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Friday, October 28, 2011

I am Weak, but He is Strong

What a week!

It started out with complete and utter exhaustion. Saturday evening my son was bitten by a dog and I rushed him to the emergency room. I expected to wait, everyone knows you always wait in the ER unless you are dying, but I never dreamed we would still be waiting after ten, long, hungry, exhausting hours. I never dreamed a doctor would tell a child with a gash in his leg and tissues exposed, terrified of needles, that he would have to have to be stitched up, and then make him wait five more agonizing hours before it happened.

As the hours passed, my son finally fell asleep and I sat alone in the exam room, worried and exhausted. As the tears fell, God reminded me I was not alone. As my own strength faltered, He gave me comforting scriptures and held me in His arms. And He reminded me of Job.

Now, please don’t think I’m comparing myself with Job. But I do think we go through similar things and I believe each book of the Bible was written to help us along our journey. My favorite part of Job’s book is that he never gave the devil what he wanted. He never gave up on God. And God blessed Job richly for his obedience.

However, the devil never gives up! He doesn’t throw his hands up in the air at the first sign of defeat and walk away. No! He tries another way—over and over, relentlessly until finally he makes progress. If he can’t defeat us with one thing, he will try something new. Until eventually he finds our weak spot. Then he pounces.

He continuously yells negative words, trying to get us to listen to him. He pokes and prods at us until he has us ready to throw in the towel and give up. And when we give up, he wins. I don’t know about you, but the whole image of him defeating me just makes me mad and ready to fight.

Instead of standing up to him and fighting, I usually want to just give up. It’s so much easier for me to believe that there is no hope. It’s so much easier for me to believe the lies that he tells me, instead of searching for the truth. It’s so much easier to throw my hands in the air, declaring—I quit, than it is to keep trying.

During these times I like to think about Jesus. Where would I be if He had given up when things got hard for him? Where would I be, if He had listened to the devil as he tried to tempt Him? He lied to Jesus, just as he lies to us. The difference is that Jesus didn’t listen to him. Jesus didn’t allow the devil to make Him doubt the Lord or succumb to his will. Instead, He kept His eyes on God and the great plan and purpose just for Him and His life. He resisted the devil and caused him to flee.  

We all go through hard times. We all come to the point of giving up, every once in a while. We all get discouraged and want to escape it all. But, what if someone is counting on us? What if there is a person somewhere that we are meant to help? What if God is preparing us for a purpose far greater than we can even conjure our minds to imagine?

As the Lord uses me to write these blogs, continue with my books, and do school visits, the devil rages. He tries everything possible to make me quit. He plagues me with doubts and fears. He makes me feel overwhelmed. He tells me over and over, I can’t help anyone or make a difference. He uses people to hurt my feelings and break my heart. He continuously throws obstacles in my way. He wants me to quit! Give up! Stop!

And when I continue to press on, he tries new angles. He knows that I will just cry and try to pray for those who hurt me; however, when my children are hurt, I want to fight. I get scared. I lose my sense of reasoning and believe the lies he tells me. I want to protect them with fierceness. I don’t want the devil to use my children to hurt me. I want to stop. I want to protect them. I want to just give in to him so he will leave me and my family alone. However, I KNOW deep down in my heart, quitting is not an option.

So I go to my Lord with a broken heart and beg Him to help me overcome this new obstacle in my way. I lift my eyes toward Heaven and, suddenly my problems don’t seem nearly as devastating. I stand still while the storms around me rage, and then my Lord steps in and gives me peace. 

He eases my pain the devil inflicted and helps me to get back up. He gives me encouraging words from friends and strangers, and reminds me of my goals and purpose. He is my light through the darkest hour, and my strength during the weakest of times. He reminds me He is my protector! And the only way the devil can get to me or my family is if they go through Him.
He doesn’t give me trials and tribulations to break me, but rather to strengthen me. He doesn’t bring me to the impossible to fail, but to prove to me that through him all things are possible. I am weak, but my God is so STRONG!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something Worth Leaving Behind

No one likes to contemplate the end—especially, the finality of life. We always want and believe we deserve another day. We always want to say one more thing to our loved ones or find something new to add to our bucket list of things to do before we die. However, always living for tomorrow makes us waste today. Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to enjoy it and share it others. So often we fail to treat others the way we want to be treated. We fail to show our love, believing we have another time to do so.

But, what if God decided our work here was through. What if He called for us right now? What would you leave behind for your family?

Some have a carefully planned will, complete with strict guidelines. Property is deeded, money split, and valuables sorted and transferred. However, none of those things are comforting to a grieving heart. They don’t wrap around a broken heart and help it to mend.

On the other hand, a testimony praising God is a balm to a grieving heart. It gives hope and promises beyond what our eyes can see and ears hear. Its price is far greater than any worldly possession. It shows what was believed and the right road to be traveled. It sets up stones for future generations and leaves behind a record of God’s truth and love. It’s a comfort in the time of a storm and a hope when all else seems to fail. It’s a lifeline to our family left behind.

