Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Prayer Heard

Thinking back as I sit in my quiet spot with my cup of coffee warming my hands....realizing how I have sometimes offered up prayers not understanding the full meaning of the words I spoke.

"Lord, I want a life in which I can't live or breathe without you."

Bold words.  I said them with noble intent.  I truly wanted every breath that I took to be with Jesus by my side.

However, when I am honest I have to admit I wanted Him to be by my side as I lived my chosen life the way I desired.  I wanted to see the way where I was going.  I wanted a storybook life where everything turned out right.

As my world spun out of control last year, I came face to face with the reality of the words I had spoken.  There were days I literally could not take the next breath without him.  The life I was so sure God had chosen for us seemed bleak and desperate.  I could not understand. All looked dark.

 "Lord, how do I live when I can't see where I am going?"
I questioned God.  I cried.  In bouts of sobbing I said over and over, "I can't do this."

When the tears subsided these words always came to my mind.  God put them there.  I know that.  In the quiet after my struggle, my arguing, my fighting, I heard..."Trust me, my daughter.  Trust me."

Life went on.  I took the next breath...and the next.  It was ok.

I learned that I didn't have to know where I was going.  God was there.  He was my light.  He gave light to my soul when my eyes could not see.  He gave peace to my heart when the storms raged around me.

 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
God guarded and protected my heart with a peace that was not possible on my own.  He showed me that I truly could not live or breathe without Him.

I don't regret praying those words.  No, not at all.  I feel thankful for my God who was there for me as I learned to trust Him more. 

He heard my prayer.  I am glad he did even if I did not grasp the depth and full meaning of the words.

Photo from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Our Great Physician

It was a year ago our world was turned upside down.  Life as we knew it would never be the same.  I picked up my prayer journal today and read from January 20, 2015.

"My heart is broken.  It feels like a knife is plunged into it and then it just keeps turning and cutting, slowly draining the life out.  Lord, I need your healing.  Hold me in your arms.  Wipe away my tears.  You are the Great Healer.  You can fix things that are beyond broken..."

That was the beginning of last year.  I had no idea the pain that would follow.  The tears would keep coming. When I thought there could be no greater heartache, there was more.  One event followed another. We lived in the reality of "hurting people hurt people."

I did not understand the ramifications of that prayer for healing, or the pain that it would put our family through.   In retrospect I understand now that only He knew what could bring about true healing.  What I thought were the answers would have only continued to blanket over the festering sickness.  It would have only treated the symptoms and not the problem.

 Not understanding I cried out over and over last year, "Lord, why?  How can we take any more?  Hasn't this been enough?"  God reminded me over and over to trust Him.  That was so hard when I could not see the big picture.

Sitting here tonight with my prayer journal open, I rejoice that I can now look back and see God's hand.  The Great Physician still lives.  He heard our cries for healing.  He held us through the storms.  He is changing our tears of sorrow into joy.  (There are still tears sometimes.  I'm guessing there may always be.  It is that way when you experience loss.)

Healing for us meant utter brokenness.  However, I am thankful...thankful for our Great Physician...thankful for the One Who Heals...thankful for the One who refused to just put a band-aid on a problem.

Photo from freedigitalphotos.net

(Please continue to pray for our son who is no longer with us to experience the hand of the Great Physician also.  Thank you.)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Consider it Pure Joy

  I awoke with an old hymn in my heart this morning.  This photo reminded me of the words, "...though sorrows like sea billows roll.  Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well.  It is well with my soul."  And I am thankful...thankful that all is well despite the storm!

Photo from www.freedigitalphotos.net

It is hard to even begin to describe this year for our family.  Back in January, we began dealing with a rebellion with one of our sons that was difficult to understand.  There were sleepless nights.  There were days he didn't come home.  Many were the tears.  The concern and anguish ran deep.  We prayed and sought God as never before.  We turned to others for outside help, seeking counseling and prayers.

It felt like things could not get worse, but it did in March.  Another son ended up in legal trouble.  We faced the difficult decision of turning him over to the authorities to be placed in juvenile detention or to place him ourselves in a place where he could get help for his struggles.  We chose to place him at the age of 14 in a boy's ranch for troubled boys.  It broke my heart.  It was the hardest thing we have ever done to drive away from the ranch that day leaving a piece of our heart behind.

This situation made things much worse with our older son who was in rebellion and running hard from his problems.  We let him leave the end of May to go spend the summer with his birth family.  We had to begin to create a safe and healing environment for the rest of our family, and it was impossible any other way.  He quickly decided he did not want to come home, and we signed over guardianship to his birth family in August.

There are not words for the pain.  It is a pain that makes it near difficult to take the next breath at times.  It is tears that fall unchecked.  Some days they will not not stop.  Other days they leak out here and there.  The sadness is overwhelming.  Though we have not lost children to death, we have been going through a grieving process.  There is a grieving for the loss of hopes and dreams.  We miss our boys.  I long for closure, and there is none.

During this time of agony, God has ministered to me.  He has shown me that I am not alone.  He has walked beside me.  He has granted strength when I had none to walk this road.

Ironically, I have always longed for a relationship where I was close to God.  Through this season God has become the reason I live and breathe.  I could not have said that before in my life.  A lot of "Me" motivated and inspired me to live each day.  It was about what "I" was going to do. It was about "My" dreams.  Now my heart cries out, "Lord, forgive me.  May it always be about You."

I have been studying James 1 this week.  Verse 2-4 say, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

We are on the healing side of things now.  God is restoring my joy.  As I studied these Scriptures I found I could give thanks for these trials that have tested my faith.  I can consider it joy because I see the work of Christ in my life.  I have a terrible long way to go before I am mature and complete.  However, I am thankful that God counts me worth the effort of His molding me and His making me into the vessel he wants me to be.

Pizza Sauce

I have always used canned spaghetti sauce as pizza sauce for my homemade pizza.  However, it often has unnecessary additives in it unless I want to fork out more dollars.  I like to save as much as possible on groceries, so I looked for a recipe for pizza sauce that would be inexpensive to make.  I found this one that is yummy, and I only modified it slightly.  The original recipe was Kittencal's Pizza Sauce.

Pizza Sauce

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (I thought 1 teaspoon was too much, but my husband liked it)
1 Tablespoon of sugar

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil; saute the onions, Italian seasoning, and oregano for 2-3 minutes.

Add in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add in the remaining ingredients; cook and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes. stirring occasionally.

This can be used immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days or you may freeze.  I found it made enough sauce for 4 medium pizzas.

Note:  Crushed tomatoes do have citric acid added to them.  Citric acid is a natural preservative.  I add vitamin C powder (citric acid) to my bread dough enhancer.  I also use lemon juice (citric acid) when canning tomatoes.  It does not seem to cause Alex any problems.  However, some people are allergic or sensitive anything citrus.  So be aware that it is in the sauce.