Tall, Grande, Venti

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One of the most important decisions when ordering coffee is what size you want. Each size has its own merit and each size has its own cost. We have to weigh the cost against the amount of coffee we feel we need and can finish. Oh how like life that is! Each decision we make has a cost. Each cost reflects the worth.

In working with others, our decisions matter. Each decision effects others and reflects our opinion of their worth. Jonah had this problem. He felt the people of Nineveh were not worth his time, effort, or his God. It seemed to hurt more than the fish bite!

Jonah chapters 3-4

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Jonah’s Anger at the Lord’s Compassion

4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Sometimes we get mad at God. I was taught that getting mad at God was unnatural to a Christian. That isn’t true. A relationship with God is not one sided. If that is all God wanted from his creation, the animals would have sufficed for company. God wanted beings he could communicate with. Although God’s motives are pure and he never makes mistakes. Ours are not, and we mess up every day.

4:1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

One thing that struck me about Jonah was he got mad at God for who he is. He got mad at God for doing something good. Do you ever get mad at God for doing something good? I have. As a mom, this happens to me frequently, as a foster mom even more! Sometimes I even get mad when God gives me what I want and I realize it isn’t all it was cracked up to be. “These kids are hard. This house is not meeting my needs properly. This child shouldn’t be here. God why did you bring me to this place?”

I love how God responded to Jonah.

4 But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

The dialog recorded between them is sometimes even comical because it is so outrageously relatable. Especially if you have a four year old or a temper like mine. Jonah would say something and God would respond to what what going on in Jonah’s mind and heart, not what was coming out of his mouth. Boy is that a lesson in parenting!!! What wisdom is displayed there!! Then God would lovingly present another perspective to Jonah. Jonah didn’t take it, at least not in the recorded story. But in the end God had a “mic drop” moment.

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

It doesn’t matter if we respond to God’s leading and even attempt to see the other perspective he offers, truth is truth!! And God will not yield to our brattiness. Sometimes being faced with truth requires us to act against our feelings which is contrary to our natural selves. (Jonas’ obedience to God required him to act against the way he was feeling about the people of Nineveh) But God will lovingly provide fresh perspective, shade and comfort, and will show us his power over it all. If Jonah had put his eyes on God instead of himself he would have experienced a share in the power and redemption of God. When we release everything to him, he will live through us.

The same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives within us!

Every time we complain to God,he will remind us of who He is!! Once we see him and not us, he will show us what to do in light of who he is! He will never give us solutions that don’t flow out of who he is for us and through us, for his glory!

Jonah’s decision to run from God had consequences, but one of the best things that came out of it was the men of the Ship’s salvation!! God used Jonah’s disobedience and his testimony of repentance to bring others to Christ!! How encouraging is that! If God used our disobedience, how much more will he do when we do our best to do what is right. Our decisions have consequences, but a decision we make that may not be the best one but is made to the best of our ability as we surrender to God will be used!

The king of Nineveh called for a kingdom wide turning to the Lord, regardless of whether or not the Lord changed his mind.

7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

That is true repentance, we don’t repent so nothing bad will happen we repent because we realize that we are wrong and our only hope is God. We are not preserving our life, we are preserving our relationship.

Jonah did not like the people of Nineveh and he did not like his calling, he did not like that The God who was gracious to him in the belly of the fish, was also extending his love grace and mercy to people he had pre judged as unworthy.

“Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.”

Jonah 2:8 ESV

This is the God we serve, he loves us when we are vile and unloving. When we stomp off to pout he grows a plant to shade us. He is patient with us when we are angry with him and others, he does not surrender his power or give in to our ridiculousness. But he doesn’t blast us out of the water for being human. We want to see justice done and we think we can decide what someone else deserves. God loves and forgives. Our concern for others should be to see them loved, not punished.

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.”

Jonah 2:8 ESV

What decisions are you facing? Do you feel like you are paying “venti” price for a “tall” sized product? Are you mad at God for doing something good or not giving you what you want? Ask him to put your eyes on him, ask him to remind you that people are priceless, look for the shaded plants he has provided for you along the way, and trust him for the outcome and to provide the currency required for the cost!

