Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Heather is hosting "Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving"--



"This week, many bloggers have devoted a special post in which they are sharing their personal testimonies of the Lord's work in their lives and/or that of their families. Our collective prayer is that this sharing of their testimonies will not only encourage each other and give Glory to our Lord, but also show the love of Christ to those who happen upon our blogs. To enjoy many more testimonies please visit them ...
or maybe you'd like to join them!!!

Please stop by and visit Heather and read all the wonderful testimonies of how Our Lord is working in each and everyone of our lives.

Before I begin, let me say that I was not going to do this. However, I was encouraged to share my story, and I hope that when you read it you will see how God has transformed me, lifted me from the miry clay, and know I now that I am a daughter of the King! My hope is that my story will give hope to others--those who feel downtrodden, worn out and weary--that God is just waiting for you to come to Him--and He will enable you to feel peace, joy, hope and freedom.


FORGIVENESS

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.".......Matthew 18:21-22

I'm kind of curious--Have any of you ever said to someone else: "I'll never forgive you for that!!" or "I don't know how I'll ever forgive that person for what they've done to me." or "How could you have done that--I'll never forgive you!" or anything similar? Have you thought that to yourself? I know that I have.

In order for me to even address the subject of forgiveness, I'm going to tell you a little bit more about myself. Perhaps some of you who know me or have read previous posts at warmharte already know this. But, bear with me, please.

This is going to be personal, somewhat heart rending for me.

First--a little background:

My own father passed away when I was 8 years old. My brother was 13 years old at this time. My mother returned to work full time, and my grandmother lived with us--preparing meals and doing the majority of the household chores. I spent the majority of my time alone.

My father had been ill with a chronic kidney disease ever since I could remember. I don't have too many memories of him because he was in and out of the hospital most of the time during these years. This illness is hereditary, and my brother has the same disease--polycystic kidney disease. He had over 1/2 of his left kidney removed when he was 2 years old and has since had a kidney transplant.

I never understood, at that age, why my father had been taken from me. I didn't understand the severity of his illness. I wasn't allowed to visit him in the hospital due to age restrictions at that time. I just know that I came home from school one day, and my mother told me--"Your father has gone to Heaven to live with Jesus."

I don't know if I truly understood at that time--I don't really remember.

My mother remarried when I was 12 years old--a wonderful man that was good to me--a man that I was proud to call "Dad". Along with my new Dad, I acquired a new sister and a new brother. And we became a new family.

However, there were still a lot of questions left unanswered in my mind. I had been sexually molested by a stranger in a parking lot when I was 9. Nothing was done about this after I told my mother. In my family, the rule was: "If you don't talk about it, it never happened."

As I became a little older, my cousin began sexually molesting me. I didn't tell anyone because in my mind, if nothing had been done before, nothing would be done this time.

Finally, time for high school!! And this was a time for partying, a time for fun, a time for drinking. I look back now and wonder how I ever managed to graduate from high school, much less be accepted into a college.

Off to college--more partying, more drinking. I had also met someone--a man almost 5 years older than me. We married when I was barely 20 years old with the total blessings of my parents. I think they thought an older person may have a settling effect on me. And, it did--for a while We were married for 4 years when he decided that he no longer loved me, no longer wanted me in his life.

I left, moved into an apartment and the REAL partying began. I met my second husband in a bar. I met him, took him home with me, and he never left. We married when we found that I was pregnant. We were both happy about this, and my son was born! I stopped partying while I was pregnant, but after my son was born, I slowly starting drifting back into this phase--not as much as before--but still doing more than my fair share.

Less than 2 years later, my first daughter was born. Again, I stopped partying during the pregnancy and then slowly began again. Then, another two years--my second daughter was born.

During this pregnancy, my husband had a snowmobile accident. He fractured 5 ribs on one side and was in a lot of pain. The doctor he was seeing prescribed pain medication which he liked just a little too much. His use of this increased to the point that he was taking 16-18 pills of narcotics every day--just to get through the day.

I, in the meantime, had looked one evening at my children sleeping, and the question came to me that if something happened, right at that moment, if something happened to one of them, would I be able to handle it? Would I be able to drive this child of mine to the hospital if need be? And my answer was an emphatic "NO". I stopped partying then and there and have never gone back to this lifestyle.

