From Cheerios to College

Written by: D’Anne Mullin

In three short weeks we will be taking our oldest son to Edmonton, Alberta to get him ready for his first class at Vanguard Bible College.  I find it so hard to believe that we are already at this stage in our parenting experience, as it feels like only yesterday he was shovelling cheerios into his toothless gob via one very chubby slobbery finger.

I am so proud of the young man he has become and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him in the days, months and years ahead.  But I must say, letting go of his childhood and launching him in to the future has created such a wide range of deep emotions not yet experienced.  How can so great an excitement for what is to come and such a nagging longing for the past dwell in a mother’s heart simultaneously?  It truly boggles my mind!

For all who have had their children grow and move on, you understand this paradox full well.  My husband and I are buckling up tight because things are about to get drastically different…but in a strangely good way.

The term empty nest conjures up for me images of baby birds flying from their parental lodgings into the great unknown.  At first these babies rely on their parents for everything; food, shelter, protection around the clock.  As they grow stronger, their wings begin to develop strength and agility as they practice flapping in the nest.  Time progresses and they grow to mature birds ready to fly out on their own.  They have been raised by their parents, have learned what they need to know and are ready to discover what lies beyond.  Hence leaving behind an empty next.

I know as I pass by his empty bedroom each day and call out, “Get up,” there will be no response.  I will miss hearing him ask his Dad on a Saturday morning, with anticipation, “Are you making pancakes today?”  I am very aware that evening dinners will be much quieter in his absence.  I will greatly miss his corny jokes and crooked grin, his intense excitement for all things sport related and his ability to talk your ear off when the mood to chat hits.  But I know that we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, have raised a young man ready to be released into the world.

He is aware of the power of the Holy Spirit in his life.  He knows how to pray and develop a passion for the things he believes in.  He is respectful of others and shows compassion.  He has cultivated Godly values and dreams that will carry him through the toughest of times.  We did the best parenting we were capable of, leaning on the Lord every step of the way, and we are proud of the results.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We aren’t done parenting.  It’s just going to change a bit.  We will still get to see him on school breaks.  He will still be just a text or call away.  He will still seek advice and guidance from us because, well, he has realized that we do know things!

He will always be my baby bird and will always be welcome back to our nest.  But I know and respect that he has a nest to build of his own…complete with cheerios for his one-day little birdies!  He will do such a great job!  Of that I am certain!  We will be his biggest cheerleaders and encouragers; constantly praying for his life!  The nest may be emptying, but this momma’s heart is so very full.  Praise God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painful Love

Written by: Jody Mugford

“And now these three things remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  1 Corinthians 13:13

What do you think of when you think of love?  I’m sure everyone reading this could respond with a different example.  When I think of love, I often envision a sense of peace.  I think of an emotion that brings me joy and contentment.  I think of a person I want to spend time with and who brings fulfillment to my life.  There are many more examples of love but these are the initial thoughts that come to mind for me.

Throughout my life I struggled a lot with God’s definition of love.  I had a hard time bridging the gap between the “angry Old Testament God” and the “loving and compassionate New Testament God”.  Further studying of the bible as a whole has opened my eyes to the amazing story of God’s love woven throughout all of scripture.  The entire book is a love letter to humanity.  He’s the same God from beginning to end.  It’s amazing, breathtaking and undeniable!

My latest lessons on love have brought me face to face with some of my greatest fears and insecurities: the perseverance of love, the resilience of love…the pain of love.  You see, I am an “all or nothing” type of person.  When I am passionate about something, I am all in, all the way but if I’m out, I’m out.  When things get really hard, my default reaction is to get out.  I can retreat and shut down on others, even my closest loved ones.  The pain that comes from being hurt by a loved one or watching one of my loved ones suffer is almost more than I can bear and I will withdraw into self-preservation mode.  In the past, when my friends were hurting, I have sometimes separated myself from their pain.  When my husband was struggling with a challenge, I have become impatient and tried to solve it for him.  I have even given my toddler the cold shoulder once or twice…oh dear…. But that is not Godly love!  God wants us to love each other in every circumstance, from joy to sorrow.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  Romans 12:15

Rejoicing with others in the good times?  Sure, I’m on board!  Let’s party!  Weeping with those who weep?  That is harder.  This requires us to enter into another person’s sorrow.  Their pain becomes our pain.  They hurt so we hurt.  This is not an easy thing to do and, for many of us, it is downright terrifying!  The survivalist in me wants to pull away, especially since I’m still fragile, recovering from my own major life crisis and its subsequent pain.  However, God reminds me that it is BECAUSE we have walked through excruciating times, we know all the more the need to reach out to those who are broken.

