Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are You Willing to Lay Down Your Life?

Hi Friend,

I read this passage today from "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers and I wanted to share it with you.  I hope it encourages you today.

"Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him.  Peter said to the Lord, "I will lay down my life for your sake," and he meant it.  (John 13:37)

Let's bring the King honor as we lay down our lives.
If I am a friend of Jesus, I must deliberately and carefully lay down my life for Him.  It is a difficult thing to do, and thank God that it is.  Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much.  But the exhibiting of salvation in my life is difficult.  God saves a person,  fills him with the Holy Spirit and then says, in effect, "Now you work it out in your own life, and be faithful to Me, even though the nature of everything around you is to cause you to be unfaithful."  And Jesus says to us, "...I have called you friends..."  Remain faithful to your Friend, and remember that His honor is at stake in your bodily life. ~ Oswald Chambers

Imagine if Oswald were still alive today.  I am sure he would be blogging for his King and the words written above would've been one powerful post! 

I love where he wrote, "Salvation is easy for us, because it cost God so much."  Salvation did not cost you and I anything, yet it cost Jesus Christ everything.  After all that He did for us, the least we can do for our King and our Friend is lay down our lives for Him.
It is not easy to lay down our lives and die to ourselves on a daily basis, because it is not in our selfish, self-centered nature.  Add to that, everything in the world around us is screaming in our ears telling us to be unfaithful, (just turn on the talk shows, listen to some secular music, read the cover of a magazine at the checkout line, etc.)  

Granted, it is hard to give up our rights along with our lives for a friend...but this Friend deserves it.  Let's bring Him honor by how we live

May we be willing to have a heart like Peter as we lay down our own lives where God has called us,

Monday, June 27, 2011

Before the Rooster Crows

Have you ever experienced a time in your Christian walk when you just couldn’t sing songs of praise and worship to the Lord?  Or a time when you just couldn’t or you didn’t want to read your Bible?  How about a time when you could not feel God’s presence in your life and all you felt was darkness and despair?  If you have, then you know that those are painful days where life feels hopeless.  I am not a stranger to those days, either.  I experienced a time like that as well and that despair eventually led to an inward denial of my Savior.

Here’s my life once again laid out for all to see and I don’t share this story so you can look at me, but so you can see THE ONE who sent me to share this with you.  God, in His infinite wisdom, has clearly pressed upon my heart to share my struggles, along with the story of my denial of Christ, in hopes that it will encourage you in your own faith.  I hope what is penned here will bring you comfort and encouragement so you can see THE ONE in the midst of your own anguish and pain.

I will never forget the time that this brokenness occurred.  It was right around the time of my spiritual birthday.  I had been saved for 13 years.  In fact, as I write this today it was right around this time 2 years ago when something unusual took place in my walk with Christ.  I felt mentally, emotionally and spiritually different, but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.  I told my husband and my closest friend that I was ‘not right’, but I did not know why.  There were no new storms that were added to my life, just the ones we were currently living through that sent me into spiritual exhaustion and despair. 

For a couple of weeks I was somewhat melancholy and the perspective I had on life was a bit gloomy.  With the new health treatment that I was on, I assumed that my body was trying to adjust, so I figured I was just experiencing a mild depression due to my imbalanced hormones. Soon, I thought I would eventually bounce back to my normal self, but that was not the case.  Eventually I started to become bitter about serving the Lord and I became callous towards reading my Bible, thinking, what was the point?  I was sure I would read something that told me to die to myself and live for Christ, which is what I had been doing for so many years. 