On my husband's part, however, his addiction into pain medication deepened. Then, very suddenly, the doctor who was prescribing him medication retired from medical practice. Left without a supplier of his drugs, he turned to heroin.

My children grew and my anger and resentment grew. I became a very bitter and angry person. Finally, he decided to seek help in a rehab. Then, out of the rehab, clean for 5-6 months, and then back to drug use again. This occurred 5-6 times until finally I could stand no more. During this time, I also suffered from a very deep depression which required two hospitalizations.

And an important factor here, is that I told no one, absolutely no one. I was ashamed of what my life had become.

I called my brother early one morning and spilled out the whole mess, crying, sobbing to him. Both my brothers and my sister and their spouses moved me and my two daughters not long after that. My son decided to stay with his father. He was almost 17 by this time, and I think that he thought he could "fix" him. About 6 months later, my son came to me and asked if he could live with me. He could take no more.

I was still bitter and angry, full of resentment.. Then my husband came to me, telling me that he was clean. And I made a very big mistake--I took him back. No, he wasn't clean from drugs. Yes, he was clean from heroin, but he was addicted to crack.

Crack--the drug that is even worse than heroin. Crack brings out the paranoia and violence in a person. That person will do anything just to get the next fix. And violence prevailed in my household. My youngest daughter's saving account was emptied, there was no money to pay our bills, and we were in danger of being evicted.

I was again in a deep depression--not thinking rationally, and I decided that the only way out of this mess was to take my own life. I was tired, worn, anxiety-filled and basically unable to function. I took every sedative that had been prescribed for me plus all the blood pressure medication I had on hand.

My son found me and took me to the hospital. I remember the ride in the elevator, to the Toxicology Unit--the head of this unit riding with me--electrodes attached to my chest with a portable defibrillator next to me on my stretcher. The doctor said to me, "You are an intensive care case waiting to happen."

I was placed in a room with a glass wall facing the hallway. I was to be on a 24 hour suicide watch. There were orders written for each and every thing that could occur due to the amount of drugs I had taken. During this night, I lay awake--just laying there with an empty mind. And sometime during that night, I heard a voice say to me, "What are you doing?" Just a gentle whisper. I looked through my glass wall at the nurse assigned to me. She had said nothing.

And then again, the whisper, "What are you doing?"

I didn't know, I just didn't know what I was doing. I was thinking that I couldn't stand the violence, the lies, the addictions, the constant fear in which I was living. I loved my children so much. Why was I planning on leaving them alone with this mess?

The amazing thing is that nothing happened--my blood pressure didn't drop dangerously low, my pulse rate didn't drop and I didn't fall asleep from all the sedatives. I was awake all night long.

I know now that God intervened in this attempt of mine to take my own life. He, clearly, had bigger and better purposes for my life.

The doctors were amazed and could not understand when the next morning I was perfectly fine and discharged to home. I didn't want to go home--the place where all the violence and fear was, but I had no where else to go.

And then, another rehab--but during this rehab, I made arrangements and left again. Still so angry, so full of hatred towards this man for what he had done to our family.

During this time, I met someone--someone new to my work. She always seemed so peaceful and calm, even in the midst of turmoil--still remained peaceful. I watched her, listened to her--wondering what she had in her life that made her this way.

One day she invited me to her church. I told her I couldn't come because I had no church clothes. She said that was okay, this was a very casual church--you didn't need "church clothes". I stood her up that first Sunday--just didn't show.

She didn't chastise me for this--just said we'll try again next week.

The next week, I went to church with her, and I knew that I had come home. Jesus touched me that day and started a long and painful healing process for me. The message that day was on God's love for each and every one of us--regardless of who we are, what we have done in our past. He is there with us always--waiting for us with open arms, waiting for me to come to Him so that He could give me the gifts He had waiting for me--His unconditional love--love like I had never known before; forgiveness of my past, a future full of hope, joy and peace, the gift of an eternity spent with Jesus. All I had to do was accept and receive these gifts from Him. Nothing else--just believe, accept and receive in faith. And I did.

I was still wondering how in the world I was supposed to forgive my now ex-husband and forgive myself for my past, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to him in anger, for all the mean and hateful things I had said to my mother and my father.

But, God took me by the hand and led me. God is very patient with me, and I am so grateful for this. Sometimes, I took three steps forward and two steps backward, falling. And, God would pick me up, and we would start again.

