7.02.2015

Celebrating GRACE {On This Day}




The last couple of days have been rough. We're all okay, and no big, bad major event has happened (in fact, there's been some good, happy stuff in the mix!:)), just a whole lot of general life yuck and then Satan hurling some fiery darts into the whole mess. Yesterday was the worst for me. I fought a lot of tears and lapsed into extreme survival mode.

Between those struggles and a busy schedule this week, I hadn't even really thought about the date itself...until I clicked over to my TimeHop early this morning and saw this status from two years ago:

Nine years ago today was the worst day of my life. As the status above says, our world shattered into a million pieces.

The intervening years have been hard. There were times during the first few years especially that I wasn't sure any of us were going to make it. Trauma issues in our children and in ourselves, concern for the safety of our family, life-altering decisions we weren't really prepared to make, and countless sleepless nights were just a few of the issues with which we struggled during those years.

The last few years have been a bit like the calm in the eye of the storm. God has worked much, much healing and growth in our lives. We have seen His glory in ways we could never have dreamed. In those very early days nine years ago, we began to pray, "Please just make the path so totally crystal clear that there is no question possible about the right direction." We have seen Him do exactly that over and over and over again.

As I shared here,we've dreaded 2015 for a long time. And yet, as we enter the second half of this year, we have already seen God answer prayers we didn't even know how to pray, and provide for needs in ways we would never have imagined.

My TimeHop this morning is full of reminders of God's faithfulness from this date in years past. I love that! I love that those "standing stones" are there to remind us how far He has brought us and how much He has shown us of Himself even in the darkest of days.

I'm also reminded today how blessed we've been in the people God has provided over the years to support and encourage and pray for us. Out of necessity, only a handful of people were aware of the situation in our lives 9 years ago. Those people spent much time in the trenches with us...and unlike us, they made a choice to be there, because they loved us and were fulfilling God's call to help bear our burdens. That is true friendship, and I can't imagine these last nine years without them.

Others had no idea what was going on, but God called them to pray for and encourage us anyway. How thankful I am for those people, who listened to the still, small voice and obeyed, and who impacted our lives in ways they will never completely realize. And how thankful I am for those who have since heard our story and supported and prayed and encouraged. We have an amazing array of friends who have invested in and loved and prayed for and encouraged all of us in so many ways, and that blessing is tremendous (to use a favorite word of a certain music minister *grin*)

Psalm 40:1-5 have long been favorite verses of mine, and this morning I cried all over again when I got to verse 5:

Many, O Lord my God,
    are the wonders You have done,
    the things You planned for us.
None can compare with You;
    were I to speak and tell of Your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

He has shown that verse to be true in our lives over and over again. He has done many wonders, and His deeds have truly been too many to declare. Through that He has shown us beyond a shadow of a doubt that none can compare with Him. It has certainly not always been easy, it has certainly not always been the way we would have chosen, and we know that there is more difficulty and uncertainty ahead as we move closer and closer to this fall. But this is as true today as it was two years ago:

Nothing but His grace could explain the fact that on this day, I can rejoice in His sovereignty, have peace in His plan, and be more sure than ever of His goodness.


How have you seen His grace at work in your life? I'd love to hear in the comments! Are you struggling right now, or facing a dark situation? I'd love to pray for you. You can message me via the "contact me" box in the sidebar, or leave a comment below.

[Scripture Journaling notes: Superquick entry (as shown by the super-messy lettering...ACK!...but I wanted to get it finished this morning and didn't have much time) on Psalm 40:5 using Anita's Acrylic Craft paint, Pilot G-2 pens, and washi tape and stickers from various sources.]

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Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!  If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!  You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.30.2015

Done. (Really Done.)


I. Am. Done. As the old saying goes..."stick a fork in me..." Yep.

It's the last day of June, which means the last day of Blogathon. I've managed to post every day, but it's been hard, and I haven't been terribly happy with the quality of my posts.

I'm glad I participated, but I'm thankful it's over for the year. I'm also glad to say good-bye to June. It's been a rough month in a lot of ways. There have been some really good parts, but there have also been a lot of struggles, for me personally, for our family, and for lots of people we love.

Today has been, as Billy would say, "a stinker of a day". Again, there have been some bright spots, but the shadows have mostly won out today.

I am so thankful for the promise of these verses. No matter how I feel, no matter what is going on around me, His Love never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. His mercies are new every morning. His faithfulness is great.

On that note, I close out this day, this month, and 2015 Blogathon. 


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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.29.2015

Set My Soul Afire! {Or What's More Important Than Last Week's Supreme Court Decision}

The words of this hymn have gripped my heart this week as I've been preparing an arrangement for Sunday's offertory. Bro. Gary's sermon yesterday was on "Knowing the God of Glory", from Ephesians 1:16-17. He talked about the fact that when we truly see God's glory, it cannot help but change our lives completely, and that once we get a taste of His glory, we can never get enough, and we will pursue it more and more. 

