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Entries in Overwhelmed (4)

Monday
Feb162009

I need courage

Life and the emotions of life have been coming at me a lot lately. I have a list of things that concern me. Real things, situations and circumstances that need divine intervention! The thing is - where I am in my thinking and emotions - I don't expect much will get scratched off the list today. In fact, the list will probably be longer by the end of the day. It just seems to be one of those times when things seem to be going this way. You know what I mean? Because I have a tendency to make things all about me, I find myself wondering before the Lord...Where are you?....What are you doing?...What in the world is going on?....I don't understand...

I must keep taking time to get God's perspective on my situations and circumstances, or my thinking will spiral downward and my emotions and attitudes will follow (not pretty). Well, wouldn't you know I picked up my favorite little devotional book and opened it to "Courage." Just the dose of truth I needed to hear, remember and LIVE out.

"My people shall not go mourning, for I the Lord will be their rejoicing and their song. They will not be a complaining people, for I will take away the murmuring from your streets. Will I lead into the battlefronts an army of weeping women? Will I ask the fainthearted to war? No, but I shall give my people brave and courageous spirits, and I will make them strong of heart. I will give them the spirit of the martyrs, for they will be My witnesses of resurrection power. They shall be stalwart. They shall be steadfast. And I will remove from the ranks those who are timid and those who desire comfort and security. My way is a way of sacrifice, and the rewards are not in worldly honors. So take upon you the full armor f God; the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the loins girded with truth, feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, having shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit. Yes, My people this is a hand-to-hand combat. You shall stand against the foe face-to-face. You will not turn in retreat lest you be slain; for there is no armor to protect the back. The coward will perish. You have not wrestled in any measure such as he, the Lord Jesus. You are not prepared to enter into this conflict as long as you are absorbed in the luxuries and the personal comforts of normal life. For every soldier must give first place to his obligation to the armed forces, and second place to his own private life and wishes. Even so you must do, if you would be My followers. Even so did Jesus during His earthly ministry. His entire life was subordinated to the Father's will. As it is written, 'Even Christ did not please Himself' (Romans 15:3). How dare you risk allowing the flesh to manifest its desires? They can be only evil continually. No good thing can come out of a deceitful heart. As the old hymn says, 'The arm of flesh will fail you - you dare not trust your own.' Only that which is generated within you by the Spirit of God can bring forth righteousness 'do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God' (Romans 12:2)."

Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts

Sunday
Feb082009

Sweeter than chocolate?

I've met a new friend on Facebook. Her name is Pam Gillespie and she's written and been leading an inductive Bible study on Psalm 119 entitled "Sweeter Than Chocolate" (coming soon). I remember the first time God pricked my heart with the words from Psalm 119:103... "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" We were in Israel and for the first time in my life I could appreciate how much they love their honey in that part of the world. So, what would be sweet like honey to me? You got it! CHOCOLATE. Could I say - Lord, how sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than chocolate to my mouth?

Sometimes I can eat so much of a good thing that I no longer savor the taste. Or, it is so readily available to me that I no longer treasure it's value. This has been true of me in my life concerning the Word of God. There have been times when I have "eaten" but have not tasted its sweetness or savored it as I would a piece of fine and expensive chocolate. God revealed this to me about myself as I read Psalm 119:103 that day. God, via His Word, got my attention and I had to ask myself if this statement was true of me. Isn't that awesome? God forgive me for all the times I've rushed to God's Word and left without ever hearing, feeling, tasting or savoring. The truth is, I can still do it. I mean, If I'm not intentional and don't actually ask God to teach me, speak to my heart, and change me, I can go at my Bible study just like any other task. I really don't like that about myself. But God recently showed me how far He has brought me. I stand in awe.

As many wonderful things as we have going on in our lives, there is still all the day to day of living! Added to that are all the changes in our lives right now. Some days I just know the only way I am making it through is because God is faithful and is holding me up. Honestly, I've had a couple of days when I was so tired (emotionally and physically) that I didn't "feel" anything. This has been a totally new experience for me and I wondered if I wasn't just shutting down emotionally. This notion really bother me and actually horrified me, but I was too tired to try and even think about it let alone deal with or work through it. Fiddly dee...I'll think about that tomorrow... Tomorrow came and I woke up feeling the same way. Kind of numb. Wouldn't you know it was a Sunday morning and I was going to have to go to church and "act" like I cared. I got to church and at Sunday School and we started reading Scripture and I actually started to feel less numb. I was being moved and felt. The songs we sang that morning had me in tears and the Scripture our pastor taught stirred me so much that I left totally energized. God got to me. God's Word got to me. Isn't it awesome? I could feel. I wasn't numb. And it wasn't people or things that revived me - it was God via His Word. Did you hear me? It was God via His Word. Amazing!

Hebrews 6:4 and 1 Peter 2:3 talk about having "tasted" the word of God and the kindness of God. The Greek word for tasted means to experience or partake (in the absolute sense). My prayer is that we, as His Beloved, go to His precious Word to taste and leave having tasted. Now, that's SWEET!

...for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. Psalm 138:2(b)

Wednesday
Feb042009

One beautiful night...

