Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankfulness



















I love Thanksgiving. It is a such a good reminder of the state our hearts should stay in continuously. These days, I am "overflowing with thankfulness" (Col 2:7) and literally "abounding in Hope" (Romans 15:13). :)
pics by Rich Smith Photography
This is still a dream for me. God has rescued me out of deep darkness and brought me to a place of abundance.
She is a gift I hardly know how to receive because of His goodness and mercy. He has calmed the raging storm and sea to a whisper and has made me GLAD because they are quiet.




"Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses.
He calms the storm, So that its waves are still. Then they are GLAD because they are quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven."
Psalm 107:28-30


As I was working out yesterday with a personal trainer, I saw one of my scars from the 19 weeks of picc line antibiotics that I was on. Those scars usually make me mad/sad/sick because of the suffering I went through over the last 5 years. Life was stolen from me. Years with my boys became blanketed in sickness instead of the joys of motherhood. Birthday parties where I could hardly get out of bed. Flights to NY over and over alone as I sobbed leaving my boys (3 and under). Year after year. Suffering. No answers. Just suffering. Hopelessness. Deep, Dark, Black... Darkness. Determination to just survive. Seeking God with all my heart and soul. Begging for one Word from Jesus. Just One piece of daily bread to stop the aching hunger. Just One Word, God-- speak! Thinking my life was over. Ministry... over. Dreams of more children... stolen. Control...vanished. I will never forget the night I shook my fist at God and said, "This is NOT abundant life"- doubting His Word... doubting His goodness....doubting Him. There are times in all of our lives where Christ and only Christ is our portion. Where only He can satisfy. Places where only He and You are. Places where He meets you, teaches you, changes you. I believe these are the most crucial times of life where our faith is tested to its max. Will you still love Him? Will you still trust Him? Will you still follow Him?


"...for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. " Deut 13:3, 4
This is a HARD test. But, oh, the gushing river of life that pours forth from brokenness when you pass. The gifts of love that await you are shocking! Perseverance= Life.
Beautiful- Resurrection-Life.
As you know, I am memorizing Philippians. We have almost finished memorizing Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3. One more to go. This has been HARD but absolutely amazing in my walk with the Lord. This week, I memorized this verse...
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." Phil 3:10
Honestly, these verses stop me in my tracks. I was reciting my memory verses over and over as I was on a walk in my neighborhood. This one stopped me.
I DO want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection!! But, death? I am not sure I want to sign up for that.
Or do I?
I feel like I have learned more of who He is than ever during my times of suffering. When the Refiner's gentle fire is purifying the dross and removing the things that I hang on to with clinched fists ---the things that God knows are holding me back. How God must look at us thinking, "I know this will make you temporarily uncomfortable and I will weep with you during the suffering, but oh how beautiful you will be!"
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify.. and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness..."
Malachi 3:3
It really just clicked as I was repeating the verse.. How can we know the power of resurrection... if we don't know death? Also, what a beautiful truth that there is fellowship with Jesus Christ Himself in suffering. I have written about that before. I remember in some of my darkest days when I would open my Bible, God would summon me by name and speak words of LIFE... crystal clear words of LIFE to me. Words filled with precious promises for me. Promises of hope. Promises of redemption. Promises of heaven. Promises of HIM.
Those days of darkness are hard to think back on... apart from the redemptive, resurrecting power of God. I want to forget them and pretend like it never happened but then I see one of my scars and realize that it is forever part of my story. I don't know what my future holds but I know Who will hold me through it. I do get scared (often) of getting horribly sick again after baby is born (that is just how chronic illnesses usually work-- BUT I am the daughter of a King who hears my prayers). And, like I said in a previous post, Jesus has already apportioned grace for that day... if it comes. And, God does the impossible- he breaks through gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. He has done that for me numerous times and He will do that for you. There is no "check mate" for the follower of Christ- don't believe Satan's lies.
"He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of bronze, And cut the bars of iron in two."
Psalm 107:14-16
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We took down the pirate wall paper in the boys' old room and are starting to paint Hope's room.
It is so exciting! (Tim is painting the ceiling pink as I type).
I am entering week 27 now. I am still feeling good except for how insanely sore I am from working out. Oh my heavenly hamstrings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have been extremely busy this last week. I got to go on a shopping trip to Atlanta with my girlfriends though! It was SO fun.

