Patience

“Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;  do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Refrain from anger, and turn from wrath; do not fret –it leads only to evil (causes harm).”  Psalm 37:7-8 NIV (NKJV)

Have you ever been in that time of waiting and waiting and waiting?  It’s hard and for those of us that patience is not our strong characteristic, it can be unbearable.  There are many times during our journey that God calls us to a time of wait, to be still, listen, grow and we do.

I have a very very special sister in Christ who provided many words of wisdom to me and my husband during long late night hours of support and a wonderful faith filled friendship that continues.  This friend shared with me during one of our prayer times, “don’t pray for patience!”

She better be smiling as she read this :)

It was a time that I didn’t think God was ever going to provide a direction, an answer, ANYTHING and I sure didn’t need to ask for patience because I felt it was being tested to its limit!  When she shared this advice with me my first thought was you’re right, I don’t want patience, I want an answer.  You think I had an issue with patience?

A great deal of time has passed since those words were spoken and now when I think of them I smile, I even have a good laugh.   I know that both of us have had our share of God’s time of waiting.

Any time that I consider my patience or lack of,   I know that God is refining my patience.  He gives it to us whether we ask for it or not.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”  James 1:2-3  (NKJV)

All of us face times that we wonder what God is doing in our life.  What are we learning, where does He want us to go and do.  It is ALL for His glory, growing closer to the faith that He has for us.

It is with great joy that I wait with the patience that God has produced in me.

I really have gotten better :)

 

Always wrapped in His loving arms.

Melinda

When it’s new

“Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7 (NIV)

God has given you a new assignment, maybe one that you thought you wanted, a goal, that place where you always wanted to be, only to find that it may not have been what you thought it would be in your life.   God  placed you.

Joshua was taking over for Moses.  Moses has laid his hands on Joshua and filled him with wisdom.  Now God was telling Joshua to be strong and courageous and He will give him everything he promised Moses.  “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5b

It is the middle of January and we are through the holiday’s, most of us have packed away the tree and ribbons setting our sights on the new year, new beginnings, life moving along.  Our new year started with a wedding of a very special couple, another friend telling of the exciting news of a baby and also the signs of aging starting to show in a family member. Each of these are the call of God to something new, something different and with each  event God calls us to be strong, be courageous.

As Joshua took his assignment, so must we, knowing that God is with us. When there is fear, excitement, anxiousness, frustration, we are to listen to the voice of God calling us to obey, not to turn away,  to keep our eyes on Him.  Go to the Word, meditate, pray and hear His call.                         And always,,,,,,,

“,,,  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

In verses 6-9 of Joshua 1, He tells us to be strong and courageous 3 times. Do you think He is trying to tell you something?                               Just as He told Joshua.

Wrapped in His loving Arms,

Melinda

“Where have you been?”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”  Psalm 28:7 (NIV)

It has been a while since I have written on this blog.  I didn’t realize how long until I looked back at previous posts, it as been a year.  What a year it has been in my life.  I have said that when God starts moving the mountains and we are following His direction, get your roller skates on and hang on as He reveals the next chapter.

The verse from Psalm is part of a song from David when he quit sobbing and began praising God.  He acknowledges that faith in God makes all the difference. “my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”    It is  faith that moves the hand of God and God’s hands control the universe.(Warren Wiersbe, BE Bible study)

I have talked a lot about trusting God and when I read the words of David I know that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. There are times of sorrow and no matter the amount of sobbing we go through, we are learning to trust Him more and more and more in our life, our faith.  David knew the power of God to turn  sorrow and painful experiences into beautiful praises to God.  I praise God for all that He is doing in my life, teaching me and growing me,,,,,strengthening me.

Paul said it best to the Corinthians,  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

Throughout this walk we will have troubles, sorrow, and some painful experiences that will have us sobbing, crying, frustrated and questioning.  It is the decision we make to grab a hold of our faith in God and hang on tight!!

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and my please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you,,,,,        Colossians 1:10-12 (NIV)

Wrapped in His Arms,

Melinda

P.S.  I am back and will be writing regular blogs just not weekly, at least monthly and maybe a few in between.  I ask for your prayers in our ministry, Bliss Collective.

