Saturday, December 26, 2015

In the Desert

So, I have been absent for a while.

Not just from blogging, but from life. Over the past couple of months, life has taken some turns that we were not expecting and I have to admit that I have not dealt with it well. I have been in survival mode-functioning on the bare minimum for many weeks.

I won't bore you with the details....it really is not important.  The bottom line is, something (or things) have been keeping me separated from my Heavenly Father.

That's the truth of the matter. I have let the changes and trials of life drive me away from the One who loves me and cares for me the most.

In studying how Jesus dealt with trials and tribulation, specifically His temptation in the desert, I have realized that my response to my current troubles has been less than godly.

When Satan tempted Jesus with food...

"But it is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God'." -Matthew 4:4

What is your bread?  What is tempting you away from the word of God?

Mine is distraction-television, music, work-anything to occupy my time and keep my mind off of my current situation. Rather than running to the words of my Comforter, my Heavenly Father, I choose to distract myself with the things of this world.

When Satan tempted Jesus to prove God's power...

"Jesus said to him, 'Again it is written, "You shall not put the Lord God to the test".'" 
-Matthew 4:7

Do you ask God to prove himself to you?  Do you pray out of obedience?

We ask God to prove himself when we ask for a specific answer to prayer. Praying in obedience simply asks God to acknowledge our request and accepts His answer-regardless of whether or not it matches our desires.

When Satan tempted Jesus with the riches of the world... 

"Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan. For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'" -Matthew 4:10

What gods do you worship?  What comes between you and worshiping the Lord your God?

Television, sports, sleeping late....all of these things, on their own, are not inherently sinful.  However, when these things come before worship and separate you from God, they become sinful.  When we put the things of this world before worshiping its Creator, we have misplaced our priorities.

There is hope in Matthew 4:11.  Jesus orders Satan to "be gone" and he goes. Angels come and minister to Jesus. There is an end to the trials and temptations in the desert. There is hope for the future. 

I believe this story is in the Bible for two reasons.  I think it occurred for the sake of showing Satan, once again, that he has no real power. At the time this event took place, there was no audience but Satan. God wanted to show him that Jesus was fully God and fully man.  But in the telling of the story in scripture, God gives a guideline for resisting the temptations of this life. He shows us the proper eternal perspective. He also gives us a Savior who, while fully God, is also fully man and able to understand our trials and tribulations.

God is enough. God is always good.

Blessings,
Meri
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Vows

Last week, we celebrated 15 years of marriage.

As I think about that day, 15 years ago, it strikes me how the vows I recited in front of God, my husband, family and friends that day were more than a promise in that one moment. They are a living thing, changing and growing over time, but always remaining steady and true at their core.

"To have and to hold from this day forward"

Physical touch is such a vital part of our marriage. Over the years, this has taken many different forms. There are the obvious aspects that we all think of when we consider the physical side of marriage, but there is so much more to "having and holding" than what happens in the marriage bed.

The gentle caress of my cheek when he wipes away my tears, the intertwining of our fingers while holding hands, the support of his strong hand in the small of my back as we walk into the hospital to welcome our first child into this world, the comfort of his strong arms around me as I weep on his chest after the loss of our 4th child through miscarriage.

I also want to address the "to have" portion of this phrase. I think we all have an inherent desire to belong, and I am so grateful to have someone to belong to and who belongs to me in this life.

"For better or worse"

As young, healthy, and somewhat naive newlyweds-our future was full of "for better". It's funny when we look back in our lives we see the challenges and hard times along with the joy and good times, but when we look ahead, we tend to only focus on the "for better". For the most part, I think we view this portion of our vows through the lens of life circumstances. But I think it goes deeper than that. By promising to love each other "for better or worse" we are promising to stick it out even when our spouse disappoints us.

We are human. We disappoint one another. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, your spouse will let you down. What I have learned, and am still learning, about this particular vow, is that marriage is a picture of God's love for the church. We have to be willing to extend grace to our spouse, just as God covers our multitude of sins with His grace.

"For richer, for poorer"

On the surface, this is pretty straightforward. Our love is not to be altered by our financial situation. And that is good stuff-true and wise.  However, the past 2 years have taught me more about the meaning of this particular vow than I could possibly have imagined. Our story of financial struggle is shared throughout my blog, so I will spare you the details here.  Suffice it to stay, my understanding of what makes you rich and what makes you poor has changed dramatically.

"In sickness and in health"

When you are 22 and healthy and vibrant and full of life, "in sickness" seems like something you will have to deal with after say....30 or 40 years of marriage. I pictured us growing old together, rocking in our matching chairs on the front porch of our vintage, remodeled farmhouse, sipping sweet tea while we watched our grandchildren play in our yard. Sickness didn't really figure into my vision of the future.

However, that was not quite how it worked out. Since 2009, I have battled chronic illness. Lately, the main topic of conversation with my husband tends to be related to my health. My daily activities are dictated by how my body feels. This is not what I had planned. This is not how it's supposed to be 15 years in.

But there has been a purpose-a beautiful, God-ordained, blessed purpose-in all of this. My husband has shown me compassion and care beyond anything I could have imagined. He has searched for answers with me, taken me to countless doctor's appointments, and taken care of me when I have been too weak, too exhausted, and too sick to manage.

"To love, honor, and obey"

Apparently, there is a trend among Christians and non-Christians alike, to omit the "obey" portion of the bride's vows. Obedience and submission are not popular concepts in today's society, especially when it comes to wives obeying husbands.

I purposed to include this word in our wedding vows 15 years ago, but I have to be honest, it was not likely for the right reasons. But God knew. He saw our lives 5, 10, 15 years down the road and knew that this little word would play a huge role in our marriage.

Submission does not come easy to me. But as I study God's word and instruction on this topic and work to make it a part of my daily life, not just in marriage, but in my walk with God, I find great freedom in obedience. There is a reason that God created the husband to be the head of the family. There has to be a leader, there has to be a final decision-maker. And let me be entirely truthful here-I am glad it's not me! I am so thankful for a godly, strong and wise husband to turn to when tough decisions have to be made. Don't misunderstand-I still express my opinion (a lot) and he listens and carefully considers my desires. But sometimes, hard choices have to be made and it is important to have a strong leader who seeks God's guidance in this process.

Blessings,
Meri

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Grief and Joy

So here's the thing-we all know cancer sucks. But today, it sucks in a very personal way. It sucks in a way that hits just a little too close to home for me.

