Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Face to the Wall

"Hezekiah turned his face to THE WALL and prayed to the Lord"
2 Kings 20:2

I was so thankful to be able to go and be with my parents in Houston for a few days. Tim agreed to take over for me so I could go.  Tim doesn't get intimidated by much. He told me he was pretty much self-sufficient when we first started dating. That kind of hurt my feelings because I wondered if he needed a wife to take care of him at all. Now, I see what a strength it is to have a "pretty-much-self-sufficient" husband. He is large and in charge. Maybe because he married when he was 28 and had to learn how to cook and do laundry.  I wanted to take the baby but mom and Tim didn't think it was a good idea to have him in the hospital environment. 

So, off I went... into a world I haven't been a part of in years. When I was single I traveled the world ALONE and later had a big girl job that demanded travel. Airports were a cinch. For the last 10 years, I have been home taking care of babies. I am intimidated by that busy world now. Tim takes such good care of me that I don't have to use my brain much for stuff like this. I called Tim and said, "You have taken such good care of you that I don't know how to use my brain anymore!".
I was ALONE with God in a place He had no doubtedly led me. Just me and Him
No Tim. 
No babies. 
Same girl.
Same Savior.

I checked my bag and got my seat assignment to go be with my mom and dad in Houston, Tx. We were up against THE WALL. There was no foreseeable escape route. Makes me think of when God told the Israelites set up camp at the edge of the Red Sea.

 "Then the LORD gave these instructions to Moses:  “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there ALONG THE SHORE, across from Baal-zephon... I have planned this in order to display my glory...So the Israelites camped there as they were told."
Ex 14:1-4

Isn't it wild that God told them to camp there. He purposely put them in an impossible situation! 

The guy who sat beside me on the first flight was an older man who was 1 of 8. He was Catholic. He loved growing up in a big family! So, I didn't feel as weird as usual when I told him how many children I had. He was on his way to meet his brothers to play golf. They do it every year. I loved hearing his stories of what a big family looks like further down the road. I told him people always ask me if I am Catholic or Mormon. Ha! I say, "nope! neither!" I just love Jesus and I love having babies!! I tend to be careful about not wearing my hair in a bun with a long skirt. I never want anyone to think someone is making me have all these children. I want them to know that I CHOSE to have them all!  :) My religion doesn't require it of me. My Creator God is beautiful and I love being a vessel of His Creation. I love the quote that says, "The Womb is God's Art Studio".

My first flight from Chattanooga to Atlanta was 20 minutes. That's fun! My next one to Houston was a lot longer. I was able to write in each child's journal. I am so far behind on pictures and memory books, I will never catch up. I write in their journal about once a year. It is a plain black 5 sectioned notebook. I bought it when I had Crew. Now I have to split the last section so Rhett can be in it! What a blessing! (Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined having 6 children!). I write about the things they are doing and saying. The strengths I see in them. My prayers for them and I tell them how much I love them and how proud of them I am.
I loved waiting to see who God would put beside me on the plane rides.

I am currently in FULL-TIME work with my 4 year old and 2 year old. Training them according to the Word. One of my children (ehhh..hmmmm) requires a lot more work than the others right now. I know that changes from season to season. But I have zeroed in on her (ehhh...hmmmm). She is a beautiful MESS. 

I was so thankful to have that time to write to each one of them. I want them to know that they are all individual to me. Individually studied, loved, and prayed for. 

When I finished, I looked out the window of the plane. I watched tiny cars on tiny roads. I saw tiny trains and tiny houses. I wondered how God could love and individually know an ENTIRE WORLD!  How He studies each one. Hears their prayers. Knows the desires of their hearts. Takes care of each one of His creations whom He formed with His own hands. 
It gave me perspective
I wondered what those tiny people in those tiny cars were going through. What were their wounds? What were their fears? What were their dreams? What were their prayers? Where were they going? Did they know Jesus? 
He knows them.
It gave me comfort
It made me realize if God could be in charge of the world, He could heal my mom.

