Thursday, November 24, 2016

When God Says Speak...

    My heart has been especially heavy today.  God has all the sudden laid upon my heart a person that I haven't been close to for several years now.  This person is struggling, and they really and truly need God's hand.  They need God to step in and move in their situation.  My heart aches for this person.  They were my friend.  They once sat with me in a dark hallway as I sobbed uncontrollably after finding out that I had miscarried a second time.  They hugged me tightly as I greeted visitors at my dad's wake.  They were a strong constant in my life and they never let me down.
    And today, they're alone...and they're broken....and I can't help them.

    So today, as I was pondering on all this.  I was thinking about this person, and what I could do for them.  I was thinking about what I could do besides pray for them.  What I want to do is go to where this person is and show them some compassion.  As I was thinking about this person, and what I would say to them if I could, God spoke to me...
    God said, "Someone somewhere needs to hear what you're thinking.  What you and I are talking about....someone somewhere needs to hear this.  You need to say what I'm telling you to say."

What God is telling me to say is this:

    Somewhere, someone is sitting alone, and you are broken and you are empty and you've taken yourself as far as you can go, and right about now you're realizing that you have hit rock bottom.  Right about now, you are realizing that there's no place else to go.  And right now, Satan is sitting next to you and he's telling you that this is it.  You are done.  This is your life, for the rest of your life, and then you'll die.  And maybe, just maybe, you're thinking that that would be okay, because dying kind of seems like it would be better than where you are right now.  But I promise you that you are not too far gone.  Because there's someone else there with you right now, and HE is greater than Satan and he loves you, and I promise you there is absolutely no place that his love can't reach.
     He wants you to reach out to him.  He wants you to give your life to him.  If you've never known him, he wants to know you.  And if you've known him but strayed away...he wants you back.  And He is willing to fight this battle that you're facing right now.  He is wanting you to trust this to him.  All you have to do is ask him to.  He wants to take over your situation.
    Don't let Satan take your life from you anymore.  Let today be the very last day that you do this alone.  Let today be the first day of the rest of your life with Jesus.  He wants to be your protector.  He doesn't care what you've done or where you've been or even what you're doing right now.  He cares that you need him, and he will be there for you.  He will come right to where you are.  All you have to do is open your heart to him and the possibility of his love in your life.  Oh friend....how he will change your situation.  How he will break your chains and take your pain and make a way for you.  He will wake you up and he will open your eyes and he will free you of your burdens, and it will be so much better than where you are right now.  And I promise, you will never regret turning to him.  I promise, he will never leave you...he will never ever let you down as long as you lean on him.
    Today is the day that you decide whom you will serve.  Today is the day.
    How do I know all this?? How could I possibly understand what you're going through?  I've never been through anything compared to what you are facing right now.  Your heart is broken and you are alone and nobody understands.  And all of that is probably true.  I've never been on drugs.  I've never lost anyone to addiction.  I've never contemplated suicide.  I've never been abused or molested.  I've never been raped.  I've never lived on the streets.  I've never been thinking about abortion.  I've never watched my parents use drugs or beat one another.  I've never wondered where my next meal would come from.  Truthfully, I don't know what it's like to be in your shoes, but God does.  He will meet you in whatever mess you're in.  He will love you no matter where you are...or what decision you've made, and it doesn't matter what I or anyone else thinks about anything.  The only person that matters is you, and your relationship with a man who can change everything for you.  There is no place he wouldn't go to get to you.  Just call out his name, and let him in.

Dear God,
    Please take my words and place them in the heart of someone who needs them. Bless anyone who reads this and feels your love in their hearts.  Bless those who need you, Lord.  Be near them Lord, and hear them when they call.  Raise them up Lord, and intervene in their lives and situations Lord.  Heal their hearts and strengthen their spirits.  I ask all these things in Your name, heavenly Father.  Allow my words to only Glorify you and no one else.  
   Lord, Thank you for my salvation.  But more than that, thank you for meeting me in the messes that I've made through out my life.  Thank you for intervening when I did not deserve it, and thank you for keeping me hid in the rock.  You are my hope and my salvation, and I know that I am nothing without you.

Praise your name,
Amen   


 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Newsboys Concert and Learning From My Children....

