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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength

Sorry I have been MIA for the last few months.  I am still here, forming blog posts in my head, and I am still reading your blog posts as I have time, and I really appreciate when you check by to see if I've posted anything new.

Today I have something really neat to share with you that God showed me as I read my Bible! 

(If you are a Believer, I encourage you to make some quiet time to meditate (definition: think deeply or concentrate on for a period of time; ponder in silence; examine attentively; pray over; study by oneself; etc not the yoga definition of meditation, which I believe is dangerous and evil) on God's words in the Bible.  "You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13  But off my rabbit trail and back onto the main path...)  

Please read and examine the following portion of Scripture with me:

Acts 16:19-25 (Feel free to grab your Bibles and read from the beginning of verse 16 for more context if you want.  And also all the way to verse 40 if you like.  I assure you, it's worth it.  But for now we're going to focus on verses 19-25b.)

"But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.  And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city.  They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice."  The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods.  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely.  Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God."

Note these seven things that Paul and Silas endured.  They were:

1.    seized
2.    dragged
3.    wrongfully accused
4.    attacked
5.    stripped
6.    beaten
7.    imprisoned

But then soak in their reaction... 

They were praying and singing hymns to God!  

Wow!  Dwell on that!  How do we respond when we endure trials?  I have been going through a lot of trials lately and I know a lot of you are, too.  As a dear friend pointed out on Sunday, remember that thanking God for everything, including suffering, acknowledges His perfect will in everything.  When we praise God in every situation, we are accepting that He is in control and His ways are best.  I have found that while trusting Him doesn't make the trials go away, it does give me a measure of peace that can only come from Him.

"Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
for you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thursday, July 21, 2016

God the Massage Therapist

Trust.  This is a big one for me.  I am not good at it.  It scares me.

(I am not talking about trusting Christ for salvation.  That I have done and I hope you have, too.  I am talking about trusting Christ in the day-to-day details of life.)

In the last 10 1/2 weeks that I have been sick, God has been teaching me about the purpose of trials, His comfort, hope, encouraging others, humbleness, healing and so many other things.  None of them have I learned completely - there is still much room for God to grow me!

One area that I have been reluctant to venture into is trust.  Why?  Because to me, trust equals risk of crashing.  It is the same reason I struggle with hoping - because of the risk of disappointment (hopefully more on that in a later post.)

But as this sickness has dragged on without anyone knowing for sure what it is or when/if it will get better, my mind going into a tailspin of anxious thoughts, until lately - finally - I've been willing to address the topic of trust that God has been bringing to the forefront of my mind more and more often.

Yesterday I was at the massage therapist.  I hadn't been to see her before.  And as I was lying there, this analogy came to mind:

We go to the massage therapist and, even though we're lying under a blanket, we're stripped to practically nothing, with a stranger, with the door closed.  That makes us very vulnerable.  I feel like trust makes me very vulnerable.  Just like I am trusting the massage therapist to not take advantage of me (or laugh at me!) trusting God says, "Here I am, all of me; nothing hidden.  I trust You to take good care of me."

Then the massage therapist starts working on our muscles, and we assume they know what they're doing.  We assume they've been trained, and did well, and have experience.  I also need to trust God that He knows what He's doing.  I've got to relinquish myself into His fully capable hands, and trust that even though I don't always understand His techniques, that He knows better than me what is best for me.

The first two points are usually fairly easy to do when the massage is simply a relaxation massage.  But those therapeutic massages - now sometimes those hurt!  It hurt yesterday when she massaged me and I'm sore today.  But I knew, from past experience and from trusting her, that the pain was good for me.  In the same way, I need to trust God that the painful (or scary, numb, etc) times that He allows me to be in are for my good.  I need to remember that He is working in ways I cannot see, and to trust that He's turning my hard times into good results for me.  

Thankfully we can know that "You [O Lord] are good and do good..." (Psalm 119:68).  We are safe with Him.  Thankfully, kind of like a massage therapist has a diploma, we have God's Word (The Holy Bible).  It is full of proof that God knows what He's doing.  And we can "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness" (James 1:2-3).