When I landed, I got a text from my dad saying mom had gotten GOOD NEWS to call! I called and found out that as I was flying, the doctor was telling my mom that her type of cancer was "estrogen-something-and negative-something-positive-something". I never know what anybody is talking about. All I know is that it could be TREATED with radiation and pills! The radiation-oncologist said mom would have to wait to see the breast cancer doctors for the final treatment protocol but that she was confident it would be radiation/oral meds, no chemo!!  
We couldn't believe it! We never dreamed God could really calm this storm!  But I believe He is!
He heard our prayers! Tiny people who drive tiny cars and live in tiny houses!! He cares!!!
We are all still holding our breath until mom gets the final word but we are rejoicing that God is helping us!!

So, now my dad... who was told he had less than 1% chance of survival!!!... is cancer free. One more clear scan in July and he is able to come off all treatment. 
Wow. That is AWESOME.
That is GOD!

The shuttle driver picked me up at the airport.  He was from Iran. He wanted me to ride in the front. He told me he would drop me off first. I talked to him as we drove. I told him about Tennessee and that it was beautiful but it had tornadoes that scared the pee-pee out of me. He said there were hurricanes in Texas. I said, "well, there will always be something until we get to heaven. I can't wait to be in heaven". He said, "I want to go to heaven with you." I said, "well, there is only one way and I can't take you there. Only Jesus."

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

He asked me what I did. I said, 
"the same as you. 
I drive a van. 
I also wash dishes. 
I have 6 kids."

He drops me off at my parent's hotel. It is a beautiful hotel that is attached to the hospital. I hug my mom and dad and we are just blown away by the news God has just given us! Maybe just maybe God was going to let my mom LIVE! Mom is changed. She thought she was going to have a stroke and that the rest of her life would be battling cancer. Mom has begun sharing her faith. She told me, "God has opened my mouth. I am not wasting any more time."  She is even more beautiful now that she is free to LIVE! She knows her life is for God's glory. She know He has extended her time. Just as He did with Hezekiah.

“Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the LORD I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own honor and for the sake of my servant David.’”
2 Kings 20:5,6

I will heal you. Get out of bed and go  the Temple of the Lord! I will add years to your life! I will rescue you! FOR MY OWN HONOR.

I got to go with mom to her radiation treatment. I brought anointing oil from home. I carried it in my purse so I could be ready to pray. I am not an elder but I may be the closest these people will ever come to an elder! There were sick people everywhere. People suffering, brokenhearted, dying, desperate. It was a mission field. Not just because the people were vulnerable but because everything had been stripped away. They were thinking about life, death, and eternity. They weren't distracted. 
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs."

Matt 5:3
Eternity is written on every heart. We just get to places in life where that writing is in BOLD PRINT.
"He has put eternity in their hearts" Ecc 3:11

I saw a beautiful girl in the radiation waiting area. She is African American. She has no hair and is very very sick. Her face is despairing. I ask if I can pray for her. She says yes! I got the awesome privilege of praying over her and anointing her with oil while the big tough guy sitting next to her is agreeing in prayer in a deep booming voice... "yes, thank you Jesus". What a picture of strength he was. I hugged her and cried with her and asked God to touch her body and free her from this prison of suffering. I will never know if He did. But I know it changed her countenance. Her face had hope. She knew Jesus. I could sense it in the spiritual realm.

Next, there was a lady waiting in another area. She was alone. I asked her if I could pray for her. She hesitantly said yes. She was super uncomfortable. I prayed over her for healing but I also prayed John 3:16 over her so that she would know how much God loves her. I don't think she knew that. A tear rolled down her cheek. I hugged her. She was SUPER uncomfortable but I didn't care. I wondered why she was alone. I wondered if someone had hurt her and how her heart had gotten so hardened. I don't know. I just hope she felt God's love. I hope God spoke to her somehow.

Mom and I had so much fun together. We shopped. Mom was on steroids so she was probably over-doing it. But, she was so excited that her death sentence seems to have been removed! We went out to eat. We saw "God's Not Dead". Ok, THAT movie rocks!!! 
Mom shared with me what God was doing in her heart. It is awesome to see how God meets us in our suffering. He strengthened her on the hospital bed. Isn't it crazy how God uses places of brokenness to strengthen us? As my 9 year old says, God's world is opposite world.

