Sunday, September 1, 2013

A word for Elaine / A word for Stone Church

1 Corinthians 12:18
"But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it."


Recently I was lamenting the Lord about my life and all the change I have experienced in the last couple years and, to be honest, I was mad at Him for making me go through them. If I took a stress test, I would probably score off the charts with all the changes that have happened in such a short time. So, I complained to the Lord about it and asked why I had to go through so much. Why did he have to purpose me to go through so much in such a short time? His reply completely changed my heart:

"You are not who you are today without having had gone through all of this. 
I needed to shake you free of all security, comfort and attachment, so you would cling only to Me." 

At once, I became thankful, grateful for ALL of it. Before, I would've been able to see the roses among the thorns, but the thorns still brought a sting, a pain to it. When God spoke those words to me, I became completely grateful and able to just say, "thank you", NOT "thank you, but..."

I believe this same word applies to Stone. In order for us, this body of believers, to go to the next season, to go in a new direction, to embrace the new plans He has for us, this body of people had to be shaken, so much so that we would release our grip, our hold on all attachments. That we would be forced to cling only to Him for our present and for our future. I believe all of this change has been part of His plan (not just His plan for those who are moving on or leaving as if God has abandoned us or forgotten about us), but part of His plan at work within each of us. Just as He moves these great leaders on, He does a work within us to prepare us for the next thing and He wants us here at Stone Church. 


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Embrace Your Season

This past year has been CRAZY! Here are some of the changes I have experienced:
  • Having twins
  • My husband ruptured his achilles tendon and had surgery the day after my girls were born. He had two months of recovery being on crutches and then time spent going to physical therapy and in a walking boot. 
  • While on maternity leave was laid off from a job I loved (due to financial reasons)
  • Starting a new job
  • Getting acquainted and getting to know my new coworkers 
  • My husband started classes for ministerial credentials
  • Many of my husband's and my friends have moved out of town (at least 6 couples I can think of now)
  • Learning to make new friends 
  • My husband's grandfather passed away
  • A dear family friend passed away
  • A dear family friend has cancer and is undergoing treatment for it.

I was lamenting all the changes and was talking to the Lord about how I wish I could skip this part of my life of having to adjust to all of them. I wished I could be older, wiser in an instant and could fondly look back on my memories of good times. I could look back on lessons learned without the pain of how I learned them. He gently reminded me that unless I go through the difficult season, unless I am present in them and look at them as a gift, an opportunity to allow God to shape me, I will not be able to be older, wiser and able to fondly look back on my memories. I will be older, still immature, selfish, still full of sin and problems. In these difficult seasons is where I grow. Without pressure, we all can grow complacent and stagnant. Seasons of difficulty are how God shapes me, challenges me and sometimes breaks me to make me into a more mature Elaine. If I don't submit to God during this season and accept where He has placed me, I will gain nothing from going through it.

The other day I was thinking about spring and summer and how excited I was for warm weather. I was thinking about wearing shorts, t-shirts, sandals and in getting excited for warm weather, I often want to start wearing warm weather clothes. As if, my wearing a t-shirt, shorts and sandals will somehow change the weather outside, hahaha! If I suddenly start wearing summer clothes when it may be April, but 40 degrees outside, it is foolish. It doesn't change the season I am in any faster and I remain miserable and cold while I wait for it to get warmer. It is much better to embrace the season the Lord has me in. Cling to the Lord, remain tender to His leading, open to His changing. In the end I will be changed and the better for it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 Amplified Bible (AMP)
TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven

Friday, March 23, 2012

Created for Freedom

On my way to work this morning on the radio they were talking about all the hype going on right now for the Hunger Games movie premiere opening this weekend. There are Hunger Games recipes, a weather forecast (for a fictional book), hairstyles...you name it. To be honest, my husband and I are also caught up in the hype since he first read the book series a couple years ago and introduced them to me.

