My Shepherd

This week has been hard. I am dealing with a pastor’s sudden move and I have been grieving and overcome with that loss. I have seen pastors go before, but I considered him and his family friends, and they were the first pastoral family I have had in my life since God has brought me to salvation. There have been a lot of emotions tied up in that.

I have been going to God’s Word for comfort and assurance and I know my faith is  strong. Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like; he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock. And when a flood occurred, the torrent broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. Luke 6:47-48. I felt the flood and torrent coming, but I am not shaken because my foundation is secure.

I have been going to God’s Word seeking unity and peace for our church. So much of my study time this week has been focused on that and I have read and meditated and prayed over many scriptures for my heart and the rest of the body of Christ to be of the same Spirit united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Now may God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6.

On top of this, God wanted to teach me and refine me more, another way He used this situation for good. My husband began a difficult conversation with me about being judgmental. This stemmed from a conversation about someone he knows who I questioned if they were saved because they bore no fruit and just attended church. Also with some discussions we have had about the changes taking place in my church home, and some negative opinions I have received from some friends outside of my church, and my response to them, he told me that there seems to be a judgmental nature in me. He said “as someone who is a Christian, you seem to be passing a lot of judgment.” Ouch. I have been hurting this week and I thought I needed to be comforted but instead I was being pruned. PRAISE GOD FOR THAT! It has really made me look at myself and examine and yes I have been judgmental. That is the exact opposite of what I want to present to my husband and my Savior, and I cried some more over that realization. As much as I want him to see Christ in me, what he saw in this case was hypocrisy. When God shows us our sin though, he makes a way for us to turn from it. When he shows us our sin and brings us to repentance he forgives us. It is out of love He does this and thank God He does! The sweetest blessing in all of this is that He used my unbelieving husband to deliver that message to me. God once again is making a way for my atheist husband to lead me to spiritual refinement and repentance! I was able to tell my husband he is right about my judgmental attitude and that it was sin and that is why I need a Savior! I told him my being a Christian doesn’t mean I am perfect it means I recognize my need to be saved from my sin and I trust in Jesus Christ to do that! Even though seeing my sin was painful, I ALWAYS look forward to those conversations He allows between my husband and I. I was able to text my husband the following day and thank him for the ugly part of me he pointed out and I told him I was putting on love and quoted this scripture. Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:14-15.

I have been studying the Old Testament chronologically but this week I didn’t go there. I felt like I needed to be searching out words of comfort and unity in the Bible so I put my other study on hold. But after feeling grief again yesterday I decided to pick back up in Numbers where I left on, I prayed for God to deliver in a might way in His Word whatever it was He wanted to show me, and oh He did! In Numbers 20 I received so many lessons in trusting God, His Word will suffice, offending God’s holiness with rash decisions, great leaders will still falter, putting too much confidence in self, impatience at the direction a leader may take us, (poor Moses and his grumbling Israelites!), complaining, and the great message in Numbers 21 about after coming to repentance over sin (which happened after being bitten, ouch, like I was when I heard my husband’s words), and looking at the serpent symbol on the pole they would live, ( looking to Christ on the cross for forgiveness gives us life!). Then the big message came as I was led to John 6 in one of the footnotes. John 6:32-35- Truly, truly I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world. John 6:45 – It is written in the prophets “and they shall all be taught of God.” Only those who learn from God come to salvation, and all who learn from Him are saved.

The bread of life comes from God, not His servant. The teaching comes from God, not his servant. I still have ALL I need. The teaching, the message, will still come from God as it always has. My overwhelming grief at the exit of one of our pastors was bordering on worshipping a man instead of God. God gave me a gut check and a lesson that started in Numbers and ended in John. I can miss my friends, I can be thankful for all the wonderful truths and messages delivered by his person, but the Holy Spirit is my teacher and ultimately who I learn from and that will never be taken from me. I will praise God because He tells me to. I will pray because He tells me to and I will be thankful in this because He tells me to. The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds. Psalm 145:17.

Finally brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.

