A Lesson on Trust . . . .

From the beginning of our relationship, God used my marriage and three children to convict and speak truth to my heart.  Believing that some of those lessons might encourage you, I asked for (and received) permission from my family to write a series of posts featuring a few of those lessons.
I offer them in the hope that God’s loving faithfulness
will speak encouragement to your hearts. 

It took me a while to learn that when God’s Spirit works conviction in a Believers heart, His intent is blessing. Jesus confirmed this as He spoke about the role of the Holy Spirit:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.
He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears,
and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known to you.”

John 16:13, 14

Once we have repented of our sins and embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior,
God’s Spirit convicts our hearts to free us from the plague of sin that pulls us down.
God does not “guilt” His kids into submission,
but convicts us to free us to serve Him well.

Love “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” I Corinthians 13:7, 8

It had been a rough couple of years.  Ever fearful of the potential harm that could come down on our firstborn’s penchant for excitement, I had become a roadblock to almost everything she wanted to do.  Much of the time I felt as if I was a single mom with my husband, then a pilot for the US military, being away more than he was home.  My lifetime dream of being a mother had become a nightmare as fear and resentment grew in my heart.

Then one day it happened: I became convicted that I had lost sight of loving my daughter.  I realized that I was so busy roadblocking her every move, that I had forgotten to lean on God for the wisdom and perspective I lacked.  I was horrified and embarrassed at myself as I wondered: how I had fallen into such a trap?  Part of me was tempted to beat myself up at my failure.   Instead, I opened up my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter.  Intent on making things right with God’s help, I read each piece of instruction aloud as I committed to apply it to my daughter:

“Love is patient” . . . “Yes Lord, I can be more patient with Kara.”
“Love is kind” . . . “Yes, Father, I certainly can be kinder than I’ve been lately.
Love . . . is not proud . . . is not easily angered . . . keeps no record of wrongs . . . .” I responded without flinching, “Yes Lord, I am willing to do all of those things.”  

I continued until I got to verses 7 and 8,

Love–“always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I started to choke (literally!) and confessed in a panic, “But Lord, I CAN’T trust her right now . . . we have a track record . . . she’s 15!”

It was then that I heard what is referred to in the Bible as, “that still, small voice”, speak softly but firmly:“But you CAN trust ME!”

It took a moment to process what had been spoken to my heart.  Then suddenly, the burden I had carried far too long, rolled from my shoulders as I thought, “Yes Lord . . . YES!  I can and DO trust You!”

Looking back it is still amazing how easy it was to love my daughter again.  Once I handed that burden over to Him I was FREE!  Oh, there were still challenges that came up, but when I responded with loving kindness and refused to keep that record of wrongs, I was freed to love and even enjoy my daughter.

Several months later a friend mentioned something Kara had done that I knew nothing about.  I decided to mention it when she arrived home from school, not so much to accuse her, but to ask if she’d really done it?  When she came in we chatted about school before I asked, “Kara, did you . . . ?”  (Don’t ask me what it was, I’ve totally forgotten.)

Kara stood quietly looking at me for several minutes before pounding her fist on the table, “Doggone it Mom–I give up!  Every time I try to get away with anything, God totally rats on me.  I give up!”

Stunned, I started laughing as Kara grinned back at me.

Lesson learned:
Conviction by the Holy Spirit + Humble Repentance = Opportunity to TRUST God more.

No matter what you may be facing, run to Him and to the Scriptures for the help you need.  He is totally worthy of your trust.

All to His Glory!

 

 

 

Doors . . . .

When our family returned to the States after living in England for three years, our four-year-old son Luke talked about missing his “green door”.  He was referring to the flint and brick home we rented while living in England that had green front and back doors.  Luke’s “green door” was the only place he had ever known as home.  It was six weeks before we finally found a place for our family and, YES, we painted the front door the same shade of green as our home in England, so Luke would know we were truly home!

