Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Everything Under the Sun

It has been so long since I blogged, it just took me an hour to figure out how to sign in to Blogger! Couldn't remember any of my sign-in stuff! So, after 100 verification codes and a new password, I am back in. It feels like a world I would need to break back into anyway because it has been so long. I understand why blogger doesn't recognize me anymore.
 Lately, I have started to wonder if I even recognize myself!!!
 A lot has changed as I have gone through trials and triumphs I could have never expected during the last 3 years. Most things  that I would have grabbed on to for support have crumbled.
We have been forced to hang on to the Lord and His people. We have had no other choice! 
I have spent the last years craving anonymity and privacy... especially for my children. I have learned the hard way that you can share too much with too many people. 

When I gave my life to the Lord, I LOVED people. I invited everybody into my life. I had no reservations at all. 
I think that was a gift from the Lord as He also invites ALL to come. Over the years, I have lost that open-door/innocent heart. Pain and betrayal really do rob you of innocence. 

But, as I study the life of Jesus Christ, He KEPT loving vulnerably to the end. And He KNEW betrayal was in the midst. We usually don't know its coming, but Jesus did. 
He told Judas to go and do what he was going to do... while showing the full extent of his love and washing his feet. He never held back love. 

"It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus... 
So He {Jesus} got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist,  and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him."
John 13
He loved FREELY (in the face of pain) until His final breath. 
He said He would and He did.
He still does.

"I will love them freely"
Hosea 14:4

I know He loved me freely as my sin wounded Him.

 He also walked in protective wisdom around certain people.

"But Jesus would not entrust himself to them...for he knew what was in each person."
John 2:24,25

Betrayal is part of the deal in the life of a believer. I truly believe it is unavoidable if we want to KNOW CHRIST.
Paul definitely had his fair share.

Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus has gone to Dalmatia. 
Only Luke is with me.
2 Tim 4:10,11

"Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. 
The Lord will repay him for what he has done.  You too should be on your guard against him"
2 Tim 4:14,15

I have learned so much during the last 3 years. Maybe you DO have to see everything under the sun to gain wisdom. 

There is a lot I wish I hadn't seen but I am thankful for the wisdom it has given me so I can better equip my children. 
And so I can recognize things sooner.

We are living in a hostile spiritual environment. I truly believe we are seeing an elevated attack on Christian marriages and families. Christians are being DEPLOYED into a war. I feel like I spend so much energy fighting the oppressive attacks of the enemy. The health trials we have endured have been terrifying. I am so thankful my children are alive and that God has continued to let me have them on this side of heaven. 
I often look around and think, "no one could possibly understand". But they do. 
I have a feeling YOU do. 

You are going through it too... if you are living your life for Christ.
Our trials come in different shapes and sizes but they are all accomplishing the same goal... transformation into the image of Jesus Christ.

"Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."
1 Peter 5

My precious Rhett (3) was hospitalized twice this month for asthmatic episodes that rocked me to the core. We have walked this road with Lake but I wasn't prepared to do it again. I love thinking of Gen 2 where God breathes the breath of life into Adam. 
I imagine Him doing that for all of us. 
Especially when my babies can't breathe.

"Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person."
Gen 2:7

"He Himself gives everyone life and breath"
Acts 17:25

I have been thinking a lot of Mary as I walked through this latest terrifying episode.
It reminds me of when she lost Jesus.

"Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.  When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.  After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first,  because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.
 When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.  Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions.  All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
 His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”
 “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they didn’t understand what he meant.
 Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.
 Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people."
Luke 2

She knows Jesus is the Messiah and then she LOSES HIM???
Talk about confusion and panic!
Her response reminds me so much of mine when I am terrified.
She gets angry, confused, and in the flesh.
I think it is interesting that she calls Joseph "your father".
She couldn't see the big picture.

When it says "I have been frantic". The original language means..
to cause intense pain, 
to be in anguish, 
be tormented to torment or distress one's self


I also understand what it is like to treasure things in your heart as a mother.
I treasure every day and every milestone I get with each one of my children. I treasure the supernatural miracles I get to watch God do in their lives. I treasure their laughs and their talents. I treasure each birthday and each new season with them. 
I treasure the whole miracle of motherhood.
Mary must have really treasured THE MIRACLE of motherhood. 
Even when things didn't go the way she thought they would.
No one could possibly have understood what was going on in her heart through that whole ordeal.
Being a mother is HARD and scary. And most of the time we can't understand what God is doing. 
Unexpected trials come that rock us to the core.
But there is a plan in it and there is growth through it...
 if we keep trusting.  

I HATE asthma and any type of breathing issue. It reminds me of how broken this world is that we live in. This isn't God's design. 
Neither was the shooting in Las Vegas. 
I whole-heartedly believe we are living in the final days before the return of Christ.
Believers are going through very hard things.
Evil is ramped up.
The enemy is controlling the lives of people who allow him to. Once he can control their minds, he can use them to accomplish his purposes. It is very scary what he is capable of doing through one person yielded to him. 
 Whether it is through drugs (I think mind-altering drugs are his best avenue- Revelation 18:23 tells us that pharmakeia {drugs} will be how the enemy controls NATIONS), sexual sin, television/gaming, etc...

