Friday, March 27, 2009

God Speaks, Part 2

This past week has been extremely difficult. We started out with three confirmed cases of Strep Throat (Sam, Emilie, Sarah), one case of Pink Eye (Jack) and one fungal infection (Sarah). Whew! That combined with Spring Break, and family quarrantine to stop the spread of germs, was enough to put me over the edge. Thursday I jumped...and fell deep in to the pit of self pity, despair, and frustration. Thankfully, God is a merciful God and sent many, many friends and much encouragement to rescue me. Here's a small part of the story:

I've been working through the Bible Study, Experiencing God by Henry & Richard Blackaby, and am currently in the chapter about seeking the Truth inthe circumstances of your life. The author asserts that, "You can not know the Truth of your circumstance until you have heard from God." So I asked. Here's how that conversation went:

Me: Lord, why? Why do we have to go through this deployement now?

God: I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly.

Me: What? How is this abundant?!

God: You will be changed and I will be glorified.

At this point, the only thing I could think of that would be God-glorifying was bringing Jeff back home safely. So God continued...

God: I love you enough to take you out of "danger."

(Aside) "Danger" is where we tell the children they have gone when they disobey. Through loving discipline, they are brough back to "protection."

Me: Really, God? Is this You talking? Or just me talking to me?

God: Only God can reveal spiritual truth. We are going to work on taking down your 'idols.'

Of course, I did remember at this point that I have asked God for this very thing. I didn't know it would come in this form.

Me: How?

God: Meet with me every day, and let me show you how much I care.

This week has been about seeking the Lord, and finding His Love. Everywhere I turn, He is reminding me of how much He loves me. He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, "simply because He loved them" (Deut 7:8). Nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ (Romans 8:35). I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jer 31:3).

I'm heading to the commissary now, and I plan to listen to my new iPod playlist which I've entitled The Love of God. I can't wait...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Furniture, Herpes?!, and God...Oh My!!

So this last week was a whirlwind of activity, not all of it favorable...

I found this amazing deal on some furniture that we really didn't 'need', but I surely wanted. The only problem, was that we already had furniture in these particular parts of the house, and we would either have to sell what we had or store one of the sets. With also needing a U-Haul to pick it up and a babysitter to stay with the children so I could go alone, the whole thing turned into a bigger deal than anticipated. God had it in His hands the whole time...

Mid-week Sarah started complaining of pain using the potty. It didn't stop and by Friday afternoon we were in the pediatric clinic only to find out that they thought it was Herpes. What???!! And how in the world?? (We could not even begin to imagine) Since we had to race to see a pediatric specialist Saturday morning, the whole furniture deal was canceled. Again, God in control...

To say the least, Friday night was a bit stressful. I couldn't even begin to imagine the horrible possibilities of why Sarah may have contracted Herpes. And I couldn't even talk to Jeff about it. But my heart was kept in not-quite-perfect peace as we awaited Saturday's appointment. The concern of friends near and far cried out, "I love you, Tracey!" And I couldn't help but recall the many times in my Bible studies this week that God was reminding me of the very same thing. Really, Lord? A canceled furniture outing, a bout of possible Herpes, and all of this to say, "I love you"? You sure go out of your way to make a point.

I don't know about you, but it is so much easier for me to believe that God can love everyone, no make that ANYone else other than me. This is my struggle (along with so many other ones). Does God really know what He's getting when He chooses to love me? And How long will I continue to doubt His love for me? It is at these times that all I can do is cling to what I know is true:

"I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving-kindness." - Jer 31:3

And God, being the gracious, merciful, and patient One woke me up with this song:

A deep deep flood, and Ocean flows from You
Of deep deep love, yeah it's filling up the room
Your innocent blood has washed my guilty life
In Your presence God I'm completely satified

- Divine Romance by Phil Wickham, from the Album: Phil Wickham

So here's the call. It's painfully obvious by now that I love music. So in an effort to remind myself daily of the love my Lord has for me, I've started to compile a list of songs that sing boldly of the love of Christ. I would LOVE to hear from you! If you have a favorite song that really sings of the love that God has for his children, please send it on to me! I'll compile the list and be sure to pass it along in a future post. And NO, Sarah does NOT have Herpes. It's just a strange dermatitis. Praise God!

