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Archive for the ‘struggle’ Category

It has been really difficult with my husband working so many hours lately. They have been short-staffed with two drivers out, meaning my husband has been working 60+ hours for two months now. The job is a hard, physical one and very tiring, so when he gets home during the week, he pretty much has time to eat, plan the next day’s route and go to bed. And all of this has taken its toll on us. I miss him, and it seems some of the life is missing in our household when he is not arround. And we are praying for a change in the situation soon.

But sometimes when things are really hard, God responds with equal blessing to get us through. The kids seemed especially happy to see my husband this weekend and vice versa. Its like missing him during the week makes us all the more thankful when he is home, and we really had a great time just being together. There was an unusual joy in our household that I think only comes as a gift from God. So I am thankful for God’s little blessings to get us through things, including our beautiful hike on Sunday!

 

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I was feeling frustrated about some things today and I felt led to go for a walk in my neighborhood.  We have this great trail that connects our neighborhood to a nearby park.  It is cool today and raining lightly, but I decided to put on my rain jacket and go anyway.  It was somehow very refreshing to be out in the cool air and the rain.  I could pour out my frustrations to God as I pounded the pavement.  It felt good to walk in the rain and not let it stop me, not let it scare me away.

While I was out I was blessed with the most amazing little finds, such as gorgeous flowering pear trees and little wild pansies covering the grass.  All of these little flowers are lavender or dark purple with a yellow center, at the park, in my back yard, everywhere.  But there is one spot in the park in a drainage ditch that has a patch of only yellow and white flowers.  I’ve never seen them anywhere else.  They were so different, and it is really cool how God can create genetic variations when he feels like making something new and unique.

I’m really glad I went out and talked out my frustrations with God.  It made me feel better, both spiritually and physically.  And I had a good time connecting with God during my rainy day walk.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:6-7

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20130218-112425.jpgWe went hiking again on Saturday and again had a wonderful time.  It was only 40 degrees, so we were bundled up but soon heated ourselves up hiking.  My husband, who is originally from New York State, wears shorts starting at 40 degrees!  So you can see that is what he wore (crazy!) lol.  And since we have three girls in our family, and he is the only guy, he often ends up carrying around things like flowered backpacks! lol  What a great guy! :)

It has been a rough few years for him.  A couple of years ago the main subject of my blog was about him losing our home-based business of 15 years, having to retrain to be a truck driver, and leaving home to drive over-the-road for a year.  This was hard on our family because up till that time my two girls and I were used to having Daddy home 24/7! The girls didn’t know what it was like to have Daddy going away to work each day, and it was a big change to have him gone overnight most days of the week.

That was a really traumatic time for us.  I missed my earthly husband and God filled the role of Husband for me.  He took care of me and comforted me in a way that I never would have gotten to experience otherwise.  My husband went through several jobs for the next couple of years. By then we had used up our savings and many times we did not know how we would pay our bills.  On paper it just did not make sense that we could pay the bills, but each month, somehow God made it work out.  We were always amazed that we didn’t fail to pay one bill.

My husband is a great provider.  He has worked hard the past couple of years to provide the majority of our income for us.  He has taken really hard, physically demanding, exhausting jobs so that me and the girls can be home, comfortable, and cared for, and I am thankful for his sacrifice for us.

He has been working hard and has been so serious about this responsibility for so long that I think he had forgotten what it was like to have fun and do something enjoyable.  We went camping for the first time in a while last Fall.  We hadn’t been able to go on many trips mainly because we couldn’t afford it, but also because my husband had a physically tiring job and just does not have the energy often to drive to another place on his day off.

But this time we went camping, and I assumed my husband was really worn out by this trip, but he was actually having a really good time!  He was invigorated by being out in IMG_0495nature, by hiking, and living among God’s beauty.  We had the most awesome campsite at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park in Tennessee. We camped right on the lake which had a sandy/rocky shore that is not to common where we live in Tennessee.  That weekend was a perfect 70 degrees with a nice breeze.   It was really just perfect and such a nice break for him to just have fun and enjoy himself!

Since then with our new goal to hike the Appalachian Trail, we’ve been hiking most weekends.  And I’ve been surprised that he is all for it!  Many times when I’m wishy washy about it, like maybe we’re too tired or we should stay home and be responsible and clean the house or something, he is the one that says, “No, let’s go!!”  So we have been hiking every weekend, and I think he has been loving it!  He’s been having a blast, and actually we all have (except for my 13-year-old who goes begrudgingly! lol).  And it does my heart good to see him finding pleasure in something and enjoying himself!

