Saturday, August 11, 2018

Frustration

A few weeks ago at Facebook, I shared the following:
It's been 3 days filled with frustration. Everything, and I mean *everything* frustrates me. No idea why. I feel that my time with the Lord has been/is quality time, and I'm spending good time in prayer and reading my Bible. Still, I am frustrated with everything. As I drove to and from the grocery store today, I talked to God about it. In my heart there was no clear answer. Am I not trusting? Not resting in His Grace? Are there sins in my life that I'm ignoring and need to confess and take out of my life? I don't know. I just know that I'm frustrated. Totally. Yet, God is blessing. I stopped and got gas and had enough points to get 90-cents off per gallon, saving $9! I'm enjoying my bench out back. I'm making plans. I'm clearing out clutter (mine and Mac's). I am getting things done that have sat on "to do" list for ages. So why am I frustrated. If I figure this out, I'll let you know.

A day or two after sharing my frustration, I began my morning with my devotions which included Hebrews 12, and as I read verse 15 (root of bitterness) the Holy Spirit ripped open my heart and showed me bitterness, anger, and pride. I was heartbroken. I sat and prayed and cried and confessed. I asked God to rip off the scabs of sin and show me all that's wrong.

A study of Hebrews 12:15 (“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”), led me to Deuteronomy 29:18 (“…that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.”) where God speaks of the root of bitterness. My study Bible gave a definition: a root spreading poison and bitterness into the whole tree. I saw the “whole tree” as me; but in the broader and more appropriate application, the “whole tree” refers to the entire body of Christ. So I had to wonder if, as a member of the local body, I was spreading bitterness into the local family? 

Then a friend sent me Psalm 55:22 (“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”), which led me to 1 Peter 5:7 (“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”), which led me to 2 Peter 1:3 (“seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”), and more and more verses; and eventually in my electronic MacArthur's Study Bible I found this link: Psalms for the Anxious

God kept tearing open my heart, and through it He began healing my heart. Am I totally where I should be? No! I have struggled almost daily since this time with bitterness in my heart, and I am daily confessing and praying and reading God’s Word to resolve all of this within myself.

God showed me bitterness about widowhood that I wasn’t aware I was harboring in my heart—and that will take a time for me to resolve. It was a surprising discovery for me, as I have felt that, at the almost 4 year mark, I was settled on this issue and moving forward with my life. Apparently I’m not as far along in healing as I thought I was.

At this point, by submitting myself daily to Christ, my frustration is gone. However, I think this will be a long term time of healing, learning, and spiritual growth for me. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Everlasting Arms of God



From my Bible journal -- Deuteronomy 33:26-29
The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
Deuteronomy 33:27a










Sometimes in life we face unexpected trials: the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or our home, or a broken relationship. We might feel like the floor has dropped away and we are falling, falling, falling with no end in sight, nor do we see a safety net. I know I felt this way when my beloved husband went home to glory. However, as a believer, I have a wonderful safety net—the loving everlasting arms of God.

Let’s read the passage, and then I’ll share what I saw in these few verses.
vs. 26: “There is none like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to your help,
And through the skies in His majesty.

vs. 27: “The eternal God is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
And He drove out the enemy from before you,
And said, ‘Destroy!’

vs. 28: “So Israel dwells in security,
The fountain of Jacob secluded,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens also drop down dew.

vs. 29: “Blessed are you, O Israel;
Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord,
Who is the shield of your help
And the sword of your majesty!
So your enemies will cringe before you,
(®NASB)

In these verses I see that God is *above* me (verse 26), riding the heavens to come to my help. God is also *below* me, with His everlasting arms stretched out to catch me (verse 27a); and He is *before* me (verse 27b) and will drive the enemy out of my way—and will destroy my enemy. Who is my enemy? Satan! Sometimes satan uses others as a tool, or he will use circumstance, or—and this is the hardest part for me—when I take my eyes of of Jesus, satan gets into my thoughts and takes me places I don’t want to go. Yet turning my eyes back to God and I find satan defeated. This passage ends with the reminder to me that God *all around me*. Look at verse 29: God is my shield and my sword, and my enemies cringe because of Him.

