When you feel dismayed, remember this…

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“Is not your fear of God your confidence, and the integrity of your ways your hope?
 ~Job 4:6


Originally posted:  February 23, 2016

Photo credit: pinterest.com

 

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On the subject of cheating…

Today was a bit of a somber day for the attendees at our local church.  It appears that our pastor resigned because of his unfaithfulness to his wife.  I am a member of this church, but no longer a regular attender.  I have found organized religion to be very frustrating at times and so I don’t go as often as I used to.  I enjoy my quiet time at home, worshipping God in my own way, without the distractions from others.

It seems that the majority of church goers these days, are generally just there to keep up with appearances.  To me, being a believer is more than just putting on a fake smile and acting as if I’m living a good morally correct life.  I don’t need the acceptance of others, and I don’t care if the world loves me without question.  God should be the only person who I look to for acceptance.  As long as He loves me, I figure I’m good to go, and the Bible plainly states He does, so there’s no doubt in my mind about that.

I do attend church for my children’s sake, because they are home schooled and they like to attend in order to see their friends on Sunday mornings.  But still… it isn’t on a regular basis.  I used to feel guilty when I would miss a Sunday, but that all changed for me over the years.  I started to see the true colors of the people who were there, and it simply broke my heart because of what I witnessed.  This isn’t the first church I have attended where things like this have happened and I suppose over the extent of my life, I have just become tired of all the drama.

I can almost guarantee, that after what happened today, half the church will leave and move on to other churches.  Each one will feel so disappointed by what they have learned, because of the indiscretions of our head pastor, they just won’t be able to find peace within those walls anymore.  And yet, if we could see the hearts of every individual that attends the church, I bet at least three quarters of them have cheated on their spouses before; at least in their thoughts.  The thing is, the only difference is, they haven’t gotten caught, and their true desires aren’t seen.  We begin to judge people before we even think about our own thoughts and the way we’ve been behaving ourselves.

I myself, have never had a physical affair, nor do I intend to, but the thought has crossed my mind plenty of times.  And given the opportunity, I honestly can’t say for sure what I would do.  To even admit to this, would probably get me kicked out of the church, and yet many others are thinking the very same thing.  I believe none of us are free from the temptations that surround us on a daily basis, and this is the reason that so many of us fail at being obedient and living Godly lives.  Even now, my heart has not been in a good place lately.  I find myself longing for things, which I should never even consider, and yet I still do.

This topic has been thoroughly discussed in my own marriage.  My husband knows that I am struggling to be completely devoted to him and we are trying to work through the problems that we are currently facing.  I am not ashamed to admit this, because I know that I am not the only one who is dealing with this kind of situation.  I have been very unhappy in my relationship and it has led me down some very tempting pathways.

I honestly don’t think that we are any different from the millions of other Christian couples out there.  I am tired of people being shamed for things, when really we should be building them back up, and helping them fix the problems that they are facing.  Belittling others doesn’t solve anything and expecting a pastor to be any different than anyone else is completely absurd.  We are all sinners and we all struggle, whether we care to admit it or not.

So today, I am feeling sorry for my pastor and his wife.  Sorry because apparently their marriage was failing and they couldn’t seem to fix what was broken.  It takes two people to make a marriage work, so I will not take sides.  I can only hope and pray, that they will now find their way through this mess that they are dealing with, and I think the hardest part will come from the conviction of the church.  They will most likely lose friends, possibly family members who cannot understand.  Their own children may start to take sides.  Who knows…. It won’t be pretty I’m sure and I just hope that they will both come out stronger in the end, for all that they have had to endure.

We never know what causes a marriage to crumble and unless we are in that relationship ourselves, I feel we have no right to judge another person’s marriage.  We can offer up helpful solutions and give a word of advice, but even in that, we have to be careful not to overstep our boundaries.  I think the best thing we can do, is just pray and let God handle the situation.  Each of us have enough of our own existing problems to deal with ourselves.

Through it all, His love remains…

I’m sure many of you have noticed that I have suddenly gone quiet.  I have been purposely trying to limit myself to as few distractions as possible right now.  It isn’t because I don’t love and care about all of you.  I just really need time away to figure out my life at the moment.

This week is all about soul searching; finding out who I am as a person, and figuring out where I need to go from here.  I suppose most of us face a time in our lives when we have to figure things out; preferably on our own without the noise of the world confusing our hearts and minds.

I realize this isn’t the most opportune time for some of you who really need me right now.  However, without this time away, I highly doubt I would continue to be of much good to anybody.  I’ve just gotten to such a low point in my life, which is why I need to disconnect for a while.  It’s do or die time for me.

