10.31.2016

Dennis - Micah - DYSLEXIA.

On Saturday, our entire family was up and dressed and climbing into our van at 7:30 in the morning to attend the "Help Me Understand: Walking a Mile in the Shoes of a Student with Special Needs" presentation given by our fearless leader.
We arrived to find tables set up with real linens, a continental breakfast buffet prepared, and a group of cheerful people ready to learn what it is like to live with learning needs 24 hours a day.
What a great way to begin an event!

I knew Dennis would deliver a fantastic presentation because he is an excellent speaker and teacher, and he exceeded my expectation! Even better, he asked Micah to share his personal testimony about living with learning needs. Two perspectives. That of an educator, and that of a student. A perfect combination.
My heart was full, and I was reminded how purposeful the Lord was in placing us together as a family. I do not understand their world, though I have studied and researched and tried to see life through their lens. Until you LIVE it, you cannot fully understand it. But Dennis and Micah get it - they understand the struggles and the frustrations - they speak the same language, and the Lord knew they needed each other.
And He knew they needed me.
I still have much to learn, and more empathy to gain, but I am trying. And I will never stop.

I asked Micah if I could share his testimony so other parents/students might find encouragement through his story, and he said, "Yes! Of course you can, Mom!"
So - here it is.
We had no idea what Micah needed when he was little, but the Lord opened our eyes exactly when we needed to see ... and He has been faithful to teach, prepare, encourage, rebuke, and support us ever since. There have been difficult days, regrets, sorrow, and days we felt like we failed him in every way, but the Lord reminds us time and again that He created Micah "fearfully and wonderfully," He is the one who fills in the gaps we leave behind, and He will never stop working on our son until He has completed His work in him. Micah's future is secure because He belongs to an amazing God who has Kingdom plans for his life.
Praise the Lord for such a promise!

                                 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greetings one and all. My name is Micah Eastman and I have dyslexia and mild A.D.H.D.

I remember there was once a time that I dreaded to pick up a pencil. There was a time when I felt I would never amount to anything in life because I thought everyone else was brighter than I was. Even today, a single math problem might as well be an attack on Bunker hill.

When I was around the age of 7, I spent the week with some friends when my mom was sick. They were still in the midst of their school year so I went to their private school for the equivalent of a week, and to this day I still consider it one of the most humiliating experiences of my life.

I was placed in the third-grade class where they were discussing things I had not learned yet. In my mind, they might as well have been splitting the atom. I blankly stared at the worksheet pages as tears of frustration welled in my eyes. Accepting the fact that I could not do the homework, I would sit and bounce my knees to the timing of the very annoying ticking clock above the door. They handed me a Sonic the Hedgehog video game from McDonald's and told me to just sit off to the side and listen to their interactive conversations. In fact, it was that moment that my self-confidence began to drop.

Reading was no easier. I would sit for an hour reading a “See Tom Run” book while my mom patiently waited for me to finish, and I would begin to cry during every writing assignment because I could not connect the pen to my brain. My mom continued to push me to be proficient in reading and math, while in the back of her mind she was probably wondering “What in the world could be wrong?” My speech was quite loquacious, leading my mom to believe that I was being lazy.

Starting at the age of six, my only outlet was music. My dad owned an extensive collection of music ranging from the early 60's till the late 80's and quite frankly I could not get enough of it. While holding a Leap pad Learning System, I hummed along to “Help” by the Beatles and “Won’t get Fooled Again” by the Who. I am grateful that my dad forgot to put away his CDs that day because if he had, I have a feeling I would not be the musician I am today. My love for music grew as I learned how to play guitar and drums, giving me a chance to thrive on my creativity as it was the one thing that I was naturally good at. When I play drums, it is the only time I feel free. There is no criticism, no shame. Later in my teens, I discovered the fantastic lyrical art of rapping and hip hop which allowed me to encase my emotion into poetic banter.

When I was 9, my brother Caleb was tested for severe dyslexia and we discovered why I was struggling. I was diagnosed with dyslexia as well. Actually, five of the six of us children are dyslexic, which is not surprising since it is genetic.