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Bulletproof coffee

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Bulletproof coffee

Recently I took my low carb diet up a notch and gave into the fad of bulletproof coffee. The concept is simple but takes time. It promises results while furnishing you with a unique blend of caffeine, and fat, and natural sugar substitute. It is a meal replacement that propels you forward and contributes to your overall dietary needs and goals. Essentially, it “bulletproofs” your meal giving you energy and necessary calories, while protecting you from a sugar spike and eating too many carbs for breakfast.

Ever wish you could be “bulletproof?”

Have you ever felt the need to be protected? Have you ever been attacked by someone or lied about? What about your loved ones?

I don’t know know about you but if I am attacked or betrayed personally it’s painful, but I feel like I can manage. When someone I love, especially my husband is hurt it makes me feel like a soldier in a prison of war. I want to be a warrior but it feels like my hands are tied. When my kids are hurt it makes me want to fight even if I am tied up.

Hurt is a multifaceted thing. Often, especially in ministry, the pain that we go through has to be kept private. This adds another layer of pain. We don’t want to lie, but we also can’t tell the truth so we suffer in silence. We don’t want our pain to cause someone else to hurt.

Recently God has been taking my family through a valley of darkness. In this darkness I have experienced pain for myself, husband, and children. Psalm 23 is something I am thankful God took me through recently because it has had so many applications in this present hardship. That post can be found here:Brewing

But, I have been studying David’s journey running from Saul the past few days. God has used it to show me some truth that I would like to share in hopes of encouraging you but also to record it for my own altar of remembrance.

David was innocent of the charges Saul brought against him. He had dealt with Saul’s being kind then turning on him over and over. Finally he had to leave his home and run. While Saul searched for him and caused destruction all along the way, David looked back and felt it was because of him others were hurt and even lost their lives. And yet, God protected him and allowed the destruction to continue for a time.

Two separate instances have been very significant and precious to me from his journey I would like to share:

1 Samuel 21 New Life Version (NLV)
David Runs from Saul
21 David came to Ahimelech the religious leader at Nob. Ahimelech came shaking in fear to meet David, and said to him, “Why are you alone? Why is no one with you?” 2 David said to Ahimelech the religious leader, “The king has given me something to do. And he has said to me, ‘Let no one know anything about what I have sent you to do.’ I have told the young men to meet at a certain place. 3 Now, what do you have ready? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever you may have.” 4 The religious leader answered David, “I only have bread which has been set apart as holy, if only the young men have kept themselves from women.” 5 And David told the religious leader, “For sure women have been kept from us while we have traveled. The bodies of the young men are holy even on everyday trips. How much more they are today!” 6 So the religious leader gave him holy bread. For there was no bread there but the bread before the Lord. It was taken from before the Lord, so hot bread could be put in its place. 7 Now one of Saul’s servants happened to be there that day. His name was Doeg the Edomite, the head of Saul’s shepherds.
8 David said to Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or a sword? I did not bring my sword or any spears with me, because I had to hurry to do the king’s work.” 9 The religious leader said, “The sword is here that belonged to Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah. See, it is behind the linen vest, with a cloth around it. Take it, if you will. For it is the only one here.” And David said, “There is none like it. Give it to me.”
10 Then David got up and ran that day from Saul. He went to Achish king of Gath.

David needed help. He went to the religious leader for help. The priest thought at first that his resources were extremely limited. The bread he gave him was not even supposed to be given but he did and God used it to refresh and feed and care for David. This was something God did that was special for him. What I learned from this was to look for the bread God is providing in my life that feeds my emotional, spiritual, and physical needs. Within our situation we have seen so many things God has nurtured us with and had so many people come to us letting us know they love us and they are praying. These encouragements have been bread. Even almost “forbidden” bread at times.

