01January2018

When the Lord Takes Away

…the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

This past week we learned of a dear family who lost their son. My heart broke for them. It was not the first friend I had to lose a child, and I always feel crushed for them. I understand their pain because I have lost children too. My first thought was how devastated I was when I lost my babies to miscarriages, but I had never experienced the loss of a child I had known and watched grow up. How much worse that might be. Then I realized it really doesn’t matter. The loss of a child is excruciating, no matter when (or how) we lose them. It rips your heart out. The pain at times will suck the air from your lungs, and you feel like you’re drowning in grief.

How can a mother (or father) bear this kind of pain? With my first miscarriage, I was able to give God glory, like Job in the verse above. With each of the other 5 losses, it got harder and harder to bless the name of the Lord. I began to feel like Naomi when she returned to Israel after losing her husband and sons.

And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.” Ruth 1:20

I wish I could say that I handled my losses with grace, peace, joy, and praise. The truth is that I often did not. I swung back and forth between those and anger, jealousy, and bitterness. I struggled with why God continued to take my children (and then not give me any more) while blessing others abundantly. It became so easy to listen to my aching (and deceitful) heart and to the enemy, instead of listening to the truth of my Father’s love. Because I didn’t feel loved when He took my children. I felt crushed. I felt cheated out of the joy of raising my children for God. I felt rejected.

How thankful I am that God continued to love me anyway. He continued to draw me to Himself, remind me of His love, and remind me not to listen to the enemy. Where once there was pain, jealousy, and bitterness, there is now peace, contentment, and joy. I still miss my children. I wonder what they would look like today. I still ache to think I’ll not only miss being a mother, but also a grandmother. But there is peace. I once again trust the goodness and wisdom of my Father.

God has used a lot of music, books, and sermons to bring me to this place. From time to time I’ll share some of them with you. Even if you’re handling your loss with more grace and faith than I did, maybe they will help encourage you along your journey through the valley.

With love and prayers,
Myra

01January2018

How I Stay Organized in Spite of Lyme Brain Fog

Get Organized. Stay organized. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s not! Especially when you deal with brain fog. My brain fog is from Lyme Disease, but I know there are other causes.

I have seen probably a million posts on getting and staying organized. Some of them make me laugh in disbelief. This is not because they’re bad articles, but because they are completely impossible for me. I have neither the physical strength, nor the mental clarity, for some of the more intricate organization systems. And I have tried a lot of them!

So how do I stay as organized as possible with this brain fog?

Stay Organized with Arc Notebooks

I stumbled upon these handy little notebooks while I was church secretary, Wednesday night teacher, typesetter, student, and teacher in our college. I loved them! They are customizable in so many ways. I was so busy, and my brain so scattered, that everything I was told immediately left. I forgot so many things. When I bought my first notebook, I could jot notes at church, then check that section when I got to my desk on Monday. If a student asked me for something Sunday, I could flip open to the college section, write it down, and check it when I put on my Dean of Students or Professor’s hat.

I ended up with two of them, gave one away, and recently bought another one. I won’t go back to the beginning, telling you how I used them when I was crazy enough to try to wear so many hats. I’ll just give you a peek at how I use them now.

My Planner

Now

First, my planner. I already wrote about Planning With Passion. The first thing I do is print my planner and put it in one of my arc notebooks. I love the cover of this one. Because on hard days, when it seems impossible to accomplish anything, it reminds me it’s seemed impossible before, but it still got done. It’s a bit of encouragement every time I open it. After the planner, I use these dividers to give myself extra sections. I keep one for notes and ideas. Often when I’m planning, I have an idea for a blog post, a reminder for something I need to look up, or I start a grocery list in my head. Having a place to write this until I move on with my day has helped me forget less. It also helps me not get distracted by looking for somewhere to write my reminder.

As we are coming to the end of the year, I have printed a yearly calendar for 2018, and put it between my 2017 and 2018 planner. Now as we begin planning the process of renewing our resident permits next year, I can start jotting down things I need to do by a certain time. I am also adding another section in the back to start planning for furlough. There are new prayer cards, display board, video presentation, and more that need to be prepared, in addition to planning what we will take (very little) home with us, and what we will bring back home when we return (books, books, books, and Sunday School material).

