Do I trust HIM... in all things??

We were blessed with 2 beautiful healthy daughters.  As we were expecting our 3rd child in 1992, tragedy struck.  I knew I was in labor, and I knew it was way too early… 20 weeks… we had just sold our house and were excited about the recently completed new home we had purchased. 
Frank met me at the hospital, and my doctor quickly determined that our baby’s heart had stopped.  I labored for 12 hours, and  HE was born early on a Thursday morning weighing 2 ounces – measuring 6 ¾ inches.  He has all 10 fingers and all 10 toes – the only reason given for his death was a “cord” accident, they called it – somehow he had been cut off from his life source.

We went home and tried to explain to our 2 and 5 year old daughters… and to me.  Someone sent me an ornate plaque with the engraved wording,
There were a million pieces… and there were a million boxes everywhere… stacks of them surrounded me... reminding me of my ever lack of control in the situation. Loans from the bank halted with needed verification.  Moving  date pushed out day after day.  I was quiet… not the norm for me.  My precious momma became my shield – the closed door to our home… “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”  I reminded her. 
Time passed – I heard the door – I knew my protective momma was at her post.  And then there she was – my very best friend standing in the doorway to my room. “I know exactly how you feel…. I know you don’t want to talk, so we won’t, but I’m not leaving.” 
And she didn’t.  She did talk a little… cried a little… prayed a little.

You see, not only was she my very best, but she had experienced the birth of a stillborn baby just months earlier.  She picked up  the first fragile fragment for me as I began to gather the pieces of my broken heart.  God so tenderly and patiently, in time,  put those pieces back in place.  Did I grieve… of course… was I sad beyond words… absolutely.  Did I realize that on April 16th of this year, that tiny boy would have been 22 years old – you can be sure. 
I did have the opportunity then to decide… bottom line – do I, did I, trust God or not…  It really is that simple. 

For so long in my life, I begged for the understanding of how things work out, why things happen when they do, when events took place… I wanted to see the beautifully wrapped gift with the fancy bow on top – but I haven’t always found that to be the way of God at least not from my very earthly perspective… so then I think of Jesus... his own precious Son.  There was most certainly purpose in His pain... in His submission to His Father's will... Thankfully we know the beauty of His resurrection from the ashes of the horrific crucifixion - the gift of eternal life with HIM as we accept His gift.
You may be in the midst of a challenging time right now... with questions and frustrations and lack of "understanding" of circumstances... me, too, but God's word continues to offer us answers, comfort and, bottom line... a decision for us to make..
Do we fully, completely trust Him - rely on Him - surrender to Him?  No rose-colored glasses here... just trust...
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Take a few moments to read the passage below and "see"  all that HE did for David (and will do for us) as he/we simply wait/trust!  I'm praying for you!  He desires and is willing and able to be actively (look at all those verbs) participating in our lives - as broken and mixed up as we are!!

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.


Practice makes... a little more practice

Mollie's competitive nature was evident early in her life.  Whatever the event, whether a board game like Aggravation (now there's a family story for another time) or a basketball contest of HORSE, she was up for the challenge. 
She didn't just accept the challenge, she planned, prepared and practiced for it.  When tennis was the sport of choice, I would find her EVERY day by the side of the house smashing the ball against the wall over and over again... not just 10 or 20 times, but 500-1,000 times.  When the basketball bug hit her, she would shoot every day, all day... from every corner of the driveway.  During her 3 year commitment to Bible Drill, believe me, we drilled...
Her practice followed her to high school as she studied for tests by making herself hundreds of flash cards for any and every vocabulary word or calculus formula.  Practice definitely proved profitable in her life - she did well in school and thrived in sports....
she wasn't the valedictorian of her senior class
she wasn't the star athlete for her team.

Not sure I really agree with that old saying, "practice makes perfect", do you?  Practice builds stamina, practice decrees improvement, practice adds endurance, practice dictates perseverance... but it doesn't yield perfection, at least not in my experience! 

