Monthly archives: May, 2016

Clear The Trees

 

pablo (23)

Following orders, the immense army made preparations to leave in a moment’s notice. Time had come to start marching, and eventually the time would come to start fighting. With all their gear, the soldiers marched in the direction instructed by their commander. Within a few days, they reached an area where the commander decided to set up camp. They did so, resting and making more preparations for the ensuing battles. In fact, the commander reminded them:

 

“A few days ago, we prepared our gear. Now, during these few days of encampment, prepare yourselves. Be ready, men—you’re about to see something amazing! The king, himself, will be here fighting for you.”

 

The king?! Fighting for us?? Then, why did we prepare all our weapons and armor? Would these battles be harder? Easier?

 

Letting the army contemplate amongst themselves, the commander gave orders and marching commenced once more. Within a short time, the army, poised to succeed in their mission, came upon their first opportunity for victory. Having come to fully trust their commander, as both a leader and a person, they followed his orders perfectly. Sure enough, as promised, the king was right there fighting for them, and other questions were answered, too. They, indeed, would have to fight. Days later, the city was overtaken, and the army was celebrating. Celebration soon gave way to the reality that this mission was not over. Enemies and obstacles seemed to show up everywhere they turned. The battles were arduous, but sticking to the commander’s plan and relying on their hours of practice proved to be necessary. A series of victories, later to be written about, would become theirs.

 

After some time, the commander announced the news: “Soldiers, you have fought well. Thank you for your service. Because of your strength and courage, we have acquired much land. This land will now be divided amongst us, and you will settle in your respective lands.”

 

As the commander divided the land, one leader of a group of soldiers had his own announcement: “Commander, we have a larger group than you think. We need more land.” Pointing, the commander gave a simple instructional response: “You can have that hill country over there. Just clear the trees and drive out the enemy that live there.”

 

Persevering in a relationship is, sadly, a rarity. It’s hard. And like all the demands of love, perseverance takes an active approach. Rid your mind of any misconception that perseverance is passive. It is not just waiting. Not just sitting around thinking they will speak up first or make the first move. It is not letting time heal the wound. It is not creating physical or emotional distance just to avoid conflict.

 

Our story about the army is that of the Israelites. They were promised victory and lots of land…but they had to fight for it. More than likely, the relationship with which we are to persevere is one that God wants for us. It is essentially our Promised Land. And as with the Israelites, some applications surface for us, as well.

 

  • We must prepare our gear (Joshua 1:11).
  • We must prepare ourselves (Joshua 3:5).
  • Now, clear the trees and drive out the enemy (Joshua 17:18).

 

Do your part. The King is fighting for your relationship. You’re about to see something amazing!

 

 


Our Hope In Him

 

Our Hope in him

 

There I stood.

 

My quivering voice could barely relate what my heart was feeling and my mouth needed to convey.

 

Our daughter, Lauren, was seven years into her twelve year journey with uncontrollable epilepsy. On average, she was having 15+ grand-mal seizures a day.  Sleepless nights, countless tests, extended hospital stays, and mounting bills were our norm. We were her parents and there was absolutely nothing we could do to help our daughter.

 

I was making an effort to explain her current condition to Lauren’s doctor. Even though a couple of years prior our girl endured having two summers of back-to-back intense brain surgeries to try to stop the seizures, they were still happening.  And they were relentless. Now, we found ourselves in a season where Lauren was having what we deemed “all-nighters”. She would seize every 3-4 minutes all night long…sometimes up to 3 nights in a row. We had to monitor Lauren 24/7.

 

At that time, I was about 6 months pregnant with Garrett with no health insurance, we had just made a difficult ministry transition across country and we were living temporarily in my in-laws basement. We were at the end of our rope.

 

As tears came rolling down my face, I remember saying these words to her doctor, “We have lost hope…please help us help her.”

 

This moment has stood out in my memory. Even as I type this, I can still remember and feel the heaviness in our hearts…the weight almost felt tangible. The feeling of utter hopelessness. It leaves a mark on you.

 

As I reflect back on instances of seemingly hopeless situations in my life, I’ve noticed something. If I really pause and look, a common thread of hope runs through them. Sometimes it’s hard to see, but it’s there. Perhaps its best captured in one of my favorite phrases in the Bible:  but God.

 

But God. It gives hope in the most challenging of circumstances. If I allow it, it becomes the turning point in each of my scenarios.  I begin to see things as more than just “hope for” or ”hope so”.

I hope in God.

 

The times when I’ve needed hope the most have been some of my darkest days. The ones that I literally wondered if I was going to make it through. I needed something to hold onto. Someone to tell me it was going to be ok and it really be ok.

Things haven’t always ended up the way that I wanted them to or even prayed for them to be. But because God was there, I could hold onto Him through my wildest storms. Hope was what I needed. He was what I needed.