Doors . . . there is something fascinating about doors (especially front doors) that I find intriguing.  I saw a poster once that pictured fifty or more front doors of homes, some quite plain while others commanding the passerby’s attention–each of them uniquely hinting at what might lie within.

When temptation entered the Garden of Eden there was no physical door to knock on except for the doorway to Eve’s mind and heart.  When Eve responded by opening the door to doubting God’s Goodness, the domino-effect of sin changed everything.  Gone were times of enjoying such intimacy as a walk in the garden with our Creator.   From that point, sin clouded our perceptions of God and of all He created for us to enjoy.  Perhaps saddest of all, we lost sight of our unique status as His image bearers.  Yes, when doubt darkened the perceptions of the human heart toward God, the unique relationship enjoyed before man’s fall into sin was lost.

When doubt enters, how are we to respond?

When doubt knocks, how are we to respond?

To be clear, there is a place for doubt/caution in this sin-bent world. The Bible affirms this danger as it encourages us to look to God as the Shepherd of our hearts.  James 1:5 offers direction and encouragement to believers,

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

To know that God wants us to seek Him in trouble is amazing.  Yet, for many years I struggled with the warning that immediately follows James’s encouragement:

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt,
because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

(Verses 6-8)

“You must believe and not doubt?”  The question I wrestled with was,

How is it possible to guard against doubting God’s character,
when doubt can so easily slide in through the doorway of our minds?

I gained insight into my question recently while reading Matthew 9.  The passage describes a paralyzed man being brought to Jesus by some of his friends.   Also in attendance was a crowd of people that included some religious scribes.  Jesus spoke kindly to the man as He said, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew relates that when the religious scribes heard this, they condemned Jesus and thought what He said was blasphemous.  Matthew then wrote,

‘”Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said,
“Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?”‘

(verse 4)

Jesus confronted them not so much for doubting but for condemning Him as they entertained evil in their hearts.

How does Jesus’s rebuke help to sort out the difference between doubt/caution that is necessary to help us navigate through life vs doubt that condemns?  As was said earlier, doubt serves a purpose when it comes to living in this world.

Doubt defined: to fear, suspect, to lack confidence in : distrust* 

  However, when doubt darkens the door of our hearts and negatively influences our perception of God’s character–doubt becomes insidious:

Definition of Insidious: Awaiting a chance to entrap : treacherous
Harmful but enticing : seductive 
Having a gradual and cumulative effect : subtle
Of a disease : developing so gradually as to be well established before becoming apparent.*

SIN is the disease that encourages us to question God’s character and to entertain doubts about God’s will and purpose for our lives.

So is there a way to avoid this problem?  I believe there is:

  1. Recognize that deep within every human heart the danger lurks of not only forgetting God, but also of doubting His character.
  2. Prayerfully ask God to help you recognize where you are most vulnerable when it comes to doubting His character.
  3. When you find yourself entertaining doubt (note: I did not say if)– go immediately to God in confession as you give thanks for His Sovereign Goodness.
  4. Seek His help in closing the doorway to doubt as you lean on Him as the Shepherd of your heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  
Proverbs 4:23

 All to His Glory! 

*Taken form: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

On Miracles and Facing The Unknown . . . .

Do you believe in miracles?  I certainly do.  One of the primary reasons I love my job, is because of the joy and privilege it is to witness God working miracles in the hearts and lives of those I am privileged to serve.  When facing a challenging situation, I encourage many a Client with this reminder: “We serve a God of miracles.  He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and changed your heart and mine–so keep going–He is worthy of our trust!”  

The Bible talks about miracles and encourages us
to remember them as we face the unknown.

In fact, remembrance is so important in the Scriptures, that I draw a little cloud around words or phrases such as, “remember” or “do not forget”, so the reminder stands out on the page.  Psalm 105:3b-5 says this about miracles and their importance:

Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and His strength;
seek His face always.
Remember the wonders He has done,
His miracles, and the judgments He pronounced . . . .”

Amy and her much-loved doll, Ka'wen.

Amy and her much-loved doll, Ka’wen.