On Furlough

When we leave for furlough next year, I’ll remove the used part of the planner (to make it lighter for travel), and add another section. This will be for sermon notes, etc. while we are visiting churches. I will put all to-dos that come up during our meetings (send a thank you, add someone to our mailing list, etc.), in the next week’s to-do section. I will be able to write in the planner what church we were in, the pastor and his wife’s names, where we stayed, what was preached, etc. This helps me remember later, because my Lyme-riddled brain loses a lot of information.

While on furlough, I will probably change to these dividers or these. The pockets will help me keep track of prayer cards, business cards, and notes that are given to us at meetings. I am excited about this, because I misplaced so many things while we were on deputation. These should help me keep track of everything easier.

Other Notebook Uses

Students

When we had students here, I used one of the Arc notebooks to keep me organized. My brain gets overwhelmed easily with the Lyme Disease, especially when there’s a lot of noise and commotion. With five ladies here, there was always noise and commotion! I didn’t think of this solution until near the end of their stay, so I spent the first portion of their time here, searching for notes I had made, and forgetting things. When I remembered my notebook, I got it out and started putting everything in order. I loved it! I wish I had thought of this before they came. However, I’m planning to get it in order for the next set of students we have.

I am planning to pick up a letter sized notebook for this while we are home on furlough. It will have a section for planner & to-do lists, a section for classes I am teaching, a section for menu planning and grocery lists, a section for Bible studies, and a section for notes and ideas. With one notebook, I should stay more organized, which will help me and the students.

I think it will work much better than the smaller size, especially since I don’t need to carry it in my purse. I am looking at this one with these dividers now. Levenger and Arc use the same punches. With this clear cover, I can customize the cover the way I want.

Blog & Websites

My goal is to keep writing here. I also have a site where I am supposed to be writing about life here in Botswana, Myra’s Musings. My plan is to get back to writing there also. Then there is our ministry website, Safari For Souls; and a couple of other sites I’m trying to work on. I have re-purposed my other arc notebook for this. Each website/blog has its own section. I keep a running to-do list for each one, and then I have planning sheets for the blogs. I am just getting this notebook sorted, and I hope to see progress on the sites soon.

The Next Step

That is my organization in that area. Now if I can find a plan that works for keeping my desk organized, I’d be so happy. Do you have any ideas that have helped you keep your office organized? My office is where I keep personal and ministry finances straight, work on planners and blogs, take care of Sunday School preparation, typeset, prepare for Bible studies, deal with correspondence, and so much more. I have a small space, so I’m looking for ideas on how to make it work more efficiently, especially with my physical limitations. If you have any ideas or suggestions (that do not specifically involve the Dollar Tree or other stores we don’t have here), I’d love to hear them! Drop me a line below and share your experience with us.

 

01January2018

Just Stop Planning

Just stop planningWhat? I’ve written a post on How I Plan For Hard Days, and Planning With Passion. Now I’m telling you to stop planning? Well, yes. Sort of. But it’s not quite the contradiction that it sounds, so stay with me here.

I’ve already told you I’m a planner. But what I may not have shared is how I over planned. For years I planned way too much. I was very hard on myself when I couldn’t live up to my expectations. As my health worsened, it all got worse. I stayed frustrated with myself, and overwhelmed with life.

Friends and family had been telling me that I needed to slow down, but I didn’t seem to know how. If I could do something to help, I couldn’t say no. But then I started having to cancel appointments, beg off of time with friends, and get out of commitments because I was too sick or exhausted to follow through. Satan had a field day with that one! I was giving him ammunition to use to attack me, and I didn’t even realize it.

Then came the crash. I slowed down some after my first miscarriage, but we were on deputation, and I had to keep going. However, after the second and third miscarriages, I physically could not go on anymore. I had to take time off of deputation. There were days while still traveling with my husband that I didn’t make it to church because the migraines were so bad I couldn’t stand and the rest of the pain had escalated until it was all I could feel. I had hit a brick wall. You don’t want to get there. Trust me. You just don’t. If you’re heading that direction (or already arrived), what do you do? Here’s what I did:

Just Stop!

The Solution: Stop! Just stop over-committing. Stop saying yes to everything, when there was no way I could do it all. I had to give up some things I really wanted to do. I had to say no to some things so I could say yes to the most important. I still have to say no so I can say yes to the most important things.