I also think that there must be an element of trusting God that, just like a massage where you relinquish your tired body into the capable therapist's hands, is relaxing.  A sense of giving over the responsibility to Someone who can take care of things better than me.  I know I definitely feel that way about having trusted God for my salvation.  That is a not a weight I want on my shoulders.  So I'm thinking there must also be that same sense of relief in the day-to-day stresses.  Just like I don't want (and thankfully don't have) the responsibility of getting myself to heaven, why would I want to resist and hang on to my everyday struggles, not trusting that God can take care of them?  That only gives me "sore muscles"!  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


Today I want to share with you about hope.  I've been sick (still not sure with what) for over 6 weeks, and a lot of the time I desperately need even a little hope to hang on to.  I need hope that God will heal me yet, hope that this isn't permanent, hope that there is an 'other side' to all this.  I need hope, as in a hopeful feeling, like the opposite of despair.   I need hope that God is good and that He has a reason for my suffering.

Did you know that, in the Bible, "Unlike the English word "hope", the New Testament word contains no uncertainty; it speaks of something that is certain, but not yet realized." (MacArthur study Bible)  When hope is spoken of in the Bible, it is a sure and certain hope; an expectation - a hope in God that is based on who He is and His promises in His Word. 

God keeps my hope alive through His Word, and for those of you who also believe in Jesus as your Saviour, I pray that He gives you hope through these verses, too.

"But I will hope continually
and will praise You yet more and more."
Psalm 71:14 

This verse puts my focus on God by praising Him.  There is always something to praise God for.  Generally when I'm not feeling thankful, I start with thanking God for saving me, and go from there.  When my focus is on God, it takes the focus off of my problems, and that in and of itself makes me feel less like despairing.

"...For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us.  On Him we have set our hope that He will deliver us again."
2 Corinthians 1:8-10

First off, this verse gives me comfort that other Believers - even if for different reasons - have felt the same way I do - "burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself".  Secondly, there is a purpose to hard times - to make us rely on God.  (There are many other reasons that God allows hardships; I hope to write on that another time.)  To be totally honest, when things are going well, I notice that I feel more confident in myself and I rely less on God.  That is a really bad thing.  I will always need God - desperately.  Now that I've been sick, struggling to breathe and stay calm, not knowing what's wrong with me or if I'll get better on this earth, I've been relying heavily on God.  I really want to get better, yet at the same time...I've been enjoying the close connection with Him.  I have to remind myself that I have grown in my faith even when times have not been hard.  It's just that when you are feeling helpless, you have a choice - will you rely on your husband, your mom, your medication...or will you rely on God?  I've found He's the only one completely strong enough to hold me up.  Thirdly, I love the confident hope in this verse; the promise of deliverance based on past experience:  God did deliver us, and He will deliver us again!  We have set our hope on Him!  Amen!  These words give me assurance that God will heal me from what I am going through - whether in my lifetime or in heaven, I don't know, but I know He will.

"So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

This verse gives me hope because it puts things into perspective for me.  It encourages me that yes, God is strengthening my faith.  It reminds me that what I am going through is nothing compared to how wonderful eternity will be.  It reminds me that what I am suffering now is temporary and will be gone yet, when Jesus decides it's time.  It also prompts me to focus on loving God and loving others, as those things are more important in the long-term.   

There are many, many other verses in God's Word that give me hope.  Some of them actually use the word "hope" in them, while some don't, they just give you hope!  Open up the Holy Bible (I recommend ESV, but whatever translation you have is better than nothing!) and dig in.  I find, when I am despairing, that there is nothing that gives me more hope than reading and dwelling on God's words.

I would also like to add this quote that a friend posted.  It really impacted me during a time when I felt like giving up.  (The quote is from Sara Hagerty's book "Every Bitter Thing is Sweet", a book I have not personally read.) 

“I realized that if, at eighty, my body hasn’t known the healing of the Sarah who went before me those thousands of years ago, I will know that I pleased Him with a hope that kept me raw and vulnerable to His touch.”

I also wanted to share a link to a short devotional titled The Source of Hope.  You can read and/or listen to it.  I think it's really good! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

God is With Us

I have been sick for the last 4 1/2 weeks; at this point, we are still uncertain as to what is wrong with my body.  To be honest, I am really struggling emotionally and am relying heavily on verses like these to provide calm.  I want to share some of the things that God is teaching me during this time; my hope is that God would use these verses, and my thoughts on them, to encourage and comfort those of you who believe in Jesus, and strengthen your faith in Him.


"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

A shepherd's rod was used to protect his sheep, and his staff was used to guide the sheep.  The Lord's protection and guidance are a comfort to us.  Note this verse does not say the Lord will take us out of the valley of the shadow of death, but that while we are in it, we will not fear the evil in it, because He comforts us with His protection and guidance.