I always excelled in anything historical but my educational prowess ended there. It was during my U.S. history class, taught by my enthusiastic father, that I discovered a small enjoyment for writing. I also took a creative IEW class that discussed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and one of my assignments was to portray a child trying to survive the London Air Raids. It was at that moment I realized I could finally make something of this thing called writing. The assignment was supposed to be four pages long, but I created what I thought was a nine-page masterpiece instead. As I continued to write music and get my thoughts on paper, the more I fell in love with writing, even though as a child I would have rather eaten liver than write one sentence.

From then on I began not only to write my own music, but movies, stories, and sports stories that mimicked that of Sports Illustrated. Now I am currently chasing the dream of being a professional musician or sports columnist.

The Lord has used my dyslexia for good even though I used to think of it as a curse. School is still very hard for me. What takes an hour for one student takes me two or three hours, but he Lord is teaching me patience and perseverance through dyslexia, and I’ve come to consider it a privilege.

Thank you for letting me share with you.

10.25.2016

Little book. Big impact.

I finally finished this little book.
It did not take so long because it is a difficult read, but because it deserves focused attention.

143 pages of truth - reality - and encouragement for the heart and mind desperately looking for peace.

The last chapter is the perfect capstone to the book.
I share some of it here.
(Every quote was written or spoken by Charles Spurgeon.)
                 
             ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Chapter 12: The Benefits of Sorrow
"To be cast down is often the best thing that could happen to us."

Six years prior to his death, as he looked back over his life, he startles us with his perspective regarding the use of suffering to do good in life.
"I am sure that I have run more swiftly with a lame leg than I ever did with a sound one. I am certain that I have seen more in the dark than I ever saw in the light, - more stars, most certainly, - more things in heaven if fewer things on earth. The anvil, the fire, and the hammer, are the making of us; we do not get fashioned much by anything else. That heavy hammer falling on us helps to shape us; therefore let affliction and trouble and trial come."

Sorrows enable us to better receive blessings. 
"This very casting down in the dust sometimes enables the Christian to bear a blessing from God which he could not have carried if he had been standing upright."

Sorrows shed our pretenses.
"When this downcasting comes, it gets us to work at self-realization ... When your house has been made to shake, it has caused you to see whether it was founded upon a rock."

Sorrow exposes and roots out our pride.
"We are very apt to grow too big. It is a good thing for us to be taken down a notch or two. We sometimes rise too high, in our own estimation, that unless the Lord took away some of our joy, we should be utterly destroyed by pride."

Sorrow teaches us empathy for one another.
"If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others ..."

Sorrows allow small kindnesses to loom large.
"You know, dear brothers and sisters, how a little act of kindness will lift us when we are very low in spirit ... even a tender look from a child will help to remove our depression."

"It may be, that you suffer from a mental sickness in the form of depression of spirit. Things look very dark, and your heart is very heavy ... When life is like a foggy day - when providence is cloudy and stormy, and you are caught in a hurricane ... When your soul is exceedingly sorrowful, and you are bruised as a cluster trodden in the wine-press, yet cling close to God, and never let go of your reverent fear of Him. However exceptional and unusual may be your trial, yet, with Job whisper these words, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him."

                           ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love the last line of the book.
The sun may not rise for a few hours yet. But here amid the waiting hours, the sorrowing have a Savior.

What a beautiful truth.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
Surely He has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows; ... Isaiah 53

Thank You, Father, that no matter how low we fall, You are there to lift us up over and over again as many times as we need You because You PROMISE You will never leave us or forsake us. What a precious, precious truth we can cling to when it feels like the light will never break through the darkness. But the light always breaks through, because YOU are the light of the world. You understand our grief, You have felt our pain and experienced our sorrows. And You love us. Oh, how much You LOVE US! Thank You, Father. You are so good to us. And You are all we need.

10.24.2016

Now what?

