Where Is God When Your Husband Is Murdered?

vikki

This story.  A good God.  A sweet friend.  This is an hour well spent!  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Click Here to hear this amazing story.

Advertisements

Family Devotions Can Hurt

annie
“Somebody please hit me!” Those are the words I thought to myself as I witnessed my four-year old daughter sling The Jesus Story Book Bible across the room. Ballet lessons, really? I am thinking more like a quarterback on the football field at this point. It was destined to hit one of the three sitting ducks on the couch, and sure enough it soon spiraled directly into my four-year old’s head. Ouch!!! Insert: Screaming, yelling, fury, and near riot.

Exhausted from a long day, normally I would have continued to plow through the bible story. But on this particular night, my husband – the gentle “shepherd” that he is – tucked our convulsing son in his arms and made sure his head was not bleeding (why didn’t I think of that). Afterwards, my husband said, “Son, sometimes you just need to get knocked in the face with the Word of God.” Haha; yes! And sometimes the Word of God hurts.

For us, the flying Bible and the black eye to follow is actually symbolic of a deeper reality – family devotions can hurt. Often our family devotions feel like a trip to the dentist. You know you should do it, but there is always something that goes wrong. This includes the loud uncomfortable noises. Then, just when you think your kids are really soaking in the Gospel and becoming little theologians, one of them asks, “Why is poop brown?”

As you’re passionately reading the account of Jesus pulling Peter up out of the water, all of the sudden your daughter’s hair is being pulled out, literally, by her big brother. As you’re gently teaching your children about the importance of “loving one another,” one of them screams out to their sister, “I hate you!!”

From loud laughs to bodily functions to a hyperventilation or two, maybe you can relate.

At the end of the day, our family devotions end up revealing more sin in my husband’s and my heart than we could ever imagine. We’ve been trying to preach the Gospel to them, but by the time we’re done, we’re humbly reminded that we are the ones that need the Gospel.

But it’s crazy because we expect our children to love Jesus and to sit still like they are little saints, and yet we forget that they are children (children that may or may not even be converted). They will fidget; they will wiggle, and they will have questions (that may or may not relate to the bible story).

In the midst of the chaos, have you ever felt like, “What’s the point?!”

And then, it certainly doesn’t help your defeated attitude when your daughter, who apparently has been sipping on truth serum, reminds you of your perpetually bad bread. Then, if that’s not enough, when questioned about her thoughts on tonight’s bible story, she informs you that she “didn’t learn anything.”

It makes us wonder, why do we spend time with the Lord? Is it only to learn? Is our bible study time a complete fail if we didn’t walk away with a new revelation? Who is in charge of revealing His Word to us? Did the Holy Spirit drop the ball and forget His job? Or, is it my fault for being too tired and distracted (thinking about the fact that I’ve got less than 2 minutes before the next episode of Downton Abbey starts)?

Why do we sit our children down and open up the Word of God? Is it so we can check something off our list? Do we read the bible to our little arrows so we can feel good about ourselves? Sometimes. Often that is why I do it.

Or, do we long for them to know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we rest in the belief that the Word of God does not return void? This is our prayer as parents – that they may know the abounding, unrelenting, unconditional, rescuing love of Jesus Christ.

Our family devotions may rarely, if ever, go as planned. In fact, if you have toddlers, you can pretty much guarantee it will be flop at least half of the time. But at the same time we have to remind ourselves that God hasn’t called us to be successful in training our children to know God, He’s simply called us to be faithful.

Only God can change the hearts of our little ones. We can read them the Bible until the cows come home. We can have them in church every time the doors are open, and we can even make them memorize John 3:16 in New Testament Greek, but if the Spirit of Christ doesn’t open their eyes, they will never come. I don’t know about you, but this is incredibly liberating to me. Thank God the salvation of my children is not contingent upon my parenting skills, but their salvation rests upon the free mercy and grace of Jesus Christ.

So parents, keep reading them the Word. Continue sowing Gospel seeds in their hearts, even if it sure seems like those seeds are falling on hard, little hearts at the time. And through it all, pray for them every day. Pray that the same God who knit them together in your womb, would someday soon (if He hasn’t already) recreate their hearts to beat for Jesus and His glory. When that day comes, surely, all the painful family devotions will be worth it.

Frozen

statue

Brrrrrr!!!!! It has been FREEZING here in Kentucky with our recent record-breaking wind chill of thirty-two degrees below zero. That is cold people! In order to keep warm I have not stopped drinking hot tea and coffee; this may explain the twitch I have going on.

Northerners, how do you do this thing called ice!!??? I think if we ever moved up North, I would have to invest in a sun lamp and just sit there until I could literally feel the Vitamin D running through my veins.

Just want to give a shout out to my west coast/south Florida friends for posting all of your beautiful Christmas pictures in your shorts and tank-tops, rollerblading down the boardwalk – we are so happy for you!

Did I mention it is freezing here? I’m sitting in front of a space heater wearing two pair of socks as I write this.

