Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Psalm 107 - God hears you

So tonight I was reading Psalm 107. I don't think I had read it before because it had no notes in the margins and now it has LOTS. I like to read the Psalms almost every night. My method? You take the date, so today was the 17th and then you keep adding 30 until you run out of Psalms. So tonight I read 17, 47, 77, 107, and 137. Get it? So if you do it consistently for a month then you have read the entire book. Anyway...
      Tonight I camped out in 107. It is a great chapter. It starts off like a lot of the Psalms, praising God because He is good. That is all, just because He is good and because He is God and deserves our praise. Then psalmist calls out the redeemed and reminds us of how the Lord called us and redeemed us from the ends of earth. Then he gets into the details...
       First, the psalmist addresses those of us that wandered in the desert wastelands. Wandering, with no place to settle, no place to call home. I know that is some of you. You have gone or are going through a time in your life when nothing seemed settled. A time when had no place to call home. Not sure which direction to go next or where to turn, just lost. That is how the psalmist describes these people, they were hungry and thirsty and alone in the wilderness. Then verse 6 (you'll see this same verse over and over) "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress." The people called out to God and He heard them and He delivered them. The next verses tell what He did, He led them to a city where they could be settled and He satisfied their thirst and their hunger with good things. See what God did? First He HEARD the people. I know sometimes you feel like God can't hear you or He is not listening. I have felt like that a 1000 times, like my prayers weren't leaving my room...but friend, let me assure you He HEARS you. And then He met them at the place of their wandering and took care of their needs. And the response? Praise. Thanksgiving. Gratefulness.
          Second, the psalmist shows people in total despair and darkness and deepest gloom. These people are imprisoned by their circumstances. Is that you today or sometime in the past? Maybe you are imprisoned by a relationship, or an addiction, or guilt over bad choices? Perhaps there has been something so dark and so painful that no one else knows, but that you are living in you own prison everyday. Good news my friend...same as verse 6 "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered then from their distress." God heard these people and He will hear you. There is no prison to secure to keep God out. There is no wall too thick. No chains to strong. He will find a way through. Through the guilt and the pain and shame and the embarrassment, through whatever you've got. He can bring freedom out of the deepest gloom and the darkest place.
         Third, we have people who are afflicted, sick, diseased, either physically or mentally. We know from the life of Jesus that He did not shy away from a little sickness. Jesus went to the sick and the hurting and brought healing. These people in psalm 107 they did the same thing, "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered then from their distress."(are you noticing a pattern here). God can meet you where you are and heal you from the inside out. Now, I know that some of you are facing some major illnesses in your life. real stuff. tough stuff. and I hope and pray with everything that is in me that God will miraculously, physically heal you. Today. But I don't know. What I do know is that God can take our sick, diseased filled soul that is sick with our own selfishness and sin and He can and will heal that part of our life. Cry out to Him from that hurting place and He will hear you. He will.
          Lastly, we have people in peril. Their safety has been compromised. The psalmist talks about sailors being out in sea in the waves and the wind and the deep and their "courage melted away" (verse 26). Sailors, used to the sea but they were facing something so terrifying that their courage melted away. This must have been something fierce. Is that where you are today? Facing your own storm at sea? Something that is scaring you to the core? Then cry out to Him. Just like the sailors did and God delivered them and brought them to safety.
        You see what happened here?
The people were wandering, thirsty, and hungry and God provided food and drink and a place to settle.
The people were imprisoned and God set them free.
The people were sick and afflicted and God provided healing.
The people were afraid, scared and God provided safety.

If He did it for the people in the old testament that the psalmist is writing about He will do it for you. I didn't make this stuff up, it's in there, in the Bible. I know some of you are hurting. I know you are facing things that seem like giants. I know you are scared. I am too. I am writing this really for me...but dear friend, run to Him. Cling to Him with everything that you have. Call out to Him in your distress and He will hear you and He will deliver you in your time of trouble.

 And then we will praise Him, with our whole selves, because of His unfailing love.

