I am giving away three free copies of my book Facing Trials: Thoughts for Meditation on goodreads. Just go to this link and enter for free. Hope you win! God Bless you, Cheryl
I am giving away three free copies of my book Facing Trials: Thoughts for Meditation on goodreads. Just go to this link and enter for free. Hope you win! God Bless you, Cheryl
I took a break from blogging for a couple of months so I could assist my daughter and be present for the birth of my newest granddaughter! This beautiful little girl makes number six…I have five other adorable grandchildren, three girls and twin boys…but this was my daughter’s first baby and you know how mothers through the centuries have traditionally helped their daughters after they gave birth. So, I spent a lot of time in Texas and had lots of time getting to know my sweet little Margaret Nicole! She was named for my late mother (her great grandmother, who sadly passed away before my daughter ever got to meet her) and our beautiful cousin who was tragically killed in a fall while hiking in the mountains.
Little Margaret (Maggie) actually had a pretty rough start in some ways. After the placenta began deteriorating she lost weight (this is a one in a million occurrence), and when her heartbeat dropped dramatically during labor, the doctors rushed my daughter into the operating room for an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my son-in-law’s family and my husband and I were blissfully unaware of these developments until the doctor came out and told us both daughter and baby were doing fine! That was all we needed to hear! We all shed a few tears of gratitude to God for bringing them both out of the crisis and saving our beautiful granddaughter’s life and realized she was, indeed, our little “miracle baby”!
My daughter is doing just fine now and Margaret is beginning to sleep through the nights. But for many days I stayed and helped by cooking, cleaning, holding and rocking the baby often, especially during the nights, so my daughter and her husband could get some rest. It was during these cherished precious moments alone with her that I realized how tiny and frail she was, and yet how strong she was, as well, with the determination to enter this world even though in some ways the odds were against her. I realized how God is the giver of life, beginning at conception, and these words from the Book of Psalms came to me over and over again:
“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” (Psalm 22:9 & 10, NIV)
“Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.” (Psalm 71:6, ESV)
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:13 & 14a, ESV)
Remembering the amazing sonograms my daughter sent us during her pregnancy, the fact that Margaret was just as much a human being then as after she was born, and the startling realization she might not have made it had God not given her breath, made me that much more grateful for her little life and that much more horrified when I thought about the millions of tiny babies just like her who had been aborted while still in their mother’s wombs for reasons totally foreign to me! How could anyone kill a beautiful, innocent life, totally created by God?
I also thought of how she was entering a very wicked world and without faith in the Lord, she might be unable to withstand the onslaughts of the Enemy against her. I also thought of the fact that she has her whole life ahead of her, a blank slate on which she can write or accomplish anything she wishes. She may be a prolific author; she may discover a cure for cancer; she may be a doctor who cures the sick and starving in Africa; she may be the future president of the United States; she may be a great artist, composer or pianist. Of course, I am a bit swayed towards the pianist idea! With her long, slender fingers I think she will make a great pianist…or flutist like her mother…or French horn player like her father! Oh, well, the important thing is that she be what God wants her to be! I prayed over and over again as I held her in my arms that she would be a handmaiden of the Lord, used to bless many and minister for Him in the way He chooses for her life!
Even though she has not been born into an earthly royal bloodline as a princess, she has Christ’s royal blood flowing through her veins, and is heir to much more through our Lord than any earthly prince or princess could inherit from this world! I prayed that she would always serve the Lord and glorify Him, giving her heart and life completely over to the Master for His use. Yes, little Margaret, God has gifted you with so many talents yet to be discovered and my prayer for you is that you will always use them for Him! Forever love and serve the Lord and you will make your grandma so very proud of you!
(Next week I would like to complete this post by giving some ways in which parents can influence their children to love and serve the Lord by introducing them to worship music, creating musical interest in them and helping them develop their inner God-given talents. Don’t miss Part 2!)
She was a delicate, beautiful, slightly built young woman who appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent. After walking into my teaching studio in Tyler, Texas and shyly introducing herself as Sheron, she told me she was interested in her five year old son, Ali, beginning piano lessons. She seemed a bit unsure of herself, and I noticed she also had a two-year-old son who appeared to be very hyper-active with disciplinary challenges! I gladly enrolled her little boy in lessons and decided to take him myself, as I had a few openings.
Ali did fairly well when he practiced, but I don’t think piano was his main interest in life; probably, more than likely, it was his mom’s idea for him to come! As the weeks passed and he came to his half-hour lesson, I would visit briefly with Sheron and discuss her son’s progress, among other things. I learned that she was new to our country, having recently moved here from her native country of Iran. She had a degree in biophysics and after moving to the U.S. had met and married a fellow Iranian who owned several gas station/convenience stores in the area. She was always very pleasant to talk with and our friendship grew.
