Sunday, March 31, 2013

White Flag

We raise our white flag
We surrender
All to You
All for You

We raise our white flag
The war is over
Love has come
Your love has won

Here on this Holy ground
You made a way for peace
Laying your body down
You took our rightful place
This freedom song is marching on
(lyrics by Chris Tomlin)
At the end of last year, I felt like God was wanting us to settle quickly with our adversary that was suing us but I wanted to fight. I knew that we did not do anything to this person. I started thinking that it did not make sense to settle and I must have misunderstood what God was saying to me.  The following months, I worked tirelessly by going through documentation and transcripts trying to prove our innocence but no one would listen. I was in shock that the lies were believed so easily even though there were many contradictions. Chris kept saying that he believed that God would defend him and for me to stop spending so much time working on it. I did believe that God was going to defend him but I just thought He would use me to do it.  In the end, all my hard work and time spent trying to defend us did not pay off.  It was like I was invisible and things kept moving forward.  Instead of responding to the contradictions, they were ignored and met with demands.  Even though I felt defeated, I wanted to fight to the end, no matter what the cost but there was one problem.   I felt like God was wanting me to surrender it ALL to Him. 

 A few days later,  I went to listen to Beth Moore speak at a church in Atlanta. Before she spoke, they read about the crucifixion of Jesus from Scripture. While they were reading God’s Word, I felt like God was saying to me again to settle quickly with our adversary.  I started to cry and told Him, "But we did not do anything wrong. Why should we have to pay for something we did not do?” Suddenly, as they were still reading from Scripture, I realized that Jesus paid for something He did not do….MY sin.  “You will give Him the name Jesus because He will save His people from THEIR sins,”….“But who among the people realized that He was dying for THEIR sins---that He was suffering THEIR punishment? He had done no wrong….”....“For God made CHRIST, who never sinned, to be the offering for OUR sin, so that we could be made right with God THROUGH CHRIST,”  (Matthew 1:21, Isaiah 53:8b, II Corinthians 5:21 NLT). At that moment, I became overwhelmed at what Jesus did for me.  How He humbled Himself, surrendered His will and became obedient to death, death on the cross…for me (Philippians 2:8).   I cried even harder because I realized that God wanted me to stop fighting, to trust Him and surrender my will to Him.  I also realized how Peter felt when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He wanted to fight to defend Jesus and even cut off the servant's ear of the high priest with his sword trying to do so. After Jesus healed the servant's ear, He told Peter, "Put your sword back in its place.....Do you not think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"   When Peter realized that Jesus was willfully surrendering, he fled in fear with the others and would later deny Jesus three times. I began to realize that Peter was ready to fight to the end in His name but he was not ready to surrender and suffer in His name. 
 Jesus had tried to tell His disciples earlier what would happen but they did not comprehend it nor wanted to accept it because it did not make sense.  "He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him,” (Mark 8:31-33 NIV).  When I read that I thought, how could Peter be so bold to take Jesus aside and rebuke Him.  Are you kidding me? Then I realized how many times I have done the same thing when things did not turn out the way I thought they should. “God, why did you allow this to happen? Why did you not answer my prayer the way I wanted you to? How could this plan bring You glory?”   But just like Jesus told Peter, He is telling me, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s,“ (Mark 8:33 NLT).   God sees the finished masterpiece, His work in us, but we only can see what we are facing right at that moment.   We have to trust His heart when we don’t always understand His hand…..even when His plans don’t make sense to us…..especially when they don’t make sense to us. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).  God wants us to surrender our will to Him but surrendering OUR will to Him can be so painful.  We want to give him bits and pieces but He wants it all.  He wants all of us in order to show His power through us when we are weak. 

I remember one night I could not sleep again because of fear of the future.  Then I just fell on my knees and wept…not cried….wept.  It was difficult laying it down but once I did, there was peace, His peace.   Surprisingly, there was also great strength because it was His strength.  Sometimes, I think we forget what Jesus did for us and we how difficult is was.  Just moments before Jesus was arrested, He was praying, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me.  Yet I want Your will, not Mine.”  Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.  He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.  At last, HE STOOD UP…..”  Luke 22:42-45a NLT.  When He stood up, He was standing in our place, for our sins.

