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A Parched Mollusk

Today I have the very special opportunity to share a story with you from my best friend. She wrote this up a week or so ago and has such a talent for communicating so I asked if I could post it. I hope it blesses you as it did me.

IMG_2047“So, how can I tell if it’s alive?” I questioned a stranger on the beach. “Hmm, splash a little water on it and see if it moves.” the stranger offered as she walked toward me. She drew in closer as I scooped a handful of cold ocean water into the shell. I caught this quick picture as the mollusk poked out of his shell. “O yah, it’s alive!” she exclaimed in her Wisconsin accent. “It’s just been out of the water for a while. I like to throw ’em back in and give ’em a second chance.” she said pointing at the water. I nodded in agreement and tossed the little guy back into the ocean.

This simple interaction sparked a life-giving conversation that moved me to tears.

You see, that morning I went to the beach feeling much like that stranded mollusk. Spiritually parched and so far away from God’s life-giving, soul-refreshing, Living Water. Feeling and looking rather dead and hiding from the light. Not that I didn’t KNOW or BELIEVE in God’s goodness and the fact that he is my source of life… it’s just I hadn’t FELT that abundant life in a long time.

While certain circumstances played a big part in feeling spiritually drained, the bigger culprits were sin issues and neglecting time with the Lord. Since my work is in a Christian ministry, I felt like I had to conjure up the appearance of spiritual vitality. I was exhausted from trying to keep up the facade while my heart was withering inside.

That week I was on a trip to Florida and had designated that day as my “Jesus” day. I was going to ignore my phone and other distractions and just focus on resuscitating my relationship with the Lord. In the past, I found spending time outdoors and acknowledging God’s hand in nature to be great faith-builders for me.

I decided to wake up early that morning and go for a walk on the beach to spend time in creation. As I got ready in my hotel room, I begged God to show himself to me that day. Like so many of my previous prayers, I felt like it fell on deaf ears and I was just talking to the wall.

As I walked toward the beach, the cold ocean air whipped through my hoodie and I wished I had stayed in bed. When I got to the beach I looked around and forced myself to come up with praises. (Not the right attitude, I know.) My heart said, “God you are so powerful that you control the tides.” Then my head butted in and said, “The moon controls tides, you dummy!” So my heart responded, “God, I’m so thankful for your control over ALL things!” Then my head came back with, “God if you are in control of all things then why can’t you fix…?” Ugh, not a very good start.

With a conflicted spirit, I reached down to pick up the little conch shell and noticed Sherry, who was walking several paces behind me.

We were two of only a handful of people willing to brave the 40 degree weather on the beach that morning. After tossing the mollusk back into the ocean, we started walking along the beach together.

Almost instantly she brought up her church and we started talking about faith. I learned that she grew up in church, but had fallen away a few times before returning the final time decades ago. She shared about her love for Compassion International, her passion for serving young adults in her church, and her interest in traveling. When she mentioned a life-altering career change to follow God’s leading, we talked about the blessings and sacrifices of the Christian life. I can’t even remember everything we talked about, but the conversation flowed so easily, it felt as if we had known each other for years.

For nearly two hours we walked along the beach together: gathering shells, tossing back mollusks, and talking about life. I found myself opening up to her about details of my life I don’t usually even share with friends. Her honesty, wisdom, and kind encouragement felt like cool water to my thirsty soul. What she was saying resonated so much with me that I felt like her words were a direct answer to my prayers.

As we neared the end of the walk, we hesitated, almost wishing we had more beach to walk and more time to talk. We both acknowledged what a mutual blessing it was to spend that brisk January morning together and felt God had ordained us to meet. Sherry gave me a big hug and we prayed together before a final farewell.

When Sherry first met me, I was that lowly mollusk that had been out of God’s life-giving water for far too long. With her encouragement from the Lord, she gave me a second chance by tossing me back into God’s great ocean of Living Water.

As I walked alone on the road back to my hotel, tears streamed down my face. For the first time in a long time I didn’t just KNOW and BELIEVE, I FELT the love and the presence of God in a real way. God had answered my prayer in a way I didn’t expect and I still don’t fully understand.

My revived soul spent the rest of that day soaking up God’s Word, talking with the Lord, and worshiping him. Only this time it wasn’t forced or conflicted, his praises came overflowing out of the abundance of joy in my heart.

Praise God!

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 68:1

~Natalie Frueh

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in encouragment

 

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When it Rains

Have you ever had one of those weeks where every single thing manages to go exactly as you want it to? Where you get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, work runs smoothly, devotions are deep, your family is well, you get together with friends, and you end the week doing whatever your favorite end-of-week activity is? Yeah, me either. And this week is definitely not one of those weeks. Let me tell you about it.