Have you ever sat in church feeling like the entire message was written for you?
The topic, the passage of Scripture, the keywords of the outline, the illustrations ... each one hitting the target drawn on your heart?
Yesterday was that day for me.
We had a guest pastor filling our pulpit while our shepherd was away.
He is a tender, thoughtful, godly man who possesses a superb ability to craft sentences and create word pictures that draw you into the center of his message in a tangible way. You feel like you are THERE - standing next to Jesus as He heals a blind man, raises a child from the dead, and gives new life to a woman who has been suffering from sickness and isolation for twelve years.
I had no idea what the Lord had planned for me when I walked into the sanctuary Sunday morning. I entered with a light heart, and I left with a tear-stained face and sense of wonder at the incredible timing of a God who knows what we need long before we do.

It has been a long time since I wept silently through a sermon. I did not even try to stop the tears. I let them roll freely down my cheeks because - I needed to feel. I needed to embrace the truth that was pouring into my heart and mind through the words of a man who so clearly loves God, and people.

His passage: Mark 5:21-34
The story of the woman who suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years and followed Jesus just so she could touch His robe - and find healing.

Friends!
I have read this passage and heard this sermon a dozen times or more, but never like this.
Never have I wept for this woman. Never have I felt her pain. Her sorrow. Her loneliness and isolation. Never have I noticed the tenderness of Jesus' words when He speaks to her. I never saw HER.
Until yesterday.

I am going to pause in my personal reflection for a moment and insert my notes from the sermon.

                                      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Woman:
- separated from everyone because she was "unclean" according to Levitical law
- she cannot worship in the temple with God's people
- everyone knows of her ailment because she is 'unclean' and, because of the type of sickness, assumptions are made, gossip is spread, shame cloaks her
CAN YOU SEE HER?
- 12 years of isolation
- 12 years of bleeding, most likely anemic, exhausted, shamed, rejected, never touched - forgotten and ignored
CAN YOU SEE HER?

But then ---> She hears of this man - Jesus of Nazareth
He has healed a demon-possessed man. He has healed a leper - another untouchable - just like her.
Maybe he can heal her too? No one else could help her, but maybe this man would be different.
She went after Him - pressed in with the crowd surrounding Him - seeking only to touch His robe. (She was willing to put all of her hope in a piece of cloth!!!!!!!)
She touches Him and INSTANTLY her body is healed.
Jesus felt His power leave His body - stops - asks, "Who touched me?"
The beauty of this question: He knew who touched Him. Jesus SAW HER. He knew her suffering. And He called her "daughter." Affectionate, personal - intimate. How long had she waited for such tenderness?

Why do you do what you do?
Why do you invest in others?

-------> Because of people like her - and a Savior like HIM. <--------

Hopeless - Hurting - Helpless people need to know they MATTER. To the Lord. And to us.

We give our all to others - because God gives His all to us.

Jesus
- there was a lot of need
- He was surrounded by a multitude ... hundreds, if not thousands of people

BUT ---> the woman was not lost to Him! HE SAW HER!!!
Jesus is Savior to ALL - and He notices, serves, and ministers, to the ONE.
She was "no one," but she was everything in that moment. He knew her - He saw her - He stopped for her.
Jesus accommodated the ONE.
Jesus is a Savior who can do what no one else can.
He heals the hopeless - the helpless - the hurting.
He heals and He SAVES.
                                       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If I am honest, I see myself in the woman. Not all of me, but the Michelle of my past.
I see her in the women who sit on my couch broken and weeping over deep wounds and thick scars.
I see her in the babies and children who cry themselves to sleep each night because they have no one to hold them.
I see her in the addict who hides and isolates himself because of his shame.
I SEE HER. Everywhere. And my heart breaks for her.

The tears that rolled down my cheeks on Sunday represented deep sorrow for the intense loneliness and pain that envelops so many, but the tears told another story too. "You have a job to do, Michelle!"
The Lord is giving me an increased passion for those who are neglected, rejected, and forgotten. It is growing at an intense rate, and I have absolutely no desire to stop it.
There are hundreds, thousands, millions of people drowning ... and there just isn't enough rope.
BUT ---> my God is SAVIOR of ALL.
And He sees,
He ministers to,
and He heals
the ONE.