Moments later, "The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against Him, but their statements did not agree" Mark 14:56.  The high priest asked Jesus if He was going to answer against the charges but He remained silent and gave no answer.  I was AMAZED that Jesus remained silent every time a lie was spoken about Him.  Even Pilate, the governor, was astonished that Jesus did not defend Himself even to a single charge.  Jesus only responded to TRUTH because that is who He is.  “I am the Way, and the TRUTH and the Life.  NO ONE  comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME,” (John 14:6).  Later, the high priest said to Jesus, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus, the Truth, would then respond, “Yes, it is as you say,” (Matt 26:63-64).  Pilate also said to Him, “You are a king, then!”  Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a King.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the TRUTH.  Everyone on the side of TRUTH listens to me.”  What many did not realize at the time, including His disciples, was that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).

 I began to realize that Jesus did not have to declare His innocence because God, His Defender, declared His innocence through those around Him.  Judas, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, returned the money and declared to the chief priests and the elders, “I have betrayed INNOCENT blood,” (Matt 27:2).  Pilate’s own wife told him, “Don’t have anything to do with that INNOCENT man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him,” (Matt 27:19).  But in the end, in order to satisfy the people who wanted Jesus crucified, Pilate, who found no basis for the charges against Jesus, declared his own innocence instead of the innocence of Jesus, “I AM INNOCENT of this man’s blood.  It is your responsibility.” Instead of surrendering to Jesus, Pilate surrendered to the will of the people who shouted their demands to crucify Him.   With that, Jesus, the Lamb of God,  was led like a lamb to the slaughter.  He was “pierced for OUR transgressions, He was crushed for OUR iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed," (Isaiah 53:5,7).   

At the very end of his life on the cross, Jesus, the Word of God, had the last word and declared, “It is finished!”  The disciples thought that meant they were finished and, for the next few days, lived in fear behind locked doors.  They had lost all hope.  What they were about to find out was that the Hope of Glory was about to be found….not among the dead but the living….for He had risen from the dead conquering sin, death, and the enemy (Col 2:15).  He had settled the matter once and for all and God exalted him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above EVERY NAME.  Salvation is found in NO ONE else, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Philippians 2:9, Acts 4:12).

Once I surrender everything to God, He also settled the matter in our situation.  He took what the enemy used to crush us and gave me this opportunity to tell of the greatness of Jesus Christ.  We might have lost the battle in the world's eyes but I was able to tell who won the ultimate War---JESUS CHRIST!!!  Whatever you are facing today, SURRENDER it ALL to Him.  Know that it is His incomparably great power, the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead, that will be at work in you and through your situation (Ephesians 1:19-20).  More importantly, SURRENDER your life to Him.  Thank Him for dying for your sins and taking your place.  Praise God with all of your heart that HE IS RISEN!  "For if you confess with your mouth that 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved," Romans 10:9.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How He Loves

 And He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden,
 I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me
And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all
(lrycis by John Mark McMillan)
(Photo:  Harmony House in 2010)

Recently, I was asked to speak about our trip to Beijing, China, for Lottie Moon Missions at my parent's church.  Chris and I went to Beijing in 2010 when we adopted our son, Ian.  I spoke about many places we visited such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall but nothing compared to our first stop when we held Ian for the first time or our last stop at Harmony House.  You can read the story about the little boy we meet on our way to Harmony House who shared all he had and how God continues to multiply it every time I share his story,  I also found out that he was recently adopted into his new family this year.  God is so good!

While I was preparing to speak, God also reminded me of another little boy, who had no use of his arms and two club feet, which we meet at the same orphanage.  He came right over to us like we were old friends.  At first, I was feeding him an orange that one of the nannies had given me when we arrived. A few minutes later, he grabbed it from me with his little feet and placed it in his mouth.  You should have seen the joy on his face when he saw how stunned I was.  Lily, the director of the orphanage, told me that he had more confidence that any child there, does not let anything slow him down and was extremely smart for his age.  More importantly, no matter what his limitations were, he did not focus on them.  In fact, his joy was contagious as he showed what he could do despite his limitations.  Not long after we left, he was also adopted into his new family!

