Simplified

Simplified

Matthew 6:31, 32b

“Take no thought for your life saying, ‘what shall we eat, what shall we drink, or what will we wear for clothing?’ For your heavenly Father knows you have need of all these things.”

“We have arranged for you to stay in a fully furnished apartment until we can get you back in your house.” These words were a comfort to me as we drove our kids to the place where we would stay the next few months. We had just left our burned out house, where white squares in black soot now marked the spot where pictures once hung on the walls.  Our “fully furnished” house was nothing but a water-logged, soot-filled, broken-apart house. It was a strange feeling to own nothing but the clothes on your back.

I was relieved to have dishes, towels, and blankets at the apartment, but they weren’t mine. The ones I had were given to me as wedding presents, holiday gifts or bought at the store because I loved them.  Mine had memories attached, and they were gone.  Whenever I picked up the quilt in the family room and folded it up, it was special because my great grandmother made it for me. The machine-sewed “quilt” on the living room couch now, had no meaning to it.  Never before had furniture, blankets or dishes retained such meaning and at the same time mattered so little.  On the one hand, I did not want to lose the representation of the person or memory attached to that object, but on the other hand, I still had my husband and children; and that mattered more.  Ironically, it was a strange paradox. I didn’t care that I was sitting on an apartment couch that wasn’t mine, because snuggling in with me on that couch were my children, happy to feel secure with their parents.

We didn’t replace everything in the house because we realized we didn’t need it.  The idea of “simplifying” became real that summer as God provided for us those items we needed.  We simplified and it was very freeing.  And even though the previous objects of my house, so full of meaning, were gone, the memories attached to them lasted. Simplicity and happy memories: that was all we had, and that was all we needed.

Advertisements

God Listens

Image

God Listens

Jeremiah 33:3a – “Call unto me and and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things…”

After having brain tumor surgery, I was in the ICU at the hospital for weeks.  There, I had a nurse named Liz. Her family was originally from the Bahamas, so she had the remnants of an islander accent. I was never as happy as when I heard that accent on the other side of the curtain.  She was the best nurse I’ve ever had! And it wasn’t because she was the sweetest, kindest nurse I have had.  In fact, she was mostly matter of fact, firm, and business-like.  But….She listened.  She didn’t ignore me when I rocked back and forth in my hospital bed because the pain in my head was overwhelming.  She matter-of-factly told me that I needed to calm down and stop crying because it would only make my head hurt worse.  But… she got me the pain medication that I needed.  She had to tell me the hard things and show me the not so pleasant things.  But….She listened.  She answered my questions, even though they were most likely quite obvious to her.  She didn’t get annoyed when I asked her the same questions for the fifteenth time.

Liz is a good reminder to me of how God listens to us.  When we pray for something for the fifteenth time, when we cry out to him because the pain of our heart seems too overwhelming, when we just need someone to hear us, He is there.  He answers us with what He knows is best for us, which may not be what we requested.  But His love for us gives what we need, and comforts our hearts through difficult times.  God gives us the encouragement we need in Jeremiah 33:3 when He says, “Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things….”  God listens to us, answers us, and gives us what we need.  Take comfort in knowing that God listens.

Catch the Wave

Catch the Wave

“He has done great things for us, which make us glad.”Psalm 126:3

The waves were huge, leftover from hurricane that came through a few days ago. The huge waves were the best ones to surf!  Waves after a storm are fantastic compared to everyday, normal waves. We often look at our life as a dreaded wave towering over us.  Instead, we should be waiting for it, surfboard in hand, eager to ride the wave through life’s journey.

When we are looking at the difficulties of life, we lose sight of the goodness of God.  All we can see are the problems.  We must try to look beyond the problems, to God, who is in control of every situation in life, and has proven Himself to be faithful in past situations.