Last night, my Momma and I lost a sweet friend to this terrible disease.

She was a vibrant, active, kind, encouraging, caring, smart and funny lady. She battled cancer for 8 years with dignity and grace. But ultimately, her body just couldn't fight anymore. She was tired. She was worn. She was ready to go home.


My heart rejoices for her! She is pain-free, cancer-free. She is at home with Jesus and there is no more suffering for her! Praise the Lord!

But my heart aches as well. Not just for the void that now exists in the lives of everyone she knew, but because this just got real. You see, my sweet friend died of metastatic cancer. Something very similar (if not the same) as what my Momma has. There is no cure.

It feels a little like peering into the future for me. And I am not ready to face that future. Everything in me, every fiber of my being wants to fight the reality that I will someday lose my Momma (actually, both of my parents.....but I digress).

Three weeks ago, I was talking with my friend about her business (we work in the same field) and seeking her advice on an issue I was having. Last week, she was at my Momma's house for dinner. Today she is in Heaven.

Like a thief in the night.

Death feels like that to those of us left behind, doesn't it? Like something has been stolen from us. But how can God steal what already belongs to Him? As I study His word and learn more about trusting Him, not just knowing and worshiping, but truly trusting, I am learning that He is always in control. Always. No exceptions. Nothing gets by Him, nothing gets to us before it passes through His hands.

If God was ready to call my friend home, who am I to ask Him to let her stay here on earth-suffering and in pain-when she could be at home with her Heavenly Father? And this applies to my Momma as well.

I feel like we haven't had enough time. I regret all the wasted years of teen angst and young adult rebellion. I am not ready. I never will be.

But God will be ready one day. He will be ready to call His daughter home to Him to live in glory forever. How can I even consider wanting to delay that?

So here is what I want you to know:

Cancer sucks.

Love big. Love loud. Love now.

Forgive. Forget.

Choose joy.

Love is everything.

Blessings,
Meri

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The "S" Word (No, Not THAT One)

Let's talk about sin.

I know, it's not popular. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward.

But sin is in all of us. It comes from within. It is not the result of some outward force invading our lives. We are not born inherently good. In fact, due to the Original Sin in the Garden of Eden, we are all born inherently sinful.

With all of the media attention on Ashley Madison and Planned Parenthood, I needed to take a step back. When I did, I found that at the root of both of these hot-button topics is one thing...sin.

We like to use the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin," but that is not actually based in scripture. It is based on a quote by St. Augustine "cum dilectione homium et odio vitiorum" which loosely translates to "with love for mankind and hatred for sins". 

The truth is, God hates sin. Sin separates us from God. Sin places a great canyon between our Heavenly Father and His children.


But there is hope, sweet friends! God sent His son so bridge the gap. God's grace through the sacrifice of Christ covers all of our sin and draws us back to Him. 
But wait. How does this apply to the issues currently at hand? Does this mean that the baby-murderers at Planned Parenthood get off scot-free? Does it mean that the adulterers on Ashley Madison do not reap the consequences of their actions?

In a word...no.

God has promised forgiveness for our sins. Christ paid the ultimate price for sin so that we do not have to. Our sins on this earth will not have eternal consequences if we confess them and ask God's forgiveness.

Just in case you missed it, that last part there, we must confess our sins and ask God's forgiveness.

Y'all. Sin is real. Sin is ever-present in our lives. God's promise of forgiveness and grace does not alleviate the consequences of our actions here on earth.  It also does not allow us to just believe and then behave however we desire. God calls us to accountability. He calls us to identify our sin, name it, call it out, and confess it.

We cannot receive His grace without first recognizing our desperate need for it.

And the way we do that is calling sin what it is...sin.

Adultery is sin. Murder is sin. Anything that separates us from God, anything that goes against His will...that is sin.

So what does that mean for us?

You may be thinking "I didn't have an abortion" or "I have never cheated" so these issues don't impact my life. But that is not true, dear reader!

There are no "better" sins or "worse" sins. Sin is sin. Plain and simple. Sin is ANYTHING that separates us from God. We are all guilty of sin.

So now that I have beaten you over the head with the club of "sin", I am going to tell you the end of the story.

God wins. Sin dies.

Just as God's grace through Jesus' death on the cross covers our sin, it covers ALL sin. Even murder. Even adultery. Because the story didn't end with death. It ended with life. Eternal life. Sin killed God's son. Sin kills us. But grace redeems. Jesus didn't stay on that cross or in that tomb.

Forgiveness can only come when we recognize that there is a need for it. Grace can only cover our sin if we know we are sinful.

Jenny Block recently wrote in her article "Here's Why It Makes Perfect Sense That Josh Duggar Cheated" in the Huffington Post:

"Can we please stop pretending that religion can somehow alter human behavior?"

As a whole, I was completely appalled at the article in which she calls humans animals and that abstinence and monogamy are against our nature and that "there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage between two enthusiastically consenting adults". However, she hit the nail on the head with this question.

Religion cannot alter human behavior. The process of following rules and jumping through hoops in an effort to be "good enough" cannot change our innate predisposition to sin. 

Only God can. Only God.

Blessings,
Meri

Monday, August 10, 2015

Study of Job: Misplaced Hope

Do you have that friend in your life that gives (what she/he thinks) is great advice? You know the one-they could probably write for a certain greeting card company. They always have something to say about what you are walking through. They mean well, but sometimes their "pop psychology" or even their pretty biblical references (usually taken out of context) are not quite what you need to hear. It may be what you want to hear, but it is not what God has for you.

In chapter 4 of the book of Job, we see Eliphaz frustrated and confused by Job's condition because he is of the belief that the innocent do not suffer, and to him, Job was an innocent. The suffering of Job has rocked Eliphaz's world and turned his belief system upside down!

In the beginning of chapter 5, Eliphaz is still coming to grips with this juxtaposition of his world view versus what he is witnessing with his very own eyes. Job 5:7 says "Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward". This is a reference to Eliphaz's belief that man reaps what he sows, there must be a cause, that was generated by Job, for the terrible tragedies he has suffered. "The sparks fly upward" is actually a reference to Resheph-the god of pestilence and destruction. Eliphaz clearly has not come to terms with what has befallen his friend.