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Respite Care

Respite Care

We got a call at 3:00 today asking if we could give respite foster care to a boy for the weekend. His foster parents needed to go out of town and couldn’t take him. I left it up to my husband and he said yes. So there is a little one and a half year old boy sleeping in “little sister’s” room right now. He is precious. He hasn’t cried once. I don’t know if that is good or bad. I can’t imagine how he feels. Already in foster care, seeing his mom on visitations, now in a stranger’s house. I can’t imagine, yet he is adapting so easily. He goes back to his foster family Sunday. What a little blessing he is. He is preparing us for when we bring our child home. He is giving us a glimpse of this world that we are getting ready to be a part of, that we already are a part of. He is making it seem more real now. What a gift in a little package that loves cars and bananas and rain and doggies. There is so much we’ve learned about him already, without him saying much. A lot of wondering and contemplating has melted away that I have had about our adopting. Wondering what it is going to be like to bring a child in who we have never met. Wondering if I can immediately scoop them up and nurture and make them family. I know each child is different and the child we adopt will be different and challenges will arise, but this little guy has been a sweet, sweet gift, a reminder of the equipping God does when he calls us to something. “It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:16‬. Little does he know the impact he already has had. It will be hard to let him go and it’s only a weekend! How do foster parents do it?? A lot of trusting in God! SG and I went into his room while he was sleeping and prayed over him (her idea!!). That is another blessing, I now have a chance to pray for him even when he leaves, another life God has asked us to remember and pray for. Oh what this is teaching SG! I didn’t fully think that through, but I can already see the impact and how her heart is being prepared also. I am so thankful God has put so many people in my life who have experienced fostering and adoption, each family I have already learned so much from. ‬‬‬‬‬‬
I am praying God will continue to teach me through this process as I get a greater understanding of our eternal adoption and this calling to adoption He has brought our family to and that I would humbly put “me” aside in all of this. It is about another person’s soul, this little guy in my house tonight delivered that message so clearly.“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

 

Favor from the Lord

God has brought His Word to life for me today in such a specific way. I want to share with you how last month He convicted me, led me to obedience, blessed that obedience and then reassured me in His Word today that He is in control. I am overcome with His goodness. I just spent time, after this great teaching happened, laughing and crying. Tears were streaming but I was also joyously laughing at the amazing love God pours on me. He truly is love. Grace and love and power are just a few of His attributes I was able to see today. He is always all of these things.

Let’s start with last month when I was convicted that I really needed to tread carefully in how I was speaking to my husband about his work. It was a “tear down vs. build up” lesson that God has been teaching me and spotlighting this year. The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. Proverbs 14:1. I decided, by God’s leading, that I would no longer mention or coerce or give my (negative) opinion on the amount of time and energy he gave to work. It used to look like this, “You are taking on too much. You are doing things that you don’t have to do. You are bringing your work home and never really being present, etc…” No change happened. Is that a surprise to anyone? I had preconceived notions of what I thought his time at home should look like and how he should manage his time and what and when he should do what and when. Those of you that know my planning and over planning tendencies can see this being an accurate depiction right?? So my new way, God’s way to speak to my husband about work is this, “Thank you for working so hard for us. Thank you for going above and beyond to provide for us. I appreciate all the many things you do for this family.” About two weeks ago I purposefully started speaking these words of truth to build him up instead of the negative words of destruction. We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor,(or husband in this case), for his good, to build him up. Romans 15:1-2. Now wait for it. Change happened! Most importantly in me, not my husband, but yes there was change in him also.

First, I began to see that my husband is under so much pressure. He is teaching several classes,  he is the director of a new department, he is on several committees, and on top of all that he is a student getting his doctorate. He takes on all this to provide for us and takes on extra volunteer responsibilities at work on committees and such to establish himself among his peers and bosses. So much pressure. He needs no more from me. After my speech changed, he changed. He was so intentional about getting little projects done around the house. He redid my entire bathroom after it had been sitting with a hole in the drywall for a year. Now it is finished and beautiful and he even added special personal touches hanging on the wall. For three days in a row now he has come home, eaten dinner with us, and not taken his computer out of his bag once. No answering emails or texts. He has been home with us, playing, being a family. God can change my husband’s heart. The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whenever He will. Proverbs 21:1. On this same note, last month God reminded me that He can use my husband to change me. God can use him to sanctify me. My husband isn’t a believer, but God is still my God and he is my husband and His design for our marriage is the same as anyone else. The above verse reminds me of that. God can change my husband’s heart and in this case He changed it in response to my changing attitude. God is so good!

Now here comes the part that I was overcome by. I am doing a bible study and the section I did today was called Building Up or Tearing Down. The very lesson I had  received earlier in the month from God, I was now reading about and every scripture I was now reading was confirming the work God had done. The scriptures that I am referring to today are all from this study and they all applied to my situation that happened earlier in the month. God’s timing is spot on perfect, every time. He knows what we need, when we need it and He sure does write an amazing story in our lives!! The verse that I read that immediately caused the tears and joy filled laughing was Proverbs 18:22 – He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. When I read that word favor, I realized God is doing a good thing in my husband. He is doing an amazing work in our marriage. Every good work He is doing, every promise He is keeping, every conviction of my sin, every time He works and softens my heart in obedience is preparing us to bear much fruit in our marriage and that will glorify God and that is what all of this is for! God is the ONLY way our marriage is working and thriving. My husband doesn’t believe in God. The gravity of that hits me sometimes but then, like today, I am reminded of the power of God that is greater and more powerful than anything and my God is working on my husband. I love being able to see that. I pray that our marriage is already glorifying God by his great power and grace and anticipate how much even more so it will bear fruit when my husband knows and loves God and Jesus Christ as his savior. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3. Most importantly this marriage, what God is doing in my heart, how He convicts me and uses my marriage is preparing me for the day I am with my Lord, my King, for eternity. My eyes are lifted to that truth. That, above all else, is what matters.