Saturday, July 4, 2015
As for me, I am usually a woman with many things to say, often asking God moment by moment to help me tame my tongue. Perhaps another blog at another time, I can unwrap my story about the time that my mother made me look up every scripture that had the word tongue, mouth, and any and all synonyms from the Bible and write them out in completion before I could be ungrounded... let's just say that THERE ARE A LOT!
However, when I am sad, upset, or processing pain... you might find me uncharacteristically quiet. I can't tell you the amount of times that I have wished I was more of a chair thrower or wall puncher (I have acted that out a time or two in hopes for the reprieve that I have heard that it offers some)... so sometimes I feel so jumbled up with my emotions that I can't find my way out of the pretzel that I have created in my own mind.
This week has been layer after layer of HARD with a capital H.A.R.D. The last time my family from Alabama visited us, they compared entering our fray to that of a hurricane (a hurricane they enjoyed, but a hurricane none-the-less)... now granted we were celebrating Charis' birthday, preparing for Lacie's ballet recital and coming upon a new series at church as well as Father's Day. That being said, I can't say that it felt much different than a regular week with the Zdrojowys... which is why we strive to take those Sabbaths and go on those family getaways as often as we can.
We are familiar with hard days and even weeks; it almost becomes comical because these things seem such pointless tools of discouragement from the enemy. Our week started out a bit on the comedic hard route... first our television being electrocuted during a storm right before we had decided to have movie night, our refrigerator dying the day following and living out of coolers for multiple days all while hosting 7 out of town guests in our 1400 square foot home (this if of course in addition to the 6 people that live here all the time), Brian's trolling motor completely dying out on the flats all while attempting to take the kids on a daddy fishing date (oh yes and a lost wallet at the movie theatre for a day or two)... those are just a few of the examples of the times when you just "roll with the punches" and while you are saying a dozen or more prayers that God would help you to remain in tact emotionally, you slowly and steadily work toward a resolution... but to be honest, those times still feel somewhat as if we hold the reigns over the next events even if that means freezing all of our accounts, pizza every night and movies via computer.
A broken appliance, a lost wallet or a burnt roast or even more serious moments such as a lost job, a misunderstanding, a failed attempt, a misplaced object, a disagreement... all of these are sure to make you feel unglued at best but these are not the moments that rock you to the core... that make you ask questions you never thought would even enter your mind.
Friday, we received a phone call from my brother-in-law asking us to pray as my sister-in-law had gone in to cardiac arrest in her sleep. In the midst of praying for Rhonda, my sister-in-law, we receive news from Brian's father that his mom's blood levels were down again (what should be a 12 is a 7) and they can't find the source of the bleeding, and even still as Brian has just arrived in Kentucky to be with his brother who is soon to take his wife off of life-support, we receive yet another phone call from Brian's other sister stating that our father-in-law is being rushed to the ER with what we find out later was a stroke.. H.A.R.D.
I don't know how your mind works, but for me... it is a lot easier to see God's plan in the HARD things where we see the solution on the horizon, when we can see the light coming at the end of the tunnel as faint as it may be, when we can understand what God's reasonings might be or how His plan might be unfolding... but this week has left all of us asking a lot of WHY'S...without a lot of answers. And the hard things like all your food spoiling and having to paddle back to shore suddenly don't feel hard in the least bit...
What DO you do with the disappointments you can't control? The pain you DON'T expect? The grief you can't explain? The betrayal you never saw coming? How do you navigate a life that was never birthed or a life taken too soon? How do you process that type of pain?
Even more, how do you process one trial when the next comes faster than you can blink... when you can't process emotion because you can't find the margin to do so...
The answer to these questions truly do come in answering a totally different question first... DO YOU TRUST HIM? DO YOU TRUST EVERY PART OF HIS WORD TO BE TRUTH? It is times like this when we realize that not taking the whole Word of God as God-breathed would cripple us in to a relativistic state of mind where we aren't sure what is up or down and what part we can believe. It is in times like this that we rely on every Word of His BOOK to be God-breathed... this is where we rely on the character of God and the track record that we have established with Him to know that He is not unaware of our pain or suffering, but that He is there right in the center of it all.
I am a processor by nature... all dots have to connect SOME HOW with SOME THING right? This is where the enemy attempts and has succeeded more times than I would like to admit to discourage me... when I can't get my point A to match any line of dots that help me make it to point B through Z. I struggle to find a path of understanding... and left to contend with this struggle on my own leaves me feeling confused, abandoned and full of questions with no answers...
Isaiah 55:8-11 is a beautiful description of how God desires our posture to be towards Him:
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,"
"So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them."