There are so many things clamoring for our attention these days that seem quite important, and in some ways they are. But we risk, as Christians, getting so caught up in the "day of strife" and all the stuff  swirling around us that we lose sight of what is most important: His glory, the plight of the lost, living every moment for Him. 

Things like the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage are important, and we do need to take a stand, in a loving, gracious way. I still plan to blog on the decision. We've been talking to our kids about it. But we (I!) can get way too caught up in the whole thing and give it more space in our heads and hearts and lives than it deserves. 

The world is going to be the world. We are to expect that. We are to stand, lovingly and graciously, for truth. That's a given. But we can't let any of the world's issues take center stage in our hearts and souls. 

I want my children to know the truth and be able to defend it, but more than that, I want their souls to be on fire for God and His Word. I want them to be overwhelmed and amazed by His glory. I want them to be burdened for the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ and passionate about the lost. And I want them to see those things in me.   I want to be those things for and through Him. 

Help me not to falter, never let me fail,
Fill me with Thy Spirit, let Thy will prevail.
Set my soul afire, Lord, in my daily life,
Far too long I've wandered in this day of strife;
Nothing else will matter but to live for Thee.
I will be Your witness as You live in me.
 

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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.28.2015

"There Goes a Man Who Loves Your Soul"




As has been the case most of this crazy Blogathon month, this is not the post I'd planned for today. I said yesterday that I wasn't sure if I was going to post on the Supreme Court decision or not, then decided overnight that I was and had a post planned for today.

Today, however, has been long and exhausting, with the pain from yesterday a bit less intense, for which I'm immensely thankful, but still a constant companion during the many demands of the day. So that post will wait until another day, and today I will share a few quotes from tonight's Bible study.

Despite the length and intensity, today has been a day full of blessing: a wonderful worship service this morning with a much-needed sermon I'll say more about another day, friends visiting our little congregation this morning which was a delight to all of us, good time with family and friends and great discussion in the van on the way home, and an excellent Bible study tonight.

Last time we did the Behold Your God study, I missed the week 6 video. I was blown away by it tonight! I may have more to say about it later, but in the meantime, I want to share a few quotes. I love God's perfect timing...we've been very on-again, off-again with this study due to various interruptions, and yet tonight's video was exactly what I needed this week in response to several things on which I've been pondering and about which I've been praying.

I've heard about Robert Murray M'Cheyne for years, but never really known much about him. M'Cheyne was a great Scottish pastor of the 1800s who died at the age of 29, but who left a great mark on Scottish evangelicalism and on the Church as a whole. Here are a few things that stuck out to me from tonight's study, in which M'Cheyne was used as an example of true Biblical holiness:

It was said of M'Cheyne that "His main anxiety was to know the mind of Christ." Wow.

"Despite M'Cheyne's reputation for holiness, he never allowed it to be the type of cleanliness that despised sinners." What a thought, particularly this week. M'Cheyne was known for hating sin and having no tolerance for it. He was known for preaching the truth of Scripture. And yet he was also known for not "despising sinners". It can be done. M'Cheyne did it. We can too. I think it all goes back to that last point. Is our main anxiety to know the mind of Christ, as revealed in His Word?

I think this point says the rest: "He spent his nights and days in ceaseless breathings after holiness and the salvation of sinners." He prayed, continually, for his own holiness, and for the salvation of the lost around him.

It was also said of M'Cheyne, "There goes a man who loves your soul." M'Cheyne didn't condone sin, and yet those around him knew that he loved their soul regardless.

What a testimony! I'm looking forward to learning more about this great man of God, and praying that God will give me that same passion for holiness and love for the souls of those around me. "

***
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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.27.2015

Of Crowns and Confederate Flags...



I'm sure it is little surprise to anyone who knows me or who has kept up with this blog at all that I'm behind this week. Not just a little behind, but seriously behind.  It's been VBS week, which would be enough on its own, but that has only been part of the busy-ness here this week. Because of that, I haven't kept up well with the news, and missed much of the initial uproar over the Confederate flag issue. 

However, earlier this week, my Facebook newsfeed began to EXPLODE with news that the local school board had decided that a local high school would have to change its mascot (Johnny Reb) and fight song ("Dixie"). Then I began to see other news about the increasingly heated debate over the Confederate flag.

I actually have lots of thoughts about the whole thing, the initial and strongest being that the whole thing is ridiculous. Had I gotten to write this article earlier in the day as I'd originally planned, you would have heard lots more of my thoughts on the whole gamut of the War Between the States, states' rights, revisionist history, and more. Fortunately (at least for most of you *grin*), my long empty day at home ended up being yet another "run like a banshee most of the day" day, all done while dealing with pain of about a 7 on the 1-10 pain scale. I'm far too exhausted and for too foggy to go into all my opinions of the craziness.