Paul's words in Philippians 4:11-12 offer us guidance as we long to practice contentment.  I love that he so transparent in his advice... from the Amplified Bible:

Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

Paul had numerous experiences with difficulty, with pain, with suffering.  Don't you love learning from someone who has been in the trenches that you are in?  Rick Warren recently said,

"Your greatest ministry will likely come from your deepest pain."

Our experience becomes our greatest gift.  So Paul, I believe, is offering his words through his circumstances to encourage others... to encourage us.

I counted the word "I" in the verses above 8 times.  This is extremely personal for Paul.... almost too much "I" - his point to me is this... "I" had to do something on my end, make a choice in this contentment world while living in the real world of so much discontentment.  Unhappy, discouraged people; unloved, uncared for children; dissatisfied, depressed women; hurried, workaholic men.... the list is unending in our culture, isn't it?

The answer... comes so gently and thoughtfully in verse 13...  
I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.

I have a choice - I have a decision to make...I have an option...  Not because of "I" or "me", but because of Christ... who empowers me.

From the Amplified:

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me. I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.

So, my friends... we practice... we practice being content... and the more we practice... the better we achieve... through Christ - our strength...

The one thing

What is your absolute priority?  The thing that you schedule everything else around... the thing that you are willing to forgo all other commitments for...  the thing that will not be let go. 

For some it is that every 5-week  haircut appointment - it cannot be missed.  If so, there are consequences to be paid causing "bad" hair days until the appointment is rescheduled and attended.  Might be a mandatory weekly staff meeting; well, we have no choice, of course, it's in the job description, right?  Maybe it is your morning make-up routine... in the same order, with the same timing every day...

For years one of Frank's "one things" centered around Monday, his day off.  (He owned a retail store, so Saturdays were mandatory!).  Every Monday, without fail for the entire school year, he would run through the Wendy's drive-thru, ordering the same thing each week - a kid's chicken nugget meal with a frosty and 10 packets of ketchup.  Every time he would "train" one of the drive-thru attendants to truly believe he needed 10 packets of ketchup, a new server would be hired, and he would train a new one... yes, 10 packets of ketchup... that's how many Mollie needs.  Every Monday morning her question was the same, "Dad, are you coming today?"  Every Monday morning his answer was, "Did I come last week - yes I did and yes I will be there today."  I don't believe the question came because Mollie didn't trust her dad; I think it came because she so looked forward to it.. not just to the ketchup, but to her dad's adoring attention. 

I continue to study and love the story of Mary and Martha as Jesus came for dinner at their house.  You remember... Martha was busy with the preparations, distracted with the work - the things that had to be accomplished.  Mary chose to avoid the distractions and focus on the one thing - her seat at the feet of Jesus, her relationship with Him.  Gently Jesus reminded Martha by calling her name, "Oh, Martha, Martha, you worry about too many things.  Mary has found the one thing, and I won't take that from her."  I hear the kindness in Jesus' voice as He directed Martha away from distractions.

A little later when their brother, Lazarus, become ill, Mary and Martha were distraught with grief.   They immediately sent a message to Jesus to come quickly.  Too late, Jesus finally (in their minds) arrives.  Lazarus has been laid to rest in his tomb for several days.

When Jesus arrives, it is Martha who drops everything and runs to meet Him... longing for His compassion and His comfort.  - Mary stayed in the house. 

Martha had questions... "Why weren't You here?  You could have saved him!"

Her relationship with Him was clear - a deep, abiding love, full trust, which come with commitment to that relationship.  She had learned and put into practice what Jesus taught her during His earlier visit.  Jesus called for Lazarus, and he was raised from the dead. 

Are we learning?  Do we long desperately for the one thing?  We sometimes make it all so complicated, don't we??  It's just JESUS.... calling out to Him; listening to Him through His word, through the Holy Spirit... abiding... being intentionally with Him.  Before your feet touch the floor each morning, before you check your phone, check your email, before the day begins...

Invite Jesus to rule and reign over this day,
to guide each step you take,
take the step.
 have the faith to follow Him and the openness to allow Him to lead.

There were many things that Frank could have been doing at 11:45 a.m. on any given Monday, believe I had a running list, but I could guarantee his location without fail!!
Place your name below in the place of Martha... only one thing, _____________

Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:41-42