Schools around the mid-west shut down for several days, and I would normally be celebrating the fact that everyone can sleep a little later. But, we had just finished our Christmas break from school and get this – the kids were already begging to go back to school. Mom of the year award! In a state of deep insecurity and in order to redeem my throne as “fun mom,” I decided we would have FUN in the snow. Two hours and twenty-seven minutes later, I had them bundled up and ready to go. The so-called “fun” lasted a total of fourteen minutes due to the fact they literally couldn’t move. I guess that’s what happens when you have on ten layers of clothing. Momma kept them warm under all those layers, but they couldn’t go anywhere; they were frozen.

When Everything Is Frozen
When it’s freezing, everything and everyone is forced inside into hibernation. Stuck. Sometimes when life moves in on you, it can feel like death, and oh, how you long to get out. Staying in can bring the ugly out. It’s like shaking a can of diet cherry soda with all that artificial sweetness; there is an explosion waiting to happen (this example can be taken to an entirely different level if your children develop the stomach bug).

Did I mention our yard recently looked like Narnia during the white witch reign? Vines are taking over fences, a misty haze of snow, and ice was everywhere. There is a mysterious kind of beautiful blowing over the glowing snow, yet no life to be seen. Looking out the windowpane was like looking deep into my heart; everything seemed lifeless. Everything seemed frozen. No color to be found, just blah. Yuck. Ick. Uhhgg. Dull.

Sometimes Life Feels Frozen

Frozen, stuck in the same boring and mundane routine.

Frozen, numb to the things of God.

Frozen, stiff to the advances of God’s grace in my life.

Frozen in doubt.

Frozen in our bad habits like nail biting, overeating, disorganization, forgetting your child’s homework . . . again (sorry Mrs. Hoak!)

Frozen, paralyzed by the fear of failing – again. I personally know the feeling of being so “bundled up” with fear that I cannot even try. In fact, often, I refuse to try.

Frozen, stuck in the same sinful patterns (many of which I feel like I’ve fighting since my teenage years).

Even your face is frozen in a vacant stare, and a smile cannot even be forced. You find yourself daydreaming, checking out, and numbing the pain of the reality that is before you.

We feel like the ice queen, who with her ice-cold heart is standing still. We, like her, feel hopeless and motionless. With no progress, we simply want to scream, but we can’t because our lips our blue with frostbite. As though we’re in the midst of a paralyzing nightmare, we can hardly utter a word. We’re afraid to hear ourselves say it out loud again, because we are sick of hearing our same little, seemingly meaningless speech to God.

Frozen In Ministry
The past month I have felt like my blogging ministry is frozen. I have a huge desire to reach as many women as possible with the Gospel. The Gospel says, “It is not about my performance; it is about Christ’s performance for me.” However, I cannot make my blog grow. I have compared myself to other amazing bloggers and wondered, “Why am I even doing this? Am I helping other women or am I just trying to grow my own kingdom? Lord do you really want me to write? Is this making an impact?” The sting of frostbite burns even more when you look over the fence and see your neighbor sitting by the fire.

Frozen Like Paul
The Apostle Paul used to embarrass me with all of his, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Romans 7). I mean come on Paul – get it together!!!! Everyone is watching you. If you, the author of much of the New Testament is still sinning, then my goodness, good luck for the rest of us! Paul, you can think it, just don’t say it out loud. Stop all this, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

Paul was able to write to us in this way because he was preaching to us a Gospel that is not dependent upon our work. You know, “keeping it together” and sinning less and less. The message he was preaching is that our only hope lies in Jesus Christ’s perfect life and His death in our place. Until the day I die and see Jesus face-to-face there will continue to be a battle that rages in my heart. I will sin. I am not a slave to sin, but I will sin every day (even though I do not want to). Even when I seem to be doing really well and living somewhat of a “holy” life, I find myself sinning because of the pride or feelings of self-righteousness that creep in. I am writing a book about the beauty of getting over yourself, and yet in the midst of writing about getting over myself, I ironically see the hypocrisy of my self-love.

Embracing The Ice
No one wants to be frozen, but God often uses ice to bring out a unique transparency before God that could be cultivated in no other climate. In freezing temperatures, we long for the heat of Jesus’ blood and righteousness. In our frozen state we long for the warmth of God’s love to melt away our cold heart. God likes to warm us up when nothing else will. Then, we see our great need of Him, and we once again realize that He is greatly to be praised.
We are literally frozen and unable to move apart from the work of God in our lives (Paul would use the language of saying that we are “dead in our sin” in Ephesians 2). The recognition of our inability to move is the grace of God, and such poverty in spirit and utter dependence upon Him gives God great glory.
Outside in the midst of a record-breaking-Narnia-looking winter I saw a tree branch wrapped in layers of ice crystals. In my curiosity (and wrestling with God) I snapped off part of the branch, and there in the midst of layers of ice was life! Green, flowing, moving LIFE.

Christian, you may feel frozen, but there is life moving through you. The blood that flowed from the veins of Christ washed you then, and it is still washing you now.

Take hope and know that it is God who brings the snow and the ice. And yet He brings the snow not to harm us, but to show us something of our need for Him. After all, rarely do we truly appreciate the gift of warmth until we’ve spent a few hours in the ice.