Just recently I had to disappoint someone because I couldn’t keep up. I had started teaching a young lady piano, with the understanding that we’d do it until it didn’t work for one of us. It didn’t take long until I knew I couldn’t keep it up. I was having too many bad days and missing too many Bible studies and Sunday mornings. I had to choose. I can’t commit based on what I want to do. I have to commit (conditional on my health) to what I am capable of. And at times that is depressingly little.

Priorities

What is the most important thing you have to accomplish? What is the second? Writing these down made a huge difference for me. I was able to identify my priorities. Everything else came after – if there was any energy left. I don’t always like having to put aside things I want to do, people I want to help. But if I don’t, I won’t be able to do any of it.

I was having to cancel quite a few Thursday night Bible studies with a dear friend. It seemed by the time Thursday night rolled around, I was exhausted and in pain. This Bible study is supposed to be a priority, but I was missing it much too often. My solution was to schedule nothing after my Thursday morning Bible study. If I feel really well, I will do some writing or office work. I do no laundry on Thursdays. Absolutely none. I found that if I do, I use up my energy and there is none left for the study. Most weeks I rest all Thursday afternoon.

We have a Bible study Wednesday morning in a neighboring village. It’s a long morning and I have another Bible study Wednesday night. I rest Wednesday afternoon. I must. I want to clean my house or do print shop work, but I cannot. I have to say no, so I can say yes to the studies. I am learning to guard my priorities. This is even harder to do when we have company and I want to be hospitable, but I must plan easy meals, rest while visiting, and even excuse myself to lie down in the quiet for a little while.

Rest

Rest. I have started adding rest in my planner, giving myself a reminder to rest. Wednesday and Thursday afternoons are not the only ones set aside for rest. Every afternoon (except Monday) in my planner I have rest scheduled. Monday is our family/rest day, so I usually have plenty of time to rest that day. On the other days, I make sure I lie down at least 30 minutes to give my body a chance to recharge. If I have an evening study, I rest longer. If I’m having a rough day, I sleep more. Sometimes when we have company I get less rest, but I always try to get away a little while. I have found that company understands, and no one seems to go away disgruntled that I rested while they were visiting. They probably appreciate the opportunity to get away and rest a while too.

This is a recent addition. I used to just rest in the afternoons when I hit a wall. Hitting a wall hurts! I can’t wait that long. I have to rest so I don’t crash. Just this week I crashed anyway. It wasn’t from lack of rest. It is just part of having chronic Lyme Disease. Because I had shifted my thinking, It wasn’t so hard to just plan to rest until I was able to continue.

Create Margins

Bro. Paul Chappell talks about living with margin in his book, Stewarding Life. I lived without margin for more than 10 years. It nearly destroyed my health. Now I plan rest. I add margin to my life on purpose. I set aside times when I schedule no work and no studies. My only plan is to rest as needed.

When I started doing this out of necessity, I hated it. I felt like I was wasting time. I have found that I actually get a lot more done now. My mind is (sometimes) clearer. I function better. Some (many) days I have to work a little, rest a little, and repeat. To my surprise I get quite a bit done – more than when I push until I drop. I really recommend this book if you find yourself running on empty more often than you like. Creating margin in your life is just part of this very practical book.

Start planning now to rest. Plan to say no to some things so you can say yes to the most important. What is most important in your life? For me, it’s God, my husband, and ministry. In ministry, it’s teaching Sunday School and Bible studies. I must say no to many things so I can say yes to my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband, and the ministry God has given me. What do you need to say no to today? What do you need to stop doing so you can have enough time and energy to do what is most important? Then the most important question is: Will you stop? Stop so you can start living life with the purpose God has for you.

01January2018

Planning With Passion

Passion PlannerUPDATE: 

Soon after posting this, a friend informed me that Passion Planner’s founder and CEO openly supports Planned Parenthood. She told me of a social media post of her outside of Planned Parenthood, promising to donate $1 for every “like”. I emailed Passion Planner and asked if the company donates to Planned Parenthood. An employee replied that as a company, Passion Planner funds have not gone to Planned Parenthood. Even so, with the owner so openly supporting a group that kills babies, I cannot recommend buying from them. The planner ideas here still work, but I will probably be changing my planner out with another printable. I may even create my own. Keep an eye out for a post about that.

