Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A cow, two chickens and a goat

I am T H R I L L E D to report that due to your extravagant generosity, Samuel raised enough money to buy a cow, two chickens and a goat through the World Vision gift program.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Last night as I was driving home from our Christmas celebration I prayed for the family receiving the cow. I don't know their situation or what a cow will mean to them personally, but God does. And I'm asking Him to use a cow to demonstrate the love of Christ in a powerful way this Christmas season.

When I told Samuel we had enough money to buy a cow he asked if he could come with to buy it. Apparently we have a little more explaining to do about how this process actually works. But I'm praying that one day, our family can take a trip across the big, blue ocean to a country far, far away and meet in person those in need of a cow so Samuel might see the impact his gift can have on a family.

We are so grateful for each of you who contributed - via a monetary donation or your prayers. Thank you!


Now I just need to find a cow ornament (or a cow, two chickens and a goat ornament) so every year we can place it on the tree and thank God for the privilege of being able to buy a cow for a family in need. And every year we will thank Him for each of you who showed a little boy what can happen when we dream big, present our requests to God and love others in the name of Jesus.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When is Christmas?

Lauren and I took a walk around our neighborhood tonight. The sun had just set and we scooted outside for a quick walk to look at Christmas lights.

The air was crisp, the snow crunched under our boots and together we sang Christmas songs as we looked at lights, reindeer and snowmen.

Lauren said, "It's Christmas!"

I quickly corrected her: "No, Christmas isn't for three more days."

And then I stopped.

What was I saying?

Of course, it's Christmas.

Christmas isn't just for 24 hours on December 25.

Christmas is this month...this season...these days and weeks and these moments.

Christmas is quiet nights with just the lights of the Christmas tree glowing.

Christmas is reading Luke 2, listening to Luke 2, memorizing Luke 2, meditating on Luke 2.

Christmas is music...worship...Christmas songs. Again. And again. And again please.

Christmas is giving to others just as God gave His only Son.

Christmas is walking through the neighborhood looking at Christmas lights with a little girl whose excitement and joy for this season takes my breath away.

She wants to listen to Go Tell It on a Mountain over and over and over. And we let her. Because Christ is born and everyone needs to hear that Good News.

"Let's run mama, let's run!"

All right baby girl. Let's run. Let's run and tell the world that it's Christmastime.

Christ has come.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A flash mob of kindness

You’ve heard of flash mobs, right? If not, you can view my favorite one here. It's a Christmas flash mob. Watch it. It's awesome and I cry almost every time I watch it.

My coworker told me about this one. It’s not a flash mob singing, but rather random people coming together with one goal: kindness.


It humbles me to say that my family has been the recipients of a flash mob of kindness this year. Some dear friends conspired this month and out of their generosity they 'mobbed' my family with kindness. We have been hugely blessed with gift cards, presents for the kids and a ticket to this conference for me. My video isn’t quite to the standard of the others, but it shows the excitement and joy of our kids upon opening some of their gifts:




I cried then. I am crying now. I feel so undeserving and I am reminded that God has given me u n b e l i e v a b l e friends. While we certainly could have gotten by without any of these gifts, this kindness has blessed our hearts and filled us to overflowing. To be honest, it has so overwhelmed me that I haven’t even known how to respond. Ryan and I are so humbled and so grateful. This flash mob of kindness was a reminder to us that we are cared for and loved by our great God and by the people He has put in our life to walk alongside us on this journey. Thank you dear friends and thank you Jesus for loving us through our friends.

While we’ve had our share of hard moments in 2012, I know that we are not alone. Many of you have had hard moments too. Or, you know of others who have had hard moments. May we all be inspired, in the midst of our hard moments, to spread kindness. And, when we do, to God be the glory.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A final request for help buying a cow

One month ago I announced that Samuel wanted to buy a cow.

























We asked for help from our readers, friends and family.

In that time we have raised $340.

$340!!

You people are amazing and we are 
so grateful for those who have contributed.

We are $160 away from our goal (a dairy cow costs $500) and we have just one week until Christmas.

One week to present a gift that could change a family forever.


Will you help us?

Watch Samuel and Lauren's request here (I have absolutely no idea why they felt the need to scream out their request!):





My original post includes a link at the end to a paypal account (of course we are happy to accept cash or check as well).

For one month we have been praying as a family that God would provide and we are trusting and believing that He will.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tasting Grace

Make your own hot chocolate mix



A few weeks ago I asked my mom for a homemade hot chocolate mix recipe that I vividly recall from my childhood days. Oh the memories are sweet: coming in from the snow, cheeks red and fingers cold, mixing the hot chocolate with water and drinking it to warm me from the inside out.

Yesterday Lauren and I made our own hot cocoa mix (a combination of my mom’s recipe and one from a coworker). We dumped and poured and mixed and created a batch large enough to last us a couple cold Minnesota winters.
Then I heated up some water, stirred in the cocoa mix and handed my 3-year-old daughter her first glass. I watched her sample it tentatively. Then her eyes lit up. She clutched the glass with her tiny hands and didn’t stop until the last drop was gone.

And with a twinkle in her eye she immediately asked: “Can I have more?”

And so it is with grace my friends.

On the bus this morning, I read: “When you have tasted the grace of the gospel, no relationship looks the same to you.”—J.D. Greear, Gospel

All day I have been asking God, “Have I really tasted grace?”

The grace of the gospel is life transforming and one need not wonder if they’ve tasted of its goodness.

One knows.

I knew.

Immediately.

If you’ve tasted grace you see yourself as chief of sinners, not first sinned against.

