Thursday, April 30, 2009

an untroubled heart: Chapter Five: Family Matters

The authors words are in red

I apologize that this chapter is so late, it was a hard one for me.

I'll be honest when I first began chapter five it was difficult for me. In the first few sections as Micca speaks about building a strong family I couldn't help but once again visit the "what did I do wrong" pit. A pit that I have had to scrape, scratch, and fight my way out of.

How did my child, the child I prayed over, led to Christ, took to church, loved unconditionally....
This child, how Lord? How did he wander so far away? How did the ugly claws of the enemy get so deeply embedded into this boy?

My daughter came home from college last night. It is always such a fun time when she gets here. There is always so much to share. I revel in listening to her and the younger two boys swap stories of their friends and adventures in each of their respective lives. The love and affection they have for one another is genuine. (That is something I have prayed for, thank you Lord.)

 Somehow the conversation turned to years past when they were small. They spoke of favorite video's, Veggie Tales, the Mcgee and Me series. I laughed as they began singing familiar bible verses learned from a tape that put verses to music for children. Blake was racking his brain to remember the title of a video about some kids that were being chased by a bigfoot. I vaguely remember a christian series about a group of kids who were amateur detectives and I believe the bigfoot was someone in costume. Sadly my memory has failed me much to Blake's chagrin as he couldn't remember it either. I recalled a video we have of our oldest child singing bible songs as a three year old. Deep and Wide, Jesus Loves Me, This Little Light of Mine.......

That child is not here to share.

I loved reading of Micca and Pat putting God's word in the foundation of their house. We know there is such power in God's word what a wonderful way to begin a life in a new home. 

Micca writes " A mom's most precious treasure is her family.....I can't think of anything in this world that I love more or would fight for more than my family.... Yet, we're not alone.
Many influences in this world are also fighting for control of our families."

Yes there are. Unfortunately in my family a terrible influence came while I was unaware and snatched up my oldest child. As I read this chapter I was tempted to get into defensive posture. After all, I did everything right. I prayed, I taught, I took them to sunday school, we prayed as a family, had weekly devotions as a family, learning biblical principals. I have Christmas scrapbooks filled with pictures of the children gathered around the creche during advent as we tried to point them to the true meaning of the season. Each Easter was a joyous time. Easter baskets lovingly filled with wholesome praise music, bible stories and games. Easter services at church followed by fellowship with good christian friends.

Yet, as I look back I can see that I did indeed let my guard down as he grew up, in fear of being too strict, too overbearing I believe I gave too much freedom. It was harder as they grew. The age difference from the oldest to the youngest proved a difficult barrier to group learning. Activities crowded our schedules. There were signs I didn't want to see, nor did my husband. We thought he would grow out of it. Surely it is just a phase. 

Many of my close friends have encouraged me to not blame myself, "you are a good parent", "it was his choice" etc...
"Parents are not called to control their children. Controlling is a faulty method of parenting brought on by fear. You and I are to guard and guide our children by leaning on God as He, in turn guards and guides us in all wisdom."
Yes! It is when we step out of His daily presence that we can so easily fall into our own thinking, or victim of fear based parenting that usually does nothing more than drive them away.

God has been so good to me. Full of mercy and grace. He alone knows the depth of my heart. My desires, my failings. There is no fault, no blame. Only grace, forgiveness. My daily prayers now always include this "Oh Lord, please do not let this suffering be for naught, for Brett or for us".

While I can see the past mistakes more clearly, God has also been faithful to remind me of the foundation that was laid. The foundation that still stands. 
The truth is that Brett as a young man,walked away from the loving God he knew from an early age. But, just like the parable of the lost sheep Jesus went after him and has brought him home. 

I am sad that he is not with me here in my home but I rejoice that he is no longer lost! I know he is resting in the arms of his savior. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

8 Things

I found this over at my friend Stacy's blog. I'm not one to shy away from good wholesome fun so I thought I'd give it a try.

I don't have a lot of bloggy friends so like Stacy I will just say if you want to play consider yourself tagged.

It's really simple to play, just complete the 8 things. Oh and leave me a comment so I can visit your 8 things list.

8 Things I look forward to
1. Quiet time with God
2. My visits with Brett
3. It doesn't matter which one but I always look forward to watching my kids compete whether it is softball, track, or wrestling. 
4. Having Lindly home from school
5. Each day when Paul comes home from work, after 25 years of marriage I can still say it is usually the highlight of my day
6. Chatting with my mom on the phone.
7. Spending time with friends.
8. Christmas time!

