Songs

Come What May -by Lindy Conant

In death and life, I follow you
In every season, this be true
Cause I chose this path and I made this vow
And i will never turn around
Nothing can hold me back from your love
I’m following you Jesus
Whatever may come my way
To live in Christ, to die is gain
I give it all for love’s true name
It brands my heart and now I will rise
To bear the name of Jesus Christ
Come what may, I will obey
‘Cause I find my joy in bringing You praise
God, whatever man may say
I stand on promises I know my God has made
With no regrets in me, my lips will praise Your name
And though the earth gives way, I will not be afraid
‘Cause You are the Lord of Lords, You open every door
You stand in victory and now my heart is Yours
I will trust in You, God, and I will not be moved
When persecution comes, I choose to stand with You
Come what may, I will obey
‘Cause I find my joy in bringing You praise.
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When life steals your normal…

2016 has been a less than stellar year for me. With the exception and blessing of purchasing our new home, it seems like many many other things have happened that I am anxious to file away in the distant memories of past tense.

I’ve grieved more loss in the last short few months than I have over the course of my entire life, with the loss of my Uncle David, the loss of my friend’s son, the loss of my aunt’s marriage.

We’ve struggled though many doctors appointments early this last spring trying to decipher if I had an extremely rare form of breast cancer (which many scans and tests later determined I did not – Praise Jesus!) — only to struggle through several more appointments later this spring when we realized our new pregnancy was ending in miscarriage. 

I have not been super open about the miscarriage we had in May, not in a malicious way, but more so because I really just haven’t had a lot of time to process the events of this year, and it was just queued waiting in the backlog of my mind.

And before I had time to process our own intimate loss of a baby, we yet again were faced with trial in our own marriage, and realizing it was needing some “rehab” and reshaping to be on a truly solid foundation.

So here we are halfway through the year, and I find myself anxiously awaiting the passage of the rest of it. Like let’s just write off this year in the proverbial books, and cut our losses – for.real.

Maybe because I’ve never experienced grief, and then experienced so much so close together, my heart and mind have just been on circuitry overload – not sure. But slowly I’ve been funneling and sifting through each emotion tied to each event, wondering if “normal” will ever be something I experience again.

Early in the spring of this year I could feel God priming my spirit that He was going to grow my faith. He kept reminding me that faith is a muscle that must be flexed and exercised. In that time, I thought He was merely going to test us financially (which He has) – I was not attuned to just how in depth this building process was going to be.

What is Faith? Hebrews says faith is the evidence of things unseen, and the confidence of things hoped for. Faith is believing even when we don’t see. Faith is knowing it’s all going to be okay while you’re still waiting on the lifeline. Faith is rooted in trust. Trust in God. Trust that He is who He says He is, and He will do what he has promised.

So what is trust? I’ve started a new book called “Uninvited” – and in the book the author describes trust like the air. It’s there – but can you draw a picture of it? Does it have a clear definition? (Not literally all you webster’s- but metaphorically – what does trust look like?)

This begged the question in my spirit – do I trust God? I say I have faith – but do I trust my faith? Do I trust that God is good?

For me trust then ties to control. Oh control…

I started to imagine life like a road trip with a destination. I’m a tourist. I know where I want to go. I’ve picked -my- route. I know all the turns that -I- am supposed to make on paper. I have it all mapped out. I know how long it should take and I know my expected arrival time (which we all know is really just the time to beat – ha!).

So then what happens to this perfect plan when an accident blocks a road, or I’m faced with a detour, or the road just plain sucks because it’s covered in potholes.

How many times have I done this in my own life? How many times have I mapped it all out perfectly and then presented my plan to God not asking for amendments but simply asking His sign off with a blessing and to send me on MY way with MY plan?

I spend so much time chasing the chaos surrounded by needing control, that I forget the sweet simplicity that surrender brings. 

What if I really give control to God? The intricate creator of the universe. He who knows the ins and outs of my life from beginning to end. The one who doesn’t need a map to navigate. The one who isn’t flustered by the detour because He knew there was roadwork there and is familiar with the area, and already had a plan and forethought to get us around to the destination?

Maybe I’ve lost some of you. My mind gives me some weird analogies, but hey, they work for me.

In the same book the author gives a story of how she was shopping one day and everyone in the store was going about their day when all of the sudden a woman runs out of the store screaming. A man had just snatched her purse. Snatched everything she had and took off. Suddenly her life was wildly rocked. Her “normal” as she knew it was robbed. 