If you’ve tasted grace you forgive without reservation, knowing that forgiveness has been given to you.

If you’ve tasted grace you extend grace endlessly to others, because you know the sweet, sweet aroma of grace.

If you’ve tasted grace your life reflects humility, because grace can’t sit alongside pride or arrogance or selfishness.

Grace is transforming and if I haven’t been transformed, then I haven’t truly tasted grace.

Greear says: “Because you haven’t really tasted grace, you won’t extend grace to each other.” To whom? Your spouse. Your co-worker. Your friend. Your roommate. Your parent. Your sibling. Your enemy.

Tasting grace makes life a lot less about me, and a lot more about others.
Tasting grace means I forgive easily, love genuinely, speak kindly, give generously, serve endlessly.

Tasting grace is like a bottomless cup of hot cocoa. We wrap our hands around it’s goodness, and with a twinkle in our eye we ask God, “Can I have more?”

And God responds by lavishly pouring out His love and grace until we are warmed – and transformed – from the inside out.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A song of God's faithfulness



Earlier this week a friend and I were chatting about life and the ongoing challenges of this season and I said, "I'm doing a pretty good job running from the Lord."

She responded immediately and confidently with: "It doesn't matter Stacy. God is faithful."

Can I just tell you all that I've pondered and meditated and prayed through and thought endlessly about that statement?

GOD is faithful.

God IS faithful.

God is FAITHFUL.

He is faithful friends.

Whether we're running toward Him or away from Him or just sitting in our muck and mire, He is faithful.

My friend spoke these words in a moment when I didn't even know I needed to hear them. And she said them with an air of confidence that comes from someone who knows. And she knows. She has experienced God's faithfulness in her own life.

We don't need to have all our stuff together for God to show us His power and perfection and provision. He doesn't wait until we've worked through our issues. He meets us where we're at.

We know this because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He is abounding in love and faithfulness.

As the image above says, "You were faithful before, You'll be faithful again."

God has been faithful in my life before and I know that His faithfulness has no end. Not faithfulness in that He'll answer my prayers in the way that I want, but God is faithful to walk with me and cover me in His grace every day. He is faithful to receive me just as I am. He is faithful to meet me daily and He is faithful to show up because He is the Living God.

Never Once
I suspect most people would reference a song such as this after a difficult season is over with. But I believe God calls us to proclaim that He is faithful in the midst of our trials and struggles.

May we all walk our journeys with our mouths declaring God's faithfulness with every step.

According to Matt Redman Never Once is a song he wrote about God's Faithfulness. It is a powerful, beautiful song with lyrics founded in truth.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful
God you are faithful



Listen to the song and Matt Redman's story here:



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Choose Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving from the May Family. We have so much to be grateful for. May we all choose thankful...today and everyday.

Please take a minute to watch I Choose Thankful:



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Will you help Samuel buy a cow?

A few weeks ago we received a magazine in the mail. I am not much of a shopper so we don’t get a lot of catalogs sent to our home, but this one I was anticipating. This one I was waiting for:



The Christmas 2012 World Vision Gift Catalog.

Instead of turning the pages of a catalog and looking for the toys or clothing or house d├ęcor our family would like for Christmas, we flip the pages and we look and wonder and laugh at the possibilities.

A chicken for a family so they might have fresh eggs? Ducks? A goat? Sheep?



In America we make Christmas wish lists. We ask young children repeatedly throughout the holiday season: what do you want for Christmas? What did you ask Santa for?

I don't know when it happenedthe switch from what we can give at Christmas to what we can getbut it's proclaimed loudly by every commercial, billboard and magazine ad.

But the Gospels of Luke and John tell us a different story. They teach us that the heart of Christmas is God's gift to us:

For God so loved the world He gave His only son.

While we know this in our heads, far too often our actions don’t reflect that belief. I am convicted that we must start asking a different set of questions. Questions that can change lives:

Instead of: “What do you want for Christmas?” what if we started asking “What are you giving for Christmas? Who are you giving to? What are you most excited about giving this year?"

What if we believed that the example God set by sending us a Christmas miracle in a stable was an example He expected us to follow? What if His sacrificial gift was meant to be taken seriously?

What if His heart is saddened every time we talk about what we want, instead of what we can give?

I love gifts. I truly do. And we exchange gifts with our family members each year. But the gifts under our Christmas tree are not gifts for us. They are gifts we give to others.







As we paged through the World Vision Gift Catalog, I glanced at the price tags and sugested a chicken for $25, ducks for $30 or maybe even a sheep for $105.


But when Samuel saw a picture of a cow, there was no talking him out of it. A dairy cow will provide milk and income for a family that desperately needs it. One dairy cow has the potential of giving up to 5,000 gallons, or 350,000 glasses, of milk in its lifetime. Protein, calcium, and extra income.

Watch what the gift of a dairy cow can do:





The cost of a dairy cow through World Vision is $500.


That’s a lot of pennies.

And that’s more than our family can do on its own.

We raised approximately $23 from a lemonade stand we held this summer.

So we’ve got $477 left to raise.

And we can't do it alone.


This year my son is asking for a gift that will not fit under the tree. It can’t be wrapped. And yet it might change a family forever.

Will you help Samuel buy a cow? 


If you’ve got kids, go online and look at the animals and talk together about what it means to give a gift like this. If you’ve got roommates or co-workers or cousins or neighbors, share the impact a gift from the World Vision Gift Catalog can make. Or together, as a family, buy a chicken or a duck or a rabbit and make this Christmas about giving instead of getting. {And if you do, please share with us so we can celebrate with you!}

If you would consider accepting our invitation, we've created a Paypal account and you can donate using the link below. Every single dollar donated will go toward the purchase of a dairy cow for a world vision family.