On Tuesday, I found out that one of my very good family friends from PA had had a stroke. She is only in her forties I believe and a pretty active and healthy person so I was really shocked. Praise God, she has recovered very quickly and is expected to keep doing so but it was still hard to take in.

On Wednesday, our church got the news that one of our dear elders had been taken to the ER for Acute Myeloid Leukemia. They had just gotten the diagnosis that day and needed to start treatment right away. As we were told, I looked katty-korner to the pew in front of me and saw his sweet, elderly mom sitting there with red and teary eyes. As I gave her a tight hug, I couldn’t even find any words to say. We just cried together.

And on Thursday, as I sat in a ladies Bible study I got a text that told me one of our campers from Insight camp (for kids who are blind or visually impaired) had passed away on Sunday. He was 15 and one of the sweetest guys- always had a smile for everyone.

Gosh this life is too much for me to handle. Sometimes the weight of everything really gets me down. And last night I realized I was struggling to hold onto Jesus and that’s when I remembered that isn’t what happens. He holds onto me. My aunt sent me this song a few months ago and as I listen to it, God calms my heart and reminds me that he is my strength, not me.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in encouragment

 

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Video

A Daily Prayer

So I have started writing a post numerous times but every time I just get so tired that I never get to finish it. This is not that post. That one will come. 🙂 Sometime…

I have had a lot on my mind lately and this prayer by Matt Chandler has been one that I have said often:

“My prayer, then is, ‘Lord, help me rejoice in You in this moment. Because I know You are in control. I know You love me; I know You love my family. And I don’t understand what You’re doing, and I don’t know how things are going to work out. But help me to acknowledge that if I have You, I have everything.'”  -Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

I love that quote. I say it to remind myself that it’s okay not to know how it’s going to work out. I remind myself that God’s love is unchanging, undying, and he won’t leave me. I remind myself that his sovereignty is my hope and that somehow, with Christ, there IS a way to rejoice and find that hope in the midst of difficulties.

And that’s what I have for you today. That, and this beautiful song to encourage you to find your hope in Christ and what he has done for you.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2017 in encouragment

 

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A Great Savior

Currently I’m reading the book, “Respectable Sins” by Jerry Bridges. I just started it and I can already recommend it. It’s about all the sins that believers tend to think of as ‘lesser’ sins. Those like gossip, anger, jealousy, unthankfulness, etc. In our minds we all know that sin is sin but if you really look at your heart you would probably agree that you have sins rated from horribly-worst to not-as-bad-as-murder.

A thought from that book really struck me this week so of course you get to hear about it. 🙂 His thought was that if we truly, deeply believed in our hearts that God has paid for all of our sins, then we don’t need to be afraid to confess them. If you really believe that Christ paid the penalty for your sins (past, present, and future ones) and that when God looks at you all he sees is Christ’s perfection, then you don’t need to be afraid to admit your sin.

What a freeing thought, right?! Sometimes I find that I don’t want to admit a sin of mine even to myself, let alone to others, but if I stopped to remember that God has already forgiven me of that sin, then I can deal with the issue and move on!

From Respectable Sins:
“To the extent that I grasp, in the depth of my being, this great truth of God’s forgiveness of my sin through Christ, I will be freed up to honestly and humbly face the particular manifestations of sin in my life. That’s why it is so helpful to affirm each day with John Newton that, ‘I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior.‘” (pg.35, emphasis added)

I have that quote from John Newton hanging in my room and I see it every day. It reminds me that I AM FORGIVEN! Yes, I still sin and make mistakes but Christ is greater than my sin and has already forgiven me! How incredible is that?!

So don’t be afraid to admit or confess your sin to yourself, to the Lord, and even to others. Realize that if you are a believer, you are already forgiven. Your sin was nailed to the cross long ago and you also can say that you are a great sinner, but you have an even greater Savior.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2017 in books

 

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Big Sister Mode

I used that term one time during a conversation and I got funny looks for it. Obviously, the person I was talking to was NOT a big sister.  However, the phrase could use some explanation I suppose.

Big Sister mode is when God gives Big Sisters an essential extra supply of grace just when they need it. 

Big Sister Mode is when your parents think your mom just had a miscarriage and is going to the hospital and you keep it to yourself so as not to upset your siblings.

Big Sister Mode is when your little brother has a life threatening seizure and you are bawling your eyes out but then your parents leave in the ambulance and you instantly collect yourself.

Big Sister Mode is when your younger sister almost drowns in a lake and you don’t scream or cry.

