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Hand in Hand

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.  That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.

- Emily Kimbrough

When I think of this quote, I think of compassion and strength.  We all stumble in some way or another, either when a a burden becomes to heavy to bear or when something tempting is thrown in our paths. Sometimes we stumble and don't hit the ground, other times we stumble and fall flat on our faces with scrapes and scratches as our witness to the world of our fall. 

Going hand in hand through this journey of life sure makes those falls easier to take.  As christians, we must take turns helping each other up.  We must be quicker to offer a hand through life than a judgment on someone else's misfortune.  As Ecclesiastes says:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. (Ecc 4:9-10)

Hand in hand is a comfort, isn't it?  I can't think of how many times I have gained strength from a friend simply through the touch of her hand.   I'm sure you've felt the same.  Have you been liberal in offering yours to others?  Did you know that God's hand is outstretched to take your tiny hand in His?  In our deepest despair, He is there.

For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

And this is the best part of all.  No matter where we are, no matter who is not around, God is there to calm our fears, help us cope and hold our hands.  Thank You, Lord, for being there with us every step of the way.


Israel's Testimony

I can't seem to get away from the testimonial these days. But I can say that I am glad mine is finished for the purposes of this blog anyway.  I have learned throughout the past week that it is harder for me to assemble thoughts about my own life than to comment on the lives of those bible characters. Hmmm...what does that say about me?  Anyway, to all of my fellow bloggers out there that share their stories day in and day out, I commend you.

I'm back in Deuteronomy now and through the first four chapters we see Moses give a historical summary of Israel's recent past.  As I've just done with you here in sharing some of my history, I believe this kind of exercise is a very helpful one to go through periodically.  To get where we are going, we must know from where we have come so we can be more acutely aware of the history we do not want to repeat.  Most importantly, remembering how God has gotten is through trying times before gives us assurance that He will come through for us again.

A lot of passages stood out to me in Deuteronomy 1-4, which I shall share briefly here: 

1) Deut. 2:7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand.  He knows your trudging through this great wilderness.  These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing. (NKJV)

How many times do we forget that God has been with us, feast or famine, wilderness or green pastures?  God forgives our failings and never forsakes us.  Remember, that the Israelites had not been the perfect "children".

2) Deut 3:21-22 "And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, 'Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings; so will the Lord do to all the kingdoms through which you pass.  You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you. '" (NKJV)

Joshua was afraid but still willing to go forward into the promised land.  If we remember that we are not fighting our battles alone and that God has given us His power supply, we will have no reason to fear.

3) Deut 4:7 For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?

God is here for us just as He was for the nation of Israel.  We may call on our Creator for whatever reason.  Oh, how incredibly priviledged we are as sons and daughters of the King.

What wonderful promises God has for us in His word if we only just look through its pages.  I'm so looking forward to being back posting about my passion.  In conclusion, I'll leave you with this great short summary of who God was in his heart for Israel.  It is long, but worth the read. As you read it, pretend that Moses is speaking directly to you.   

Deuteronomy 4:32 “For ask now concerning the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether any great thing like this has happened, or anything like it has been heard. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? 34 Or did God ever try to go and take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. 36 Out of heaven He let you hear His voice, that He might instruct you; on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day.

39 Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the LORD your God is giving you for all time.”  (NKJV)


My Story - Part 5 of 5

You have not chosen Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (John 15:16 NKJV)

How do I conclude a story that is not yet finished?  This has been a challenge for me to write, not because I'm afraid to share, but because it is hard to concisely present the parts of my life that might be helpful to someone else.  Each of the hardships and lessons I've learned have their own 5-part story.  Suffice it to say, that we all have our own unique stories to share, and all are interesting in their own ways. 

So what have I learned in the past 39 years?  First of all, I have realized that most of my learning has taken place in the last 6 years through the hardships I've endured.   I've learned to rely on God for my source of strength and not on the approval of others.  I've learned that God is the only one who will never disappoint me.  I've learnd that no matter how much I think I am control of my life, I really have no control at all.  I've learned that a life of being self-reliant is not what God really wants.  God wants us to live out of control for Him so that we have no choice but to hand over our efforts to Him completely.

A life lived for God is a roller coaster ride all on its own.  The more serious a person gets with their relationship with God, the more exciting the ride becomes.  It is through this roller coaster ride that God molds us and shapes us into the men and women He wants us to be.  All of our roller coasters are different.  My hills and valleys are woven around situations where I have to be the strong one who rises to the occasion in the middle of a crisis.  God always has me in the "wrong" place at His right time.  It sure keeps life exciting.  What is the theme of your life?  Is there a common thread of circumstances out of your control where you consistently find yourself?   Whatever it is, I know this, that God has chosen each of you for a purpose.  Find it, enjoy it, and rejoice in it, knowing that the God of all creation is with you always.