I am so glad that God has worked it out this way!  The hiking is good for us physically, but I think it is so much more than that, especially for my husband, invigorating, rejuvenating, just plain pleasure in life.  So I am thankful to God for this new goal in our family which has blessed us, but also which especially blesses my husband who so deserves it for how hard things have been for him and how hard he has worked to care for us.  Praise God for His blessings!

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20130215-105434.jpgThe joy of the Lord is my strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

One of the things we like to do to train for our Appalachian Trail hike this summer is to take shorter walks throughout the week and a longer one on the weekend.  Our town built a nice walking trail that leads from our neighborhood to a nearby park.  You have to cross over a highway to get to the park.  One day as were doing our usual walk I noticed, someone had pained a big smiley face on the side of the bridge.  So you look down at cars zooming below you but also see this giant face smiling back at you!  I thought it was quite comical and a bit out of place so that it is a pleasant surprise, something you do not expect when crossing over a highway!

Sometimes I struggle with mild depression.  I just feel down and anxious and I really don’t know why.  I know its satan trying to bring me down and distract me from the amazing things God has planned for me.  If I am stuck feeling bad about everything, then I can’t very well live victoriously or move forward  with God.  It pretty much incapacities me.

But I forget God’s love for me and His joy.  Last night I had a dream of someone who loved me dearly and something happened that I seemed to find hilariously funny.  I woke up in the middle of laughing hysterically with this overwhelming sense of joy, so much that I felt I couldn’t contain it.  So that’s what I’ve been missing…a sense of His deep love for me, of being in love with Him…and joy.  Just inexplicable, overwhelming joy when you just forget all your cares and relax and trust God.

After all we really have no reason for anxiety. Our Father loves us dearly and accepts us unconditionally.  He has conquered sin and death so we know the end of the story.  We win!  And actually we win now too.  God is in complete control of our lives.  Everything that happens to us has been filtered through His love and all is worked for our good.  So we can’t go wrong.  We just follow Him and we win.  There is no need for worry because our loving Father has taken care of everything for us.  We just have to trust HIm.

So Jesus, help me trust you.  To give up my incessant worrying and to give up believing satan’s lies that things are always wrong.  I know it’s a lie, but it takes so much strength to fight.  But you reminded me last night what it feels like to give up all that worry and to trust you as if I haven’t a care in the world, to laugh freely, and to be loved.  If only we truly understood the reality of our life with you.  Help us to understand.  Thank You for giving this to us!  In Jesus name, amen.

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You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.  Psalm 145:16

We have this really awesome subscription to Netflix on the internet.  It doesn’t cost that much, and it streams tv shows and movies from the internet through our Wii pretty much seamlessly.  It’s very easy to use and gives you access to a very large selection of tv shows and movies.  You could play it 24 hours a day if you wanted to.  There is nothing to stop you, unless you happen to reach the end of their selection, which would probably be impossible!

I find myself drawn to the Discovery Channel reality shows such as those about chasing tornadoes and surviving in the wilderness (which was one of the things that led me to want to hike the Appalachian Trail this summer with my Dad).  My latest interest is Swamp Loggers.  lol   Who would have thought that I would find an interest in this subject!  The rest of my family just kind of looks at me funny, like why do you like that stuff??  I just think it is so interesting the giant, powerful machinery they use to cut down these huge trees, in a swamp no less!  What used to take much, much longer with an axe or a chainsaw can be done with a feller-buncher in seconds.  It has a giant blade that is attached to a huge arm, turns sideways, and cuts straight through the bottom of a giant tree, grabs hold of the tree,  and gently pushes it the direction it wants it to fall.  It does all this in seconds!  Then they have giant machinery to drag the logs out of the swamp with wheels the size of my car and other machines to pinch together several logs at once and lift them into the trucks to be hauled to the mill.