Let me back up a little here in the story.  On July 6, 1996, I gave my heart to the Lord and at that time, I had decided to fully follow Him with an intense passion.  So, what did that look like, you might ask? 
Here were a few things I did: 
  • ·     My number one pursuit was to become a disciple of Christ.  I wanted to fully know Jesus and truly have Him as the Lord of my life.  I wanted more than just fire insurance as well.  I was not okay with just merely having Him as my Savior so I would not end up in hell.  I desired the abundant life and the Living Water.
  • ·     One decision I made was to have Jesus Christ choose my husband, because the Lord is much smarter than I am. (smile)  Through God’s miraculous Hand, He blessed me with a man that I do not deserve.  I knew before I walked down that aisle on my wedding day that this was a man that I was going to purposefully respect and follow as best as I could, all the days of my life.
  • ·       I made the decision to learn to become a Proverbs 31 woman in my marriage and family.
  • ·      I was going to purposefully remain in Christ and abide in Him, in other words, I was going to seek Him with all my heart.
  • ·       I was going to diligently remain in God’s Word. 
  • ·       I was going to faithfully attend church every week, along with attend Bible studies.
  • ·       I was going to serve Him with the gifts that He had given to me.
  • ·      When we were blessed to have children, I was going to raise them to be warriors for the Lord.  I was going to teach them to use their life for Christ and build His kingdom and I was going to do that as I homeschooled them upon the foundation of the Word of God.

Bottom line: I was going after God and my life was immersed in the things of the Lord.  Who I wanted to became was a God-fearing, Christian woman, wife, and mother.  That was my purpose in life and that was what my life had become after 13 years.

Now, back to 2009.  So what happens to a woman that has pursued all those things for so many years and her faith in Christ is starting to fail and she is now beginning to doubt and deny the existence of the Lord?  Who was I and what did I believe in?  I felt so lost.  Was everything that I pursued a big, fat lie?  Why didn’t God help me?  After all, I was looking to pursue Him and Him alone.  So, where was He in all of this?

When I got saved, my trials started immediately and I had continued living in the storms ever since.  My life before Christ was never as painful as my life was with Christ, yet, of course, what I had with Christ was eternal life and without Him was eternal damnation.  However, thirteen years of pain, heartache, long-suffering, afflictions, persecution, broken relationships, spiritual warfare, etc.  I was done!  I couldn’t take the pain anymore and I was empty inside.  I had no more to pour out and no more to give.  I was becoming indifferent towards my relationship with the Lord.  I did not care about pursuing Him, living for Him and abiding in Him.  I felt that He had abandoned me at my deepest darkest hour and I was forsaken by Him as well.  As the psalmist David cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?  O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent.  Psalm 22:1-2  I, too, felt that same way.  Many times I felt like God was on a vacation while I was crying and curled up in the fetal position.  I went further down into the pit of darkness and I had no strength to continue on in my pursuit of Jesus Christ.  "I am counted with those who go down to the pit; I am like a man who has no strength."  Psalm 88:4  "You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths."  Psalm 88:6

Before this dark time in my life, I had a deep faith in Christ.  I believed with all my heart that He could move mountains and heal whoever He wanted, whenever He wanted.  When you think that God is going to just miraculously fix the problem overnight and He doesn’t…what does any good, God-fearing, Christian do?  They wait on the Lord and perhaps your problems will be fixed the next day or the next…and so what do you do?  You wait, and wait, and wait.  How much longer Lord must I endure this?  I cry in anger when I don’t hear him and I groan in anguish.

In the days and weeks during the months of June and July of 2009, my despair continued on and as the numbness inside my heart turned towards indifference, my husband realized that this situation was not normal.  One day in particular, I shared with him all that I was experiencing, and as he sat listening, he lifted up his down-trodden head where you could see tears coming down his face from the news that I shared, and he said, “Where is my wife?” and “I don’t know how to help you,” was his response.  I knew what he meant by those words.  It was like I was a different person to him.  Where was the woman who stood so strongly for the Lord with unwavering faith?  Ironically, as I was struggling with my own spiritual issues, as a result of what I shared with my husband, I now became concerned for his walk with the Lord.  Did what I have to say to him bring him to a place that may cause him despair as well?  I felt bad for him because not only was he broken from all of our financial woes but now he had my spiritual issues to deal with as well.  I did not know how to fix my problem either and I now wondered about what was going to happen to our marriage that was built on the Rock.  In an instant I became even angrier towards God.  Where was He in all of this?

I continued to go through the motions of my so-called Christian life with my family, because honestly, I did not know what else to do.  I was still serving the Lord because my husband and I were the ones that started the ministry, so I wasn’t even able to take a break from that.  I felt stuck and trapped, and inside I was dying. 