David needed weapons. This was so incredible to me!!! The only sword that the priest had to give him was the sword David had used to cut off the head of Goliath!!!????!!! Wow!!! How cool is that? So the weapon David left with, was actually a tangible reminder of what God had done for him in the past. To carry with him, to help him, and to be used for the other part of the story God used to help me so much…

1 Samuel 24 New Life Version (NLV)
David Did Not Kill Saul
24 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “See, David is in the desert of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took 3,000 chosen men from all Israel, and went to find David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to the places where the sheep were kept on the way. There was a cave there, and Saul went in to get rid of his body waste. Now David and his men were sitting farther back in the cave. 4 David’s men said to David, “See, this is the day the Lord told you, ‘See, I am about to give the one who hates you into your hand. You will do to him what you think is best.’” Then David got up and cut off a piece of Saul’s clothing in secret. 5 After this, David felt guilty in his heart because he had cut off a piece of Saul’s clothing. 6 So he said to his men, “May the Lord not let me put out my hand against my leader, for he is the Lord’s chosen one.” 7 David stopped his men with these words. He did not let them go against Saul. So Saul stood up and left the cave, and went on his way.
8 After this David got up and went out of the cave and called to Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him, David put his face to the ground, showing much respect. 9 David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘David wants to hurt you’? 10 See, your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you to me today in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I had pity on you. I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my leader, for he is the Lord’s chosen one.’ 11 Now, my father, see the piece of your clothing in my hand. I cut off the piece of your clothing but did not kill you. So know and understand that I have no desire to do wrong to you. I have not sinned against you, yet you come wanting to kill me. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. May He punish you for your action against me. But my hand will not be against you. 13 As the men of long ago said in their wisdom, ‘Out of the sinful comes sin,’ but my hand will not be against you. 14 After whom has the king come out? After whom are you running? After a dead dog? After a little bug? 15 May the Lord be the One to judge between you and me. May He see and help me, and save me from you.” 16 When David had finished speaking to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” Then Saul gave a loud cry. 17 He said to David, “You are more right and good than I. For you have brought good to me, while I have done wrong to you. 18 You have said today that you have done good to me. The Lord gave me to you and you did not kill me. 19 If a man finds the one who hates him, will he let him go away safe? May the Lord bring good to you for what you have done for me this day. 20 Now I know that you will be king for sure. The nation of Israel will be made strong under your power. 21 So promise to me by the Lord that you will not destroy my children after me. Promise that you will not destroy my name from my father’s family.” 22 David gave Saul his promise, and Saul went home. But David and his men went up to the safe place.

The weapon David carried was used to produce the evidence of his innocence. David used the sword to cut off a piece of Saul’s robe and decided not to harm him. We have to remember that our weapons are not always to do harm and usually aren’t. Even the whole armor of God is to be used to stand.

His innocence was proclaimed and peace was brought to the situation.

But David didn’t just go home with Saul and say everything was fine. There was forgiveness and afterwards David went back to the safe place. Relationships can come to a peaceful place and still not be safe.

The biggest thing I see from this lesson in my life and how God has used it in my situation is first and foremost his love and provision for me and my family. I can protect myself and family simply by standing for the truth. I can know that God will provide bread and the weapons we need to come through this trial in peace.

What are the things in your situation that you can see are “bread”? These are the things God used to minister to you physically emotionally and spiritually.

What “weapons”do you have at your disposal? These are the things God gives us that are tangible reminders of things he has done for you in the past. (Like his Word!!) How are you choosing to use those weapons? Are you choosing to obey God or Man?

Being bulletproof means to be protected. Being bulletproof does not stop bullets from coming and it doesn’t stop the pain when they do. Being bulletproof does mean that through the danger and pain you are able to stand. I pray he will continue to reveal his love and power and provision to us. That he will show those who would bring us harm that he loves on both sides. I pray he will continue to bring clarity and peace. I pray as the bullets keep coming that he will teach us how to apply his armor and the weapons we carry will remind of us his past provision and that we will use them for his glory! I am thankful for the bread along the way, I pray he will use it to nourish us while we run, while we stand, while war is raging and when peace comes. And that afterwards he will give us wisdom about where to go next!

Brewing

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A lot has changed since I posted last. One of the biggest is my husband officially became the senior Pastor of our church. As crazy as it sounds, I am now a pastor’s wife! I will continue to post to this blog as I always have, but I have also started another blog specifically to share things God shows me on this new journey. It will center around the time I spend with God while I have my coffee in the mornings as well as other tidbits along the way. Here is part of my latest post to “Coffee with a Pastor’s Wife”. Click on the link at the end to be transported to the post itself! If you would like, follow my new blog as well! Thanks!