I got to meet a beautiful new friend on a different shuttle from the hotel where the cancer patients stay.  I shared my testimony with her and shared the gospel as clear as I possibly knew how.   I prayed that Jehovah Rapha would heal her. After the prayer, she asked me if I was a Jehovah's Witness. I said "no". She said, "you prayed to Jehovah". I said, "that is the name of the living God".  I said, "I don't think your life is ending... I think it is just STARTING."
I felt God's nearness to her.
Her name is "M". We cried together on the hotel shuttle. We were the only ones on the shuttle that sunny afternoon. When she got off, I watched her as she walked away. The shuttle driver said, "I heard everything you just said. I want to be bold like you." He was a believer. We had an awesome conversation. I believe God has a huge calling on his life. I had no idea he was listening.... NO IDEA.

I texted my new friend later that evening. I included this verse...
"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25:26

She texted back and said...
"I believe".

 Give her faith, Lord! In the name of Jesus, may she be healed!

I could give you so many more stories like these. It was such an opportunity to share the gospel.
I know God gave me the heart of an evangelist. I know it is from him because I started sharing the gospel the day after I gave my life to Christ. I didn't know how to do it or what to say. I just knew I couldn't keep silent. 
I am thankful God has kept that fire going. 
The enemy has strategically placed people in my life with a mission to stir up trouble. 
It hasn't been fun dealing with these people but I have realized if you cast a big net, you are going to pull in more than fish. That doesn't mean we can give up. It has made me more  cautious who I let into my life and into my home but God has given me wisdom through it all. I promise you that if you have a heart to serve God, the enemy will send people into your life to frustrate the work. They will falsely accuse and try to steal, kill, and destroy. Don't let them rob you. Keep moving. Read Nehemiah chapter 4 when you want to give up. Work with all your heart on building your section of the wall.
Serve the Lord with enthusiasm! Knowing the enemy will send specific people to stop the work.
"So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.
 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry.  They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.  But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this THREAT."
Neh 4

The enemy loves to THREATEN. 
I am so thankful that it is God Who meets his threats. We don't have to.
Let God defend you, keep your head in all situations,  and do the work of an evangelist. 

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist" 
2 Tim 4:5

I have said it before. I think there is a reason that "endure hardship" comes right before "do the work of an evangelist" in Scripture.

Hardship is part of the deal. :( It isn't because of sin in your life or a lack of faith. It is because God chooses to put us up against A WALL or have us camp between the sea and Pharoah's army so that He can display His power and His glory!

I give God all the glory for keeping my parents alive and showing us His power!
We are thankful for every breath, every minute, every day! 

I also got to encourage a fellow plane rider on my way home to keep fighting for his family after he had made bad decisions that destroyed it. I know God can redeem and heal. 

As usual, I will end my post with some random thoughts. 
All-star baseball is about to take over our lives. I LOVE baseball.
When my boys make bad plays, it makes me want to crawl in a hole. I imagine how God has felt watching me play on His team all these years. 
God must be thinking, "no she didn't just do that. yep, she did. I love her. She just needs to be coached. I'll help her."
My boys are doing great in school which reminds me of tithing. It doesn't make sense on paper but when you seek first the Kingdom, God ADDS all the other things. Talk about fuzzy math. 1+1 does not equal 2 when Jesus is in the equation. We have less than a month until summer break. I can't wait to spend the summer having fun and studying the Bible!
Tim and I just made a deal with our older boys.
If they wait until their wedding day to kiss their brides, we will give them $1,000.
They don't have to do it. It is up to them. 
That gift would be something we would give CHEERFULLY.
Some people save money for pretty invitations or extravagent flowers. 
We will start saving for this.
Purity has no regrets.
We'll see what happens but the boys say...
"DONE! We will totally do it!!".
I told them it will not be an easy task but maybe if they have each other cheering them on to the finish line, they can make it.
I hope so. 
What a gift that would be to their future wives!!
If they don't make it, we will still love them and cheer them on!
They are very motivated by money... lol.