I’m doing a series of practical posts to help when you struggle with chronic illness, especially when that illness flares unexpectedly.

I recently wrote on How I Plan for Hard Days. Today we are looking at one aspect of how I plan: planners! Those handy things that have driven me crazy for years because I would plan, but my plans always seemed to fall through and my planner was a mess of marked out hopes.

So, how do you use a planner when you know your week (or month) won’t turn out like you want? First, I’d like to look at some planners, then I’ll share how I use mine.

What I use to Plan

I love planners, but most of them don’t work for me. I cannot count how many I’ve bought, downloaded, printed, and discarded because they didn’t work for me. Below are two planners for you. The first is one I’d love to try, because it looks like it just might work for me. I’d love to know if you’ve used it, and how it worked for you. The second is the planner I’m using now.

Living Well Planner

I love the look of Ruth Soukup’s Living Well Planner, but I’m living in Africa now, and mail doesn’t always arrive. I’d hate to spend money on a beautiful planner, but never get it. It’s really not in my budget now either, but one day I want to try it. It looks amazing. If you’ve used this planner, please leave a comment and let us know how you liked it.

Passion Planner

Right now I am using Passion Planner. I really do like it. A lot. It also works for me because by sharing it on social media, I got a free download, which I could print myself. Since shipping stuff here is a problem, the download option is wonderful. I am using the 2017, and just downloaded the new 2018! I also have an undated copy, just in case I need it. If you would like to try before you buy, go to their Download Page and follow the instructions there. All you have to do is Share, Email them the share screenshot, and get a password to get your free download.

This planner has a place for to-do list (personal and work), a blank section you can use for anything (Space of Infinite Possibility), and a block to write in the focus for the day and focus for the week.  You can order the undated planner on Amazon, or the dated planners on the Passion Planner website.

Arc Notebooks

Putting it all together: When I print out my planner, I put it in a Staples Arc Notebook. I love these things! I may one day do a whole post on how I’ve used (and plan to use) these handy notebooks. They are completely customizable. I have this Junior size book that I use for my planner. I print it, punch it with the handy punch (link below), and pop it in. If I make a terrible mess of a page, I can reprint it and replace just that page. Although, I hardly ever do that now that I’ve changed how I plan.

Here are some of the accessories I use with my notebook:

Colored dividers: These let me separate my planner and easily find my note pages, blog idea page, etc. This keeps me on track. Without dividers, I can never seem to find where I put things. These are tabbed, so I can find the right section immediately. You can get the dividers alone or you can get this accessory pack. Keep an eye out for my post on Arc Notebooks. I’ll going to let you in on how I’ll be using these for our furlough next year too.

Sticky Tabs: I love these because I can flag any page to go back and find it easily. I can also use them to mark each month making it easy to go to the  monthly calendar. If I have something I want to do, but don’t know when I’ll get to it, I put it on a sticky tab, so I can move it to next week if this week doesn’t work. I can use a regular sticky note, but these are small, and more durable.

The Punch: I love this! It works on both Arc and Levenger notebooks. I used this to punch my planner so I could use the Arc notebook. I also make my own customizable inserts, making my planner uniquely mine. You can only punch 2 pages at once, but it’s portable and easy to slip into a bag.

They also have a large punch for if you want to punch 8 sheets at once. It’s a bit more pricey, but good if you’ll be doing a lot of organizing and punching. I’ll put more about that in another post.


There are several other accessories I’d like to have one day, but I’ll save those for the post on the Arc Notebooks alone. These are the ones I use in my planner.

How I Plan

This is the best way I can plan at this time. This may change as time goes on, but for now, this works best.

About once a week I block off the “set-in-stone” portions of my week. This includes church, my time with God, my evening routine time, etc. I also pencil in any scheduled Bible studies for the coming week. I realize even these may be changed if I wake to a killer migraine or really bad day of pain, but they are the “do if all possible” parts of my week.

For everything else, I only add daily tasks and appointments as I work on my to-do list each day – after I see how much pain and energy I have. I may pencil in a few things I hope to accomplish that week, but I truly plan each day after I see how that day is going. You just have to adapt with chronic illness.

I often have Bible studies cancelled or rescheduled, and many times my work planned for the afternoon after a study will fall by the wayside because I ran out of energy. When this happens, I just cross through those and reschedule. Because I plan most of it daily instead of weekly or monthly, there is less crossing off, and I follow my schedule more.

