Category Archives: Testify

Cease Striving and Look Up

Today I read this blog post by Sally Clarkson about “De-Cluttering Your Soul,” and one of the verses she listed to consider when taking an inventory of one’s soul is Psalm 46:10. The way Sally wrote it out in her post is “Be still (cease striving) and know that I am God.” This is a familiar verse to me, but it was the parenthetical note that caught my attention, impelling me to meditate on the words “cease striving.”

This phrase is a concise reiteration of a concept that God gently impressed upon me a few days ago when I was pulling out all the stops to try to figure out a solution to a particular problem. I was staying up too late, neglecting responsibilities, and focusing all of my attention on trying to find some way, any way, to make happen the thing I desperately wanted to happen. But I came to the end of myself. I had used up all my resources and ideas, and I was still empty-handed.

Then I remembered to look up, and my soul was flooded with peace. I remembered that God is a Father who delights to give good things to His children. I remembered (how easily I forget) to be anxious for nothing, but to present my requests to Him, so that His peace will guard my heart and mind.

That thing that I was making important, making urgent, making an idol, was instantly relegated to not-first-place. It’s not even second or third or fourth place. It’s still on my list somewhere, but I believe that it is also on God’s list now. I don’t need to worry or obsess over it any more. I have ceased striving, and I am confident that He is God. I’ve asked Him for help, and I trust that, in His time, He will answer my prayer.

Twin Beds On the Way

Part 6 of our love story will be coming soon. I’m in the middle of scrounging up matching outfits for all of us for family pictures. It’s hard enough getting two people to match, and now there are five of us! I don’t think we have one single picture yet with all of us in it, so I’m looking forward to getting some taken. Well, actually, I’m looking forward to having the finished pictures in my hand. Not so much the assembling of matching outfits, getting everybody dressed and groomed, attempting to make it to the studio without anybody deliberately jumping accidentally falling into a mud puddle, etc.

T is off work tomorrow (yay!). We were hoping that the twin beds we ordered for the kids would have come by now, so T could pick them up and assemble them tomorrow, but they’re not in yet, which is fine, because there are plenty of other odd jobs to do around here (including taking the air conditioner unit out of our bedroom window–now that it’s mid-October, I don’t think we’ll be needing it any more this year).

It’s actually really neat how God provided money for us to get twin beds for the kids (D.L.F. and Cupcake). They each currently sleep in a little kid tent with plenty of blankets for padding, but they are outgrowing those, so we’ve been wanting to buy beds for them. The roundabout way that we were able to buy them is that I recently won a 52″ LCD television in a sweepstakes. The sweepstakes company had the t.v. shipped to us from Wal-Mart. We decided we didn’t really need a t.v., especially one that big, so we were going to try to sell it on Craigslist, but T had the idea to take it to Wal-Mart and see if they would accept it as a return. They did–not for cash, but they gave us a gift card for the full value of the t.v.! So we were able to buy beds for the kids, mattresses, comforter and sheet sets, some curtains, some fall clothes, and other needed odds and ends.

Once again I am overwhelmed by the kindness of God as He takes care of our family.

Our New House

We were majorly blessed with all the help we received in moving to our new place. I never got a chance to count, but I’m pretty sure there were at least 15 people on moving day, and that’s not counting some friends who helped with packing and unpacking before and after the move. Everything was out of our old apartment and into our new house in just over two hours! Praise the Lord. This move was actually less stressful for me than our last move, even though we have two kids and I’m pregnant now, and we have more stuff than we used to as well.

We have been in our new house for a week. Overall, it’s a great place, and we’re enjoying it a lot. We have had several problems, though…a slow drain which caused our washing machine to leak all over the garage, a wonky smoke alarm, the heater/fan/light unit in the bathroom which stopped working after a few days, and no internet access. Finally today someone from our internet provider came out to have a look and see what the deal is, and they said they have to re-bury a cable from our house down the block a ways. So I’m at the library right now using the wireless connection.

The kids have been doing well sharing a room. They’ve been sleeping great, except last night, when they both threw up. They seem fine today, so I guess it was a one-time thing. I hope. However, we’re keeping them home tonight instead of our originally scheduled plan of dropping them off for free childcare through our church for a parents’ date night. I am disappointed, but I want to make sure the kids aren’t contagious. I don’t want to put other parents through what we went through last night. The laundry, the crying, the…yuck. So we’ll go on a date some other time.

In other news, I have been feeling the baby wiggle around since I was about 12 1/2 weeks pregnant! That’s way earlier than with D.L.F. or Cupcake, and it’s kind of fun.

Not having internet for the past week, I’ve been doing a lot more research the old-fashioned way…with books. I’m so, so excited to finally have a yard, so I’ve checked out over a dozen books from the library about gardening. I’m getting antsy to work in the yard, but it has been rainy, cold, and very windy lately…not exactly prime gardening weather. I’m poring over books and gardening catalogs in eager anticipation. I am extremely excited about the lilac and hydrangea bushes in our front yard and can’t wait to see them in bloom.

We still have a lot of boxes to unpack, but things are starting to feel a little more like home.