Timeless

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways," says the Lord.  For 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)


Writing out my testimony here on Bread Crumbs has made me do a lot of reflecting on the past.  Seeing how God has worked out the events in my life to bring me to this day has been fascinating. I've not always been so trusting in God's sovereignty, but then again, that trust is a product of the trials.  I heard a song on an old Selah CD just yesterday that depicts just this - that time changes us for the better when we trust in the One who never changes.  So let the autumns, winters, springs and summers of your lives have their way, knowing God is in control.

Timeless - by Levi Kreis

Time, it's changing me
It's hard to see who I am
Touched, I'm touched by many things
So many things I don't understand

But seasons pass and I discover
Above all this there's another
Helping me to hold on to what is timeless

So the autumn can color me gold
And the winter can dress me in snow
But it's You I see, the timeless part of me

In the springtime I'm young once again
In the summer I dance on the wind
But it's You I see, the timeless part of me.

Change, whether it's good or bad
You know I'm glad You're in control
Oh Lord, if I don't understand
I know Your hand will shield my soul

Seasons pass and I discover
Above all this there's another
Helping me to hold on to what is timeless

So the autumn can color me gold
And the winter can dress me in snow
But it's You I see, the timeless part of me
In the springtime I'm young once again
In the summer I dance on the wind
But it's You I see, the timeless part of me.


For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)


My Story-Part 4

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NIV)

Part 4 - The Real Ride Begins.

Lord, help me to communicate exactly what you would want me to say to whoever reads this blog.  You are the owner of my life after all.  You are the source of my joy, and the provider of many a thrill ride in my walk with You.  Help me to inspire others to seek a relationship with You in their lives.  Amen.

It is strange writing about my life in retrospect.  We always say that hindsight is 20/20, but did anyone ever mention that the 20/20 of hindsight vision isn't always fun to look at?   With mistakes and missed opportunities, troubles and treasures, heartbreaks and happiness, I believe that the last 16 years have definitely resulted in the most change in me as a person.  Where should I start?  (Note:  I've already decided that I shall make this a 6 part series instead of 5)

Getting Semi-Serious About God

Leaving off from last time, at age 23 after my parents split, I started going back to church.  I worked through the bitterness at my dad that I tried so desparately to hold on to after realizing that it was slowly starting to control my life one itty bitty piece at a time. Although it took years, I thank God that He gave me the strength to forgive and restore my relationship with my dad.  I mention this because I didn't want to leave anyone hanging out there. My dad walked me down the aisle at my wedding when I was 27.  :)  Restoration.

Where was I?  Getting semi-serious.  At the time, I thought I was getting really serious about the whole  "God thing".  At age 29, if I have my math right, I started attending Grace Baptist Church (the church now known as Grace Church, that I attend today).  It was small back then as it was only a few months old when God led me to it.   Soon after joining, I became the piano player for the church services and then....the "serious" part...I started being discipled by one of the pastor's wives.  Honestly, I can say that discipleship changed my life.  For almost a year I met weekly with my "discipler" to discuss the basic aspects of my faith and my walk with God.  The seed was planted in me to spark the love for God's word that I have today.  It was through this experience that I developed my daily discipline of bible reading. 

So if I believe that this was so great you ask, why do I call it being "semi-serious"?  Because until the challenges of life overwhelm you and put you flat on your face humbly before God, I'm not sure that anyone can be really serious about Him.  How can we seek what we don't know we need?

Getting more serious

I will quickly mention the struggles I've dealt with in the past few years that have brought me to my knees before God.  I won't go into much detail "to protect the innocent", but just know that these things have had a profound impact on my life.  Let's just say that in the last 6 years, I've...

...made some friends and lost some friends (the "inner circle" kind, big heartbreak here)

...almost been divorced

...walked side-by-side with a close friend who had cancer (she is a survivor!)

...helped my husband through 4 back surgeries

...found myself smack in the middle of a career nightmare-the bankruptcy of my employer (Important note: I was the Financial Controller)

...found myself without a job due to above company's bankruptcy

...begun working for my husband

...learned to totally rely on my husband for financial support

...supported my husband as he manages finances and nursing home care for his aunt

...recognized more shortcomings in myself than I would care to admit

...allowed God to move me into the role as Director of Women's Ministry

...realized that I must accept help from others

...accepted that I must surrender my own will and strength and let God have total control.

Hindsight is 20/20, is it not?  Growing pains are hard through the trials God allows to cross our paths, but they are so worth it.  Looking back, painful as some of it is to see, I do thank God because of them and for who He is allowing me to become.  Some of us apparently need a lot of molding by the Master Potter!  Have I had more  struggles than anyone else?  I don't know.  We all have our own stories.  I think that God has been trying to make me get serious with Him for years.

Until next time...