Why do you do what you do, Michelle?
Why do you invest in others?
Because of people like her - they are everywhere.
And because a Savior like HIM. He is ALL in ALL!

Lord, thank You! I was profoundly affected by the message You chose to speak through Your faithful servant. I was surprised by the intensity of my emotion, but I was not afraid of it. You are creating a new heart in me, a heart full of passion and drive, and though I have no idea what You are doing, I am willing to find out - and follow where You lead. Prepare me, Lord. I know I am not ready. I still try to wiggle off the altar instead of lying still in quiet surrender, and I'm sorry. I am a willing vessel, Lord. I just have a lot of cracks. Seal them and strengthen me so I can be the woman I need to be to obey You and lovingly serve others. Brokenness surrounds me, Lord. I cannot just walk by and pretend I don't see it. The brokenness cloaks human hearts who need to be seen, touched, accepted, and loved. LET ME SEE THEM, LORD. Let me see them. And then show me what to do next.

10.23.2016

Quote. Humility.

One of the hardest things about humbling ourselves before a holy God is the fact that 
humility requires dying to self,
while our sin nature seeks to preserve self.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11

10.21.2016

Quote. Character.

What a man does when he is taken off guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is. 
~ C. S. Lewis 

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 
Luke 6:45

10.20.2016

What am I waiting for?

This is one of my favorite views in our home. A sweet little corner right in between the family room  and kitchen. I read this verse dozens of times each day.
It is our family verse.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8


I memorized it when I was in high school as a worship song, and have always loved the power of the command and the beauty of the words.

For the past couple of weeks, I have found myself meditating on those beautiful words in a way I never have before. It is the phrase "walk humbly with your God" that plays over and over in my mind. What does that mean? What does walking humbly with God really look like?

I decided to do a simple word study and began by looking up the main words of the verse in the dictionary. 
I did not want the biblical definitions - just the generic version of each one.

Justly
1.  in a just manner; in conformity to law, justice, or propriety; by right; honestly; fairly; accurately.

Mercy
1.  compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; also: lenient or compassionate treatment
2.  a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
3.  compassionate treatment of those in distress

Walk
a : to move along on foot : advance by steps 
b : to come or go easily or readily 
c : to go on foot for exercise or pleasure

Humbly
1.  not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
2.  reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission
3.  ranking low in a hierarchy or scale

Even without a biblical lens, these definitions provide an accurate picture of what God requires of His children. I especially like the word "walk." We all know what the word means, but sometimes it is the simple thing that makes the most impact. For me to "walk with God" I must MOVE. And not just any kind of movement - forward movement. Advancing. Easily and readily. For exercise or pleasure. I love that! Walking is a choice - a willful action. And because He commands it, "what the Lord requires of you," it is not an option. Forward movement with the God who created the universe ... what an honor, what a joy!

There is one more word that must be defined. The most important word: God.
The dictionary does not - and cannot - define our God, so I did not even bother opening one. Scripture is the only resource we need to identify, define, know, and understand our God.
So. Are you ready?
Look at THIS!

God
“Behold your God!
Behold, the Lord God comes with might,
    and His arm rules for Him.
He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
    He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
    and gently lead those that are with young.
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand
    and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
    and weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
    or what man shows Him his counsel?
Whom did He consult,
    and who made Him understand?
Who taught Him the path of justice,
    and taught Him knowledge,
    and showed Him the way of understanding?
To whom then will you liken God,
    or what likeness compare with Him?
Do you not know? Do you not hear?
    Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
    and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
    and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
    and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.
'To whom then will you compare Me,
    that I should be like Him?' says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name;
by the greatness of His might
    and because He is strong in power, not one is missing.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    His understanding is unsearchable." Isaiah 40

Isn't that a fanTAStic passage?