Friends, God is calling us out from our own comfortable spaces.  He’s asking us to extend a hand to those around us that are hurting and hopeless.  He wants us to let our guards down and open up!  To let others into our world and us into theirs.  We are not meant to be islands and fight the good fight alone.  We need to carry each other and He, in turn, carries us all.

My simple challenge to us all (myself included) is to start stepping out more in love and compassion.  Don’t do it as a good deed to check off your list.  Let’s pray that God would soften our hearts and fill us with His love for others.  Ask Him to take the scales off our eyes so we can see people the way He does.  Then take the next step and call a friend, maybe one that God lays on your heart specifically.  And a little while later, call them again.  Ask them to go for coffee or invite them over for supper. Don’t worry about saying the right or wrong things.  God will give you the words at the time.  Maybe all that’s required of you is to listen.  Allow yourself to become invested in their wellbeing.  Check up on them regularly.  Pray FOR them and pray WITH them.  Love them.  And as time passes, keep loving them.

Where would we be if God hadn’t loved us like that?  He could have left us to our sinful fate but instead Jesus entered this world, lived among us and took on our pain.  He did it the slow, raw and true way.  No shortcuts.  Real pain.  Real example.  Real love.

This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  John 4:9-12

Love and blessings,

Jody

A Loaf Of Zucchini Bread

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_49A9018Written by: Cindy Morrone

Going with one of our daughters to the hair dresser last week, I was delighted to see an elderly customer, hand her hair dresser a loaf of zucchini bread.  Her hair dresser remarked on what a wonderful lady she is. We marveled at this woman’s kindness and how we do not see this often.  Someone showing their appreciation with gifts.

The yearning in my belly rose once again to the surface that day.

I wanted and needed someone to show me such kindness.

For a plethora of personal reasons, I longed for tangible loving. Something I could see, hear and touch.

On a particular difficult morning, I received her message. She had something for me and could she drop it off after work?

This lovely had no idea what I had been going through and I did not disclose this yearning to her.

I had to my Jesus though.

In my constant prayers, I asked Him to fill my needs, to comfort me, and to heal me.  Not only did He hear my prayer but He asked someone else on my behalf, to deliver a gift of kindness.

Unbelievable!!

When she came to my door she said she felt silly bringing me a loaf of zucchini bread.  Yes, I said zucchini bread!  She explained that she had made several and when praying about who to give a loaf to, my name (Yes, MY name!!) came to her mind.

At my door, I tried to awkwardly share how much this meant to me.  And she started to express that although she felt silly, it was more important for her to be obedient.  She didn’t know why or how important this act was and she didn’t need to know.

She said, “I did feel a little silly, but it’s more silly to be disobedient to God! Thank you God for leading and guiding us!! I pray God will bless you and use you today!! I probably won’t know how much it meant to you but God did and I want to be used by Him!”

Unbelievable!!

How often do we let our feelings of silliness get in the way of being the hands and feet of Jesus? Maybe we think the act of kindness too little, too inexpensive, too ordinary.  Maybe because we don’t know the reason behind the call to action our feet stop.

The way I see it, there were (at least) 3 Gospel Truths at work in this act of kindness towards me:

  • The Lord heard my prayers and answered them. “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jerimiah 29:12
  • There is opportunity to serve and come alongside others. Jesus, Himself being our ultimate Servant. ‘When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”’ John 13:12-15
  • Saying Yes! and doing is necessary to deliver tangible love. This lovely was ready, willing and obedient to deliver this act of kindness to me.  “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

Thank you, lovely, Julie MacIntosh-Hough!! Again, you’ll probably never know how much your gift truly blessed me (and yet, you did it anyway)

 

Running On Empty? What Do You Do?  The Choice is Ours.

