The Big Picture

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Faithfulness Matters

Photo by IB Wira Dyatmika on Unsplash

“As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” Genesis 50:20 (Amplified Bible)

For months I’ve lost track of life mourning the fact that some situations can’t be redeemed this side of heaven.

Some pain can never be reversed can it?

Like the death of loved ones … a way of life … relationships.

I’ve spent days in bed with my bible just trying to get a word from the Lord that would pull me out of this funk.

The enemy has used the pain and my introverted tendencies …  to tempt me in walking away from the church and community in general.

The Devil loves using pain and loss to persuade us that faithfulness doesn’t matter in light of our circumstances.

But the story of Joseph has been a great encouragement these last few months.

This story has it all – betrayal, loss, oppression, dysfunction, jealously, rejection, false accusations and bondage … the list goes on and on.

And every time Joseph was oppressed … falsely accused … rejected … the scripture reminds us that God was with him.

I recently read a story about Andrew Murray who was a beloved pastor and writer in England in the late 1800’s. He suffered from debilitating back pain as a result of an injury. As he was eating breakfast one morning, his maid came to tell him that a woman was downstairs in great distress and was seeking advice or encouragement. Murray handed his maid the piece of paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice that I’m writing down for myself. It may be helpful to her too.”

The paper read:

“In time of trouble, say, ‘First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.’ Next, ‘He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.’ Then say, ‘He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.’ And last, say, ‘In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.’ Therefore, say ‘I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”

When I read this story, I realized that Mr. Murray’s advice is the exact model that God used in Joseph’s life … over and over.

Amazingly … Joseph remained faithful in all things … good or bad.

As a result, God used him to save many lives … including the lives of the brothers who hated him … yet Joseph held no bitterness in his heart for his oppressors.

Trusting God with our pain and learning to walk in the fullness of His sovereignty … just like Joseph did … can lead us to our purpose in life … if we remain faithful.

Faithfulness matters … especially when our world has turned upside down.

So, let this truth seep into every crevice of your heart …

You are here by God’s appointment … kept under the shelter of his loving wings … for His instruction to grow … within His timing.

Oh, sweet friend with the broken heart …

God has a purpose for your pain … so trust Him and remain faithful.

And that’s the Big Picture that Joseph so wisely understood.

love mel

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Seven Take-Away’s to Remember from 2016

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I’m sure glad 2016 is history. It was a rotten year for me. But the lessons learned have born a stubborn faith to blot out the bitter feelings I fought most of the year. That’s the way God does things; to taste the salt of our tears leaves us with the memory of what shifted in our spirits. There was a lot of shifting in me from 2016.

In short, I guess the good Lord told me to get over it all, especially myself. A whole lot of inner turmoil can come when the enemy sends a good distraction. Too many times we change the station in our brains to the poor pitiful me channel.

Seriously though, some things in my mind are of my own misery making and some of it is a reaction from the devil’s bullseye hit. I thought I’d passed the spiritual warfare test a million times ago but it turns out that 2016 was one big flunk for me. Dang it.

So at the risk of embarrassing my family … I believe transparency is a good way to bring glory to God and just down right infuriate the devil. After all, if we don’t share what we learn from tough seasons, we can’t help each other right? So here it is … my seven take-away’s from a hellacious year.

  • God knows I attract crazy.

I have PTSD from living with a husband who has severe PTSD, because he’s a combat soldier stuck in 1969. Seriously, I’m not kidding people, it was the worst year for PTSD since he quit drinking. Where’s the fix in that, right?  So the thing about this whole situation for both my man and me … grace covers crazy, even when I’ve lost my mind. So thank God for crazy grace and just know, He’s got enough for your crazy too.

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  • People have two sides, and unless you’re on their bad side, you’ll never see it.

Some do a good job of hiding the side that reeks while others don’t have a clue they need to hide it. Some are better fooler’s that’s all. It makes me laugh every time I hear the word “fooler.” My husband calls a baby’s pacifier, a “fooler.” But I got to thinking about the use of a fooler / paci. It’s to keep a baby occupied, to give them comfort and create a diversion. At times the clues are obvious for people with two sides, but sometimes we let the fooler entertain us… it’s just easier than dealing with the truth.

  • People with opinions, ignore them.

Especially if those opinions are about you. When someone slates an opinion about you and it’s not favorable or even remotely truthful … let ‘em spew. No matter what man says about you, it will not thwart God’s purpose for your life, period. Let God’s word define you … not man’s. And remember … faithfulness always out lives the enemy’s lies.

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  • My dog is my best friend.

Seriously, he loves me unconditionally … even when I forget to feed him. He’s constant, never fickle, and his opinion of me is pretty awesome. He loves me, period. If only we could all love this big and beautiful, right?

  • Glory hogs will always be glory hogs.

It’s best just to let the good Lord deal with that nonsense … and He will. Chuck Swindoll says; “Maturity means we no longer need the mother’s milk of public attention.” In the words of Forrest Gump … “That’s all I have to say about that.”

  • The only people that have a problem with truth, are the ones that don’t want to be held accountable.

Truth is an agent of change. Human nature hates change because truth exposes the worst. Eventually truth takes center stage and sings like the beautiful, exotic, lady at the opera. Slowly but surely, truth becomes the star. Thank God for some needed truth in my life in 2016.

  • Some things aren’t worth the battle, especially in view of life and death matters.

For example, “No Shave November.”

I have 3 hairy, man-boys who have been able to grow a Grizzly Adams beard since they hit puberty in 6th grade. This freak of human nature and hormones is a great source of pride for them. It’s been a source of contention for me, needless to say. This moma slicked their little heads down like Remington Steele (google it – it will be worth it), every time they stepped out in public. I ironed a crease in their jeans until they left home – they resent this too by the way. These little handsome dudes looked like they stepped out of a GQ magazine. Anyway, the beard and hair thing’s been a controversy between us for years.

But then my middle, hairy, man boy got very sick. For days he was terribly sick. In fact, when doctors finally figured out what was wrong (in a six-hour surgery that was only supposed to be two), Aaron’s body was in a critical state. The surgeon said he was hours away from organs shutting down. We were dangerously close to losing our boy, but God sent that crazy grace to cover him. Thank you Lord.

That night after surgery as he lay in the hospital bed, I sat beside him in one of those hideous chairs that’s supposed to recline like a roll away bed. They don’t by the way. Nevertheless, I watched him sleep, and lying on his chest was that big, beautiful, manly beard that the doctors and nurses all admired in post op. I was eternally grateful to see that rebellious display of facial hair rising and falling with each breath.

So … when this years “No Shave November” rolled around, I embraced it by ordering beard products for all three of my hairy, man boys. These items were Christmas presents but the fact remains … I let it go. Some things just aren’t worth the battle anymore.

With each lesson I learned during this unpleasant year, I count it all grace … that crazy grace. Grace that helps me see behind the frustrations, the pain, and the aggravations. It’s a glorious thing this crazy grace.  And don’t forget, He can cover your crazy too. 

love mel

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