As I look back, I am overwhelmed by the love of our Heavenly Father.  How He showed me that you can never out give Him and that His mighty power is not bound by our earthly limitations. Most of all, I am reminded that He knew all our "imperfections" in advance and chose us with great pleasure in His heart.  “Long ago, even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us IN CHRIST to be holy and without fault in His eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. And this gave Him great pleasure!” (Ephesians 1:4-5).  Why?  Because He loves us, Oh, how He loves us!

Below is a video that was shared on Facebook by one of my friends.  You will be amazed how God shows His power in the lives of these children.  Listen to the song, "How He Loves," that is played on the piano and sung by George Dennehy.  I sobbed!  Then God blew me away again when I found out that he also plays the guitar! “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him," I Corinthians 2:9.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



"Because of the tender mercy of God,
by which the Rising Sun [Son] will come to us from Heaven
to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace," Luke 1:78-79

It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don't deserve

It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just to real
It takes everything you have just to say the word...


It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It's always anger's own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It's the whisper in your ear saying 'Set It Free'

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible


It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it's power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you


I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me


(Lyrics by Matthew West)
When I picked my mom up to take her to one of her radiation treatments in October, she asked me if I had forgiven the one who had brought the lawsuit against us.  The tears streamed down my face almost instantly.  I was surprised by my reaction because I had always been focused on who the real enemy was.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” John 10:10a.  We really did not say much after that but it never left my mind.   Mom’s words also made me think about Chris because He had been so good to this person.  I knew he has felt so betrayed. 
Later that evening, I told Chris what Mom had said and that I wanted to make sure that we had forgiven the person who had wronged us.  Chris said, “You can go ahead but I’m just not ready.”   It wasn’t like it was the first thing on my list to want to do either but I told him, “I know that God understands our feelings and that even if we do not want to, we can choose to forgive. “ I just did not want bitterness to destroy us.  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” John 10:10a.  Chris said, “Well, you go first.”  I began to pray and said, “God, this has been so painful but I am choosing to forgive…..” The tears started falling again because I could not say the person’s name.  It was like someone had their hands around my throat and was choking me.  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” John 10:10a.  I could not believe how long it took me to finally say their name but when I did I felt such a release.  It was like I could breathe again.   I knew it would be just as hard for Chris and it was.  It broke my heart as I listened to the words of his prayer. 

All of this made me see the heart of Jesus and what He did for me.  In less than 24 hours, Jesus was betrayed by Judas and deserted by his disciples when he was arrested.    Many testified falsely against Him in an unjust trial then spit, blindfolded, struck, and slapped him in the face after He proclaimed to be the Son of God.   Peter who said, “Even if all fall away, I never will,” denied knowing Him three times.  Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.  Pilate had him punished even though he found no crime against him.  The Roman soldiers stripped, flogged, mocked, beat, crucified him and divided up his clothes by casting lots.  Those who passed by hurled insults at him as they shook their heads, mocked and sneered at him.  Yet in all of this, in pain unimaginable, as he hung on the cross for all OUR sins, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” (Luke 23:34).  With one prayer, the enemy was silenced!!!  In His death, it looked like Jesus had been defeated and all hope was gone but Hope was about to be raised from the dead and many healed through Him.  “The thief comes ONLY to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full,” John 10:10.