           There are days in my life as a mother that I spend all of my time teaching my children.  Instructing them to do or not do certain things.  Be careful.  Don't be mean to your brother/sister.  Watch your temper.  Be kind to one another.  Hey, don't touch that...it's hot.  Don't run with that, you'll jam it in your eye.  Don't squeeze the cat she'll scratch you.  That's enough screen time, go do something constructive.  Help me set the table.  I could literally go on all day about all the things I say to my children in a day trying to teach them to be a good person and not be an inconsiderate mean spirited person.
            
           Moreover, I spend even more time in my day preaching at them.  Your sibling is the best friend you have in this world...love them...don't be mean to them.  Pray for others...don't judge them.  If someone wrongs you...love them anyway.  Just because someone else does something you know is wrong, doesn't mean it's okay for you to do that something.  Again, all day long.

           There are things that I remember my mom teaching me.   A lot of things were very similar to what I say.  I was an only child, so I didn't hear a lot of things about being mean to other people.  The one thing I do remember my mom doing is quoting bible scripture to me.  One in particular, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh".  Those were her exact words.  And it was mostly in reference to a song or television show that I was listening or watching.  I would usually roll my eyes and think, "Geez Loiuse, she needs new material."  But if her intent was to ingrain that into my heart and spirit, she succeeded.  When I hear someone speaking hatefully or heartlessly, I think to myself, "They must be putting black tar into their hearts, and that makes them act that way...out of the abundance of the heart..."

          Some days, I wonder if she ever wondered if she was making a difference.  If her words were sinking in...or if they were just going 'in one ear and out the other'.  On days when my children have tested every breath of my patience and I just about had all that I can take, I wonder...."Is anything I am saying at ALL sinking in to their brains?  DO they have brains?? or Did they knock them out while pummeling one another?  I whisper, "Lord, do you see me down here??? I'm screwing this up!! Little help down here would be great, thanks."

          Our youth choir went to a Newsboys concert over the weekend.  They're a contemporary christian group that sings a song called God's NOT Dead.  There's also a movie franchise based on the song.  Our youth loves having movie nights and watching these christian movies, and they also LOVE the Newsboys.  As a reward for a summer of fund raising for a sound system for our church, we decided to take them all to their concert.

          Saturday, roughly thirty of us made our way to Lexington, KY to see our concert, leaving early enough so that we could stop each hour, stretch our legs, fellowship, and eat before.  When we arrived, we were pleased to find that the seats were first come, first serve, and we found seats fairly close to the stage and settled in.  The concert, (my first ever, and most of the kids first as well) was amazing.  So uplifting.  Everyone there was there to serve and praise the Lord.  Our children were on their feet with their hands in the air praising God.  Dancing and singing.  The spirit was so sweet in that place, it was like nothing I'd ever felt before in my life.  Roughly 2,000 people in attendance, everyone worshipping the Lord, but everyone worshipping differently.  

        Toward the end of the opening acts, and just before the Newsboys came on stage, a man stepped out to tell about a cause that they sponsored through the concert.  A project called childfund.org.  In this project, you sponsor a child in a povertied area such as Uganda.  You write that child letters and they write letters to you.  You pay 33.00 a month, and that amount of money covers medications, food and water for that child for the entire month.  The man went on to testify about how he had sponsored a child when he was younger and it had lead him to go on a mission trip to Africa where he met and adopted two children, one of which was placed into a garbage bag and dropped off at one of the mission sights nearly dead.  
  
         He told his children's story, and showed us pictures of them when he met them and pictures of them now, growing and thriving at home with him and his wife.  I have to admit, when I saw it all, it warmed my heart for the man, but I had no desire to sponsor a child myself, mostly because it had always been pounded into my head that charity starts at home, and it should.  But I think also, charity should go where God places it on your heart to send it.  Finally, the man says, "if you would like to sponsor a child, please raise your hand, and someone will bring a form to fill out."

        Immediately several of our children in the youth raised up their hands.  One child was crying.  Both of my children looked back at me with sad eyes and furrowed brows, and that was when I felt it.  The tug....God was placing it on these children's hearts to help.  Our youth sponsored a little girl that night the same age as Carley.  She lives in a home in Africa that was converted to Christian by missionaries.  The family does struggle to survive, and so we will be helping with her care and checking in on her.  We will write her letters and each child from our youth will set aside 67 cents a week for her.  

