Tuesday, August 6, 2019

How Do You Fight Your Battles?

How do you fight your battles?

    So I have to tell you about something super cool that happened to me a few weeks ago. But first I need to give you a little background. My relationship with God has become much stronger in the past 10 years. However, I’ll be honest, sometimes I crave to hear from Him...and I don’t. My friends talk about their really cool dreams, and I ask God to give me dreams, but no cool dreams yet. I just listened to a podcast in which a woman talked about hearing a word of the day from God. When I ask God to speak, sometimes I feel like He is silent. It can be very frustrating. However, that’s part of my learning to trust when I don’t hear what I want, and it’s also part of my listening. For those of you who like the enneagram, I am a seven, the enthusiast, which means I like to have fun all the time and I don’t really enjoy silence.
Anyway, onto my super cool story: My family went to Hilton Head Island toward the end of July with my parents and my brother and sister-in-law and very cute nephew. 
Now let me preface this by saying how much I love the beach. I feel so relaxed when I drive on the island and I love the sand between my toes, the waves, and swimming in the ocean. I loved to bike ride and I also loved to play putt-putt at the beach, much to my husband‘s chagrin. I always told my husband it would be fun when we had kids because then they could play with me, and he would not have to! However, things turned out a little differently. As many of you know I am in a wheelchair right now and cannot ride a bike, swim in the ocean, or play putt-putt. We had gone a little early to meet my grandmother, aunts, and cousins who were there for the weekend. We had to take a shuttle to the beach at their place and could not get into our condo yet. My sweet mom had rented a beach wheelchair, which is awesome, and that is putting it mildly. It allows me to go to the edge of the water through the sand; however, it has huge tires that would not fit on a shuttle or in any type of car. So my children and other family went to the beach, and I wanted them to, but I was also really, really sad. Before they left my oldest son put headphones in my ears and played the song “Surrounded (Fight My Battles).” I tried to wait until they left, but tears begin to roll down my cheeks as I listened to this song and turned on the Hallmark channel for my grandmother. The Hallmark channel is great and all, but not really what I wanted to be doing on a beach vacation. My parents were going to the grocery store while the others were at the beach, so I decided to go with them. I turned my headphones off and left them at the house to go to the grocery store. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the grocery store at the beach on a Saturday, but my brother describes it well when he says it’s one of the five worst experiences of his life. It is mass chaos, and it seems like everybody on the island ended up at Kroger at the same time. My mom had a list a mile long and my dad was trying to navigate my wheelchair through all the people. It was really maddening! I felt like crying, but I couldn’t put my sunglasses on in the middle of a store. How pitiful would it be to have tears rolling down your cheeks in a wheelchair in the middle of Kroger? I just stayed silent and began to pray because I was so discouraged. As we navigated our way through the chaos, Kroger began to play my new favorite song, the one my son had just played for me!  I was a little shocked, and I thanked God for reminding me that He was right there. I told my dad, “Isn’t that so cool that Kroger plays Christian music?” He had no idea what I was talking about. He said, “Haley, they didn’t play that song, it never played.” But I had heard it as clear as it had been in my headphones. God reminded me that although I felt surrounded, He was fighting my battles! I didn’t have to feel discouraged and it wasn’t for me to try to fight my battles. God would do that, and He does do that. My prayer for all of us is that when we are surrounded, we will surrender to our great God and let Him take over. God will fight our battles when we let Him.

“ Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by UPPERROOM

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Friday, July 19, 2019

When Life Gives You Lemons

When Life Gives You Lemons

Do you like lemons? I really like lemons in my water. The sour, acidic taste of the lemon when it is squeezed provides is the perfect amount of flavor.  I also like to decorate with lemons. Before it is cut open and squeezed, a bright lemon can bring a touch of color that a dark or drab room might need. 

We are all kind of like lemons. Before we are squeezed, we can smile and laugh. But when a little life seeps in, we are no longer whole but cut open and squeezed. Circumstances squeeze us. Maybe it’s finances, work, marriage, children, or health. And when we are squeezed, what pours out? Are we bitter and angry? Are we short in our responses? How do we act not only with other people, but also when we are alone? What we pour into our bodies body is eventually going to come out. If we constantly eat food that is not good for our bodies, it will begin to show. It is the same thing with our minds. What we constantly pour in is eventually going to come out. The Scripture says in John 15:5,  “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We have to abide in Christ. I looked up the word abide and its synonyms are to comply withobserve, and follow. We cannot follow what we do not know. We have to know His word. I have Scriptures all around my house and I listen to worship music at least every morning. I feel, as I’m sure you do, that I am constantly squeezed. When that happens I want my family and those around me to see Jesus. It doesn’t always happen. Some days I’m just bitter and angry and not very pleasant to be around. In the moments when I’m squeezed I have to ask myself: What am I abiding in? In Christ or in myself? My prayer for you is that you will abide in Him and His word, and that when you are squeezed, others will see Jesus in you.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“ Everything” with Toby Mac 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Delight and Desire