One day she confided to me that she was very lonely and did not seem able to make many friends in our country. I told her I would be her friend and that seemed to please her. I knew she had her hands full with two very active boys and I just tried to help her feel comfortable. The next time Sheron brought Ali to his lesson, she said to me, “I want to know about Jesus! I have been reading some and hearing about Him. Can you help me?” I excitedly shared my testimony of receiving Jesus as my personal Savior from sin and asked her if she had a Bible. She did not, and I told her I would get her one, which I promptly did. When I presented it to her the following week, she was very excited, telling me she was fluent in English and could easily read an English edition. She also began reading materials about the Gospel in her native Farsi language.
The next time she came I asked her if she would like to receive Jesus as her Savior. She eagerly said, “Yes!” and after explaining what conversion was all about, I led her in the sinner’s prayer and Sheron became a Christian! I asked if she had a church home and invited her to come to our church. She said she would try, but that her husband was a Muslim and did not like the Christian faith. She seemed a bit concerned about this fact, and I told her I would be her prayer partner and together we would pray for her husband. Then she shared with me the fact that she had suffered with severe back pain for some time; I prayed for her healing and she told me the pain left! The next week she was jubilant when she told me she had not suffered any more pain all week and that she was still rejoicing in her new-found salvation through the blood of Christ!
Not too long after this a young woman in her twenties, with a remarkable voice and to whom I had taught voice lessons when she was in high school, came back to refresh and sing again with me. During her first vocal lesson, she confided in me that she had recently converted to the “Wicca” faith, a variety of witchcraft, although she had been a Baptist when I had taught her years earlier. Although I was somewhat aghast and surprised, I simply told her I would pray for her. She knew how I believed and week after week at our lesson, she would still sing some Christian songs along with Broadway and operatic tunes she was working on. At times I would have a chance to witness to her of my faith, once again. One day, she came and told me about some heart-wrenching things in her life, and began to sob in anguish. As the tears streamed down her face, I said, “Michelle (not her real name), it’s time to come back! Jesus is waiting for you and you know you will never be happy until you surrender to Him!” She nodded in agreement, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with me. Great joy flooded her countenance and the next week when she returned for her lesson, she glowed with a peace that made her look almost like an entirely different person!
Both Sheron and Michelle moved out of my life, Ali discontinuing his lessons and Michelle moving away. I never saw either of them again, and perhaps I never will, but out of the thousands of people I have taught, I never forgot them! I know God used me in that little studio to help two young women come to Christ. Sometimes when I became discouraged about teaching kids who didn’t want to be there, or when it seemed that my work was in vain, I thought about them and others who had come for lessons, many pouring out their hearts and problems to me with tears streaming down their faces, often saying as they sang worship songs, “I don’t know why, but this just brings something out in me that makes the tears flow!” I would tell them this was the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
When you get discouraged or feel like giving up some days, just remember God can bring people into your life and down your path, even in the workplace! You don’t have to preach them a sermon; just be their friend and bring Jesus to them as He leads you! I found out through these experiences that “music really is worship”…being “salt and light” in a dark place!
Q: Will you tell us a little bit about your son, Caleb?
A: Caleb turned three on April 12, 2013. He gives the best hugs and kisses. He has a sweet personality. I truly think our dog Bella is his best friend in the world. And he really likes bubble gum. Though, I’ve had to restrict that now because I found it in, our daughter, Camden’s hair.
Q: What was it like when you first saw something a little different in Caleb?
A: He was about six months old and laying flat on the living room floor. I realized he wasn’t even trying to sit up or crawl. Speech wasn’t even on my radar. At that point, we were trying to fix all his motor issues, which were most important at that time. I began to get scared, thinking, “My kid is different. What’s not exactly right and how am I going to fix it?”
Q: What was it like when you discovered Caleb had Apraxia of Speech (http://www.apraxia-kids.org/)?
A: Caleb’s Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) diagnosed him with Apraxia on April 9, 2013. She showed me Caleb’s scores. There was so much he couldn’t say that was typical for his age. In that initial moment there’s no blame, it’s more, “Why? What?” But then as you start thinking more and more, you become obsessed. All of your thoughts are encompassed around, “What did I do to cause this?” Did I hold him too tightly as a baby? Did I take some kind of Tylenol or eat feta cheese while I was pregnant?