We still went to church on a weekly basis and I remember one Sunday morning I DID NOT WANT TO GO!  I got in the car just like every other Sunday morning, but this particular Sunday was different.  My beloved husband was asking me all sorts of questions about my relationship with the Lord and what was going through my mind.  I had various emotions raging through me.  I was angry, indifferent, bitter, callous, and I felt forsaken.  I did not want to go to church and sing to a God who did not hear me when I cried to Him.  I did not want to go to church and hear a message of hope when I felt despair.  I DID NOT WANT TO GO!  But since my children were seated in the back of the car, I could not express those thoughts to my husband, (at least I had enough discernment to protect them from what I was going through.)  Logically, I believed the Truth so I did not want to destroy the foundation that I was building for them, yet, in my heart I was no longer trusting in Christ and believing in Him; denial of Him was starting to take root.  He wasn’t in my life.  He left me. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9

So I walked into church and I just stood there during worship, not singing nor praising the Lord.  I turned my mind off to the message that was spoken that morning as well and at the end of the service I left the sanctuary (to run to the bathroom) as our Pastor was giving the closing prayer.  When I came out of the bathroom, I could hear the last worship song being sung and I stood in the foyer of the church alone as I waited for my husband.  As the people walked up the aisles, a complete stranger headed straight for me and honestly, almost tackled me and said, “There you are.”  I did not know her and wondered what she wanted from me.  She asked if she could pray for me.  I was stunned by her question but I said, “sure”.  We walked outside and she prayed a prayer that was SO SPECIFIC you would have thought I told her my entire life story, yet, I did not tell her anything.  Words she used were illness, healing, sickness, provisions, long-suffering, afflictions, strength for a warrior, and then she prayed that I would know and remember that God’s Word says, “He would never leave me nor forsake me.”   Tears came down my face as I heard this prayer that came straight from God.  Afterwards I said, “You obviously have the gift of intercessory prayer and I am sure you know that.”  She said "yes".  I asked her how this prayer came about and then she told me about God’s hand...

She was seated a few rows behind me in church.  Like I said, I did not know her and I also happen to attend a very large church.  Our sanctuary seats over 2,000 people.  As she sat there and waited for the service to begin, the Lord had told her, “that one right there, pray for her.” (He was pointing to me.) “Okay” she said.  But then the Lord said to her, “Get on your knees and pray for her.”  (I can’t help but cry when I type this.)  “Get on my knees?” Oh, Lord, you have never asked me to get on my knees before and pray for someone”, she said.  “Get on your knees,” He said.  Later, she told me she did not obey Him by getting on her knees.  She did not want to have everyone looking at her, so she just prayed for me where she was.  All throughout the service the Lord would prompt her to get on her knees and pray for me.  When the service was ending and after our Pastor gave the closing prayer, she looked up from praying and saw that I was gone.  Her spirit was grieved because she did not obey the Lord, but then as she walked out of the sanctuary she found me.  As she was telling me all of this, she said, “You know, I did not obey the Lord when He told me to get on my knees and pray for you, so I am going to get on my knees now and pray for you again.”   

She, a complete stranger who was sent by God, knelt on the outdoor concrete as she lifted me up to the Lord.  The healing and restoration of my faith was beginning to take place, through this stranger’s prayer.  That morning, God showed me His love for me. He heard all of my cries and saw all of my pain and through all of this, He hoped to make me stronger so He could use me more.

There was a purpose for all my pain and I will share more of the 'why' at my next post, Before the Rooster Crows, Part 2.

This post is linked to Titus 2sday, Moms the Word, Some Girls Website, Good Morning Girls and Women Living Well

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Weakening Faith

Hello friend!

Spiritually speaking this is a difficult post for me to write.  Not because I don't want to share my pain with you but because the words that I have penned here are a reminder of a time in my life when my faith in Christ was starting diminish, and quite frankly, those are not memories that I like to relive.  Gasp!  Did I just say that?  I am a Christian woman and I shouldn't say those things!!!  Well, if you have been reading my blog for any amount of time now you have probably figured out that I am REAL!  I share my feelings and emotions, my failures, my pain and my sin.  My 'life is perfect' mask is NOT on!
Where was my Savior in all of this?