When I was in college, and even when I first got married, I quoted this verse from Psalm 37:4: “Take delight in the Lord and he will give you desires of your heart.” However, I quoted the verse all wrong. I took delight in the Lord. I was a Christian who went to church on Sunday and on mission trips. I even taught kids about God and His faithfulness. I thought for sure I was taking delight in the Lord and therefore He would grant the desires of my heart. Then came the first big trial in our marriage, and I was mad because it did not turn out like I desired.  As my relationship with the Lord deepened, I began to realize that I was taking delight in serving the Lord, but not taking delight in Him. Therefore my desires were what wanted and what I thought I needed, and not from Him. I want to be healed--like running outside with my kids healed--and NOT watching from a wheelchair. Living life in the wheelchair is not my desire! But as I grow deeper in my relationship with Christ, my desires begin to change. In finding delight in Him, my desire becomes to serve Him in any way possible. I realize I am a vessel. I have the opportunity to show Jesus to others. I may be a broken vessel, but I can point others to Jesus. That is my greatest desire, and when I delight in Him, my desires become His desires.
From His delight and desire I find a great peace. This doesn’t mean I enjoy all of my circumstances. I don’t enjoy all of my circumstances. Sometimes it feels like Groundhog Day. When I crawl slowly out of bed to take a shower with the grab bars that my sweet father-in-law and husband put in, my body is stiff. My left leg doesn’t even feel attached, although I’m grateful it is still attached. Circumstances don’t seem to change, and I have learned through this to become very intentional in the morning. I have to listen to worship music every morning and set my eyes on Jesus. I also read scripture and sometimes listen to a sermon or a podcast. 
Sometimes circumstances don’t change, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot delight in the Lord and that He does not grant us the desires of our hearts. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, His desires become our desires. We want to see Him and know Him. I listen to a lot of podcasts. It’s one of the ways that I feel encouraged. Recently I heard someone say, “ I didn’t get the prayer I wanted. I got the presence I needed”. I typed it in my phone immediately because it is so true. God doesn’t always answer our prayers like we want, but He is always there. He never leaves our side, and He is always faithful. My prayer for all of us is that we will take great delight in knowing Him and therefore He will grant us the desires of our heart.

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭37:4-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I shall not want” by Audrey Assad

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

God Never Wastes

 I love people. It is fun for me to be around others. It really fills my tank up, so to speak. I like traveling to new places and going on adventures. I have always enjoyed moving to new places because it’s an exciting challenge.  During each of my four years of college I moved to different apartments (I'm sure all this moving thrilled my parents :) ). Then I married a man whose job required us to move around a lot, and although it’s not his favorite, I loved it! As I became more dependent on other people and my relationship with God became stronger,  I loved seeing how God provided.
 However, as I became more dependent, I also ended up spending more time alone at my house in silence. I cannot drive anymore, so going inside the local Starbucks does not happen very much. Fortunately, there is a drive-through so when my sweet nanny comes and we are running errands we frequently drive through the local coffee house. Doing things with friends is different now, because they have to come pick me up and help me. Satan uses these moments to keep my eyes focused on my circumstances and on my loneliness. I quickly become discouraged and my thoughts tend to go into a downward spiral. Bitterness and anger ensue that many times I take out on other people. It’s not pretty and, trust me, I am not proud of this. However, this just shows how much I need Jesus.
When I have a smile on my face and my words and actions are positive, it’s because of Jesus. 
I make a decision, many times a day, to turn my eyes on Him and change my attitude. In Psalms 32:3 it says, “When I kept things to myself, I felt weak and deep inside me I moaned all day long.” When we keep our thoughts focused on ourselves and our circumstances we do feel weak, because we cannot renew our minds and our attitudes. God never wastes our hurts or what we might be going through. God never wastes suffering. In Proverbs 4:25 the Bible tells us to “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.” It also tells us in Ephesians 4:23 to “be made new in the attitude of your mind.” So my being alone and silent has really allowed me to pour into scripture and also pour into other peoples' lives. When I am able to participate in something, I enjoy it far more than I might have if I did it all the time. My prayer for you is that you will keep your eyes turned toward Jesus. Trust Him and trust the story that He is writing through you. He is writing a story that will bring Him great glory and you “get to” be part of it. Trust our good God.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus” by Hillsong

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Work In Progress

Work in Progress 

I cannot stop smiling. Right now I am looking at our brand-new room. We just finished renovations on our living room. After about six weeks of construction, the formal living room and the den became one big family room. It is beautiful, and I know my family is going to love it! 
Even though it was two separate rooms just six weeks ago, it is hard to recall. However, I do remember watching parts of the process of the two rooms becoming one. There were times when my kids and I came home to find big holes in the wall. Sometimes, even though we knew guys were there working, we could not tell that there was work being done. And then there were times that it was really, really, really messy (but our contractor did do a good job of cleaning up the room).
Every time I rolled through this room I reminded myself that it was a work in progress and that it would be beautiful when done. Looking at this beautiful new room and thinking back on the process of renovation reminds me of how God renovates us. We are also a work in progress. Sometimes we are in crisis and there is a lot of work being done in our lives. Sometimes our lives are going well and even though we know that God is working, we can’t really tell. Although we are a work in progress and our lives will not be complete until we meet Jesus, each day we should look a little bit more like Him. I heard a sermon recently in which the pastor asked, “Whose voice is the loudest in your life? Whose voice influences the decisions that you make each day? Who influences your thoughts and what you think about yourself? Who influences your actions and the way you speak?" These are questions that I ask myself every morning because I know that I am a work in progress. I want to make sure that “my room” looks more and more like Jesus every day. My prayer for you is that Jesus is the loudest voice in your life and that you are becoming more like Him every day.

