Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Girls are Home



It's Sunday morning. I have little voice and a fever so Emma is home taking care of me. :) Chad and Chloe have gone to church for worship. I hate to be sick and I HATE to miss Sunday morning worship. There is such an anointing on our pastor and worship service that I don't want to miss it. But, here I sit. The Lord and I had a sweet time together earlier this morning and I just have to wonder if He allowed this sickness just for that reason. So I'm thankful. Thankful for the time that He spoke to my heart and showed me some cool things about Himself.

We (Chad, our toy poodle Paddington and I) are so glad to have Chloe and Emma home. Don't get me wrong, we really enjoyed our week of rest and quiet, but this mommy is glad to have everyone back in their own bed!

My parents stayed a couple of nights and at dad's request, we shopped. My dad loves to shop. Car shop, fabric shop, the man likes to see what's out there! So, Friday we hit the mall to check out all things Spring.

Mom and I had one request. Williams~Sonoma. It really didn't take much to convince the girls. They love this store more than we do, and Emma had decided she needed purple sprinkles from there. NOT the regular grocery store because "they aren't a very good quality". Where she gets this stuff I do not know. She paid $4 for purple sprinkles, oh excuse me, they are officially called lavender sanding sugar. I stand corrected, by a six, almost seven year old.

As we left the mall, in the rain praise the Lord, my dad ran ahead to unlock the car. I saw him stop a few steps before the car and slowly turn around to look at us. Someone had hit his car. The damage wasn't too bad, and probably won't cost a terrible amount to fix, but it was still frustrating. I figured that this would put a damper on the whole visit, but it didn't. Dad was aggravated, but his calm demeanor was such a picture of Christ. He didn't get huffy, or yell, or slam doors. He just said, we'll deal with it. Proof that when you spend time with the Lord, His character rubs off on you. He changes your actions AND your reactions.

I think that is part of the reason I do not like to miss weekly fellowship and worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. God gives us the command to gather for a reason! There was a season in our life where Chad and I were not actively involved in one church. For about 2 years, I seemed to be the "fill in" girl around Chattanooga. I served for various reasons like maternity leave, surgery, just plain old burn out.. you name it. I loved doing that, but it became very easy on the weeks when I wasn't playing to just sleep in and enjoy a lazy morning. We were saved and nothing could change that, but we were not living a fruitful Christian life. We were simply hanging on to what God had done in the past. Riding the wave of the past.

During this two year time period Chad and I suffered serious health crisis. He was very sick. There were several nights that I questioned God's hand in this, but two nights I vividly remember staying awake to watch him breath. I honestly thought this man that I loved more than anything (yes, at that time more than God and GOD quickly showed me that I had made Chad an idol) wasn't going to make it through the night.

We also went through the pain of losing babies to miscarriage. That was a hard pill to swallow. It seemed everyone around me was pregnant, and here I was. I couldn't stay pregnant if my life depended on it.

This went on for two years. For two years, I simply read a quick little devotion in the morning before I left for work. Nothing too challenging I was trying to avoid feeling convicted. For two years, I prayed quickly for my family, for Chad's health, for whatever "crisis" was in our life at the time. You see I was doing going through the motions, but nothing else. And then it happened.

I woke up one morning and realized I had not heard God speak to me in a long time. There was something missing. I was miserable and that morning, God showed me why.
There was no growth. I knew nothing more about God that morning than I had known two years ago. I couldn't tell you what God was teaching me because I had turned my head and not looked at Him for two years. It was October of 1997.

I remember that Chad was out of town and I was alone and it was early. I had about two hours before I needed to leave for work. I showered, dressed and grabbed my Bible, just like every other morning. BUT this morning, this morning would be different. I sat with my Dr. Pepper in an over sized chair and prayed. I confessed that I had been wrong, that I had allowed other things to capture my affection and that I needed to turn around and just start over. I was tired of riding the wave of the past and wanted a fresh start.

I opened the Word and this is what I read. "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it". (I kind of smiled, kind of said so, am I old??? At this point I was about 23) Here's what God said to me.

My parents trained us to first be actively in love with the Lord. A relationship with God is more than a trip down the aisle and a quick prayer asking Him to forgive and save you. It's an on-going relationship just like a marriage. You just don't quit because it's uncomfortable at times. Second, they taught us that when you are in love with the Lord, you can't help but do the things He tells you to do. One of those things is to grow!! He didn't save you for you to stay in the same place spiritually!!! There is so much more!

That morning, I KNEW that the conviction I was feeling, was from the Holy Spirit. It was my precious Savior wooing me back to Him. I left for work a new woman with a load lifted. It was awesome.