I believe with all my heart that this is a post that needs to be written because I feel there are many Christian women out in the world today who are hurting and they have been crying out to the Lord, and yet, because of their trials and afflictions, their faith is starting to weaken as well.  I pray that this article comes at a time that you need to be encouraged to press on in your faith.

If you missed my last post, Aching Inside, you can read it here because it goes along with this story.

I wish I could write and tell you that the new treatment that I received was easy and I felt great immediately, but that was not the case. In fact, I felt worse rather than better for several weeks on end. During the acupuncture treatments, as the doctor would place the needles in me, she would then hook electricity up to the needles that were in my body because she said my health condition was so severe. (And no, it is not normal to be hooked up to electricity!)

While we were paying hundreds of dollars for this treatment, our home was still in foreclosure and now our utility bills were becoming overdue. The water was almost turned off one morning but we were able to prevent it, however, that same afternoon the power went out in the house and I thought it was because of the rain we were having, but that was not the reason! It was our unpaid, overdue bill.  It was a long night without any light, electricity and heat. My husband felt like a failure once again because of our financial demise and I felt physically worse, yet, I did not want him to see the pain on my face because of how my body was feeling. I was at year 8 of my physical, long-suffering and my beloved husband was only at year 2 of his time in the dry desert, so I wanted to lift him up when he was down rather than the other way around.

Although we were still faithfully following Christ and serving in ministry, I could not help but wonder where my Savior was in all of this? I knew He brought me to this new doctor but now I was filled will doubt and confusion based on how I felt physically along with our lack of money. I couldn’t help but wonder if we made the right choice? Did I hear Him correctly? I believed so at the time. "For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints." 1 Corinthians 14:33  We continued on in my treatment and had blind faith that I would be physically restored regardless of how grim our situation looked.

I knew to just rest in Christ and be faithful, but our life looked so bleak that I started to look around at all of the storm clouds that were surrounding us. How were we going to survive, I thought? “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 Unfortunately, I did not keep my mind on Jesus and therefore, I did not have peace which ultimately weakened my faith.  (It breaks my heart to write those words because this situation took place in the year of 2009, and being that it is 2 years later, I am obviously aware of the outcome!)  I feared our outcome when I shouldn’t have. "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:31

Even though my beloved was a real estate broker, he took any odd job that came his way so he could provide for us. We never knew how much money we were going to receive on a daily basis so we just had to live day by day, relying on the Lord for our sustenance.  Soon, God blessed my beloved with the opportunity to work at my doctor’s office to install counter tops, paint cabinets and do various tasks in trade for a couple months’ worth of my treatment. Once again, there was no reason for me to fear and doubt what God was doing in our lives. He was providing for us.

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved." Psalm 55:22 As God calls His children ‘the righteous’, unfortunately, this righteous person was starting to be moved (and in the wrong direction!) I was trying to cast my burdens on Him but I was so physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelmed in all of our trials and pain.  May faith was beginning to weaken and I was heading into a time of dark despair and denial of Christ.  (I will share about that in my next post at Before the Rooster Crows)

If there is anything I can say to help prevent a sister from heading down the path that I was once on, it would  be this:
Do the best you can to keep your eyes on Jesus because He is with you. He has a plan for all that you are going through. Don’t doubt what He is doing in your life. He knows how much you are suffering and He will help you get through it!  Continue to stay in His Word.  Be in fellowship and be prayed for!

I don’t know your trials or your pain. Perhaps He is refining you. "I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." Isaiah 48:10
I will leave you with this beautiful story called, Refining Silver by an unknown author. It ministered to my heart so much that I just had to share it with you!

Refining Silver

Some time ago, a few ladies met in a certain city to read the scriptures, and make them the subject of conversation. While reading the third chapter of Malachi they came upon a remarkable expression in the third verse: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." One lady's opinion was that is was intended to convey the view of the sanctifying influence of the grace of Christ. Then she proposed to visit a silversmith and report to them what he said on the subject.
She went accordingly and without telling the object of her errand, begged to know the process of refining silver, which he fully described to her.
"But Sir" she said, "do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes, madam," replied the silversmith; "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured."
The lady at once saw the beauty, and comfort too, of the expression, "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
Christ sees it needful to put His children into a furnace; His eye is steadily intent on the work of purifying, and His wisdom and love are both engaged in the best manner for them. Their trials do not come at random; "the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
As the lady was leaving the shop, the silversmith called her back, and said he had forgotten to mention that the only way that he knows when the process of purifying is complete is when he sees his own image reflected in the silver....
--Author Unknown
Keep your eyes on Jesus!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Aching Inside

Well, hello friend!