Some weeks I put the menu in the Space of Infinite Possibility. Some weeks I put in a verse or quote from Sunday’s sermon that I want to think on all week. At other times I write really important to-do items in large print so I don’t forget it. There are so many possible uses for it.

I am thinking of starting to use sticky tabs to “pencil in” those tasks I hope to accomplish, but I don’t know how the week will go. If this works better, I’ll update you and let you know.

How Do You Plan?

Now that I’ve shared my planner and planning strategy, I’d love to hear from you. What planner do you use? How do you use it so you can work around unpredictable health or life? What tricks do you use to plan for those hard days? Join the conversation so we can learn from each other.

01January2018

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

How many times have I sung those words without realizing the wonderful truth behind them? On my hardest days (either physically or emotionally), these words are enough to lift my spirits and give added strength. Because God’s grace truly is amazing. And vast. All-encompassing.

T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear,
And Grace, my fears relieved;
How precious did that Grace appear
the hour I first believed!

Saving Grace

Ah, that sweet and precious saving grace. I do not deserve it. When I think that I deserve an eternal hell, but Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for my sin, it overwhelms me. Only His grace could give someone like me eternal life, and a walk with Him while I live on this earth. I grew up in a preacher’s home.

When I was young, I prayed a prayer and for a few years I held on to that prayer. If I prayed the words, I was okay with God, right? I was not okay. When I was 11 years old, I realized I had prayed a prayer, but I had never truly understood my sin and need of Jesus Christ’s payment for my sin. I was trying to be good, praying, and hoping. It was all in vain. That night I cried out to God, and was truly saved. Grace. Undeserved favor. What about you? Have you trusted Christ alone for your salvation? If you haven’t, or have questions, please contact me. I’d love to tell you more about this saving grace.

Grace for the Valleys

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

Saving grace overwhelms me. Grace in times of trial sustains me. It’s above and beyond. Not only did He save me from my sin and eternal death, He continues to give grace whenever I need it. I don’t deserve it. That’s why it’s called grace. I fail Him so often, but He keeps giving grace.

Some of my favorite verses are Hebrews 4:15-16.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

The King of Heaven invites me to come before His throne boldly. He assures me of His welcome, and encourages me to come ask when I need grace to help. That is a serious perk of being a child of the King.

Grief and physical pain are burdens that are hard to carry. They weigh us down. Pain slows us, grief drags at us, fatigue overwhelms. It’s hard. It also draws us to the Saviour for help, if we let it. In times of trouble, I have choices. I can run to the King, or curl up in myself. I can trust God, or I can blame Him for not fixing things my way and in my time. What choice will you make today?

Public domain

What is your favorite hymn for hard days? Share it with us in the comments below.

 

01January2018

How I Plan for Hard Days

I Used to Plan

I used to be a “get it done” kind of person; the kind of person who liked to plan ahead. For years, I worked hard, pushed myself, and did what had to be done to finish any project or work. I even pulled a couple of all-night “shifts” to finish projects that needed to be done in a timely manner. It was hard for me, when I found myself unable to keep up the pace. I was still young, so why couldn’t I work like I had in the past? Why did simple jobs leave me exhausted and weak? Then came the miscarriages and the Chronic Lyme Disease diagnosis. My limitations now made sense, but they were still hard to accept.

Some time after my third miscarriage, a friend sent me some information on some health supplements that helped me immensely. After being on them for a couple of months, I had energy and more stamina than I had in years. Yay for Plexus! I was so excited. Then my lovely energy was gone. It simply vanished one day, and I woke up exhausted. The disappointment only lasted a couple of days because I discovered I was pregnant again! I didn’t mind the exhaustion, I was growing a baby, and that’s a lot of work.

Within  a few short weeks, I had miscarried again. I was devastated. As I healed, I waited for that energy and stamina to return, but it didn’t. Instead my Lyme Disease flared and I was worse. Two more miscarriages followed. I couldn’t seem to recover. I went off the Plexus to see if it was even helping. Boy was it! Within days, I was nearly bedridden. So the supplements were helping, I was just in really bad shape.

How Can I Plan?