Big Sister Mode is when you find yourself in scary situations but know that you are the oldest and if you panic then so will your younger siblings.  It’s when you put your emotions aside to deal with the emotions of others. It’s when you stop seeking someone to comfort you and you start to comfort others. You don’t have to be the oldest sister to have it; you simply have to be an older sister. (I suppose you could have big brother mode, but I’m not a brother so I’m not sure. 🙂 ) A friend of mine calls it survival mode.

I’ve thought a lot about those situations since that conversation. Why do I respond that way? I don’t think about it during those moments. I never THINK about going into Big Sister Mode. It just happens.

The more I think about it, the more I realize: it really is just by God’s grace. He provides strength at those times when it is most needed and mine is gone.  He gives hope to me so I can share it. He comforts me so I can comfort others.

It reminds me of these verses.

Isaiah 40:29-31

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in encouragment

 

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What Brothers Need

My biggest fear about living so  from home was that my siblings wouldn’t know me. That they would know about me but not who I am.  I wanted to be actively involved in their lives, not a spectator.  Especially with David.  I had read a lot about how a sister can impact her brothers and I wanted to spur David towards Christ.  I loved letting him know he needed to protect me and save me from bad guys.  I loved when he would put his arms around me and tell me I was his baby.  I loved when he would hold the door open for me. And I loved encouraging him to be a godly man for Christ.

In our Sunday School class here we have been talking about what it means to be a true woman of God.  One of the lessons hit me.  We talked about how we can encourage all young men in our lives toward godliness.  We should so reflect Christ that they are encouraged to be godly men.  Our meek and quiet spirit can spur them to be the biblical leaders the world needs.

I also just read a chapter in a book about that!  (Amazing, how God works!)  It was about demonstrating respect towards our brothers and also being interested in their interests.  The book talks about how girls always complain about the lack of godly young men but at the same time they are tearing down the manliness of their brothers.

All this hit me because I felt I couldn’t do that.  I live five hours from my brother. It never occurred to me that it could be done anyway, in the way I treat him when I call and skype.  Do I listen to him, even though I can’t understand a word he says over the phone?  I’ve made it a habit to encourage him every time I talk to him.  Usually this comes in the form of my telling him he’s my hero.  David loves super heroes- Spiderman, Superman, Batman.  He’s knows they save people and he runs around in his super hero costumes all the time. I want him to know that I admire his bravery- against imaginary villains, snakes, and Caroline-monsters.  (Okay, I might have to rethink that predicament.)

I’ve also realized that I need to be doing this with my sisters.  I need to encourage them to live as godly young ladies.  Also, I want to encourage them to see David as a young man and not an annoying little brother.

I’m learning to be more encouraging with everyone I know, especially my family.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2013 in family

 

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The Perfect Christmas

This year, we had some of the best presents we’ve ever had for Christmas.  They weren’t really expensive or really fancy, but they fit the intended person just right.  I know you want the run-down, so here is the list of the best presents:

  • I wrote a while back that we were remodeling our bedroom. We did it mostly because for Christmas, Rebecca moved into our room. She is getting older and it will encourage her to act older and more mature if she thinks of herself as one of the ‘big’ girls, instead of a little kid. We painted and completely rearranged the whole room and none of the younger ones saw it till yesterday. Over Becca’s bed we painted a big letter ‘R’  with a tiara on it, complete with sequins. She was so surprised and thrilled. She spent practically all day in her new room.
  • Bethany and David still share a room. They’re young and don’t care. So, in their room we put up a canopy over Bethany’s bed. She has the top bunk and we fixed these lacy curtains to the ceiling and they hang over her head. She LOVED it- she’s such a girly girl!
  • We also hung curtains (not lace ones) around David’s bed so it’s like a tent in there. He was so excited!
  • For Mom we got a set of non-stick pots and pans. It is an 18 piece set and SHE spent last night figuring where to put them.  It was a great gift for her, AND they were FREE! My Dad’s work does this safety drawing if you are accident-free and he won this set- which is what we wanted to get Mom anyway!
  • We got Dad a HDMI cord that hooks our laptop to the TV. We had an old one, but it always messed up the computer, so the new one is wonderful.
  • David got lots of presents but he’s so easily pleased that all of his were great 🙂
  • Of course, Caroline got the video posted for her.
  • And me? I got what I wanted most: a Mp3 player for when I run. Ahhhh….I love it.

Of course, there were lots of other gifts given and many of them were wonderful as well. These here were just the best ones. We’ve never had a Christmas like this before. There were many presents that couldn’t be unwrapped, like the bedrooms and the video. But they fit. Everyone agreed that this was our best Christmas

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in Christmas

 

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