Delight Yourself in the Lord

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart!

Psalm 37:4

 

Some of you have heard that verse all your life. Some of you may have never heard that verse. Either way, I want to share what God has revealed to me over time about it.

 

When I first read this as a teenager I read it as “If you do what you are supposed to do, then God will give you what you want.” How many of you thought like this?! Don’t lie!! lol What a deceitful lie from the enemy!

 

What I have come to see over time and God continues to remind me over time, is that He is our Father. He is good and he loves us. He wants what is BEST for us. What he knows we NEED. He is not Santa Clause. We can’t give him a wish list and he makes all your dreams come true. How terrible things would be if he did.

 

The reality is that God, our Father, knows us better than we know ourselves. He also knows the future. And he knows his ultimate plan for us and His world.

 

So from that perspective let’s look at that verse again:

 

Delight yourself in the Lord –

What does that look like for you?

 

Maybe it’s a daily quiet time (this is vital for all of us in our walks, but not necessarily the only way to delight)

Maybe it’s writing, drawing, running. Maybe it’s sitting outside and soaking in His creation. In each and EVERY MOMENT we should be delighting in God just like a little girl delights in showing off her new ballet moves for her daddy.

For those that didn’t have this moment because of circumstances beyond your control, a healing must take place (but that is another post for another time).

 

and He will give you the desires of your heart –

 

See when we read this we think of our heart’s “wish list”.

I wish I could get a new job. I wish my husband would just listen to me better. I wish I could lose 20 lbs. I wish I made enough money to enjoy life. I wish I could adopt. Our list isn’t necessarily bad. It can even be really good. But the question is, is it from God? God knows what we need. He knows how he answers our prayer doesn’t just affect us but it affects others around us. It is all a part of his plan.

 

So when it says he will give you the desires of your heart what this means is that as you delight yourself in the Father, you will become like him. Your hearts desire will begin to mimic his hearts desire. What delights him will delight you and what breaks his heart will break your heart.

 

Let me tell you a story:

 

When I was a teenager all I ever wanted was to get married and have a baby. I wanted a family. I was in and out of relationships searching for this. I would think, “I love God. I live for Him. I read my bible. I am involved in my church. Surely God wants to give me my heart’s desire.” Through failed relationships I began to see that God’s will for me was not for me to be happy. His will was for me to be holy. In that holiness I would find true joy and nothing temporary.

 

My senior year of college I met Blaine. I was officially done in my heart with relationships. I had finally arrived at a place of finding my identity in Christ and not in relationships. So we became friends. It took me almost a whole year to agree to go on a date with him because I wanted God’s will. My heart’s desire was still to be married and have kids, but I grew weary of trying to do it my way and finally came to a place of surrender. A year later we were married. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect, or even easy, but he makes me strive for holiness. He is not the most romantic guy. He isn’t the guy I dreamed of who does all the right things at the right times. I even get on his nerves sometimes (hehe). But in the end, delighting in God gave me His heart’s desire for me and my life. And now I am closer to God than I have ever been. We are raising our kids to love God and live for him. If I fell into my heart’s desires as a teenager or young adult, I truly think that I would be out of the will of God right now.

 

Isn’t God good? As we delight in him, he also delights in us!

 

The Lord your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

 

It’s not a one-way street. He doesn’t want us to become like him just for his pleasure, but because he knows ultimately it will bring us the most joy and bring us to a place that is more like Jesus than we were before.

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Our Guatemalan Girls

Our Guatemalan girls

 

Let me start this blog off by saying, we are not adopting…YET! As of now, and since 2008 Guatemala has closed international adoption. In order to adopt we would have to become Guatemalan citizens and give up our American citizenship. This is not what this post is about, but I know some of you have wondered. After reading this, it might help you understand.

 

Every Christian concert you go to you hear it. Compassion. World Vision. Feed the Children. They are all asking for sponsors and they all have heart-gripping stories. If you have never been moved by these stories, then you may want to check yourself. Because most people are full of snot and tears and how can you not be? Kids who have nothing and YOU can be a part of the solution. It makes you feel like you have a small role that actually makes a difference. And you absolutely do!

 

Our one struggle was that it never felt personal. We prayed for our kids. We wrote letters. But it was hard to see the benefits because it wasn’t a personal relationship. Some of you support kids through one of these organizations and I am NOT telling you not to do that. Please hear me. It was just something that we struggled with. I believe that sponsoring those kids is absolutely necessary.

 

So in preparing to go to Guatemala we knew we would want to sponsor one of the kids there and be able to meet them so not only could we put a face and body with a name, but they could as well. We wanted someone around Payton’s age so she could be a part of it in a big way. We never expected a sponsorship to mean so much though.