Brewing

There is nothing like the excitement of waiting for your first cup of coffee to brew in the morning. You gather all your ingredients and pour the water in, add ground coffee and push the button. Afterwards, the relief (and I do mean genuine relief) when it is ready! That’s how I feel about this post today. Like for a long time these things have been in my head waiting for the concept and content to be melded together, ready to pour into a cup to be shared with friends!!! My first few sips have been savored with thankfulness, I hope yours will bring encouragement to you as well!

When I was a new bride I read a book about love languages. I learned about how I express and receive love and how my husband does too. Later, as our kids came along I learned about theirs. It has been so helpful!! Through the years John and I have also had the opportunity to do different kinds of personality tests and have learned a lot about how each other operates. Learning about each other (and ourselves)that way has been a tremendous asset to our marriage!

Just this year I learned something about this topic that had never occurred to me. Maybe you have already figured this out, but if not, I feel it is important to know and to share. It took me 15 years to realize it. It came about because of a miscommunication I had with my husband that he never even knew about…Brewing

Filed under miscellaneous

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. This statement is meant to wrap into a neat little package the inevitable undesirable circumstances life brings and tie it up with a ribbon. To be identified, solved and put away. The ability to process information and file it away where it belongs is how we handle all things negative and positive: both to remember and to forget. What happens, though, when you are faced with information that just will not compute? Where do you file things that are so unimaginable that you will never forget and will never understand, or worse, are afraid to understand fearing it will leave a permanent stain?

How do you recover from pain that follows you the rest of you life? Dreams unrealized, expectations obliterated, illusions shattered by those who were supposed to shelter you, what do you do with these?

Sometimes it feels as if we must break them up into smaller pieces and file them in the places those pieces alone fit. However, doing that leaves fragments behind that don’t belong anywhere and are missing information that helped them remain tangible. Essentially leaving us right back where we started except now the information is scattered. The only hope we have of ever moving forward is for them to be kept together. A whole, a file containing all of the information. This means that when we remember, we remember it all. When we forget, we forget it all. It also means that we will never remember or forget for long.

When no amount of organizing or processing is effective we must add the file as a whole to “Miscellaneous”. We must allow our selves to explore the pain, to grieve, to savor the good refusing to believe that it wasn’t real. We must also allow ourselves to be broken so that we can begin to pick up the pieces. I am convinced, anything less will hold us back from healthy emotional connections and the continued genuine presentation of our selves. Bitterness and resolve are opposite sides of a coin. We must decide which side we are on. Pushing everything aside or breaking it apart will lead to bitterness and leave us with leftover pieces that will never be filed away. Wholeness comes with the strength gained from walking through the pain of being shattered and put back together better than we were before. A mirror once broken produces the best rainbows!

You don’t dictate my checklist

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But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lordlooks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

We tend to look up to people or be impressed or intimidated by them. It is this very quality that tricks us into putting people on a pedestal and then getting hurt when they fall off, usually on top of us. It’s painful when someone you believe in let’s you down. Finding out someone you trusted isn’t who you thought they were is crushing.
Meanwhile we strive to be all those things that will make others respect and love us. We make checklists that we follow religiously based on our personalities and the principles in the Bible that we have taken ownership of. We set others up to fall and we set up ourselves to be “found out” when we too fall from the pedestals others have created for us.
This circle is a dangerous one. It is fueled by our need to identify others and with others. When we hear of a sister or brother in Christ who has “fallen” all too often our first response is “well I thought they were a Christian.” Or we feel that the church has failed to protect us because we have been tricked into believing that someone who is “in church” wouldn’t do that.