8 Things I did yesterday
1. Took Jack for a walk.
2. swept and mopped the floors.
3. Spoke with Brett on the phone.
4. Mailed two letters to the jail, one to Brett and one to Devon who refers to Brett as his brother from another mother, and addresses his letters to me mother Tina.
5. Organized and cleaned Blake's room for the millionth time in an effort to help him to be better organized.
6. Cleaned the litter box..... I hate this chore!
7. Made chicken quesadillas for dinner.
8. Ran into an acquaintance at the store who asked about Brett and told me she has been praying for him. An amazing thing happened, I was able to talk about it without crying!

8 Shows I watch
1. Heroes
2. Survivor
3. America's Next Top Model
4. Project Runway
5. Lost..... I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I really think they just totally make it up as they go along and there will be no suitable resolution once it comes to an end. I have sworn off of it several times but I never hold fast and keep getting sucked back in.... 
6. 24, this I watch with Paul and probably wouldn't watch if he didn't
7. The Amazing Race same as above
8. Depending on the subject matter I watch Oprah on occasion.

8 Movies I could watch over and over

1. Dances with Wolves 
2. Sense and Sensibility
3. Emma
4. Gone with the Wind
5. Jane Eyre....... are we seeing a trend here??
6. In Her Shoes
7. The Princess Bride
8. Ever after

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Fill Ins

For more Friday fill ins visit Janet at

1. Join me in rejoicing in a God who brings spring just when we so desperately need it!

2. Put a littlprayer in your day!

3. Happiness is planting flowers in the spring time.

4. The reason I do crossword puzzles is because I am getting old and confused.

5. I'm waiting for a doberman puppy.

6. Chocolate is hard to resist.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to dinner with the fellas, tomorrow my plans include more yard work in the sun and Sunday, I want to worship God!

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day


It was  Brett's 23rd birthday

No cake, no party, no family dinner

visiting hour

that's the bitter part

but the sweet

visiting hour

A smile 

Hey momma, how was your day?

Watching him talk with his father, witnessing healing

Hearing about Pastor Jeff's visit earlier that day 

 remembering prayers for "strong godly men to come into his life"

A letter from an inmate needing someone to love him, abandoned by his family

Writing one back encouraging him to seek after God

Yesterday was a good day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Pressure's On: Chapter Four

Micca's words are in red

I absolutely loved the section about God's body guards Goodness and Mercy!
I have spent some time in the 23rd Psalm recently. The Psalms are such a wonderful place to go when facing a trial. Whether that trial was brought on by your own sin, or circumstances beyond your control we find much mercy and grace amongst these beautiful verses of praise and lament.

The 23rd Psalm is probably the most famous of the Psalms. It speaks of God's infinite care of us. I loved the visual of Goodness and Mercy as body guards following me. All the days of my life even! Wonderful promise! No matter where I go(dark valley), no matter whoever else may be after me (the enemy) no matter my sin (pride, selfishness, self pity) They (Goodness and Mercy) will be there!

"When you're barely holding on, when you can't handle one more day of stress, when you can't parent those kids another minute, when you're about to blow - relying on God's Goodness and Mercy to show up will pacify your anxieties."

I can attest to that fact because there have been many, many days in my life recently when I have felt like I couldn't make it another day, when I barely had the energy or will to even get out of bed let alone care for my family. On those days time and time again I felt God's goodness. Sometimes in the form of a phone call and loving encouragement from a sister in Christ or a pretty card in the mail from a coworker at my old job. God's mercy came to my son through His word in a jail cell, it lifted him up and in doing so lifted me as well.

In the section about contentment I learned that a lack of contentment does not always have to do with things or possessions. I have all I need physically, a nice home, plenty of food, my health, I could go on and on. Yet emotionally, my family is in crisis. My oldest son is in jail facing a possible prison term. My three other children are bewildered in the wake of his drug addiction and crimes. Two of the three have written him letters and have forgiven him. The third is not speaking of it at all. The enemy has had his way with the oldest and in turn it has affected all of us. We are all scarred by recent events.

I had dreamt that at this time in our lives we would be enjoying an adult relationship with the oldest two. The oldest I assumed, would be graduated from college by now, his sister on her way to graduation. I was looking forward to spending more time with the younger two boys as their siblings were making their way in the world. 

"You're not where you planned or hoped to be, and you certainly don't like it"

No, I don't like it one little bit!

"You don't have to like it, but if you will choose to thank God for His provisions regardless of your feelings toward them, you'll experience the same contentment Paul encountered.

This is true! Unfortunately I can't say it is true for me every day but I can say I am finding contentment more and more.