I’ve been feeling so separated from everyone and everything that matters to me.  I have also been struggling to figure out what my purpose and plan is for my future.  I seem to have lost sight of everything that I was once so certain of.

So this week, I’m hoping to hear from God in an amazing way; and to my surprise, I already have.  After crying out to him and not hearing anything for such a long time, I finally heard his voice in a dream just a few days go.  He gave me a specific verse which I plan to memorize this week and I have been posting it all over the place, so that I never forget his message to me.

The verse is Isaiah 54:10, which says… Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

I had no recollection of ever reading this verse, and I was a bit reluctant to look it up after I awoke from my dream.  After hearing that still small voice repeatedly telling me to look it up, I finally did.  The words were exactly what I needed to hear from God and regardless of the original context, I know this verse was given to me in that very moment to help me in my own life.

After all the things I have been going through over these last two years, and after all the guilt and shame I have been feeling for quite a while now, God took the time to remind me that I’m still important to him.  He also reminded me that no matter what I do, he will never stop loving me.  He wants me to feel his peace and wants me to know that he has forgiven every wrong thing that I have ever done.  For as the verse says, he has compassion on me.

After reading Isaiah 54:10, I continued reading on and found the Lord speaking to me through many other passages of scripture as well.  The answers to all of my struggles are all right there, just waiting for me to grab hold of and put into action in my own life.

I’m excited to hear God’s voice again.  I had started to believe that I was too far gone to ever hear from him again.  And yet here he is, taking me back in his loving arms.  Despite everything that has happened, he is still here; forgiving me and loving me with the kind of love that I had forgotten even existed.  I had been searching in all the wrong places, when all I needed to do was seek him.  He has everything I need and so much more.

So I’m taking a break, letting him fill me up with his love and letting him lead me.  Because I’ve realized something; without God in my life, I have nothing, I am nothing, and I’m ultimately left without a purpose or passion for life.  I hope if any of you are feeling lost and separated from him, that you will find your way back too.  He’s there… reach out and take his hand.  I promise you, you’ll be amazed by what he has to offer.

In Over My Head – Jenn Johnson

Beautiful words….  Enjoy! ❤

“In Over My Head”

I have come to this place in my life
I’m full but I’ve not satisfied
This longing to have more of You
And I can feel it my heart is convinced
I’m thirsty my soul can’t be quenched
You already know this but still
Come and do whatever You want to

I’m standing knee deep but I’m out where I’ve never been
And I feel You coming and I hear Your voice on the wind

Would you come and tear down the boxes that I have tried to put You in
Let love come teach me who You are again
Would you take me back to the place where my heart was only about You
And all I wanted was just to be with You
Come and do whatever You want to

And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
And further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours

Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Then you crash over me, and that’s where You want me to be
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head
I’m Beautifully in over my head

Third Day – Revelation

I was fortunate enough to see Third Day in concert before they became a well-known band.  They were opening for Michael W. Smith on the night I saw them and I haven’t stopped listening to them since.  Today has been a bit frustrating; I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write about and yet the words just aren’t flowing.  This song started playing tonight as I was getting ready to attempt to write for the hundredth time today.  So I’ll leave you with this amazing song, which contains the kind of words which I wish I had been able to write myself.  May all of you have a very blessed day!  ~M

My life has led me down the road that’s so uncertain
And now, I am left alone and I am broken
Trying to find my way
Trying to find the faith that’s gone

This time I know that You are holding all the answers
And I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances
On roads that never seem
To be the ones that bring me home

Give me a revelation
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying
To find my way
I haven’t got a clue

Tell me should I stay here
Or do I need to move?
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You

My life has led me down this path that’s ever winding
Through every twist and turn, I’m always finding
That I am lost again
Tell me when this road will ever end

Give me a revelation
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying
To find my way
I haven’t got a clue

Tell me should I stay here
Or do I need to move?
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without

I don’t know where I can turn
Tell me, when will I learn?
Wont You show me where I need to go?
Let me follow Your lead
I know that it’s the only way that I can get back home

Give me a revelation
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying
To find my way
I haven’t got a clue

Tell me should I stay here
Or do I need to move?
Give me a revelation
I’ve got nothing without You
I’ve got nothing without You

No, oh no, oh no
Oh, give me a revelation
Oh Lord, oh no
I’ve got nothing, now, without You
I’ve got nothing, now, without You

Keep Making Me – Sidewalk Prophets

I love how music can really uplift and encourage us, especially when we are going through tough times.  This song has been on my mind all week and the words seem to be exactly what I need to hear right now.  I hope this song will speak to your heart and be a source of healing and inspiration as it has been for me.  Love you guys!  ~M  ❤

 

Make me broken
So I can be healed
‘Cause I’m so calloused
And now I can’t feel
I want to run to You
With heart wide open
Make me broken

Make me empty
So I can be filled
‘Cause I’m still holding
Onto my will
And I’m completed
When you are with me
Make me empty

[Chorus:]

‘Til You are my one desire
‘Til You are my one true love
‘Til You are my breath, my everything
Lord, please keep making me

Make me lonely
So I can be Yours
‘Til I want no one
More than You, Lord
‘Cause in the darkness
I know You will hold me
Make me lonely

[Chorus]

Hawk Nelson – Words

This is my hope, that more times than not, the words spoken on my blog will point you to Him…  The One who guides my heart and hopefully guides yours as well.  😉  Love you guys! 