Next random topic...
I am not a David Platt fan. I think he teaches a Lordship Salvation which means the harder you bust your tail, the more holy you are. Sell your stuff and PROVE yourself. Repent MORE... or maybe you aren't even saved to begin with. Be radical! Work HARDER. 

No one can ever measure up. No one will ever know if they are truly saved with this message.
I think it is man-based striving that leads to a dead end of frustration. 
It won't last. Our best efforts are like filthy rags to God.
I've got news for you, YOU CAN'T DO THIS. 
It is when you realize that it is Christ in You Who does the work...that is when you are truly set free to serve God. 
 "Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matt 11:28-30
If you want to grow, read your Bible every day and spend time with the Lord getting to know Him.
Lake sings a song in school. It goes...
When mountains tower rugged and high
rise to the challenge, look to the sky.
Trust in the Lord and start out to climb,
reach for the goal one step at a time.

Little by little, inch by inch,
by the yard it's hard,
by the inch what a cinch!
Never stare up the stairs,
just step up the steps.
Little by little inch by inch.

Growing in Christ takes work every day--
reading your Bible, learning to pray. 
Build godly habits, seek help divine. 
Great things are done one step at a time.

One step at a time. Don't think you have to sell everything you own and go be a missionary in the jungle in order to be godly. It is a DAILY walk. One step at a time. He will meet you where you are. Skip the Christian books. Get into the Word. That is how you grow! Pure milk!! 
"Like newborn babies, crave PURE spiritual milk, so that by it you may GROW up in your salvation"
1 Peter 2:2
If He is calling you to be a missionary, He will open doors and work in your heart. 
Rest in God's love for you. Rest in your salvation.
Grow in your relationship with God by simply spending time with Him in His Word everyday. He will meet you where you are. He doesn't want to take! He wants to give!

If there is sin in your life, confess it and turn from it.
God will forgive you and your relationship with Him can be restored.
Jesus redeems us from ALL wickedness.
"But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness."
1 John 1:9

"But you don't understand what I have done. It's too late."
Stop reading right now and get down on your hands and knees and confess your sins to the Lord. 
We are all just tiny people who drive tiny cars who live in tiny houses yet GOD who is our Creator waits on us to fall onto our tiny knees and cry out to Him. Jonah cried out to God from the belly of the whale. If that is where you are because of rebellion, cry out and be delivered on to dry ground!!
That is how quickly God can change our situation!!

"As my life was slipping away,
I remembered the LORD.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
in your holy Temple....

Then the Lord ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach."
Jonah 2

Have a great day. If your face is to the wall, PRAY!!!! 
And BE ENCOURAGED. That might be EXACTLY where God wants you to show you His POWER.

"Hezekiah turned his face to THE WALL and PRAYED to the Lord"
2 Kings 20:2

Be Blessed~


Ginny said...

AMEN!!! I could do a back-flip on my kitchen table, I'm so excited right now. Love your heart to share Jesus with the world, Steph! I'm so encouraged and pumped up...I'm lookin' out the window to see who's going to walk by that I can go share Jesus with!

Thank you! Love the "tiny knees" bit.


Mom to 3 said...

Wow Steph! Praise God for the wonderful news about your parents. Thank you for sharing all that you learned on your trip to Texas. This post is so encouraging. I hope that you have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

beautiful. what God does isn't it?
yes, that movie rocks! (took the older kids and their friends! I was clapping!)

so happy about your mom.

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear the good news! Praise be to God!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Amen and amen. MT

Anonymous said...

So excited about the good news, answers to prayer for your parents. Can't tell you how encouraging your words are to spread the good news. Love the specifics, especially when you prayed for the lady who was uncomfortable. Sometimes that kind of thing slows me down, when they get uncomfortable, I do, ya know? But your encouragement to keep going is so valuable to me, Erin Lynn