Finding Hope in His Eye of the Storm

This is my family.  The photo below was taken this summer, following the water baptism of my youngest daughter, Brighten Hope.  Over the past couple of years, “water” has been “a thing” with our family.

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On Tax Day 2016, our home was baptized in the muddy waters of a flash flood.  Immediately following the flood, our family began the long process of rebuilding.

April of 2017, we moved home.  By August, our house was 90% completed.

Then August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey came to town.  Once again flood waters rushed through our living room.  Before Harvey passed, the waters had risen 42″ inside our home.

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Throughout these sixteen months, there has been a deluge of water over our lives.  If we choose to focus on things easily seen, we view lives flooded with devastation, loss, and struggle.

However, we can choose to view circumstances through His eye of the storm.

As we gaze through His beautiful eyes, we behold the GLORY OF GOD, flooding our lives with love, peace, strength, and hope. The body of Christ through our friends, neighbors, and family has washed over us like a flood.  Unlike the muddy waters that devastate and destroy, these flood waters of love are cleansing, healing, and restoring our lives.  We are in deep waters.  Deep in His love, where peace, strength, and hope are in abundant supply.

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As a result of His presence, throughout the storms, I have come to know this:

Our story is God’s story, my story, and your story.  What we do, where we go, how we live, all the choices we make, are in the hands of the sovereign God.  All the pieces of our lives are precisely planned and placed.

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“For in him we live and move and have our being.”  Acts 17:28 (NKJV)

We were created with a divine purpose.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

God in His sovereignty devised plans for our lives before time began.  Intricately woven within us, God deposited His unique purpose and design.  As our lives unfold, we are interlaced with the rest of creation in a beautiful tapestry, the full spectrum of His aspiration.

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Know this, my friend; God is on His throne.  The situations and circumstances of your life did not come to be without passing through His hands.

You need not question His goodness.  Do not entertain the thought that maybe he is unloving, uninvolved, uncaring, absent, or nonexistent.  He is NOT.

Rather He IS full of compassion.  He cares about every detail of our lives.  He hears our voices when we pray and bends down to listen to us.

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“The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  Psalm 145:8 (NLT)

“Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”  Psalm 116:2 (NLT)

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“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of our lives.”  Psalm 37:23 (NLT)

He is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent.

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God had complete disclosure of Hurricane Harvey.

This storm, which from our natural perspective is a devastating disaster, did not slip accidentally through His mighty hands.

How could, why would, a loving, Omni-all, God allow devastation like Hurricane Harvey?  After all, doesn’t He control the wind and rain?

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If we choose to look through His eye of the storm, we can find beauty in devastation, joy in grief, peace in chaos, growth through struggle, blessing in loss, healing in pain.

“So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”   2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

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God promised never to leave us or forsake us.  We are never abandoned by God.

“…I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.”  Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

God, the mighty God, is also the God of unfailing love.  His might is for our comfort and for our protection.  Through His eye of the storm, find peace in His presence.

He is God when we are surrounded by devastation.    He remains in control.  He is well aware of every detail.  He orchestrated these circumstances to produce the best scenario for your life.  He who is good, is working everything together for good.

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This reality we perceive is only a dim reflection of what is real.

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“Now we see things imperfectly, like reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely.”  1 Corinthians 13: 12 (NLT)

This life is temporary.  This world, these bodies, will one day be transformed.  The earth will be made new, and our bodies will be perfected; made glorified.

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.”   2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”  Isaiah 65:17 (NKJV)

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It’s easy to see the flood and mud, material loss and devastation.  Will you press through the visible; to peer through His eyes?

God’s eyes see these waters washing away portions of this temporary life: a flood of His love over us.  Natural eyes view loss, struggle, and pain.  His eyes gaze upon blessings, growth, and healing.

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God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.  (Isaiah 55:8).

God petitions us to behold the storm from His perspective, look past the visible to the eternal.  He invites us to view Hurricane Harvey through His eye of the storm.