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Changed” by Jordan Feliz

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Only Jesus

Recently my husband and I had a doctor’s appointment that I really did not want to go to. I was dreading it! I didn’t feel like pretending it (everything) was OK. I didn’t feel like walking (rolling) in with a smile on my face. I knew those stark,white office walls of the would be cold and uninviting.  I can usually find something to be optimistic about in most situations. But this time was hard. Appointments and blood work are pretty common  now, but this appointment was different. Sometimes hearing the obvious about my condition is really hard. I feel discouraged. I start to feel defeated. 

About two days before the appointment I was listening to podcasts (I think I’m truly addicted to podcasts), and the pastor spoke about making Jesus famous. Now, I know about letting your light shine for Jesus. Not only do I say this to my kids almost every day, but our family Bible verse is Matthew 5:16: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” However, through this pastor God reminded me ever so gently that these appointments are not about me. He reminded me that this life is not about me. It is about Him. Rolling into that doctor’s office with a smile on my face suddenly didn’t seem so hard because I realized it was not about the circumstances of my situation. The appointment became a “get to” and not a “have to” moment. I got the opportunity to be used by God with the receptionists, other patients, nurses, and doctors. Also, I got to go on a date with my husband (insert praise hands) and we got to go to Whole Foods,which is one of my favorite places :)

I’m not going to lie and say that I always let God change my attitude and become grateful. I don’t. I could pretend that I never question God, and I want to say I always trust Him, but I don’t. I know His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. But isn’t it so hard to see that God is sovereign when life seems out of control? Isn’t it so hard to see that God is good, and a good father, when you don’t understand? Maybe it is not for you, but it definitely is for me!! I do KNOW that we GET TO shine His kindness, love, grace, and mercy. My prayer for you is that you will see this life as more “get to” moments than “have to” moments, and make Jesus famous.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.”

Friday, January 11, 2019

"Find your tribe, Love them hard"

It’s a new year. A new year full of hope and promises. Life will be better next year. Maybe you have New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you don’t make New Year’s resolutions because in a few weeks they we will not be resolutions anymore. I personally don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  This year though I decided to try something new. A few people I know have a word for their year and it has always inspired me. So I decided to ask God for a word this year. I heard God laying two words on my heart for the year…I felt like God was telling me to TRUST. I feel Him repeating the word over and over through sermons and podcasts as well as through devotionals and discussions with friends.  The other word for my year is COURAGE. I took a quiz from the Christian company Dayspring and the quiz told me my word for the year was courage. The word courage does make sense. Life is getting harder and harder physically for me. My body seems like it’s getting weaker and more stiff every day. I told my husband last night that rolling over in bed was definitely something I took for granted. Life takes trust. It takes courage.  Some days I want to wallow, throwing myself a pity party. Some days I have to stand on my friends words and their belief in who God says I am. Do you have friends like that in your life? Friends that encourage and pour truth into your soul when you can’t seem to look up our focus on the truth instead of the lies?  Friends that can also tell you that hard things when you don’t want to hear them?  I am very blessed because God has brought me friends just like that in every city our family has lived.

Christmas time is over and our house is slowly getting back to normal chaos of life. Also, I love the tree and the lights decorating the house...but I also love when it is all packed up for next year. Don’t you feel a sense of relief when your last box is packed up?  I’ve also been taking down the Christmas cards or Thanksgiving cards or New Year’s cards (whichever holiday you might send us a card:)). I love looking at each family and thinking about the city where we met them and how God changed our lives through them. We take the cards and cut out the pictures and glue them on popsicle sticks. Each morning before school (or after depending on the craziness of the morning) each of us take a popsicle stick and pray for that family. It started out when my children were young and I read about a family prayer jar (www.happyhomefairy.com). We lived in Texas and our family is spread through different parts of the country. I wanted my children to know there extended family and so I found pictures on Facebook and we started the family prayer jar.  Each time we moved and I needed more and more help physically and we didn’t live near our immediate family. Our friends became our family too. I started to add pictures to the jar and now we just add the new Christmas cards every year.  It’s a fun thing to do with my family. Hopefully it shows my kids the importance of prayer for those we love in our lives. Each time we pull out a card we are reminded of God‘s provision and His great love for us. Our family is reminded of the body of Christ and how we all need each other. My prayer for you is that you will be reminded of many of the ways God has provided. Make a list and when you feel discouraged you can read it and remind yourself of God‘s great love for you. My prayer for you also is that you will find a friend who points you to Jesus.  When you do, you in turn, will be able to be this kind of friend to others.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

“Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective


How Do You Fight Your Battles?

How do you fight your battles?     So I have to tell you about something super cool that happened to me a few weeks ago. But first I ...