As if he realizes that his somewhat harsh words may have been rubbing salt into Job's wounds, Eliphaz softens his words (and likely his tone) in the next few verses. He encourages Job to appeal to God to relieve him of his pain and suffering.

To be honest, though, I am not sure Eliphaz is really "getting it" yet. The words of Job 5:8-16 do not strike me as spoken by a man (Eliphaz) who has an eternal perspective. He still seems to be seeking redemption for Job here on earth; and, while that is noble and does actually come to fruition, I have to wonder-what if it didn't? I know this is skipping ahead a bit, but what if Job was not redeemed while here on earth? What if his redemption did not come until he went home to heaven? Would we still be able to glean the joy from this story?

"So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts her mouth."
-Job 5:16

Every day, you and I see and hear of grave injustice around the world. Children dying of starvation, genocide in parts of the world, men and women murdered for their faith, families with no access to clean drinking water, families put out of their homes because of things beyond their control, soldiers returning from war to be forgotten by the very country the fought for. Where is the hope? Injustice's mouth seems to be wide open. 
In the book of Psalms alone, "hope" is mentioned 28 times (ESV). And each time hope is mentioned, it is in relation to the Lord or His word. Sweet friends, hope may be all we have sometimes, but please don't buy into the gospel of Eliphaz (otherwise known as "health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine"). God does not promise us a life of ease and wealth on this earth, but His promises are worth so.much.more.

1 Corinthians 15:18-19 tells us "Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." 
Our hope is not in the things of this world. If it is, we are missing the best thing and are, therefore to be pitied. Sweet friends, place your hope in the One who created all things, the One who knows your innermost thoughts and knit you together in your mother's womb. Place you hope in God alone.

Blessings,
Meri

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Share if You Love Jesus

I know you have all seen them in your Facebook feed.

"Share if you love Jesus, keep scrolling if you don't"

"This person just had something terrible happen, share if you care"

"My prayers were answered, and yours will be too if you share this picture"

for.the.love.


Y'all. Jesus is not a Facebook post. You are not going to hell if you don't share every faith-related or heartstrings-tugging meme that appears on Facebook. This is not how we spread the gospel. This is social media bullying.

Recently, I had a sweet friend who was deeply hurt by someone who misinterpreted her post on social media. My friend admits that she probably posted before thinking it through. However, the "friend's" reaction was also blown entirely out of proportion, to the point that my friend is not even sure she can continue to worship at the same church as this person.

Cyber-bullying has garnered a lot of attention amongst the pre-teen and teen age groups, sadly because it has resulted in serious consequences-including several suicides of those young people that were the victims of the bullying.

When I think of this type of toxic conversation, I am reminded of Psalm 4:4.

The sermon today at my church was on this specific passage and I truly appreciated the way our pastor broke down this verse:

"Be angry about sin, but don't let yourself be driven to sin by anger"
-Andrew Hopper (paraphrased)

In Psalm 4:4, David was facing an angry population. It's not clear exactly who was persecuting and slandering him or what it was even about, but it was certainly sinful on the part of his enemies. But David does not lash out in kind. He does not return slander for slander, insult for insult. Instead, He directs them to be silent and think over their response as well as to "Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and put your trust in the Lord" -Psalm 4:5
Over and over throughout the Psalms, David turns back to God's word. And this is the example God wanted him to set for His people, including us. David knew he was sinful, an adulterer and a murderer. But He also knew that God alone has the authority to judge.

Sweet sisters, please think before you post. "Meditate within yourself on your bed" as David instructs in Psalm 4:4. Consider that your words may do more harm than good. Ask yourself, is what I am about to say edifying or destructive? (And remember that sarcasm-which happens to be one of my spiritual gifts-does not always translate on social media). 

And please, please, please stop with the "share this picture or burn in hell" crap. Just sayin'.

Blessings Y'all,
Meri

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Counting My Blessings

This morning I awoke to troubling news (of the financial variety-which seems to be a hot-button topic for my anxiety). But, last night God knew this was coming and He equipped me with the tools to overcome my fear and anxiety.

I am sure Philippians 4:6-7 is a familiar verse to most of you. It has been a verse I have clung to in times of trouble and worry.

But God wants better for us. He instructs commands us "Do not be anxious"! This has been such a struggle for me. I am a worrier. I desire instant solutions to my problems. I want to fix things myself. I give my burdens to the Lord only to take them back over and over.

I think one of the best examples of Philippians 4:6-7 in action is in the Psalms of David, specifically Psalm 56.

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?"
Psalm 56:3-4

David put his trust in the Almighty One. The One who knows how the our story ends because He has already written it, each and every day! I need not fear the future because it is but a memory to my Heavenly Father.

So in an effort to make my faith bigger than my fear, I will count my blessings-one by one.
  • My Savior who died for my sins so that I may have eternal life in heaven
  • A husband who seeks God's face daily
  • Children whose names are all written in the Book of Life
  • Parents who love me, my husband and my children and pray daily for us
  • Friends who press in when life gets tough
  • A church that seeks to spread the gospel through community
  • So many more things that I cannot possibly list them all!
Blessings Y'all,
Meri

 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sugar Detox: Week 6 Complete

I posted a little late last week about completing Week 5 of the 8-Week Sugar Detox Challenge, so we have now completed Week 6 (reduce consumption of "quick breads").

This past week has been challenging and our entire clean eating was slightly derailed due to the move. We ate out a few times and it is a real challenge to eat clean at most restaurants. So today, now that we have the bulk of the moving behind us, I am getting my clean-eating train back on the rails and chugging ahead.

I believe in any lifestyle change, there will be setbacks-the key (at least in my opinion) is to keep moving forward, despite the setbacks. Give yourself some grace!

So onward to Week 7!

Goal for this week: reduce or avoid breads and starchy foods.

Now, I love my carbs. Pasta, rice, bread, rolls, biscuits....I could go on and on. But as a diabetic, I know I cannot consume these on the scale I have been in the past. When meal-planning, I almost always include a meat, green vegetable, and starch. I think this is what most Americans consider a standard meal. So this week I will be working to replace that "starch" with other, healthier alternatives.