I have heard this verse in 1 Samuel 16:7 used so many times for the “Man looks on outward appearance, God looks on the heart” part. It has been used to separate ourselves from the “fallen ones”.  It has been used as a warning to those who have screwed up. We often forget the first part of the verse. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature…”
Why are we teaching that we are all supposed to straighten up and fly right? Why are we applauding the appearance of men? Why are we teaching checklists that are not biblical? God doesn’t care if we are in church every time the doors are open, God doesn’t care if we have spent two hours every morning reading the Bible and praying, God doesn’t care if we have a six pack in our fridge. God doesn’t care if our music is Christian or non Christian. God doesn’t care if you are all packaged up nice with a smile on your face. He doesn’t care what you wear to church any differently than he does in every day life. Looking good to others does not make us somehow more approved by God. There are no “good christians” and bad “christians” there are only people. People who were bought with a price that are supremely loved and forgiven whose insides are torn and their minds struggling to live up to impossible or worse, possible standards, put on them by other people who are just as loved, forgiven, and torn.
God sent his son to die to bring us freedom and life. God sent his spirit to live in us and help us live in a very fallen world. The evidence that he lives within us is not on our checklists and cannot be duplicated without him. It will play out in a hugely diverse body of Christ using their gifts and talents, insecurities, failures, and personal checklists shown to them by the spirit of God in their OWN life, to exhibit the glory of God in impossible unity, love, faith, hope, charity, long suffering, gentleness, patience, joy, goodness, meekness and temperance.

When we do that, what we do changes drastically. We listen to each other and know that all of us mess up. That each one of us struggle with the things that do not please God. The only one on a pedestal is Christ, and we can be there for one another in good times and bad. When we do that, some of us will have the same tastes in music others won’t. Some of us will be in church every time the doors are open and some of us won’t. We will have different contents in our refrigerators and different tastes in clothes. Our personal checklists will bring glory to God. We will fight less and fall less and when one is struggling we will bond together in understanding and love. We will have unity when all circumstances tell us we need to fight each other. We will exhibit the real biblical checklist of the fruit of the holy spirt. We will cling to him and each other. This is what God wants.

The people of Israel made the same mistake when choosing their first king. They looked at how impressive Saul was. They praised him for the things he exhibited that looked right. A long hard and painful road followed. King David did not look the part but his desire to do what was right brought peace to the land. When he fell he got back up. God lifted him back up. The man who slept with Bathsheba and murdered her husband was called a man after God’s own heart. His status with God did not change when he fell. When God looks at us he sees the blood of his son. We are justified by his grace. We can never do anything that makes him look at us in anger again. We don’t have to beg our way into his good graces EVER again. Our sin grieves us because God loves us enough to reveal it to us and help us get rid of it, not because it means that God is mad at us. We can’t clean up our hearts he sees and loves us no matter how we feel. We can’t not walk with him because he won’t leave us.
Let’s stop defining christians by our own checklists and realize that God has that in his hands.  Lets stop making others live by our own checklists. Let’s love people and be there for them. Let’s stop applauding what looks good. Let’s allow people to be real with us and let’s be real with others. We don’t have to control each other. Our lives should not be run by guilt and obligation. We do not serve them. We serve a God who holds us in his hands and can use all our flaws and strengths to lift others up and make beauty from ashes.

Praise him in the Hallway! 

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I listened carefully as the pediatrician articulated exactly what my thoughts had been for a few weeks concerning our son Owen. Incredulously I realized that my fears were justified and needed to be addressed for his protection. We had been through so much in the past six months. With his history of trauma related to loss it was basically inevitable. I just didn’t expect to hear it from a doctor.
Major life changes, including the loss of Baby H, had taken their toll. His body remembers what his brain shuts out. Owen is a very outgoing, challenge loving, up for anything, sports oriented, loving and creative little boy. Even though he was young (11 months) when he came to us, the trauma he had experienced over the loss of his family still effects him. In times of insecurity he insists on knowing where everyone in our family is and needs to have us close and safe. Baby H leaving in the middle of some of the hardest times in our life added to that trauma even though it wasn’t related.

Even though he is ok, he still struggles with missing her and understanding why she can’t be with us. Our pediatrician said that to continue fostering would only exacerbate his trauma. It is necessary to close our home. When he is older he can better understand the foster care process and yet his history of loss leaves him vulnerable in ways our biological children are not. So, for his safety, we will no longer foster.

Someone once said: when God closes a door praise him in the hallway. When I look out our currant “hallway” I see a 360 degree angle of beautiful reminders of the love God has for us and the memories we share and the amazing unit our family has become. My husband has a new job, our church is getting closer than ever to each other and functioning so well, our family and friends, our life, is wonderful. I am fine with praising him in the hallway and I am excited to see what door God opens next.

In the meantime, we will be filling out our paperwork and completing our home study to be available to children in foster care who need a permanent home. We will see what God does!