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I had several prescheduled appointments to make.  Time was tight but I had arranged each stop strategically so it would all work out.

I didn’t make room for error.

At the appointed time, we got into our van, turned it on and immediately I noticed that in order to do what I had to do and get back home, I would need gas or we’d be stranded.

I didn’t have time to get gas before all the scheduled appointments so I prayed that the van would get us through.

The warning sign didn’t come on until after the first appointment, about an hour away from home.  I pushed through the next appointment and the next, and then started to drive home.

Recently a close friend asked me, “Does it get any easier saying good-bye?” She knew we had just lost our precious foster baby to her forever home and was concerned about how I was coping.

My immediate answer was, “No.”  After a brief reflection, I answered, “Well, in some ways its easier and in some ways its harder.”

Knowing the pain to come, I knew the things I could do to help ease the pain.  Finish her life book, meet up with friends, exercise and not over extend myself during this time of grieving.

When you know difficulty is coming, you can somewhat brace yourself.  You prepare for the storm and you put in place those things you know have helped in the past.

But no thing can prepare me for the depth of this storm.  And it’s when I try to press on in my own strength, thinking those things in themselves will completely heal my pain that I find myself running on empty.  I can’t just stop at the next gas station and fill up.

I need to account for my human error.

It’s only in my intimate and deep dependency on my Jesus that I make it through.

Devotions and prayer become my refuge.  The Word my anchor.

Scriptures like this, hold true;

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  James 4:8

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12: 9&10

And in my prayers, I don’t just hope that I’ll make it through, I know for certain that I will.

The Miracle

Written by: Carolyn Ruttan

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you feel completely empty?  Perhaps you are at that place now and feel like your energies are spent and you can’t go on.  Maybe you feel like you have nothing more to give. Broken.  Poured  out.

That is how we find the widow in a passage of scripture in 2 Kings Chapter 4.  I can picture her in my mind. She is an emotional wreck, frantic, desperate, afraid,  and alone.  Her husband is gone. Dead. Her heart longs for him. She misses him.  He died leaving her destitute, leaving behind a debt she couldn’t possibly pay. He owed people money and they want to collect.  So after just having lost her husband, she is about to lose her sons too.  The creditors are threatening that they will take them as slaves as payment for the debt that was left owing.  How can she possibly survive?

Then this widow turns to Elisha for help.  Elisha knew this man; her husband.  He had served with him, walked alongside him.  Perhaps they had even been friends.

Elisha had compassion on this woman and asked how he could help. He asked her what she had in the house, to which she replies “Nothing… except for a flask of olive oil.”

3-4“Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

His request to her might have sounded bizarre but she did as he asked without hesitation.  It would have taken a lot of faith to believe that something good could happen from this act of obedience.

This widow and her sons borrowed many jars from their neighbours and friends until there were no more empty jars to be found.  Then just as she was told, she shut the door behind her, and began pouring oil into the collected jars.

Then a miracle happened! The oil continued to flow until all the jars were full!  She was able to sell all the oil, pay off the debt in full, and there was enough left over for her and her sons to live on. God showed up in a real way to this woman and came through for her at a time in her life when she was desperate for a miracle!  She had the faith. She believed and then acted in obedience.

Do we sometimes limit God’s blessing by our lack of faith or disobedience?  Is He asking us to do something we don’t think we can do because maybe we think that we don’t have anything to give or to offer? What does He want us to trust Him with?

There are those times when we feel empty and alone that we need to just shut ourselves in so to speak with God.  Shut the door. Find that place alone with Him and allow him to fill us up….fill those empty places in our lives and hearts.  Sometimes we have to be empty before we can be filled and He will fill us to overflowing!

Keeping Boundaries

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IMG_0386Written By: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

God created Adam and Eve and gave them endless blessings; however He did ask them to refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

He gave them one boundary.