Praise be to God that He demonstrated His great love for us....by sending a gift that couldn't fit under a tree or be wrapped with a bow!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” Isaiah 9:6 


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Happy National Adoption Day!


National Adoption Day is an effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent, loving families. Today thousands of adoptions will be finalized and families will be formed. May we all continue to rise up and be the family to those who have no family.

http://www.nationaladoptionday.org/

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Our adoption story in the news!

**Update: Kare11 moved the adoption story to Thursday, November 15 at 11 a.m.**

November is National adoption awareness month.

Ryan is part of the Adoption Option Council of Minnesota.


The Adoption Option Council created an adoption scrapbook with amazing stories for birth mothers to look through in hopes that they will choose an adoption plan for their unborn baby.

You can view our story in the online scrapbook here (printed copies have been given to local organizations).

Tomorrow, our local Kare 11 news station is promoting the adoption option council and the scrapbook they created. They have chosen to feature a few adoption stories, including ours! I am not sure what this will all involve, but if you are local, tune in at 11 a.m. to hear (once again!) about our incredible adoption story!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

If we can trust God with our eternity...

"If we can trust God with our eternity, we've got to trust Him with our now."

Watch this beautiful, powerful video:





"Sickness and struggles are not the end of the story for those who know Jesus because we believe in a God who heals. We believe in a God who saves."

This is for you B&H...believing God has given you a son and a story and a lifetime of opportunities to tell that story. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The truth about waiting well

Today is the last day of my 31 days of waiting well. I didn't quite make all 31, but I'll continue to fill in those missing days from time to time.

I had hoped that through the course of these 31 days that my family might shut the door on our time of waiting.

Crazy, I know. But a girl can hope, right?

It’s been a long, hard month. Waiting well has not come easily. Waiting well has been a battle. A spiritual battle is raging and we’re in the midst of it.

So let me set the record straight: waiting well is not easy.

Waiting well is hard to do. This month we lost our car. We broke our coffee pot. My laptop computer died. The heat on our other car went out. We had fights over jobs and money and miscommunication. I cried myself to sleep. I was jealous. I was selfish. I emailed others and asked for prayer. I was hopeful. And then I was disappointed. Waiting well is not for the faint of heart. It takes everything we’ve got…and it requires us to give it all to Jesus. Waiting well means that we look at our waiting through the lens of grace and believe that God is painting a canvas that has yet to be revealed.

Waiting well is a choice. Every day we choose. We choose to control our situation or to let go and trust our Creator to be in control. We choose to release our bitterness and resentment and jealousy because the only person it will hurt is us. We choose to look up instead of around at what others are receiving. We choose to believe that when we wait on God our wait is never, ever, wasted. We choose to believe that God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. We make intentional, deliberate choices. Sometimes we fail and make fleshly choices. And that's OK. God's mercies are new every day and so we receive each day as an opportunity to choose all over again.

Waiting well cannot be done alone. We need God. We need each other and to choose wisely in who we share our heart with. We need wise words of those who have walked before us. I have been pouring over books and Scriptures and sermons on waiting. I need others to speak truth into my life when I find it hard to remember truth. And I need others to pray when I find it hard to pray. God created us to live in community and that is even more true during our times of waiting. Waiting well calls us to open our hearts to God...to others...and trust He will hold us gently and tenderly as we wait.

Waiting well requires gratitude. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. Giving thanks takes the bitterness and replaces it with peace. Gratitude covers the jealousy. It soothes the pain. It changes every day life into a life filled to overflowing with blessings and gifts and endless opportunities to give thanks. When you see others rejoice in their answered prayers and you are still waiting – give thanks. When resentment looms big – give thanks. When the wait wears heavy – give thanks. Make a gratitude clipboard. Fill a gratitude journal. Make gratitude the prayer you whisper with every breath. In all things give thanks. For He is good and His love endures forever. "Giving thanks to the Lord is what keeps my eyes on the Lord."~Ann Voskamp


Waiting well means that we wait on Him and our hope is in Him. It means that we cling to God's promises to those who wait and trust that our time of waiting is for our good and His glory.

Wait for the Lord friends;

be strong and

take heart

and wait for the Lord.


~Psalm 27:14


Pastor John Fuller says: The way that we wait reveals the extent to which we trust the One we are ultimately waiting for. So wait well my friends, and one day you will be able to say, “Look what God did. Look what God did. Look what God did with my wait.”
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Waiting makes us stronger

"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 run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
~Isaiah 40:30-31 

Before you read the words I’ve written below, please watch a 6-minute message by Louie Giglio.

I've watched it dozens of times and the more I watch it, the more powerful it becomes. It's based on Isaiah 40:30-31 and typically I roll my eyes at this over-used passage (reverent, huh?), but the truth of these words cannot be ignored. This might be the best 6 minutes of your day:



"The cross is proof that God doesn't always change the circumstances. He did not change them for Jesus on that hillside outside Jersusalem. But the cross is also proof that God always has a purpose in the circumstances and that His purpose and His plan will prevail and triumph through any circumstances in this world."

It was worth the 6 minutes, huh?


Isaiah 40:28-29 says: "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 the power of the weak."

Isn't this a beautiful picture of who God is?

Do you know friends?

Have you heard?

He is the Everlasting God. He is the Creator. And He does not tire and He does not get weary.

But instead -- and here's the promise -- He offers strength to our weary hearts. When we grow tired, we cling to our hope in God and He will lift us up as if on wings of eagles.


We might stumble.

We might fall.