As we deal with the issues of life, we need to begin to look for the ways God is good to us.  As we are in the midst of busy, hectic times, we need to actively remember the ways God has been good to us.  I Chronicles 16:12 says, “Remember His marvelous works that He has done….”  What better way to take our eyes off the difficulties of life and focus them on the faithfulness of God. We also need to pass on to others the faithfulness that God showed us.  Psalm 126:3 is a praise to God for bringing the nation of Israel out of captivity.  It is called a Psalm of Ascents because as they are ascending the mountain to the temple, they are singing this song for the entire world to hear.

Ride the wave of your journey through life, recounting the goodness of God and your focus will change from fear of the issues on the journey, to faith in the goodness of God to care for those issues.

A View from Heaven’s Perspective

A View from Heaven’s Perspective

Heard this song today and was encouraged to see life through God’s perspective.  If you are struggling today, know that He is there for you, and rest in the comfort of His arms. Blessings as you listen!

Frayed Edges

The LORD will accomplish that which concerns you.
Psalm 138:8a

Like the frayed edges of a flower after a storm, I stood helplessly staring out the window.  Life was uncertain, confusing and empty. Where was God in all of this?  What was his plan? How could He make sense of this?

We all have experienced these feelings at some point in our life, and we have experienced it for different reasons.  We  want to know – what’s going to happen, how it’s going to happen, and when it’s going to happen!  I would love to say  that if you just have enough faith, or if you just walk closely with God, or if you just pray hard enough …. You will know.  The truth is that sometimes, God is just silent – silent in how He’s answers us, but not silent in how He comforts us.  As we wait, He has given us “great and precious promises” to cling to. The question becomes whether or not we are clinging to them.

As the rain storm stops, the frayed edges of the flower are left with many droplets of water to nourish and feed the flower. The droplets of truth and comfort from God’s Word are the truths we need to cling to in order to nourish  our weary souls.  God is still there, working in your life; although, He may not have answered yet.  Go and find the comfort in His Word that He has for you today!

Guest Contributor Cindy Rooy

THE PHONE CALL EVERY PARENT DREADS

By Cindy Rooy

The telephone rang. “Is this Cindy Rooy?”

“Yes.”

“Cindy, do you have a daughter named Julie?”

“Yaesss…”

“My name is Laura and I’m a nurse at ORMC hospital. We have your daughter Julie here with us.”

“What happened?” I asked, wondering what sport injury she had now.

“She’s been in a car accident.”

“Is she ok?”

“No, I’m afraid not. You need to make arrangements to come to the hospital, Cindy.”

“How bad is it?” No answer. “What happened to Julie?”

“Cindy, I’m going to have the doctor talk to you now.” A physician told me that my daughter had massive internal injuries including a lacerated kidney, a collapsed lung, and a severely damaged liver. She arrived by helicopter, had already received six units of blood, and is on a respirator.

Stunned, I heard myself ask, “Is she going to live?”

He hesitated before replying, “We don’t know the answer to that.”

Panic stricken, I called my husband and a few relatives. I tried to pray but couldn’t focus long enough to find the words. Instead, I frantically requested prayers from my church and Facebook friends.

While preparing for the unexpected trip, questions for God kept surfacing. “Are You going to let her die? What is Your plan for Julie? Why would You take her life now?” Despite a racing heartbeat and a mind running wild, I wholeheartedly believed that God had control over my daughter’s body. But I feared the outcome because He already allowed the accident and injuries to happen. I painfully wondered what life would be like without my daughter.

Several hours later in Florida, my husband and I found our child in the trauma ICU, hooked up to many monitors and machines, and alive. We were updated on the extensiveness of her injuries and how precarious her condition was. Already numb, I had difficulty absorbing all the information. The situation felt surreal.

Why does God allow His children to suffer? The Lord teaches us about Himself during our tough times. He is attentive to our cries and becomes our Comforter, Healer, and overall Provider. He uses adversity to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. We are comforted when we remember that this life is temporary, but our next one is eternal, joyous, and without tears. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2:9). We persevere through our difficult times by looking for God’s involvement and trusting Him.