I was totally surprised by the events of last Saturday night. I am still overwhelmed (in a good way) and trying to process all that happened. You see, my "chicks" as I lovingly call them decided to host a celebration. The thing I cannot get my mind around is that they celebrated me. People actually showed up to love on me, thank me and appreciate me for my work of service during these past 9 years with Truth for Women. As I listened to several of my dear friends and co laborers speak, I cried, laughed, shook my head in disbelief and cried some more. At the end, they asked me if I wanted to say something and as I stood there I just babbled. All night long, I relieved the moment. And, I thought of a lot of things I wish I would have said. Here they are:

1. Thank you! Geez, I can't remember if I stood up and said thank you. If I didn't I am horrified because my heart was and is overflowing with thankfulness. I am so deeply touched that Jessie, Kim, Sharon & Susan would go to all the work and care of planning such a wonderful surprise and that so many people would come out on a Saturday night in the middle of winter to attend. I deeply regret not getting to hug and talk to each and every one that attended, but I will NEVER forget the sight of seeing everyone sitting there. Thank you for loving me.
2. I am so proud of Jessie and Kim. They are God's women for this hour. They are the future and I am so grateful to God for the time He gave me with them - together serving HIM! It is true that God put within me an understanding that I would not be the woman to take TFW all the way so to speak. And, it is true that I have prayed and waited for that woman or those women God would raise up. I have NO doubts that God has called Jessie and Kim and that these precious women have answered the call. For the past 9 years, getting up every day to pursue the vision of TFW has been my reason for getting up every day! I pursued this God given vision with passion, pit-bull determination and as though it needed to happen YESTERDAY. God put this within me. God has put it also within Jessie and Kim.
3. God has also raised up Sharon and her heart certainly beats with mine concerning The Women's Center Lehigh Valley. I'll never, ever forget sitting down in 1999 and putting on paper the vision of TWC. Thinking about not being around to "make" it happen is hard for me. But, knowing that Sharon not only gets it but she sees it? All I can say is praise the Lord and thank you Jesus! These precious women are called by God and they have committed to God. Commitment these days is a rare and beautiful thing. For when I say these women are committed what I mean is they will do whatever it takes to see the vision, mission and purpose of Truth for Women, My Sister's Closet and The Women's Center Lehigh Valley realized.
4. I still don't know why people would come to celebrate me. Don't get me wrong - I'm not sure I've ever felt so loved or appreciate in my entire life and who doesn't want or need that? But fighting for the women in my community has been the joy of my life. Working to help women embrace God's Word as truth is what God brought me to this moment in my life to do. Fighting for the spiritual health of this community has been the only reasonable thing to do. I think of what Bill Hybels says in his book "Holy Discontent." He calls them "Popeye" moments. Times when God puts such a burden on your heart and brings you to the point where you cry out and move out saying "I can't stands it, I can't stands it, I can't stands it no more." When God does this to you and propels you into action - watch out! So watch out for Jessie, Kim, Sharon and Susan!
5. I wish I had praised my husband more. I did say that were it not for him TFW wouldn't exist, but what I didn't share is why. Oh yes, He was very encouraging and supportive. You see, he's the spiritually gifted leader in our family. And, he's had years of business experience. Over the course of 9 years, he sat with me untold hours teaching me how to lead, giving me insights, honest observations, and unbias feedback. I have learned so much from this precious man. He NEVER complained about the number of hours I spent in front of the computer, away at meetings or opening our home to gatherings of people. In fact, he supported it and I'd say at least during the first 5 years, financially made it all happen. Tom's financial investment in TFW was a personal investment in me and every woman in this community. Thank you to all who have financially supported the ministries of TFW. It is a HUGE encouragement to those of us who daily work to realize the vision but it is also a huge investment in the spiritual health of this community!
6. I will NEVER forget that evening. Your faces are forever in my mind! I love you each and all. I thank God for allowing me to know you and serve together with you. At the end of the evening, Emma was walking me to my car and she asked me what perfume I had on because it smelled so nice. You know what? All night long as I hugged and was hugged by each one of you, I breathed in your essence and your sweet aroma was left behind. By the end of the evening what was left was a mixture of all of you and it was a wonderful fragrance. Precious ones, this will PREACH!
7. So to all who were there on Saturday night and all those who couldn't come but shared they wish they could be there - thank YOU. You see, what it really speaks to my heart is that you too see the vision, you understand the mission and you support the work of this ministry. WOW.

Whatever I did, whatever you think I accomplished - all glory and honor goes to God. He is the one who saved me, changed me, decided to allow me to be a part of anything He wanted to do, then gave me what I'd need to do it! God used me because I was willing and because I committed myself to Him and what He was put on my heart to do for Him. I've spend the last 9 years on my face before Him waiting for "how to." In fact, most days were started with this statement: "God if you can use a donkey, you can use me."

...but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Monday
Dec152008

The spirit is willing but the flesh got overwhelmed!

Was it only 5 days ago that 37 precious women came to Christ? Boy, it seems like a long time since last Tuesday! Did I mention I caught a cold while on my way to Kenosha? Praise be to God, He kept me from coughing or having to blow my nose while sharing the gospel but the trip home the next day was miserable. And, I crawled into my own bed that night with a 101 fever. As they say though - no rest for the weary. There was work to get caught up on, wash to be done, mail to sort and meals to cook (or pizza delivered). Do you see me headed for a pity party? Oh yes! And, let me just add that I miss my husband terribly and the housing market is all but dead. Careful, all this makes one vulnerable and easy prey.

On the night before His death, Jesus went to the garden to pray and He took the disciples with Him. He went to pray and came back to find them asleep. They couldn't even stay alert for one hour! And, I'm reminded of what Jesus said to them..."Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). But, they fell asleep again...and again.

I kind of feel like that's what happened to me this week. I fell asleep on Jesus. I couldn't stay alert for even one hour! There's nothing like falling asleep to remind you of just how weak you are in the flesh and why it is so very important it is to stay alert, keep watch and pray...or be prey! I'm not sure I will ever truly comprehend why God bothers with me. Truth is, He not only bothers with me, but He lavishes me with His grace. And, it is in His grace that I stand.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:7-8(a))