"And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep.  And they went and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing."  And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"  Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm."
Matthew 8:23-26

Jesus is in the boat - in our storms - with us.  (Also, as a side note, He has the ability to calm our storms if He desires to.  As the Ball Brothers sing, "Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child.")  It is a comfort to me to know that God is in the boat with me when I am in a storm, because His presence has a calming effect on me.

"It is the Lord who goes before you.
He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.
Do not fear or be dismayed."
Deuteronomy 31:8 (also vs. 6 and Hebrews 13:5)

This is Moses talking to Joshua, who was going to succeed Moses.  Joshua would be going into battle.  The Lord is with us in the battles, never leaving.  Thank You, Lord!


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Annual Adoption Update

Yesterday was (finally!) our annual update with our adoption agency.  It had to be rescheduled twice, once because I was sick and once because the adoption counsellor couldn't make it.

In past years update meetings were always held at the agency.  This year they have switched things up, and conduct the updates in our homes.  This was a little nerve-wracking for me, because it felt like a homestudy all over again!  Thankfully it ended up being no big deal (I should've known!).

We found out the following stats:
  • We were shown 0 times in our first year of waiting (May 2013 - April 2014).  We already knew this.
  • We were shown 7 times in our second year of waiting (April 2014 - April 2015).  This was a pleasant surprise, because we knew we'd been shown at least three times, but didn't know we'd actually been shown seven times!  We were told that last year was a busy year.
  • We were shown 1 time in our third year of waiting (April 2015 - May 2016).  Although this number sounds low, keep in mind that we put our file on hold for five months, from April -September, so really this is saying we were shown once in eight months (Sept-May).  We do find this number disappointing, but were told that this was a slow year.
One encouraging thing was we found out that our agency is working to expand its reach, and has been working in communities other than the main city it is located in.  Hopefully this will mean more birthparents and adoptive parents will be matched.

Please feel free to ask me any questions you have about the adoption process or about our particular adoption; I enjoy talking about it!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Motherhood Month - 24

Progress:  Today is exactly 3 years since we were approved to adopt.

How I'm Feeling:  Emotionally, I'm a little down.  Our annual update was supposed to be on the 12th but we had to cancel, the morning of.  Now it's scheduled for the 24th.  Physically, I'm feeling a little crummy.  I have something wrong in my chest, am low on strength, and my sleep schedule is off kilter.

Craving:  Nothing.  Haven't had much of an appetite lately.

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  I love you.

Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  Praying for you.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  My niece and sister gave me a couple gifts for Mother's Day.

This Month God:  Has been teaching me to trust Him.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Motherhood Month - 23

Progress:  Today has been 2 years + 11 months since we were approved for domestic infant adoption.  We have been active (meaning our profile has been available to be shown to expecting birthparents) for 2 years + 6 months of that time.

How I'm Feeling:  When we were approved, we were told that the average wait time (meaning the length of time from the when a couple gets approved until they get chosen to adopt) with our agency was 2 years.  One day my husband and I were talking and each made a guess as to how long our wait would be.  He guessed 1 year + 6  months.  I guessed 2 years + 6 months.  Well, we have now been actively waiting for 2 years + 6 months baby.  So in that way I feel a little sad.  BUT.  The day is not over.  God can do anything.  The phone could ring in the next minute.  Also, I really trust that He knows what He's doing and has not forgotten about me.  He will do what is best for His honour and glory and I know that will be what is best for my husband and I, for our future baby, and for their birthparent(s).  So I will, expectantly and hopefully, continue to wait and see what He does.
"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him."  
Lamentations 3:25a 

Craving:  It's kinda embarrassing how every time I write this answer, it starts off with "Well, I just ate..." lol!  But, yeah, I did just eat some chocolate... :) 

Thoughts About Our Future Child:  
Thoughts About Our Child's Expectant Mom:  Getting insight into what your situation may be like by reading articles by birthmothers like this one that I read yesterday.

Most Recent Baby Purchase/Gift:  My sweet mom-in-love (who is currently going through chemo but has only ONE more treatment yet!) dropped by a couple weeks ago "just because" to give me four sleepers she had bought for us!!  That did my heart a world of good - to know that people are still hoping and waiting expectantly with us.
One 3-month for a girl, two 6-month gender-neutral, and one 6-month for a boy.  Those little sheep are my favourite.
This Month God:  I have been learning so much by reading the autobiography of George Muller.  He is the man who started and ran orphanages in England in the 1800's, for thousands of children, completely by trusting in God to provide the funds needed, all for the purpose of showing that yes, God does answer seemingly impossible prayer!