Romans 5:6

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pausing to Notice His Goodness

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for you because of what you have done.
~ Psalm 92:4, NLT
Yesterday marked ten awesome months of marriage for Joseph and me. Time is going by so quickly! Being just two months away from celebrating our first anniversary, Joseph and I have talked a lot recently about the Lord’s BIG provision for us!

When we began looking into buying a house last year we had no idea what God had in store. We prayed specifically for the Lord to direct us to the area in which He wanted us. The home He gave us far surpassed anything we had in mind.  We often sit and just gasp in awe of His blessings.  We aren’t “stuff” oriented people and we never thought about purchasing a new home when we began talking about where we would live, but seeing God’s hand every detail really just makes us pay attention to the fact that God’s ways are indeed higher than ours. God loves to bless His kids!

In our ten months of marriage, God has shown Himself faithful at every turn, as always. When any issue of an unexpected expense has come up He’s made a way, providing more than enough.

I mention all of this because after the recent hail storm Joseph and I had a choice.  We could have easily chosen to be upset and have a “woe is me” attitude about needing a new roof on the house in addition to many other repairs.  We could have fussed about my car being too damaged to keep.  Instead, the Lord has taught us to pause and pay attention to His GREAT goodness!

The Lord sent a roofer to our neighborhood “at just the right time” to rescue us from having to climb on the roof to put tarps down before rain came again.  This was not one of the roofers we had called. Those fellas never called us back.  God knew exactly who He wanted to send our way!

The roofer did many temporary fixes until everything with insurance was squared away... and he did so at no charge! God is well aware of surprises like this and He provides!  The insurance company declared the damage to the house to be about $8,500.  Again, instead of being upset that the repairs may cause a little inconvenience in our schedules, I see the Lord’s hand in even allowing us to have insurance that covers all of the cost!

The damage my car received from the storm is actually a blessing in disguise.  I have driven my little Cavalier for ten years. It’s the only car I’ve ever had; so to say that I needed to start looking into getting something different would be a slight understatement.  I have just accepted the minor flaws due to wear and tear and have been grateful for transportation.

Our appointment with the insurance company regarding the car isn’t until the middle of the month, but after several reports we know what the verdict will be.  Two days after the storm the car’s check engine light came on and the car began driving differently and running hot.  God’s timing is in effect for sure here!  He knew all the details that would cause us to need a different mode of transportation, and now we will receive more money for it than if we had simply traded it in.

We were able to purchase the exact vehicle that we wanted earlier this week.  God cares so much about the smallest details of our lives, folks!  After being able to drive my mom’s vehicle for a few different trips, Joseph and I agreed that we would look for one like hers.  A new car was out of the question as it just didn’t make sense to us.  So we prayed for wisdom on a newer used vehicle.

After test driving a couple of cars and not having a peace about moving forward, Joseph and I went home in my beat up Cavalier.  Two days later, we found the car online… at a dealership within minutes of our house!

If we had made a hasty decision when we were test driving other vehicles we would have missed this HUGE blessing God had in store for us.  Any of those options would have been good, but certainly not God’s best for us.

Joseph took care of everything the Monday after Easter since he had an extra day off for the holiday.  Everything worked out far better than we had hoped.  The numbers that we had crunched to figure out finances were thrown out the window when things came out BETTER than we could have imagined!  God’s faithfulness has blown us away again!

This testimony of His goodness has caused me to wonder how many times I’ve neglected to pause and really pay attention to His hand at work in my life. In the midst of life’s surprises (like an unexpected hail storm) it’s far too easy for us to react negatively and become frantic.

The hail storm and other unexpected events come as no surprise to God… EVER!  When we stop to pay attention to all He has done we are able to change our attitude of “woe is me” to one of gratefulness.

I have been so encouraged in these weeks after the storm.  The Lord’s provision in sending the right people, the right vehicle and all the finances needed has been nothing short of a miracle!

Today there are many things that have the potential to upset us.  Often when we are surprised by difficult circumstances our initial actions stem from being angry that we simply don’t have control over everything.  Rather than reacting negatively, we can choose to be grateful for the Lord’s great provision for our lives, which is always in effect.

When we take time to pay attention to all that the Lord has done and is doing for us we cannot help but to be thrilled! Today my prayer is that I will continually notice the ways He shows that He is for me.  May we not overlook all the ways that God is reminding us that He is in control and has power over all things!