The following is a fun little miracle that, had I not witnessed it myself, I would never have believed it.  It involved our middle child, Amy, when she was about 3 years old.  At the time my nicknames for Amy were, “Sweet Pea” (when things were good) or “Stink Weed” when she was being obstinate.  All that to say–she was quirky.  (One year later, when we moved to England, we were grateful to be able to assure Amy that there were no volcanos there.  For whatever reason, Amy was intensely afraid of them, so it would have been quite a fight getting her to board the airplane!}

I was busy working on a project in my sewing room when Amy slipped through the doorway and stood next to me.  When I glanced at her, she looked down at the floor and mumbled, “I put ‘um up my . . . .”  I put my finger gently under her chin so she would look at me, and asked her to repeat what she had said.  Looking sober and slightly embarrassed, she still tried to avoid my eyes as she said, “I put gum up my nose.”  

Stunned yet not wanting to upset her, I immediately forgot my project to give her my full attention.  I could see the gum lodged in her nostril but could not quite reach it.  Trying to stay calm, I instructed Amy to: (1) open her mouth to take a deep breath of air in, and then (2) told her to close her mouth as she blew the air (and hopefully the gum) out her nose.

Of course, that is not at all what happened.  Amy took a huge breath in through her nose and sucked the gum far up into her sinus cavity!  I called the Advice Nurse and was instructed to immediately bring her in to remove the gum.

As we drove to the clinic I asked, “Amy, why on earth did you stick gum up your nose?”

I nearly drove off the road when she soberly replied, “I didn’t.  I was looking at it very carefully on the floor, when it turned into a worm and crawled up my nose.”

 So far this is a cute story, right?  Well, that is not my reason for sharing it.  This next part is what is what has remained a miracle in my memory more than three decades later:

When we arrived at the clinic that late afternoon, Amy clung to me slightly but otherwise appeared fascinated by everything that was happening around us.  We were put in a side room to wait for the doctor.  When he came in, I explained why we were there as Amy soberly looked down at her toes.  When he put her on the patient’s table to locate the, “worm”, the doctor saw that it was lodged too far up to remove without special instruments.  Concerned (I’m sure) about the response of his young patient to what needed to be done, he gathered his instruments (a very long thin set of tweezers and a special light he wore on his head so he could differentiate between the gum and the tissue surrounding it) and four technicians to hold Amy down in case she turned into a wildcat.  (Which I knew was entirely possible.)

As the four technicians held Amy’s legs, shoulders and hands, she became transfixed on the doctor and the light on his head.  Her body did not tense, in fact, she appeared quite relaxed as the doctor positioned the long tweezers above her.  As I watched the tweezers enter her nostril, Amy appeared to be fascinated by what the doctor was doing and NEVER FLINCHED–TRULY!

After the doctor had removed the gum turned off his light, he turned to me looking totally astonished as he said, “I have never had a child stay still like that for such a procedure–NEVER!”  The technicians appeared equally impressed as they pulled out a bunch of stickers to commend Amy’s bravery.  It was truly miraculous!

More than three decades later, it still gives me pleasure to think about that day.  I never have entirely figured out what caused Amy to remain so still, but I do remember that she seemed transfixed as the doctor spoke softly and she focused on the light that shone brightly above her.  What I DO know was that something special happened in those moments when Amy steadfastly refused to give way to fear.

What can we learn from this, especially when we face the unknown?  For me, the lesson is about choices–in every season we come to in life there are choices to be made.  Do we give way to fear, anger or some other emotion that can so easily overwhelm us?  Or, do we take that deep breath of faith, steadfastly looking to the Light of Christ to help us in our time of need?  After all is said and done, isn’t that what it is all about?  We serve a God of Miracles, tried and true!

All to His Glory!

 

 

 

An Intentional Faith . . . .

“Intentional” is a word that comes up a lot in the Counseling Room–especially when we talk about faith and how the challenges we face provide opportunities to trust and honor God.  The Bible has much to say about faith and makes clear that true faith is never accidental.  In fact, a faith that pleases and honors God is always intentionally applied.