Monday, July 16, 2012

God's Favor

God's Favor...this has been on my mind for the last few weeks. Several years ago when I worked at the church, my good friend Lainie Thomas introduced me to this idea of God's Favor. She said to me on several different occasions that she was praying God's Favor for me and my family. If you were to look in my Bible, especially in the book of Psalms, you would see notes by many verses praying and claiming God's favor for me and my family and the circumstances that we are facing. It is reminder to me that God is always working in us and through us.
        Two weeks ago at church a visiting pastor from San Fransisco preached on the topic of God's Favor. It was an incredible message. Basically, when God's Favor is present, then the impossible becomes possible. In our lives, God is calling us out to do the impossible for Him and He will make it happen. Our response to this is faith. We need to have faith that God is going to show up and take our mess or our impossible dream or the crazy mission He gives us and He is going to make it happen. This can be in small ways and huge ways. The pastor giving the message was talking about his church in San Fransisco. He and his family felt God calling them to San Fransisco. The Mission Board said that every church started in that city in the last 35 years had died. They referred to San Fran as the graveyard for church plants. But Ben and his family went and he convinced a couple of other guys and their families to go to and they started Epic church. And God is making in way in this impossible city. For me it has been little things the past few weeks. Here is an example. As most of you know, I do not work currently and my health is a big issue. This has put a financial strain on our family. So this past week I had to get some stuff at the grocery store. So I put a $40 limit on what I could spend. I had a list. I prayed before I went in. I prayed that God would direct my steps to the right purchases and that He would have favor over my shopping for my family. The total was $40.86. I was so happy that I almost jumped up and down (almost :) I trusted that God would direct me and that is exactly what He did. Now we are trusting God to help me get my health under control. It seems like an impossible task. It is overwhelming to say the least, but I know that God can make a way. I am not expecting Him to cure my diabetes overnight. I know that it will take work and significant lifestyle changes for me, but I am trusting that He will direct my steps to make that happen. We are praying God's favor on my health and job. I don't know what that will look like or what will happen next, but I don't have to know. I just have to trust and keep moving forward to the next thing. Praying that through it all, God will get the glory and that people be impacted by our story.
       I challenge you. Pray God's favor for your family, your church, your business, your school. See what impossible thing God can do in you and through you. I am not talking about a name it and claim kind of favor. It is not God's favor to satisfy your earthly desires. God's favor is never really about you and me and our glory or praise. God will show His favor to impact peoples lives and draw people to Himself and where He will get all the glory. That is really what it is all about, right? Don't you want to get to the end of your life and look back and know that you left it all on the table for Him and His kingdom. Through every crazy life situation you trusted in Him to use it for His sake and His glory. Because really nothing else is going to matter.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A different day, a little hope

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday I was struggling and I took time to be with God and just lay it all out there. It one of those times when words fail. When it is just you and God and all you can do is cry out to Him. And friend I must tell you, He met me there. He met me in my despair. He listened to my hurting heart and he understood. And I came away a little different.

Today was a few steps better. I still felt yucky, physically. Still struggling with all the medicine and the shots, but it was different somehow...there was a little hope, a little light...a sense that I was not alone. I really appreciate all of the encouragement I got from several of you, my friends. It helps to know that people are reading these words and struggling with your own stuff. WE are all in this world together.

I finally got some quiet time tonight and I was in the book of Isaiah. Last year God gave me a verse for me and my family from Isaiah 43 and tonight I went back to that familiar passage that I read so many times last year.

Isaiah 43:18-19
"Forget about the former things,
do not dwell on the past.
  See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up, do you not see it?
  I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wilderness."

These verses were such an encouragement to me when my life seemed to be turned upside down. It was a reminder that God is not finished with me or my family. And I needed that reminder again...this health issue is not the end. It is the beginning of a new journey. God is calling me out, again, to trust and walk by faith. It is uncomfortable and full of unknowns, but that is the faith part. But God didn't stop tonight with these verses, He gave me some new verses for this new journey. Now these verses are familiar to me and they probably will be familiar to you...but that is the wonderful and amazing thing about God's word...you can look at a very familiar passage and it speaks to you in a new way for this new situation/circumstance/question/problem...whatever is in front of you.

So here it is for me, my verses for my health and weight loss journey...

