Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifts

It is thundering outside and ALL of the children are still asleep at 8:18 am. I woke up thinking about how thankful I am the Lord gives us a fresh start every day. He always gives us another chance. He gives us MORE TIME to live for Him and love people. I always know He has been praying for me and singing over me while I am sleeping because I feel His presence as soon as I wake up and usually have a song stuck in my head. Isn't it incredible that Jesus is fighting on our behalf!
He is FOR us!!
Never forget that. It will change your life.
"Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
Rom 8:34

Now, don't get me wrong, our house isn't always this peaceful. As a matter of fact, just last week when Crew had RSV, I felt like I was drowning in chaos, exhaustion, and fear. The Lord helped me. He always does. I cried out to Jehovah Shalom to bring His peace and He has. My prayer every day is that Jesus Christ would dwell here with us. That our home would be a dwelling place for His Name.
Even more specifically that our HEARTS would be His dwelling place.
 "then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide."
Deut 12:11

Tim and I got to go on a date last night. We went out to eat, to Costco, and to Target. It was a perfect date. Some girls from the last conference we had gave us a gift certificate to the most amazing Italian resaurant. It is our favorite place to eat in Chattanooga. Tony's Pasta- delicious food and not super fancy. We were so grateful.  It is usually too expensive for us to go out and pay for a babysitter so it was a real treat!
(THANK YOU JAMIE, RANCI, CHRISTINE & CAMILLE. KEEP LIVING FOR JESUS!)
I don't need to go to super fancy restaurants anymore. I think they are a waste of money and I get really uncomfortable in fancy places after being a stay-at-home mom for so long. "Fancy" is a thing of the past when you have 4 boys.
Maybe Hope and I can go have tea and do fancy/girly things some day and I can re-learn all the etiquette rules with her.
 Last night was my idea of a perfect date. Shopping for Christmas presents (with the man of my dreams) for our 5 "love explosions" :). THAT is much more romantic than a fancy restaurant. Tim and I are more in love than ever. Our marriage is getting sweeter and sweeter, stronger and stronger.
The more kids we have, the more we pray...
and the more we pray together, the closer we get to God and to each other.
We are both desperate for God's help to do this life WELL and bring Him much glory.
Sometimes life seems too good to be true. God has shown me favor. I have NO idea why He loves me. 
 He loves you too.
I know I am undeserving. I know how I have sinned against Him and broken His heart. I remember how I ran from Him all those years. But, He never stopped loving me and pursuing me. I remember THE YEARS He sought me. I was reminded this morning of a night I was out partying at a fraternity house in Knoxville when I clearly heard a voice speak to my heart, "You don't belong here. I have so much more for you." I wish I could say I responded immediately to that gentle voice, but I didn't. I continued to rebel and run from God's love. It wasn't until a year or so later that I opened the Bible and was truly born again. 
 "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth" James 1
He chose me... 
so I choose HIM!
I was running listening to this song by Big Daddy Weave agreeing with every word:
"When I saw a flash of light and I heard the sound
Of a voice like thunder shake the ground
It was the first time I remember ever feeling my heartbeat
And the arms that gripped me felt like grace
And I realized in their embrace
To be held so tight
I've never felt so free
Also know as the day that you found me"
 He has loved me since before I breathed my first breath and He will continue to love me for all eternity. I can't change that love. I never earned it. I am safe in His agape love.
SO ARE YOU.
He adores you. He will never take advantage of you. He wants to GIVE to you- not take.
My first few years with the Lord were tough yet amazing. Jesus turned my life upside down for His glory. He had to take away all the things I had placed in my life that had me on a path toward destruction. He had to cut off A LOT of dead branches (John 15). It hurt to have those things taken away and I didn't understand at the time but now... NOW.... HOW I REJOICE that He redirected my path.
When my daughter is headed toward danger, I take her little hand and gently turn her around toward safety. She had no idea she was ever even headed toward danger.
Neither did I. I was a lost little sheep who needed a Shepherd. He has held me close to His heart ever since.
" He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;" Is 40:11
I am so humbled by His love. By how He has led me and continues to lead me. By His undeserving gifts. By His grace and forgiveness when I blow it and fall down. How He doesn't abandon me when I fall and just leave me or give up on me.  How He doesn't accuse or beat me down. How He loves me more than I love my children.
He wants to FORGIVE and restore.
He wants me to flourish! He wants YOU to flourish.
This morning I read a verse in my quiet time that made me smile...
"How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you." Ps 31:19
The kids are so anxious for Christmas to get here. Last night, Tim and I got all the gifts out and put them on our bed in piles for each child to make sure we had gotten everyone enough. It was so fun to see Hope's pile of purses & Minnie Mouse things, Reece's pile of Star Wars Legos, Lake's pile of musical things,  and Evan's pile of legos and other treasures. We have been storing these gifts just waiting to give them to the kids- all of them chosen specifically. They are things the children have asked for. We can't wait for them to see all that we have for them on Christmas morning.

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"Matt 7:11
What gifts are you asking for this year? :)
When I read Ps 31:19, and how God has stored up His great goodness for us, it made me think of how fun it must be for the Lord to give us the things He has stored up for us. He must LOVE to see our faces when He gives us His good gifts. I know He must of loved to see my face when I walked into Church and saw Tim for the first time.
TALK ABOUT CHRISTMAS MORNING FOR ME!!!!!!!!!!!
(Pray and wait on God's best for a husband, precious single girls)
Sometimes we don't realize how good the gifts are that we have been given. I know that my face probably didn't look so excited when I was given a chronic illness that lasted almost 4 years. I can guarantee I didn't ask for that one. But that horrible illness proved to be one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me because it brought me closer to Him and it was in that secret place that He taught me His Word and proved Himself to me.
It is in the darkness that we find His treasures.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name." Is 45:3
It is in darkness that we seek out the light.
"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light." Ps 18:28
It is in the darkness that His Word becomes our light.
"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."
2 Peter 1:19
It is in the darkness of the valley, He anoints our heads and OVERfills our cups.
"You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.."Ps 23
You see, I do believe God's favor is upon me but that doesn't mean I haven't been to some DARK places of suffering.  He has led me on VERY unfamiliar paths...
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Is 42:16

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12
Life with Christ has been an adventure. He has carried me through every storm and every valley and led me to so many mountaintops in between.
I can't wait to see the goodness He has stored up for me. But, more than anything, I can't wait to see HIM.
Be Blessed on this rainy morning in Chattanooga~
Steph
"You are a masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works which He prepared for you before you were even born. Walk in your calling." Tony Evans

6 comments:

Love Being A Nonny said...

AMEN! LOVE this post. Precious truth!

HIS Child said...

I love you girl. Keep sharing HIS Goodness and Majestic Love. I love that we can take to the bank HIS words, Always and Never as they apply to us.
So blessed by you and His words through your blog.

Merry Christmas sweet sister, delight in the light of your children's eyes this Christmas.

Love ya,
Celeste

Erin said...

Amen, Steph! I love it! Love HIM! SO MUCH!!

Erin Lynn said...

Amen,girl! What a blessing your words are to me this evening. A heartfelt, thanks so much.

Amykins said...

Hey Stephanie, thanks for the encouraging words. Your love for God's Word inspires me. Have a beautiful Christmas with your Christ and your family.

Becky said...

Your blog is like the best devotional I've ever read. Many blessings to you and your family this Christmas and in the year to come.