 

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DEEP WATERS

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The house pictured above belongs to me.  This picture was taken 15 hours after we evacuated our house due to these deep waters (a flash flood).

Seven years ago yesterday, I visited the community we now call home for the first time. Chelsea was a senior in high school and her pre- prom festivities were here.

The home we lived in was perfect for our family at one time but we had long since out grown it and were in the process of relocating. God had always provided for us above and beyond our needs but the community we lived in was oppressed from insufficiency, lack and the atmosphere that poverty brings. I believe that oppressed atmosphere was a natural manifestation of a reality of spiritual poverty.

On my visit that day, God planted in my heart a desire for MORE. More in every area of life. More of Jesus, more peace, more life! God used this community that day to inspire me and speak to my heart. It was beauty and life seen in material things that day and the absence of the atmosphere of poverty that God used to demonstrate His desire to lead me into a life of MORE. He planted in me a desire to be free from spiritual poverty. I knew in my spirit it was not about “material things”. God had placed a desire in me that day and I wanted MORE!!

Less than a month later we moved into our new home. Materially it appeared to be so much MORE. Our new house had twice the square footage of our previous home. Still I was completely aware that this was not a material longing. We were on a journey for more of Jesus. I wondered what that was going to look like for me, for our family.

A month or two later, we received notice of a pending lawsuit against the previous owner of our house as well as a document placing a hold on our rights to the ownership of our new home. This began the struggle that transformed us.

During the season of struggle we faced huge financial burdens and loss, unbelievable spiritual warfare, multiple major structural issues surfaced with our house. It began to be hard to see the MORE God had for us. This season continued for exactly 7 years from the day we first visited this community for the first time.

One day during the 6th year of struggle I was praying as I was driving down the road. Lord, I believe you put this desire in me for MORE. I felt like you gave us this house as a blessing. What is going on?

In an instant He gave me an understanding in my heart, this struggle that seems like a curse, the brokenness- because of it you have become MORE. You are more, you have more spiritually.

You have peace that cannot be explained, even when circumstances are not in your favor. You have JOY that cannot be taken away by the circumstances of life. You have MORE life, abundant life. You know Me, MORE, love Me MORE.

You have learned to hear me and obey. You have learned to love people more. You have tremendous blessings because of the struggle.

You have been transformed. You will never go back. Look at how you and your family have grown spiritually.

I brought you here to give you MORE. You knew it wasn’t about material things. Now do you see it? This struggle produced refined lives.

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In my 41 years as a believer, I have grown more in each of the past 7 years individually (because of this house of struggle) than in the other 34 years combined. This struggle matured me and my family. Valuable eternal truths have been instilled in our hearts, through our pursuit of Him, in this season of struggle.

A few months ago I was on a ministry trip with friends. There were 3 of us present in the car this day. We were talking and sharing Jesus stories when one of my friends broke in the middle of the conversation and said, I’m not sure which one of us this is for but I hear God saying, “I’m taking you in to deep waters. Don’t be afraid.”

I am here today in awe of His love for me and all the ways He prepared me for this storm, this flood of His love over me.

Last month as I was praying, I was led to pray for a friend and her family who were on vacation. I felt an urgency to pray for their protection. I prayed against the attempts of the enemy. Then in my mind’s eye, I saw this family inside a bubble. I knew it was a bubble of protection. Momentarily, I thought a bubble is easily penetrated but I felt the Lord say, this bubble represents the Holy Spirit’s presence around them and IS NOT easily penetrated like a bubble in the sense you would think of.

That was the entirety of the what the Lord showed me at that time concerning praying for these friends. It seemed like a partial word and I hesitated to share it but as I hesitated, He nudged me, so I sent a text message sharing the vision of this bubble and my prompting to pray for them.

As my friend responded her words let me know that my prayer was on point. They were experiencing a dream vacation being crushed with delays, difficulty and illness.