Slowly, so slowly, I began to forgive. I realized that all the anger, all the bitterness, all the resentment were not hurting my ex-husband at all. The only person they were hurting was me. I was the one being eaten alive by these powerful emotions.

As I grew in God's love, I began to leave these emotions behind me, and I forgave my ex-husband and also myself. I know that Jesus lived, suffered and died for me so that I could have this forgiveness, not just for myself but to extend this to others also--as many times as needed.

In this place of forgiveness, I have turned from a bitter, angry resentful person into a person who is peaceful and calm. Do I have days where I am upset by something, feel discouraged, feel angry? Of course, I do. But, I now know that I can turn to my Lord with these problems and emotions, and He is there for me--to listen to me, to take my problems and worries from me. He is in control of my life because I have given my life to Him.

Today I am thankful--thankful for God's unconditional love for each and every one of us, thankful that He watches over me every moment of my life, and I am thankful that He has given me His Son, Jesus, to follow as an example in my own life. Through Jesus, I have learned the grace needed to give others. So much grace and forgiveness has been granted to me through Jesus. When I think and compare what Jesus did for me, for all of us--I am only being asked to extend a very small portion of grace and forgiveness to others.

Beth




Monday, November 24, 2008

Tagged!!

I've been tagged by Dorothy at Always Be Prepared.

Here are the rules of the tag:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.

2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).

3) Write 6 random things about yourself.

4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.

5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

6) Let the tagger know when your entry is up.


So, here are the six random things about myself:

1. I have moved 14 times and never moved more than 90 miles away from where I was born.

2. I wanted to join the Peace Corps when I graduated from high school, but I was only 17 and my parents wouldn't sign to give me permission to join.

3. I had the mistaken illusion when I was young that I didn't need to learn to cook, do housework or anything domestic because "I was going to marry a rich man and have a maid". This thought remained in my mind until I was actually married and learned quickly that life was going to be other than I had planned.

4. I learned to knit at the age of 9, and I only own one thing that I have made. And I have never knit a sweater.

5. I was "asked" to leave my Girl Scout Troop because a friend and I took an overnight camping event as an opportunity to leave our tents in the middle of the night and wander around in the woods.

6. I was probably one of the most sarcastic, mean, hateful, angry, bitter and just downright nasty people you would have ever met in your life until I finally allowed Jesus to enter my life and HE transformed me.

Now, I'm supposed to tag 6 people that I would like to know more about. Let's see:

Sandy at Knittin' Kudzu

Sharon at His is My Prince of Peace

Jennifer at Through the Storms of Life

Marlena at Through Good Times and Bad Times

Marama at Unwrapping the Gift

Pea at Pea's Corner

Beth



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Love Dare Day 25--Love Forgives

I am skipping over a few chapters of the "Love Dare" book because they do not pertain to my relationship with my children and are truly only related to a marriage relationship. I was even contemplating not continuing on with this challenge thinking that from here on would be solely related to marriage issues.

Then, I read on:

LOVE FORGIVES

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ......1 Corinthians 2:10

and the dare for this day:

Whatever you haven't forgiven in your children, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive our debtors" each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping my children and I in prison for too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive."

Before I answer my follow up to this day, I want to write a little here about forgiveness. I've had a lot to forgive in my life, and I've come to learn that unforgiveness is a condition of your heart. It's as though your heart is locked in a prison with many cells--cells that contain people from your past--maybe your parents, maybe your spouse, maybe people who have hurt you in the past, and yes, maybe even your children.

This state of prison exists inside of your heart every day unless you choose to forgive. And the longer these people and whatever has happened stay in your heart, the more bitter and resentful you will become.

What happens is you become trapped in this state of unforgiveness. Yes, what they did was very wrong, more than likely hurtful to you in some way or another.

But, forgiveness is not absolving the other party of blame, it is freeing you from the anger, bitterness and resentment you are carrying around with you every day of your life--the emotions that are literally eating you alive, making you a prisoner as well.

How can we be joyful when we are feeling such hurt? Does the other person or persons even realize or care that we feel this way about what they may have said or done to us? No, they are going about their lives--not thinking about what may have occurred--probably not really even caring, and we are the ones who are suffering.

That is why forgiveness is so important. It lifts us up out of the prison of darkness that has encased our hearts and frees us.

So, how do we go about forgiving others?

We turn them over to God. Release your anger, your desire for revenge to the Lord.

"Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeange is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord"...Romans 12:19

As I mentioned earlier, there were a lot of areas in my life that I needed to turn over to God--a lot of unnecessary hurts, a lot of wrong done to me. I was becoming more angry and bitter, more resentful every moment of my life. And there was Jesus, just waiting for me to turn all of this over to Him--He holds the key and He is the key.

Through much prayer and guidance from other fellow Christians, I was able to forgive many wrongs from my past. I'm not saying that this happened overnight or in a flash of lightening. It took time and effort on my part.

Was this time and effort and prayer that I devoted to this worth it? Yes, definitely. The anger is gone, the bitterness is gone, the resentment is gone--and instead of these emotions I am calm, peaceful and joyful.

And you may ask this question: How do I know when I have truly forgiven someone?

The answer: When you can think of that person, see that person, hear that person spoken of and you no longer feel the anger, bitterness and resentment boiling up inside of you. Then you know that you have given this to God to take care of for you.

The follow up for today:

What did you forgive your children for today? How long have you been carrying the weight of it? What are the possibilities now that you've released this matter to God?

I do not have one specific thing for each of my children that I have forgiven. We are in a mother-child relationship, even though they are now adults. I have to say that over the years of their "growing-up" time that I forgave them for many things, just as my parents forgave me for the difficulties of just trying to reach adulthood--things said in anger, rules that were made that were broken.

Ater having thought about this for some time, I realized that I still come back to their relationship with their father. I really would prefer that they be like me and have nothing to do with him at all. Is that fair of me? Is that even realistic of me? No, it's not.

When I would hear one of them tell him that they loved him, I would just cringe--thinking to myself--"How can they even say that? How can they say that they love him? Why do they even want to continue to have any kind of relationship with him?"

And so, again through prayer and guidance from others, I have given this to God. They are my children, but they are also their father's children. And more than anything, they are God's children, even if they don't realize it at this time.

Once again, I have turned to Jesus with this matter--handing Him the controls, letting go of my own feelings towards my childrens' father which actually was hampering my own relationship with them. I actually was holding an attitude of unforgiveness towards my children because of this.

Since I have done this, I have heard my son on the phone with his father, talking about football and a few other discussions. He ends the conversation with "I love you".

I no longer cringe at these words. Regardless of my own feelings, this man is their father. They are adults and capable of making decisions on their own. If they choose to have a relationship with him, it is not of my concern.

And so we move on to Day 26
:

LOVE IS RESPONSIBLE

When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.....Romans 2:1

and the dare for this day:

Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. Ask for God's forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your children. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your children for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept it by receiving it as counsel.


Chelle' is hosting this "Love Dare". You can visit her by clicking on the book at the top of the post.

Beth




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Super Sunday--Adonai

It's Super Sunday at Peggy's. I love Sunday--my very favorite day of the week!!

I have had a few things on my mind this week. I'm still pondering and thinking over this verse from Revelation from the concert I went to on Tuesday evening.

I found this on Heartlight, and this picture answers any and all questions any one might have about this verse.

Who is worthy to open the scroll?


Only one--Adonai.



Now, I know that some of you aren't able to view the video, so I placed the song on a playlist so that at least you can hear it--for you--hisfirefly!

Just make sure to stop the playlist if you can see the video!!

Beth

Friday, November 21, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday

I have surrendered all to my God and Savior. He is my focus in my life for everything--even down to the smallest decision I have to make.

I am so glad God waited so patiently for me to come to Him--waiting and waiting--until just the right time, when He knew I had nowhere else to turn except to HIM!!

I love my Father and He has shown me the way--through His love for me I am now able to overflow with love for others.

What I once thought was so complicated is really so simple. God loved me before I ever loved Him, never stopped loving me even though I rejected Him. He has led the way for me--showing me how to unconditionally love others--through the love He showed me through His only Son--my Savior--Jesus Christ.







For more inspiring "Then Sings My Soul Saturday's", stop by and visit Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Beth

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Worthy is the Lamb


I went to a concert last night at the Forum in Harrisburg. The El Shaddai Singers were performing--a full symphony orchestra, a full choir, soloists--and what a powerful message delivered through music, words spoken by others.

As the Director of these singers said after one song: "If you can't feel that, then your "feeler" must be stuck!" And yes, such feelings of God's love for us, the power of His Hand, the majesty of His creation, the second coming of Jesus!!