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for you because of what you have done. ~ Psalm 92:4, NLT

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Courage to Begin

When I met Joseph he was training for his first half marathon.   While we were dating I traveled to Florida with him and a group of friends to cheer them on during another race.  So I knew when we were reading all of those marriage books leading up to the wedding that each time they mentioned that the wife should take up her husband's hobbies that I'd be taking up more exercise.  I can laugh about how dedicated Joseph is and how I just simply wasn't disciplined in this area, but the truth is I was scared to even darken the door of a gym, much less begin training for a half to run with Joseph.

After I got my master's degree under my belt I felt invincible!  Why not go ahead and start this thing?  I began training for a race and immediately understood what so many had told me prior about running being just as much mental as it is physical.  When I first began to feel the pain in my legs I just thought that it's an issue that everyone who chooses to train experiences.  After many tear-filled moments as I dealt with the pain Joseph convinced me to seek help and answers. 

Google gave me some answers that helped and some that scared me, but it wasn't until I began talking with a friend about it that it began making more sense.  She recently completed Physical Therapy School and willingly evaluated my legs and all the issues.  The PT that she recommended helped immensely, but she told me things to look out for.  She informed me that what I've been experiencing in my legs is mild compartment syndrome. (If you Google it, don't freak out like I did! My legs haven't split open.)  Due to a lack of space in certain compartments/sections of my legs there is not enough room for accurate blood flow to the muscles in those areas.  This causes tightness and swelling.  The PT that she taught Joseph and me allowed me to make it through the 8 mile run, which again made me feel like I could do anything.

It wasn't until last week that I had to promise both Joseph and my mom that if the pain continued that I wouldn't run the race at the end of February.  After I made it through this week's shorter runs with minimal pain I believed that yesterday's 10 miles would be fine, too.  The promise I made was that if I had trouble during the 10 mile run that I'd simply be a spectator.  

When Joseph and I got only 1.5 miles in yesterday I began to have more pain in my legs than I had experienced before.  I looked down to see that the swelling in my legs was extremely noticeable.  My right leg looked somewhat like a medium size apple was protruding through... trust me, this is not like the lady lumps Fergie rants about.  Not cute.  As I began to cry uncontrollably, Joseph comforted me by saying, "God is the only One you have to worry about pleasing.”  I looked up at him from my doubled over position and asked, "So, you're not mad at me?"  I wanted so badly to accomplish this race with him and to prove that I could do it. I couldn’t stand the though of letting anyone down, or worse having people believe that I’m one to give up easily.  Sweet Joseph reassured me that he wasn't disappointed and that I shouldn’t worry about the opinions of others. He would rather me not run the race than to continue and make the issues I've been experiencing worse. 

So, here I am.  Sore, swollen legs due to a condition I had never even heard of until a few weeks ago, and unable to accomplish something that I've committed to.

Yesterday I had lots of moments where I just had to cry it out like a toddler in a crib.  Emotions of defeat and disappointment flooded my mind.  While Joseph was out finishing the 10 miles for the training schedule, I was home cleaning the house.  God encouraged me so much when I was steaming the floors and scrubbing the toilets.

God reminded me of the courage it took for me to even begin this training.  He reminded me of the dedication I've learned through this process and the routine that I have created for me to exercise regularly.  Finishing would have been a huge success for me, but the Lord encouraged me yesterday that even beginning was a huge feat for me, too.

Running is not something that I am good at, and didn't enjoy at all prior to beginning training.  But, I've learned a great deal about trusting in Power beyond myself to start something new.  When I started Seminary I had no idea what all it would entail, but I finished.  Starting to run proved to myself that I can do what people do not expect of me.

Not being able to continue with my training for the half marathon is disappointing, but I am grateful that I know that my excuse here is not mental, it's not made up, nor is it something I can control.  It was so tempting to continue running through the pain, but as my legs became more swollen and as I experienced more tingling and numbness in my feet and lower legs it was as if God put His hand on my shoulder and said, "I'm proud of you for even trying.  You had courage to begin something that very few believed you could accomplish.  You haven't disappointed Me, because I know that You are still trusting me through this."

So, I leave you with this encouragement that I have received from the Lord in the last several hours:  It takes great courage to begin something new.  Don't get too discouraged when things out of your control hinder you from running across a finish line, meeting a deadline, or overcoming a fear.  God's with you.  He's proud of you for even taking on the courage to begin.

If you can't run, maybe you can bike or swim.  He gives us options, but all along the way is teaching us to be a people who trust in His strength and recognize that our giving up doesn't necessarily mean that we are unsuccessful.

It takes courage to begin.  Rest in that, knowing He's proud that you even tried.