We will also be continuing the clean eating habits we have developed over the past 6 weeks:
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup-entirely if possible.
  • Eat only whole grains.
  • Reduce consumption of sweets and desserts.
  • Cut out all soda.
  • Stick to natural sugars.
  • Reduce consumption of "quick breads"
  • Limit natural sugar consumption (goal: <2 b="" day="" per="" tsp="">
Just to give you an idea of what this looks like in action, I will share what a typical meal plan for a day looks like:

Breakfast: 
Smoothie (I love my NutriBullet) consisting of greens (usually spinach or kale), frozen or fresh fruit, plain Greek yogurt, almond milk or water, and sometimes nuts (usually almonds) and/or seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax-seed). If I don't have a smoothie I usually make an egg scramble with spinach, onions, and cheese.

Lunch:
Salad with plenty of dark greens, fresh fruit (apples or strawberries), seeds and chicken or a hard-boiled egg.

Dinner:
Tonight we are having slow cooker chicken with broccoli and stuffing (yes, I know that is a starch-but I am currently limited on groceries due to the move!).

Because I am diabetic, I try to eat smaller portions at my meals and snack every 2-3 hours. Snacks consist of veggies and homemade ranch dressing, sweet-potato tortilla chips and salsa, etc. I also usually have a smoothie at night which includes ingredients that aid in restful sleep.

Blessings Y'all,
Meri


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Redeemed

I have always understood the term "redeemed" as it applies to my redemption through Jesus' death and resurrection. I understand the concept that my redemption from a life of sin and an eternity in hell is entirely a gift of grace from my Heavenly Father-something I cannot possibly hope to earn, but is mine in spite of that fact.

However, I have never seen redemption in action in a real and tangible way in my life.


First and foremost, to experience redemption, you must first experience loss-usually a significant loss. Until recently, I had not experienced that type of loss. For the most part, I have led a fairly privileged life, especially compared to most of the rest of the world (most Americans don't realize the level of privilege we experience here). I had a stable and generally happy childhood, excellent opportunities for post-secondary education, married my high-school sweetheart, had 3 healthy children. Fifteen years into our marriage, both in our mid-30s, we had built our dream home, had good-paying jobs, 2 cars, 3 kids, and a dog. Life was beautiful and amazing. And I did not appreciate what we had the way I should.

Then, in the course of about 18 months, we lost our jobs (both of us), a car, and our home.

It was like my entire world came crashing down around me all at once. But, in the midst of this storm, God was still in control. Since the "great crash" last winter, I have been refined, molded, pruned and loved by my Heavenly Father in ways I could not have ever imagined. Oh, there has been pain and suffering. But there has been great joy and peace as well. Because my peace and joy are anchored in Christ, not my current circumstances.

Don't get me wrong-I felt pain, I cried (a lot), I cried out to God, I questioned, I prayed like I have never prayed before-but I knew these circumstances were temporary. So mostly, I just believed. I believed in El Shaddai-the Lord God Almighty. He who is capable of all things.

We went through a period of loss and grief. But God provided in the most amazing and tangible ways. He provided jobs for both of us-jobs that were far better than the ones we had lost. He provided a new place for us to live, even after we ended up in a living situation that was less than desirable-He redeemed that situation as well, giving us a new home where we feel safe and comfortable. He has drawn our family together during this time. He has restored and improved our marriage. We have been redeemed.

Friends, don't think of redemption as some abstract concept that only applies on a spiritual level. Redemption is as real to us today as it was to Job or to Ruth. Redemption is real, current, and tangible.

Blessings Y'all,
Meri

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sugar Detox: Week 5 Complete

Week 5 had us cutting out quick breads (pancakes, waffles, fruit-breads, etc.). I have to say, this has gone remarkably well. Of course, over the past 2 weeks we have been very focused on packing and moving and 2 out of our 3 children have been at Camp Grandma & Grandpa as well.

I can't say that we will permanently remove these products from our lives. We have switched to whole-grain waffles from Trader Joe's and I will be exploring using coconut and almond flour to replace the AP flour I currently use for pancakes. It's pretty rare for us to make pancakes and waffles, so I don't have a problem allowing them in our diets as an occasional treat.

This week we are limiting natural sugars. These sugars have slowly been replacing the more processed and refined sugars in our diet, but it is important to limit even the amount of the "good" sugars.

These "good" sugars include:
honey
maple syrup
organic pure cane sugar
muscovado sugar
coconut or palm sugar
molasses
sorghum
stevia

The funny thing is, I am finding that the better I feel and the less sugar I consume, the less I want the sugary sweet things I used to crave. I think sugar, like many things, has "addictive" properties that make our bodies crave it more as we consume it more.

Sugar cravings can also indicate underlying medical issues like hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, and yeast overgrowth. I find my overall mood has improved, my moods are more steady and predictable, and I am sleeping better and waking earlier (because I want to, not from pain).

I am excited to continue on this journey to reclaiming my health and teaching my children healthy habits as well. This area has always been a challenge to me, but this has been worth the effort!

Blessings,
Meri

Generosity

God has been working on my heart lately in regards to generosity.

This has always been an area of struggle for me. We have never had a significant amount of "discretionary income", so I have applied the standard logic of "when we have more, we will give more". But over the past few weeks, God has made it clear that this is not His picture of generosity.

"And He sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And He called His disciples to Him and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."
-Mark 12:41-44

My parents have, as far back as I can remember, been very good with managing their money. Although money was not something we talked about much while I was growing up, it was evident in the way they lived their lives that they placed high importance on the stewardship of their wealth.
Apparently that gene skips a generation.

As an adult, I have rarely (if ever) felt that we have had an abundance of wealth. Most months our, we zero out our bank account paying bills and raising 3 children. For a long time, I reasoned that I would give more when I had more to give-I mean God doesn't want me to skip out on my bills or not put food on the table, right?

But Mark 12:44 makes it clear that this is flawed logic in light of Christ's view of generosity.

Jesus was not impressed by the large and showy gifts of the wealthy. But when the widow gave all she had to live on. All of it. Everything. He was so moved that He called his disciples to Him and used this as a teaching moment to show them what generosity really means.

So lesson 1 for me on generosity is: Don't give out of your abundance, just give.

If we view our wealth (including, but not limited to financial wealth) as a gift from God, then all of what we have is actually His, so it is more a matter of stewardship than "losing" what we have. See, generosity does not result in a loss (although that is what many people believe), but rather generosity results in an increase to the giver. An increase of joy and faith, hope and love.

Lesson 2 for me in regards to generosity is: It really is better to give than receive. We are simply stewards of God's gifts.