So often I think about what I will leave behind to my loved ones. What will be remembered about me someday? And I hope everyone who knows me will remember I loved the Lord. I hope my family will have cherished memories of good times we spent together. I hope they will remember my smile and how much I loved them. I hope they will reflect back on the sound of my laughter and the hope in my heart. I hope that when my time comes to an end that they won’t grieve for me, but rejoice in their hearts for every single day my God blessed me to live. I hope they will remember that I loved life and was so thankful for the opportunity to live. I hope they will remember whether I’m young or old that God was so good and merciful to me. I hope that they will be able to celebrate the fact that I lived, instead of grieving that I died.

Let today be the first day of your new life! Forgive and love those who have hurt you. Strive to mend broken relationships and make new ones. Set a good example for your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors. Keep your eyes on the Lord and walk in the way that He has made for you. He knows we are a failure, but He wants us to make an effort to do better. He wants us to love unconditionally and be a friend without limitations. He wants us to pray for those who hate us and the ones who spitefully use us. He wants us to teach our children right from wrong and show them love. He wants us to take the time to talk to a friend in need. He wants us to help our neighbors in whatever way we can help them. He wants us to live our lives to the fullest without wasting it. He wants us all to live our lives so that another soul may be able to glimpse the light inside of us. He blesses us all with the gift of life and it’s up to us how we use our gift. All through the bible there are records of people who lived for God and done His will. However, there are also records of those who turned away from Him and plagued their own hearts with misery. These are the examples of the way we shouldn’t live our lives. God gave us all the ability to make our own choices. Which one will you choose?

What better record could we leave behind to loved ones than the knowledge that we are a child of the King! That, my friend, is something worth leaving behind!  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It’s Not Just About Me

Monday night I discovered, once again, just how weak I am. Knowing that I had my first school visit the next day, I lay in my bed tossing and turning with the worst possible scenarios racing through my mind. One would think I would be thrilled at the opportunity to read Zippy to children and share his story. And there was a part of me that was; however, there was another part of me that was terrified.

What if no one liked my book? What if no one liked me? What if the teacher regretted asking me to visit? What if I disappointed her? What if I disappointed my child, who had helped plan the whole visit? The numerous worst case scenarios troubled me. They blinded me and caused me to doubt myself and my Lord.

My horrid thoughts were without hope or optimism. They guaranteed that I would fail miserably. They forgot all that I had been through. They forgot all of the times I lay awake at night wishing I could share Zippy with children. They forgot all of my accomplishments and blessings thus far. They screamed and ranted, reminding me of all of my faults and failures.

However, the good part is that nothing can separate me from God. And when one of His children cries out onto Him, He hears their pleas of help. When He steps in with His wonderful peace, hope and love the devil has to flee from us. It blesses my heart so much when He takes the time to work with me. He loves me so much that He blessed my family and friends to send me encouraging words. He loves me so much that He sent someone to my home to tell me their granddaughter was so excited I was coming to school the next day.  He doesn’t just give us difficult jobs to do and then leave us to fend for ourselves. He’s with us every step of the way.

He changed my thoughts and gave me the strength I needed to withstand the storm. Instead of believing everything bad was going to happen, he reminded me of the positives in life. What if God intervened and made me look good? What if there was a troubled child who needed to hear Zippy’s story? What if He had a great purpose for sending me to that school, in those classrooms?

And then He showed me that it’s not always just about me. Had my life been solely about me, then He could have taken me when the bands wrapped around my body. He could have lifted me in His arms and carried me into Heaven. I would have never suffered or had to bear these scars. But He didn’t. He allowed me to live and gave me the scars to prove it.

He wants me to help those struggling, in the depths of despair— those who have given up on life and accepted defeat. He wants me to encourage them and share my trials and tribulations with them as well as my blessings. God wants me to show them how He has blessed my life.

As I stepped outside that morning and turned to lock my front door, He took away my fear and replaced it with peace and then, excitement. He put a smile on my face that couldn’t be removed. He guided me through each class and blessed me to share with them the words of my heart. He touched hearts and made friendships. He gave me a special moment, I hope to never forget. 

I had a tough time getting there, but when I did nothing could compare to the blessings bestowed unto me. They don’t just last a moment, but God’s blessings span a lifetime.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Moment

There is nothing in this world quite like a moment with God. It’s precious, sacred, and well indescribable really; however, the feeling is etched in our hearts forever.  

That’s how I felt today as I held the package from my publisher. I knew the sealed package was my proof that God saw all of the tears I cried. He heard all my prayers. And when the time was just right He answered my prayers and made my dreams come true. He blessed me to hold my books in my hands and feel His approval. I felt as if He opened the windows of Heaven and poured His blessings upon me. Only my heart couldn’t contain all of His precious love and it just spilled over. Suddenly, the years of labor and heartache vanished and all I could feel was His beautiful blessings. And that is the most AMAZING feeling in the world. When you reach the top of that great high mountain you’ve been climbing for so long, and He blesses you to stand and look at all that He’s brought you through and then, He gives you a little glimpse of where you’re going from here.

I know the road ahead of me won’t be easy. There’s still so much I have to face and learn to conquer through my Lord, but I know He will be with me every step of the way. I feel so unworthy of all of this and so very thankful!!!

Maybe I’ll be able to write more when my tears slow down and my feet hit the floor again. But right now all I can tell you is that my God is so absolutely wonderful to me. He is a wonderful paymaster!

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra