Psalm 63

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.  My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.  Your unfailing love is better to me than life itself; how I praise you!  I will honor you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer.  
-Psalms 63:1-4

This is how I feel often, like I cannot get enough of reading God’s Word and learning more about Him.  I look around me and see the broken world that I live in and it is difficult.  But then, I look within, I know that this is not my home!  I know that I am on a journey and this is just a small part of my journey to eternity!  I raise my eyes, lift my hands, and praise God for His grace and salvation!

I want others to feel this.  I want others to know Jesus.  I want others to feel this thirst that is described by David in Psalm 63.  I want others to know that the past is the past and Jesus holds no record of sins.  That His blood alone is atonement for the world’s sins forever!  That simply, through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and redeemed!

I have had a lot of changes and transitions in my life over the past several months.  One of which was resigning my teaching job and being at home to support my family and be more available to them.  While this is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful and blessed that we are financially able to support this family decision, I was nervous.  What am I going to do with myself while everyone is at work/school?  You see, I do not like to be alone.  My mind goes crazy sometimes and I think all sorts of things that are not good or healthy.  However, here I was waving goodbye to my family and finding myself in complete silence…

Some may say that sounds like blessed bliss!  I struggled for a while with finding my way in this new role.  I took to cooking every night, which I love (and so does my husband!)  I shuttle the girls here and there before and after school to various activities.  I now have a routine for laundry, cleaning, shopping, etc and all of this is done while everyone else is at school/work.  I even volunteer in schools a few days a week.  But I was still feeling empty.  I decided I needed direction, not from my husband or children, not from friends, but direction from God.  I needed to know where He wanted me and what He wanted to use me for.

I began to pray.

I participated in a Bible Study at my church.  It was a Beth Moore study called Stepping Up – a journey through the Psalms of Ascent.  This was a fantastic study and journey.  It helped me understand the journey of the Pilgrims as they traveled to Jerusalem each festival season.  It gave me a picture in my mind of life in those days and how these people felt many of the same feelings that we feel today; anguish, desperation, praise, disrespect, ridicule, protection, restoration, blessedness, persecution, promises, harmony, and blessings.  It also showed me how these people relied on God to help them through both the difficult times and the joyous times.

Through this study, I continued to pray.  I prayed for direction.  I prayed for a way to serve others.  I prayed God would lead me.  It was after the Extraordinary Women’s Conference a few weeks ago that I realized that I felt pulled to serve in my community somehow.  Now, for those of you who know me, I am not a people person!  I am not the person who will knock on doors or start conversations!  Going new places gives me a bit of anxiety!  So, this was an interesting pull that I was feeling!

I continued my prayers and asked God to show me what it was He would like me to do.  I do not know how to describe it, except to say that one day during my prayer time, it just came to me!  The WARM Shelter in my community just popped into my head.  WARM (Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry) is a temporary shelter for women and children who desire the opportunity to gain self-sufficiency and long term stability.  The home can host up to 7 families and assists these families in getting back on there feet, permanently.  In my prayer, I heard God telling me to offer a Bible Study for these women.

I immediately contacted them and shared my prayer.  I filled out a volunteer application and attended an interview.  They shared with me that they were also in prayer for someone to lead a Bible Study for these women who so desperately need it!  WOW!  Isn’t God amazing how He brought us together for His purpose?

I am humbled by this opportunity that I will be starting in early November.  I have been researching studies and thinking about a game plan.  Since the families live in the home for only a short time, up to 6 months, I wanted to make sure I chose studies that they could really fill their Spiritual Toolbox with.  Scripture based studies that would stay with them forever.  I also wanted to choose something I could reuse as a new group of women came in.  I have chosen Beth Moore’s Breaking Free and Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God.  Both of these studies are deep.  They will help these ladies to realize that they don’t have to be in bondage of their past and that God will protect and guide them wherever they go in the future.  It is my prayer that these women will be blessed by this time together and that they begin to grow a relationship with Jesus that they will take with them wherever they go in life.

I have ordered the materials and books for Breaking Free already and I am so excited!  While there is not a budget in place for Bible Study at WARM, I know that God has called me to do this.  I have faith that others will see the importance of sharing Jesus’ Word to help these families in transition and want to help.  I know God will bless this study and future studies as well.  I can only praise God for answering my prayers and giving me this opportunity to minister to women in my community!

Thank you Jesus for guiding me to this task for you.  Let my words speak of your goodness and grace and be present with me Lord as I minister to these women and their children.  Give me the courage to speak your messages in bold confidence.  Let these women see you in me.  Thank you Jesus!

