"Thy words were found and I ate them, And they words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts." Jeremiah 15: 16 "Blessed is the man who trust in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water. That extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; And it will not be anxious in the year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit." Jeremiah 17: 7-8
Happy and Blessed 2015!
I have come to love the first few mornings I can really get alone with the Lord in the days of a new year. It is the foundation of my ability to be able to face days with courage and hope and peace. I get excited about what is ahead, what ways I will see Him working in my life and in the lives of my children--but I don't get excited until I am alone in His presence!
Another new year is upon us! This year will be one filled with fears and anxieties and stresses--and I know that it will be--but how I handle the stresses and face the trials will totally determine the fruitfulness and grace with which we live each day.
As adults, our idealistic children are juggling ideals with reality--where to invest one their lives, how to find community of spiritual people, practical issues of how to pay their bills.
Our own family of 7, is always faced with all sorts of financial demands and insecurities--the future of Whole Heart--our livelihood and the ability to pay our staff, usually is determined by filling our conferences. This is even more complicated with the new health care system as insurance for our small ministry is exorbitant. Paying off school loans with our children, preparing for conferences, books, travels, responsibilities--all of us have our own piles.
But this year, we know many precious friends have lost their jobs and are under financial stress--we are all affected by this downturn of the economy. Clay and I don't know any other kind of work--it is our life's work to minister to families--what is our future?
We know so many of you face these and other issues.
Yet, it is not the battles that defeat us, but how well we fight in the battles that determine our outcome and victory.
Depression and fear are natural results of being in and surrounded by difficulties--three times in John we read that Jesus was troubled--
but it is moving into the presence of the Lord--our commander, in which we see life from His eyes, refocus and gain strength and instruction about how we can move ahead with grace.
I was feeling exhausted and depleted for 28 years of giving, giving, giving! Seems I have spent myself on others--forever--serving them, loving them, providing for them, and caring for their endless needs. So, the thoughts were going that invaded my mind. Whether my husband and children or the many in our ministry or friends, I have spent myself as much as possible for as many years as I can remember. But this night, when I had to pack up--again--and knew that we would only get 2-3 hours of sleep before our alarm awakened us at 3:20 a. m. so that we could get to our taxi, to the airport, and then board our 6 o'clock plane--this night--I felt pretty much like giving up--or giving in--whatever that meant! But I also knew that decisions should never be made at night--happy hormones are down and need a night of sleep to build them up again--never pay attention to the dark thoughts of a late night! They kill and deplete and destroy!
"I think I need a long, long rest, Lord. I think I may be getting irrelevant, dried up, unusable--I don't think I can go one more year in ministry. I am tired and drained and discouraged! I am tired and this is only the first trip of our busiest season yet. Can I please have a year off--just to rest, refresh and gain perspective?"
And so the dark cloud swirled around, hovering around my depleted heart, threatening and accusing and intimidating! But, after many, many years of learning to put one foot in front of the other, I finished packing. Nate came in and we had a 45 minute talk--my last time with him before he went back to New York the next day--so I had strength to give to him, since I knew it would be my last face to face for a while! Just as I finished with him, then, Joy came in changed into her "flying" clothes and crawled in bed with me. Seems she was overwrought from tiredness and depleted adrenalin from many competitions and was a little weepy. "Mom, I can't get to sleep. Will you please snuggle with me? I just need to be close to someone."
So I snuggled, rubbed her head, until 1:00 a.m.--one more time, I could give out one more time--because this little bundle was so very precious to me. Finally fell asleep, looking at the clock for the last time at 1:23! The impossible had been done again--giving out again--there had been enough strength afterall--in spite of my emotions and thoughts!
Yesterday was a blur--sleeping like we were drugged on the plane. But, Clay picked me up at the Denver airport with my own home-made cinnamon bread, toasted; with cheese and toasted pecans and a welcome heart for the hour long trip home. When Joy and I arrived home, Sarah and Joel had lit every candle in our house; they had cleaned up all the Christmas stuff and redecorated with valentine stuff--and put on a beautiful instrumental c.d.; and made a fresh pot of tea with muffins for a 9:30 a.m. tea time. Now, I would have only two more days with them before they both took off to Boston, where Joel, just this week, in the nick of time, had found amazing, great, inexpensive housing near to the campus--another story!
But, just now, Oh, to be home. For so many years, this is how I had greeted them--after trips, in the mornings, when they returned home from adventures. How very encouraged I was to be in the life of home again-that my own, young adult children had created for me. Then, Joy and I slept and caught up on phone calls and mail and the stories Clay, Joel and Sarah had to share--and we shared all about our adventures with them, and I fell into bed shortly after 9 p.m. last night.