I prayed that their trip would turn and it would be a wonderful trip but as I did in my spirit I felt I needed to tell her this, “I know you already know this but even the parts that don’t seem wonderful, like the struggle with travel delays, and illness, God uses all of it. Those things may be a part of His protection as well. So whatever your trip turns out to look like.. God already knew and ordered your steps right to where you are.”

As I shared this with her, the Lord said, “Laura, this word is for you and your family as well.”

Today I am holding on to those words. I am in deep water and it is beautiful! No fear! Today doesn’t look like what I thought it would a month ago but His protection surrounds me like a bubble. So whatever “my trip” turns out to look like, He knew all of this and He ordered my steps right to where I am now.

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I know it sounds crazy but I feel so loved by God BECAUSE OF THIS FLOOD that brought great material loss to me and my family. I feel flooded with God’s love, MORE than I have ever known. Just the thought of it brings me tears but not of sadness, the tears are overwhelming JOY. It can’t be explained. There is a peace in my soul and a joy that floods my emotions.

The Jesus that I sit with during this season, the intimacy with Him is so precious.. I wouldn’t trade it for 10 times all the material things I lost. The life that my children, my husband and I are experiencing; knowing His peace in the storm, tasting JOY that overflows regardless of circumstances, witnessing Christ and His Church be the anointed Savior and the body of believers saving us all: these life experiences are priceless.

 

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I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  Philippians 3:14 NLT

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Knowing Him in the Storm

The past 7 years have been a season of constant struggle, much of which is directly related to our house.

Sunday night as I went to bed I had a huge sense of peace come over me. As I lay my head down on my pillow, I sensed in my spirit, that this was the end of a season.

I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but I felt it was the end of the season of struggle with this house, or at least I had stepped into a new level of resistance to the enemy’s attempts.

Four hours later we were awakened by our daughter, Grace, “ Mom, Dad, wake up the house is flooding.”

Grace had been awake at 3 a.m. reading a school assignment that was due the following day and had heard the water rushing in.

As I stood up beside my bed in ankle deep water, it just made sense. I wasn’t even surprised. It had all been such a struggle and now it was over.  It seemed so final; the ending of this season of hard.

Within 10 minutes the water level was half way up to my knees. We grabbed a few things that make no sense to me today. If your house is flooding, don’t take a clean t-shirt and toothbrush!

Water was rushing through my house like a river. We recognized we had to get out right then.  Water was rising too fast to save anything.

At 3:20 a.m. Monday morning we were barely able to get our cars out of the driveway.  But as we did, we drove away from the brokenness and the struggle and drove into His peace, grace and just knowing His presence, MORE.

Over the past 12 days many have asked, how can you have such peace and joy in the midst of all the loss?

It is hard to describe with words, “Knowing Him in the Storm…”

The best I can do is share the lyrics that I am singing in my heart as I write this…

“Nothing’s better than Your presence.”

“Oh let me drink deep.”

“May my love be poured upon His head, His hands, His feet.”

“I want to know you, Lord.”

“This is why I am alive, to know You, to know You.”

“I don’t want any other lovers, just give me Jesus.”

“Take it all. Take it all.”

“Just give me Jesus.”

“Give me Jesus!”

(Rick Pino)

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Write Every Day Down, November 2015 YOU ARE WITH ME

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Mostly sleepless, last night.  Unsure if it was too much caffeine or just the thoughts wrestling around in my brain.

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You always show up!  When I’m too tired, too sick, weary.  When I know, “Oh, How I need you!”  You are always there.

When I think, “I’ve got this.”  When things are going great.  You never leave me.  Isn’t that what you promised?

For He himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

Today, I am grateful.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

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Feeling under the weather on a Thursday evening but we have a divine appointment.  I dress  for the occasion, praying under my breath.  Lord, I believe this appointment is You.  I am going sick or well.  Give me strength to do it.  Speak through me.  Use me.  Anointing abide with me.

