only one in the group who never experienced pregnancy.
So when I made my request, they snickered. One of them even said, “A baby will come when it’s good and ready.” I could tell they thought my prayer request was foolish. But I was not deterred.
I knew that our great God cared about my friend. HE cared about the fears that were trying to dampen her faith. HE cared about her struggle. I knew HE alone was in sovereign control over the exact moment that baby was to be born. So I prayed for the baby to come when the Midwife was available, believing, inspite of what the other ladies thought. I trusted in HIS best for my friend.
What do you think happened?
When her labor came and proper dilation occurred she called the Midwife. By the grace of God the Midwife had just finished her shift and was able to attend to my friend immediately. My friend successfully delivered a healthy baby boy to join her toddler daughter. Her faith was strengthened by this specific answer to prayer and so was mine!
So never let anyone discourage your faith in God’s care for you! Trust HIM above all others, even those you respect and your faith will FLURISH!
“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalm 118:8 New King James Bible
“Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the soul of his masters.” Proverbs 25:13 English Standard version
If you happen to live in cooler climates, you might be well acquainted with the term “snow day”. Those of us who grew up in the Northeastern area of the US probably remember listening anxiously to the radio or tv as kids early in the morning waiting for the announcement of school cancellations due to weather conditions.
Now our own kids or grandkids look forward to “snow days” just as we did—A free day with no school. Of course in the scheme of things, a snow day was followed later by a “make up” day to replace the required school hours that were lost during the “snow day”. But kids don’t care about such future details.
The good news for us as adults is we don’t have to wait for a snowstorm to grant us a “free snow day”. We can schedule our own every now and then. We can take some time to just BREATHE. We can put all the responsibilities on hold for a day. It will recharge our minds, bodies and souls.
We also are not forced into a “make up” day. We just trust and expect our Heavenly Father to help us with anything that piled up during our day with Him. I have found Him to be faithful each and every time I do this to help me catch up on whatever work I have. It’s a supernatural thing!
The trick is to actually TAKE a “free day”. To entrust your myriad of responsibilities to the Lord who loves you for one 24 hour period and not fret over them. HE actually expects us to do this once a week not once in a blue moon. HE gave us the Sabbath to refresh us to better serve and worship Him. HE knows we need it it whether we realize it or not. (Luke 4:16 for any desiring New Testament proof—Jesus is our ultimate example) We need to incorporate this into our weekly lives no matter what our work schedules dictate.
I have worked weekends for 29 years now and it has been a challenge to take my “snow days” or Sabbath days. Sometimes corporate worship with other believers cannot take place the same day as my “snow day” time with Him due to my work schedule, but that’s ok. He sees my heart and knows my desire is to be with Him so I proactively plan to do it as regularly as I can. This will be different for each of us.
For many years I didn’t carve out a 24 hour Sabbath for myself and burn out would overtake me. When I was young it took longer to burn out but now I grow tired faster which is actually a blessing since it forces me to physically rest. Illness sometimes created forced “snow days”. But now I want to be proactive and obedient to HIS command. I don’t always do too well but I keep trying because I know HIS ways are higher than mine so I trust HIM rather than what I think or my schedule dictates.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 English Standard Version
Our world is so busy and everything seems important. The more complicated our world becomes the more we NEED weekly undivided time set apart with Jesus in addition to daily communication with Him. We need to rest, to refresh and to refuel to FLURISH!
Today I’m taking a “snow day” supernaturally as well as physically!! When was your last “snow day”?
“Every word of God proves true. HE is a shield to all who come to Him for protection.” Proverbs 30:5 New Living translation
When I returned from my anniversary trip to Hawaii I went to visit my Mom at the nursing home as soon as I could. She never did well when I was away. So I was concerned and when I saw her she did not look good— slumped in her lift-recliner, pants down with depends showing and sweater struggling to cover her bulging belly.
I woke her up and when she saw me, she asked if I had gone to Hawaii yet? My heart dropped. I had been gone 3 and a half weeks without her cognizance. I fought back the tears. She hated it when she couldn’t remember. I knew her dementia had progressed.
Somehow the Spirit of the Lord showed me my time with her was short. We had three good visits together in the next two weeks. The last one being Christmas Day when she spent the afternoon at my house with family. She told me it would be the last time she leaves the nursing home because it was just too hard on her. But she said “It was a nice party” and was glad she could come one last time. That was Monday Christmas Day 2017. Little did I know what the next week held.
I saw her Thursday the 28th again because I was concerned about her. She seemed a bit better but two days later the nursing home called and requested I talk her into going to the hospital because something was terribly wrong. I hated to push her but it had to be done.
Mom’s speech was slurred when she came to the phone and she did not want to go to the hospital but by the grace of God I convinced her to go. Two hours later I met her in the emergency room at the local hospital. My husband Dwight stayed with us as two different paramedics tried to insert an IV at various locations to no avail. Mom screamed in pain because her veins were so tiny due to immense fluid retention. We requested lidocaine numbing spray and an IV specialist was called.
In the meantime the hospital ran some tests and a a chest catscan without contrast revealed something we never considered. Lung cancer. Massive tumors filled her lungs so every breath was a struggle for my precious mother. A year prior she developed breast cancer but was adamant about no mastectomies. So the surgeon did his best to remove the cancerous tissue. However, unbeknownst to all of us, cancer cells were missed and spread quickly throughout her lungs in a years time.
The doctor in the emergency room was kind and showed me photos of her lungs in 2016 as clear and less than a year later riddled with cancer. I went back to Mom and asked her if she wanted to know what the doctor said and she said she did. I told her it was lung cancer and she cried a little.
I held her hand and said, “This is what you’ve told me you wanted ever since I was six years old; to die and go to Jesus.” She looked at me with her little girl eyes and said, “Well, when you come right down to it, I’m not s sure.” She cried a little more. “So you are playin chicken with me my whole life,” I said trying to add some levity? “No, I wasn’t,” she said whimpering.
I told her I would stay with her and we sang the hymn we sang together when my father died suddenly 30 years earlier.
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word:
Just to rest upon His promise;
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
JESUS, JESUS, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.
JESUS, JESUS precious JESUS!
Oh for grace to trust bHim more.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious JESUS, Savior, Friend:
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
JESUS, JESUS, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.
JESUS, JESUS precious JESUS!
Oh for grace to trust Him more.
“Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
Louisa Stead and William Kirkpatrick
1882 inspired by Proverbs 30:5
That was the last day Mom was able to communicate completely even though every breath was difficult. They were precious hours spent together and I stayed the next two days with her in the hospital. Hospice was called in but due to it being a holiday weekend, they never got to help her. She passed from this life into the arms of Jesus late New Years Day night still holding my hand.
God’s amazing grace helped me as HE and I were all alone in that hospital room once she went home. Be encouraged for HE never left my side! Praise His glorious name! His words are true!
“. . .and be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b New Living translation