But keep on hoping in the Lord (some translations say wait upon the Lord).


And He promises.

He promises.

He promises that when we have no might He will renew our strength.

And He promises that we will walk…run…soar. We. Will. Soar.

I mentioned the worship song Everlasting God earlier this week. The lyrics, “strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord” are words of truth. Why? Because waiting makes us stronger. Not so that we can be strong in ourselves. Not so we can be strong in our might, our control, our power, our sufficiency.

Waiting on God grants us the strength to press on.

The passage in Isaiah says that even the youth and young men grow weary and fall. Our youth and the young men are known to be the strongest people in our society.

But God says no.

He says those who wait on me are strong. He says I will give them perseverance to run the race so they will not faint.

By my might. In my strength.

Each day that we wait upon the Lord (read: wait well) God renews our strength. He not only gives strength to the weak, He increases the strength.

It is by the grace of God that we are made stronger. Stronger to face our fears. Stronger to bear the burden. Stronger to wrestle with our doubts. Stronger to resist the temptation to run from hard things.
When we wait up on the Lord He grants us the strength to face whatever that day holds. No more. No less. He will not fail us. His grace is sufficient. Every. Single. Day.

And it’s in the midst of our waiting that God promises us 
the strength to mount on wings like eagles.

Put your finger on the text. Place your nose upon the promise. Bind your heart with these words:

But they that wait up on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles.

They shall soar.

"And He will bring us through -- that is the promise of the Everlasting God."

Monday, October 29, 2012

God will answer when God is ready

It seems that many of us have more questions than answers about prayer. How to pray...what to pray...when to pray...why pray...is God listening to our prayers?

It's quite possible that I could write 31 days on prayer. I won't do that. However, I do want to share a couple of my own quick thoughts about prayer before I share with you a fantastic message about prayer.

For those of you wanting to know more about how to pray, this is my strongest piece of advice: just start talking to God. You don't need a priest. You don't need to be in church. You don't need to recite particular words or phrases. God tells us to come to Him and tell him what is on our hearts.


Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for what He has done. Ask Him to meet your needs.

God delights in hearing from His children and He longs to hear from you.
It's OK if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at first. Just keep talking.

If you want Scripture to guide your prayers, open the Bible to the book of Psalms - there are so many passages you can pray from the Psalms and they are a beautiful example of praising, lamenting, thanking, confessing, asking for guidance and help in times of need.

I found this very thorough list of prayers. This might be a good place to start as well:
http://samanthareed.org/2012/01/prayers-from-scripture/


THINGS YOU NEVER HEAR ABOUT PRAYER
This past weekend I listened to a message on prayer titled Things You Never Hear about Prayer given by Paul Gotthardt.

GO LISTEN TO IT NOW. 


Seriously. It is fantastic. If you are praying about something and have not received an answer to your prayer, make time to listen to this message based on David's words to God in Psalm 22.

Here are the five things we never hear about prayer (along with some of my notes):

1. Desperation is normal.
At the heart of David's concern is this one issue: the timing of God. We don't like to wait. And the longer the time of waiting is, the more desperate we get and the more discouraged we become. 
Our desperation is there because we're not sure of His timing.

Abraham waited for 25 years for the promise of Isaac to befulfilled. Joseph waited 13 years after he was given a vision until it came to fruition. Hannah waited for Samuel. Simeon waited entire life. The Jewish people waited for the Messiah. And now the church is waiting for Christ to return.

Waiting seems to be a part of what God is always doing.

God will answer when God is ready. And if He has chosen not to answer yet, you can trust there is a reason behind it.


2. Reflection is helpful.
Reflect upon the character of God and the track record of God. His better is always better. His plan is always better. 


3. Humility is essential.

Complaining is often a manifestation of pride. We complain because we value our will more than God's will. We complain because we want us to be the center of God's world as opposed to God being the center of ours.


4. Praise is never contingent. 
David is praising God without seeing an answer to his prayers. I am afraid in our consumer-driven culture that Christians have bought into the lie that "I will praise Him when He answers." But that's wrong. We praise Him for who He is, not for what He has done.

"Could it be that God often delays His answers to prayer so that we will get over all the blessings and just get back to loving Him?"

Could it be that He says: "I know you love the fact that I come through. I know your excited about my power. I know you enjoy my miracles. I know you like my blessings. But when will I be enough? When will you just want to be with me? When will you relish the thought that you're in a relationship with a holy God? I
f it takes me delaying that answer a little bit longer so that you learn to chase me, it's worth it in the end."
Because the greatest need we have is not an immediate answer to prayer, our greatest need is to know God intimately.

And to know Him in such a vibrant way that his life is displayed through us day by day and moment by moment and situation by situation. I wonder if He is just saying, "Until i become your heartbeat again, I'm just going to sit here and hang out and wait. I'ts not that I'm not concerned, it's just that what you're asking for is not your greatest need right now."



5. Truth is overlooked. 

Emotions, problems and perception will blur our view of what is true. We lose sight of what is really true. It feels like He is far away. But God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you." God I know that you have heard my cry. May I live in the truth that I know from your Word.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Praise in the wait



Friday night I had the wonderful privilege of experiencing Christy Nockels in concert (for free!). Her song, Waiting Here For You, from Passion 2010, has been a powerful marker in my journey of waiting the past 2 1/2 years. 

Christy was fabulous in concert. 


Her second song was Everlasting God which marked my first journey of waiting for a baby.

Her third song was Waiting Here For You. I've heard it hundreds of times. I've sung it, worshiped to it, sobbed while listening to it. The lyrics are powerful and beautiful.

But this time there was one phrase that caused me to stop, pause and consider.