One of my favorite passages in Scripture that demonstrates the connection between faith and intentionality is recorded in the second chapter of James.   He begins his discourse with a question that has been asked throughout the ages:

DSC02770

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?
Can such faith save them?”
(Verse 14)

He answers his question with a powerful example and declaration:

“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, FAITH by itself, if it is not accompanied by action (intentionality), IS DEAD.”
(Verses 15-17–emphasis mine)

James continues the argument,

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
You believe that there is one God. Good!
Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”
(Verses 18, 19)

James concludes his discourse with the ultimate example of intentional faith (you can read it for yourself as it is recorded in Genesis 22):

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
(Verses 20-24)

Faith that pleases God is never accidental.  True faith is demonstrated with no lessor motive than a desire to honor God–even when we do not fully understand what He is seeking to accomplish.   An intentional faith:

  • Prays and waits for clarity before moving forward.
  • Relies on the Scriptures for wisdom and perspective in every situation.
  • Is lived out daily as we make choices that are God-honoring.
  • Refuses to entertain doubt or fear.
  • Is not naive, it is a growing, maturing faith.
  • Is committed to loving others, even when they disappoint us.
  • Gives thanks to God for His faithfulness, even when our lives appear to fall apart:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
II Corinthians 4:16-18

Do you struggle because your faith is weak?  Be encouraged by a conversation recorded in Mark 9:29-27, between Jesus and a father, desperate to save his son from being tormented:

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

I have always found Jesus’s response to the father’s confession reassuring.  He did not chide him for his inadequacy or turn him away by saying, “Come back after you’ve got your act together!”  Jesus freed the son and returned him to his father.

It isn’t the size of the faith but the willingness to trust that grows and matures a God-pleasing faith.  Faith intentionally placed in Him will carry you through whatever twist or turn your life takes:

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  
Psalm 16:7, 8

All to His Glory!

Waiting in Hope . . . .

The diagnosis of cancer for a second family member hit our family hard.  The fact that it involved Luke AND Shannon (married eight years) cast our experience into a realm all its own.   For me, there are moments when I look at them and my mind goes back to their wedding–a day of promises and hope.  During the service, I remember watching their faces as Luke sang a song he wrote for his beautiful bride and watching them recite their vows: “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health . . . .”  Little did we know how vividly those vows would become the standard for living out each day.

Indeed, life has been hard for our family in many respects . . . let’s face it, who would ever sign-up for a double dose of cancer?!! Yet even so, we can say that God has been very, very good to us as we continue to count our blessings.  I suppose that is why this verse from Isaiah has become so dear to me in recent weeks:

 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides 
You, who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah 64:4

Waiting is never easy, especially in this “fast-paced, gotta have it NOW, ‘time waits for no one'” world.  I tend to think that the management of time and our frustration inherent in waiting is more intense now.  However, Isaiah proclaims that our times are not unique when it comes to waiting. I  cannot help but marvel at the patience of a God who continues to reward “those who wait for Him.” 

Waiting in Hope . . . .

Waiting in Hope . . . .

In an odd way, it was a relief as we gathered in the hospital waiting room, trusting that our Shannon was in good hands.  Hours passed . . . almost surreally . . . as we talked, read, shared stories, played games, snacked and watched the Surgical Update Board change as the progress of every patient having surgery that morning was listed. We bore the assorted fears that go with every surgery–but the truly heavy weight we bore was wondering what was to come after the surgery.  Having learned over the past year that with cancer, fear lurks to pounce on even the most stalwart faith.  So . . . we waited in hope, knowing that God will continue to work out His Perfect Plan in each or our lives.

Finally, Shannon’s surgeon walked briskly into the waiting room–we followed like ducks looking for crumbs; wary yet hopeful into the conference room.  What came next was a lesson on what I can only call, “productive waiting” that gave us direction and hope.  He started by telling us about the surgery:

  • The surgery went very well–it was minimally invasive and the “mass” was removed successfully.
  • He saw no other evidence of cancer but admitted that we will not know anything about future treatment until the pathology report was returned.
  • He explained cancer “staging” and how it ties to treatment success rates.