But besides being amazed by the big machinery, they also let you get to know the people who work for this small logging company and be involved in their struggles and successes.  The owner of the family run company even talks about his faith in pretty much every episode.  He will mention how, even when everything seems to be going wrong, he is trusting God to make it work out.  He will talk about how he prays for a hurting employee or how his wife of 25 years is a good compliment to him and that he is thankful for all that God has given him.  So you become attached to these people and interested in their lives.  It’s almost like you know them.  Of course I’m sure you can’t really know someone through a reality show, and they certainly don’t know me!

So Netflix is awesome and you can really watch some interesting stuff on it.  However, I tend to want to watch it all day!  After all, who will stop me…exept that nagging little voice of the Holy Spirit, whispering that maybe this isn’t the best use of my time.  I mean, one or two is ok, but not continuously.  I notice that when I keep the tv on, I have this connection with the tv.  I am probably not watching it exclusively, but doing other things at the same time.  But I am listening to it and I realize I am connected to the tv show.  My constant background thought is on the show and what is going on with the characters and what is going to happen next.  What my thoughts aren’t on is God, or at least not very much.  It’s hard to keep my mind focused on God and carrying on a running conversation with Him throughout the day when instead I am streaming tv into my brain instead.  There is no more room for Him.  And then at the end of the day, I wonder why I feel distanced from Him.

What I want to be connected to is God not the tv.  TV is ok once in a while, for a little bit.  But it should not be my main source of spiritual sustenance.  Instead I should be waiting and seeking the more subtle connection with God to sustain and satisfy me.  After all that is real, substantial food, where as tv is just a junk food snack, not suitable for real nourishment and growth.  And in fact, it can make me fat and weak (spiritually, that is) just like junk food.

So God, please help me to give up my dependence on tv.  Help me to look to you as my main source of satisfaction.  Help me to make my constant connection to you, the Source of Life, and not the tv.  It is super hard because the tv is so enticing and easy.  But help me to choose you instead.  Help to me connect myself to You.  I love you dearly.  In Jesus Name, amen.

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Isaiah 58:11

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Recently I have been making more of an effort to seek God.  I had become complacent in my relationship with Him and so have been trying to spend more time with Him.  Sometimes when I do this, I am rewarded and find Him quickly.  But other times, like now, it seems that all my effort is for nothing.  I don’t seem to make a connection or feel any closer to Him and wonder if it’s even worth it.  But today in God Calling devotional (ed. by A.J. Russell), it said:

“Walk with Me; I will teach you.  Listen to Me and I will speak.  Continue to meet Me in spite of all opposition and every obstacle, in spite of the days when you may hear no voice and there may be no intimate heart-to-heart telling.  As you persist in this, make a life-ling habit of it, in many marvelous ways I will reveal My will to you…”

God seemed to be directly answering my doubt.  I have to remember that my relationship with Him should not be based on feelings, and I need to believe what the Bible tells me:

“The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”  (Lam. 3:2)

“you will call upon Me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you.”  (Jer. 29:12-13)

So I think God wants me to persevere in seeking Him, and I will find Him.  Things will get better.  I just have to wait.  Of course satan would love for me to give up now, perhaps just short of whatever new amazing adventure God is about to take me on.  So, God, help me to persevere and to trust that You are here, listening, and ready to respond when it is the right time.  We love You dearly, Sweet Jesus.  In Your Name, amen.

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Tears to Joy

Well, our computer has finally died. I think it was eight or ten years old, so I guess it was about time! So now I’m having to try to write using my iPhone. It is a bit cumbersome, but on the bright side, it keeps my writing short! Lol.

I’ve written a lot about the trials we’ve been through the past three years.  We had lost our business, our financial security, our church, my daughter’s health, and my husband’s presence as he became a truck driver. But…as God has promised, there have been hidden jewels of unexpected goodness along the way.

Recently I have been thinking about what joy I sometimes feel at just being with my family, all four of us together. Before my husband, Dave, lost his business, we were all home together almost all the time, and we really took our blessings and the ability to be together for granted. But then we lost that privilege when Dave had to become an over-the-road truck driver for a year. He has gotten a better job since then. It gets him home most nights, for which we are very thankful. But but he still works long hours now and is often tired.

The times that he is home and my girls are home, and we all sit around the table, eating dinner together, sometimes I feel sudden, unexpected joy… contentment and simple pleasure at just the presence of my family. And I know that joy has only been born out of the fires that we have been through. It is one of the fruits that God has produced through our struggle. And once again, God has turned our tears to joy.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
-Psalms 126:5-6 (NIV84)

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