Waiting here for you
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it's you we adore
Singing Alleluia


I had my hands held high while singing:

With our hands lifted high...in praise.

Those two simple words change everything.

Lifting my hands in praise tells God that I am here. I am waiting. But I am not waiting without meaning or direction or purpose. 


I am waiting with praise.

Friends, we are not called to praise God once our waiting is over. We are called to praise God now, in the midst of our waiting. We are called to lift our hands high...bow our heads low...kneel...worship...in praise.

Praising God is a vital part of our waiting and it's a key component to waiting well. We can--and should--praise God in the midst of heartache and grief and longing and desperation and joy and fear and worry and exhaustion. We must become a people who not only praise God on the highest of mountain tops, but in the lowest of valleys.

Does the world not praise when the sun shines brightly? It's only a true lover of Jesus that can still praise when the hour is dark. God promises to turn our mourning into rejoicing, our wailing into dancing and make beauty from our ashes.

But we must praise Him now...in the mourning, in the wailing, in the ashes...simply because He is able.

                          I will praise you O Lord my God, with all my heart.~Psalm 86


We don't praise God out of obligation or in hopes that our praise leads to answered prayer. We praise God today simply for who He is. Our Redeemer. Our Savior. Our refuge and strength. Our protector. Our comforter. Our Father. 


Tomorrow I will share with you a powerful message about prayer. One of the main points in the message is that our praise must not be contingent. 


The pastor says: "I am afraid in our consumer-driven culture that Christians have bought into the lie that I will praise Him when He answers. But that's wrong. We praise Him for who He is, not for what He has done."

I am inspired today to praise God because He is good. He is sovereign. He is the alpha and omega. He is the mover of mountains and the healer of hearts. He is all-powerful. He is goodness. He is justice. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is holiness. He is hope.

I am waiting here for You Lord. But I wait in praise with my hands lifted high.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Loving God More


"Anyone who has been waking with God for any considerable length of time will know that waiting is a critical and non-negotiable part of the Christian life." 


Words on waiting well from another perspective.....

Waiting on God Well


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Waiting on God by Cherie Hill

Excerpt from Waiting on God by Cherie Hill:

It's in our most desperate, darkest hour that we cry out countless questions to God: 


Why are you allowing this? 

What is the purpose in this? 
Are you there?
Do you care? 

But you see, for all the questions we have for God, He has questions for us too . . . and as our heart pours out tears to heaven, the answer from God sometimes comes in the form of a question . . .

Where is your faith? 
(Luke 8:28)

What we find as we ponder that question, is that our 'faith' has grown weary in the waiting. You pray, but God doesn't seem to be listening. You trust Him, but He appears to be letting you down. You believe His Word, but His promises are coming up seemingly empty in your life. You seek, but do not find . . . you knock, but no one is answering.  If God is doing anything at all in your life . . . you can't see it. The faith intensifies, as it appears that not only is God running late . . . He may not even show up at all. By the looks of things, God's too busy with the rest of the world and He's not paying attention to your life at all. With each passing hour, your Spirit grows weary . . . in the "waiting." 


My eyes are straining to see
Your Promises come true.
When will you comfort me? 

(Psalm 199:82 NLT)

I am exhausted from crying for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping,

waiting for my God to help me.
(Psalm 69:3)

It's been said that the hardest part of faith is the last half hour. Waiting on God tests us like nothing else does. When we're experiencing overwhelming confusion, we can be certain that deliverance is just around the corner. The problem is that we give up just before God shows up.

We tend to yield when relief is almost in sight. In the darkness, we tend to give up just before the Light breaks through. Charles Spurgeon once said, "The wilderness is the way to the Canaan. Defeat prepares us for victory. The darkest hour of the night precedes the dawn." Remember that in your darkest hour . . . one way or another dawn is coming and there will be Light.

What we don't realize in our times of desperation is that if God is guiding our steps, if He's directing our lives, then He has allowed us to be brought into the very valley in which we cry out for mercy. The fact is, God has permitted the circumstances that have brought us to our knees, and He has done so with a plan and a purpose.

God has brought you to a place of helplessness and hopelessness, so that you will find that when you are in need . . . He is ALL you need. In whatever you're waiting for right now, it may appear that God is absent. But you must lay hold of God's Promises that assure you:

No ear heard, no eye seen,
a God like you who works
for those who wait for him.

(Isaiah 64:4 MSG)


God has not forgotten you . . . he has not abandoned you in your time of desperation. He often works best in your brokenness . . . a humble heart is more moldable in His hands. Stop worrying about the details . . . quit trying to figure it all out--God knows what He's doing. He's in control . . . even when life isn't. Trust that when your world seems to be falling apart . . . it's really just falling into place in the hands of your Almighty loving God. Trust. Wait. Rest. God's help is on the way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

When the waiting hurts

Last week I walked out of work and I yelled at God.

I let Him have it.

Here’s the thing: my words weren't a surprise to God because He knows me intimately. He knows when I sit and when I rise and when I lay down. So He is certainly aware of my emotions.

It was a tough week after the car accident and some communication misunderstandings and I screamed at God, “What am I supposed to write about waiting well? What do you want me to tell these people?!” (By ‘these people’ I mean all of you.)

“Right now the waiting is. so. hard. What do you want me to write? We already know that You love us and that You understand. But it still hurts. It hurts so bad right now. Waiting is incredibly painful.”

And then I knew. That's exactly what I should tell His people:

Waiting hurts.

God desperately loves you and He deeply understands, but that doesn't mean it’s not painful.

It hurts when they make the unexpected announcement you've been longing to make.