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I feel your Holy Spirit fire burning hotter than the symptoms in my body.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

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Friday and Saturday, definitely not feeling well.  Divine appointments- all my days- Homeschooling, housework, cooking, laundry.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

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Sunday a.m.  Dear friend leading worship.  Divine appointment.  On my own, physically I can’t do it.  But, I know you are asking me to.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

I lean into your strength.  As I press through the veil, your presence washes over me.  Beautiful, the anointing you bring.  Tears of joy flood my eyes.  Peace washes through my soul.  Divine appointment.

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Small group at my house in 3 hours, I arrive home to find the gift, my husband.  Unexpected.  He asks, “How do you turn this thing on?” (the dishwasher)  😉  Divine appointment.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

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I don’t feel like socializing or praying or leading a discussion.  Not in my own strength.

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A group of 14 gather for our divine appointment.  Discussion of Ephesians.  Beautiful the way you direct the conversations, the diversity of the perspectives you have placed within us.  Beautiful!  Refreshing!  Divine appointment.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

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Monday morning accountability.  I’m thinking of cancelling, going to bed, getting over this sickness my body is fighting.

The phone rings, another dear friend, “Can you come for coffee?”

My thoughts, “I’m sick, and need to go to bed.”

My mouth opens and, “Absolutely, yes” comes out instead.

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Wonderful planning and God dreams birthed over coffee and the symptoms in my body bow to our divine appointment.

The text to cancel accountability was never sent and  I am on my way to another appointment with You.

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It is a day for birthing of the dreams, You have placed within our hearts.  Exciting the discussions,  invigorating the prayers and anointing at that table, in the backyard, where you hold us accountable.

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Text messages, phone calls, kids meetings… divine appointments you set up for me.  EVERY.  MOMENT.  IN.  MY.  EVERY.  DAY.

YOU.  ARE.  WITH.  ME.

Fast forward-  Today.. and the mostly sleepless last night.

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Phone call of encouragement with my writer friend who confirms what you already told me to do.  WRITE.  EVERY.  DAY.  DOWN.

TELL.  THEM.  I.  AM.  WITH.  YOU.

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Discipleship

For My Daddy on his birthday.  I miss you Daddy but I know I will see you again!image

I recently heard, these words which permeated my spirit and soul. The words were, “Everything is freaking broken!”

For the record, freaking is not a word I generally use, but for the purpose of this post, it clearly makes the point.

God took those words and used them to illuminate truth in my life.

I live in a broken house. Everywhere I look, things are broken. I’m not just talking about a burned out light bulb or a stain on the rug, a broken air conditioner and a sink that won’t drain. EVERYTHING is freaking broken!

From the cracks in the sidewalk, to the cracks in the walls, to the cracks in the windows, everything is freaking broken. Living in a house that always needs the air conditioner repaired or the well pump replaced feels like constant struggle.

One day a few weeks ago, I was meditating on notes I had taken at a recent leadership conference.  The words that God used to speak to me were “everything is freaking broken”.  It was like those words in my spirit came to life in my soul at that moment.

The world is “freaking broken”, friends! People are going to hell. Do you get that? I now understand He is wanting me to see that spiritually speaking, in this world, apart from Him, “everything is freaking broken”.

God spoke the words in my spirit and gave me understanding in my soul through my physical circumstances.  He has allowed everything to be “freaking broken” to illuminate spiritual truth to me.

It is our commission as disciples of Jesus to rescue others from this “freaking brokenness”!

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The great commission in Matthew 28:19-20 NLT, says,
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

I will be the first admit, even from childhood as a young believer, I’ve known the great commission and recognized it was written as instruction for all believers, everywhere! I believe this was written to me and to you if you are a Christ follower. But how often have I lived it out? How many lost souls have I rescued from an eternity in hell?

My big take away from the leadership conference was my call to discipleship.  I was convicted. God, I do not have passion as I should for the lost.  At that conference, I believe He broke my heart for the lost and for the world where everything is “freaking broken”.

However, throughout the conference I had a question in my spirit as I was experiencing God giving me a new passion for souls, “What about what I have been doing Lord?  I feel I have been pursuing what you have called me to do in teaching, writing, leading and supporting other believers as well as my family and friends.”