God is above, below, before, and all around me. What a blessing! What an assurance! What a comfort! Do you have this assurance and comfort? Do you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He your Savior? If not, "Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”! (2 Corinthians 6:2). Do not delay. 

I’ll close with a quote from Spurgeon on this passage:

You shall go cheerfully home to heaven, borne up by God. He who made you will carry you! He who loves you will bear you all the days of old till you shall come unto the Mountain of God and stand in your lot at the end of the days! I think, therefore, that our text applies not only to the point of mysterious assault, but to the place of daily pilgrimage and toil. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Faith not fear



If you think God doesn't have a sense of humor, I’m here to tell you that you, my friend, are wrong. (haha) Recently the Lord lead me to a Bible study by Melanie Newton on living by faith instead of fear, and it was a good study. Then He laid it on my heart to share a portion of this study at the Tuesday Ladies Bible study. 

When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.
In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
Psalm 56:3-4

I began digging in much deeper. I spent many weeks studying, following rabbit trails (oh they were such joy), researching, pouring over commentaries. I even pulled a couple of books from my late-husband’s book shelf and dug into those. Now that was a precious time to see what Mac had found of use in these books, and to read the notes he had made. My heart was just bursting with love for my beloved and the God that he loved. I fleshed out pages and pages of information and Bible references, and then trimmed it all down into something teachable and shareable.

Finally the day arrived and I shared what God had laid on my heart. It’s said that nothing teaches like teaching, and I totally agree. I learned so much in preparing this study, and even more as I shared it out loud. God has worked on my heart in so many ways with this study.

I was especially blessed by studying about Elijah and the widow of Sarepta in 1 Kings 17:8-24. Wow. God used a lowly widow, who was on the verge of death, (But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.) [emphasis mine] to provide for Elijah—and her obedience and trust resulted in all of them being miraculously fed for many days. Oh how mighty is God! Sometime afterwards (the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly how long), the son of the widow died and she called upon Elijah. Elijah cried out to God in prayer, and God returned the boy to life! Because of Elijah’s total obedience and trust in God, the widow was blessed beyond measure.

Oh how mighty is God! 
—You should really pause, right now (I’ll wait) and go read the full story: 1 Kings 17:8-24. It will only take you a few minutes.
Are you back? Was your heart blessed? I hope so. So what does this have to do with God having a sense of humor? The day after I taught this lesson on living by faith not fear I got up and spent time praying and reading in my Bible, and then brought my coffee to the computer where I opened my email and was confronted with a fraud alert. There was a time when just reading that email would have sent me into a panic, but not this time. The verses I had shared with the ladies went through my head and I felt totally calm. I knew that God was in total control, and no matter what happened, it was all okay.

I logged on to my credit card company’s site, saw the fraudulent charge and then noticed several more! They amounted to several thousand dollars in fraudulent charges, and all done in just a few days—days when I was wrapping up my study on living by faith not fear. Are you seeing the pattern I saw? I actually laughed out loud. Then I picked up the phone and called the credit card company. All was dealt with in approx. 45 minutes, and through it all I remained calm.

By dinner time, I had enjoyed a really pleasant day. I even visited my oral surgeon for a pre-op visit, and I wasn’t panicked at all. I’ve spent several hours verifying that no other credit cards were compromised, I’ve changed info and passwords at any site where that card was used, and now I’m sitting here calmly typing this while music by Linda McKechnie plays in the background.
—Psst, if you’ve never listened to her music, you should. She combines God honoring hymns with classical music and it’s tremendous! You’ll find her HERE
Now, let’s wrap this up:
  • God led me to a study on living by faith not fear.
  • God laid it on my heart to share this study with other ladies.
  • God opened this widow’s eyes to many verses—and to the story about the widow of Sarepta.
  • God showed me that He had a plan for my life, if only I would live by FAITH not fear.
  • God then brought a test into my life, and through it I was encouraged and blessed as I put my trust in God to resolve the problem.