It hurts when they get to make a choice you can only dream of making.

It hurts when they get the recognition that you are waiting to receive.

It hurts when they take for granted what you desperately want.

It hurts when it's in His control, and yet He's choosing to say no.

When Ryan and I got engaged it was a joyous time. It had been a long eight-year journey and I was ecstatic to finally be tying the knot. I went dress shopping. I asked my attendants to support me. We picked out a venue for the reception. We chose a photographer. We registered for gifts. We attended bridal showers. I was a glowing bride-to-be.

But in the midst of my joy, my dear friend (and roommate!) was heartbroken. Her engagement had been called off. What should have been a time of shopping together, dreaming together and planning together, was now a time of mixed emotions. On March 9, 2001, she walked down the aisle dressed in navy rather than white. She danced as a bridesmaid rather than a bride. And she endured a painful season as my dreams progressed and she continued to wait on God for her future husband.

Fast forward five and a half years: In due time God brought a wonderful man into her life and they had gotten married 10 months earlier. She discovered she was pregnant and shared her pregnancy news with us. However, her announcement was bittersweet. Just weeks earlier I had lost our baby to miscarriage and I was grieving that loss. It was deeply painful to see her walk through a season that I longed to be in: wearing maternity clothes, registering for baby gifts, preparing a nursery, attending baby showers. Shopping, planning, and dreaming. She was a glowing mama-to-be.

Looking back now I see how God met us in our times of waiting. He dried our tears. He walked alongside us through our pain. He used those seasons to prepare us for what He had in store.

The worlds tells us to take control. God says, "Trust me. I'm in control." 


The world tells us that waiting is wasting time. God says, "Blessed are all those who wait for me."

The kind of waiting that the world laughs and scorns at can be excruciatingly painful.

I've referenced these words by C.S. Lewis before: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

When the waiting hurts we can cling with desperation to the promise that He makes everything beautiful in its time. That means He is working all things together right now for beauty.

Sometimes waiting for beauty hurts like hell, but it's the only thing worth waiting for.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What God has to say about waiting



Genesis 49:18  I have waited for Your salvation, O Lord. 

Psalm 25:3  Let none that wait on You be ashamed. 


Psalm 25:4-5  Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and 

teach me: for You are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all day. 

Psalm 25:21  Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait for You. 


Psalm 27:14  Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart.  Wait, I 

say, on the Lord. 

Psalm 31:24  Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who wait for the 

Lord. 

Psalm 33:20, 22  Our soul waits for the Lord: He is our help and our shield.  Let Your mercy, O 

Lord, be upon us, as we wait for You. 

Psalm 37:7, 9  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him... Those that wait upon the Lord, they 

shall inherit the earth. 

Psalm 37:34  Wait on the Lord and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the land. 


Psalm 40:1  I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. 


Psalm 59:9  I will wait for You, oh You my strength, for God is my defense. 

Psalm 62:1  Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. 


Psalm 62:5-6  My soul, wait silently for God alone; my hope is from Him.  He only is my rock and 
my salvation. 

Psalm 106:13  They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel. 


Psalm 130:5-6  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word do I hope.  My soul waits for the 
Lord more than they that watch for the morning - yes, more than they that watch for the morning. 

Isaiah 8:17  I will wait upon the Lord, that hides His face from the house of Jacob, and I will look 

for Him. 

Isaiah 25:9  And it shall be said in that day, Look, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He 
will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation. 

Isaiah 26:8-9  Yes, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, have we waited for You. The desire of 

our soul is for Your name. With my soul I have desired You in the night. Yes, by my spirit within 
me I will seek You early. 

Isaiah 30:18  Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; blessed are all those 

who wait for Him. 

Isaiah 40:31  They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with 

wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. 

Isaiah 49:23  You will know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for Me.

Isaiah 64:4  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, 

neither has the eye seen any God besides You, who acts for the one who waits for Him. 

Lamentations 3:25  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 


Lamentations 3:26  It is good that one should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the 

Lord. 

Micah 7:7  Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will 

hear me. 

Hosea 12:6  So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your 
God continually. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The beauty of brokenness

Yesterday I broke our coffee pot.

In and of itself, that's not too big of a deal. 


But it was a big deal.

A really big deal. 

I almost cried.

I don't drink coffee so the tears that threatened to come were not due to my sadness about our soon-to-be lack of coffee around the house.


I almost cried because right now it feels as though many, many things in life are broken. 

Well, not only does it feel like it, but many things actually ARE broken.

Last month Ryan broke his foot. He's recovering nicely, but still needs to be careful about how much he's on it. He couldn't walk for a week. He couldn't drive for two weeks. He couldn't go up or down stairs or carry anything for many weeks. I didn't know a broken foot could be so hard...but it was.

Two of my favorite (and very meaningful) necklaces broke within a week of each other. How often does that happen? 


The porch window broke two weeks ago.


Ryan got in a car accident last week and now that car is...you guessed it: broken. Very broken. We are now a one-car family.

And if you recall this post, many items broke during our first year of unemployment. Since then the dishwasher broke and the color printer won't print color.


Right now Ryan's career being broken seems like quite enough without all the other. 

So when I broke the coffee pot, I had enough. 


Enough of brokenness.

Enough Lord. Enough.

But in thinking about all the brokenness around us, I'm realizing that all this outward, external brokenness is just a small reflection of all the internal brokenness inside of me.

It's a lot easier to hide that brokenness. And when it's becoming apparent, I find myself working really hard to cover up the cracks, chips, dents, and broken pieces of my heart and life.