I am doing better than I was, but I still struggle. I want to go back to planning and scheduling, but how do you plan when you don’t know if you’ll wake up feeling great, so-so, exhausted, or in too much pain to moveFor me, the answer is “very loosely.” There are some things I plan every week. I may not get to do them, but I plan them. I plan knowing that this is a best-case-scenario plan, and there’s a strong possibility that I won’t get to do all I expect to do.  Other things I plan only on a daily basis, seeing how I feel first.

I’ll be looking at some things that have helped me in the next few weeks. Here is a sneak peek at a couple of items I’ll be reviewing:

  • Make Over Your Mornings
  • Staples Arc Notebooks
  • Menu Planning – to plan, or not to plan

I hope you’ll join us as we look for ways to plan for hard days. Will you join the discussion? What are your secrets for planning with chronic illness or fatigue? I hope you’ll share with us so we can all learn.

01January2018

Hello Again

Hello. Long time, no see. We all know that the “rule” of blogging says never mention long absences in your writing, but I’m breaking that rule. I haven’t written all year! How can I apologize? There is no excuse.

This year has been full of ministry, travel, illness, visitors (and more visitors), and many days of brain fog so thick that you didn’t want to try to read anything I would have written. Trust me. That brain wouldn’t have put out anything worth reading. Our last (overseas) visitors for the year are leaving next week. This is actually sad for me, because it’s my sister and niece here for my niece’s senior missions trip. It has been lovely to have family with us.

Since I’m actually having a few clear-headed days, I am beginning to plan posts for the coming weeks. Below is a sneak peek of things I’m planning to write about.

Coming Post Ideas:

  • Books that Bless – I’ll be reviewing some books that have been a blessing to me during this journey
  • How to plan for hard days – a couple of posts about how I plan and use my time and energy (both of which are limited)
  • Movies & Music – Posts about music and movies (mostly music) that have been a blessing and helped me
  • Hymns that Help – Old fashioned hymns are rich and invariably bless and help me through hard days

So stay tuned. I’m praying for strength and clarity of mind to write consistently now. If you want a sneak peek at some of the books and music to be reviewed, click over to my Resources page and see the short description of a few things that have helped me.

If you are struggling with illness or grief, please feel free to contact me. Let me know if there is something I can write about to help you through your valley. My desire for this site is to be a blessing to others who are going through difficult time.

God bless you in your journey,
Myra

01January2018

Christmas Joy

Merry Christmas!

What do you do when the sorrow tries to override the joy of Christmas?

It’s Boxing Day here in Africa. As I sit here enjoying my morning coffee, I’ve been scrolling through photos on Facebook. Family and friends are sharing Christmas photos. There are kids and grandkids galore, posed in front in fireplaces and Christmas trees, candid shots with gifts, and even videos of the fun.

For just a moment, I was tempted to be drawn back into the “why can’t we have children too?” attitude. The ache over not having children (and therefore never being grandparents) threatened to overwhelm and suck me back into that abyss of self-pity and bitterness. But I’m learning. Slowly, but I am learning.

It’s not about me. I have to constantly remind myself of this truth: It is not about me. It isn’t. Christmas isn’t about me, or about having children or grandchildren to enjoy. It isn’t about lights, Christmas dinner, family, traditions, or presents. It’s about the greatest gift of all. It’s about remembering that the King of Glory gave up everything to be born as a baby; so He could die in my place. All the other things we enjoy at Christmas time are just extra blessings.

Focus

I have learned (and continue to learn) that my focus and attitude determines my joy or agony. This isn’t to say that there’s never any pain or sadness if I keep my focus right. It simply means that God gives peace and joy to overpower the sadness, when I keep my eyes on Him. My heart will miss my babies until I see them in Heaven, but my heart can still be full of peace and joy until that day.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

This is my hope, and my promise. He will keep me in perfect peace, when I keep my mind stayed on Him and trust Him. So, when the sadness comes, instead of focusing on the sorrow, I focus on the Saviour. He knows my heartache, and wants to replace it with His joy – if I let go of it, and let Him. So, while there were brief moments of missing our babies, I had a great Christmas. It was full of joy and peace as we celebrated at home and church.

What do you do when the sorrow tries to override the joy of Christmas, or any other day? How do you redirect your mind to Christ so His joy can override the sorrow?