 

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
(Speak over the fear)
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear
(We need to hear)

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Let the words I say
(Let the words I say)
Be the sound of Your grace
(Sound like Your grace)
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
(Back to You)

Words can build us up
Words can break us down
Start a fire in our hearts
Or put it out

I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

Whom Shall I Fear…

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This song has really been speaking to my heart in recent days.  I hope it will be an encouragement to all of you as well.  🙂

 

“Whom Shall I Fear (God Of Angel Armies)”

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the lightWhom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

My strength is in Your name
For You alone can save
You will deliver me
Yours is the victory

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful

And nothing formed against me shall stand
You hold the whole world in Your hands
I’m holding on to Your promises

You are faithful
You are faithful
You are faithful

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

By, Chris Tomlin

Laughter really is the best medicine

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My girls were both sick this past week with the flu and I was feeling exhausted from the buckets of vomit, which seemed to be filling up faster than I could empty. As the weekend rolled around, I was definitely ready for a break. My husband told me he was planning an early birthday surprise for me and I figured with the girls being sick, he would just have to cancel whatever plans he had made.

Fortunately by Saturday afternoon, both of the girls were feeling much better and so hubby and I decided to make a break for it and leave the chaos behind. We had about an hour drive before we reached our destination. We finally arrived at a church and I was still completely clueless as to what my surprise could be. I knew it couldn’t be a marriage seminar, there were too many kids there for that! And it seemed too early in the day for a concert. So why else would we be at a church on a Saturday, at 3:00 in the afternoon?

After making our way inside, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we were there to see my favorite Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins. I don’t think I have ever been more surprised in all my life and I have never laughed more than I did that afternoon. It was actually the first time that I had ever been surprised by my husband over the entire 22 years we’ve been married. I hope he keeps the surprises coming! Although I don’t know what he could ever do to top this! 😉

One thing that really spoke to me, was how Tim said, “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” I have heard that quoted so many times in my life, but I had never really thought about how powerful that statement is, or what it really means. After laughing so much during the show, I realized how energizing and strengthening laughter can be. Joy lifts our spirits and gives us the strength we need to make it through each and every day.

I realize now, that I need to laugh more and look for the joy in each day.  I want to be flooded with the strength that comes from being happy by knowing Jesus and appreciate the life which he has given to me. Today I am thankful for laughter and I wanted to share one of Tim Hawkins videos, so that all of you will have something to laugh about too! I hope you’re all having an amazing God filled week! 😉

 


Photo found at: http://www.etsy.com

Day 15 of our 21 day adventure

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Today is finally here. The day I have been looking forward to for months now! We will be hiking up to Angels Landing, but that isn’t the best part; we will also be renewing our vows and I am so excited that I just want to scream! The problem is, it’s 5:00 a.m. and so screaming isn’t allowed at the moment. I must be civilized and act like an adult, like everyone else. Who am I kidding…? I’m surrounded by three boys at the moment, so I’m probably the most mature person around right now.

IMG_1463This morning is much the same as yesterday. I am preparing lunches and packing everything that we will need for the day. We are leaving a little bit earlier today so that we don’t face as many crowds as we did yesterday. As we approach the shuttle, I notice that there are quite a few people here. Most seem to be prepared for climbing, as they are loaded down with ropes and all kinds of other gear that I suppose one might need for that sort of thing.

IMG_1468We arrive at the drop off point for the West Rim trail that will lead us up through Walter’s Wiggle’s; these 21 switchbacks look like a beast to climb. I am ready though and excited to see if I can make it up the 1488 feet that we will need to climb. The hike is 5 miles round trip and the hiking guide shows that it should take us about 5 hours to complete the hike. I am nervous about my 6 yr. old nephew coming with us. This is a strenuous hike and it isn’t recommended for children.

IMG_1493As we make our way up the steep sandstone incline, I start to wonder if I am crazy for attempting this. I have been a stay-at-home mom for several years now and so just walking around the block often wears me out. But I remind myself of our hike up at Mt. Charleston and yesterday’s hike was no cake walk either. It isn’t long before my nephew Levi starts to get tired and my brother David tells me that he may have to turn back if Levi cannot continue on.