Sorry it has been awhile since I wrote last.  I was under the weather for a few days…but God usually speaks to me when I am down and out so that’s a blessing in itself!  Isn’t it amazing how much we can hear from Him when we are forced to slow down?

Goodness gracious, every time I think I have finished sharing my story with you, I hear the Lord speak to me, “Share more! Tell your sisters of your struggles and your pain and show them My hand of faithfulness in all of it.  I often think who wants to hear about my grief because after all, everyone has problems of their own.  Yet, God has made it clear to me to write this and I need to remember that it is He that I write for, my audience of One, but I do hope it encourages you none the less!

If you missed my last posts you can read them here at, The Refiner's Fire and Lord, Why on Earth Would You Allow This?(The Refiner's Fire Part II).

I left off telling you about my health trial and our financial trials colliding.  Without writing a book about all of those details I thought I would share a few situations of my pain along with God’s hand upon our lives in the midst of the black, stormy clouds that were surrounding us.

With my failing health, I needed some form of a new treatment and having no health insurance and little money, I must admit I was not hopeful about my situation.  Of course I prayed and cried out to the Lord.  I had done that for so many years regarding my physical pain and illnesses that I often wondered if He heard me. "O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?"  Habakkuk 1:2  

I had no doubt in my mind that Christ, the Great Physician, could do a miracle in my body.  Yet, year after year, healing in my body did not take place. “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.  Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.  Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”  2 Corinthians 12:7-9  During those years, I was having a hard time living off of 'just His grace', even though His Word said, “My grace is all you need.”

My King in Shining Armor rode up on His horse to save me.
So, with depression and despair starting to set in once again….what does God do?  He rides in on His big white horse to save the day!  He led me to a doctor even when I wasn’t looking for one!  No health insurance and hardly any money remember, so why would I be looking for a doctor?  Let me share with you about what Our King in Shining Armor did for His princess.

For about 2 weeks the Lord had prompted me to go see a certain doctor in the town that we live in.  It was a rather odd nudging from the Lord, after all, I had never met this doctor, nor knew of his practices PLUS, we could not afford it!  Each night as I would go to bed, (that’s when I would hear the Lord speak to me the most…you know those quiet moments without any distractions), over and over, He would tell me to go see this particular doctor.  I, of course, would argue with God and remind Him that it was not financially feasible to be treated by this doctor.  It was a ridiculous idea that I battled with for awhile.  I shared with my husband all that the Lord was telling me and then one day my beloved Solomon, my husband, said to go see this new doctor and not to worry about the money.   So I went.

This doctor practiced Chinese medicine which is a combination of acupuncture, medicinal tea designed specifically for your body and your issues along with herbal supplements.  After all of the other treatments that I had been through, the acupuncture did not scare me.  However, I was VERY skeptical, yet I still had an ounce of hope that I would find healing at this place, after all, Jesus sent me there!

I met with this very mild-mannered and humbled doctor and he gave me what is referred to in his practice of medicine, a ‘body scan’ which is nothing like a body scan in western medicine; they are two completely different types of scans.  Now as I sat in his office I was very cynical thinking this man is not going to be able to help me.  He did not have any of my test scores or blood results to refer to, just his little scan. 
He asked me who referred me to his office.  My response, “The Lord.”  (Plain and simple.  I did not care what he thought of me.)  The doctor looked at me somewhat puzzled by my response.  Again, I said, "The Lord, no one else".  Then he just smiled and nodded his head.

He read the results of my scan and with complete certainty he said I was very sick and I had been sick for a long time.  He now had my full attention.  He went on to tell me I had a virus that was destroying all of my organs.  Now my ears perked up.  I knew I had a virus, one that many doctors could not treat and a virus that I had for several years.  So, what did I do?  I tested the doctor to see if he knew what he was talking about! (Remember, I was skeptical.)