01January2018

Increase Your Faith

increase-your-faithIn the middle of trials, it is easy to find our faith weakening. We don’t intend for this to happen, but as the sickness, heartache, or trouble drags on, it can take its toll on our faith, as well as our bodies and spirits. We must be vigilant to make sure this doesn’t happen. But what do you do when you realize it has already happened?  How do you renew faith? Can we regain it? Are we able to strengthen it?

Yes! Not only are we able to, but God’s word gives instructions on how to increase or renew our faith.  It’s quite simple. Read the Bible. Listen to it. Sing it. Quote it. Listen to extra sermons. Immerse yourself in Scriptures. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Listen to the word of God today.

Ask God to increase it! Do you remember the father that brought his possessed son to Jesus? He had already brought him to the disciples, but they had no help for him. He brought his child to Jesus, begging for help. Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” I love the man’s reply, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” It sounds like his faith is weakening a bit. He believes, but he feels compelled to ask God to also help his unbelief. Lord, strengthen my faith. When we need anything (even faith), we only have to ask our loving Father.

We can also increase our faith by remembering what God has done in the past. 1 Samuel 30 reminds me of this. David and his men return from an unsuccessful attempt to go to war. They arrive home to they find the city burned with fire, and the women and children taken captive. It’s a bleak day, made even darker by the people talking of stoning David. I love the end of verse 6, “…but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” Having read the rest of the records of David’s life, I can only think of one way David might have encouraged himself in the Lord: to remember, and recount, God’s faithfulness up to that point.

When our faith is weak, or gone, we can always remember God’s faithfulness. Recount to yourself all of the blessings you can remember. Intentionally remember how God has delivered you, and provided for you, in the past. Count your blessing.

Read biographies of Christians. I have often seen my faith increased when I read stories of Christians who struggled, but saw God do mighty things. Reading of God’s faithfulness to others is just as encouraging to me as remembering His goodness to me in the past. What is your favorite biography? If you don’t have one, ask your friends and pastor to recommend some. You will also find links to a few great biographies on the Resources page of this site.

What will you do to increase, or restore, your faith today?

steps-to-increase-faith

01January2018

Be Content and Praise

You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Being content...even when God doesn't give us what we want. Be content & Praise!I used to teach a kindergarten class at church. With children ages 4 and 5, there were often tears, whines, and sighs when they didn’t get what they wanted. They didn’t want that for snack. They wanted the toy someone else got, or they didn’t want the color crayon they were given. We would remind them, “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” We were doing our best to teach them to be content. Be thankful for what you receive.

But I Wanted…

As an adult, I have to go back and remind myself of this lesson. It is so easy to get discouraged and out of sorts when we don’t get what we wanted. When my sister-in-law married my brother at 18, and gave birth to their first child at 19, I was upset that God had given her what I wanted before He gave it to me. (Yes, I was that childish.) It was my dream to marry right out of high school and have 6-12 children. Why did God give her my dream and leave me wondering what He was doing in my life?

As I keep up with friends and family on social media, I often see pregnancy announcements, birth announcements, and all the other milestones that come with having children. The temptation is there to grieve because God has given them what He has denied me. I didn’t get what I wanted. They got what I wanted. When I think about it, it’s still quite childish if I give in to this temptation.

Not What I Wanted

When I was growing up, I wanted to marry a preacher and have a dozen children. I also wanted to be like my mother and grandmothers. They were strong, hard-working ladies. Most of all, I wanted to be godly. I wanted to be a praying lady like my mother and grandmother. As I began miscarrying babies, I lost sight of those last dreams. I focused on the other dream that was slipping through my fingers.

Therefore be Content

Scripture teaches us that we should be content. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Paul did not have all he wanted. He had been persecuted, imprisoned, beaten, and generally mistreated. Yet he had learned to be content.

The most straightforward command to be content is found in Hebrews 13:15. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We are to be without covetousness and be content with what we have. Ouch! If I don’t have children, I am to be content. If I am thousands of miles away from family, I am to be content. When God chooses not to give me good health, I am to be content. This is not if I feel like it. It is not optional. It is a command.

So, today when I see my niece’s baby bump, when I see friends and family post pictures of their children and grandchildren, I am to be content. I still grieve, but I am also to be content.

What tempts you to be discontent? Will you let it win, or will you obey Christ’s command and gain the peace and joy He promises?