If you would like to make a donation to Bible Study books and materials to be used at WARM, please click the link below.  Thank you in advance!  God bless!

https://www.youcaring.com/waynesboro-area-refuge-ministry-warm-456750

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Blow Your Ram’s Horn

I spent my weekend in Roanoke with my daughter at The Extraordinary Women’s Conference.  What an experience!  We laughed and cried, were excited and exhausted, and had such a great time together!  The line up of speakers and performers was unbelievable!  Tim Hawkins and Mercy Me took the stage Friday night and blew us away!  Oh how I love Mercy Me.  There music speaks to my heart.  Their new song Flawless is just beautiful and so true.  If you have not heard it, check it out.

Some of the best moments came when we were engaged and listening to the speakers.  Max Lucado discussed Joshua’s victory over Jericho and his deliverance into the Promised Land.  Joshua’s priests blew the ram’s horn, before a battle had even begun.  I never knew this, but in those days, the blowing of the ram’s horn signified victory AFTER a battle.  Yet, God told Joshua to blow the ram’s horn at the start.  Do you realize what this means?  God won the battle before it even began, he won it for Joshua and he won it for you and me!

What is your Jericho?  What has a stronghold on your heart?  For me, it is fear and anxiety.  I’ve been battling these since my son died in 2006.  Every time my husband leaves the house, for work, band practice, Bible study, a bike ride, I fear he will not return to me.  Every time I drop my girls off at school, or at a friend’s house, I fear they will not return to me.  I know this fear because of the loss of my baby boy.  Life was great.  We were happy, we had everything going for us, so we thought.  One day, out of the blue, my son had cancer.  30 days later he was gone.  It was this moment, this turning point, that drew me to God.  It was this event in my life that made me realize I knew God as a concept only, not a reality.

Do you view God as a concept or do you  have a deep relationship with God and know he is a reality?  Kasey Van Norman described this so well at the conference.  She said most of us live somewhere in the middle.  Before my son got sick, God was definitely a concept to me.  He was there, somewhere.  When I needed something, I pulled out my God card and said a quick prayer.  When life was good, I rarely thought about him.  Until my world crashed.  Until my security blanket got pulled out from under me.  Until I was left with nothing but raw emotion and fear and anger and sorrow.  Until I needed God in reality, not in concept.

I began my journey at the lowest point in my life.  I had only one place to look and it was up.  I started the slow and steady climb to learn more about the God who loves me, to dig deeper into his Word and digest the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  I couldn’t get enough of learning about God.  I still can’t.  The more I learn, the more I know, the more I realize I have so much to learn and the more I realize I know nothing!  God is so immense.  He is so AWEsome.  He is so complex.  How can you learn all there is to know about him?  There is always more!

At one point during the conference, Angie Smith shared her story of losing her baby Audrey.  Her words resonated with me.  Her feelings were my feelings.  Her fears were my fears.  I felt her pain and my pain all over again.  Her loss took her on a journey into Women’s Ministry.  It took her on a journey into the spotlight to speak to and write for women all over the world.  She is blessed to be able to do this for women.  But she herself said, couldn’t God have found another way to move me in this direction?  Couldn’t he let me keep my baby?  I feel that everyday.

Wasn’t there another way?  Maybe and maybe not.  2Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  It is.  I can testify to that.  In my weakness of being a mother who no longer needed a diaper bag, of being a mother who had no baby to tuck into a crib at night, of being a mother whose arms were empty of the son she loves, God’s strength pulled me through and continues to do so every single day.  I know God today in a way I never would have known him otherwise.  I wish the events of my life would have unfolded differently, but they didn’t.  I don’t know why.  But I am blessed by God’s strength.  I am blessed to know he will not forsake me.

In my prayers daily, I pray for safety for my husband and my girls.  I pray they will come home to me each day whole and healthy.  These are good prayers and help me get up, get through my day, and be ok.  But…. I am a daughter of the King.  I am an heir to his throne.  I deserve more than a day of relief from my fear.  Why am I not praying for God to take away my fears and anxieties all together?  (Because I accepted it.  I never thought it was possible!)  Why do I settle for less than the power of God?

Today, I will blow my ram’s horn.  The battle is won before the fight!  God has the power to take your stronghold.  I am laying down my fears, my anxieties.  I am praying the prayer I should have prayed years ago.  Jesus, take my fears.  Take my anxieties.  Leave me with a peaceful heart and the comfort to know that whatever lies ahead of me and my family, you will be by my side to help us through it.  Amen.