I asked him, “What is the name of the virus?”

He proceeded to tell me its name and I said, “You are right, I do have that virus.”

He dropped my chart on his desk and looked at me with shock and surprise.  “How do you know this, he asked?”

“I was tested for it many years ago, but the doctor who tested me for it shortly died after I received my results”, I said.

His wife read my results over her husband’s shoulder and with a disgusted tone, she asked me, “How much alcohol do you drink?”

“None, I don’t even drink soda”, was my reply.

Again he said, “You are very sick and you have been sick for a very long time and your liver is very bad.”  I told him I knew about my liver because of recent test results but my doctor at the time was unable to fix my problem.

This man knew my body as if he had been treating me for years.  He understood all of my organ issues and told me they were all related.  After all that I heard from him, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God brought me directly to this doctor. 

“The treatment will be long, but I can heal you”, he said.

I sat there right in his office and broke down and cried.  “In my distress I cried to the Lord, and He heard me.”  Psalm 120:1  I cried for two different reasons.  One, I finally had a doctor who knew how serious my problems were AND he knew how to treat them.  Two, we had no money for me to get the treatment I needed.  After all these years with no answers, we finally had an answer, but no means to fix the problem.  In one instant I went from feeling ecstatic to feeling discouraged and hopeless.

We spoke some more, and come to find out that this doctor is none other than a born-again, committed Christian!  My soul was singing, yet, in my mind I felt somewhat cheated.  It was like the Lord was showing me all these good things but in my world, my reality, I could not have them.

We will take care of you here.  You are family.  You are my sister, he said.  I wept again. (Awe, that still brings tears to my eyes as I write this!)

The treatment was still very expensive even with their help.  I did not know how we were going to afford $900 a month, every month for the next year.  I came home saddened and frustrated as I shared all the information with my husband.  I did not want to be a burden to him.  I knew he was already feeling overwhelmed with having the home in foreclosure and not knowing how he was going to provide for his family with just the basic necessities of our lives.

Now, here comes the sound of the horses’ hooves galloping to my rescue, again…A few days later, as I returned from a trip to the store, I pulled up into my driveway and I see my Knight in Shining Armor polishing the sports car that he had owned for 10 years.  I could tell before I even got out of my car what my husband was doing.  He was sprucing it up so he could sell it.  He enjoyed his little car and he worked hard for it so I knew it was a sacrifice for him to let it go on my behalf.  (We all know how men can be with their sports cars!)  He told me to go get the treatment that I needed because he was selling his car.  Again I wept, not only did I feel the love from my King in Shining Armor but my Knight as well, and both were a love I did not deserve.  It was unfortunate that my faith in the One True God had started to diminish because there was no need for that to happen. “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"  Matthew 14:31 

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.   John 10:10-11  I love how these two verses are side by side in this passage.  Jesus is pointing out how the enemy is working hard to take us down, but the Lord reminds us of WHO He is and the type of life that we would have with Him as our Good Shepherd.

This is what I want you to remember when you go through difficult times in your own life: 
You are God’s princess and He is your King in Shining Armor.  He won’t let you down.  He will rescue you in your time of need even when you don't feel like He is going to show up. 
He has not forgotten about you.  Cling to His promises.  Be in His Word so you can be encouraged in your faith.  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Romans 10:17
Be still.  Wait and listen for His voice.  He will lead you if you are willing to be led.