If you are facing a trial, if you are afraid, if your heart is not at peace—THERE IS HOPE!
    1. God loves you.
      John 3:16; John 16:27; Romans 5:5
      God created you and He loves you; and He desires you to come to know Jesus as your personal Savior. If you are a believer in Jesus, God the Father loves you and pours out His love into your heart so you can experience His love.
    2. God knows what is going on in your life.
      Matthew 6:31-32; Psalm 139:1-10
      God is everywhere and knows everything. So, God knows what is going on in your life. He knows your needs and how best to meet them.
    3. God can do something about whatever you are facing.
      Genesis 18:14; Luke 1:37
      Is anything impossible for the Lord? NO! Our God is all-powerful. He is capable of doing anything He chooses to do that is in agreement with His character and His purposes.
    4. You can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do.
      Psalm 119:68; Proverbs 3:5

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Going Solo



Today I made another big step forward, and took my first solo adventure during a storm. I grabbed “his” camera, got in the car, stopped at a coffee kiosk (where I forgot to ask for decaf, so I only drank enough to warm myself up) and headed south. My destination was one of “our” favorite picture taking and viewing spots. We often went down to this place and watched the sunset, or the waves come and go, sometimes he would snooze and I’d read, or we’d take a walk, take photos, sit on a bench. Several times we took a sack lunch and ate and enjoyed the quiet. We met loads of tourists there and would chat with them. Now M enjoyed going down there to feed the seagulls and squirrels. In fact, they seemed to recognize our car and would land on it in droves when we parked the car. Ha! I found it a little unsettling to have them staring in at us through the front window of the car, and then if I looked up through the sun window, there were these eyeballs watching me from above. I quickly learned not to open the side window because they would get way too close for my comfort. I also learned that my Jr. High science teacher was correct when he said that the wind will sweep many things in through an open window. Still, it didn’t matter the season or the weather, this was a special place that we enjoyed together for 9 years. I’ve gone down twice since he’s been gone, and wound up in tears both times. Today I was ready to face and conquer this place.

When I arrived it was hard to find a parking spot, and even harder to find a place to stand and take photos. Apparently half the world was ready to conquer their own fears today. Having finally secured (i.e. beat someone else to it) a parking spot, I grabbed the camera and got out. It was windy and I had to lean on the car to get my footing so that I could step up on the sidewalk. I found myself simply staring at the HUGE waves (reported to be 30 feet this afternoon and possibly reaching 50-60 feet by midnight!), listening to the ROAR, and I stood there totally awestruck as I surveyed God’s wonderful and powerful creation: the ocean in turmoil. 

You can see where I was standing if you visit this page. The grey car that is parked could almost be my car, and I was standing on the walkway next to the car. The water was all the way to the cliff, and none of the beach was visible.

Finally my fingers were going numb so I began taking pictures before I couldn’t push the button. I’m not the photographer that M was, so I don’t have these great framed photos of the waves, and some of these pictures are a little slanted, but I’m happy with my first big solo photo taking adventure. There is one snap of a wave splashing up (see up top), and that was a total surprise snap. I was about to shut the camera off and here came this crash of a wave and I simply hit the button. I am surprised that it’s such a clear photo.

There’s a couple of photos that I wish you could have seen in person, for the waves in the distance look tiny and almost normal—but they aren’t. Even from shore I could tell these were the 30 footers heading in to smash into the rocks and cliff. The looked so huge, even though they were probably a mile (half-mile?) out to sea.

Eventually I was getting sprayed by the ocean and I decided it was time to retreat to the safety (and warmth!) of the car. I sat for a bit and watched, and then it was time to head home. I pulled in to the wayside by the bay and got a few photos of the bridge and the clouds and then came home.