 

On Tuesday after our visit to the village, we had someone talk to us about sponsoring kids at Casa. We emailed the point lady right away and asked for someone around Payton’s age to get the process going. We only had until Friday to meet our girl and try to get to know her. The point lady was traveling back to the states so we weren’t sure when that time would be. I checked my email as often as I could anxious to meet our girl.

 

On Wednesday, we finished up our work and headed out to play with the kids. We would spend the afternoon playing and loving and ministering. Our last full afternoon there a girl came up to me and asked if she could play with my hair. Of course! First, who doesn’t love their hair to be played with. Second, these girls were so good and fast at beautiful hairstyles. It was such an easy way to break the ice and begin conversations. I asked her name and how old she was and took a picture with her because…mission trip. Pictures for everything!

 

As I was sitting there and we were trying to have a conversation…me knowing about 10 words in Spanish and her knowing even less English, I checked my email because I was so ready to meet our girl. And I had an email! It listed 3 girls. The 2nd name listed was the girl playing with my hair! What were the chances?!?! One in about 300! I couldn’t wait to talk with my new friend, the one in my earlier blog, and ask if we could tell E about our sponsorship. Later that day after supper, we did just that. We walked over to her dorm and told her we would be sponsoring her. The rest of the afternoon she was attached to us. She played with Payton and would come and hug Blaine and me. Before, she wasn’t going around any of the guys. I knew we made a connection. Blaine even looked at me and said, “I wish we could take her home.” That’s how my heart felt as well. Instantly. I felt like we had a lifelong connection with this girl no matter what the future held.

 

As the kids were playing Thursday afternoon (the next day), another girl came up and asked E if we were her sponsors. She glowed and shook her head, “Si!” The little girl hugged me and said in Spanish that she didn’t have a sponsor (at least I am 95% sure she said that 😉 ). She looked completely heart broken. All I could do was hold her and she didn’t let go for a long time.

 

That night laying in bed, all I could do was cry. I wanted to take E home and now S needed someone as well. I messaged Blaine and asked what we could do. Obviously we couldn’t adopt them. If so, we would have come home with probably 3 kids plus the kids our team would want to bring home as well hehe. Sponsoring 2 kids meant a big sacrifice for our family. Not only did this include monthly sponsorships, but Christmas gifts, birthday presents, and just more time praying and writing letters. But he agreed we should sponsor S as well.

 

The next morning as we walked over for our last time to spend with the kids before we had to leave for the airport, we were so torn. Our hearts longed for Guatemala. For those kids. I didn’t want to leave those girls. I missed our baby boy, but I wanted to go home, get him and then buy a one way ticket back. We did all we could to just soak in the last hour we had with these precious gifts from God. It was early and the children were still doing chores so we sat outside and waited on them. When they came out, we were greeted with hugs and anxious little ones ready to be pushed on the wing and loved on.

 

I spotted S and asked her to come see me. I tried to mimic the words she spoke to me just the day before and asked her if she would like us to sponsor her. I can’t even describe the way her face lit up and tears welled up in her eyes. I knew at that moment it would be worth every penny and all the time! S ran up to E to tell her the good news and my heart sank a little. How would E feel? Would she feel less loved? Not a chance. This picture shows just how these girls felt. Joyful faces. Not letting any of us go. Pay played with them, I pushed them on the swing, Blaine chased them, and they soaked in every moment.

 

An hour passed so quickly…too quickly. How could it already be over? We had to tell them bye. There was no shortage of tears between any of us. S and E held our hands until we literally had to break free to leave. Our hearts ached and rejoiced at the same time. We met our girls. We would now play a significant role in their life. Letters, visits (as often as we can), presents, needs, and prayers. Lots of prayers.

My heart longs to be back with those girls. Or even for those girls to be in America with us. But I know that God has a good and perfect plan. And we can only take the steps he lays before us knowing he alone knows what the future holds. But until we see Jesus face to face, these girls will forever be our Guatemalan girls. No matter what the future holds.

 

Not easy, but worth it.

When your life changes in a week…

When Blaine approached me about leading a trip to Guatemala, I was excited. That may even be an understatement. I LOVE missions! I love everything it stands for and the different cultures you get to experience. It is hard, but so worth it. We also knew this was a safe place to take kids on mission trips; therefore, we opened it up to our church families and decided to take Payton. I could write 10 different blogs on this one trip but I will start with this one.