In 2 Corinthians 8:16-24, Paul addresses giving in the church. This is a man who knew about giving. This is a man that, quite literally, poured his life into the people of the world in a tireless effort to bring the gospel to anyone and everyone he encountered. He did this with a joyful heart, even thought in frequently resulted in hardship for him. To me, one of the key verses in this passage is 2 Corinthians 8:24:

"Therefore show to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf."

"Proof of your love". Those 4 words sum up, to me, the entire doctrine of giving. Generosity is the proof of our love-for God, for others, for the church and community. We pour out our love, God's love, on others by our generosity. Giving from any place other than from love is fruitless. Generosity is not borne of obligation or a spirit of competitiveness with fellow givers. Generosity, true generosity, can only come from a place of love and joy.

So the 3rd and final lesson I have learned on generosity is: Give with a joyful heart, or don't give at all.

Blessings y'all,
Meri
 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Valuable

Recently, I had a sweet friend reach out to me. She was concerned that I was being too hard on myself (based on a series of posts I have done related to brokenness). I was challenged to really look at my life and my faith and clearly explain where my value lies and why brokenness is not necessarily a negative experience.


I came up with two major points:


1) I do not equate brokenness with worthlessness.

I am still working on this process, but I am learning that my value is not linked to my circumstances. I don't believe material things, salary, family size, living arrangements, etc. have the power to give or take away any of my value. Sometimes periods of brokenness are exactly what is necessary to reveal the beauty and value from within.



2) My self-worth is inextricably linked to my value in Christ.
I watched a video yesterday where a pastor illustrates this concept with a pizza box. The pizza box is only worth about $0.40, but it's true value is linked to the product that it carries and that dwells within it, the pizza. I am the pizza box, and my value is entirely tied up in the product that dwells within, Christ Jesus. Without Him, I am simply an empty cardboard box.
Don't misunderstand-I know I am not a worthless cardboard box. God tells me so in Matthew 13:45-46:
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it."

Sweet sisters-you are that pearl of great value and your Heavenly Father sacrificed His son for you. Just you. Only you.  


I am so glad that I have dear friends that care about me, challenge me, and hear me-even if we don't always share the same opinion.  It is so important to me to have all of these ladies in my life.








Blessings y'all,
Meri



Women Betrayed

When I was a young woman, I was fully pro-choice. (I will pause here and let that sink in).

I was pro-choice.

I believed that a woman's "right" to choose was more valuable than a life God created.

But, as I grew older (and hopefully wiser), I began to understand that not only was what I called a "choice" actually the murder of an innocent child, but also that this "right to choose" is simply a myth being perpetuated to distract women from the truth about their health and God's plan for them.

With the release of some terrible and heartbreaking videos, you would think that this myth would be shattered. Women should be rallying against the perpetrators of this massive deception-and while many are, many are still drinking the proverbial "kool-aid" of Planned Parenthood.

If you still believe that Planned Parenthood is an organization that stands for women's health and "choices", read some of the quotes from it's founder, Margaret Sanger...

"The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." (Women and the New Race, ch. 6)

[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring."
(Plan for Peace, from Birth Control Review-April 1932)

"Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
(Women, Morality and Birth Control, 1922)

Article 1. The purpose of the American Baby Code shall be to provide for a better distribution of babies… and to protect society against the propagation and increase of the unfit.
Article 4. No woman shall have the legal right to bear a child, and no man shall have the right to become a father, without a permit…
Article 6. No permit for parenthood shall be valid for more than one birth.
 (America Needs a Code for Babies, March 27, 1934)

These are not the words of a woman who desires better health care for women. These are the words of a woman prescribed to the idea of eugenics.

eugenics

[yoo-jen-iks]
noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1.
the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, especially by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics)
 
Eugenics is what drove Hitler to try to "cleanse" the Jews from society. Eugenics is what led to the sterilization of thousands of mentally disabled Americans without their understanding or permission. Eugenics is what drives jihadist groups in Islamic parts of the world to murder and maim young women in the name of "ethnic cleansing".  And it was the concept on which the founder of Planned Parenthood based her entire doctrine of birth control and women's rights.
 
From the beginning, it was never about a woman's right to choose and access to healthcare. It was about racism, money, greed and politics. Those of the fundamentals on which the entire Planned Parenthood foundation is based. 
 
We, my fellow women, have been betrayed by this organization. But we also have to take on some responsibility-did we look deep enough? Ask enough questions? Did we ever attempt to peel back the layers to reveal the cesspool that lay beneath the surface? Some of you may have done these things...I did not, at least not until I was much older.  
 
The thin film has been pulled back for us now. The truth behind this organization has been revealed-so the question is, what do you do with that truth? Planned Parenthood must be defunded. It is salt in the wounds of women everywhere to not only propagate the lies as truth, but to also use our tax dollars to fund this killing machine.
 
I am pro-life. I am pro-woman. I am pro-child. I am pro-family.
 
Defund Planned Parenthood. 
 
 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Too Broken?

It has been a tough couple of days. I will spare you the gory details, but our 13 year old son just returned from a week-long Grandma vacation where he spent virtually every day either at an amusement park, water park, or on the water in their sailboat. And now he is home. And we are moving on Saturday. We have teen angst in spades. He is not a happy camper. And he is letting us know-in all his teen angst-y ways.

Ugh.

Today, I got frustrated. He got frustrated. There was yelling, there were tears, there was drama.

The truth is that I know him better than he would like me to and it's my job to help him learn to know himself. So after the hours of drama and angst, I sat down with him. No TV, no phone, no computer-just me and him (and the dog). We talked. We discussed. We walked through scenarios and discussed how we both could have handled things differently. We were accountable. We prayed. But we did not yell. We did not say mean and hateful things to one another.

I revealed to him, during this "non-yelling" time, that we are a broken family. I am a broken person and I know I cannot have anything but a broken family-no matter how hard I try. I make mistakes. I yell, I sometimes swear (gasp!), I get angry and place the blame where it doesn't belong, I get frustrated and take it out on my family. I am broken.

But my God is a God of redemption.

He takes the broken pieces of me and my family and He mends them back together and creates something new and more beautiful than I could ever have imagined. I am weary and broken under my burdens and He invites me to rest.
We will never be a "perfect family" because that is really just an illusion. Real life is messy and loud. There will be arguing and yelling (hopefully less as time goes on-it's something I am working on). There will be hurt feelings and anger.