The enemy found Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and convinced them that the boundary God put in place was not for their own good, rather to keep them from something better. “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Genesis 3:6)

The enemy can be mighty crafty, don’t you find? We, as human beings, tend to have difficulty with boundaries and the enemy will do everything in his limited power to convince us that boundaries are not necessary.

Even when we know that they are.

What do boundaries look like? To name a few: 1) Sticking to a budget and not letting your expenses exceed your income. 2) Eating to satisfy your hunger, not overindulging or eating emotionally. 3) Keeping your mind, eyes, and body in your marriage relationship, and not seeking outside your spouse for intimacy or pleasure.

In our ministry journey, my husband and I find that those are the top boundaries that the enemy will attack. We have chatted with lots of people who fall into one of those three boundary struggles. I am certain there are others as well, the enemy is relentless….but the good news is we all have victory in Jesus.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Do you have trouble with keeping boundaries? Here is what the bible says:

Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:14-17)

We have everything we need in Jesus to hold true to our boundaries. Claim that victory, sisters, and walk in His freedom today.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the victory we have in You. Thank you for Your mercy and grace. Thank You that we have everything we need for the battle that rages against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world. I pray, Jesus, for wisdom and a sound mind when keeping healthy boundaries in place. I pray also for my sisters who struggle with boundaries, please grant them peace and hope for victorious days ahead. I pray all these things in Your precious and holy name, Jesus, amen.

Solitude

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_49A8991Written by: D’Anne Mullin

Several years ago, my husband and I had the privilege of taking a Sabbatical Retreat for Lead Pastors and their spouses.  Five other ministry couples seeking sanctuary joined us, along with two lead couples facilitating the event from Broom Tree Ministries.

The backdrop for this experience was a log cabin resort situated in the woods, on a lake, just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan.  It was October and the leaves were many brilliant colours.  There was a refreshing crispness in the air and the smell of bonfires filled each evening.  We heard the sound of animals preparing their winter lodgings as we walked the nature paths.  The sun bounced off the lake with its last rays of warmth and the odd snowflake fluttered in the breeze.  The whole atmosphere was revitalizing.

The entire purpose of the retreat was to simply unplug and seek solitude with God.  There were no flashy worship services or high profile speakers.  There were no workshops or prayer meetings.  There was simply solitude; an opportunity to be very quiet, to catch up on rest, to reconnect as a couple, to just sit in the presence of God.

The lead couples provided study tools to use throughout this four-day rest.  They were available for prayer and guidance if needed.  At suppertime, we all came together to eat, share and pray with one another.  But, for the most part we were left to rediscover God and rest in His presence at our own pace.  It was absolutely refreshing!

Recently, I was revisiting some of the things I read and wrote down in my retreat workbook and the following quote struck me.  It pertains to all of us.

“Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.

We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside time to be with God and listen to Him.”

-Henri Nouwen

This is easy to do on a Sabbatical Retreat, but what about every day?  Sure, I spend time with God daily, but often I am rushed because life gets in the way?  Or do I allow life to get in the way?  Am I intentional in setting apart time in my calendar to seek true solitude with Him and listen to His voice?  Or do I come to Him dominating the conversation with my prayers, cramming His word into my thoughts and moving on to what I am interested in?  Hmmm.

One of the exercises in response to this quote asked us to, “Stop all that you are doing.  Find a quiet spot and just stop thinking about or hearing anything, except what God is speaking at this moment.  Do this for 60 seconds.”  This proved to be a very difficult task, being that I am a woman and women can think about 75, 000 different things all at once…Daughters, you know what I mean!

So, I encourage you to do what I did.  I closed my eyes and sat very still.  I visualized in my mind a large square with a fence around it.  Inside were my many thoughts.  I mentally took each thought and moved it out beyond the fence until the square was empty.  When I did this, one word remained.  I could not move it.  That word was “God.”  I focussed on His name, allowing my thoughts to dwell there.  I could still see all the thoughts outside the fence.  When one would creep in I simply picked it up, put it beyond the fence and focussed on God.  I felt His presence so strong and when I was done I was surprised that 20 minutes had passed!  I had far exceeded the 60 seconds requested in the workbook.  I had reached a place of solitude with Him!