Listen for the sound of His horse, because He is coming!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lord, Why on Earth Would You Allow This? (The Refiner's Fire Part 2)

First, let me begin by telling you I had no intentions of writing this post anytime soon because, quite honestly, I did not want to mentally and emotionally relive the past feelings of my life where I experienced so much physical pain, long-suffering, hopelessness and times of despair as I walked with the Lord.  I knew at some point the Lord would have me share this part of my life with you, but I did not think it would be written now, in the middle of me telling you about our financial trials!  In fact, every time I’ve thought about writing on this subject matter, I would come to tears.  Just the other day as I was having a hard time coping with the reality that the Lord was going to have me face those many years of brokenness, I cried to Him and said, “Can’t you use my strengths instead of my weaknesses?   I am sure He was probably smiling down on me when I said that!   "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Lord, why on earth would you allow this?  I can’t tell you how many times I have asked the Lord that question.  All I’ve wanted to do since I gave my heart to Him was serve Him.  When I married, I wanted to make sure I lived a life where I brought respect and honor to my husband and that I served him as well.  When I had my children, I desired to raise them in the Lord as I spent time homeschooling them and teaching them to build God’s kingdom.  I did not understand why the Lord would allow my body to have one disease and disorder after another and for so many years.  But God had a plan in all of my pain and there was a purpose for it!

The story below was the beginning of my refining process.  If you missed part 1 of The Refiner's Fire you can read it here, just click on the link.

So because of God’s grace, I will briefly share my weaknesses. 

The pain was unbearable.  When would it end?
It was 1998.  I had been saved for almost 2 years and married for one month.  I received a call from my doctor telling me I had pre-cancerous cells of my cervix and I needed laser surgery.  They were not sure if I would be able to have children as a result of the damage to my cervix.  I was not expecting to hear those words!  Here's God's hand in the midst of the heartache, fears, lost dreams and pain.  About a year later I became pregnant with my firstborn son and 1 year after he was born, I was pregnant with my second child.

However, little did I know that during my first pregnancy, a host of illnesses were brewing in my body and they were about to explode.  Over a 10 year period of time I saw one doctor after another for all of the diseases and disorders that were manifesting in my body.  There were days that my husband would send his assistant up to our house to watch my babies just so I could get some rest.  The night before I did not get any sleep due to severe joint pain, infections or vomiting which prevented me from getting any rest.  Many weeks I saw doctor after doctor for treatment after treatment.  For a two month period of time I saw 4 different doctors per week to help restore my health.  Below is a list of doctors that had treated me over the years:
·       A doctor of internal medicine
·       A rheumatologist
·       An ophthalmologist
·       Several gynecologists
·       A gastroenterologist
·       A clinical nutritionist
·       An alternative medicine doctor
·       A dentist to treat Periodontal Gum Disease
·       A physical therapist
·       An alternative medicine doctor for PMS and thyroid disorders
·       A doctor of Chinese medicine accompanied with acupuncture

During my time with them, they diagnosed me with:
·   An autoimmune disease of my glands known as Sjorgren’s syndrome.  As a result of this syndrome, I was unable to nurse my children but I did not know that at the time.  I had chronic fatigue and chronic joint pain.  I was constantly sick and I was starting to have vision problems.  The doctor told me I had abrasions on my eyes due to lack of moisture because my glands were not functioning, so he plugged my tear ducts.  I was also diagnosed as having border-line Lupus which is also an autoimmune disease, along with fibromyalgia and IBS.  Life long drugs were their answer to all my problems.  (We decided it was best for us to seek alternative treatment.)
·      In the alternative world of medicine I was treated for Candida Albicans which is an overgrowth of yeast in one’s body that can destroy the immune system.  During the course of 1 ½ years, I took over 90 pills a day which were natural supplements and my diet was restricted to protein and veggies.  (It was enjoyable to say the least.) sarcasm noted
·      Along with Candida, I was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome, because I had microscopic tears in my intestinal lining, and if that wasn't enough, I was also Insulin Resistance which was a precursor to Diabetes.
·       At one point in my life I was rushed to the ER by ambulance because I was doubled over in pain, unable to stand and I was constantly vomiting.  We thought my appendix might have burst.  After an ultrasound, a vaginal ultrasound and a CAT scan, they found that I had a ruptured ovarian cyst.  Little did I know I would experience that pain every month for the next 6 months.  I was soon diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.  My hormones were severely out of balance which caused an ongoing, monthly depression just before my menstrual cycle.  On top of all of that, my entire endocrine system was bogged down and I was functioning off of my adrenal glands which caused a lot of the chronic fatigue, the anxiousness and irritability.
·      In addition to everything else that was going on in my body, for 1 ½ years I had a severe vaginal and rectal infection that greatly hindered my ability to just get through the day.  The doctors had never seen anything like it and they did not know what it was.  (That was comforting to hear.) Just 1 month after my rush to the E.R. for my ovarian cyst, I had a Colonoscopy at age 34 to find out the cause of the rectal infection, yet, they could not see everything because of a blockage in my small intestine.  (Hmmm, I guess all of the years of chronic constipation would create a blockage!)  Again, no answers and no relief.   The medication that the docs gave me for my vaginal infection caused me to break out over my entire body with hives.  It was a Mother’s Day I would never forget.  I couldn’t take any more pain.  I felt like it was killing me.  All I longed to do is go home to be with Jesus.  That Sunday morning, my husband took me to the elders of the church for prayer and oil.   “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”  James 5:14