God also gave me this verse during this time as a promise that He did have good plans for me. Hosea 2:14-15 " Therefore, I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt."

In other words. God told me that after a time of correction and growth, He would restore me to a fruitful Christian. He would take that time of rebellion, hurt, and confusion and allow me to look back on it and see that there was HOPE in the midst of it. And then that last part....He told me that one day, He would allow me to sing/play again, but this time, I would do it appreciating and realizing just what it took to make me free.

Are you free? Do you still hang on to your parents Christianity? Can you sing that song "I love you more today than yesterday" and think of God? Oh sweet friend, I wish I could cup your face in my hands and look you eyeball to eyeball and say, don't settle for casual, second hand religion anymore! Your Savior has so much better for you!

12 comments:

BethAnne said...

Is it bad for me to say I am sorry you feel bad and then say I am glad you stayed home from church so that you could type up this little reminder to me? Riding the wave of the past is exactly what I DO NOT WANT TO DO!!!! How can I disciple my son who was just saved if I am not listening for a fresh word from the Lord? Oh how I want him to know the power and manifest presence of the Holy Spirit and not the mediocre Christianity that most people settle for. I was saved at age 14 and I cannot lose my salvation, but I can lose my joy. Accepting Jesus is a one time event, but wanting to know Him (really know Him) is a daily decision. Its easy to just become comfortable in our salvation, but I want to hear Jesus say "Well done My good and faithful servant" - not "I guess you did okay my half hearted and rarely faithful semi-servant". I need to be reminded of this everyday!

So, I am kind of glad you stayed home today and I mean that in the nicest possible way ;-)

Cheri said...

Our pastor today talked about how you can't stay stagnant. God will always allure us back for growth. I am going through it right now myself...and it feels good!

Earen said...

Wow, thank you for this sweet reminder. I have such a passion & heart for the Lord, but I also know how easily other things become a bigger priority and get in the way of my time with Him. Just know Stephanie that across the miles you did cup your hands around my face & remind me that He wants so much more from me....Thank you.

Jess said...

All I can say is "Well said"! Wow. I can SO relate to this post in so many ways. Thank you once again for sharing your soul with us.

~jessica

Fran said...

Well, Miss Stephanie I am just blessed beyond words that you shared that with us.

I think you just confirmed to me that I am wanting to write on for tomorrow. Its come up in a few ways and in a few different people.

I pray that you feel so much better tomorrow. And, I pray that you completely delight in your Savior. May He be the thrill of your life and your greatest passion!

Much love~
Fran

jenmom said...

Oh Stephanie, what a special word. That verse in Hosea you shared! God has truly had me in the desert it feels like lately, but Oh how He has spoken. I wouldn't trade this time in the "dry land" for anything! Just to hear my sweet Abba speak to me through His word! Love you girl. Feel better soon!!!!!

Amy Wyatt said...

Stephanie,
I hope you are feeling better. We also missed church yesterday because our flight was late returning Sat. night. Carol said we missed a great sermon... but apparently God has his own message he wanted to share with you and through you. This really hit home with me. Thank you for sharing it.

Ashley said...

This is a timely reminder for me. Thanks for sharing it. Let us not settle for luke warm Christianity (Rev. 3:15-16)!

DeAnna said...

Your sweet smiling face was definitely missed yesterday. Hope you feel better soon.

Isn't it amazing what the Lord will allow us to experience just to get us to a point where we realize our dependence on Him? Job loss, emotional turmoils, miscarriages, loss of loved ones - whatever it takes. I know in my own life - in times of wandering and being spiritually stagnant- I have gone through stuff and wondered why I couldn't hear Him speaking like before. All the while, He was waiting for me to get to the point where I reached out my hands to Him and said that I couldn't do it without Him anymore. Oh the joy of coming back into the arms of my Lord!! What sweet communion!

Thanks for sharing your heart!

Carol said...

1. I missed you! 2. WOW! I am SO with you! I've been there as the second hand Christian. And in the past year have been wooed into such a close walk and I want to say, "Man, I've been missing out on so many blessings!!" Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!

Renee said...

Beautiful....

I'm just discovering your blog, and your words have touched my heart, Stephanie.

The way in which you write, and the love for Jesus that shines through your words are touching.

This is something that has definitely been on my heart recently. The daily effort that is needed on my part, to keep my relationship with God going strong. To continue to grow with Him.

Thank you for the encouragement today!

Mommy Dot Com said...

I love this post. Just what I needed to hear. God can always do a fresh work in us. "I knew nothing more about God that morning than I had two years ago". This makes me realize there is so much more to experience with Christ. We can't stop growing! I need some new growth!!!