My spirits are good, I am praising God that I’ve been able to step out and do something that we so enjoyed, and I still enjoy. I thought about Isaiah 40:31, for today I wasn’t weary and I felt as though my heart was soaring on the wings of eagles.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31



Thursday, December 21, 2017

Being my own best friend

This post is in response to 3 Tips for Christmas Plans, which you will find at Widow’s Christian Place. I encourage you to read Ferree’s original post for some wonderful guidance and insight. 

“Holidays are hard during grief”, Ferree stated. Then she shared her “3 Tips for Christmas Plans”. As I read them, I saw myself in every sentence. This is my 3rd Christmas without my beloved husband, and while I’m doing a lot better this year compared to the first two years, I still find it difficult. Holidays bring up so many memories. I often deal with: “I wish we’d known it would be our last together” moments. I don’t watch certain Christmas movies, because they stir up too much sadness; but there are other movies I can simply watch and enjoy. My goal this year was to find more happiness than sadness during this season, and so far, I’m doing okay; but I’ve hit a few rough spots. Below is an expanded version of what I sent to Ferree about her 3 Tips.

1. Something to look forward to & changing decorations: This is the first year I’ve had a tree just for me. I bought this little (as in a whopping 18” tall) tabletop tree, and the tiny little ornaments that go with it (think the size of a quarter). The tree is loaded with lights (I am my father’s daughter!), and I actually enjoy turning it on in the evening. “Our” tree now brings joy to a family in my church who needed a tree. The rest of “our” decorations are safely tucked away in a plastic tub and stored for down the road—or never again. Those Christmas cards? I took them out, and put them back in the drawer, so don’t hold your breath waiting for one from me. HAHA Perhaps next year I’ll send them out. Perhaps not.

2. Escape plan: Now I know better then to over-do, but I failed myself this past Sunday evening. :-/  We had our Christmas potluck at church and there I was surrounded by all these happy couples and families, and I felt so very alone. To close the evening we had a small Christmas program with the little ones, and I began to fall apart. I should have grabbed my purse and left, but I actually felt ashamed of myself. How stupid is that? I know better. I know it’s okay to have these feelings—yet I forced myself to suffer through it all. I kept telling myself that this time of heartbreak was a growing time, but it was a struggle. Once I arrived home I had a good cry, and then laid it all at the foot of the cross and by the next day I was fine. I’m now also very firm in my resolve that if I need to escape in the future—I will do so! 

3. Being my own best friend: Thanks to this tip, I’ve now purchased something for myself. I’d been debating about this purchase, but it’s my Christmas gift to me. In fact, if my beloved was alive, he would have bought it for me, so I’ll consider it a gift from him as well. So Merry Christmas to me from my bestest friend, and from me as well.

I’m a bit ahead in the “cashing in on the offers for help” department—and it wasn’t easy. Like many of us, I have a hard time asking for, and accepting, help. All my life I've been told that I was tough, I could handle things, I could do things, etc. However, asking for and accepting help was a wise and emotionally healthy decision. In the past few months some men from church have helped me clean almost all of my late husband’s things out of the garage (we’ll finish in January). They’ve dealt with everything (including bravely killing some big, ugly spiders!), and even taught me how to use the tools that are basic. I can now drill holes with the best of them, I have my own socket wrench set, and I can put shelves and things together. Yeah me! 

I’m glad my beloved chose this area for our retirement. I have a wonderful church home, with a godly pastor; and I’ve made wonderful friends who are like family. I’m very content in where the Lord has placed me, and 3 years ago I didn’t think I’d ever say that. Starting next year, there will be some major changes in my life and I’m excited to see how God directs and uses me.