Throughout those long and painful 10 years, I had treatments that would range from:
·       6 months of nightly enemas with probiotics in them.  (I was 33 years old at the time and I felt like I was living in a body of an 80 year old woman.)
·    Taking natural progesterone that was injected into me rectally 3 times a day for at least 5 years because of my ovarian cysts.
·       I gave myself weekly B-12 shots in hopes that the fatigue would go away.
·     I was hooked up to an IV once a week for 8 weeks for chelation treatments hoping to rid my body of toxins.
·      At one point, my blood was run routinely through an IV that was under a UV ray light in hopes that the light rays would kill off any viruses in my body.
·      Not to mention all the disgusting green drinks and restrictive diets that I had to be on in order to restore my health.  (Eating soup with chicken feet in it was not enjoyable!)

Because we sought alternative medicine, the office visits, treatments and supplements were not covered by our insurance.  For 1 ½ years the cost for my health would range from $1000-$1500 per month.  Over the next 5 years, that number would decrease to $800 and then to $300 per month. There were days that I was becoming healthier.  One day in particular, I can remember the excitement I had as I shared with my husband that I was able to make my young boys lunch!

During year 5 of my health journey, I prayed for contentment.  "Now godliness with contentment is great gain."  1 Timothy 6:6  I was tired of trying to restore my health and I no longer wanted it to be such a huge focus of my life.  I had to come to grips with the fact that I could not have the life that I longed for based on my physical limitations and I did not want my pursuit of health to become my idol.  For a few years my body was stable as long as I was still taking my supplements and limiting my diet, so I timidly stepped out to serve the Lord as we started a new ministry. 

But shortly things got worse and they got worse at the wrong time!  My body started to decline once again and the supplements were no longer maintaining my health.  We were starting to have financial trials, (read The Refiner's Fire to know more about them,) and the cost of $300 a month for supplements that were no longer working did not seem like a wise purchase.

My health trial and our financial trials collided.  I did not know what to do.  I was becoming sicker and sicker and more of my organs were starting to shut down.  We had no health insurance and we maybe had $300 to our name.  Our home was now in foreclosure and I now had more responsibilities due to the new ministry.  I felt like I was drowning trying to manage all that was needed in my home because of the additional financial hardships as well.  Lord, why on earth would you allow this?

It is funny how our journey with the Lord is called our 'Christian walk'.  To me, it felt like a 'crawl'.  I never felt like I was in an upright position pursuing Jesus.  I was so broken and feeble that I daily had to crawl to Him. 

"He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer." 2 Corinthians 1:4-6

God's hand of faithfulness has always been upon us even when I did not understand why God was taking us through this major storm.  When the IRS audited us, they found that they owed us several thousand dollars and the lawsuit that went on for 5 years, the plaintiffs dropped the case against my husband.   See how God works!

The Lord is always with us but sometimes through all of the pain we can't see Him, feel Him or hear Him.  He is with you as well.  He is refining you for a purpose that is just for Him so He can be revealed through you!  Don't get discouraged and don't lose hope.  He is always right there by your side when you are hurting and when you are questioning.  He was right by Job's side when he questioned the Lord as well.  And what was the Lord's response to Job? "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.  Job 38:4  Sometimes we are not going to understand everything that God takes us through.  We just need to be obedient and faithful to Him despite our hardships because God does not owe us anything.  And he (Job) said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."  Job 1:21 (my emphasis)