Several months again, through my mom’s words, God healed us spiritually and today, God healed my mom physically. At the doctor’s office, we walked in with a spirit of despair and danced out with a garment of praise as they told us that my mom is in COMPLETE REMISSION!!!! When we were leaving the hospital, Mom remembered that my uncle, Randy Hawkins, had given her a word of knowledge from the Lord, a month ago, that she would be healed in 30 days which landed on December 19th!!!!  PRAISE GOD!!  They also have scheduled an MRI on Friday, December 21, in hopes of doing surgery to correct the fracture in her lumbar that has caused great pain.  God has done so much more than we could have ever asked or imagined!!
Forgive those who have caused great pain in your life and silence the enemy.   Allow Jesus to bind up your broken heart and set you free!  Give Him your ashes and He will give you beauty.  Instead of mourning, He will give you gladness.  Instead of a spirit of despair, He will give you a garment of praise!!!!   As God heals your wounds, may you not be silent but praise Him for what He has done and what He will do in your life.   “You have turned my morning into joyful dancing.  You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.  O Lord, my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12

Monday, November 12, 2012

Never Once


Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone
(lyrics by Matt Redman, Jason Ingram and Tim Wanstall)
(Photo (1):  Mom, with her precious friend, Susan Rine, 
ringing the victory bell on her last day of radiation on 10/9/12;
 Photo (2) by Tim Roberts:  Ian and I crossing the Finish Line
at the Crossroads Church 5K on 11/3/12)

Our whole family decided to run/walk the 1 Mile Fun Run in the Race for Stanton at Crossroads Church 5K in  honor and support of Stanton and Stacey Johnston as Stanton battles Stage 4 Brain Cancer. On the morning of the race, Chris had to go into work and I arrived with the kids just a few minutes before the race was scheduled to begin.  With the help of friends, I was running around trying to get race numbers fastened on their shirts.  A few minutes later, they announced that the 5k Race was going to begin first and it seemed like the whole crowd ran to the start line.  There was a small crowd left and I started asking some of them if they were going to do the 1 Mile Fun Run but they said no.  I thought the Fun Run is not fun if there is no one to run the race with.  I yelled for the kids to follow me at the back of the line and that they were going to run this race.  The kids took off even my four year old son, Ian.  When he got tired, I carried him on my back so that he could catch his breath.  Then when he got his strength, I put him down and he ran some more.  Sometimes I would hold his hand so that he would not fall.  Other times, I would encourage him and tell him what a good job he was doing.  Then when he got tired again, he would just stop, hold his hands up and I would carry him again as he yelled, "Mom, go faster!!"  His favorite part of the race was the water station and how you could throw your cup down without getting into trouble.

At one point in the race, my seven year old son, Joseph said, "This is the longest mile ever."  I said, "I know what you mean."  I did not have the heart to tell him that we were not running/walking the 1 Mile Fun Run but the 5K (3.11 miles)!!  A few minutes later, Joseph told Ian to run faster because he was going to get a prize.  Ian yells, "A prize!!!" and took off.  I loved his excitement but I also knew that we were not going to win any prizes for speed.  I prayed, "God, please let the kids get something so they will not be disappointed."  After I prayed, I could faintly hear the cheers in the distance as people were finishing the race.  I knew that the finish line was not too far away.  This was just the boost we needed to finish the race. To those who wanted to give up, I pointed to the Finish Line and yelled, "RUN!!!"  When we crossed the Finish Line, I could not believe we had made it and all the kids were given a bear! They also got another bear just like it in their race bags!  The boys were thrilled that they had twin bears. Joseph named his bears, Kyle and MILE!   I knew that God, who is so tender, had answered my prayer for a "prize".  By the way, I also told Joseph that he did not just run/walk 1 mile but 3 miles and I wish you could have seen his face.  His eyebrows went up and his jaw dropped.  It was hilarious!  Maybe he will change his bear's name from Mile to Miles. :)
As I look back on the race, I suddenly realized that the race is like our journey through life. It is so much more fun to run the race with others. Who wants to do this alone. We need others to encourage us and motivate us to keep going when we want to give up. Most importantly, God is right there walking beside us to hold our hand when we begin to fall and carry us through difficult times.  "He gives strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will walk and not be faint," (Isaiah 40:29-31).  In His tender mercy,  God does not tell us how long or how hard the journey will be because He knows our human minds could not handle all the details at once.  God wants us to trust and depend on Him, moment by moment, with child-like faith as He allows us to travel down a path that we were not expecting.  With every struggle or scar along the way, He promises that we will NEVER walk alone. "NEVER will I leave you; NEVER will I forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5).   Even in our weakness, He tells us to press on toward the prize, run in His mighty strength, until we reach the end of this "race" and see Jesus face to face.   He is our great Reward and the Hope of Glory that does not disappoint.  In the end, when God reveals to us what He accomplished in and through us, may we be amazed and awe-struck at the greatness of our God.