But there is always God. Always there, inviting us to rest and lay down our burdens. Put down the anger and tears and let him mend our hearts. There is no one, no family, that is too broken for God.

And with his help, there is joy and laughter in our family. There are good times. There are happy times.

And God is always there, enjoying our joy.

Blessings,
Meri

Study of Job: Good Men vs. Evil Men

In chapter 4, we see Eliphaz's response to Job's speech (ch. 3) and his current situation. Eliphaz is of the belief, as many people are today, that good and godly men should be happy and should be protected from harm by God. Unfortunately, this belief does not fit with his understanding of Job and the recent tragedies that have touched Job's life.

While many of us may see Eliphaz's ideas as rudimentary and even foolish, I believe that we all subscribe to the belief of good reaps reward and evil reaps punishment to some extent in our lives. Our basic knowledge of good and evil pushes us in this direction. But, God does not always work that way.

Wait, what?!

You mean that our good and gracious Heavenly Father does not always reward the good and punish the evil?

In an eternal sense, yes, He does work that way. And this is why it is important to have an eternal perspective on our lives.  However, He does not always reward the good and faithful in this lifetime. In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus uses the story of servants who faithfully serve their master to illustrate how God rewards His good and faithful followers. Their reward came when they returned to their master, and God also rewards His faithful followers when they return to Him-forever.

So what does this mean for Eliphaz and Job? Job's suffering has rocked Eliphaz's world. It is not in his ability to comprehend that a good and godly man should be suffering in the manner Job is, and then Job's speech in chapter 3-a speech of sorrow and frustration-further upsets Eliphaz's worldview. To Eliphaz, a man like Job should be protected and should be joyful; but, what he finds is a broken and bereaved man who is crying out to God.

Eliphaz spends the first 13 verses of chapter 4 seemingly arguing with his own perceptions of good and evil and how God works into all of this. Job 4:6 says:

"Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?"

I find this verse particularly poignant.  It seems to sum up Eliphaz's ideas about good and evil and how these forces work in the world. He is asking Job, "Shouldn't you be happy? You have done good deeds in your life and lived uprightly so you should have hope and confidence?". But Job is broken and weary. He is not confident and hopeful as Eliphaz believes a man of God should be-even in the most troubling of circumstances.

Don't we do this? When brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling and suffering we offer tidbits of "Biblical wisdom". 

  • "God will never give you more than you can handle"
  • "If God brought you to it, He'll bring you through it"
  • "God's got this!"
  • "God will use this for good, He has a purpose in what you are going through"
While these are lovely sentiments and some of them may even have scripture-based truths contained within, they don't allow much room for human brokenness. Sometimes we just "fix our make-up and hide our crazy" (although, I think this process has been ingrained in Southern women for generations!). God encourages us to surround ourselves with fellow believers so that we can find support amongst them when we are suffering. It's okay to be broken sometimes. It's necessary to be broken sometimes.

I prefer the following tidbit of "Biblical wisdom":


Show your crazy. Be transparent. Be vulnerable. Be Job.

Blessings,
Meri




Friday, July 24, 2015

Contentment



Recently, I have been studying along with our sermon series at church in Philippians. The sermon last week focused on Philippians 4:10-13 and on the subject of contentment.

I have always struggled with contentment. Not so much that I have been unhappy with my circumstances, but more that I am always looking forward to the "next big thing". I also tend be dependent upon my circumstances for my happiness and joy. So I gleaned two very important lessons from last week's sermon:

 1) I must be dependent on God for my joy and not pin my happiness on the circumstances of my life. 
2) I must adopt an eternal perspective on life. 


We are moving. Again. It's a long story, but the down and dirty truth is that I failed to submit to my husband's leadership and guidance and, as a result, we ended up in a less-than-desirable rental situation.

So, while I do not relish the actual physical act of moving all of our stuff (again), I am very excited to be exchanging our current living arrangement for a new and better one. It is good to be excited and this is definitely a positive move. But I have to be careful not to pin all of my happiness and joy on this move.

Usually when we think of Paul's message on contentment, we think of it through the lens of remaining content in difficult situations. Paul wrote this letter from prison, so it is natural to apply his admonishment in this way. However, it is equally important to view this idea of not allowing our circumstances to determine our contentment from the other direction. 

If all of my happiness in life is tethered to this move, what happens if it doesn't work out the way I planned or imagined? What if it is more difficult than I thought it would be? What if there are challenges (as there inevitably will be) that I didn't foresee? Would I be happy if we weren't able to get out of our current rental situation?

To get off the roller-coaster ride of depending on circumstances for happiness, we have to find our joy in Christ alone.


By being completely dependent upon God for my joy, I can work towards adopting a more eternal perspective. When I view my circumstances through the lens of eternity, specifically and eternity with my Heavenly Father, it removes all of their power to impact my happiness!

This does not mean that we will not and should not experience human emotional reactions to certain situations. We will feel grief, sadness, happiness, excitement and all of the other emotions God gave us as we experience the changing circumstances of this life. But, what God promises us is that we do not have to be slaves to these emotions-we have His promise of a future with no pain, no suffering, no tears....for all eternity!



Blessings,
Meri


 




Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sugar Detox: Week 4

We have had a lot going on in our lives lately, so it seems we have gotten a little off-track on the sugar detox. I can't really call week 4 (phasing out all refined white sugar) complete, but it is definitely in progress and moving in the right direction.

Between health issues, carting kids to and from Virginia to visit with grandparents, and our upcoming move, I believe some of these detox challenges are going to be a progressive work over time. So here is the current status:

  1. We no longer have ANY high fructose corn syrup in our house! 
  2. We are only purchasing whole grains, except for pasta. We are still searching for a pasta alternative that we all like.
  3. We have cut out MOST sweets and desserts. I doubt we will ever completely cut out all sweets and desserts-this is a lifestyle change for us, not a short-term "diet plan". We have cut back significantly and are more selective about what is in the sweet treats we allow into our home.
  4. I have personally cut out all soda. We no longer keep soda in the house, but on the rare occasion we go out to eat, we do allow soda with the meal. 
  5. We are in the process of replacing products in our home that contain sugar with alternatives that only contain "good sugars". This will continue to be a work in progress for a couple of months, I am sure.
One of the great things I have found through this process, is that the less sugar I consume, the less I crave. I have begun drinking my coffee with coconut oil and butter, rather than artificial sweetener and half-and-half. I no longer enjoy soda (full-sugar or diet) and even find my favorite Starbucks beverages too sweet for my taste any longer.