Isaiah 40:28-31 (I know some of you are smiling because these words are so special to you already)

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the creator of the ends of the earth.
He will NOT grow TIRED or WEARY
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases power to the weak
Even youths grow tired and weary
and young men stumble and fall
But they who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength
They will soar on wings like eagles
they will run and not grow weary
the will walk and not faint."

Now I know it is not a literal walk and not grow weary, but for me it is the hope that we can get all of this under control and not grow weary. I will put my hope in the Lord.

Thank you to those that prayed for me today and encouraged me. God gave me hope from His word. It is not a promise that all will be fixed, but hope in Him. That HE never tires and HE never ends and the HE will renew my strength and help me with this journey. I still feel overwhelmed about what to and where to start, but today at Rita's with the kids, I got a sugar-free flavor. Wouldn't have thought about that before. One small step in the right direction. Praying to God that there will be many more.

I love you friends. Let's all make at least one good choice tomorrow and take a minute to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I have a confession to make tonight...I am struggling. All the verses that I read this morning were about God's love and His everlasting faithfulness and they were encouraging, but they didn't fill my soul as they normally would.

I am not struggling with God's goodness or faithfulness or His love for me. His blessings and provisions over the past few years still bring me to tears with an overflowing gratitude. I can never thank Him enough for the journey to this place and this time in my life, except for one thing...one thing that doesn't fit with our "new life" and my 2nd chance. You remember from Sesame Street

One of these things is not like the others...

It's my health and weight.

I have always been overweight, really always. Sometimes were better than others. It was always more of an inconvenience and related to my looks and clothes and things like that. But over the course of the last few years my weight has started to cause some health related issues and because of our circumstances, health care became kind of luxury and my health was always on the back burner...

And so now here we are June of 2012 and I spent another night in the hospital. Two hospital stays within a years time and something has to change. I am completely overwhelmed and I really truly don't know what to do. We are talking about changing my entire eating plan and habits and changing my activity level...changing everything.

It is 11:00 now, I just took my blood sugar, it was 345. for those of you who don't know, that is VERY high. And that is after giving myself 4 shots today. Now I know it is only the 2nd day on the new meds and the new plan, but this is not good.

So earlier tonight I was just crying out to the Lord. Just putting it all out there, you know those moments, when you feel like you could crawl up in His lap and just cry for days. Lord, help. Please listen to my heart. Hear my desperation and brokenness and now FEAR, real fear. I need help, In a very real way.

So I ask you, my dear friends. Please pray for me. I am scared. I am tired all the time and overwhelmed by so many things that need to change. Pray that I will find my groove and that God will show me the path to take. He has never let me down before, I know that He can handle this too, it just seems so daunting. And pray for Gary as he tries to support me on this journey.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who but God?

May. It is already May. I can't believe it. I have not written this entire school year. Life has been so crazy. I have not taken the time to reflect...but tonight is a different story.

It is almost midnight on Friday night. The house is quiet. The kids went to their dad's for the weekend for the first time in months (and that alone has made me grateful), but the big thing is...one week ago I got married. Last Friday night I married Gary Eugene Armold II. He is sound asleep next to me. It is still so surreal. The life journey leading up to the day is something that I never would have imagined and all I can say is, "Who, but God?" (to borrow the phrase from my good friend) But seriously...who but God could have put all of this is motion.

Two years ago I thought our lives were over. The circumstances that we were living through were so painful and so crazy that I could never imagine this happy ending. Gary was in Virginia and he was going through his own trials and crazy circumstances. That would eventually put us together. We couldn't be more different, our families, our background, our temperament. But he compliments me in so many wonderful ways. Only God could have known what we needed in each other.

There are so many more things I could say about us and our journey, but what I really want to say here is this...God's not finished. He was not finished with me, even in my darkest moments, He was at work. He has a plan. He was not finished with Gary, He was molding his heart to be ready for this new chapter.

God can use you no matter what you are going through. He is the God of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances. Don't give up. Don't throw in the towel. Don't lose heart. He has a plan and He is at work, even when it is too dark to see. You don't know what is around the corner.

I never expected to be Mrs. Armold. But I am so very thankful, there are no words. God still amazes me, in unexpected ways.