Michael W. Smith wrote the song "Angus Dei" (Latin--Lamb of God) while pondering over these verses from Revelation:

1Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" 3But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."

6Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

11Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"

13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!" 14The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Revelation 5:1-14

He wrote this song imagining what Heaven will be like--with all the angels and all of the redeemed--falling down and worshiping the Lamb--for worthy is the Lamb--the only ONE who is worthy.



Sunday, November 16, 2008

Love Dare Day 22--Love Is Faithful



LOVE IS FAITHFUL

I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord.....Hosea 2:30

and the dare for this day:

Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your children seemed to have lost interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these,

"I LOVE YOU. PERIOD. I CHOOSE TO LOVE YOU EVEN IF YOU DON'T LOVE ME IN RETURN."


Chapter 22 in the "Love Dare" book refers to the story of Hosea. Hosea was instructed by God to marry, Gomer, a prostitute. What was God's reasoning in this, we may wonder?

He wanted to show what HIS unconditional love really looks like.

Hosea did marry Gomer and they had 3 children. Did Gomer love Hosea in return for his love and faithfulness to her? Sadly, she did not. She returned to her life of immorality, showing her discontentment in being faithful to one man.

God then instructed Hosea to go and reaffirm his love for Gomer--a woman who had been repeatedly unfaithful to him. He actually had to go to the slave block, buy her and bring her home.

She had treated him poorly--with contempt and traitorous actions--but Hosea welcomed her back with unconditional love.

God is always faithful to us, even when we turn our faces from Him. He gave us the greatest gift of all, His only Son so we may eternal salvation, and yet we still reject Him sometimes.

And so I as I reflect on this story of Hosea, God's faithfulness to me, and also Jesus' great commandments:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, your strength, your mind, and your neighbor as yourself"......Luke 10:27

and then add in the dare of love being a choice, I realize that I have not always made that choice--not in my own everyday life in response to others, not always in response to my children, and not always in my response to God.

Yes, I have made wrong choices. We all have. I have faced the rejection of my love to others in my family, my former marriage, and even my children.

I still love them--I always will. But, there are times when hurtful words are said in anger, by all parties concerned. There are times when I don't feel the returned love of my children, sometimes feel taken advantage of by them.

Here is the catch 22 in this--they feel the same way.

With the love of Christ in my heart, my mind, my soul, my strength--I make the choice to love my children, even when they are being hurtful, demanding or just otherwise unloving towards me.

I am going to continue to show them the love of Jesus through my words and actions towards them. This is a choice that I have made.

In the past, when things have not gone well between any of my children and myself, I have had a tendency to withdraw from them--to shut them out.

Today, I choose to stop that harmful behavior and focus on Jesus--always on Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I know that by following the example that He has set for me--His own faithful and unconditional love for me--to the point of death, that I cannot go wrong in this.

I will not shut myself away from children any longer. I choose to love them every moment of every day--even if it seems they are not returning that love to me.


DAY 23

Love Always Protects.....1 Corinthians 13:7

and the dare for this day:

Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that is stealing your affections and turning your heart from your children.

Please stop by and visit Chelle' for comments from all the participants in this "Love Dare".

Beth



Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Twenty-Third Psalm--Super Simple Sunday


I received this in an e-mail this week, and I thought I would share it with you. Be sure and visit Peggy for more Super Simple Sunday's!!




The Lord is My Shepherd = That's Relationship!


I shall not want = That's Supply!


He maketh me to lie down in green pastures = That's Rest!


He leadeth me beside the still waters = That's Refreshment!


He restoreth my soul = That's Healing!


He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness = That's Guidance!


For His Name's sake = That's Purpose!


Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death = That's testing!


I will fear no evil = That's Protection!


For Thou art with me = That's faithfulness!


Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me = That's Discipline!


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
= That's Forgiveness!



Thou anointest my head with oil = That's consecration!


My cup runneth over = That's abundance!


Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life =
That's Blessing!


And I will dwell in the house of the Lord = That's Security!


Forever = That's Eternity!

Mission--Then Sings My Soul Saturday


I have decided to do something a little different for this Saturday. I have had missions placed upon my heart so many times and yet have not pursued this.

Today, when I was looking for a video to post, I originally was looking for "This is Our God", and this is the first video that came up.

Surprisingly enough, this video is a missions trip that my church took to Lima, Peru in 2006.

