Tag Archive | faith

Redeeming Ruth: A Book Review

Books-Mockup-01Some may think doing hard things isn’t worth it. Some may think one little Ugandan baby with developmental problems is too big a risk for a normal family from Maine. But Meadow Rue Merrill and her family felt differently. The subtitle for this beautifully written book is “Everything Life Takes, Love Restores.” All across the pages, this truth comes through.

What I loved about this powerful story was Meadow’s honesty throughout. She had doubts about adopting this special-needs baby. She didn’t want to trust God with this opportunity. She questioned what seemed plain to her husband, Dana. Honesty about her faith struggles, honesty about her marriage struggles, honesty about her parenting struggles. Everything is there for everyone to read. No holds barred.

But what shines so clearly through as well is the non-stop love and care and advocacy Meadow and her family heaped upon this little girl, and the heart that they bring to the issue of special-needs kids in the poorest of countries in the world. If their family could help, so can yours.

The story comes to life through Meadow’s recounting of her trip back to Uganda with Ruth to complete the adoption process. My palms sweated and my heart raced as they encountered trial, after trial, after trial, but saw God’s provision in every instance. Tears flowed when hearts were prompted to raise money that was needed in just a couple of days. Emotional and heart breaking and heart warming all at the same time, Redeeming Ruth shows us the heart of God through the hands of His people.

Losing a child is an unspeakable tragedy, yet Meadow speaks of the place this tragedy had in her life, in her faith, in her family. Raw emotion, unconditional love, shaken faith. And redemption. God brought that to this little family in Maine through a deaf, disabled baby from Uganda. And He can bring it to you, if you will open your hearts.

You can find Redeeming Ruth starting May 1 at Amazon.com, and Christianbook.com and watch the book trailer here.

Five Near-Birthday Observations

Birthday-Cake-With-Candles-10I’m 2 days away from my 53rd birthday. And I’m OK with that.

I’m sitting on my back porch this late December morning, in 70+ degree weather, remembering the gathering of 50 friends I had around me for my 50th. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years. Wow. Time does fly; it’s not just an old adage.

My eldest turned 18 2 days ago, and I’m OK with that, too. It doesn’t make him a different person. It doesn’t make me less his mom. His journey to manhood keeps going.

And my journey continues as well. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way of my 53 years.

1. People come and go from our lives all the time.

It’s a smaller world now than it used to be. We have text messaging that puts us in touch with people instantly. We have Facebook, which gives us a glimpse into their lives. But sometimes, we just have to let people go and be thankful that we got to spend a little time with them anyway.

2. Age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to friendships.

I have friends who are in their 80s, I have friends who are in their 20s. Since I had my kids a bit later in life, the majority of moms I hang out with are a lot younger than I. I may not be as hip as they, but they keep me feeling younger than I really am.

3. Faith is not a feeling.

I am going through a highly annoying health issue right now associated with menopause, and it has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. But one thing I have said over and over is that I would rather have Jesus and this issue than no issue and no Jesus. No issue with Jesus would be ideal, but if that never happens, can I be content? If I don’t feel like God is even listening, does that mean He’s not? If God’s character was based on my perception, than He wouldn’t be much of a God. He’s a lot bigger than how I feel.

4. I really and truly am not in control.

There’s a saying: “Man makes his plans and God laughs.” I think God does a lot of chuckling when He’s listening to me. I like to have things planned out. We take a trip, I like to know where we’re stopping along the way. I want to know where my kids are and what they’re doing. I want to be in the know for anything that’s going on around me. But you know what? That’s not how God wants me to live my life. He is in control and if things don’t go the way I think they should, that’s because He’s got something better in mind. Boy, that’s good head knowledge; now if I could just put it into practice.

5. Last but not least, there is no hope for this world apart from Jesus.

A day does not go by that we don’t hear about some terrible tragedy or another. People dying, evil dictators torturing their detractors, planes mysteriously disappearing from thin air. Evil seems to be rampant and taking over the world. And there is no hope for it aside from Jesus. You can’t legislate morality and you can’t expect anything to get better if people’s hearts remain unregenerate. Protests, laws, micro-management are not going to help. Only Jesus.