So as we continue on this journey, our next step is to cut down on our consumption of "quick" breads (pancakes, waffles, muffins, bagels, etc.). Again, we will not be cutting this out of our lives completely, but will be consuming fewer of them and replacing them with healthier options. I have already started doing this personally, mostly at breakfast. 

Breakfast in our house is usually very random and uncoordinated, especially in the summer. So usually the kids resort to some sort of convenience food, typically a bagel, frozen waffle, muffin, etc. But lately, I have started having a smoothie for breakfast (my favorite lately has been spinach, avocado, rolled oats, blueberries, almond milk, and cinnamon). Other good alternatives we have tried include egg scrambles (with ingredients like cheese, onions, spinach, etc.), oatmeal, yogurt-based smoothies, and omelets with custom ingredients.

Food plays so much more of a role in our health than I ever gave it credit for and I am looking forward to a future that includes a much healthier lifestyle.

Blessings,
Meri


Monday, July 20, 2015

Tenez Bon

My mom has a small, hand-stitched saying framed at her house. It says "Tenez Bon". Roughly translated this means "hold on" or "prevail". A dear friend gave it to her as encouragement when she was going through her first battle with cancer.

The story behind it is that this friend, French Canadian by birth, had a mother who would accept no complaints until her children could tell her at least one good thing that happened that day. The children would come home from school, ready to complain about how their day went or how much homework or chores they had; but, their mother would say to them "Tenez bon! Tell me one good thing that happened today!". 

As a family, we have had some challenging months recently. And I have shared our challenges as well as some of our good times. But as I look back, I noticed that I am not nearly as grateful for the every day graces God gives me. I have allowed myself to be worn down and have lost sight of the good moments that are part of each day.

So here it goes, these are the wonderful things that have happened to us in the midst of our tough times:
  • I have developed a more personal, deeper, stronger relationship with God. I have learned how to allow Him into the gaps in my life and to just be still and wait for Him.
  • My husband and I have drawn nearer to God and, in turn, nearer to each other. Our marriage has thrived during this time and we have reached levels of commitment and closeness that we could not have under any other circumstances.
  • I have witnessed the redeeming grace of God in a deeply personal way.
  • I have realized a lifelong dream of being able to stay home with and homeschool my children.
  • We have reconnected with old friends, both local and long distance. God has rebuilt connections and used these relationships to support us and walk with us down this difficult part of our path.
  • We have discovered that there is more to a job than the salary. There is so much value in the relationships Rick is building and has built at PIU. His co-workers friends work family has prayed over us, come alongside us in hard times and celebrated with us in good times. 
  • I have reached out to and been met by my "mommy-friends" in my most desperate hours of need and in my times of great rejoicing. God has placed beautiful, godly women in my path to pray with me and for me, give me godly advice, and share all of the messy beautiful moments along the way.
  • Our family is growing closer and stronger. We are still messy and loud, but we are fiercely loyal to one another and committed to being better for each other and for God.
  • I have fallen more deeply in love with my husband than I ever thought possible.
  • God provides. In big ways. In tangible ways. Every single day.

Blessings,
Meri


Study of Job: Eternal Perspective

In chapter 3 of the Book of Job, the man himself finally speaks.  Until this point, through all of the adversity and tragedy that has befallen him, Job has remained mostly silent. This silence is something we can learn from.

I am not good at silence. I know. Stunning.

I like talking. I like action. I want to speak out about things right away. I want to comment, post, talk, and share immediately.

But, I am learning there is much value in silence-maybe more than there is in speaking. I am also learning to truly consider what I am saying (or typing) before I actually let it loose. My words are becoming more and more thoughtful and in that process, they are becoming fewer.

So when Job speaks, we should listen. He has carefully considered his words and held them for all this time, waiting for the right time and right way to let them loose.

Years ago, when I wrote my paper on Job for my English class in high school, chapter 3 seemed to be further evidence that we (humans) are simply playthings for a master puppeteer rather than cherished children of a Holy God. In this chapter, Job curses the day he was born and I interpreted that as a desire to never have lived.

But, as I study this chapter more, I see that Job is saying he would rather be with God in heaven rather than suffering on this earth. It's not that he wishes he had never existed, he just would rather be able to put the suffering and heartache of this world behind him.

"For now I would have lain still and been quiet, I would have been asleep; then I would have been at rest." -Job 3:13

Job is longing for a place of peace and rest. He has struggled through tragedy after tragedy and is ready to find peaceful rest, and he knows that eternal peace is not something we can find on this earth.
"The small and great are there, and the servant is free from his master." -Job 3:19

In verse 3:19, I believe Job is not only stating that there is rest and peace in heaven, but he is recognizing that the things of this world-material possessions, social standing, financial gain-are truly meaningless when you have an eternal perspective.

The sermon at church this week was on finding contentment regardless of our circumstances. One of the most significant truths I took away from the sermon is that if our joy and happiness is tied to our circumstances, we will continually ride a roller-coaster of joyous "highs" and devastating "lows". But, if we bind our joy up in the truth of Jesus Christ and the promises our Heavenly Father, we are no longer slaves to the roller-coaster ride of our circumstances. We are all dependent on something, it's the "something" we are dependent upon that matters, and I choose to be dependent on God. 

Job had an eternal perspective. His joy was not dependent on his circumstances, but rather on the covenant promises of God. In spite of that, Job still experienced the human emotions that accompany such tragic losses. He felt grief, pain, and sadness; however, he kept his eyes on the Lord. He remained focused on the end game, eternal rest in heaven with the Lord.







"I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, for trouble comes." -Job 3:26




Blessings,
Meri





Friday, July 17, 2015

Study of Job: Just Show Up

I have learned the value of good friends, near and far, over my lifetime (aged and wise as I am). In more recent history, I have been blessed to have God reveal to me how important true friends are when you are struggling and how, within a circle of friends, each one brings something unique and special to the table.

Sometimes we need a friend to talk to and listen to us. Sometimes we need to listen for godly wisdom from our friends. And sometimes we just need silence.

First and foremost, I love how Job's friends respond to the tragedies in his life.