I think we are all still in complete awe of my brother-in-law's response over the phone when my husband attempted to find the words of comfort but words seemed so inadequate... My brother-in-law, Ray, in the center of the storm simply stated, "I don't know why, but God knows and what God does is right."
How can the man who is walking through this unexpected pain have that kind of initial response?
This response is not a result of an overnight commitment to God, but a lifetime. A lifetime of trusting that God is good and that His promises are true... that EVERY promise is true. That even in the darkest night that bleeds over to another darker day that our security is steadfast in the One who spun all things in to motion and is true to His promise. We can trust Him!
But Trust is a Choice! I am still learning and will probably be learning for quite some time... but if we can choose to walk in this trust daily and write His Word on the tablet of our heart so that no lie from the enemy can erase it, we will find that we too can walk in the same Grace that my brother-in-law is walking in... yes, there is great sadness and pain but there is also great comfort, peace and rest that comes in the trusting that we may not understand it all, but WHAT GOD DOES IS RIGHT!
Trusting takes practice. God is always teaching us to trust Him. May we all learn the value of trusting that what God does is right in all of life's smallest moments so when the big ones comes we can say with all certainty and with all conviction... IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
James 4:14 says...
"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
There are often times when it feels that our "time" in our relationships is unending... but just as James 4:14 says... seasons so quickly vanish away.
The past couple of weeks Pastor Brian has been encouraging us as a church to MAKE ROOM in our lives for the vision and mission that God has called us to. When it comes to our children it often feels like we don't have any more space to possibly squeeze in... Family Devotions before bed sound like a great idea in theory until the medlum that is the after dinner, get your pjs on, brush your teeth, please JUST GET IN YOUR BED ALREADY... ensues!
Do you ever lay in bed at night and question whether you did enough, whether you loved enough? The Chatterbox of "NOT ENOUGHT" is loud! One of the ways to silence those negative thoughts is to define what are wins in your home... for YOU!
We will not win every battle (and I don't know that we really want to)... but wins come in all shapes and sizes.
Every family dynamic is different... but I am so often encouraged by others so I thought I would share a little of our list with you. These principles not only work in the home, they apply to leadership and relationships in general.
And of course... JESUS FIRST! Acts 17:28 says that in Him we live and move our have our being... everything that we do is all about living out our purpose and call that God has on our lives, pursuing Him and aligning our lives with the Word of God.
Here are some practical things that we try to make a priority in our home. WAYS THAT WE TRY TO MAKE ROOM. We certainly don't do these things right in our home every day, every time... but we have found if we don't have a goal in mind we certainly won't get where we intended to be. These are in no particular order and certainly not exhaustive of all the things we hold as values but its certainly a good starting point. I encourage you to define your own family values... perhaps you can add some of your own to this list.
1. Answer the question when its hot! They come at the most inconvenient times (Like when the pot is over-boiling or the car is over-heating)... natural questions that may seem insignificant or too big to tackle at the moment. However it is in these natural moments that we can talk through so many of life's biggest "topics" when our little ones are all ears because it was their natural thought pattern that led them to the question...
2. Every challenging moment is an opportunity to grow. We lose it, they lose it... if you live in a house of humans, you are all likely to blow it at some point. (And I Don't mean just your children.) Every time you have the guts to say you are sorry to your children, you earn their respect for a lifetime. When they learn the value of apologizing to you, they will learn a most valuable lesson of fighting that pride that wants to rise inside of us all!
3. Clearly define Values. If we aren't sure of our values... chances are our children are unsure as well.
4. Memorize Scripture. (Yes I know that homework is taxing enough but this is not as hard as it sounds.) Pick a scripture for the month and post it up on your refrigerator. Maybe start with John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Hebrews 11:1. You might be shocked at how much you will reference these scriptures in daily life and these will be tools that your kids will carry for the rest of their lives.
5. Pray Often about all things Big and small. Prayer is simply a conversation, a natural relationship between a Father and His Children. We can teach this by praying for the big things like a family member who is sick or a big project we are nervous about and the little things like for the ambulance that passes on the street, thanking God for our meals and that person that we passed who seemed so sad. Prayer is an all the time conversation that just picks up where it left off earlier in the day.
6. Truth and Honesty Always Triumph. We always say that if you tell the truth, the consequences will be much less severe. Teaching this value at a young age gets kids learning to talk honest when they are young so when they are older and the honesty is a little harder to let out, they will be well practiced.