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At the end of the conference, there was a time of reflection. We were asked to write out the next three steps God was asking us to take.

So I wrote out #1 and #2 easily. Then #3. As I prayed and reread each step, it seemed to me that my #3 was really just an extension of #2. So I prayed, “God, if that is not my #3, then show me what is.”

I continued in worship and prayer. Then maybe 30 minutes later, as clear as day, I knew what #3 was.

When the speaker was up on stage passionately compelling us with her words, “People are going to hell!”

I was thinking to myself, “I really don’t know people who are going to hell”.

At that moment, God showed me to write out my step #3- “Join or sign up for something secular”.

If I continue to run in my own little Christian circles, I will rarely be in relationship someone who isn’t already a Christian.

“Yes, Lord I will do that. I will expand my borders and intentionally go into the world so that you can show me who to invite into my story.”

I was excited that He had shown me step #3. It was definitely Him, it is not something I would think of doing.

Through my broken house and reflection on this discipleship message , God showed me in a tangible way that, “Everything is freaking broken”.

That is why He is asking me to go into the world. I can feel in my soul what brokenness is like because I have experienced living in broken circumstances in the natural. Truthfully not just the circumstances of a house that needs repair but also real brokenness in my own life.  God magnified the vision of that need to me and gave me understanding to motivate me to do something about it!

Over next few days, as I meditated on the words and the ideas I felt He had instilled in me at the conference, I was reading the great commission. Then He totally illuminated verse 20 to me and answered my question I had asked at the conference, “Lord, what about what I am doing? I felt I was pursuing what you called me to do.”

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Verse 20 says,

“Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭28‬:‭20‬ NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Teach these newer believers!  Be in relationship with other believers.  That is what I do. That is what we do!  That is what He has called me to do. That IS part of discipleship!

I had not missed my primary call, what I do in my everyday circles.  I write, teach, lead and disciple believers that God has entrusted to me, my family, my friends, my small group.

Truthfully, they also disciple me. In relationship, we are able to disciple one another.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭27‬:‭17‬ NLT)‬‬‬‬‬‬

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I was missing the passion needed for verse 19, so God gave me a new passion for reaching the lost. He gave me a tangible way to feel it in my own life through my “everything is freaking broken” house.

I will step out as he gives me opportunity in the “freaking brokenness” of this world and help others find freedom. I will invite them into my story, my circle of relationships, where real discipleship happens.

Discipleship- I’m embracing that word.

It is the new way I’m looking at my old calling and at my “freaking broken everything”!

God help me rescue others from “every freaking broken thing”! Discipleship.

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Seeing the Invisible- Laura Townsend

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, (visible) but at the things which are not seen (invisible). For the things which are seen (visible) are temporary, but the things which are not seen (invisible) are eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV)

 

A couple of weeks ago My Daddy left this earth to live forever with Jesus.

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In this season of loss, my soul longs to write because that is what I do.

Until last night, I couldn’t decide where to begin. So much is going on inside my heart and mind. My chest swells with grief, while my heart overflows with joy in knowing what my head is still trying to wrap itself around- Life and LIFE more abundantly.

Jesus spoke of this in John 10:10, stating it as the whole reason He came to this earth. In the depth of that- I find myself still reeling, trying to pull it all in: THIS REVELATION, in the season I am now living.

…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  (John 10:10 NKJV)

Daddy is now living that abundant LIFE. He is fully alive for the first time, dead to this world but more alive than ever.

Me, I am here on this planet; the one where death still comes to us all.

Living out my life on the earth, I am seeking the abundant life Jesus promised. I feel like my earthly life is blessed, even abundant. I know the life Jesus died for me to have; and so much more in the unseen.

Yet, while I exist here in this human body, I am constantly striving for abundant life, in the life I can see.  But beyond that; to begin to understand what I can’t see with these earthly eyes; the abundant LIFE that Daddy has now completely received.

I think I am now barely beginning to fathom the depths of why Jesus came to this earth.