"Now when Job's three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each on came from his own place." -Job 2:11a

Now, in the days before social media and cell phones, people were not nearly as "connected" as we are today. But, Job's friends knew he needed them, and they came. Sometimes, even in our overly-connected society today, we need friends to show up. Don't call, don't worry about whether or not it's the perfect timing, just show up...bringing ice cream is always a good idea, too.
In verse 12 we see that Job is so disfigured by boils and grief, that his friends do not even recognize him at first, but when they did, they immediately wept. 

"And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven." 
-Job 2:12

They not only wept, they grieved for Job and his unimaginable losses. But what they did next is what we often overlook in friendship. They didn't give him advice, tell him to seek God's wisdom, tell him to curse God. They were silent.  They were silent for seven days and seven nights and did not leave his side.

Now, I don't know about you, but I usually can't be silent for 7 minutes, much less 7 days (those of you who knew me as a child are nodding right now).  Job clearly has some remarkable friends. I also have remarkable friends (although I am not sure any of them could be silent for 7 days and 7 nights, either). 

One of the best ways to be a good friend is to just show up. Job's friends did just that. Any of my friends that are reading this-showing up with treats is always a good idea as well....

Blessings,
Meri


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Not Ever Again

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post entitled "Not Yet" about our struggle with secondary infertility and trying to understand God's plan for our family.

Well, it seems, His answer is actually "not ever again".

I won't go into the specifics, but God has made it clear that I will not have any more children that come from my own womb.

It's a fresh and raw pain right now and I am not sure how I feel about it yet. Well, that's not entirely true-I feel peaceful and grateful. Peaceful because I know we are making the right decision and grateful that this condition is not more serious and can be solved with a simple surgery.

I don't know if I will still feel this way after the surgery is done, but I do know one thing: God will love me and walk with me through this journey no matter how I feel. And He has blessed me greatly with a husband who will do the same.

I know that this is the end of a chapter in our lives, but not the closing of the whole book. I know that ending one chapter is necessary to begin a new one, a potentially better one. But I think all endings come with some feelings of grief and loss.

I also know that there are other ways to grow our family. My husband and I both come from families deeply ingrained in the miracle of adoption-me being adopted myself and Rick having an adopted brother. This has given us both a heart for adoption as well as a clear understanding of the challenges it entails.

We don't have the answers as to what this will look like for our family, but we do know that God's plan and His timing are perfect and we are willing. Right now we are just following His lead, one step at a time.


I love the psalmist's word choice here.."a lamp". I envision a lantern or maybe even something like a candle, lighting just the next step on the path. It is such a beautiful illustration of how our Heavenly Father works-we need not worry about what is 10 yards or 10 miles down the road for us, because He has already been there. Our future is a memory for Him. All we need to do is trust and keep our eyes fixed on Him.








Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Study of Job: An Excellent Wife, or Maybe Not

It's interesting that this month I am doing a series on the wisdom of Proverbs on Instagram and Facebook, posting a verse (or a few) from each chapter in Proverbs for the 31 days of July.

There is so much in Proverbs focused on wisdom and how it applies to marriage. One of the verses I posted a few days ago was Proverbs 12:4.






I don't know about you, but I would much rather be a crown of my husband than bring hi shame and be like rottenness in his bones! (Don't worry, this will all tie in by the end of the post, just file this away in your mental memory for now).

In the first part of Chapter 2, we see Satan gathered again with God. Again, Satan is attempting to provoke God by upping the ante on Job's righteousness. The enemy says to God, "Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But, stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" (Job 2:4b-5).

Again, I am going to compare this to a parent-child relationship (I really have to stop using my children as an analogy for Satan).

I think it is important to note that in both Job 1:11 and Job 2:5 Satan challenges God to reach out and cause destruction and devastation in Job's life and both times God gives him just enough rope to hang himself. God is not driving the devastation in Job's life, Satan is. God simply let Satan have his way, like an unruly child, knowing all along what the outcome would be. I believe it was God's way of showing Satan just how limited his knowledge and powers are and how great and mighty are the powers of the Lord.

So Job is now afflicted with boils from the "sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (Job 2:7b).

Medicine.net defines boils as "deep, localized skin infections that begin as reddened sore areas". Sounds fun, right? (I thought about including a picture here, but figure that might cause digestive issues for some of you).

Having dealt with a chronic illness for several years now, I understand the high value of good health. I have cried out to God to take away the pain, exhaustion, and other issues related to my illness. I have questioned Him, the Great Physician, as to why He won't heal me when I know He can. "Why me, Lord?" is the cry of my heart.

But Job did something different.

"And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes." Job 2:8

While I have not tried this particular treatment-I have, recently, determined that my life with chronic illness is never going to be the same as my life before chronic illness. I can, however, choose to control the things in my life that are still within my grasp, namely my faith and trust in Jehoveh Rapha, the Lord who Heals. I can also treat the body that He has granted me with more respect and fill it full of His good things both physically and mentally.
One thing that I see in this chapter that was not revealed to me in my youth is the role of Job's wife. Once her husband is physically afflicted, her sage and loving advice is to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9b).

Now, I am sure Mrs. Job is a lovely lady and is likely just frustrated by the sudden paradigm shift in her formerly stable and comfortable life. But Job does not cut her any slack, "You speak as one of the foolish women speak. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10b).

Well. There ya have it.

He made it clear that she was, as we say in the South, "showing out" and she needed to "put her big girl panties on a deal with it." So now, refer back to the beginning of the post (feel free to scroll up if this has already fallen out of your memory as frequently happens to me). Mrs. Job was not a crown to her husband here! On top of losing all of his material possessions and children and now covered with boils, he is afflicted by a wife who brings him shame. I am pretty sure Satan saw this as an added bonus to his devious tricks.

The last sentence of verse 10 proves, once again, that Satan's power is all smoke and mirrors. The enemy has no real power over us, only what God allows. God is power. He doesn't have power, He flows with it, produces it, burns with it.

"In all this, Job did not sin with his lips."
-Job 2:10b-

I don't know about you, but when I am in pain or stressed, I sin with my lips. I am short-tempered, I am snarky, and I lash out at those closest to me. I am not Job. But God loves me, just as He loved Job. His grace is sufficient to cover the sin of my lips. His grace repairs the damage and heals the wounds (not always completely as there are consequences to my actions). His grace restores me. His grace is power.
Blessings,
Meri