"Let us run with endurance the race
set before us looking unto Jesus,
the author and finisher of our faith."
Hebrew 12:1

A note of deep gratitude to all those who have run the race with us in my mom's battle with multiple myeloma: 

Thank you Susan Rine for coordinating meals for my parents and for going with us to every one of Mom's doctor appointments and treatments! You have made us laugh everyday, even on days that we felt like crying. Only you could turn this into a Fun Run.

Thank you to all of the precious friends and family who brought meals to my parents and to us, sent flowers and gift baskets, made homemade breads and wrote cards filled with encouraging words to my mom. Each one was a gift from God and refreshed our family like water stations in a race!

Thank you to the MANY who have prayed for and over my parents!  We have felt your prayers for our family and been overwhelmed by the love of God and the love of God's people.  "On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many," (2 Corinthians 1:10-11).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Your Love

Your love is enough to light up the darkness
It’s Your love,
Your love,
All I ever needed is Your love
(Lyrics by Brandon Heath and Jason Ingram)
(Photo: Mom and Dad (aka Mimi and Poppy)

Mom’s oncologist told her that she would be put to sleep for the bone marrow biopsy that was scheduled on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. We both sighed in great relief and told him how thankful we were because the last biopsy was so painful for my mom especially since she has a compressed fracture in her lumbar spine due to the cancer. I guess from our reaction, he didn’t have the heart to finish his sentence which was that it was going to be a twilight sleep like the last time. In fact, we did not find out that she would be awake during the biopsy until the nurse was prepping mom for the procedure. At the time, my dad and I thought the nurse had the wrong information but soon realized that she was right. Of course, I didn’t even want to look at my mom because I thought she would be in a panic but when I finally had the courage to, she looked totally at peace. The nurse then informed us that that the doctor who would be performing the procedure would be in to have my mom sign a consent form and that we could ask any questions that we might have. Mom told us that she was okay and not to say anything about it to the doctor. I told her we would not but that I wanted to pray for her. I prayed, “God, please keep my mom from having any pain during the biopsy instead may she laugh today, belly laugh.” After I prayed, I wondered why in the world did I just ask God to make my mom belly laugh today right before she is going in for a bone marrow biopsy where she will not be put to sleep? Maybe I was the one who was suppose to be put to sleep.

A few minutes later, the doctor enters our area and introduces himself as Dr. STONE!!!!! If you read my previous blog entry, you would find that funny. I LOVE God’s sense of humor. After the doctor spoke with my mom, Lisa, the nurse who would be taking care of mom during the biopsy, came in and told me that she was going to take care of her and that she was going to make sure that she was not in any pain. I hugged her because I knew that God had sent Dr. Stone and her to let us know that He was taking care of everything. When my mom was wheeled away, I heard her laughing with the nurse and this is without any drugs at this point. An hour later, after the biopsy was over, my mom returned with her eyes closed, like she was ASLEEP, but with a SMILE on her face from ear to ear. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. It was hilarious! 

Later, I went and got my mom’s friends, Susan Rine and Joni Owens, who were waiting in the lobby so they could come and see her. We started talking about different things and we just kept laughing, belly laughing, including mom.  After mom’s friends left, the nurse who was getting Mom ready to leave the hospital laughed and said, “The nurses sent me in here to send you guys home because you all are having too much fun!” We laughed again.

When mom got home after the procedure, she did incredible. It was almost like we had never been to the hospital. Last time, mom was in great pain and it took several days to recover. Later that day, I called back to check on her and we laughed again about the things that were said and done at the hospital. It was not until that moment that I realized that God had answered my prayer because I had just been so relieved and amazed that Mom was not in a lot of pain from the procedure. God answered that prayer and did more than I could have ever imagined. He made my mom belly laugh on a day that she should have been in a lot of pain. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25).