I think that I'm being told something--again.




For more songs and participants in "Then Sings My Soul Saturday", please visit Amy at Signs, Miracles, and Wonders.

Beth

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Love Dare Day 21--Love Is Satisfied In God


The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire........Isaiah 58:11

and the dare for today:

Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible. Try reading a chapter out of Proverbs each day or reading a chapter in the Gospels. As you do, immerse yourself in the love and promises God has for you. This will add to your growth as you walk with Him.

I read this dare, and I almost decided not to post about it. I do this every day, my quiet time in the morning with God. I read my Bible every morning, pray, listen to worship music. and I journal--writing down what I have learned from my Bible reading that day, how God is speaking to me. And I also date and journal my prayers. When God answers my prayer, I go back and write His answer--with the date--in my journal next to the original prayer.

But, then I read the chapter in the book. As I read this, I realized how important it is for me to continue doing this--every day of my life.

I have read verses before during circumstances in my life, and God has spoken to me through them in a very special way. During a different situation, I could read these exact same verses, and God will speak to me through these verses in a different way.

The Bible is God's Word written down for us so that we can draw closer to God, learn more about Him, realize that He is ever faithful, ever trustworthy, always dependable, always loving, and only He can bring the inner peace and true joy that so many are seeking in other ways.

We, as human beings, cannot meet all of these requirements for one another. God, however, can. As we draw closer to closer to Him and more dependent upon Him for our needs in our life, we can see just how dependable, faithful, trustworthy, and loving He is and will always be.


He is the only one in my life who will never change.

I am currently doing a study on the book of Ephesians through my church. This is broken down into reading several verses every day, then studying upon them and asking yourself questions about the verses that you have read.

These are the questions that I am asking myself each day as I read just a small portion of God's Word:

Is there a..............

  • Truth to believe?
  • Promise to claim?
  • Perspective to embrace?
  • Attitude to adjust?
  • Priority to change?
  • Lesson to learn?
  • Command to obey?
  • Offense to forgive?
  • Sin to confess?
  • Action to take?
And what is the key thought in these verses? Now I can't even begin to claim that I thought this up by myself! This is what my entire church is studying at this time. You can stop by and visit there if you'd like. The name of my church is Daybreak--coming from "Everyday is a fresh start with God".

I'll share with you a few of my key thoughts from my journal on this study of Ephesians:

I have been chosen by God, and I am His daughter--a daughter of The King.

I am redeemed through Jesus Christ.

I am God's adopted daughter through the Holy Spirit.

I am a workmanship of God and God alone.

I am rescued.

God trusts me to do His Will.



These are just a few of my key thoughts from studying just a few verses every day. Yes, I get up earlier than necessary in order to do this, but it is well worth it. I carry God's Word and my key thought for the day with me--all through my day at work, recalling it as often as I can throughout my day.

Now, back to how this day can impact my children--my 3 children for whom I am doing this "Love Dare".

My quiet time is very early in the morning--before anyone else is up. They all are adults and two of them are living on their own.

My children know that I attend church regularly, they know that I worship God, they know my beliefs, they know that I pray. In fact, daughter #1 has asked me to pray about certain situations in several of her friends' lives even though she professes to be a nonbeliever.

And they have to hear the worship music I listen to!! You can probably hear it at your house!!

But, and this is a big but--they don't even know that I have a quiet time. They have never seen me read and study the Bible, write down what God is telling me through His Word, through song.

I value my early morning quiet time, and I will not give that up. But, I think I need to add an evening time also. This way they will be able to see that God's Word is real to me, the living truth, what I do and will always live by.

And now on to Day 22:

LOVE IS FAITHFUL


I wil betroth you to Me in faithfulness, then you will know the Lord...Hosea 2:20


and the dare for this day:


Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your children seem to have lost their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these:


"I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return."

Make sure you stop by Chelle's to read about all the participants in this dare.

Beth



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love Dare 20--Love Is Jesus Christ



While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly....
Romans 5:6

and today's dare:

Dare to take God at His Word. Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. Dare to pray, "Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. But You have shown Your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and You have proven Your power to save me from death by Your resurrection. Lord, change my heart, and save me by Your grace."


If you don't know me or haven't read this before, now would probably be a good time to skip back to here and read where I have been, where I have come from before God rescued me from what was surely a downward spiral into nothingness.