We have to be so careful and sober-minded in these days.

"Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming."
1 Peter 1:13

There is an epidemic of leaders falling.  People who have been mentors or teachers in the past who are falling into sin or crazy belief systems.
It isn't an overnight process. It is years of small compromises. Usually they stop reading their Bibles daily and then they justify that God can speak to us through many different means (other than His Word). 
Maybe even things like music or creation but He has primarily chosen HIS WORD to speak to us. 
Not yoga. 
Not all this weird New Age health stuff. 
Not music. 
Not even "Christian" teachers. 
Finding a solid Bible teacher in our culture is RARE. You can't just read blogs and listen to whoever is on the radio anymore. 
Ministry has become idolatry. Motives have changed. Women are taking over and desiring more and more power. Don't get me wrong...I praise God for godly women to follow!  I also love serving God and ministering publicly in His name but my highest and most significant calling is to be a helper to my husband and a homemaker! To disciple my children! I have been in the pediatricians office or hospital so much lately that my pediatrician said, "I think you are going to win mother-of-the-year". I laughed and said, "you and God are the only ones who have seen any of this". But I do know God has seen and He is cheering me on. It has been awful. It has been terrifying and LONELY. I was ALONE in the hospital holding oxygen on my baby's face all night and day as his tiny chest struggled to breathe. It was me and the Lord. But it was significant and it IS my MINISTRY.

Public ministry is awesome (if God entrusts it to you) but if you are doing it to serve yourself, it gets ugly quick.
Often real ministry feels like pouring your life out like a drink offering for someone else. It isn't self-serving or glamorous.

"But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God."
Phil 2:17

Being Tim's helper and raising these children to know God and serve Him is the highest calling on my life. It is HARD. Impossible actually
The oppression is real... sometimes so heavy I can hardly get out of bed. But I am thankful for this high and holy calling. 
I have no idea why God chose someone completely incapable but He has a history of doing that all through Scripture.

 "Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.  As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God."
1 Cor 1:27-30

So much has changed since I started this blog over 10 years ago!!! My adorable little boys are now in high school and turning into godly men before my eyes. We don't know what we are doing or how to raise teenagers but God's spirit is in them and pulling them harder than we ever could. We make a lot of wrong decisions but God's grace covers and corrects those. We are changing direction OFTEN trying to figure out the way through this uncharted territory. Our boys don't date and won't until they are old enough to consider marriage. I believe there is ONE the Lord has chosen for each of them and I am fighting for her and their future marriages. This is very counter-cultural and they already know that and have been challenged. Reece especially is learning who he is in Christ and how to stand alone. They are human and will have to wrestle through (just like we did and still are). Holiness is attractive to the world as much as they love to mock and ridicule it. It is a courageous life and a blessed life. Only God can work in their hearts to make wise decisions. How I pray and trust He will!

"And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.
 Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
 Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness."
Isaiah 35:8-10


We are thrilled that God has given us another baby girl. 
I'm not sure we will believe it until she is here in our arms.
Her name is "Belle" because of the verse the Lord gave me for her life...

"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
Is 61:3

She is a crown of beauty instead of ashes and a plating of the Lord for the display of His splendor. May she be an OAK of righteousness!!
I already love her so much.
"Belle" seems so fitting as God has given us the fairytale.
Every fairytale has a villian and hardship but God is such a good gift giver. 

Speaking of fairytales, I ADORE Tim. 
He is my greatest gift. 
We are in the battle together. Figuring out life together. Crying out to God together. 
He is my biggest pregnancy craving :). We are tired and beat up by trials but we are alive and pressing on- 
with a love so deep, few ever experience it. 

"You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
Ps 16:11

Over the last 3 years, I have stepped back from publicly sharing about our family. I unknowingly allowed spiritually sick people into our lives more than once. I have gained wisdom the hard way.
I shut down facebook and instagram for a while. It was a good break. 
I DO enjoy minding my own business and living a quiet life.
"Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands"
1 Thess 4:11

But I also know how much I was impacted by a blogger who shared her life. I had never seen anything like her family.
Large families were a foreign concept. She showed me a whole different way of life.
I have also been discipled by a godly couple who took me in 20 years ago. Sharing your life through discipleship is so powerful and FRUITFUL. 

I want young women to know the JOY of being a wife and a mother. I also want them to know that life is HARD but God is faithful. Keep clinging to Him. Keep reading your Bible every day. 
Love you younger women so much!!!!
I want to be a resource for you to the best of my ability!

Keep fighting the good fight and BE BLESSED~


Kelly said...

Hi Stephanie, It's been YEARS since I've read or commented, but the Lord had me look your blog up this morning. I am with you...the years of suffering and trials that the Lord has allowed can make us feel so battered and tired! BUT, JESUS! I have learned what real dependence on ONLY HIM is. Like Job said, I had only heard of Him, but now I see Him.
Thank you for writing, and sharing the word! It is the only thing that doesn't return void in our lives.
Your family is beautiful and congratulations on your new princess. :)

God Bless your sweet family,

Bec said...

You always inspire me.