I need to get back to that place each day with intentionality.  I need to carve out time daily to simply sit in His presence, purging my mind of everything but Him, and wait for His presence to wash over me.  I need solitude!

An Extravagant Expression

Written by: Jody Mugford

“Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3

Lately, I can’t seem to get this image out of my mind – Mary anointing the feet of Jesus.  There are so many lessons we can learn from the life of Mary but the lesson that is burning on my heart this week is of her love for Jesus.

This particular scene happens 6 days before the Passover, when Jesus will be crucified.  He is having a meal with friends including Lazarus (whom he had raised from the dead), Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, and His disciples.  Jesus is relaxing with his loved ones at dinner, Martha is serving, and here we see Mary pouring expensive oil (worth a year’s wages, by the way) all over His feet.  She then proceeds to wipe Jesus’ feet with her hair!

I can only imagine that, at this point, all conversation has stopped and you could hear a pin drop.  There are a few reactions going on in the room now, one being a comment made by Judas about how wasteful Mary is being.  In Jewish culture at the time, it was customary to give someone water with maybe a drop of perfume in it for them to wash their feet, but Mary used a whole pound of expensive oil!  “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”, he questions.  We know from scripture that Judas was possessive of the money set aside to help the poor because he would steal from it but, nonetheless, he was probably echoing the thoughts of some others at the table.  There were likely also those in the room that were uncomfortable with Mary’s lavish expression.  A Jewish woman would not usually be seen with her head uncovered and her hair let loose but here Mary has abandoned tradition, let her hair down, and been brave enough to express her devotion to Jesus, despite what others may think.  In verse 7 & 8, you’ll read that Jesus defends her against the criticism of others, saying that she is preparing Him for burial.  Whether Mary realized that was what she was doing, we don’t know, but we do know that she receives His acceptance and approval of her extravagant, even somewhat scandalous, expression of love and devotion.

This challenges me so much.  I am such a doer and can be overly practical sometimes.  I would probably think to pour costly perfume on Jesus’ feet out of love but then stop myself.  What would people think?  Should I use up all this supply?  Maybe there’s a less daring, more practical way to show Jesus my love?

There is nothing wrong with being conservative and using our resources wisely.  There is nothing wrong being aware of the type of example we set and how our behaviour impacts those around us.  I would challenge us all, though, (myself included) that if we are redirecting our expression of love for Jesus into more practical ways out of fear, embarrassment, selfishness, or another inhibiting emotion…if we are rationalizing our way out of pouring passionate affection on Him because we feel it isn’t as valuable as other acts of ministry, it is time to reevaluate our hearts.

Mary didn’t let finances or appearances stop her from worshipping Jesus in abandon.  She had spent time listening to Him and learning from Him (Luke 10:38-42), seeing Him perform miracles, seeing Him raise her brother from the dead (John 11)!  She knew who He was.  She knew what He had done for her and her family.  She knew He was worthy of ALL her praise and adoration.  So she gave it to Him.  Simple as that.  In the best way she knew how.

Friends, our acts of service, our ministries, our commitments, they mean nothing if they are not rooted in an overflowing love for Jesus.  More than anything, He wants our affection, our surrender, our devotion.  If we spend time in His presence, learning from Him, falling in love with Him and seeing who He truly is, that love will grow.  It will become like a well that is overflowing within us.  Then we will serve Him and worship Him with all we have in adoration and love.  Oh, what a joyous place to be!!!!

“Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him.”  Philippians 3:8-9a

I love how, after Mary had poured her perfume on Jesus’ feet, the room was filled with its beautiful fragrance.  Authentic love for Jesus is contagious, friends.  It spreads like a sweet perfume.  I pray that our love and our worship, when poured on Jesus, fills our homes, our communities, our churches and our lives with a beautiful fragrance, pleasing unto the Lord.

Love and blessings,

Jody

STEPS DOWN NEW ROADS

Written by: Christianne Williams

I love routine.  I am quite comfortable when things roll along in the same way they always do, no ripples or waves, just nice, smooth, sailing.  I love the idea of change, fresh starts, new territory to discover, but the actual act of being submersed in it makes me uncomfortable.  I like my comfort zones.  They’re very safe.  But they can also be very barren areas.  I’ve often heard it said if you change nothing, nothing will change.