My previous day's post says exactly how I feel about Jesus--He came to seek and save me, forgive me by His crucifixion on the cross and His grace in my life.

When I read the following verses, this is impacted into my mind even more:

"God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him"......1 John 4:9

"Although He existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant.......He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross"......Philippians 2:6-8

"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed".......1 Peter 2:24

"One will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" .....Romans 5:7-8

"The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord"......Romans 6:23

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast".....Ephesians 2:8-9

"If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation".....Romans 10:9-10

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers....This is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us"......1 John 3:16, 23

"The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love"......1 John 4:8

These verses are promises from God, truths from God. As I read over them again and again, I can see that God's love cannot be fully understood. I will never be able to do enough to earn this love. It is a gift--given freely to me by God.

But, in order to receive God's gift, I must open my heart, my soul and receive God's love into my heart, my mind, my body, my entire life.

I have received God's gift of salvation, His gift of unconditional love for me--even though I confess I do not understand this.

But, I know this much--I can never do anything that will make God love me more, and I can never do anything that will make God love me less.

God is willing to love me with all my faults and flaws, all my imperfections. He still chose to love me! He loved me and provided for me even when I didn't love Him back! This just astounds me!

How does this relate to my children and today's Love Dare? My children have not accepted Christ as their Savior. But, I know that they will--in God's time--not my time. God is waiting patiently for them to come to Him, just as He did with me.

And God still loves them, regardless of whether they are in love with Him or not. God has chosen them, just as He chose me.

I, today, make the choice to love my children--just as they are--not trying to change them to suit me--just as they are--just as God loves me. God is the only one who can change their hearts, and I am just an instrument, a trowel, planting seeds into their lives so that they can see God through me.

Tomorrow:

Day 21--Love Is Satisfied in God

The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desires.....Isaiah 58:11

and the dare for this day:

Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible. Try reading a chapter out of Proverbs or reading a chapter in the Gospels. As you do, immerse yourself in the love and promises God has for you. This will add to your growth as you walk with Him.

Stop by Chelle's and read about all the participants of this Love Dare. I think we all are making great progress!!

Beth

Love Dare--Day 19--Love Is Impossible



Let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God----1 John 4:7

and the dare for this day:


Look back over the dares from previous days. Were there some that seemed impossible to you? Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love? Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for strength and grace to settle your eternal destination.


For this post, I'm going to quote directly from the "Love Dare" book because what this says is very important.

"You cannot manufacture unconditional love (or agape love) out of your own heart. It's impossible. It's beyond your capabilities. It's beyond all our capabilities.

You may have demonstrated kindness or unselfishness in some form, and you may have learned to be more thoughtful and considerate. But sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is another matter altogether.

So, how can you do it? Like it or not, agape love isn't something you can do. It's something only God can do. But, because of His great love for you--and His love for your children--He chooses to express His love through you."

Just as I had perceived after a few days of doing this "Love Dare" which is why I moved this dare to "The Power of Your Love".

This is not something I can do on my own. I have tried, believe me, I have tried. And how many times have I set myself up for failure, tried to control a situation over which I have no control, reacted in anger, selfishness, impatience, and just downright ugly behavior.

Too many times to count. I don't even want to begin thinking about how many times-there are just too many!! I can't give what I don't have. I, myself, don't have the strength, the inner resources, the resolve to do this on my own.

I can only do this with God's love flowing through me and into others, in this case, my children.


Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing." John 15:5. He also said, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." John 15:7

I love promises from God because I know that God is the only way to unconditional love. He is the only one capable of unconditional love, and
He will show me the way. God's love is unfailing, forever faithful.

I can't do it without Him--I can't do anything without Him. I must submit to Him, surrender to Him--in all things, always!!

I can't live without Him and I can't love without Him.

I have to admit that as I read several of the "dares" I thought they would be easy, simple, a piece of cake.

But, as I turned to myself and truly examined myself, I found that I was lacking. This has been a true challenge for me--an often painful self-examination.

And I am back to my original question to myself:

Can I change my children--their belief systems, their attitudes, their behaviors? Can I, on my own, do this?


No, I can not.


But, God, working through me, has made me see that none of these things are insurmountable or impossible.


The follow up questions to today's dare:


What do you believe that God is saying to you? Is there a stirring in your heart? What decision have you made in response to this?