As I listened to the radio dj, I began to wonder why we are so caught up with the Hunger Games movie. We loved the book, but more than that we loved the concept of the book. My husband and I have also loved the movie, "V for Vendetta" and the book, "The Giver." What all of these three pieces of entertainment have in common is a society that is ran by a leadership that, in order to promote unity, safety and security, has limited freedoms or has created a very strict environment in which to live. Choices are made for the people of the society in their best interest, but the truth is that the people in these societies are actually in a sort of bondage, unable to think or feel for themselves. The reason these societies rub us all the wrong way is because we were meant to be free.

Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Within each of us is a God-created desire for freedom. Freedom from sin, from slavery. There is a part of us that resists confinement because God created us for freedom. The truth is though, that this freedom can only be found in Christ. The world will offer us various counterfeit freedoms, but they cannot and will not fulfill our desire for freedom.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Source of Struggles

I have been having some problems lately with people in my life I interact with on a frequent basis. I was torn over what to do as all of my attempts to be peaceable seemed to be met with resistance, defensiveness and attacks at times. I began to feel hopeless, devalued and defeated. I was asking the Lord to help me forgive, to help me prevent these problems. I was repenting, asking for help to forgive, praying my eyes out and felt that the problem was actually getting worse! This morning my mother-in-law reminded me of this word:

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
 
My focus was on the wrong thing! I was trying to fix people, fix myself, but there was something greater involved in our problems. I needed to realize that there are spiritual forces at work and I needed to shift my efforts to see this problem turn around. The Lord revealed to me that I was living a defensive Christian life waiting for the enemy to attack to defend and protect myself. I needed to also live offensively. Rebuking the enemy and advancing God's kingdom should also be part of my Christian life.
 
When my thoughts are spiritually focused, I can look over offenses and forgive easier because I understand that there are spirits influencing this person (as well as their own selfish desires). Though they will be held responsible by the Lord for their actions, there are spiritual forces in the heavenly realms that are influencing their attitude and actions, just as these same forces influence mine. I can pray and ask God to give me discernment to know what part of the problem is a spiritual problem, what is an attitudinal problem and what part is a sin problem and how to respond to it.
 
Thinking this way gives me freedom to love, forgive, bring unity and peace.
 
James 3:17 (NIV)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Testing the promise

I recently took the James study by Beth Moore at Stone Church. In the seventh session she talked about rain and how rain is a sign of the blessing, the outpouring, the word of the Lord. Here is the verse she was teaching out of:

James 5:7-11 God's Word Translation (GW)
"Brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord comes again. See how farmers wait for their precious crops to grow. They wait patiently for fall and spring rains. You, too, must be patient. Don't give up hope. The Lord will soon be here."

Beth talked about how we will all experience a series of rains throughout our faith/our lives. It is our job to understand the law of the harvest and know what season we are in (times for sowing and times for reaping, Ecclesiastes 3:1-3). God's calling or word for us is irrevocable according to Romans 8:28. When God gives a word to us (a rain), the word must be tested to prove it's value, it's validity. When Beth shared this revelation, it brought so much healing to my heart.

When my husband, Brandon and I were trying to conceive, we prayed that it would be the Lord's will for us to bear children. I believed that the Lord had called me to be a natural mother and I often dreamed about what children He would bring to us. I knew so strongly that I would be a mom that when I did conceive, I felt immense gratitude and overwhelming love for the Lord and His gift of not just one, but two baby girls. The Lord revealed to me in Luke 1:14, "He [They] will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his [their] birth" as a verse I could pray over my girls as a promise for me as their mom and for them.

To my surprise, when the girl's arrived I was soon attacked with anxiety, depression, fear, and guilt among many tremendous negative thoughts and feelings. I questioned the Lord's promise to me as revealed in Luke. I didn't feel full of joy and I didn't have time to delight in them as I was in survival mode almost 24/7. I thought I was being ungrateful because of all of these feelings. The Lord began to reveal to me that my problem was hormonal as well as an attack from the enemy. I had to change my prescription and begin renewing my mind and noticing that when the enemy was attacking my thoughts, I had to defend myself with the word of God.