IMG_1507Brian and I continue on without Levi and David, hoping that they will catch up to us after they rest for a while. I know that if I stop now, that I may never make it the rest of the way myself. There aren’t too many people on the way up. It’s still really early in the day and I am happy that we decided to leave so early. To my surprise, my brother and Levi catch up to us within a few minutes and I am excited to see them.

IMG_1508After finally making it through all of the switchbacks, we are now at Scout Lookout, which is the saddle that lies between the West Rim trail and Angels Landing. I am thankful that they have bathrooms all the way up here. I would hate to be the one that has to climb up here every day to replace the toilet paper though! Walking over to the beginning of Angels Landing trail, I begin to feel a little apprehensive. This is not for the faint of heart. I can tell by the posted sign that talks about how many people have died falling to their deaths because of the sheer cliffs.

IMG_1510Taking a deep breath, Brian and I proceed to hike the last .5 mile which is what will take us to the final lookout for Angels Landing. There are anchored support chains along the trail to help people climb the steep sandstone ridge. I am able to barely pull myself up the first few chains until I am resting on a large boulder that overlooks the entire park. Great White Throne Mountain is to my left and we are sitting at an elevation of 5,785 ft. The views are breathtaking and horrifying at the same time.

IMG_1511I turn around quickly when I catch something out of the corner of my eye. It turns out that Brian’s lens cap has fallen down from where he is sitting. He is higher up on the boulder than I am and as he reaches for his lens cap, he tears the pocket from the back of his shorts and his wallet begins to fall out too. This is not the place to be trying to catch things that are falling and I am beginning to become very nervous about going any further.

IMG_1518With nothing to hold onto, I start sliding back to one of the anchored support chains. It was hard enough getting up to this point and getting down seems a lot harder. I can’t quite reach the support chain and in front of me is a sheer drop-off into the valley below. If know the only way down is to sort of take a leap of faith from where I am and hope and pray that I can boost myself enough to grab hold of the chain.

IMG_1521It’s getting more crowded by the minute and there is no way to go around the other people that are coming up the trail from the other side. I am forced to hold my breath and reach out as far as I can to grab the anchored support. After what seems like forever, I finally grasp the support and hoist myself down onto the safety of Scouts Lookout below. I have never been so terrified in all my life and yet I am still glad that I am here, living this adventure with the man I love.

IMG_1529David and Levi are waiting for us on Scouts Landing and David decides to see how far he can make it on the Angels Landing Trail. As we wait with Levi, Brian and I begin to set up the camera so that we can film our wedding vows here at the entrance to Angels Landing. Sitting down next to Levi, I am surprised when a chipmunk decides to climb up my back. The squirrels and chipmunks are everywhere, always looking for food.

IMG_1538We haven’t waited very long before my brother returns. He wasn’t able to make it all the way to the end either because there are too many people crowding the paths and making it impossible to reach the end. It’s disappointing, but I think we all are just glad to have made the attempt and we proceed with setting up everything so that we can renew our wedding vows.

IMG_1563David helps steady the camera on the tripod and we take out the vows that we have written to each other and begin the short ceremony. Brian goes first and because of the noisy groups of people in the background, I can hardly hear what he is saying. Once he is done saying his vows, a bunch of people begin to clap. I am surprised that people have actually stopped and are watching our little ceremony. Feeling flustered by the onlookers, I begin to read the vows that I have written to Brian.

IMG_1578We have had a very hard year. The hardest year of our marriage so far. These vows mean more to us than anyone else will ever know or understand. Because of the problems that we have recently faced in our marriage and in our family, we knew that we needed a fresh start. To be able to start over and begin anew has meant the world to me.

IMG_1581When I first met Brian and when we were married 21 years ago, Brian wasn’t a believer and I wasn’t sure if he ever would be. It didn’t matter to me though, I loved him and that’s all I knew at that time. I didn’t think that his beliefs would ever be an issue in our marriage and honestly, I didn’t really care one way or another at that point. I just wanted to be with someone who cared about me and loved me, and who would be by my side for the rest of my life.

IMG_1587Years later, I would come to realize what this decision would cost me and my family more than I would ever know. I finally understood what being unequally yoked meant and certainly paid the price because of it. Do I regret my decision? No, of course not… but life would have been a whole lot simpler had we spoken about our religious views before we were married and if we had worked on that first.

IMG_1602God has been gracious to us though and it has been 9 years now since Brian became a Christian. It has made all the difference in our marriage and even though things will never be perfect, we can now get through the hard times a little bit easier because we have our heavenly father who ties us together even in the worst of times.

 

To be continued…