This begged me to think of the times when in life we are robbed of “normal”. We don’t see it coming. We are living content and happy, and BAM! The rug is pulled out from beneath us, and we are just scrambling to fit the pieces back together into some semblance of what was and what makes sense to us.

We don’t want to forge this new path. We don’t want to rearrange our travel to get to our destination. We had a plan. We had it all mapped out…

So in reading her analogy I realized that’s where my life has been this year. With each blow struck in my life I’ve tried to rearrange it all into some kind of normal, some kind of box that all makes sense to ME and MY plan for my life. All the while repeating that I have faith. 

I do. I have faith. I believe Jesus died on the cross to save a world condemned in sin. I have faith that God is ever present and constant in His workings. I have faith in God.

But do I trust Him? This year, has my heart really trusted in the fact that HIS plan is greater than my own? Does my heart trust that through loss and grief there is goodness? Do I trust Him enough to let go of my need for “normal”? Do I trust Him enough to rest? To rest in the chaos of the circumstances? To rest when the rest of the world is spinning?

Again in this book the author talks about living your life out each day based on three truths: 

  1. GOD IS GOOD. 
  2. GOD IS GOOD TO ME. 
  3. GOD IS GOOD AT BEING GOD.

Do I trust God is good? Do I trust He is good to me even when it doesn’t feel good? Even when my heart rips and my soul hurts? When my eyes are dry and puffy because the tears won’t flow anymore. Do I TRUST that He is good at being HIM? That the intricate creator of the universe sees the beginning and the end of my life, my circumstances, holds it together, and is so much better at navigating this life and world than me? 

It’s easy to trust a situation with a predictable outcome. But that’s just the thing (that this year alone has proved) -we can plan and plan and plan and make more plans- but life is unpredictable. It’s messy. And sometimes it’s just plain messed up.

BUT GOD.

But God is still good. God is still good to me. God is good at being God.

I’ve spent most of my summer searching for my WHY? Doesn’t every season have a why? Yes and no. Maybe it does. Maybe it’s abundantly clear. Maybe sometimes we aren’t graced with a why in this life. Why did we lose our baby? Why did our marriage have to go through trial? Why have my friends and loved ones around me suffered so much loss?

But God is teaching me it’s not about the WHY. Why doesn’t always make something better. Why doesn’t change the circumstances. Why doesn’t undo the hurt and pain.

BUT GOD.

But God calls us to lean not on our own understanding. DON’T LEAN ON THE WHY’S – LEAN ON HIM. 

Going through our medical issues this spring has completely depleted our finances and resources. BUT GOD is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God. He will provide.

We lost our baby despite praying for healing and health. Three couples close to us have announced their pregnancies all healthy and due around the time I would have been. BUT GOD is good. God is still good to me. God is good at being God. He will bless us and has already immensely blessed us with our daughter.

Our marriage had to be broken and the foundation repoured. BUT GOD is good. God is good to me. God is good at being God. Why build a skyscraper on a flawed foundation?

At RUSH camp this past June, Pastor Brian (our senior pastor at West Ridge Church)  spoke to our students and student leaders about the character of God saying:

  • God loves people.
  • God is completely trustworthy, therefore everything He says is true.
  • God does not change.
  • God is enough.

We apply these truths to our life in this way:

  • Because God loves people, He loves me, and He loves me unconditionally.
  • Because God is completely trustworthy, I can trust Him completely.
  • Because God doesn’t change, His feelings about me will never change, and He will never leave me.
  • Because God is enough, everything I need is found in Christ.

I may not have the answers – the why – the perfect explanation for each thing that has happened over the course of this year, BUT GOD is good.

With each passing event I know more confidently and surely than ever that my hope, faith, and TRUST are in Him alone. Because let’s face it – I don’t know what’s coming next. I don’t know what turns are ahead. But I know who holds me. I know who loves me. And I know that God is good. God is good to me. And God is good at being God.

And while there are many things of 2016 I am eagerly awaiting “archival” of – I can equally rest in this season that my hope and confidence are re-anchored and secured in the creator who knows and loves me, and is holding my life.