I also arranged for a homeschool speaker to come in and speak to a group of 75+ parents. It was so encouraging. His name is Todd Wilson. His books are great if you are a homeschool mom and need encouragement. I only have about 3 friends who homeschool so this world is very new to me.

I am looking forward to the holidays and being with my family. I am also preparing for the college girl's weekend here at my house. I will be be sharing my testimony, teaching on the love of God, teaching on purity and waiting on God's best, Hope in all circumstances. AND, I have a panel of guys who have agreed to answer any question the college girls throw at them. We will be digging into God's Word to find out what it says about glorifying and seeking Him during the dating years. I never had a right understanding of this. I knew the rule "don't have sex" but I didn't know "Be Holy for I am Holy". God has given us such a safeguard for our own good. To protect us and to protect our future marriage. I love sharing with college girls in this area. The more we seek God and desire to please Him, the more blessed our lives will be! But, God is also more than able to take our horrible sins and throw them into the depths of the sea... showering us with forgiveness and replacing our stained and filthy clothes with robes of pure white-- because of the Cross. We have all blown it but God still loves us dearly and STILL has beautiful gifts to give us-- crowns to bestow on us. I cannot believe all that He has given me... in spite of me.



Have a great weekend & Rejoice in the Lord-- not just in circumstances... in the Lord! In Who He is. For His creation, for your marriage, for your children, for your food, for the fact that He did not leave us as orphans and gave us the Holy Spirit, that we live in a country where we are free to worship Him publicly and read our Bibles, for His Word that teaches us and corrects us and gives us Hope!, health, life, laughter, water, a job, etc...

If you have nothing else to be thankful for be thankful that, if you know Christ, you have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of the Son God loves in whom you have redemption!
Col 1:13,14
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
Col 3:15
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful"
Col 4:2
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
for our "God is a consuming fire." "
Hebrews 12:29

9 comments:

maryanne420 said...

oh stephanie,
this post just touched my heart! you look gorgeous by the way, just glowing!!!

i love the name hope.

i am now going into my 38th week and as of yesterday, i am 1.5cm dilated (yikes)!!!

i am so excited for your college weekend retreat. those girls are going to be so blessed. will be praying that the Lord touches every single one of their hearts.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful people, beautiful testimony. God is faithful to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think.

Angela said...

Steph, that was amazingly beautiful. Raw, powerful, and so true. I admire you so much for having SUCH a heart for Jesus and HIS will. You're so stunning inside and out, and I feel so blessed to call you my friend. :)

HIS Child said...

Steph,

I feel the love of Jesus coming through you, sweet daughter of the Most High. You and Hope look absolutely lovely.
And the boys are adorable and love being brothers.
It will be so amazing with the addition of Hope into the family and her brothers loving and protecting her, she will be so cared for.
I am praying that the Holy Spirit has a divine anointing prepared for the college girls weekend. I am so blessed to hear that you included a panel of godly men to partake in this. Continue to bask in all HE has for you.
With a heart of thanksgiving and friendship,
Celeste

Erin said...

What an incredible post, Steph. It is so good to hear your testimony on this side of the mountain.

I read somewhere this morning, "don't tell God how big the storm is, tell the storm how big your God is."

Love you.

Adrienne said...

Stephanie,
You are such an inspriation! It is always so good to "hear" from you on your blog. Thank you for meing such a blessing. I miss the conference Biblestudy! Love your pictures, your words, and your heart for God.
Take Care,
Adrienne

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!!!!!!!

Julie said...

Steph - once again, you have spoken to my heart on so many levels. Thank you for being so open...so honest...so real.

I pray for you and your sweet little girl...and pray for continued health once Hope is born. You look beautiful!

Thank you for inspiring so many!

Hugs and prayers tonight!
Julie :)

Anonymous said...

Even though we don't know each other - I always include you in my prayers. You are absolutely beautiful and such a blessing to so many! Us blog stalkers want to hear about your weekend with the teenage girls. Keep doing the wonderful work you are doing - it is truly inspirational. I can be in a bad or unappreciative of my blessings, read your blog and snap, I'm out of it! Thank you so much sweet child! I don't know you - but I love you!