As details surrounding the accident were revealed, God’s activity became apparent. Two ICU nurses immediately appeared at Julie’s side after she landed on the pavement. The police report, damage to the scooter and helmet, and Julie’s injuries don’t mesh. Her blood pressure bottomed out but she didn’t die.

God’s mercy was noticeable, even through certain hospital staff and classmates. His help was observed in various ways. A room was available to rent at the hospitality house one block away. Spiritual encouragement and loving support were given by our church family and friends, and over 650 miles away, we were visited by both. And I was made aware of the many prayers being said for Julie when I still couldn’t pray. Gifted with an unclaimed, fitting cell phone charger from the hospital’s security lockup when I forgot mine, getting coffee by mistake on Julie’s breakfast tray when I craved it, and witnessing answered prayers for specific needs in her recovery were obvious provisions in this ordeal. Furthermore, Julie missed three weeks of lectures, labs, and assignments, took her exams without being able to catch up or study for them, and still passed her classes. She also received needed help in moving to another apartment, and her job remained secure. The Lord’s power was seen in her body and her mind, and He provided for her new needs and mine.

Julie’s recovery has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. While her condition improved amid complications and unbearable pain, she now has physical restrictions and financial problems to overcome. Yet, I firmly believe that God can turn this disaster into something good. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20). The Lord has plans for every person (Jeremiah 29:11); perhaps my daughter’s life may become a bright testimony to others of God’s grace, healing power, and provision.

©Cindy Rooy 2010 

Cindy Rooy is the author of a six-week Bible study, Trusting God Through Trouble & Tears, and a contributing author in several devotional books. She is also a columnist for three newspapers and an inspirational speaker. For more information about her book and ministry, visit Cindy’s website at www.cindyrooy.com.

When Life Gives You Lemons…

“When Life Gives You Lemons…”

 “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

             “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”  This common phrase is used often to speak of making the best of a situation – overcoming a bad situation and turning it into a good one.  It is to spur you on, make you get back into the fight, and stay the course. 

            What do you do when you don’t feel like making “lemonade” anymore? What do you do when the very idea of making “lemonade,” exhausts you?  We all have moments (or even days) like this.  The burden of life has worn us down, and we are just too tired to keep fighting.

            The “pick-me-up” we need is found in the encouragement God gives us in His Word.  It is our lifeline to joy in the midst of discouragement. In His Word we find phrases like, “and the God of all peace …”, “God who is rich in mercy …”,  “Faithful is He who has called you …” These are the phrases we must go to when life has discouraged us.  Reading His Word can bolster our failing hearts, and push us ahead on our journey.

            Listed below are some passages to read this week to encourage your heart on the journey!

“God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever …” – Read Psalm 73

“Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations.” – Read Psalm 119

“And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension…” – Read Philippians 4

Philippians 4 is a particularly helpful passage when we are wading through the times of discouragement.  I call it the “whatever” passage, because “whatever” you are going through, you can choose to focus on truth, purity, righteousness, good reports, virtuous and praiseworthy things. 

            Meditate on these passages when you walk through the “lemon” times of life.  You may not make “lemonade,” but if you go to God’s Word in times of discouragement, it will help you continue the journey and find joy in these times.

Remember their Legacy

 

42-16149391

Remember their Legacy

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witness surrounding us…let us run the race with endurance” Hebrews 12:1

            The phone call came unexpectedly one night.  Grandpa was failing in health and would soon pass away.  How could this be?  He was stalwart, still golfing into his nineties! He had been a minister for over 50 years. Even as he lay on his couch, too weak to be up and around, he shared Christ with his neighbors and friends.  It would be a great loss to see his example of faith and fortitude pass out of this life. 