 

Mom

Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.”  And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”     Genesis 21:6-7  (NRSV)

I have felt a connection to Sarah for the reason of age and child birth in old age.  Now I was not as old as Sarah when I gave birth to my daughter but there were times I felt that old.  Each Mother’s Day I reflect on the time in my life when I did not think I would ever have children.  I have not given this testimony to many.  It is one of those that showed me to trust, trust in the Lord.

Mike and I love kids and have a special place in our hearts for our nieces and nephews, always have from early in our married life.  We just knew that we would have a number of children, Mike has a large family and we wanted a large family.  Over the first 16 years of our marriage we had been tested and then the miscarriage.  The want was there but I struggled with why weren’t we having kids. Didn’t God know how much we love kids. Our marriage went through many storms about being pregnant, not being pregnant with both of us scared what would happen to us.  We went the adoption path with 2 private adoptions going a fair distance only to collapse around us.   There were many people that knew we wanted children and were praying for us yet we didn’t seem to have the flow of knowing what was the right direction for us to go to have children.

This is one of the wildest emotional roller coasters any individual and couple will go through in their life time.  There were times we really didn’t like each other.

Some are able to grow through the storm and some do not.  I thank and praise God that Mike and I grew through the storm.  The work was not necessarily Godly. We were young in our faith. We focused on careers which was really doing our own thing.

When I turned 35 I made decisions professionally and personally. Professionally I returned back to graduate school and personally with Mike we decided to go one more round with infertility.  This was a time when women over 40 weren’t having babies without difficulty. Note I was 35.

Two days after I turned 39 our daughter was born.  I won’t go into the whole descriptive detail of the pregnancy except to share you that with anxiety of being “older” and pregnant we had a number of extra testing. It was during one of the ultra sounds when I looked at the picture and this child was giving us the thumbs up.  Today, I see God all over it!!!

When Sarah says that everyone will laugh with her, I do.  My pregnancy was stressful and joyful. Today there is laughter, there is joy that I could have never imagined without being a mom.  God has a plan.  Mike and I have discerned that God knew we could raise only one child, we’re old you know.  More than anything He has filled our life with blessings. When I hear her say “Mom” in a crowd I turn, the eye contact with her when she is in front of a crowd we connect a smile and also the pushing my buttons, she does very well.

I share this with you to share with someone who may be struggling with infertility, with someone whose heart is hurting for that lost child, longs for a child or wonders what God is doing in their life.

He is working.  You will not understand the timing, the omission or the gift.  You trust that He has it, He has you in the palm of His hands and He loves you more than the depth and width of the ocean.

Always wrapped in His Arms,

Melinda

 

Be still

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.                                           Psalm 46:10-11 (NIV)

 

He calls us to be still and in this crazy life of ours we take that literally, BE STILL.  Just as we tell a child or our pet, be still.  Then we read on,,,,“and know that I am God; I will be exalted,,,,,,,”

When we struggle with being still are we struggling with having that time of quiet, no interruptions, sitting wrapped in time with stress low and emotions high?

There was a day when I took that for what the Psalmist was singing to us,Be still.

Then there was the day when it seemed that I came to every red light there was in town.  Hurrying to pick up my daughter and get her to her next destination.  She and I have even joked over a period of time it seemed that mom was always coming to red lights or traffic delays or even the dreaded train, which added to her already running behind.

God can give you a lesson in a traffic light.  As I came to another red light I thought, “you’ve got to be kidding me,,why I am always at a light.” Then it came, “Be still Melinda, look around you.”  That’s right, I started looking out the window of the car, not looking at the traffic backed up or even the light though it was in my peripheral view (basketball days paid off) but really looking at the beauty that was right around me.   Taking a deep breath, turning up the praise music  I saw what being still could do for those few minutes at the light, stress lessening. Listening to God and looking at the beautiful colors right after one of the recent rain storms, bright green and then the flock of geese appeared above.  Then the light changed and I drove on to my destination.

But God,,,,,,placed another red light and instead of stopping in disgust I stopped with a deep sigh and big smile because I knew that He had something for me to see and a time for me to be still in His presence.