Here is what he said and did that helped our family in the moment and gave us a vision for the weeks to come:

  • He smiled at us with kind eyes, as he shook our hands one-by-one.  (Totally bringing us “on board” as a team.)
  • He told us our primary role should be to help Shannon get well enough that she would be able to leave the hospital in three to five days.
  • Tying in with that, he told us to do everything we could to encourage Shannon to allow her body to rest over the next two weeks.

This may sound silly, but by equipping us with hope and direction in supporting Shannon AND Luke, our load was lightened immensely.  When he left us, we felt energized as our fears slipped away!  I thought about how the direction he gave us reflected the wisdom of Jesus regarding worrying:

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Matthew 6:34

It has been eight days since Shannon’s surgery.  She came home on “Day Five” and continues to gain strength each day.  Family and friends have reached out in a multitude of ways as we prepare for the Celebration of Christ’s Birth.  We still wait on the pathology report–not anxiously but in faith–trusting in God’s perfect timing.

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me if Shannon having surgery would “ruin” our Christmas?  I must admit that I was grateful for the question as these words came out of my mouth: “Not at all!  If anything, Christmas has become more precious to us as God has been with us every step of the way.”  It’s absolutely true!  We wait as the ancients did, on the only God who continues to care for His own.

We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You.
Psalm 33:20-22

Merry Christmas All!

All to His Glory!

When Life Gives You Lemons . . . .

“Life is hard, but God is so very, very good . . . .”  It is a saying I have repeated to myself and to others in recent months after witnessing horrific ugliness on the news, while counseling hurting people or absorbing devastating news from friends and family.  In such seasons, when bitterness threatens to overtake us and fear grips our hearts,  it is important to remember that no matter what happens, we have options:

Option One:  The world offers popular sayings such as, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or “Grin and bear it!”  According to Wikipedia,  such sayings encourage “optimism and a can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune.”  However well-intended, such sayings lack comfort, wisdom, direction or even a glimmer of hope. When life turns sour, we can no more will ourselves through a mountain of heartache and trouble, than we can will into existence “lemonade” that is palatable from a bowl of lemons!

Compounding the impossibility of making palatable “lemonade”,  the “water” the world offers is tainted with pollution and the artificial sweetness of saccharin can never dissipate bitterness or generate hope.  

I appreciate the the directness of Jeremiah 2:13, where God straightforwardly declares the foolish consequences of living apart from Him:

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

Option Two: We can look at the same mountain of challenges (“lemons”) through eyes of faith; allowing God’s Spirit and the Scriptures to minister to our brokenness.  There is no substitute for drinking in the sweet water of the Scriptures, where conviction by the Spirit cleanses and  brings nourishment to the soul.  Are you looking for assurance in a dizzying world filled with darkness?  The opening words of Genesis cut through the darkness as it speaks light and truth, assurance and hope with this thunderous proclamation:

“In the beginning GOD . . . . “

No matter how bad life appears, God is in control. Since time began; His design and purposes have continued to be worked out in good times and in tragedy.  When the world proclaimed defeat when God’s Only Son suffered and died on the Cross two thousand years ago, Christ was raised in victory as the Savior of all who would trust in Him. (I Corinthians 15:20-22)  God’s Plan will not be thwarted!

Picture of Cross found after the 9/11 attack at Ground Zero. Picture taken by Anne Bybee  3 weeks later.

Picture of Cross found after the 9/11 attack at Ground Zero. Picture taken by Anne Bybee 3 weeks later.

Is life giving you “lemons”?  The Bible is full of wisdom, encouragement and hope for those who seek God in honesty and in faith.  Give thanks to a loving God who has a plan and purpose for your life both now and into eternity with Him.

” . . . but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 
John 4:14

All to His Glory!