So, 53 years are almost in the books. There are many more lessons to be learned.  What are some of the truisms you’ve learned on your journey?

 

Image from november2013calendar.org

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe

question-markSome people love to make decisions. It comes easily for them. I have one son who, when he had money in his pocket, wanted to go right away to the toy store so he could spend it on whatever he fancied. I have another who would walk the aisles, mulling, thinking, considering, and then walk out without anything because he couldn’t decide which thing he wanted.

That decision-making process only gets more difficult as time goes on, and the biggest is right around the corner: college.

My mind spins when I think about all the decisions coming up quickly for my eldest. And all the tasks: SAT, ACT, Air Force Academy application, senate nominations, college applications, ROTC scholarships, etc., etc., etc. It’s overwhelming. What if he doesn’t have a high enough GPA? How do I motivate him to study? How many times should he take the SAT? What if we do something wrong in the Academy application? Will that ruin his chances? And how in the world are we going to pay for college if he doesn’t get into the Academy or get a major scholarship?

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:25-34).

Ahhhh. Isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father to comfort us with the equivalent of “I’ve got this.” The decisions still have to be made, and the tasks still have to be completed, but the weight is not on us. Do your part; trust God with the results. I don’t have to fear that my son won’t get into the Air Force Academy. If that’s the ultimate plan for him, he’ll get there—not by sitting and waiting for God to move, mind you, but by working diligently and trusting God.

It’s such a delicate balance: work and faith. You want to trust God for a job, but you can’t sit in your recliner waiting for bosses to come knocking. You want to know where God wants you to go to college, but an acceptance letter isn’t just going to magically appear in your mailbox.

I think what God wants is for us to walk closely with Him every day, to talk to Him about everything, and trust that He’s got our future under control. Do I know where the finances are going to come from to send my kids to the colleges of their choice? No. Not completely. But we started college funds for them, we encourage them to do their best in school, and we’ll apply for financial aid and every scholarship for which they qualify.

And we’ll leave the results to God.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are!

ImageWe have a couple of varieties of animals that have become worrisome for me. Our hermit crabs, Alex and Titan, have been buried since the day after we brought Alex home from the pet store to replace our dear departed Charlotte a couple of days after Christmas. Hermit crabs, if they are healthy, molt on a regular basis, shedding their old, tight exoskeleton for a bigger and shinier one. (Well, maybe not the shinier part, but you get the idea.) From what I’ve read, that’s a very stressful process for them and, depending on their size, this can take many weeks, maybe even a couple of months. What’s hard for us is the waiting. They know what they’re doing naturally, but they are hidden from our sight, not eating, not drinking, not seeing the light of day. It’s been more than a month now, and I’m beginning to worry that they didn’t make it.

Our second worrisome set is a trio of kuhli loaches we bought to help control the snail population in our aquarium. They had been recommended by my fish guru, Tiffaney, who assured me that these eel-like creatures would be munching escargot soon. Well, I can’t find them now. They’ve shown themselves a few times, but rarely, and the snail population flourishes. I don’t know much about them, but Tiffaney says they’re shy, and the forums say they like to bury themselves, but I’m beginning to fear they might not be alive either! We purchased three, and at any given time I’ve only seen two, and the last time was several days ago, maybe even a week. Loachies! Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Crabs and loaches. And God.

Do you ever fear that He might not be around anymore? Does it seem like a really long time since you last heard from Him?

John 20:29 records this interchange between Jesus and Thomas, His disciple: “Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'”

I’m not sure about the kuhlis and the crabs, but I know about God. Enjoy this song from The Newsboys, declaring the truth that He is alive!