In just a few days, on Christmas Eve, I will celebrate 39 years as a child of the King. It’s still the best day of my life. The one that assures me that I’ll see my beloved again someday; and best of all—I’ll see my Savior. Because of this day, I have peace to face each day, and find strength and comfort as I travel this new path as a widow. I rest in the promise found in Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Merry Christmas to all of YOU, and especially to all the other widows out there who are reading this. Remember to put CHRIST in your Christmas, and to focus on the One who was born so that He could die and rise again for your sins. Oh what joy heaven will be!

Kim

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4—Psalm 4:

I think this could be a widow’s Psalm—at least this widow's Psalm.

1) Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
2) Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
Selah.

It begins with David crying out in his distress to God. This is what I did as a new widow, and it’s what I still do. Oh, my cries and pleas are normally no longer filled with the deep, dark, distressing aches of my heart; yet I know that God, and God alone, can help me.

In the second verse, David speaks to his enemies. While I don’t have those kinds of enemies, I do daily battle with satan, and even with others who often push at me to travel a path that isn’t what God has planned for me. Without my husband to guide me, I’m more easily led by others. It’s something I have to be extra careful about it in my life as a widow.

3) But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The Lord hears when I call to Him.
4) Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
Selah.

Then David acknowledges that God hears when he cries out. Oh, how often in those early days did I wonder if God was listening to me. I’d ask Him over and over why He couldn’t have healed Mac’s body, why He took Mac home to glory and left me alone to deal with decisions, finances, frustrations, loneliness, and despair. Then I finally realized the God was listening to me—I just wasn’t listening to Him. God heard me then, and He hears me now—each and every day. All I have to do is cry out to God and He hears. 

I like the last portion of verse 4: meditating at night in bed, and learning to be still. It makes me think of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God”, a verse that is very special to me. I’ll freely admit that, as a widow, I am more still in my personal relationship with God. It was so easy to lean on Mac, to turn to him for comfort, encouragement, and strength. Now I absolutely must be still and listen to God, letting Him provide my comfort, encouragement, and strength.

5) Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.
6) Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?”
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!

Trust. It’s hard for many of us, but it’s harder for a widow. I might smile and tell you all is well, but deep inside, there are times when I am floundering and totally at a loss for what I need to do. At times like that, I try to remember Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

7) You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
8) In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

David closes this Psalm with words that bring tears of joy to my eyes, and lifts my weary soul; for God has “put gladness in my heart”. God alone has given me relief from my sorrow. He has heard my pleas for comfort and strength. He has faithfully given me joy and gladness in my heart, allowing me to face each day in His strength. I rest and sleep totally trusting Him for my safety, my health, my comfort, my joy—all my needs.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?
Selah.
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The Lord hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.
Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?”
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fully equipped

I cried out to God, “What is the point of my life?”

God answered me with an opportunity, and I said, “No, I can’t do that. Show me the real point of my life now that I’m a widow.”

God again showed me the same opportunity, and I again said, “No way, I get too nervous. No way. You're not listening to me, Lord. Show me something I can do for you so that my life has meaning.”

For months, God and I had this battle. No, I battled and God was patient with me; but I still kept asking God to show me what He wanted me to do—and always I was waiting for God to provide the answer I wanted to hear.

Then God sent me another opportunity, and I laughed, because it was the same opportunity with a slightly different twist. Still I didn’t say yes, instead I hesitated and stewed about it all. I even came up with some interesting reasons why I simply couldn’t do this for the Lord.

I prayed. I researched. I prayed. I found what I needed to accomplish this task. I continued to hesitate. I prayed, and I went to bed hesitating about it all. I awoke this morning and told God, “I’m not sure I can do this, but if You’ll give me the strength, I'll do it.”

Then God showed me something in His Word.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (NASB)—“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed…”

It was then that I realized God has already equipped me fully to do this for Him, but I had simply failed to trust Him to do as He promised. With absolute peace in my heart, I’m moving forward with this opportunity, and I’ll be totally trusting God daily for all the strength I need to accomplish this task.


1 Peter 5:7: “casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”