All Things Work Together for Good

When we got in the car to go to church this morning, we discovered that our car was having major problems. It was still drivable, but the heater, radio, and basically everything else was disabled. So we drove to church in our frigid car and pulled into a parking spot, only to discover that the car would not turn off! Every time T tried to put the car in park, there was a horrible, loud grinding noise, and he couldn’t pull the keys out, either. So the kids and I went into church, and some guys came over to help T. To make a long story short, T drove the car back home and pulled out some fuses to get the car to stop. So now we need to get the car towed and repaired.

BUT, the good thing is, it turns out that one of the men who helped T this morning is in charge of our church’s moving team, which we didn’t even know existed. So he said he’ll put out the word and recruit some guys to help us move this Saturday!

Also, some kind friends from church are letting us borrow one of their cars until we can get ours fixed. They packed up their whole family and drove from their house, which is half an hour away, just to deliver the car to us tonight.

When I was a child, I heard stories about George Müller, the orphanage director who prayed fervently and trusted God to provide–and He did, in amazing ways. I wanted to be that close to God and have that kind of faith, but I didn’t know how to go about it. In the almost-five years that T and I have been married, I’ve had to exercise a lot of faith in God’s ability to take care of us. At first it was hard for me–very hard. I cried a lot during our first year together when T didn’t have a steady job and we didn’t even own a car. But every time a situation came up where I honestly didn’t know how we were going to make it, God blessed us abundantly, often through our caring church family. And each time it became a little easier for me to trust God, because I felt a little closer to Him and I remembered what He had done for us in times past. I’m not saying I have faith anywhere near George Müller’s, but I realized today that I’m truly not worried about this car situation or the expenses of our upcoming move, and that is a “God thing.” He has changed me in the last five years. Strangely, I always feel closer to Him when life is not perfect and I’m more aware of my need for Him–not just for His provision, but for Him.

Always Enough

When I was cleaning out the pantry yesterday, I found this poem I wrote for a class at Bible college in 2004 (don’t ask me what it was doing in the pantry). T and I were engaged, the date of our wedding was fast approaching, T did not have a job, and we had no savings. So the story this poem is based on, found in I Kings 17:8-16, was especially significant at that time in our lives. The poem is far from a literary masterpiece, but I hope the message is encouraging.

Always Enough

In Zarephath, a widow lived, when drought and famine cursed the land
With heavy heart and downcast eyes, she gathered kindling in her hand
And sadly considered her son

They had enough for one more meal, but after that, the time would come
When either she must watch him die, or die herself and leave her son
Alone, all alone in the world

Approaching footsteps startled her; she looked and saw Elijah there
A leather belt around his waist, his garment made of camel hair
His weariness mirrored her own

“Please bring me water in a cup to quench my thirst,” the prophet said
And as she turned to go, he called, “Please bring me back a bite of bread.”
The widow replied in despair:

“I swear to you, I have no bread, and what I do have won’t go far:
“A dash of oil in the jug, a little flour in the jar
“I tell you, there won’t be enough”

“Don’t be afraid,” Elijah said, “First bake a little loaf for me
“And then prepare yourself some bread with flour and oil, and you will see
“That surely, there will be enough

“The God of Israel has said your jug and jar will yet contain
“The oil and the flour you need until the time the Lord sends rain
“To water the crops of the ground”

The widow baked Elijah’s bread; as she obeyed, she realized
Her jar of flour was not used up; her jug of oil did not run dry
For days they continued to eat

And for the widow and her son, the Lord was faithful to provide
Thus God fulfilled His promised word: her daily bread was multiplied
And so there was always enough
With God, there is always enough

Were It Not For Grace

This song has been running through my head today. It’s a good reminder that: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, He saved us,” and “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (from Titus 3 and Ephesians 2).

I’ve been thinking today how my life could have gone a completely different direction as a result of difficult circumstances in my past plus my own sin and foolishness, but God graciously had a better plan for my life and rescued me from a life without Him. Thank You, Lord, for saving me.

Were It Not For Grace

Time measured out my days
Life carried me along
In my soul I yearned to follow God
But knew I’d never be so strong
I looked hard at this world
To learn how heaven could be gained
Just to end where I began
Where human effort is all in vain

Were it not for grace
I can tell you where I’d be
Wandering down some pointless road to nowhere
With my salvation up to me
I know how that would go
The battles I would face
Forever running but losing this race
Were it not for grace

So here is all my praise
Expressed with all my heart
Offered to the Friend who took my place
And ran a course I could not start
And when He saw in full
Just how much it would cost
He still went the final mile between me and heaven
So I would not be lost

-by Larnelle Harris

Unfailing Love

But as for me,
I will sing about your power.

I will shout with joy each morning
because of your unfailing love.

For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety in the day of distress.

O my Strength,
to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love.

~Psalm 59:16-17

Big Answer to Prayer

A couple of weeks ago Hubby received a summons for jury duty for a trial that would last at least six weeks. Now, we are all for doing our civic duty and all (read my funny jury duty story here), but we just didn’t see any way how it would be possible to go without any income for all that time (where we live, jurors only receive a token amount of pay per day–a few dollars to cover transportation and lunch), plus, Hubby can’t just abandon his job duties for that long.

I have been earnestly seeking the Lord about this matter and asking Him to work something out, and I’ve asked several other people to pray about it, too. Today Hubby got a postcard in the mail that the jury summons has been canceled! He doesn’t have to go at all!

Thank you, God, for answering our prayers.