If that is my God ... if He is that powerful ... that gentle ... that majestic ... that trustworthy ...
why do I ever fear?
Why do I doubt Him?
Why do I question His ways?
Why do I allow the trails and tribulations of this world to defeat me and drag me down into despondency and despair?
Behold Your God, Michelle!
And let everything else pale in comparison.
The Lord is the everlasting God!
And He is - absolutely, positively, without the slightest doubt - ENOUGH.

God has told me what is good and what He requires of me.
Do justly.
Love mercy.
Walk humbly with Him.

So - what am I waiting for?

10.19.2016

Excellent quote - on prayer.

"The man of obedience is the man whom God will hear. 
The man's obedient heart leads him to pray humbly and with submission, 
for he feels it to be his highest desire that the Lord's will should be done. 
The man of obedient heart prays like a prophet, and his prayers are prophecies. 
Is he not one with God? 
Does he not desire and ask for exactly what God intends? 
How can a prayer shot from such a bow ever fail to reach its target? 
If your soul is in harmony with God's soul, you will wish God's own wishes. 
The difficulty is that we do not stay in harmony with God; 
but if we did, then we should strike the same note as God strikes. 
And though God's note would sound like thunder and ours as a whisper, 
yet there would be a perfect unison - the note struck by prayer on earth would coincide 
with that which sounds forth from the decrees in heaven." 
~ C. H. Spurgeon

I LOVE this.
To be so in love with, and so connected to God that my prayers are His prayers because I want nothing unless He wants it first ... 
this is what I want!
Teach me, Lord. I am willing.

10.13.2016

Here I am. Use me.

I received this text from one of my girls on my birthday:
Look forward to seeing how God will use/encourage/sharpen and bless you this next year.
My response: 
I hope He will use me MORE than He ever has!

I keep thinking about her words. And mine.
The Lord continually encourages me, He never ceases to rub incredibly rough and uncomfortable sand paper against me with the goal of refining me, and He blesses me even when I am faithless.
He does all of these things because He wants to and because it delights Him.
But using me? That decision rests heavily on my shoulders. 

When I was in college, one of my favorite professors, after breaking down the Romans passage about being a pot in the hands of the Potter said, "God cannot create a beautiful vase when He only has enough clay to make an ashtray. What have you given Him to work with? Can He make something beautiful out of your life because you are fully surrendered and trusting Him, or are there only a few scraps available because "you know best?"
I was blown away by his statement twenty-four years ago, and it still knocks me off my feet today.

I am not a selfish person, refusing to serve others or to give when it is needed. But I can be lazy, choosing do no 'nothing' instead of 'something' simply because I don't feel like it; and I can fall into the trap of insecurity, focusing on my weaknesses rather than moving forward in obedience and letting the Lord take care of the details. Both of these leave work undone, needs unmet, and people unserved. And according to Scripture, this is not acceptable.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:18-20

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” Luke 9:37, 38

If I am called and commanded to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ, be a doer of the Word rather than a hearer, share the truth of the Gospel, accomplish the good works created by Christ, and roll up my sleeves to work in the fields of the Kingdom ...
I better be WILLING to do so!

Can God use unwilling humans to accomplish His will? Absolutely. Does He? Yep. 
But what He wants are hearts that are fully surrendered to Him.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
And He said to all, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Luke 9:23, 24

I lived far too may years contributing to my faith, rather than being COMMITTED to my faith. Praise God that He has been so gracious and longsuffering with me. The turning point was the death of our son, Matthew. Delivering a son without life pushed me to my knees, where I cried out, "What Lord?!? What do You want from me?" His answer was quiet but resolved. "I want all of you, Michelle. Every piece of who you are, body, mind, and soul. I want ALL of you."
I remembered the words of my professor. "God cannot create a beautiful vase when He only has enough clay to make an ashtray. What have you given Him to work with? Can He make something beautiful out of your life because you are fully surrendered and trusting Him?"
And it was on a hospital bed in the darkness of night when I answered Him. "I want to be a beautiful vase, Lord! I am giving You everything I have. It is not much, but use it as You will."

And now, in the year of our Lord, 2016, I echo the same.