Will God interrupt your day with a red light so that you will be still? Absolutely!!

 

Where is He asking you to be still?

It is finished

When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.”  Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.    John 19:30 (NRSV)

It is John’s gospel that we hear the words of Jesus, the cry of His resignation but accomplishment of the His life mission.  His life mission. He died for us, for you and for me.  “It is finished,”  the finality of taking all our sins, our burdens, our shame and nailing them to the cross.  He took them with His life so that we will live.

When I read these words and feel the emotion of death, of Christ’s death for me, my heart is heavy.  In the early days of Martin Luther’s faith he was found in a position of deep struggle, holding a crucifix and sobbing  — “for me, for me!”  This realization that His death was for me is difficult for us to grab a hold of and feel that emotion. But “it is finished”, is our sins are finished.  He took them and washed them away, “for me.”

This week there are events that bring us to the resurrection, the celebration that “He lives, thank God, He lives in me.”  The two pieces for me are the message of the Last Supper and the final words of Jesus.  The new commandment at the last supper, “I give you a new commandment, that you are to love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  John 13:34 (NSRV)  instructs the disciples of their work after Jesus is gone, to love as He loved them.  This is the instruction that He gives to you and me.

The Love that was given to us is on the cross.  Our sins are finished and we are filled with His Love and the gift of the Spirit in us.  The full meaning of the cross is that Jesus died for us.  We are to take His love and love one another.

When you look at the cross this weekend and every time, be still, look into the cross and know that it is for you.

Always wrapped in His Arms,

Melinda

Unbelief

“If you can?” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”    Mark 9:23-24 (NIV)

This father believes yet he is pleading with Jesus to help him overcome his unbelief.  When I read this verse I can hear the fear, the anxiety, the panic in his voice.   He wants his son to be well.  In verse 22 he pleads with Jesus, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” I added my emphasis, can you hear the young boy’s father panic and frustration in his voice.

We would be right there with him when it comes to our loved one.  It is not that he doesn’t believe, he tells Jesus that he believes.  The father asks for help with his unbelief.  Do we not fully believe when we are in a urgent, panic  or frustrated situation?  Do we doubt?

In Eugene Peterson’s, the Message,  the father is asking Jesus, “If you can do anything, do it.  Have a heart and help us!”  I love the response in verse 23,  Jesus said, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers.  Anything can happen.”                                                                                                                               No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, “Then I believe.  Help me with my doubts!”  Mark 9:24 (Message)

Doubt?  There’s that word that creeps into our day.  The word that can crush the best of us; having us question our ability, a relationship and maybe even questioning and doubting God.  Remember what Jesus said, “There is no ‘ifs’ among believers.”

As we go through our day and face the challenges  in our work, in our family, in our life do we take everything to God? In a meeting, in a conversation, a plan, a drive to work, do we bring God into the mix?

This verse has brought  questions to me,  Where in my day is my unbelief?  Where do I not think about God?

Do I limit God because I feel the issue is to small in the grand scheme of things or I wasn’t successful in the past so I can’t be now?

Then I read a devotion from Oswald Chambers, got to love Oswald.

Look at how we limit the Lord by only remember what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past.  We say, “I always failed there, and I always will.”  Consequently, we don’t ask for what we want.  Instead, we think,  “It is ridiculous to ask God to do this.”

We find faith by not only believing what Jesus says, but even more, by trusting Jesus Himself.  If we only look at what He says, we will never believe.  Once we see Jesus, the impossible things He has done in our lives become as natural as breathing.  The agony we suffer is only the result of the deliberate shallowness of our own heart.

Jesus tells us that anything can happen.  We don’t need to limit God because He doesn’t limit us.  He doesn’t quantify, He qualifies. His mercy is new every morning, His love is bigger than the ocean and His grace overflows to us, everyday.