 

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Nine Weeks before my Daddy met Jesus, I brought him and my mom, Susan to live at my house and begin hospice care. I had sensed fear in Daddy’s voice when we talked on the phone. It became obvious when I had seen him over Christmas that his health had declined to the point that Susan was needing help in caring for him. His inability to breath was causing episodes of panic. My travel to help for a day or two at a time was no longer enough. So on January 25, we moved my Daddy and Susan to my house.  A few days after he came I wrote this last entry in the journal that I kept for him-

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January 30, 2014

Daddy- We moved you to my house a week ago and began hospice care. It is hard to see you struggling to breathe, yet I know that in everything God has a purpose and that His Word tells us to “count it all joy” when we face trials or suffer. In one place I believe it even says that Paul considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ.

Of course, I have no idea of God’s amazing path for your life. I can only imagine and guess at what might be. I do believe that if we are living in His ways that we will find our lives in the center of His will.

I felt a strong desire to bring you and Susan into my home at this point on the path of your life. I hope to surround you and Susan with the peace of God, to practice His presence in my home, to envelope you with the love and support of children, grandchildren, in-laws and friends. I want us to celebrate with you and Susan as we enjoy all the days and nights of your life as we await your healing, whether you receive complete healing here on earth, or the ultimate healing when you leave this body and meet Jesus face to face.

Daddy, don’t lose heart- this pain and suffering is a part of the perfect plan God has for your life and for my life and for Susan’s life and your grandchildren’s lives. God knows what we need. He knows what each person you interact with needs to become the ones He created us to be. Your suffering may bring another person’s salvation- it may save a soul or many from hell. It may be the trial to strengthen your daughter or grandchild to be able to fulfill their God- given purpose. We simply do not know- BUT God does!

I love you Daddy and despite the difficulty and awfulness of this disease you are battling, I enjoy and treasure these days and nights with you here. So today, let’s press in towards God and wait in His presence and goodness all around us; recognize His grace for this moment, rest in His peace and receive His joy, (which cannot be stolen by the circumstances of life).

 

The weeks that followed were tough, some of the most difficult days of my life. There were moments of glory and peace. There were truly wonderful times during those days.

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There were also completely awful moments. It is so easy to get caught up in the life we can see and so difficult to look past the striving to the eternal or unseen.

There are moments I regret my thoughts or actions. For all of that there is grace. His grace is enough, truly all sufficient!

There was suffering and pain, yet not absent of His presence. Even in the suffering we could access His joy. We could know! Do you get that?

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When Jesus is Lord of someone’s life it changes things. There is a knowing. It is an understanding of His sovereignty, which causes all else to fade.

In His presence nothing else matters. Grace. Peace. Rest. Strength. It is all found in Him.

When all around you, life is raging out of control, you can have peace, and even know joy that cannot be taken away by your circumstances. Knowing Jesus in those moments causes the horrible to take on a sense of preciousness. The intimacy with Jesus in the midst of suffering is so sweet, you almost don’t mind that life is raging out of control all around you.

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Being held by the God who spoke the world into existence, you find the strength to get through it. Recognizing that He knows what tomorrow holds and that He designed this plan to bless you; you can embrace the pain and step into the unknown, fully knowing.

So two weeks into this season in my life, the one without my Daddy, I know Him in a deeper sense. He is so faithful! He is always good!

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I look back at the nine weeks that my Daddy lived at my house. I remember thinking I’m not sure I can continue to do this. Thinking, this is too hard. Wondering if my family could survive the suffering. Questioning if God could really be working in us, a far greater eternal weight of glory?

During the most difficult days, enduring the things a daughter hopes to never have to do for a father, I thought that it was a sacrifice on my part, a gift TO my Daddy. After all, I wrote that my intention in bringing Daddy here was to bless him, to spend time with him and enjoy God’s peace and presence with him for however long God had planned.

Today, on the other side, I have so much more than memories. I have seen into the unseen. I have known God’s hand in it all. Daddy did have a wonderful end to his life on this earth, not void of pain and suffering, but because of the pain and suffering.