I forgot to mention that mom said that another doctor ended up performing the procedure and not Dr. Stone. It did not matter because I knew that God has used him to bring comfort to us before mom ever stepped into surgery. He was letting us know, once again, that He goes before us and that He is the Great Physician, Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. His love, His amazing love, lights up our darkness and makes us laugh, belly laugh.
“The LORD, my God,
lights up my darkness.”
Psalm 18:28


Monday, September 17, 2012

King of Glory

His name is Jesus, precious Jesus,
The Lord Almighty, King of my heart,
The King of glory.
(lyrics by Mac Powell/music by Third Day)
(photo: 5 smooth stones)
"As you come to Him, the living STONE,--rejected by men
but chosen by God and precious to Him--
you are also, like living stones,
are being built in to a spiritual house."
 I Peter 2:4-5a
Dr. Bender, my mom’s oncologist, confirmed last week that mom did have multiple myeloma which meant that Mom had to learn about multiple drugs and make multiple appointments for MRI, bone marrow biopsy, chemotherapy and radiation. All and all, it was a mentally and emotionally exhausting day for my mom. And yet, we were so thankful to God that Dr. Bender told us that it was treatable and that he wanted to act quickly to get the cancer in remission. In fact, Mom’s bone marrow biopsy will be on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, at 9:00 a.m. Please be praying for her. Your prayers have meant so much to her and to our whole family.

On that same night, as soon as we got home, before we could even get our of the car, a man hands Chris a Summons in a Civil Action Suit involving a former employee. As Chris handed it to me, I told the kids to go inside and get ready for bed. As I began to read the lies and what they were asking for, I fell to the ground in fear and cried, “I can’t do this anymore.” Chris grabs my arm and yells, “That’s enough! Get up and stop crying!” I got up but decided to take my party to a new location, my bedroom closet, so that the kids would not see me. With the lights out, I fell to floor and cried again, “God, I can’t do this anymore. I need your help!” It was funny because I felt like God was saying to me, “That’s enough! Get up and stop crying!” and to my amazement, at that moment, I got up and stopped crying. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD, your GOD goes with you; HE will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6).  I still have my moments but, praise GOD, I am still standing in His strength.

This year has been a hard year, a year of tears. There seem to be a different "trial" every morning that would then wake me up every evening and paralyzed me with fear of the future. I would love to tell you that I have stood on the promises of God but instead I have walked around crying in fear that our “enemy” would destroy us even though God has shown His faithfulness in every circumstance that we have faced in this past year. Recently, while I was telling my children the familiar Bible story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17, I suddenly realized that I was acting like the Israelite army who was paralyzed with fear that the enemy was going to destroy them. Goliath, a Philistine champion who was over nine feet tall, taunted GOD’s people, the Israelite army, “every morning and evening." He wanted the Israelite army to give him a man so they could fight each other. "IF HE IS ABLE to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I OVERCOME him, you will become our subjects and serve us" (verse 9). Before there was ever a battle, the Israelite army became slaves of fear, the enemy’s greatest tactic, as they were left “dismayed and terrified” each day (verse 11, 16). You see, Goliath means “great” and I believe that he represents great fear brought by the enemy in our lives. In fact, when David walked up to deliver food from his father to his brothers in battle, he hears Goliath’s "usual defiance” and wants to remove "this disgrace" but when Israelite army hears it again, they all ran from Goliath in "great fear" (verse 24).

David went to Saul, who was king, even though his brothers thought he was just being conceited, and told him, “LET NO ONE LOSE HEART on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; You are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth” (verse 26, 33). David told Saul, “The LORD delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear. HE will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you" (verse 37).  He also tried to dress David in his own armor but David said,” I cannot go in these because I am not used to them” and took them off (verse 39). Instead, David "took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine" (verse 40). When Goliath looked him over and saw that he was “ONLY a  boy, he despised him, mocked him, cursed him and told him he was going to kill him (verse 42).