7. Always Play Our Part. Everyone in the house contributes. I want our kids to know that in whatever environment we are in, our job is to be a part! If someone spills their crayon box, we all jump to help. If someone is still doing a chore and everyone else is finished, we all help the last finish up so we can all relax together. There is never a time to sit down and watch others work, we can all play a part. Four hands are better than two. Many call this current generation a lazy one... I don't think that is true, I just think they may literally be at a loss for how to jump in.
8. Always Teach. Kids are sponges and I am tired. I don't think there is a meal that comes that one of the kiddos is not asking to "help" and having "help" is well, exhausting. We are all shaped this way in life in general... it is often easier to just do the job ourselves knowing it will get done correctly than to take the extra time to teach someone else to do the job. But we can leave such an amazing legacy with all those around us if we can learn the art of always including others.
9. Be Consistent and Follow Through. THIS IS SO HARD. I know that as a kid, I was the QUEEN of wearing my mom down until I got the answer I had hoped for. As much as I hate to admit it, I learned that I could press those buttons and sometimes get what I wanted. Often times, consequences are harder for the parent than the child because we have to follow through with the discipline. Children thrive in boundaries and when they push the boundaries and are brought back to center, they feel safe!
10. Love always! This is not always as easy as it sounds. I make my children often practice speaking words of love to each other by asking them to tell each other five things they love about each other. No matter our personality type or how we naturally express love, we can always practice love... Practice makes perfect! Brian and I practice this with each other as well... because sometimes what we think is "the given" needs to be spoken in tangible words.
11. BE ALL IN THE MOMENT! If you ask a kid what their favorite memory is, often times it isn't the BIG Stuff where we spent the most money, it was the small stuff. Our kids always reference their favorite part of Christmas is sleeping under the Christmas tree... that costs $0 but it is what they remember. The big stuff is important but all the little moments in between are when their world view is really shaped and the values that they will carry in to their families one day.
12. HAVE FUN! Chances are if you are having fun, so is everyone around you!
You are doing an awesome job! Keep up the good work. Together we get to shape the next generation!
Friday, December 5, 2014
God was not taken aback from the sudden "change" of Pharoah's heart. He actually planned it that way.
He planned their exact location, predicament and set of circumstances...
Exodus 14 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
Just as a reminder of the events that have taken place thus far... thousands upon thousands of Israelites had just been miraculously delivered from a 430 year period of slavery under the Egyptians, the Israelites were currently being led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night...
But... when the circumstances reached a pivotal point where there seemed no way out (Pharoah pursuing on one side and the Red Sea on the other) this was the response of the Israelites...
11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
There are times that we, just like the Israelites, find ourselves going through personal fires in our lives and the flames and circumstances will begin to blind us from the truth... our memory begins to fail. We get so hung in the moment that we begin to look back, but our view of the past becomes inaccurate. I love a song written by Sara Groves, Painting Pictures of Egypt. One of my favorite lines is, "I've been painting pictures of Egypt leaving out what it lacks, the future feels so hard and I want to go back."
It seemed the Israelites had forgotten the oppression they had to endure on a daily basis, the physical pain their bodies endured as they were beaten for not reaching their daily quota, the daily cries to God to deliver them... All of this just a few short chapters back.
13 The taskmasters pressed them, saying, “Complete your work quota, your daily amount, just as when you had straw.” 14 Moreover, the foremen of the sons of Israel, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten...
The Isrealites found themselves in a situation that seemed impossible, a set of circumstances that were too heavy for them to bear so they wanted to quit.
If you continue to read through Chapter 14, you can get a front row perspective of God's plan. God intended all along to create the perfect plot that would bring Himself the greatest amount of glory. God knew that in the future that these people would look back on this moment and remember His faithfulness. God was creating a track record with the people of Israel that He was a God that could be trusted. Even when the Israelites doubted, God was still doing the miraculous.
God is not taken aback by the circumstances that we are facing today. God already has provisions in mind for our deliverance... but the only way out is by moving forward!
He is for You and He is with You and He will make a way out! HE IS A GOD THAT CAN BE TRUSTED!
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
27Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
The truth is that words are just that, words... facts, figures, statistics that calculate in to a religion of some form or shape, but what is Jesus to you?
Jesus came to build a bridge between us and God. We can have a personal relationship with Him! When we encounter that Jesus personally, you will never be the same! Those words will suddenly spring to life off of a page.
So where do you start? The Bible lays it out so simply! The only way to God is through Jesus. Believe that He is real, Confess your need for Him, and Trust Him with your life. (Romans 10:9)
Jesus came to earth for You so that you could have life and life abundantly (John 10:10)... That can't be described in a Wikipedia article but with a personal encounter! Will you trust Him with your life today?