Suffice it to say that other than the aforementioned ridiculousness, the Stars and Stripes in the photo above stand for the right to own, display, and/or support the Rebel flag. I don't own one. I'm not even fond of it. I have no personal attachment to it. But I found myself getting a bit hot under the collar about the actions of our local school board about the whole thing. 

One of the things I love most about the fact that I've recently begun playing the piano for our little church is the fact that I get to meditate on Sunday's hymns all week (or most of it, anyway :)) as I practice for Sunday. And I'm always amazed at the ways God uses that to meet needs in my life, especially by encouraging my heart along the way. 

This week, though, He hit me right between the eyes (or more accurately, right in the heart) with conviction. I was playing the hauntingly beautiful "What Wondrous Love is This" and singing along, when I hit those words, "Christ laid aside His crown," and stopped dead in my tracks. 

Christ laid aside His crown for my soul!  He had a right to that crown. He willingly laid it down, for me, a sinner with no worth at all, other than what He gave me. 

Yes, I think those who choose to should have the "right" to their Confederate flag memorabilia. I think our local schools should have the "right" to keep their mascot if they choose. But this is NOT an issue with a command of God or something He has declared sin. (I want to be clear on that. I haven't written on the Supreme Court's ruling from yesterday yet, and I don't know if I will; however, there is a HUGE difference between things Scripture is clear on...marriage and homosexuality...and things that are "rights" and preferences.)

However, in this instance, God convicted me personally that I needed to lay down my "right" to get hot under the collar about the Confederate flag issue and the local school mascot/fight song issue. He laid aside His crown for my soul! I can lay aside my "righteous indignation" on this divisive issue that is a huge offense to some.

This week I choose to focus on two things: the lyrics of this song about His wondrous love, and the fact that our God {still} reigns. Because of that, to God and to the Lamb, I will sing!

***
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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.26.2015

2 Years!!


This was my Facebook status this morning:

So....we've been waiting and waiting for today to arrive, as we thought today would mark Bayley's 2 year ‪#‎seizurefree‬ mark. Then as we were talking this morning, we realized we're actually a couple of weeks late! However, VBS week is always a huge test, and the fact that she has made it through the demands of this week gives us double reason to celebrate. What a huge, huge blessing and reminder of God's abundant faithfulness. So thankful to have reached (and passed!) this milestone, and so thankful for so many who have prayed so hard ever since this crazy ‪#‎epilepsyjourney‬ began 3 1/2 years ago! And more thankful than I can ever say for Peter, Emlyn, and Ammah Grace and the troupers they've been through it all. They are definitely my heroes (not just for their constant awareness and care and concern for Bay, but for lots of other reasons as well!) Thankful too for wonderful friends who have made this journey so much easier. God is good, all the time.

(That's Chinese for "Epilepsy" on her right arm. :))



Tonight I want to leave you with a little graphic I made a few years ago about seizure first aid. I was thrilled to find out later that some of Bay's friends screenshot (screenshotted? can that even be a verb, and if so, what is the past tense? I'm way too tired tonight to worry about it!:)) it and saved it to their phones so that they could find it quickly if they ever needed it. Have I ever mentioned that our kids have the BEST friends EVER????


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  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.

6.25.2015

Where I Am (And Where He Is!) Right Now...



I am beyond exhausted, physically and mentally, tonight. I have pages of planned blog posts just waiting to be completed and published, and all day today as I was out and about, new ideas were swirling in my head. But as it's been for all of Blogathon this month, by the time I'm able to sit in front of the screen and begin composing, I just can't muster the brainpower for a post of any real substance.

I have to admit I whined just a bit to my oldest daughter about that, and about the fact that I was desperately ready to say good-night, but couldn't until I finished a post. I've managed to post *something* for 24 days straight this month, and it would really stink to drop out now.

Bayley said, "Mom, just post about that, and about how God is using it to remind you that He loves you."

Wise words from my girl. :)

So tonight, one of my favorite verses, as anyone who reads the blog regularly or follows on Facebook is aware.



He continues to remind me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. What an amazing thought! And what a comfort, on nights when I feel like I need to go to bed for a week, and yet I know that the alarm will blare early tomorrow, and the day, and the weekend, will be long, and on Monday morning we'll have to jump right back in with both feet.

I will gladly boast in my weakness.

When I am weary and worn, He is not.

When I've hit the wall and wondering if my foot will take the next step, His glory shines.

His grace is sufficient. Always.

I'm thankful for that tonight. What are you thankful for? I'd love to hear in the comments!

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***
  Welcome to Ponderings of an Elect Exile!   Whether you are new here or a faithful friend and regular reader, I'm glad you're here!   If you aren't already following, I'd love to have you join us for the 2015 Ponderings.  It's easy to do, in a variety of ways!   You can follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest, or  find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email.