Comfort zones can also be detrimental to others because when we feel what we’re comfortable with, or used to, is being pushed or challenged we can lash out and leave others wondering what they’ve done wrong.  In actuality it’s a reaction to feeling threatened and is something within us that God wants to work on.

As much as I dislike straying from my comfortable places, like leaving my big comfy chair in the morning to go to work, as I look back over my life I see those journeys as giant seasons of growth.

When our daughter was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, I spent many hours telling God that I wasn’t able to handle such a bad situation.  I was terrified if I’m being honest.  I had three children, all healthy, and this new prospect made all of normal hurdles of motherhood seem incredibly insignificant.  Getting up in the night to feed a hungry baby was nothing in light of the challenges we would face at the end of this pregnancy.  And that was if she survived at all.

We just celebrated her eighth birthday, a lot of water had flowed under that bridge, a lot of shifting from one comfort zone to another, only to be displaced once again by something new.  I had no clue what in the world was going on.  I had no idea at the time that while I was leaving my comfortable place of dwelling that God was increasing my faith, increasing our witness, increasing my confidence in Him but also in my relationship with Him.  He was teaching me to live by faith when all the circumstances were out of my control.

When He called our family out of everything we knew to live in a place far from family and lifelong friends, He had a plan to grow us.  No longer in our comfort zone of ‘home’ He showed me how to rely on Him and not others for comfort and friendship.  When you’re a pastor’s wife and you relocate all the rules change.  What you did before, you may no longer do.  Where you fit before, you no longer fit.  There are days when loneliness sets in you feel sad for what you’ve left behind, you long for the comfort of what you knew.

In these seasons, growing in relationship with Him has always occurred. He always gives direction for the new normal, the new places to fit, the new areas of ministry, and usually it’s different.  It’s a new opportunity to develop skills and gain confidence in new giftings.  I love finding out things about myself I would never had known if we’d never taken steps down a new road.

There awesome, amazing things awaiting as you walk out of your comfortable places.  I love the song Oceans, especially the part that says,

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my saviour.”

When we step outside of what we feel we can handle on our own, because that’s basically what a comfort zone is, we allow God to really show us how he’s working in us.  He calls us, and strengthens us, and grows us, and we look back and see how amazing His work in us has been.

Running On Empty? What Do You Do?  The Choice is Ours.

Written by: Cindy Morrone

I had several prescheduled appointments to make.  Time was tight but I had arranged each stop strategically so it would all work out.

I didn’t make room for error.

At the appointed time, we got into our van, turned it on and immediately I noticed that in order to do what I had to do and get back home, I would need gas or we’d be stranded.

I didn’t have time to get gas before all the scheduled appointments so I prayed that the van would get us through.

The warning sign didn’t come on until after the first appointment, about an hour away from home.  I pushed through the next appointment and the next, and then started to drive home.

Recently a close friend asked me, “Does it get any easier saying good-bye?” She knew we had just lost our precious foster baby to her forever home and was concerned about how I was coping.

My immediate answer was, “No.”  After a brief reflection, I answered, “Well, in some ways its easier and in some ways its harder.”

Knowing the pain to come, I knew the things I could do to help ease the pain.  Finish her life book, meet up with friends, exercise and not over extend myself during this time of grieving.

When you know difficulty is coming, you can somewhat brace yourself.  You prepare for the storm and you put in place those things you know have helped in the past.

But no thing can prepare me for the depth of this storm.  And it’s when I try to press on in my own strength, thinking those things in themselves will completely heal my pain that I find myself running on empty.  I can’t just stop at the next gas station and fill up.

I need to account for my human error.

It’s only in my intimate and deep dependency on my Jesus that I make it through.

Devotions and prayer become my refuge.  The Word my anchor.

Scriptures like this, hold true;

“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  James 4:8

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Psalm 73:26

‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12: 9&10

 

 

And in my prayers, I don’t just hope that I’ll make it through, I know for certain that I will.