When I heard Beth Moore speak on this at the study, I realized that God's promise/calling for me as a mom has been tested in this season. The Lord allowed this testing to prove my value, my faith.

"Here is the sobering truth about the nature of trials in the life of righteous persons, that God allows them to be tested in order to prove their faith...In some ways their endurance proves the Lord's boast in them" Kurt A. Richardson

God has called me to be the mother of my beautiful girls, sunshiney Audrey and curious Gracie - I am a blessed mama.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Learning to Love

My husband and I went to dinner this week at Outback to celebrate my getting hired at a new job. My mother watched our twin girls, so it was nice to go out on a date just the two of us. During our conversation, I told him that it's easy for me to love him. From the moment I first met him, I fell in love with him and as our relationship has progressed, my love has grown stronger and deeper. With our girls it's not the same way. I feel like loving them is a lot of work and I wish I loved them like I hear other parents talk about loving their children ("the first moment I saw them I never knew a love like that existed," "I couldn't imagine loving someone more than I loved my spouse,"...blah blah blah).

You see, when I delivered my girls, they were immediately taken to the NICU because of their being born 5 weeks early. So, I delivered Audrey first, they let me kiss her head and then I delivered Grace, kissed her head and then they had to finish up some things with me before I was taken back to my birthing suite. My girls went to the NICU with my husband while I was wheeled back to the room to recover and rest. My husband took many trips to the NICU with various family members to show off our girls. The nurses in the NICU took pictures of the girls for me to see since it would be awhile before I was physically capable of going to see them. When Brandon brought me the pictures, he set them on my lap and said, "Aren't our girls beautiful?" I looked at the pictures and right away replied, "No, they aren't" and I thought that. Audrey was making fish lips and bug eyes, Gracie had scrunched up her forehead and looked like an old man. What's funny is that as soon as I delivered the girls, Brandon's eyes were glued to them. He instantly fell in love - me...not so much. It has taken lots of time for me to fall in love with them and oftentimes I still struggle with loving them unconditionally and I wish it wasn't such work for me to love them.

After I told Brandon how I felt, He asked me a very important question, "Do you think that's how God feels about us? That we take lots of work to love sometimes?" With that question, I began to realize that God loves me even when it's hard to love me, when I am not acting loveable towards Him, when I am doing things that anger Him, disappoint Him or even against Him - yet, He loves me the same as when I do things that honor, delight and glorify Him. He doesn't love me just for what I will become, but who I am now. So, with that being said, I am praying that He teaches me to love my girls the same way - right where they are at, when they frustrate me and when they delight me...unconditionally.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Provided For, part II

My husband and I are on vacation with our twins for the first time. What a treat! My sister gave us some of her time share points, so we could get away. We asked my husband's mother to accompany us so that it could actually still be a vacation for us. (Anyone with very young children must understand this, lol).

We decided to go to the mall to do a little bit of shopping and to get out of our room. At the mall we walked past lots of children's clothing stores and though I wanted to go in to each and every one of them just to browse, we didn't. For two reasons: 1) The girls don't need any clothes right now, 2) We can't afford for me to buy clothes for them and 3) There is no way we could get them home (you see, packing for two babies, myself, my husband, his mother all in our 4-door sedan (even though its family-size) was quite an accomplishment, but doesn't allow us ANY extra room. And yes, I know that was three reasons and not two). What's so beautiful about this problem is that because the Lord literally has surrounded us with generous friends and family, our girls have all the clothes they need. All the gently used and new clothes that have been given to them have been a HUGE blessing. Even more, they always look cute. Their clothes match, have variety and they have more than enough (even with how many times a day we change them because of how much they spit up.)

When I want to buy new clothes for them, I think about this verse:

Mathew 6:28-30
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?"

Thank you Lord for making sure our girls are clothed, as beautiful as you clothe the flowers!