Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Praise

Praise

November 21, 2013
The Taste Berry
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name (Psalm 138:2).

Friend to Friend

Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began every prayer with praise. One brutally cold Sunday, his people filed into the church, wondering what the preacher could possibly find to praise God for on such a miserable day. Alexander Whyte stood, bowed his head and prayed, “O Lord, we thank Thee that it is not always like this.”

Are there times when you don’t feel like praising God? Honestly, our feelings are irrelevant when it comes to praising God. Praise is not about us. Praise is all about God. Praise is a deliberate choice and a learned habit that produces contentment and an attitude of gratitude.

In Philippians 4:11, the Apostle Paul writes, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” In this verse, “learned” means to be “educated by experience” and the word “content” means, “contained.” Paul’s contentment was the result of the resources contained in his heart. In other words, Paul used his circumstances as tutors in the school of praise.

Paul learned how to give God praise even when he was beaten, ridiculed, in prison, and facing his own death. Paul’s attitude did not reflect his circumstances. Paul made a deliberate choice to praise God – no matter what. Why? Because Paul knew that even when he did not understand God’s process, he could trust God’s heart.

Let’s pretend for just a moment. Suppose I went to my local bank and tried to cash a personal check for a thousand dollars. I can assure you that when I presented that check to the teller, she would have burst out laughing. She knows what I have in my bank account. Now suppose Bill Gates walked into his bank and presented the teller with a personal check for a thousand dollars. I can assure you that the teller would not burst out laughing. In fact, she would promptly cash that check because she knows what Bill Gates has in his bank account.

When we come to Jesus Christ, all of His promises are credited to our spiritual account. And there is a money-back guarantee on every promise of God. That is why we can praise Him – no matter what.

Praise invites God to take up residence in the middle of whatever mess we are in.

Psalm 22:3 “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”

Praise produces trust in God and strengthens our faith.

Psalm 42:11 “But, O my soul, don't be discouraged. Don't be upset. Expect God to act! For I know that I shall again have plenty of reason to praise him for all that he will do. He is my help! He is my God!”

In Africa, there is a fruit called the "taste berry" that literally changes a person's taste buds so that everything tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the taste berry, becomes sweet and delicious.

Praise is the "taste berry" for every Christian. Praise is more than emotions or spoken words. Praise is more than singing songs or lifting up hands in worship. True praise is the celebration of God, His power, His works, and His greatness. Praise is the fruit of a committed heart and the tool of a life completely surrendered to God.

When we are discouraged, praise reminds us that there is hope in God.

When we are afraid, praise reminds us that no matter what happens, God is with us.  

When we are lost, praise reminds us that God has already been where He is leading us.

When we are confused, praise reminds us that heaven is not in a panic.

Right now, girlfriend, lift up your head, and praise your God. He is with you and He is more than enough.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Questions" by Steven Curtis Chapman

I may have posted these lyrics before but they are very applicable right now too.
"Questions"
Who are You GodFor You are turning out to be
So much different than I imagined

And where are you God
Cuz I am finding life to be
So much harder than I had planned

Know that I am afraid
To ask these questions
But You know they are there

And if you know my heart
The way that I believe you do
You know that I believe in You
Still I have these questions

Like How could you God
How could You be so good and strong
And make a world that can be so painful

And where were you God
I know you had to be right there
I know you never turn your head

You know that I'm confused
By all this mystery
You know I get afraid
But if you know my heart
As completely as I trust you do
Oh you know that I trust in you

Is it true
that for every tear I cry
You cry a thousand more
Cuz you weep for those that weep

And are you, just holding yourself back
From crushing all the pain and evil in this world
For reasons we just can't understand for now
But isnt there a day of redemption coming
Ohhh
Redemption is coming
Ohhh

Quickly Lord, come quickly
Lord, come quickly
Ohhh
Ohhh

So who am I God
That you would raise me from the dust
To breathe your life and your love in me
You know that I believe

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Elijah pics

First dentist appoinent, some random ones and his 3rd birthday (Olympic theme...get it? He was born in Russia, the Olympics were in Russia, his party was during the Olympics...)

Also, thank you for the notes and emails after my "isolation" post. I wanted to bring awareness for not just me but many many people that struggle with the same thing but for different reasons. We all (and I mean me too) need to step out of our own little world and realize there are hurting people. The end. :)
 




Monday, March 10, 2014

Isolation

I have held off writing this post because...well, you'll see. 

Right after the stroke there were cards galore, packages, visits, meals, etc. If you gave one of the above, THANK YOU. Every bit of it meant more than you'll ever know. But now...there is one person that continues to send cards (thank you!!) and one personn that is now coming by weekly (thank you!!). There are a few others that have visited, sent cards and made phone calls (thank you!!)

Now, before you think I'm ungrateful (one of the reasons I hesitated in writing this post), think about all the interaction you get with others. At work, at the grocery store, at Walmart, on the phone, with your neighbors when you get the mail...I don't have that. I'm not throwing a pity party, just telling it like it is. 

I am partaly to blame. Phone calls go both ways. But I can be hard to understand on the phone and I hate having to repeat myself. I am losing touch with people and it makes me sad. My mom is also close by and would gladly take us anywhere but that is not the way it should be. If that makes any sense  

I am SO grateful for Elijah. So grateful. But I am a very social person. This is probably the hardest part of the stroke. 

This is not a plea for visits, calls, cards, etc. (another reason why I hesitated in writing this post) Just keeping it real. 