Use me, Lord. With all of my sin and brokenness and pride - use me. As You will. I am willing - and wholly surrendered. Keep me there, Lord. As a wise man once said, "The trouble with a living sacrifice is that it is always trying to crawl off the altar!" I know I will squirm and fight and have eyes filled with frustration and fear when control is taken away from me, so in those moments - HOLD ME FAST, Lord. Remind me of who You are, what You  have done, and fill my mind with Your promises. I want to be a willing sacrifice, not a rebellious, tiresome, obnoxious sacrifice that puts a stench in Your nostrils and makes You wonder why You even bother with me. I want to serve You, Father. I want to serve the Kingdom. I want to serve others. From the greatest to the least ... I want to be used to encourage and comfort others while being refined and made to look much, much less like me - and significantly more, like YOU. Here I am Lord. Use me, I pray, in Your name. Amen.

10.11.2016

Trust HIM - not men.

Half our fears arise from neglect of the Bible
~ Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes a quote can stand on its own.
But supporting it with the Word of God is always a good thing!
Lord, make us people who trust You more than we trust the thoughts, words, and actions of men.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the Word of truth. II Timothy 2:15

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways! You have commanded Your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Psalm 119:1-176

I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my portion of food. Job 23:12  


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work

II Timothy 3:16-17

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

But He answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments! I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:10-11


But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:2

10.08.2016

From now on - only commas.

The Lord used an interesting text exchange to reveal what is really churning in my heart and Dennis' heart regarding adoption.

Two days ago a dear friend sent me a text which said, "A friend just sent me a note asking if I know anyone who wants to adopt a baby. A woman just delivered her baby, but she does not want to take it home."
Friends, my heart LEAPT out of my chest, and I wanted to scream, "I want the baby!" 
But my thoughts immediately focused on the hundreds of women who have been waiting years for a child of their own. Women who would jump through hoops of fire to have a baby lovingly placed in their arms. Women who cry out to the Lord every night begging Him to give them the desire of their hearts.
There is a baby who needs a home. A family.
And there is no shortage of couples willing to love that precious little life - forever.
Lord! Thank You that You have already decided who it will be.

When I read that note I did not give one thought to gender, race, or physical health. I did not consider the cost, the need for a larger car, or the sacrifice it would require. My heart just started beating faster at the thought of giving that baby a home.
It's funny how quickly priorities change when there is no time to create spreadsheets of pros and cons and ponder every detail. What 'seems' difficult or overwhelming or undoable quickly vanishes when the REAL need is staring you in the face.
I will confess, I have been wondering if I would respond in faith when the moment of truth presented itself, or if I would hesitate because we don't have all of our proverbial ducks in a row. Now - I know! 
Thank You, Lord, for this small test of faith. I needed to know the true contents of my heart, and You showed me with crystal clarity. Prepare us, Lord. Provide what is tangibly needed, but most of all, prepare our hearts, our minds, and our attitudes so that when You say, "Here they are - take care of them!" we will respond with gratitude and JOY. We love you. Thank You for loving us FIRST.

Even more exciting than knowing my own heart was discovering my husband's.

When I told Dennis about the text from our friend he responded, "Find out the details!"
This morning, while spending the day in the mountains with other fathers and sons, he sent me a note that said, "Any update on the child that we are going to adopt?"
Talk about a yielded heart!

In 23 of marriage Dennis and I have not always been on the same page, or even in the same book, but when it comes to respite care, foster care, and adoption - we are united, and of one mind. How thankful I am for this truth!

A few years ago I read a quote that has been locked in my memory ever since. At the time I had no idea what the Lord has planned for the future, but now, looking back, I see how prophetic it was and why He let it connect itself so deeply to my heart.

Do not put a period where the Lord has placed a comma.

The period has been erased, Lord! Show us what is next.

10.03.2016

We can CHOOSE.