LIfe / Motherhood, Uncategorized

Breaking Ground

[[Re-Post from 2010]]

Four years ago this summer, I experienced God in a way I never had before. His power, His Love, His grace- just an overwhelming abundance of His presence.
Throughout my life, but especially in these four years, God has been dealing with my spirit. Purging what does not belong, and tugging with me. Fighting my stubbornness, my reluctance to change and let go of control, and my will to do things my own way.

For the past few months, the motto of my life has been, “it’s a process.” Everything is a process. We don’t just wake up one morning with all of our troubles solved and worked through. It takes time. Life, and all of its moments happen over time.

I think the question I ask most in all aspects of my life is “why.” Growing up, my dad and my Uncle David told me to never stop asking questions. To never stop asking why. I’m not sure they expected or thought I would take it to heart so well and so literally. But I find myself continually questioning God as well. Why God? Why am I going through this? Why do I have to bear this? Why?

In that summer 4 years ago, God placed a vision in my heart. More like a metaphor.

In that moment of sincere worship and deep prayer, I was feeling so broken. Feeling so forgotten. Feeling hopeless. Thinking that surely I was the only one wandering around struggling with these thoughts. And I just prayed. “Why God? Why do I feel pain and sorrow in my heart? I know You have great things for me planned- why must I go through pain first?”

As I prayed to Him, the image of dirt came across my mind. A barren field of dirt. In the middle of this dirt field, there was a shovel standing in the ground. And God began to speak to my heart. I saw the shovel begin to crack the hardened surface, digging up the dry and broken pieces. Soon there were tractors cultivating this dry and empty field. Turning up deep, rich, fresh soil.

Then the workers began to pour concrete. Smoothing out a concrete slab. Soon there were beams forming structure on top of this concrete slab. Layer by layer, this beautiful building, beautiful work was being built to perfection.

When it was finished, it stood tall and proud. And God spoke to my heart, “Before any great work can be built, the ground must first be -broken- and prepared.”

I realized that a lot of times when we feel like we are suffering, hurting, in pain, in sorrow, in darkness, that these are the times that God is preparing His great works in our hearts. This is God breaking ground in us to begin and build something great.

If something does not have a good and strong foundation, it can not last. A building with a flawed foundation will fall.

God spends time working and perfecting our foundation in Him. We can not succeed without a solid foundation in Him. We can not stand. Sometimes God must break us (of our lives, habits, routines, strong holds…) to make us stronger and more stable. He allows us to go through trials, storms, and pain to build our faith and firm foundation.

It is in this faith, this foundation, that He builds His church. Once we have -that- foundation in our life, God can slowly begin to layer his blessings and promises, building His great work in our lives.

I am posting this not only for me, but as an encouragement to others who may be in a similar way. Maybe some of you are hurting, broken, and just feeling hopeless, stuck, or struck down. Be encouraged!

Just remember that God allows us to be broken to build a foundation of faith. “Before any great work can be built, the ground must first be broken and prepared.”

God is building a work in you. He is preparing the ground and foundation in you to build something new and wonderful. Hold on in these troubled times, hold on when you are broken. Be encouraged! New life is coming. New growth and prosperity. God’s work is in progress. You are under construction… But the end will be beautiful!

LIfe / Motherhood, Marriage, Uncategorized

Marriage

Handy Housewife Design

A wedding is a celebration, a gathering, a party. And while I had a beautiful, fun wedding, a wedding is never what I was after. A marriage is a promise. A covenant. A lifelong journey and commitment. It’s knowing that life won’t always be easy, or happy, or perfect together, but that as long as you’re together, you’ll be okay. Many people want the wedding, the good times, the laughter, the fun, and they want to quit when those things don’t always flow as freely. Many people focus on the wedding and not the marriage. But through God, marriage is a beautiful display of what real love is. Love is messy. But God’s love for us and through us is patient, kind, unenvious, unboastful, honorable, selfless, slow to anger, not holding onto wrong doing, dismissing evil, and rejoicing in truth. God’s love always protects, trusts, hopes. God’s love never fails…

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Shop Small

Each and every holiday season, the commercials, advertisements, and decorations seem to come out earlier and earlier.

We can barely get past Halloween, or through Thanksgiving before the big box retailers, and online mega-players begin pushing for us to spend our “holiday dollars” in their shops, and on their mass produced products.

Do you ever feel the frustration of Charlie Brown in this season – When did it all become so commercial and manufactured?