        That night...my children taught me something.  God does not care what country you are from...he loves you...and if you need taken care of and you belong to him...he will send someone to take care of you.  He laid it upon our children's hearts to help someone. 
What love...what amazing love....
Love that can only be given after having experienced it yourself...
We can never give that kind of love without first knowing it...
And the greatest love there is in this world is the love that Jesus showed when he gave everything for me. 

That day, I didn't need to ask myself if my children were paying attention when I said, "Love other people".  I knew they were.  I had to look up and say, "Thank you God.  I guess I'm not screwing this up as much as I thought I was."  

Matthew 19:14King James Version (KJV)

14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.



Sunday, June 19, 2016

On Becoming A Mother To A Young Christian...

         It's been a very long time since I've felt the need to put into words the things that have been happening in my family's lives.  We've gone through so many changes over the last year or so.  And I have been struggling greatly with what exactly God wants with me.  What is my purpose in his kingdom?  Who am I?  These are the questions I've been asking myself.  There comes a time in every one's lives when they have to look at what they were raised to believe, and decide if in fact they truly believe it...Do they believe it because they were told to??? or because they know in their heart of hearts that it's right and true.
f
When I started blogging, the purpose was mainly for my children.  I wanted them to look back one day when I was gone and see how much I loved them.  I wanted them to see that I almost never had it together, and that it is okay to not have all the answers as an adult.  Now, I think, I mainly want them to see how when I didn't have all the answers that I tried really hard to just trust in God to lead me in the path that I should go.  And sometimes God has to DRAG me in the way that I should go to get me there.  If I can save them from some of that nonsense, that would be great.
         
The only time I've ever really questioned if God loved me was after my second miscarriage.  It had probably been about 6 months after my miscarriage, and I still hadn't got pregnant, and I was struggling.  I kept thinking, "What is wrong with me?  What did I do to make God hate me so much that he would take away the one thing I want most in this world?"  

I would drive to work, and I would pray and cry and think about Samuel's mother, Hannah, from the bible.  I would think about how she prayed so hard for a son, and God answered her prayer.  But, she made a covenant with the Lord, that if he'd give her a son, she would give him back to God when he became of age.  So I thought, if Hannah can do it, so can I...so one day in the car while driving to work, I began to pray.  I prayed for God to give me a son,  a strong willed son,  with a kind and tender heart.  I asked God to give him all the best qualities of myself, my husband, and both our parents.  I asked him to raise him up a great man of God, and that when the time came for him to accept Jesus as his saviour, that he would do so easily and wholeheartedly.  And then I promised God that when the time came, I would give him back to him, a servant of the Lord.  And like Hannah, I changed my countenance and was no more sad.  (1st Samuel 1:17-18)
And it wasn't very long after that, that God gave us Caleb.  And he was everything we could have hoped for.










For the last few years, as a whole, our family has been headed in a direction that was opposite from what God wanted for our lives.  We were following our own wants....our own desires....and working selfishly against each other day after day until we finally found ourselves at a breaking point.  At that point, all I could do was pray, "Lord, please help us.".  I didn't know what I was asking for.  I had no idea how God was about to move in our lives.  I had no clue the plans that he had in store for us.  But, I was about to find out.  

I believe with all my heart, that in the very second that I asked God to help us, he began to move.  He began making plans for us.  And our lives began to change.  

We kept fighting.

I kept praying...

I kept asking God to show me what I needed, and what our family needed.  And then I started praying for Daniel.  Not for him to be better or different....I began praying for him to find his way...to be happy...to be whole...to seek God's face...and to love God more than he loved me.  (That was a tough one).   In the same instance, I started trying to do all those things myself.  (Again, it was hard to do)

We were befriended by a couple through our son's boy scout troop, and they eventually invited us to their church.  Bull Creek Baptist Church...

Churches like this one are nearly extinct today.  Back in the holler...away from everything.  No cell phones, no traffic, nothing to distract.  Just God and his people.  There's something so sacred about a church deep in the woods.  It's like the entire world is at war all around us, but when we walk through those doors...for just a little while...nothing else matters.  