Crossing the Jordan

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A while back I wrote about bathing in the Jordan river.  Today I want to share with you another story about the Jordan River, and twelve points God has shown me from it. One for each stone!!

Joshua 4:1When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’”4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”8. And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down[a] there. 9 And Joshua set up[b]twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua.The people passed over in haste. 11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life. 15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”[c]

1: The Past

(Vs 1) the Israelites had just come through slavery, rescue, wandering in the wilderness, and had just witnessed a miracle, the Jordan river had been parted for them to walk across on dry land into the land God had promised them. (God parted water to get them out of Egypt and parted water to get them or of the wilderness and into the land he had provided.)

2. The pain

In the chapters before we read about them loosing Moses. They had also lost countless others in the wilderness. They had been hungry, thirsty, scared, rebellious, deceitful, fearful and lost. They didn’t know if they could trust Joshua 

3. The performance 

In order to comfort them from their loss and insecurity God did a miracle. He parted the water to show them that Joshua was his chosen leader for them and to show hem his power and provision for them and that his promises were true. 

4. The purpose (of the stones)

God’s plan was for them to remember all he had done for them. Now that they were safe and getting ready to enter their land. He wanted them to gather stones for the purpose of building an alter of remembrance.

5. The Position (of the stones)

The stones were at the bottom of the middle of the river they had just come across. It was still parted for them. Imagine after what happened to Pharos armies 40 years before when the Red Sea that had been parted for them crashed down, taking your family through another dry path flanked by walls of water. The Bible tells us  that they went quickly!! Sometimes the things God gives us to remember come out of the bottom of the biggest deepest obstacles we face.

6. The progression 

God did not say: collect stones from your new land, or grab a rock on your way through for an alter. He instructed them after they had all already crossed to go back into the middle of the river to get the stones. Can you imagine how scary it would be to go back into that river? Sometimes we have to revisit things we have been through in order to process and move on. We have to trust God enough to know he will keep us safe as we move through the steps he has given us to take.

7. The Process
They had to choose their own stones. What we choose to remember stays with us. The rest fades. We have to choose to remember the things God does for us! 

8. The personalization 
Each of the twelve men going in to retrieve a stone represented his tribe. His family. His people. I can imagine each one of them memories flooding their minds as they carried their load to shore. Each stone had personal stories attached. Each stone was a personal testimony to contribute. Their part of the story to be remembered. It was their part of the story to be shared with others. Our personal history with God is valid in our future. 

9. The presence (of God)
The water parted in response to the priests feet entering the water while they carried the ark of the covenant. The people followed. The Ark was where the presence of God dwelled. We can remember that God goes before us. He was there in the beginning he goes before us and comes back to go with us. Interesting picture. They went across the river then back into the river to get the stones..🤓 The presence of God is safe. The priests were standing in the river holding the ark, the water stayed parted while they were there. Each man had to go where the presence of God was to find their stones. It was only after the men and the priests left the water that it came crashing down again. 

10. The perpetuity 
The alter made from those stones was to last for generations to come! So that the people of God would remember him and the work he did. To bring glory to God and hope to his people. It was to continue! 

11. The preparations
God used Joseph to bring his people into Egypt. They enjoyed many years of prosperity, comfort, provision, and happiness. Then things started to get bad. There were enslaved then set free to wander learn and grow before God brought them across that river. He brought them to Egypt to get them to the promised land. He brought them to Egypt and through the wilderness to prepare for the promised land!
12. The Plan
The fact that God brought them out of Egypt did not cancel out the importance or beauty of bringing them into Egypt in the first place. The pain of the wilderness caused them to long for the past even though the past was slavery. But God’s plan, even in pain, was not to go backward or leave them. It was to bring them to their own land. God used the hope of the future to sustain his people from the beginning and still does it today! We can look back on our lives before, the good times, with thanksgiving. Just because things change and the change is hard, doesn’t mean we have to block it out or see it as bad. The past is a reminder, the present is temporary, our future is secure! 

Over the Past few months our family has undergone major changes. There has been a lot of hurt, loss, confusion, and wandering. I feel like we have been in the desert like the Israelites and God has brought us across the Jordan into safety. Now he wants us to collect some stones for remembrance. I will share my collection with you soon!