Abba,

Today I surrender myself completely, totally to you. Point out areas to me where I have not surrendered and press me onward to my goal. In doing this, I am surrendering my children to You. This is so hard, Abba!! Letting go of them--the ones that You have given me. I know that I have failed in many ways. Please forgive me, Lord!!

Help me to show them Your unconditional love flowing through me to them, so that they may feel fully loved. Help me to develop agape love, not only for my children, but for everyone I meet in my day to day life, so that they can share in this totally awesome love You have for them.

I surrender my children, my life to you, Abba. You know what is best for me, what is best for them. I bow down at Your cross and praise you, kiss the feet of grace.

You have shown so much grace to me in my life. Help me to extend that grace to others, particularly my children as I surrender their lives to You.

In Jesus' MOST PRECIOUS NAME---

All God's people say:

AMEN.




Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love Dare 17--Love Promotes Intimacy

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separate close friends.....Proverbs 17:9


and the dare for this day was:

Determine to guard your children's secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them. Talk with your children, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe.

and as a follow up to doing this dare:

How much of an effort is it for you to hold back from saying something, critical or otherwise? What have you learned from you children today, simply from listening?

Hmmm......this is actually pretty difficult!! All 3 of my children are adults, and they all have a tendency to keep things to themselves and not readily share with me. Looking back at this and reading this chapter has made me realize that the reason they don't easily come to me with their problems, their personal thoughts and struggles is because I am overly critical. I say things in anger or frustration that I more than likely don't really mean. In other words, I speak before I truly listen to them or think about what I am going to say in return!!

And, their number one reason on their list of not telling me things is this:

I DIDN'T WANT TO UPSET YOU!!!!


Oh, does this bring back memories!! Memories of me with my own mother--hiding things I had done, poor grades on report grades, getting into trouble at school, and on and on and on. And why did I do this?

Because I didn't want to upset my mother!! Why didn't I want to upset her? Well, let's just say here that I loved my mother. But, she was overly critical of me always!! And when I ever did anything to upset her, she would go into her room, shut the door and go to bed--not just for the night but for WEEKS.....YES, WEEKS!!!

Needless to say, Mom had some issues of her own going on there, and I always said I would never do the same to my own children--be overly critical of them, expect perfection of them, shut them out of my life for any period of time.

Unfortunately, life has a way of repeating itself--I, too, had many issues to deal with when my children were young--a terrible marriage, violence, abuse, drug addiction of my spouse. Now, I am not saying to put blame anywhere. Forgiveness has been given on my part after much soul searching, prayer and help from God.

But, how did I handle this at the time? I became overly critical, expecting perfection of my children, and yes, I did take to my bed, in the throes of depression for a period of over 3 months.

A learned behavior that I had told myself would never occur in my relationship in my children--repeating itself!!

Now, we must realize that my 3 children are very close to one another--even with one living miles away. I can be sure that if one of them has something on their minds--a problem, a struggle--one of the others will surely know about.

And then it comes to me--not directly from the source--but in a round-about-way from one of the others because my children cannot keep something about the other one to themselves!! They are not good secret keepers!

In the past, my first reaction was to pick up the phone, confront whatever child was having a problem, a struggle, or doing something that they shouldn't be doing (yes, even though they are grown!).

Realizing this about myself, I have talked with each of them--telling them of my past relationship with my mother (no, they didn't know before), how I picked up this habit without even realizing it, and that I want to change.

I told them that I want them to feel free to come to me without anticipating my "upsetedness", my criticism, my anger or my frustration.

I am the one who needs to change here--and I am determined that I am going to change.

I want my children to feel free to come to me without fear of upsetting me. So far, none of them has approached me with anything, but I am prepared.

No, wait--Daughter #2 did this just 2 weeks ago--she lost her job and didn't tell me!! And when she finally did, I wasn't upset like she thought I was going to be!! Instead, I supported her in her decision and told her that this was for the best--that bigger and better things are just waiting for her!!

See, I'm making these changes already without even realizing it. Now, just to stop, listen and think!!


And now on to Day 18:


LOVE SEEKS TO UNDERSTAND

How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.....Proverbs 3:13

and the dare for this day:

Prepare a special dinner at home, just for you and your children. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your children better, perhaps in areas you've rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your children.


I think I'm going to have to wait until Christmas to do this day when all three are together. I'll be skipping to Day 19 and going back to Day 18 when all three are together again!!



Beth