 

Spiritual Stepping-Stones . . . .

While thinking about spiritual stepping-stones earlier in the week, I remembered some very special stepping-stones off the coast of Cornwall, England.  Named after a legendary giant named Bedruthan, we took our children to see the rocky formations the giant supposedly used as stepping-stones to cross the bay. The view was spectacular as we stood on a cliff several hundred feet above the Bedruthan Steps–imagining the giant crossing the bay toward us against the setting sun.

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall, England

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall, England

The Bible does not mention stepping-stones, but it does talk about running a spiritual race that God has laid out for us.  One of my favorites is found in Hebrews 12:1,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us . . . . “

Sometimes, particularly when we are feeling “stuck” in a situation, it helps to look back to where we have been to get our bearings.  Looking for a practical way to work this “looking back in order to move forward” idea, it struck me that to prayerfully identify meaningful events in our lives as spiritual stepping-stones, could be very helpful.  Here are some basics to enter into this process:

  • The process must begin and end with prayer to be truly effective.  (It is God who has established “the race marked out for us,” so it is entirely reasonable to look to Him for the practical insight we need.)  Ask Him to help you identify: a) meaningful events that have impacted you; b) the Scripture Marker you remember it by and, c) the Spiritual Stepping-Stone that helped you to move forward.
  • The first spiritual stepping stone marks when we embrace Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives.

To help you get started in this process, I am going to share five personal Scripture Markers that influenced my life and the resulting Spiritual Stepping- Stones that brought me to where I am today.  This is a very personal process so your list will look very different from mine–that is the whole point!  So don’t get caught up on what I have listed:

  1. Asked God to take over my life; to save me from myself.  
    • Scripture Marker: “Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again . . . no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit..”  (John 3:3, 5)  
    • Spiritual Stepping-Stone: Jesus became my resting place as well as my primary source of strength each and every day.
  2. When overwhelmed by the possibility of losing our third born, God quieted my heart with the assurance that His purpose (no matter what happened) was for our family’s good.  
    • Scripture Marker: Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  (James 1:2-4)  
    • Spiritual Stepping Stone: I found great comfort in God’s goal for me: “to be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  I embraced His goal as my own.
  3. When faced with the challenges of being a single mom (back when my husband was away much of the time) the Shepherd blessed me with this verse one Sunday morning:
    • Scripture Marker:  “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.”  (Isaiah 40:11)  
    • Spiritual Stepping-Stone: I was greatly comforted by the assurance that my Shepherd was watching over me.j
  4. On 9/11/2001 I struggled all day trying to get my spiritual bearings as I watched the tragedy unfold.  I begged God for help that entire day, but it seemed as if Heaven was silent.  Late that night after finally turning off the TV, I went up to go to bed.  As I pulled back the covers to get into bed,  these thoughts ran through my head like an electronic billboard: “Hate what is evil: cling to what is good . . . GOD IS GOOD.”  
    • It was not until several days later that I found the Scripture Marker: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. “ (Romans 12:9)
    • Spiritual Stepping-Stone: I slept peacefully that night despite the grief experienced that awful day.  Since that time, I have learned to major on loving others, while leaning on the Lord to face- off evil in the world.
  5. When frightened because of personal health concerns I found myself gripped by fear as I contemplated my future. 
    • Scripture Marker: “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength . . . .”  (Isaiah 30:15)  
    • Spiritual Stepping-Stone: God’s answer calmed my fears as I learned to stop running and intentionally trust Him more. 

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.  I was surprised by how the process came together once I got started.  If a Scripture Marker does not come to you right away, ask God to help you identify one that is meaningful to you.  (You need the Scripture Marker to provide your Spiritual Stepping-Stone to stand on.)  Whether you are facing a difficult situation, have an important decision to make or are at a relatively quiet place in your life, I encourage you to take time to do this for yourself.  Being able to view the Spiritual- Stepping-Stones of your life cannot help but strengthen you to finish the race God has marked out for you!

All to His Glory!