I knew I was home the second I walked through the door.  Being there didn't make me tired or drained.  I may have fought both kids tooth and nail right up until we'd walked through the doors, but once we got there, it was like my strength was renewed and I was ready to serve the Lord.  

Even more than that, I saw a change in my life.  My kids began to sit up and listen to the words that were spoken.  My oldest son Caleb began to ask questions about Salvation and take notice in the difference he was seeing in the people that we were interacting with.  And my husband began to step up and lead our family.  Our family was changing...the dynamic was changing...it was like someone was sailing the boat instead of us.  And someone was.

That was when I began asking God what my purpose was.  What was I supposed to be doing to serve him.  I could sing.  Okay, I'll sing.  I play the piano a little bit... okay...I'll play the piano.  But I just kept wondering,  what is my purpose?  And that's when God reminded me of the promise that I'd made to him.  To give Caleb back to him when the time came.  And I knew right then that it was time to put my children into God's hands.  

I didn't know at the time what exactly that meant, but I started preparing myself for it.  I knew that it wouldn't be long before God showed me what I was supposed to do.  And I got my answer one morning as we I was driving the kids to school.  It was a typical morning until Caleb looked up at me and said, "Mom, I don't want to go to hell."

It was as if someone had punched me in the gut.  Caleb was only 7 years old.  I had never talked to him about hell before.  We talked mostly about God's love to our kids.  But all the sudden, my child was telling me that he knew there was a hell, and that he didn't want to go there.  

Over the next few weeks, more questions began to come as Caleb worked through the plan of Salvation for himself.  And one night during a youth gathering of our church, he gave his heart to Jesus.  And that night, just like Caleb had become a new creature through the blood of Christ, I was now a new kind of mother.  I realized that night, that my job...my purpose in God's kingdom...was to raise my children in the way that they should go.  To teach them to be strong Christians that couldn't be swayed to left or right.  To show them that serving the Lord can be a struggle, but it can also be amazing.

Suddenly, I felt like I had a new identity.  And my heart was glad because of it.  In the last 6 months, my family has changed in ways that I used to only dream about.  God is more and more present in our daily lives, and we are trusting him more and more each day.  Every day I wake up wondering what the day will bring.














If I could tell my children's future selves something right at this very moment, it would be this:

He speaks in a still small voice.
When he speaks...Answer.
He knows what's best for you.
Trust him.
He loves you so much more than you'll ever be able to understand.
Believe it.
Others are going to try to explain him away...minimize his immensity...to tell you he is not Everything...
Don't let them.
Fight them with all you have.
Love him with all you are.
Hold onto him with all of your might.
And he will never let you down.

(photo by Nancy Chambers)


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ain't No Clouds In My Skies...

  "I sense that you will never stop worrying about this until you know 100% that you're okay.  Am I right?"
The doctor smiled looking across the table at me.

He's a smart man.  I can tell.  I mean, yeah, he's a doctor...so obviously he's smart...but he's also very good at reading people.

"Do you have a family history of any kind of cancer."  He asked.

It was my turn to smile.  I then began to list all the cancers in my family.  "My dad had lung cancer when I was fourteen, which would have made him about 44, I think.  He also had colon cancer immediately after, which had nothing to do with the lung cancer.  My dad's dad died of lung cancer.  My dad's mom had breast cancer.  My mom's mom died from complications of colon cancer.  My mom's brother also died from colon cancer. I proceeded to list more family members, and when I was finished his smile had faded into a solemn expression."

"Is there anyone who hasn't died from cancer?" He asked.

"Well, yes, but there are more that have than have not." I looked down at my hands uncomfortably.

"Are you having any problems yourself?" He asked.

"Well, yeah...I've always had issues."  As I sat there explaining every embarrassing issue I'd had in the colon department since I was old enough to recognize the issue, he listened intently.  When I was finished, I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off of my shoulders.  This man is going to listen to me.  He is going to help me.
"Well, Mrs. Bell," He said, "I think the best thing to do is a colonoscopy.  You have a family history.  You're having issues, and I think it really would just ease your mind.  Do I think you have cancer? Probably not.  But considering all the family history of cancer, it wouldn't hurt for us to watch you extra closely."