David said,” You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY, THE GOD OF THE ARMIES OF ISRAEL, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the WHOLE WORLD WILL KNOW THERE IS A GOD IN ISRAEL. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD SAVES; FOR THE BATTLE IS THE LORD’S and HE will give all of you into our hands" (verses 45-47). As Goliath "moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out A STONE, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank in his forehand and he fell facedown on the ground" (verses 48-49). David used Goliath’s sword to cut off his head. "When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran" (verse 51). Then Saul asked the commander of his army, “WHOSE SON IS THAT YOUNG MAN?” When the commander didn’t know, Saul said, “Find out whose son this young man is.” When asked, David replied, “I am the son of your servant Jesse of Bethlehem" (verses 55-56, 58).

Today, as believers in CHRIST, we are fighting an enemy that is trying to keep us paralyzed with great fear of the future because he knows his future when CHRIST returns and has great fear of it. “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented DAY and NIGHT for ever and ever”(Revelation 20:10). This is why the devil is trying to deceive GOD’s people and trying to torment them day and night through fear in order to defeat them. But as my good friend reminded me when I felt defeated, “The Battle has already been won; we just have to believe it.” JESUS CHRIST was despised, mocked and "rejected by men but chosen by GOD" to redeem us from the curse as HE died for our sins and took our place. Three days later, an angel of the Lord rolled back the stone and the living STONE came out of the tomb, hitting the enemy square between the eyes and causing him to be facedown at HIS feet. “HE disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities and shamed them publicly by HIS VICTORY over them on the cross” (I Peter 2:4, Col 2:15)

JESUS said, “In this world you will have trouble. But TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We overcome the enemy because of what JESUS did and by the “word of our testimony” as we let the whole world know there is no GOD besides Him (Rev 12:11). When we are afraid, HE wants us to trust in HIM not become slaves of fear (Psalm 56:3). JESUS “came to set the captives free” and “when the SON sets you free, you are free indeed” (Isaiah 61:1, John 8:36). “HIS perfect love drives out fear“, great fear in our lives (I John 4:18). We need to remember that HE delivered us from our past circumstances and HE will deliver us in this “battle” we face now. May we be strong IN THE LORD, standing IN HIS STRENGTH, and always keep on praying IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY. May we never forget that JESUS is the Word and the Word is the "Sword of the Spirit" to cut off the head of the enemy (Eph 6:10-18; John 1:1, 14). When the enemy tries to remind you that you are not able, say out loud, but JESUS IS ABLE “to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to HIS power that is at work within us" (Eph 3:20). Don’t believe the lies of the enemy, that you are only a boy or girl, only a man or woman, only a father or mother, only a grandfather or grandmother. "NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors THROUGH CHRIST" (Romans 8:37). Believe this,” Yet to all received HIM, to those who believed in HIS name, HE gave the right to become children of GOD” (John 1:12). When people want to know after the "battle" is over, “Whose son or daughter that is?” Tell them, I am a child of God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, the KING of glory. “Who is this KING of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. HE IS the KING OF GLORY” (Psalm 24:8, 10).

Saturday, September 1, 2012

He Said

I won't give you more, more than you can take
And I might let you bend, but I won't let you break
And No, I'll never ever let you go
Don't you forget what He said
(lyrics by Group1Crew)

For several years, my dad was having frequent deja vu along with memory problems.  I was hoping that there was a simple explanation.  Anything would do except for what the doctors were leaning toward.  In the summer of 2011, the doctors confirmed the diagnosis and mom tried to gently give me the news as she was also suffering inside.  The news that she came to know, little by little, day by day, as the disease slowly progressed.  I had been in denial and made it clear by my actions that I didn't want to hear of any "episodes" that were happening with dad.  Selfishly, I wanted to build a wall up to protect my heart from the thought of losing my dad.  On June 5, 2011, my ears were finally open to hear my mom say the words I had dreaded for so long, "The doctor said your dad has Alzheimer's."  A cry so deep, so raw came from the depth of my soul and shattered my heart into tiny pieces.  I wanted to pick up the pieces and put the wall back together to protect my heart but it was too late.  The pieces were too shattered and I could not begin to fit it back together.  My heart was so open, so exposed.  Could this really be happening?