If you’re like me – you’re tired of the “stuff”. The generic, “stuff” that you’re probably buying on impulse off of some end-cap only to find it collecting dust in your house not even a few months later. Where’s the meaning? The thought in it? Where’s the uniqueness? Gifts should have an extraordinary amount of time, effort, and thought put into them.

As I’ve mentioned before, several of my family members are incredible talented in handmade/homemade goods and items – a few of them even own small businesses.

For the past three years, we have done “homemade Christmas”. What ever you give, do, make – it’s from the heart – not store bought. My brother recorded an album of songs he played on the piano – may aunts and I sewed pillows, and blankets. My grandparents made baked goods. These are the unique things that create memories.

Now I realize not everyone was born with the “crafty” thumb – but everyone can have a creative thought process when shopping.

In 2010, American Express started their “Shop Small” campaign – specifically labeling “Small Business Saturday” (the saturday after black friday) as the day to patronize your local boutiques and shops INSTEAD of the big box mega retailers.

Discover the uniqueness and whimsy of your local storefronts to find something truly unique and personalized for the holiday season.

For those who are unable to get out and shop small locally – here’s a broader way to still support small businesses – it’s the miracle of ETSY!

Etsy is home to thousands of local and distant handmade shop owners offering the perfect unique and individualized gift to make every occasion personalized.

If you’re like me – and you want to support local and small business owners you can go to https://shopsmallneighborhoods.americanexpress.com/ to express your support and share the word on social media!

Also, stay tuned as I feature some of the unique and awesome ETSY shops I have stumbled across — and their unique gifts (all of which can be found for UNDER $20!)

SHOP SMALL america!

~The Handy Housewife

LIfe / Motherhood, Uncategorized

Count it as joy – Count it as a blessing

My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. — James 1: 2-4 (NCV)

This passage has always stuck out to me. I speak it to those around me for encouragement, and I find myself circling back to it when my life feels shaky and unsure. No one likes to feel out of control. No one likes to feel like their life isn’t adding up.

I think what makes it so hard, is that we aren’t always expecting the moments when it happens. God doesn’t always warn us by saying “Hey, I’m testing your faith” — He deliberately puts us in situations to grow us and strengthen us, but to also expose weakness and vulnerability for us to work on.

Sometimes God has to strip us down, make us raw, and turn us inside out~ because what HE wants, and what HE has planned is better than all that’s inside of us, and all that makes sense to us.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” — John 15: 1-8

Lately, I feel like God has really brought out the hedge clippers in my life. He is definitely pruning me and my faith. And I wish I could say that it’s an easy process, and everything is wonderful ~~ but being plucked, trimmed, shaped and molded is not the most comfortable place to be in life.

Just like the vines in the vineyard, the dead and dry places in our life must be removed or revived. There are places in our life that are holding us back, and must be removed so that we can truly achieve our full potential in Christ. And then there are things we have in our life that are just “okay”, “fine”, “”that’ll do”, that God wants and commands excellence in.

God wants us to excel, He wants to show His glory through us. He cares for us enough to not let dead branches and vines encroach our lives, and potential. He loves us enough to tear through those ugly areas to make us beautiful.

So how are we supposed to find JOY? The joy is in knowing that God is never finished with His work in us. That when we are feeling these pokes, pricks, and sometimes huge gashes in our hearts and spirits, that God is working and moving. Because he feels that me, YOU, we, are worth the work, and that our worth is greater than where our lives are now.

Does that mean that it hurts any less? No. It sucks… Being honest. It’s hard! Being in this process now, it’s a struggle at times~ But I know I can lean on the One who created me, and is shaping me, knowing that HE has the master vision of my life’s design. And I can have hope and joy, and peace, knowing that when this process is finished, His glory will shine brighter through me than before -(because all those dead branches aren’t blocking the view anymore!)

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The pathway is …

The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear
And I don’t know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I’m gonna walk through the valley if You want me to

‘Cause I’m not who I was when I took my first step
And I’m clinging to the promise You’re not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will go through the fire if You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that’s not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I’d never go alone

So when the whole world turns against me and I’m all by myself
And I can’t hear You answer my cries for help
I’ll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness if You want me to

When I cross over Jordan, I’m gonna sing, gonna shout
I’m gonna look into Your eyes and see, You never let me down
So take me on the pathway that will lead me home to You
And I will walk through the valley if You want me to
Yes, I will walk through the valley if You want me to

“If you want me to” – Ginny Owens