Though the feeling of failure that engulfed me for weeks has almost completely subsided, there is a small piece that refuses to leave my thoughts as it taunts, "You blew it. How did you not see that coming? BIG mistake. Get it together, Michelle!"
I have been fighting to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ," but the truth is, I have blown it. I have overestimated human ability and underestimated the enemy's desire to destroy. I have not shaken the gates of heaven in fervent prayer. I have not been diligent in the little things, so I should not be surprised that I am not being granted access to the things that matter. I am facing giants I have never fought before, but instead of saying, "The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid!" I am buckling at the knees and looking for an escape.
It's ridiculous.
Thankfully, the Lord has faithfully shown me the areas that need focused attention, and the details are now clear. No more wondering, no more ambiguity. Just facts. I can f i n a l l y see a twinkle of light at the end of an incredibly long tunnel - and it is BEAUTIFUL!

Last night I listened to praise music while reading and writing, and this song got a grip on my heart that has not loosened since.
TRUTH.
It always trumps emotion.
Especially when that truth is found in the pages of Scripture.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

If anyone is struggling to trust the Lord - struggling to surrender - fighting to destroy fear - striving to look forward instead of behind ... 
listen to this song, and be encouraged.
We can choose to be still - and truly know that He is God.

Psalm 46 
The LORD is my refuge and strength
Therefore I will not be afraid
Though the mountains give way
And fall into the sea
He will come and rescue me

The LORD comes to me at break of day
He reaches down to guide me in His ways
Though the oceans roar
In this dark and stormy sea
He will come and rescue me

Hallelujah, He is with me
Hallelujah, we cannot be moved
Hallelujah, He is with me
Hallelujah, I rest secure

Be still and know that He is God
He will be exalted over all
Come and behold His strength and majesty
Yet He will come and rescue me

Hallelujah, He is with me
Hallelujah, we cannot be moved
Hallelujah, He is with me
Hallelujah, I rest secure

10.02.2016

Now, Lord! NOW!


Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

Lord, there are so many hurting hearts crying out tonight.
The reasons for the heartache cannot be counted, but regardless of the "why" the reality is the same. 
People are broken. They have been neglected, abused, rejected, abandoned, cheated, betrayed. 
They are grieving, suffering, mourning, weeping ... 
and they don't know what to do. Where to go. What to think. How to feel.
They need YOU, Lord.

Some already know You, but feel like You are a million miles away. 
Their prayers seem empty and without answers.
Others are willing to ask, "Who is this man they call Jesus?" but don't know where to start looking.
Others see no need for You but can hardly breathe through their pain.
Father, please! Draw them to Yourself!
Remind the believer that You are the still, quiet voice, and though they do not 'feel You' - You are THERE. "I will never leave you or forsake you."
Show the one seeking answers that You ARE the Son of the Living God who offers them living water that will never run dry and will well up into a spring of eternal life.
"... if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; 
for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him. 
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10
And Father, for the one who refuses to acknowledge You, show mercy and save him in spite of himself.

People are broken, Lord. And You are the ONLY One who can put them back together - 
forgiven, restored, REDEEMED.
Hear the cry of Your children ... hear the cry of Your creation. 
They need You. Now, Lord. They need You NOW.
Thank You that You hear our prayers, and though we may not always appreciate the answers, we can trust You to do YOUR will - for Your glory - and our good.
There are not enough words, touches, smiles, or sympathies to heal a hurting heart, but when we offer YOU - the One who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds - we offer everything.
Because every time we take someone to the foot of the Cross - to the feet of the Savior - we have set them in the only place that matters. Your presence.
You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Thank You, Lord, that no matter how much we hurt, no matter how dark the night seems, no matter how long and deep the valley appears - You are with us. You PROMISE that no one can snatch us from Your hand, and You PROMISE that nothing can separate us from Your love. Help us BELIEVE those promises so we can walk in faithful obedience day by day, even when we are not sure how we will survive the next hour.
We NEED YOU, Lord.
 We need each other.
Teach us to be people who willingly set aside our own comforts and desires so we can serve, love, and pursue those who are in desperate need of Your mercy and Your grace.
Without You we are nothing.
With You - we have everything we need.

Let me hear in the morning of Your steadfast love, for in You I trust.
Make me know the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8