 

Leading this trip proved to be a difficult task. I wasn’t expecting it to be difficult. But being over 31 adults is a whole lot different than leading 31 teens (which I have done with mostly ease). I felt hurt a lot and also questioned if I was the right person to lead this group. Then 6 weeks from the trip was a never-ending cycle of illness. Kaden and I were both admitted into the hospital a week apart. Kaden was the week before the trip. I was in momma panic mode, but we were all well before the trip so I knew that God was making a way. I felt confident. And then the morning of the trip at 230 am Payton woke me up vomiting. We had to be at the church at 330 am. I cried. What was I going to do? I had 30 people needing me to lead this group, and a baby girl who was supposed to come and was throwing up. I felt so helpless. I prayed over Payton and was reminded of the confidence God had given me. I had to go on this mission trip, and I had to take Payton. I felt like a terrible parent, but I was sure that God said, “Just get her there.”

 

After praying and talking with Blaine and having our team pray over her we headed to Guatemala. What a 6 weeks! I was tired before we even got to Guatemala. By the time we got to Guatemala, Payton was better and we figured she had some anxiety about the trip.  The next few days were great days, but I still didn’t feel like I was getting all that God had for me out of this trip. And then God spoke through my new friend, who is over groups (among many other things) at Casa where we were for the week.

 

On the way back from a trip to the village to love on kids and do a small vbs at a feeding center, she spoke words that will forever change me. We were talking about the process at Casa Aleluya. We learned that this was not an orphanage, but a children’s home. These kids came from abusive situations and can return at any time because, well…government. My friend is over university girls and they can choose to leave if they want. Why would they want to? They have everything they need at Casa, their schooling is taken care of, but some will still choose a different way. And some of the children are taken out of Casa and put back in their terrible situations. Blaine asked her about it and commented how tough it must be to watch them leave.

 

Her response? (Not directly quoted)

 

“It is hard. But I also have to remember that this life is truly not about me. In the states we say that it isn’t about us, but yet every moment we live is about us. We do what we want and make decisions that please us. Here in Guatemala that can’t be the case. My life truly cannot be about me. I just play a part in their story. God loves them and He is in control. Not me.”

 

I sat in that car and teared up at those words. She was so right. This life isn’t about us at all. But in America, where our life is so privileged and so blessed, we live life like it is. And when things don’t go our way, we throw a spiritual fit.

How could God allow this to happen?

He must not love me.

Do we not realize that this world and its purpose is beyond us and our circumstances?? We don’t. Or our attitudes would be completely different.

I am among those who live life according to my own desires and wants and needs. I don’t worry about the voiceless day in and day out. I don’t have to. They aren’t in my face every day. I can ignore the brokenness of this world because I don’t have to see it. I can live in my comfortable bubble and never think about things that break my heart if I choose. That sure would save a lot of heartache. But my new life quote, one that God gave me on this trip and for these people is…

 

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

 

The broken are worth it. Guatemalans are worth it. Americans are worth it. Orphans and widows are worth it. The voiceless…they are worth it.

 

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;

ensure justice for those being crushed.

Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,

and see that they get justice.

Proverbs 31:8-9

You Hold My World in Your Hands

Sitting in our high school chapel last week the words echoed over the speakers…”You hold my world in your hands”.  It’s from the song Healer.  This song has meant so much to me over the years through Payton’s bout with salmonella poisoning at 5 months old to my benign tumor to Kaden’s open heart surgery at 2.5 months old.  I have believed God for healing and have watched him work many miracles.  I have also seen God choose to answer those prayers in different ways as loved ones went to be with Him and were ultimately healed and made perfect.

Last week this song meant something completely different.  When I read this one sentence “You hold my world in your hands” I think of the phrase “my world.”  What is my world?

My world is my comfort.  It is my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, my worship.  It is things that I put a lot of weight in.  It is what I hold dear to my heart.  It is what would shake me a little if it didn’t exist anymore.  It is what I feel like I have to grip with tightly closed hands not willing to let go.

And then I read the whole sentence “You hold my world in your hands”.  You being God.  My God, my Sovereign God, creator of the universe, holds THE world in his hands.  You know that song.  “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”  And I can grasp that.  He keeps everything in order.  He is God.  He is in control.  But he holds MY world?  That phrase went into the depths of my heart last Wednesday.

I don’t have to hold so tightly to what God has given me because it is His.  I am simply a steward of all the things I hold so dearly.  They do not belong to me.  They belong to Him.  But He loves me and He lets me believe these are mine.  That this is MY little world.  And He lovingly holds MY WORLD in his hands.  When my baby boy goes through a complicated heart surgery that could claim his life, He holds my world in his hands.  When friends turn away from me because of what I choose to live, He holds my world in his hands.  When my loved ones pass away, when my little girl gets her feelings hurt by another child, when I can’t see the forest for the trees, He holds my world in His hands.