This morning, I awakened wide-awake at 4:45. Slipping out of bed, I snuck (is that a word?) downstairs, made some tea, lit our fire and a candle, and almost got butterflies in my stomach because, finally, I would get some much needed time with my beloved and most precious friend--the Lord. Slowly, as I read the Word--His word, I could feel my burdens lightening, my heart getting slowly realigned with His; joy beginning to fill my heart; peace about trusting in His hand to provide for our many needs ahead; and assurance that He would meet me at every point along the way.
Clay had shared a verse with me for the last chapter of the book I have to finish this week--Jeremiah 15: 16--just what I needed this morning--"Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart." His words, the words of my beloved Father, creator, shepherd--the one who wants to care for me this year-the one who longs to speak to me and to have me listen to Him--His words become the delight of my heart."
And so I looked just across the page of my Bible to another couple of verses--Blessed is she (my slight change!) who trusts in the Lord (not in money, things, jobs, people--but in Him) and whose trust is the Lord--(He alone is my strength, help, source of life, and wisdom)--For and this is an important little word--for--if--a person trusts the Lord and has him as their strength--he will be planted--placed by water--a source of life--roots will go down into His stream of life--fear will not be a part of his life when heat and drought come--but instead, fruit will be produced! This person will not cease to yield fruit--even in drought--even in heat--but the water of His life--will be the source to provide fruit that will never cease.
These are the words my weary heart and mind needed to feed upon--just what I needed to keep going with strength and energy to meet all He will bring my way. He is real. He is with me. He is with you--as a little girl, as Joy did with me, go to Him for snuggling, for reassurance, for love and for peace. He is ready to hold you and love you.
How reassuring to me-I see drought ahead--heat ahead--difficult times. I think many are in the refining fire of God's love and care--God is not willing for us to depend on materialism--that is idolatry. He doesn't want us to be lazy and corrupt in our nature--He wants us to be like Him--so our hearts and souls may be tested and refined--but, we will find Him and His ways in our life to be faithful--true--good and truly fulfilling--and joyful. But, the bottom line is--if we trust Him and make Him our trust, if we respond to His loving discipline, if we bring His light and life into the dark places; if we obey his words and life--then the waters of His love and encouragement spring forth in our hearts and we sense his presence and love anew--enough for each day.
I have been learning so much in the past months about how to look at the future with hope; how to walk with God; how to continue to find strength--I can't wait for my conferences to share many of these new lessons with you! And am praying that many of you will still find a way to come. There is something amazing that happens in these conferences where women are gathered together in a large group for fellowship, strength and encouragement and prayer and fun--the life of Christ is almost palpable. We have seen so many lives changed and so many families strengthened for the tasks of life.
But we are also trying hard to figure out new technology on our website and in our ministry to put some of these conferences online so that women all over the world may partake. Please pray for the Lord to help us with this--to provide the technical support as well as the financial support to undertake these projects very soon.
(Some very unexpected support came from friends in Australia that encouraged us to keep going in this direction. Many of you very generously supported us at the end of this year to help us keep going--and we know that many who sent in financial contributions sent them even though they had lost jobs--we were humbled and overwhelmed with thanksgiving for each person who sacrificed and gave that we may keep going! -I have to say that this makes Clay and me really want to be good stewards of your love, faith and support. We feel such a privilege to be a part of God's hands and words and life in this world to parents.)
I will be writing more, later this week, about other ways that the Life of God grows in our hearts and encourages us. But wanted to say hi, we are praying for the many wonderful moms and families that the Lord brings our way. May you find His beauty, strength, grace and peace today. May He fill you with renewed joy. Blessings of His grace to all of you in 2009--may we live to tell stories of His faithfulness to all of us this year through all eternity. Sally Sally@wholeheart.org
PS We will be contacting the two winners of the $50 coupon from Whole Heart from those who advertised our conferences in your email or newsletter in December. They will be contacted today! We will give 2 more $50 away to those of you who advertise in January for the Charlotte, Irvine and Dallas/Ft. Worth conference--to enter your name in our contest, please send Jennice your name and phone number and where you advertised our conferences. You may go here Wholeheart.org and look under conferences for email information and letters that have already been written that you can use for your announcement. We so appreciate those of you who are helping us get the word out. Now that the holidays are out of the way, many will begin to think about the possibility of coming and your announcement may just help a discouraged mom to come for the encouragement she needs. We so appreciate your helping our ministry in this way!