            As we head into the time of life where our parents, grandparents and extended family pass away, we experience loss, emptiness and sadness. No one really talks about this event, but it arrives on the scene and surprises us. Even though we know the inevitability of death, we don’t realize the devastating effects until it takes one of our loved ones. We are left with an empty space where once a loved one’s influence and strength guided us. On the journey through these times of loss, it is important to remember and pass on the legacy our loved ones have left behind. They have modeled for us many life lessons including qualities such as a heart for God and His Word, perseverance, commitment, diligence, and self-sacrifice. These traits are important for our children to see as it becomes their heritage, and an example to follow in their own lives. For me, Grandpa’s unending faithfulness to the Word of God is the legacy I want my children to see.  He gave up a life of pro-golf to share the Word as a pastor. He shared that Word into his nineties, even when he had to sit down to preach it! 

 We can honor our loved ones by passing these traits on to our children and grand children. We can honor the God they served by embracing the same godly characteristics in our lives.   As you face your own loss of loved ones, pass on their legacy.  Make this seemingly sad time of life into a joyous one as you celebrate the life of your loved one and carry on the legacy for Christ that they have left behind.  As I celebrate the life of Grandpa with my children, I will pass on his legacy for sharing Christ and pray that we will be as faithful as he has been.

Stop & Smell the Roses

j0390493

Stop and Smell the Roses

“….but Mary has chosen the better part.”  Luke 10:42

The laundry is overflowing, the dishes are in the sink, we have no milk, and do my children have clean underwear to put on? These are the thoughts racing through my mind as I try to get everyone up and ready to go for the day! I must be a bad mom – no, wait – I must be a normal mom! Every mom thinks this at one time or another….. right? This time of life is complex and crazy! You never feel like you are quite caught up with the things that need to be done. However, this is when you need to take time “to stop and smell the roses.” The dishes will get done, the laundry will get done, but being a harried, frustrated woman will not make anyone’s day enjoyable. 

We sometimes have a hard time balancing kids, house, work and church while still taking care of ourselves. In the midst of busy lives, hectic schedules, meeting everyone else’s needs, how do you take time for yourself? When I was in college, a professor of mine gave me counsel on a decision I had to make about being involved in yet another activity on campus. As I gave him my list of pros and cons in regard to the decision, he sat for awhile and looked at me and then said, “When do you take time for yourself? If you burn yourself out, then you cannot serve God anyway.”  This was not the response I expected. I thought to serve God was to “burn out for Jesus.” Take time for myself? Wouldn’t that be selfish? He showed me passage after passage where God set an example for us to take time to rest.

Although all women may not be busy in the same way, we still need to take time for ourselves and rest our spirits. God gives us a great example in the story of Mary and Martha. In Luke 10:41, Jesus is spending time with Martha and Mary, and Martha is running around getting everything ready for dinner, while Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet, drinking in all of His words.  Martha demands that Jesus make Mary get up and help her and he says to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things, but Mary has chosen the better part.” 

Learning to stop and enjoy God and all that he has given us is a better choice. When the burdens of everyday life grow large, go to God, sit at His feet and ask Him to help you slow down and enjoy Him and the life He has given you.

Peace be still

peaceful

Peace, Be Still

…and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your heart and mind.  Ephesians 4:25

            The silence is deafening, and then the humming and clicking of the MRI machine starts.  It surrounds me.  I close my eyes so that I will not feel the enveloping space I am in.  I feel the panic coming when I realize that on my own, I cannot get out.  I am left to the mercy of others, and hope they are compassionate enough to get me out, if I cannot breathe.  And then ……A still small voice.

            It whispers, “Peace, be still, for I am with you.”  And the calm that comes from those simple words overcomes the fear of that tight, small space in which I cannot breathe.  The air becomes lighter and I see the beauty that surrounds me.  Through the small round opening at the end of the tube, I see sunlight streaming into the room.  A group of green plants fill the room with growth and life.  I am at peace when moments before I had been in fear. 

            God has an amazing way of calming our hearts.  He is the peace that surpasses all understanding.  And if we focus on whatever is true, just, right, and holy, He promises to calm our mind and heart.  Through the adversity and trials of life, you can count on him to be the still, small voice that keeps you calm.  Even when circumstances surround you and overwhelm you, making it hard to breathe, He is there.  Go to Him, rest in His arms and listen for His voice as He whispers His presence to you.

« Older entries