 Ironically my son who is in jail has found himself very thankful for where he is. After his court hearing last week he shared with me a conversation he had with several of his cell mates. Whenever someone comes back from court the conversation is always filled with speculation about possible sentencing. There have been several who seem to think he will not get any prison time at all. I have encouraged him not to spend too much time dwelling there but to give it up to God that his will would be done. For we know that not one thing is outside of His sovereign control. Brett shared with his cell mates that he is happy that he was caught for he realizes that if not for his arrest he would most certainly be strung out on heroin today. He went on to talk about the truth that he had walked away from God before he ever tried drugs. As awful as his life has been, he has learned to praise God for it because through it he is once again walking with Him.

This truth rolls right into the next section "God Has Gone Ahead of You". What a wonderful testimony of how God impressed upon Micca's father to purchase life insurance. 

Something I have shared before here on my blog bears sharing again now. God went ahead of me by denying our home equity loan. I was so disappointed at the time. I was looking forward to fixing up my dream home. Of course I had no way of knowing what the future held for me. Had we gotten the loan we would not have been able to refinance our mortgage. It was the refinance that has allowed me to quit my job. The money saved along with a timely raise for my husband equalled the amount I made with my part time job. 

 I'm sure if I had to work God would have equipped me to walk that path. That being said, I am so blessed that I have been able to spend this time here at home. The boys are in school and both have athletics afterwards so I have a lot of time during the day to be in bible study and prayer. I am here when they are here, I am able to take them where they need to go. One son has been open to talk about his brother. I am thankful for the opportunities we have had to talk about it. The other is a harder nut to crack, but I am praying for him and I have faith that God will bring healing in His time. 

At first when my sister heard from my mom that I quit my job she was worried that I would fall into a pit and never get out. She thought I needed to stay busy, to keep my mind off of our circumstances. Maybe for some people that may have been the best course of action but for me I needed to be here, to be on my knees, at times on my face before God. 
"God is aware of your needs and ready and willing to provide...."

Micca wraps up this chapter by encouraging us that "Regardless of the road you travel - Lonely Lane, Brokenhearted Boulevard, or Poverty Parkway - Goodness and Mercy will follow after you." Yes friends they will, Even a road littered with the evils of drugs. Goodness and Mercy have followed me on this road. They have held me up at times and shielded me from the snares left by the enemy. I could have easily fallen victim to the snare of judgement and condemnation of my son's girlfriend for she enabled him for a long time. Yet Mercy would not allow me to and God's Goodness has encouraged me to love her and pray for her.

I am hopeful for the future, my son is seeking God daily. I am able to visit him twice a week and we talk on the phone quite often. Knowing that Goodness and Mercy are following us is what enables us to find peace and contentment in this hard place that neither of us want to be.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fashioned for Faith not Fear: Chapter Three

The authors words are in red

In the section entitled Under God's Sheltering Wing Micca talks about how often instead of giving our fears to God we turn to other methods. "One false method is putting our confidence in self. This method teaches that the answer is within you. Find yourself, love yourself, and help yourself. You have the answer."

This may work just fine for the small troubles in life that just need to be weathered,  but when the big storms come it is of little help. When facing a terminal disease, an unexpected death, or perhaps a debilitating accident many people find themselves unable to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps" to coin a popular phrase.

The truth is that when the big storms of life come they are generally not just brief downpours but long lasting hurricanes that can rage on and on, bringing with them a myriad of troubles. 

I loved the psalm Micca quotes here " It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man." Psalm 118:8 Now good sound counsel from a loving brother or sister in Christ is one thing but too often people are quick to throw out "advice" without really praying over it. 

I have a dear friend who is in the midst of several stormy situations. She loves the Lord with her whole heart and seeks Him regularly in bible study and church. She called me up last week to see if we could have lunch. I jumped at the chance since I have been a bit of a recluse lately (weathering my own storm). As I listened to her share her troubles my heart went out to her because there are no easy answers. I was somewhat aghast at some of the advice she has been given. It seemed clear to me that in one instance the advisors, though I believe they meant well had no idea of what she is really facing. They are a good twenty years younger than her and have yet to face the kind of trial she is in. They even used a scripture totally out of context to back up their opinion. She is weary and though they meant well all they managed to do was to open a door to doubt and fear that she has made a wrong decision. A decision that I fully believe was made out of love and is indeed a right one.

I encouraged her to take refuge in the LORD. Stacy from Soul Restoration had posted a wonderful excerpt from a study Charles Stanley did on the armor of God. I e-mailed it to my dear friend and have been praying for her. I am certain that she will find just what she needs as she takes refuge in the shadow of the Most High. 