And all of my little world is safe in His hands.

Darkness of the Mind

Have you ever battled your thoughts?

I’m not good enough.  I can’t lose weight.  I am a failure.  I am a bad mom, wife, follower of Christ.  I can’t get my act together.  I am fearful.  I am too much to handle.  I am not equipped.  No one understands or cares to understand.  I am lonely.  I am not loved.

You take things personally and think others are against you.

Those thoughts caused a depression in me.  I wanted to seclude myself, but with the nature of our life and to keep up “appearances”, I knew that was impossible.  So I struggled internally for months.  I didn’t know how to keep up with this life God had given me, and not just activities, but the right attitude.

You know the truth, but your mind is so clouded that you can’t grasp the truth.  My thoughts were causing me to physically be downcast.  I bore such a heaviness.  I met with a couple of “elders in the faith” to get encouragement.  Through that God revealed Himself to me in such a clear way.

I learned that in order to fight this war against a very real enemy, we must start in our mind.  Satan cannot get to me because I belong to the Father.  But what he can do is cause me to become my own enemy in the way that I think.

First, I had to clear out my mind.  I talked through what I could with two godly people who directed me to the word of God, and then I journaled what did not need to be shared, things that I did not want to turn to gossip.  As I laid these things before the Lord by talking and writing, I realized that I was emptying my mind of all the garbage I had let in.  The unbelievable thing is that I didn’t allow those thoughts in with a welcomed spirit.  It was one thought that grew into another, or one word spoken that I took hold of and didn’t lay before the Father.

Second, I had to get alone with God.  I had to let him speak life back into me.  I saturated myself in His word.  Oh, I had been in the word, but I could not get around the cloudiness, which is why that first step was so vital for me.  I began to meditate on what He said about me.  And when negative thoughts or words would come my way, I would just not own them.  At times it took me saying out loud, “No, Satan.  That is not the truth of God’s word.  God’s word says this about me…”.

Third, I have to keep getting alone with God.  I have to keep laying thoughts and words spoken to me down at His feet.

     1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

    I have to keep reminding myself that I am His and He is for me.  No matter who comes against me, no matter who doesn’t like me, no matter what thoughts I struggle with about myself, He is for me.  He loves me.  I read it over and over again in His word.  I am relearning to take my thoughts captive, replacing lies with truth.

2 Corinthians 10:5  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

I realize more than ever how vital it is to not only study God’s word, but saturate yourself in it to use it in your prayer life.  What better way to talk with Him than to speak His word back to Him.  God is doing a new work in me.  And I pray for those of you who battle with this, that the Lord would do the same in you.

I made a decision to walk with the Lord when I was 14 years old, and felt like I should have had this taken care of, but Satan is crafty and we will never arrive.  God calls us to always grow and search and dig deeper after him.  This has been a tough season, and I am still learning to practice this, but I am thankful.  I am so thankful that God has used what Satan intended for harm, for good and for His glory.

If you are struggling with this right now, I want to encourage you to use these 3 steps.  They aren’t a fix all, and God may choose to work differently in you, but it’s a place to start when you don’t know where else to go.  Surround yourself with people who encourage you and lift you up.  Surround yourself with believers who are strong in the Lord and walk in the Spirit.  Surround yourself with people who will pray with you and walk with you in spirit and in truth.  And saturate yourself with God’s word.

Let me pray for you who are reading this and saying, “This is me!”

Abba Father,

Thank you for your goodness.  Thank you for your love for us.  You do not let us stay in darkness, you always provide a way out.  Thank you for allowing us to go through situations that bring us into closer relationship with you and make us more like you.  Abba, I pray for the one who will read this post and say, “This is me!”.  I speak life over them in Jesus name.  I come against any darkness that is inhabiting their mind and cast it out in Jesus name.  Lord, fill their mind with peace and truth.  Fill it with your word alone.  I pray that you would surround them with iron sharpeners, with those who can walk alongside them and be an encouragement.  Lord, don’t let them stay where they are, light the path that you have laid before them to walk out of that darkness.  Open their eyes and mind and heart to you and your word over them.

In Jesus’ Holy Name,

Amen.

Other scriptures to read – Ephesians 6, Galatians 5:1, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Philippians 1:6

Lord, Let Them Live!