Father,I praise Your presence in my day, in my life.  Thank you for all the blessings You have given me.  The things I thought were impossible, You didn’t, Thank You!                                                                                                               Help me in my unbelief, where have I left You out today?  Show me.  I delight in You and the life that You have granted.  In the precious name of Jesus, Amen

 

Always wrapped in His Arms,

Melinda

 

Life changes

“If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.  I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” Psalm 119:92-93 (NIV)

I want to first share with you I’m sorry that I have not been faithful in sharing/posting on the blog.  Many of you know that I have started a new job and to add last week my daughter and I got to share a sick day together.  Which is not a great mother/daughter day but it was a day God called us to rest.  It seems that I have been on go, fast go since starting my new job.  It is an exciting opportunity that God has richly blessed me in my life.

This exciting opportunity has also given me the chance to see how I am to fold my bible time into my day.  The opportunity that I had in study and writing during my time between jobs provided me with the blessed opportunity to be continually in His word not just every day but many times during the day.  That has changed with working and now looking for our next home to hopefully decrease our drive and give us stability in our community.  I truly miss that quality time, not rushed or cut short but many days of reading and meditating on His word, His message.

At first I thought “wow” I don’t get to spend time with God like I like to everyday.  It wasn’t really a pity party it was almost a lost feeling of now what.  It was as if a friend had moved away.  Now you are probably think that I have got to be kidding, I know that God is faithful and ever present, I trust God, I even wrote about, started this blog and ministry to go back and feel disconnected,,,,alright Melinda get over it, so I did.

God shows me,  just like He always shows me in His word this verse from Psalm 119 with verse 92 to kick me.  I was so delighted and continue to be delighted by His law and His word during my affliction and during my revitalization.  What joy I have when I am in His word and though I may not have the frequency that I was able to have, I continue to have the same joy in going deeper into His word.  Then verse 93, His precepts have given me life, absolutely and I lean on those precepts as I face the day.

I may not be in the Bible, in the paper but I am in His word.  You can count on the praise music turned up in my car on my morning and evening drives.  The blessings that I have in singing at the top of my voice brings a “joyful noise” to my heart and my car without the input from my daughter and husband about my voice.  Then I have the lunch time in my office or a period of time 5-10 minutes that I can open my phone apps and read a devotion or two.

The key for me is to grab each opportunity and relish the blessings that God brings to me.  I will have time, I will make time to feel the joy and love in reading His word for they preserve my life.

I will also return to posting and sharing with you, you warm my heart and God richly blessed me with you.

Always wrapped in His Arms,

Melinda

Thanks

” Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard the sound of my pleadings.  The Lord is my  strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts; so I am helped, and my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”                 Psalm 28:6-7 (NRSV)

He is good and He is so good to us when we go through the “troubles” and question.  We can be confident that He hears our pleadings, His love endures forever and through everything,  He is Lord.

I can say that there have been times in my life and during a recent season of life when I wondered, “Does God hear me?”  Does He hear my cries?”  The answer is a resounding YES.  He is at work when we wonder, He is there calling us to be still, calling us to trust.  It is in the pleading prayers and crying questions that His seed is growing and the trust is building stronger in us.  As someone who likes to see things move and likes to have answers quickly this has been a time of deep growing and brought me closer in my relationship with God.

We all go through periods/seasons in our life when we really wonder, “Where is God?”  “Doesn’t He know I am suffering?”                                     You bet He does and He loves you so much to be right there beside you through every step and every tear.

I want to take this writing to thank God for all that He has done and taught me during the recent time, chapter in my life.  When it all started and then seemed to get long and longer, I wondered why and I wondered how much longer would I endure the hurt and turmoil in my soul.  It was during this time that I grew closer to God and turned to Him during the moments and time of struggle and He delivered every time. What is greater is that He will continue to deliver and I will continue to grow, Praise God!!

It has been through a deeper growth in prayer, the strong relationship with our faith community that is growing and going deeper in His word that I lift up a deep, full heart praise to Him for this time.  Now going through it I wasn’t always full heart and He knows that, He calls us to go deeper.

I also want to thank the many friends and family for their love and prayers.  I have been deeply touched by the hands that have reached out in love and celebration as I have begun His assignment.  Please continue to pray, it carries us a long way.

“The Lord is the strength of his people;  he is the saving refuge of the anointed.”  Psalm 28:8 (NRSV)