 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Last Chance

Well this is my last shot at muscle spasm medication. I have had terrible and constant muscle spasms and increased tone on my right side for almost a year, have seen three doctors, and tried 10+? medications. Because of where the damage occurred, medication is not thought to help, but we wanted to try. 

Our only other earthly chance at improving the tone at least, is something called Deep Brain Stimulation. Sounds fun doesn't it? There is a risk of stroke with this, so...  We have a followup appointment in I think May to discuss this option further.

For now we pray that this medication will work or, best case scenario,that God would divinely intervene and provide relief.  

I'll leave you with a cute one of my cutie who climbed into our bed with his bible on his own.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bible Verse...A good one..they're all good ones...

"Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:7 (ESV)

Friday, January 31, 2014

Perfectionist

I am a perfectionist. I mean, very anal, Type A, everything has to be perfect and in its place, perfectionist. That is one thing that is so hard about life right now.

I am having to get used to folding clothes sloppily, chipping dishes as I load the dishwasher, leaving a couple of crumbs on the table after meals, being ok with things out of place...the throw blanket (shudder) in a heap on the couch. Things, evrything, takes me a much much longer time now, and for a get things done now, never sit still, bustler...this is torture!!

But, not complaining. I am sloooowly but surely getting better and doing more. Yay! :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Storms

Here's a devotional from Girlfriends in God...

October 22, 2013

Standing Firm in the Storms of Life
Part 1
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love, and the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 6:6, NLT).

Friend to Friend

Just as storms in life are certain, so is the provision of God. Life can be messy, and bad things will happen. But every crisis and every storm is also an opportunity to trust God. He calls us to a heavenly perspective when facing challenging times. He calls us to see the storms of life as He sees them - opportunities for His power to be illustrated in human terms. What steps can we take to face the storms of life in a way that honors God?

Step one: Live a pure life.

2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) “We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience.”

The apostle Paul was certainly no stranger to storms. In his writings to the church at Corinth, Paul lists several actions we can take to survive and even thrive in those storms. Notice that purity is listed first. Paul is sending a clear message. Integrity and power for daily life are the result of a heart committed to purity. A clean heart unleashes the authority of God in us and through us. Impurity corrodes stability while purity generates a supernatural strength. It is that power and stability that keeps us from falling.

Psalm 51:10 (NASB) “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

The Psalmist links a pure heart with a steadfast spirit. “Steadfast” literally means “fixed or unchanging” and defines the kind of strength that can only be found in a right relationship with God. Stability is essential when those blustery winds of life storms are raging. Some storms come to uncover that cherished sin we try so hard to bury. If we refuse to deal with sin in our life, God will urge us toward obedience by allowing the storms to come. But make no mistake - the purpose of the storm is always to purify – and then empower.

Second truth: Seek understanding.

2 Corinthians 6:6 NLT) “We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience.”

Understanding is only as good as its place of origin. Human understanding is limited and tainted while Godly understanding is infinite and unspoiled. Our greatest lessons are learned in the fiercest storms. I know you have heard those words many times – but are they a living reality in your life?

A teacher was asked a question by one of his students who had come across Deuteronomy 6:6 that says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” The student asked, “Why does it say to put God’s commandments upon our hearts instead of in our hearts?” The wise teacher responded, “It is not within man’s power to deposit truth directly into his heart. All we can do is place truth on the surface of the heart so that when the heart breaks, it will fall in.”

Every circumstance that results in brokenness is designed to produce greater self-control and a fresh perspective. We can face every storm with confidence, knowing that God will redeem it for understanding.

Third truth: Learn to be patient.

2 Corinthians 6:6 (NLT) “We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience.”

I must confess that I am not the epitome of patience. I hate to wait – on anyone or anything – which may very well explain certain storms and trials in my life. James had the same problem, but a much better attitude.

James 1:2 (NIV) "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I tend to consider it pure joy when I can escapetrials of many kinds, but James tells us that trials can and should be faced with patience and an attitude of joy. Not joy for the trials but joy in the trials. Don’t miss this vital truth. Joy is a deeply rooted confidence that God is in control. Joy is a chosen attitude, and understands that trials are not punishment.

Take a $5.00 bar of steel. If you cut that bar into ordinary horseshoes, it is worth about $10.00. That same $5.00 bar of steel cut into needles is worth $350, but when cut into delicate springs for watches, that same $5.00 bar of steel is worth $250,000.

Trials are a test, a measurement of growth. Patience gives God permission to work. We go to great lengths to avoid trials and shelter ourselves from the storms of life. The result is spiritual immaturity.

God will not build our character without our cooperation, and He will not work in us without our permission. We must surrender, invite Him to work, and then, by faith, patiently embrace that work. Warren Wiersbe writes, “When God permits his children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat.”

Let’s Pray

Thank You, Father, for Your faithfulness in my life. Sometimes my motives are not pure and are so often self-serving. Right now, please cleanse my heart of all sin. Give me eyes to see the treasure buried at the heart of every trial and help me to choose joy - even when I don’t understand what You are doing in my life. Lord, let my life be an illustration of Your strength perfected in my weakness. 


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Monday, January 13, 2014

Adoption is not always easy

Adoption is not easy. I just want to put that out there. Just so you don't think everything is peachy but keeping his confidentiality, let's just say there has been a nosebleed (mine) and a phone thrown in the toilet in anger (again mine)  to share a couple incidents. Now,  I love him more than words can describe, just wanted to share that it's not always easy. :) There are also plenty of hugs, kisses, "I love you mommy"'s...