   A year ago today Blaine and I sat in a hospital waiting room waiting (go figure) on x-ray results for Kaden’s heart. We would be told a game plan after our pediatric cardiologist reviewed them as well as his other tests.
   In a hospital waiting room across town sat my family…waiting on the results of my dad’s heart.
   As we were waiting we received a phone call that shook my little world. My dad’s heart was a lot worse than they thought. He would need to have a triple bypass.  Not only that but it was a miracle that he was still alive. He had been having heart attacks, sometimes several a day, not realizing that’s what it was. If he would have become sick and if my mom would not have dragged his butt to the hospital, he would not be with us today.
   I felt like the ground might cave in, but I had to get it together as I held a 2 and a 1/2 week old boy in my arms who was also fighting for his precious little life.
   We drove back to Dr. Kattash’s office where we received the news we were dreading. Kaden would need open heart surgery. And it was up to him when it would happen. Until then, we would have weekly cardiology appts, home health 3xs a week, and guaranteed hospital stays for medicine adjustments and feeding problems.
   In that moment, I just wanted heaven. I prayed for Jesus to come back so that 2 of the 3 men (and baby boy) thay mean more to me than anything could be healed. We got in the car and before I could process any of this news, Because He Lives came on over the speakers in my car. Blaine held my hand and I cried and tried to pull it together at the same time as we drove to see my daddy…

                                         …more to come.

image

Our baby boy waiting at the hospital.

I do not like the Superbowl. Pray with me.

Football.  Food.  Friends.  These are fun things especially in our south Louisiana culture.

But the Superbowl means something completely different to others.  It means slavery.  The Superbowl has become the largest human-trafficking event in the United States.

Women and children (mostly) will fight for their lives this weekend as the Superbowl approaches.  What will you do?  What can you do?

Short of going to the Superbowl itself (not exactly reasonable for most), there is action you can take!  Cover your Facebook news feed with awareness.  It may not seem like much but awareness DOES catch on!  Awareness spreads.  And soon people who will have the privilege of attending the game will know that this is something to watch for.

Google.  Research.  What are signs to look for?  It happens in our own towns more often than we think so even if you are not attending the Superbowl, it is good to be aware.

And the most important thing you can do is pray!  Pray and pray and pray.  Pray for protection.  Pray for the plans of these criminals to be stopped before action can take place.  Pray for police to take action.  Pray for the government to take action.  Pray for those being targeted that they will not fall into the trap and will steer clear of danger.

It seems so small.  Yet, it is the most powerful thing you can do.  Will you pray??

Now I am not saying it is wrong to have fun this Sunday.  Get together with friends and eat fun food and have a good time!  But please, pray.  And start sharing the facts.

A friend sticks closer than a brother

David and Jonathan’s friendship
1 Samuel 18
V. 1 …There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David.
If you continue to read in your bible, you see David and Jonathan’s friendship in action.

My study bible says this about their friendship:
-it was one of the deepest and closest friendships recorded in the bible.
-they let nothing come between them, no career or family problems.
-they drew closer together when their friendship was tested.
-they remained friends to the end.

I’ve been so blessed to have a few friends like this in my short lifetime. They have stuck with me through thick and then. They have lifted my arms in times of trouble, and rejoiced with me in times of triumph. I adore them, and love(d) living life with them.

Some of them live away from me now and keeping up friendships in our busy world is hard, but those few friends whether far away or close by still remain a vital part of my life. I am so thankful for each of these ladies and the impact they have had on my life.

Who is your David or Jonathan? And even more so, are you a Jonathan or David in someone else’s life?

Be that friend that sticks by no matter what. So many treasures come out of that kind of committed friendship.

And the truth is, sometimes those friendships hurt. We hurt each other as humans, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on one another.
Jesus gives us a great example of friendship. He loves his disciples and his enemies even as they betray him and turn their back on him. Are we more worthy than God that we can’t love our friends even though they hurt us?

My prayer is that when the Father brings me a David or a Jonathan friend, I would remain humble and cherish their friendship. I would be the one to lift their arms in the battles and rejoice with them in the victories.

A personal story:
Over the past few years at Bethel, I have had several close friends. And they were wonderful friends. Friends who stuck by me and loved me and that I loved dearly, but I truly had a Jonathan friend after about a year of being friends. We sought the Lord together. We did ministry together. It was a friendship based on our commitment to the Lord and not much else. That is what held our friendship together. This special friend moved away and for 2 years I prayed for a friend like her to be in my space. It’s hard to have strong friendships 2 states away. I also prayed for her to move back. God honored my prayer, and she has moved back to Jennings. Our friendship has grown and we once again get to seek the Lord together and and do ministry. She is one of my very best friends and I thank the Lord for her constantly.

If you long for that kind of friendship, seek God’s face…and be patient. The Lord is gracious. And He wants to honor your heart’s desire when those desires line up with His Word.