But then a waiting season comes. And w
aiting times often reveal the broken parts of our lives: our impatience, our immaturity, our need for control, our desire to know why, our selfishness, our jealousy, our unbelief.

If I'm going to cry, it certainly shouldn't be about the coffee pot or the appliances or even the car.

The tears should fall because I'm broken through and through and I'm desperately in need of God's grace to heal and restore every broken piece of me. 


And once the tears have fallen, a smile tugs at my heart. Because there's beauty in our brokenness friends. We serve a God who is a binder of broken hearts and He's standing by, ready and waiting to use our brokenness to bring glory to Himself. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The cost of the journey

Written by a friend of a friend...

"So have you ever had one of those aha moments that really change your way of thinking about a particular subject, but then after thinking about it, you think....man I am so stupid....I should have realized that a LONG time ago....but failed to? I do, all the time, but this one BLEW ME OUT OF THE WATER! I have been looking at the Israelites' journey out of Egypt and I felt sorry for them. What should have been a 40-day journey to the Promised Land ended up being a 40-year journey! That stinks. Really badly. I cannot handle things not going my way....and that would have driven me crazy! I mean seriously, why didn't they stop and give up? I know I know...God was with them and leading them, and sure they complained a lot and God got angry and all, but seriously, 40 years?

Then I got to thinking...GOD WHAT WERE YOU DOING? You could have gotten them out of there SO much faster. And this is what God told me: "Kayla I wasn't just getting them out of Egypt. I had to get the Egypt out of them." WHOA. Amazing. God knew they were not prepared to live properly in the Promised Land. They were going to screw it up....badly. Their experiences and so much more equipped them to live in Egypt. Not in the Promised Land. They had too much of the Egyptian culture in them, and not enough of God. They still looked back on Egypt with fondness and were willing to stay there. (Read the story and you will see all the times they complained to Moses about how great Egypt was....how quickly they forgot the oppression and slavery they were forced to live in). Sure the Promised Land sounded great, but God knew that when it got hard they were going to go straight back to the oppression if the journey only cost them 40 days. They were to eager to return to Egypt. God commanded them to destroy all things Egyptian while out in the desert so that they would have NO reminders of it, and the comfort they felt there.


I don't know about you, but if a 40-day journey takes me 40 years, there is NO WAY I am going back that direction, to where I came from. Once I found the Promised Land, I would be staying FOREVER. It would be too much of a waste of time to go back. But then again I look at my life and realize I am just as stupid as the Israelites. God saved me and called me out of a life of sin and despair and oppression. However, there are days and moments I look back on the times before Christ was in my life and I wish my life were still "that simple". Or I complain that God has me in the place He has me in, this season. Or I find myself committing the same sins over and over and over and over....you get the idea....again. And I realize I am not any better...yet. God has shown me a glimpse of the promises for my own life and I thought for sure I would be there by now, but I am not. But God, in His wisdom and grace has gently reminded me that this is necessary. If the journey was only taking me 40 days, I would too easily go back to the way it was. The journey has to cost me something for it to be of any value. In essence God has to take His time to get the Egypt out of me. I pray that when I look back on this time of tears, wanting, and waiting that it will prove valuable and I will cherish it as my Exodus story. God is not yet done refining me and it is okay. I will see the Promised Land even if it is not on my time frame."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Blessings in the wait

During times of waiting, it's easy to think that the blessing is wrapped up in whatever it is that we are waiting for. 

We think the blessing will come with a long-awaited relationship. The blessing will come with a good diagnosis or material provision. The blessing will come with a high grade or review or graduation. The blessing will come with a title or paycheck or pregnancy test or acceptance to a school or club or group. The blessing will come with a ring or a restored relationship or a dream coming to fruition. 

But Scripture has something different to say about who is blessed. Even during our waiting, we can (and are!) blessed when we choose to live and walk according to God's Word...

Blessed is the man who trusts in you
Blessed are those who dwell in your house
Blessed are those whose strength is in you
Blessed are all they that put their trust in him
Blessed are they that keep His testimonies and that seek Him with the whole heart
Blessed are they that keep my ways
Blessed are all they that wait for him
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth
Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me

Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed

Be blessed today friends, be blessed. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your thoughts on waiting...

We're halfway through our month of 31 days of waiting well. 

What are your thoughts about waiting? What is the hardest part for you? What questions do you have? What have you learned during your waiting seasons?

Please leave a comment or email me at stacyjmay@comcast.net


I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

When the wait wears heavy

His inbox tells a story that no one wants to hear.

He sighs deeply.

The dream, the longing, the goal, is once again, out of reach.

The heart saddens. Bleeds. Grasps at the hope deferred.

When the future looks bleak and the wait wears heavy what is one to do?

“Preach the gospel to yourself every day," says Jerry Bridges.


Preaching the gospel to yourself means that you….

  • Dwell upon the promises found in timeless pages of scripture. About who God is. What God has done. Who you are in Christ. And where our hope really lies. 
  • Believe the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.
  • Saturate yourself in words of truth to combat lies and discouragement. 
  • Cling to the promise that He who began a good work in you will finish it.
  • Stand firm recognizing that the battle has already been won. 
  • Place your confidence in Christ and Christ alone. 
  • Confess that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. 
  • Accept the gift of grace offered through the cross. 
  • Trust in Christ for salvation. 
  • Remind yourself that nothing can separate you from the love of God. 
  • Believe, even in the quiet, that He cares for me just as he cares for the sparrow. 
  • Remember that silence does not mean He has forgotten.
  • Set aside your need to understand how or why or when, and instead know that He understands. 
  • Ask yourself if God is for you, who can be against you? 
  • Claim the promise: blessed are those who wait on God. 