Just as Micca writes " Taking cover under God doesn't mean that our financial storm will suddenly dry up and the sun will come out. No sometimes the storms of life can go on and on. Yet God's grace is sufficient." Yes, I am learning that for sure. My storm is still raging, yet I have a peace now that I didn't have a month ago. I still have days when the rain seems to be coming down much harder than others. Yesterday was one of those days. I leaned on my Father, felt his love and woke up to a new day today. 

There is just so much wisdom in this book! I underlined several things in the next section Casting Your Cares. I smiled when I read " We forget that God is painting on a large canvas. He sees the big picture. We only see what's happening to us at the moment. God may allow events to come into our lives - good things and bad things, things that make sense and things that don't. ..... What you and I may think is harmful, God is using for our good - to bring us to completion in godly conduct and character.

I smiled because recently my daughter and I were talking about how since our family's troubles were broadcast on the local evening news and then printed in the paper, many people who know us but aren't close enough to call or talk to us about it must be feeling so badly for us. On the surface it certainly looks awful. Yes it has been difficult, but my daughter and I see a bigger picture. We see that our Brett is no longer strung out on heroin. We see him seeking God every single day. We see our son, and brother who was lost but is now found.

 I received a letter from him yesterday. A letter that made my heart sing. It is the first letter he has written me, since we talk on the phone regularly and I visit him twice a week there hasn't been much unsaid. None the less it was so wonderful to see his handwriting and read what is on his heart. He wrote " so much good has come out of this already, like my renewed walk with God, and our restored relationship." Yes!! God will not let our hardships destroy us. Though they may be tragic, He will use them for our good"

I remember early on as I encouraged Brett to go to the cross, I told him that I had no control. I told him that only God could help him. I also told him that I was determined that God would be glorified in my life regardless of his decisions. As those words came out of my mouth I realized that it was something I could only do by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is something I have been living day by day. I am thankful that Brett did decide to lay it all down at the foot of the cross. He has found forgiveness, mercy and grace. He, like me is living in the shadow of the Most High. The enemy has had a day here and there when he has gotten the better of me and I have given in to fear, thankfully those days are fewer and fewer.

For Brett, God has protected him in a mighty way. He does not live in fear and has even formed some friendships that God is working in. I have begun corresponding with a young marine who is in there with Brett. He is alone in the world, no letters or visits from family. I encouraged him to seek after God and filled my letter with God's word. I am praying that the seeds will grow into a saving faith for him. Reaching out to him in the love of Christ has lifted my soul. 

Micca wraps up the that section by pointing us to Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. What a beautiful picture this paints for us. Life's troubles can surely become too heavy to bear. Jesus is waiting, wanting to carry them for us. If we would only give them over.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I found my soul

This was a writing prompt from Seedlings in Stone  that I began but didn't finish until recently. If you haven't spent time over there you should definitely go for a visit, it's such a cool place with much to offer. It is the blog of the author L.L. Barkat. A lovely woman full of grace and encouragement and awesome writing prompts for newbies like me.

I found my soul.....

backed into a dimly lit alley

sickly, malnourished,  yet fierce...


in between the shadows 

I could see her ....

eyes flashing....... undaunted

The evil ones

they came at her 



three at a time

with savage blows

they beat her down...

she bore each new blow with a determined stare

facing them, one by one

with calm defiance

I stood, mesmerized 


As her claws came out

Sharp teeth, ready to do battle

As she fought with a rage only a mother knows

a mother protecting her young

they left her

wounded, but not defeated

I watched her walk to a corner in the alley

a faint mew....

Her young one was safe

Go check out Paula

One of my new blog friends Paula is having an awesome giveaway on her blog His ways are not our ways . I met Paula through the Say Yes to God Tuesdays study. The study as well as the insights found on the blogs of all these amazing christian women has been a life preserver to me in such a tremendous way! There is no way I could ever adequately share how deeply they have blessed me.

Their unconditional love and encouragement has been a touch from our Savior at a time I so desperately needed it. 

So, go check it out :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Beautiful Day

What a glorious day 

The sun showed up today 

Flowers are everywhere and my trees are budding 

Not much in my circumstances has changed

I'm still walking a long scary road full of unknowns


I know that when the sun goes down and the road gets dark

I am not alone

I am walking hand in hand with Jesus

He gave me a lamp

Just in case I get scared in the dark and let go of His hand

I will be able to find my way back

Psalm 119:105