There is a sweetness, a preciousness, a turn of events in the gifting. What I am left with is a wonderful GIFT not TO my Daddy but TO ME. The gift of selfless love, the gift that I thought was a sacrifice on my part turns out to be an abundance of a GIFT TO ME.

I have a “weight” of Glory residing in my spirit that could only be deposited in me by the Glory giver. It is a heavy sense of His presence that causes me to rest in the knowing. I have seen beyond the visible and touched the glory that words cannot describe. That momentary affliction produced in me and in each member of my family that walked through those days, an eternal weight of glory.

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We are eternally changed. We will never be the same, in the glory kind of way. We are sad that Daddy is no longer with us but overjoyed at his presence with Jesus. It’s a new season. A Glory Season. The Glory is in the invisible.

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“Happy” Thanksgiving- Thanksgiving Happy…Which Comes First The Happy Or The Thanksgiving? Laura Townsend

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Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord , I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NIV)

This scripture keeps appearing before my eyes, popping up randomly in my readings and teachings. It speaks deep inside me each time I hear it or read it. I don’t feel like I am in a place of complete desolation as Habakkuk describes here, however I could view it as such. It’s all a matter of perspective, I think. It seems Habakkuk knew the joy of rejoicing. Whatever may come my way, I will rejoice in God, my Savior

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Today I sit in a waiting room at University Hospital. My daddy is ill. He is in need of a lung transplant. My sister in another state cares for my brother-in-law who has a brain tumor. Other people, I love dearly are suffering from mental illness, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, drug addiction and are poverty stricken. Some of my loved ones are living in the pit mentally, physically and spiritually. One I treasure with all my heart is out of right relationship with God. Within my marriage, my finances, my home, my plans; My life can be difficult and at times disappointing. Regardless of all, today I choose joy. I choose to tread on the heights.

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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 NIV)

In all reality, I am blessed beyond measure. God loves me. He has never failed me. His plan for me is to bless me to give me a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) I can count it all joy as I face trials. (James 1:2)

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…The joy of the Lord is (my) strength. (Nehemiah 8:10 NIV)

I find strength for the day as I rejoice in the Lord. I pull myself up out of bed each morning and I put on a garment of praise. When my heart aches and is weary, I find a sweet rest, a calm for my soul, a kiss on the ache in my heart; in the presence of my God. The sweetness of His presence in the midst of my pain is indescribable. He is greater in every way. Greater than my grief, greater than my disappointments, greater than my struggles, greater than my difficulties, greater than all my pain. As I shift my perspective and focus on His goodness, my life becomes the thing He created it to be. I am blessed.

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The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NIV)

He must become greater; I must become less.’ (John 3:30 NIV)

I find that by choosing joy I can live, truly live in the midst of imperfection. I can have joy in the trial, in the pain. I can experience the awesomeness of my amazing God. I find that choosing to be joyful causes Him to increase in me. As He becomes greater, I become less. I begin to see that it is not about me. It is all about  Him. As I rejoice, I find joy for today that multiplies and overflows. As joy bubbles out, I bring Him glory. I point the way to the only source of true joy. It is a joy that cannot be taken away, (unless I allow it to be stolen). As I live a life of joy in the midst of obvious imperfection I am living the life He intended me to live. I find blessings and peace. God sees me as perfect as I clothe myself with Christ. I have the joy of the Lord on my life. It draws others to the Joy.

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So today, I rejoice. I am blessed, truly grateful. Because of God, I have all I need and more- a family that loves me, a husband to share in this joy journey, 4 wonderful children, a church home that blesses me spiritually with the Word, guidance and friends, a place to call home, plenty of food and clothing and more material belongings than I could ever need. For all of this and much more, God, I am thankful!

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Should all that I give thanks for cease today, I pray I would still choose to rejoice in You! You are Joy.  You are the Happy in the Thanksgiving.

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So from my heart to yours I wish you a Thanksgiving Happy.

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