It was a long month.  Waiting for this day to get here.  I've prayed a lot.  Thought a lot about cancelling the entire procedure.  But then I would think of my children burying me just out of high school, and I knew it was the right decision.  The thing is, cancer is preventable.  From the foods that we eat...to what we put into our bodies...to what we breath...we are not invincible...our lives can end very easily, and much earlier than we would like...

I know where I'm goin' when it's time to meet my maker.  I'm not afraid to die.  But as a mother, I am very much afraid to leave my children at this stage in their lives.  It was extremely difficult for me, losing my dad at the age of 24.  And even before that, part of him was gone.  Something happens to someone who gets cancer.  They lose a part of themselves.  My dad walked around for 10 years afraid his time was almost up.  And then it was.  For 10 years, a gray cloud hung over my family's head, and then one day the gray turned to black...and then he was gone.  I will never forget that pain.   And if I can shield my children...my husband from that pain early in our lives, I will.



I've been battling anxiety for a good 5 years.  Coincidentally, that's about how long my dad's been gone.  For a very long time, the devil has picked at me.  "What if you have cancer." , "What if you died.", "What if you're sick."

And I cowered in fear before him.  It was a crippling fear. A fear that affected every aspect of my life.  It affected my relationships.  It held me back.  It made my beautiful, imperfect life less enjoyable.  

Today, as I sat with the Doctor, listening to my good report, I finally felt at peace.  "No signs of cancer...no problems...see you in three years.  Colon cancer is the most curable cancer you can get if you catch it early.  You and I are gonna be great friends, Mrs. Bell".   (What a nice man. Haha.)  I finally felt at peace.  And more than that, I felt like I'd given the devil a black eye!! Not because I didn't have cancer.  But because I had taken control of my fear. And I decided that, he can only have the power to make me afraid if I let him.  And I'm not going to let him.

No more gray cloud in my skies.  My God doesn't allow clouds in his sky.  My life is in God's hands, and even more than that, my childrens' lives are in God's hands.  And that's okay with me.












God's my saviour, God's my healer, God's my deliverer.  YES HE IS!




2 Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Salvation Story: My True Testimony

Oceans (Where feet may fail) By: Hillsong



I've pondered this post for a month or longer.  I've been through so much with myself (What?!) in the last month.  The truth is...I have always struggled with my salvation.  Since the day I asked the Lord to save me...

I still remember it like it was yesterday.  I was 8 years old, and my mom was in a singing group.  The group attended a singing one night.  I remember sitting in the front row of this little church...bored as could be...not paying a lot of attention.  My dad had to get onto me for misbehaving...and when dad got onto me...he meant business.  I started to listen to the preacher, and all of the sudden, I realized I didn't want to die and go to hell.
I'd always believed in God.  I'd always believed that Jesus died on the cross to save me of my sins, and that he rose again in three days.  I believed that he was coming back for us someday.  But in that moment...the possibility of hell was made real to me.  I didn't go to the alter that night.  I waited until we got home.  I was anxious and upset, so I decided to just go on to bed.  But I couldn't sleep.  Finally, I went to my mom and said, "MOM, I need to be saved! And I need to be saved right NOW!"
My parents sat me down at their bed side, and my dad took out his bible and started explaining the plan of salvation to me.  Honestly, I don't remember a thing he said.  All I can remember is thinking he needed to hurry it up because I needed to get saved RIGHT NOW! Finally, when we knelt down at the bed, I remember hearing my parents praying and watching my tears hit the bed railing.  My heart cried out to God that to save me...broken in two...but I never uttered a word after saying to my mom, "I need to be saved!"
That was the night I got saved.

But all my life, the devil has whispered in my ear, "What about that fact that you never said a word?", "You didn't ask!"
And I would panic, and I'd whisper a prayer, "Lord, if I'm not saved, please save me. I believe in you. I believe I'm a sinner.  Lord please save me."
Once, I even told my dad about how I felt.  He just said, "It happens sometimes..  The devil likes to keep us down.  Use fear against us.  That's how he works"

But see, God doesn't work that way.  The verse says, "Whosoever will, let him come."  It doesn't say "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved if I feel like it..." , It says, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, SHALL be saved."  It's not about feelings...it's about faith.