After getting off the phone with my mom, I went outside to join Chris and the kids who were swimming in the pool in order to "drown my sorrows."  I picked Ian up in my arms and got on a float in the pool.  We had only been home for six months from China after adopting him in December 2010 and the pool was not his favorite thing.  He was terrified of the water even if you were holding him.  He preferred to stay on the ledge.  As I was sitting on the float, holding him close, Ian was screaming, full of fear.  I told him, "Ian it is okay.  I am right here.  You don't need to be afraid.  I am not going to let anything hurt you."  I felt God speak to my heart, "That is what I am trying to tell you.  You can see that nothing is going to happen to Ian but he doesn't see that.  All he can see is his circumstances and they look scary.  Even though you know that everything  is okay.  He doesn't and you are asking him to trust you as you hold him tight."  I told God, "I don't understand how this is not going to  hurt me." He said, "Ian can't either.  You just have to trust Me."  Even though I wanted to join Ian and cry out that I wanted off this "float" and put back on the "ledge" where it is safe, I knew that I would have to trust the One who loved and created me.  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:2-3).  I would not throw my son into the waters and allow the waters to engulf him and neither would God allow "the waters" to overtake me. He would be with me as I passed through them.

One year later, on July 20, 2012, after taking swimming lessons with Miss Betsy Willis, Ian had a swim recital along with his brother, Joseph.  He would have to "dive" off the diving board and swim to the side in order to receive his "gold" medal. As I watched him walk up to the diving board, I thought my heart would burst with pride because I knew how afraid he had been of the water.  When he dove in and swam to the side, I clapped my hands and yelled louder than anybody.  At that moment, God showed me that just like I didn't remove the water from Ian but allowed him to learn lessons that would equip him to go "through the waters," God was doing the same with me and my family.  On August 31, 2012, my dad and mom went to the doctor again.  This time, it was not for my dad but my mom who had been complaining of back and stomach pain.  They were there to get the results of the CT scan.  I called my dad's cell phone to find out what the doctor had said and my mom answered sobbing. I cried out, "What's wrong?" and she answered through tears, "I have cancer."  There were no tears at first, just complete shock.  How could mom have cancer when Dad has Alzheimer's?  Aren't there "rules" about this?

The doctor told my mom that they would try to get her in to see a Hematology Oncologist that day.  Mom wanted me to go to the doctor with her and meet at her house.   When I got there, I asked God to help me to be strong in His power.  At first, I started asking questions.  With each answer, the tears would stream down my face.  I boldly prayed over my mom but then cried like a little child longing for her mother when it was over.  I wanted so desperately to be strong for my mom.  She even asked, "How am I suppose to take care of your dad if I am sick?"  We both cried because we didn't have the answers.  Later, God revealed to me that I had asked him for me to be the strong one in the family for my mom but He chose someone else to show His glory and dad.  You see, when my mom and I were having that conversation, Dad was DRIVING to Wal-mart to pick up her prescription in order to take care of HER.  When I got ready to leave, my dad stood at the window of  my van and told me, "I have been through this with my dad and my brother.  We just need to take the next step and get her treatment."  He was so strong as he said it, strong in the Lord. 

Over this past year, I have fasted and prayed for God to heal my dad.  God revealed to me that sometimes He answers in a way we don't expect.   I wanted God to instantly heal my dad but God wanted to show His power and glory by bringing him "through" it.  God's answer, His miracle, was just when we fully expected to be taking care of my dad, my dad was taking care of my mom.  God's ways and thoughts are so must bigger than ours.  He always does so much more than we can ever imagine. 

Today, I don't know what the future holds but I do know Who holds the future.  He will never forsake us.  He will never let us go.  He is the Miracle we long for.  He is the Answer to any problem we face.  He will equip us to go through "the waters" in order to come through the other side so our "faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:6-7).  The enemy wants us to break but may we break out in songs of joy for the God who will not allow us to break.  May we rejoice in what God will do in us, through us and never forget what He said.  
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
 I have summoned you by name;
you are Mine."
Isaiah 43:1b