Preach the gospel to yourself daily. When needed, preach it hourly or minute by minute. When the temptation to sink is greater than the desire to hope, preach the gospel to yourself. Preach it loud. Preach it softly. Preach it powerfully. Preach it gently. Preach it. Over and over and over again.

When the burden is too much to bear. When the cycle of hope and disappointment runs its course once more. When the tears fall, the heart breaks, and getting on with the next thing, requires too much.

When the wait wears heavy there’s only one thing to do: breathe deeply of the sweet aroma of grace and preach the gospel to yourself.

Here's what Piper has to say about this:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hope in the wait




The Lord's people have always been a waiting people

God promised to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. When Abraham was 100, God have him Isaac. "And so, after he patiently endured, he obtained the promise." Hebrews 6:15  

God told Joseph that he would be a leader of his people. He faced slavery, imprisonment and years of waiting before he led the people of Egypt.

Moses spent 40 years tending to sheep before he answered God's call to deliver his people.


Paul waited through imprisonment and persecution. He pleaded for his thorn to be removed. He said, "What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."-Philippians 1:12

There are so many Biblical examples of people waiting on God. For freedom. For an answered prayer. For a dream to be realized. For healing.

We are a waiting people...


"If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him.
 

He is worth waiting for.
 


The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes.

The Lord's people have always been a waiting people
.
" ~Charles Spurgeon

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Choose wisely in your wait

An acquaintance reached out to me more than a year ago asking about Ryan's job search. Her husband had been unemployed for a year. We communicated online a little bit and got together in person to chat. From there our friendship has continued to grow and I know she is someone who really 'gets it.' She frequently contacts me to encourage my heart and receive updates on our journey. I am so thankful that God has connected us because of a shared experience. 

While everyone may (or may not?) know that you are in a waiting season, it's wise to choose carefully with whom you share your heart. 

It's one thing for others to know you are waiting, it's another for you to reveal the most tender parts of your heart. 

Some people can handle it...others can't. 

Some will respond with love, compassion and encouragement...others will be uncomfortable and will be prepared to offer you support in your waiting.

Some will listen with an open mind...others will talk to make themselves feel better about your situation. 

In waiting (and really with all things that are tender and vulnerable), ask God to grant you wisdom and discernment with whom you open your heart to. 

God might connect you with people you didn't know had (or currently are) walking the same path as you. He might open up doors for you to enter a new level of intimacy in a friendship.

Or, God might prompt you to not share your heart with someone who isn't able to respond in the way you need them to. 


Our desperation to be heard and understood, can cloud our vision in the choices we make.

While waiting, be careful with your heart, choose wisely and know that God sees and hears and understands

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Words on waiting: Has God forgotten you?

This is a post from my archives - March 2009 to be exact. It is one of my most-read posts. I know many of you have waited far longer than the 24 months I reference in this post, but regardless of the length of your wait, the question "Has God forgotten me?" is one we all ask ourselves during waiting periods of our lives.

Words on waiting: Has God forgotten you?

My husband and I are waiting to hear about some potential changes to his job and future career. There is a lot happening - or that could be happening soon - and it's the 'not knowing' that is the hardest!

Not too long ago a friend e-mailed me and she said that she felt like God had forgotten her. Oh, do I know how she feels! For a long time I felt like God was silent to my pleas and had forgotten about my desires and dreams.

Have you been there? Are you there now? When everyone else gets the blessing you long for...

They get the job while you or your spouse wait for the call.

They get the new home while yours sits on the market waiting for a buyer.

They get a spouse while you journey into a new year of waiting for someone to share your heart, life and dreams with.

They get the baby while you long for a little one to fill your arms and your home.

They get a raise while you work long hours with little recognition.

Where is God?

Has He forgotten?

I love this quote by Chuck Swindoll: “God never forgets anything He promises. That’s right…never. God’s agenda continues to unfold right on schedule, even when there is not a shred of evidence that He remembers. Even when the most extreme events transpire and “life just doesn’t seem fair,” God is there, carrying out His providential plan exactly as He pre-arranged it. He keeps His word.”

Sometimes God's timing seems delayed. Sometimes it seems God has forgotten.

But rest assured dear friends - He has not forgotten. The same God who knit you together, is with you today. Waiting. Watching. Letting His plan unfold one day at a time. While we want to know the entire picture, we want to know the ending, that is not for us to know today.

If we knew the ending of our story, if we knew when our waiting season would conclude, or our suffering would be over, we wouldn't be forced to kneel before the throne and pour out our hearts to God. We wouldn't be forced to desire the Lord above all else.

While my miscarriages were very difficult to endure, it was two years of waiting with no conception that was, by far, the most difficult for me. I begged God. I wept. I claimed His Word and prayed it fervently. And yet, still we waited. I felt no peace about proceeding with adoption or fertility treatment. I only felt that I was being called to wait. For 24 grueling months we waited on the Lord for direction as to what our next steps should be.

Yet it was in those 24 months that I grew more than I ever have before. I was stretched. I was refined. I was challenged in my faith. I saw others around me get the dream that I longed for and it forced me to go to the One who was the giver of dreams.

It would have been so easy to run ahead and pursue an end to my waiting...but then I would have missed out on the most incredible miracle I've ever experienced.

My favorite poem - one that has spoke to my heart in ways no other poem ever has - is called Wait. For years I clung to this poem, the truth it spoke and the hope it brought me. You can read the poem online here. The words strive to demonstrate the depth of God's heart and his longing for us to know him better.

I do believe with all my heart the greatest of gifts is to truly know God. And there is no time better to do that than when we are waiting...