About a month ago...our church had a revival.  It was really a great revival, and just like the Saviour always does...he came looking for me.  The Lord had been dealing with my heart that week, and finally, I went to the alter and prayed. I went through the steps that are laid out for us.  I confessed, I asked, I believed...I even got up and told the church God had saved me that night. But unlike that night when I was 8 years old at my parent's bed side, I didn't feel any better.  I felt worse.  I couldn't eat.  I couldn't sleep.  I could hardly do my job at work.  I would be in the middle of a task at work and all the sudden my mind would go to that night and I would almost burst into tears.

After two days of this, I had about had all I could take.  I was at work and I just broke down.  I went to my car at lunch, and just bowed my head and cried.  No words came out...there was no poetic prayer...it was just me and God....and my ugly cry.  I finally just let it all go.  And as I sat there sobbing, Hannah popped into my mind.  And how she was so heartbroken when she'd prayed to the Lord in the temple that no words came except for her sobbing...and the priest thought she was drunk because she spoke but not words came from her mouth.

And I realized...he hears me...even when I can't speak...he hears me.  He hears my heart.  And as soon as I realized this, and believed this, my fear went away.  I felt this rush of peace come over me, and I just knew that I was saved! And it didn't matter if he'd saved me at 8 years old or last month...the important thing is...I'm saved!! And nothing that I can do can change that.  I believe he saved me at 8 years old...I believe that being saved has more to do with faith than words.  And praise God he saw fit to come looking for me...both to save me...and to reassure me.  Oh how He loves me. And I thank Him every day for my salvation story because it's mine.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Creating New Happiness

No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to figure out this life thing.



 I fear that I am trying so hard to get it right, that I'm missing it all.




The beautiful moments.






The quiet moments.















The moments when an adventure is discovered by my children, that I have long since forgotten.




Sometimes, in the process of trying to make things perfect in my life, I think,






I forget to enjoy those moments...in all their imperfectness.





Maybe they don't need to be perfect...so long as they're beautiful...and real.

Proverbs 31:25  Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.





Monday, February 16, 2015

Snow

I hate snow, but not for the obvious reasons.  Although, I find plenty of obvious reasons why it irritates me.  The one big reason is because the memories are too painful to bear.  Snow, was my dad's thing.  He liked it.  When it started, he stood at the front door and watched it.  I would stand with him and watch him walk from door to window trying to see how deep the snow was getting.  If the power went out, he would light old oil burning lamps and stoke up the wood burning furnace.  Me and mom would sit curled up on the couch under a blanket and talk, watching him work meticulously, placing the lamps through out the house so that we had plenty of light.

At first light he was out in the snow, shoveling, walking around, playing...cooking on the wood stove...tracking in snow and mud while my mom cleaned up after him over and over again.  He didn't worry about getting out in it...he knew he could if he needed to. I was brought home from the hospital in a snow storm.  I guess he figured if he could make it home with me, he could make it in anything.

The winter before he died, me and Caleb came to stay with him for a little while.  Mom was at work, and Daniel was at work.  It was just me and him and Caleb.  Caleb laid down to take a nap, and dad went outside.  He was gone for a while, and I got worried so I slipped outside to check on him.  He was just outside walking around, looking up at the snow.  He had this look on his face....this peaceful look.

I said, "Dad, what are you doing?"
He said, "Nothin', just lookin' around."

I know now, he was talking to God.  I think that was the day I realized my days with him were numbered.  And it scared me.  But what faith that must've taken for him, to know he wasn't going to be with us much longer, and just accept whatever God's plan was.  I know that that doesn't mean that it wasn't hard for him.  And I know that as time grew closer, and he got sicker it was a lot harder for him to be at peace.  But on that day, in that moment, he was at peace with what God was doing in his life.  It was in God's hands.  He was ready.

When I think of that day, all I see is the beginning of then end.  And it makes me so sad.

Snow....it makes me miss him.  It makes the cold colder somehow.  My heart aches a little.  And I just don't want to feel that.  Not today.  So I grumble about the snow and I hope that it passes quickly.  So the sun can come out again.