Thankful today for:

789. my singing bird

790. fast-moving clouds doused in sunrise

791. maturity

792. the freedom to gather and pray

793. godly leaders

794. new friendships

795. education

796. spontaneous visits from faraway family

797. surprises

798. new life

799. laughter

800. music

801. talented people

802. mistakes overcome

803. the journey

804. new stuff

805. reminiscing

806. indoor plumbing (just sayin’)

807. my students

808. a breeze

809. books

810. quiet

Take the Leap

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Every year at our church, just before school lets out for summer, a family hosts all the kids in Sunday school at their house for a lake party. They break out all the water toys they have, load on the life vests, ask everyone to bring snacks to share, and then let everyone have hours of fun in the water.

One of the highlights for many of the kids is jumping off the rope swing that hangs from a tree near their neighbor’s dock. You climb high up on this dock, grab the rope with a hook, and jump off, letting go of the rope just in time to land out in the water, deep enough to not get hurt.

That’s the goal, anyway.

So, wanting to be the cool mom, one year I let my “friends” and my kids talk me into giving it a try.

I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

It didn’t matter that I had watched others take that plunge many, many times; when it came to talking myself into stepping off of that incredibly high dock holding onto that incredibly thin rope and dropping into that incredibly deep water, I. Was. Terrified.

I let 6-year-olds go in front of me.

Here’s the thing: Had I been jumping off high docks my whole life, I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought. I would have taken that rope and jumped gleefully, trusting that I would land in that water and not suffer any consequences. But I have lived a safe, uneventful–some might call it a boring–life. Extreme sports are not my thing.

Faith is like that. If I live a safe life, my need for great faith seems to be very small. Taking that leap when I need to see God do extreme things is very, very scary. But if I trust Him daily for all the huge things that He is capable of doing, faith–stepping off that dock–is just like walking on solid ground.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6.)

Thankful today for:
339. An afternoon at the lake
340. A faithful God
341. Singing
342. Faithful old men
343. Talented people
344. Technology

Out of Control

I think I just figured out what fear is: being out of control. When I enter a situation that is not familiar to me; when I face something I’ve never faced before; when I’m uncertain whether the outcome of something is going to be good or bad.

Faith is the peace that comes from knowing that He who is familiar with, yea even made, all things, has faced every situation and knows exactly what the outcome is going to be is right there by my side, holding me close.

I need to be out of control so that He can be in control. Boy, is that uncomfortable for me. And the only way for it to become more comfortable is for me to do it more often.

Do I trust Him or not?

Thankful today for:
157. Ministry partners
158. Indoor plumbing
159. Two more months until summer break
160. Our anticipated annual Easter gathering
161. The pool being ready for baptisms again
162. Ice

Fear Itself

Worry. Fear. Anxiety. Call it what you want. None of it is good.

God gives us so much reassurance in His Word that we really have nothing to fear and that, in fact, perfect love casts out fear (There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” 1 John 4:18).

Jesus told us that there was no use in worrying about tomorrow; today has enough trouble of its own (“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Matt. 6:34).

In Psalm 27, verse 1, King David encourages us: The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?”

There are many, many more verses I could list with the uselessness of worrying or being afraid. God gives us an abundance of promises that He will always be with us. We don’t need to fear those who can kill our bodies but cannot touch our immortal souls.

I used to fear disease and serious illness. God has given me a measure of victory over that. Do I still get anxious about things? Yes. I don’t feel comfortable going to new places by myself. I don’t like it when my kids or husband are sick. But I don’t live in fear. I life in faith.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his inaugural address in 1932, said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” At the height of the Great Depression, the president was attempting to communicate to the people that their fear of the future was causing panic and irrational decisions. If they would remain calm, believe in themselves, they’d be all right.

A healthy dose of faith in the Living God would have helped many of them also, but FDR’s heart was in the right place. If we let fear overtake us, then we’re bound to go down the wrong road. Hand in hand with the Prince of Peace, we will live healthier and happier lives.

Thankful today for:

84. the happy heart my daughter has that causes her to sing, whistle and hum ALL THE TIME

85. new challenges

86. forgiveness