 

The psalmist says in Psalm 73:36: “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”

 

Jesus says in Matthew 19:26: “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

 

The apostle Paul wrote in Acts 13:29-30: “When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead!”

 

Make no mistake: we will have hard times. Times that seem hopeless, no question about it. But, when we put God in the picture, it changes the equation. He is sovereign in the end. We can find rest and have hope in Him no matter the outcome.

 

 

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

 

 

Leslee and family

 

 

Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.


Trusting In God’s Plan

 

for all ages

 

The dim light of dawn crept its way into my bedroom.  My eyes peeked open to see that it was the beginning of a new day…

I have always loved mornings- full of anticipation for what new experience God would bring my way!  But as my mind gathered its thoughts together that particular morning when I was only a girl of 14, a crashing wave of agony, fear, and loneliness washed over me, engulfing me in utter desperation and despair. My mother was dead…

Angry bitterness was part of my emotions as well… how could God have taken her away from me at a time I needed her so much??  How was I going to survive, move on and live my life now that it was so broken?  I pleaded with God to take me from this nightmare; to find out it had not been real… I wanted to wake up and find that she was still alive and vibrant; loving and caring for me…but reality set in.  My mother was with Jesus, as my father had announced just a few short days before when he returned home from the hospital, breaking down into heart-wrenching sobs and collapsing in a chair…

My parents had many dreams for spending the rest of their lives together- one being that they would retire in Florida someday, where they had spent their honeymoon.  While my father would eventually realize that dream, it was without his bride.

After a tragic loss of a loved one, how do you go on, trusting that no one else will be snatched from you so unexpectedly?  It took me years to forgive God for taking my mother.  My father still insists it was because God needed a Sunday school teacher in Heaven- my mother had been a teacher at church here on earth as long as I can remember. It’s entirely possible I won’t know the full beauty of my pieced-together life until eternity, but I will make no mistake:  God’s ways are loving.

I cling to this passage in Proverbs… “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I desperately love my Lord God and I know He loves me so much more than I can even imagine.  I have to trust in His perfect plan for my life.

And again in Jeremiah 29:11- “’I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

Because God’s will is good, I can embrace trust rather than fear.  When we truly believe God’s will is good, we have no reason for fear.

 

image

 

Rick and Jolene have been married for almost 12 years. Together they have two adult children. They live in Oviedo, FL where Rick runs his own business and Jolene is the manager at an active adult community. In their spare time they enjoy facilitating marriage classes and going camping. 

 


A Mother’s Love Is One Of A Kind

 

pablo (6)

The way a Mom loves.  Is there anything else quite like it?

 

Just thinking of great memories you’ve shared with your Mom through the years may make you a wee bit misty. A few may have heavy hearts because you can no longer kiss your Mom’s cheek, hug her neck and tell her that you love her.  And yet for some, this kind of love may be foreign. You get no “warm and fuzzies” each May. This Mom’s version of love is something you yearn for.

 

But, for those of us who have experienced this one-of-a kind love, I want to invite you to remember.

 

Remember being a child and feeling the loving arms of your Mom physically wrap you so tightly? It seemed like no scary thunderstorm, no boogie man in our closet, or monster under our bed would ever be able to harm us? Even when there were times when we should have been scared, we weren’t . All because our Mom was there. Holding us. Protecting us. That’s all that mattered. We knew we’d be safe. The love from our Mom was so palpable.

 

Mama Bear. Mom.  The one who would move heaven and earth to protect you.  The one who comforts you in your pain. Who helps heal your wounds. Who gives you love and protection whether you want it or not, no matter how old you are.  These kinds of mothers are beautiful examples of the high calling of love that is mentioned in I Corinthians 13, “love always protects.”

 

If there were ever a mom in the Bible who proves what lengths we will go to protect those we love it is Jochebed. Not a name you hear everyday. Although you will more than likely know her kids  – Miriam, Aaron and Moses. You just have to have a “say what?” kind of moment when you think of what Jochebed and the midwives were willing to do because of love. In their act of civil disobedience mind you, they allowed Moses to be born.  Think of all she was experiencing… the secrecy, going behind the king’s back, putting her baby in a basket in the Nile river (with crocodiles nonetheless!) just to protect him from Pharaoh and the decree to kill all male children. Talk about doing whatever it takes to protect. Talk about love.

 

So what if we love those around us with this “mom version” of love? What if we protected like she does in our relationships? Protect people’s reputation. Protect people by speaking the truth in love. What if we stood up for the person in our circle who tends to be made fun of or left out? What if we chose to protect our marriages with the same kind of come hell or high water kind of love?

 

What if we showed this world a love like no other? A love like a mother. Fierce. Stubborn. Protecting. A forever kind of love. God’s version of love.

 

Leslee and family

Leslee has been married to her elementary school sweetheart, Jeff, for 21 years. They have two children: Lauren and Garrison and one adorable dog, Potato. Their family loves taking walks, traveling, going to Disney World and just about anything that allows them to spend time together.