Until then, here's the beginning of my list:

David Crowder Band - Everything Glorious
From the album Remedy

Third Day - Love Song
From the album Offerings

Tenth Avenue North - By Your Side
From the album Over And Underneath

Phil Wickham - Divine Romance
From the album Phil Wickham

Third Day - Your Love Oh Lord
From the album Offerings

Chris Tomlin - How Can I Keep From Singing
From the album See the Morning

Saturday, March 7, 2009

By Your Side

Cause I'll be by your side wherever you fall
In the dead of night whenever you call
Please don't fight these hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you
And I, I love you
And I want you to know
That I, I'll love you

Tenth Avenue North, By Your Side from the album Over and Underneath

A few days I ago I was in a 'mood.' I was cleaning out the car and actually expecting all four children to help me AND stay out of trouble (not to mention out of the street) at the same time. Silly Mommy.

Anyway, as I was moving the car to the carport, the refrain of a song was playing over and over again. (see above) It all ended just as I got the car in place, and I thought, "OK God. I hear you. I'll stop fighting Your hands that are holding me. But really, ARE you holding me? I feel so out of control."

My poor attitude didn't stop God from whispering in my ear later in the week. I was at the grocery store alone(!) yesterday, because a dear friend offered to watch all four children. I took my iPod, popped in my headphones, and rocked out to Bebo Norman for the entire trip around the store. (You can only imagine the sight) It only took two songs for me to know that God was talking again:

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise you near enough
I have nothing, I have nothing without you...

Take my time here on this earth
And let it glorify all that you are worth
For I am nothing, I am nothing without you

- Bebo Norman, Nothing Without You from the Album: Try

The line that got me was, "and let it glorify all that you are worth." It's easy to wonder, "why?" Why did Jeff get tagged with this deployment? Why do I have to do this all alone for six months? Why does it have to be so hard, sometimes? But God reminded me that it is all for His glory. Whatever I do. Whatever I say. However I respond to unexpected events. Take my time here on this earth, and let it glorify all that You are worth, Lord.

I used to say that I would gladly die today, if it meant that, as a result, my Dad (my earthly father) would come to know Jesus and be loved by his Savior. So what is the difference? Will I gladly embrace this deployment, if it meant that, as a result, my heavenly Father would be glorified?

Trust in me in your times of trouble
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.

- God, Psalm 50:15 from His love letter: The Bible

The conversation with my God ended this morning in a quiet moment of reflection and listening to Bebo once again:

I want to hide in you
The way, the life, the truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And you become clear
As I disappear

- Bebo Norman, Disappear from the Album: Try

Lord, help me hide in You. Help me disappear, so Love is all there is to see coming out of me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

20 Questions with a 6-year Old

So a friend on Facebook asked her daughters a series of questions that I just HAD to turn around and ask Sam. He had me rolling...

1. What is something I always say to you?
To do morning chores

2. What makes me happy?
By giving you a hug

3. What makes me sad?
shrug?? Daddy leaving for a long trip

4. How do I make you laugh?
By tickling me

5. What do you think I was like as a child?
shrug?/ I don’t know

6. How old am I?
I can’t remember

7. How tall am I?
I don’t know

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you're not around?
Go away to places and play with the girls here (Sarah and Emilie)

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?
I don’t know what famous means.
(After I explained what famous means, he said, "Me")

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not really good at?
Getting angry

13.What is my job?
To clean up

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes me proud of you?
By taking care of the babies

16. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Tom (of Tom and Jerry)

17. What do you and I do together?
Play one level of Xbox one time

18. How are we the same?
We’re not

19. How are you and I different?
Because God made us different

20. How do you know that I love you?
Because God made you love me. Because you’re my mommy.

21. Where is my favorite place to go?

Have a great day Daddy! We love you!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For I Know the Plans I Have for You...

On this night, THE night that Jeff leaves for Afghanistan, it's a struggle not to dwell in the heartache of saying goodbye. And yet my God is a God of promises. He hasn't promised to bring Jeff home. He hasn't promised to make it easy. But He has promised to go with me. To lead me. To love me. And to remind me of the plans he has for me. Plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a future and a hope. I know my hope should be in the Lord, and not in the day that Jeff returns. Please pray for me to trust in Him alone.