I was devastated … helpless. Caleb deserves everything and I can’t fix this for him. Then I became overwhelmed. I was realizing the journey was not going to be short-lived. This is going to be hard work. That night with Shaefer, I just sat on the couch and bawled. But my crying was followed by motivation. “Alright fine, you know what? I’m going to empower myself, learn everything about this. The kids are going to wake up in six hours. We’ve got to be ready.”
Q: Can you describe Caleb’s disorder?
A: It’s a neurological, expressive communication disorder. Basically, the brain is unable to tell the mouth/muscles how to move in order to form words. When Caleb wants to speak, his brain does not tell his mouth, tongue, lips, etc., how to move to make those sounds come out.
Q: After you discovered his disorder what did you do to assess that? Therapy? Related services?
A: Apraxia is commonly diagnosed (by a SLP trained in childhood Apraxia of Speech) at approximately three years of age. I’m finding that there aren’t a lot of professionals that are trained in this type of disorder. I’ve seen kids improve much faster with a therapist trained in Apraxia, as opposed to one that is not. Intensive speech therapy is typically required three to five times a week. Some go every day.
Caleb also has Developmental Delay, which is a gross and fine motor delay. So he has PT and OT for that. There is a relationship between motor delays and Apraxia, but researchers haven’t discovered why.
Q: You’re finding out, I understand, that there is not a lot of awareness for this disorder?
A: Yes. Even physicians or professionals in the Speech Language world haven’t heard of it. So that’s part of my role, advocating for it. It’s not easy. It’s time consuming.
Q: How did that change how you view all of this?
A: It was frustrating at first because you think, “Wait, my kid has something that nobody knows anything about!” Everybody acts like it’s this terrible thing, but that’s just from lack of awareness. There are few people out there with Apraxia knowledge and they are hard to find. It’s a daunting task to know that you’re the link to making your child functional in society.
Q: Were you ever angry? Angry in general? Angry at God?
A: I haven’t been. Or at least not long enough to dwell on it. In an early interview for a study at Vanderbilt I was asked, “Would I change this if I could? Would I take away his challenges?” I sat there and eventually said, “I don’t want my child to have this. I would love it if he didn’t. But no, I wouldn’t take it away. God is putting this in our lives for a reason.”
I have found myself angry at people who ignore him or treat him like he isn’t intelligent. They’re just not aware. They can’t see his disability for what it is. So I’ve made it my goal to try to empower them with knowledge. I love people knowing what his challenges are so they can understand him and support him. Labeling his challenge isn’t a problem. Labels help us know how to help.
The purpose of our struggle is so much bigger than us. Hundreds of people have already come into our lives because of this. These people see our good days or our bad days. Caleb isn’t the only one learning from this. Shaefer and I are learning, Camden is learning … everyone around us. Yes, I would take away his challenges, but I would not take away the lessons and the things that God is trying to teach us.
Q: Do you think this may have strengthened other areas of Caleb’s life that wouldn’t have been
A: Caleb is constantly meeting a new therapist. At his school, there’s always a student coming in to work on something with a special needs child. They’re observing him, they’re talking to him, and they’re wanting to record the sounds he does make. Can he run? Can he jump?
I’ll take him to a kid’s birthday party from his class. He doesn’t want to sit with the group. He wants to look around, typically migrating by himself. Caleb can’t build relationships because others don’t understand him yet. I don’t think he’s introverted, I think he has to work his way into the group. He’s having to work on that almost daily.
So he’s constantly being tested or on the spot, which I think in the end will build character. He’s got to either choose to do what is before him or cower in the corner. It’s probably helping him overcome some social issues that may have been more prevalent, had he not had all these people in his life.
Q: I hear you saying, basically, he’s going to be really good under pressure in the long run?
A: Yes, because he’s constantly under it. He can choose to either be good under pressure or to crumble. And I don’t see him choosing to want to crumble.
Q: It sounds like he not only is good under pressure, but he will be really good at finding alternate
routes to whatever end result he is pursuing?
A: Yeah, he does. When he tries to get me to, “Come Momma,” I sometimes think he’s saying, “Bubble gum, Momma.” I’ll respond, “No you can’t have bubble gum.” So he’ll grab me and pull me into the living room, which is what he wanted initially. He’s finding another method to get my attention, whereas he used to just walk away.
In the car today he was trying to tell me something. I had no idea what he was telling me. In the rear-view mirror, I saw it in his face when he gave up. There’s not a, “tell me in another way,” when you’re snapped into a car seat. It’s frustrating.
Q: What is the progress that you’ve seen?
A: According to research, it is going to take years to talk intelligibly. But he is making such great accomplishments. Since April 12, the day of his first Apraxia Speech Therapy, I’ve been there every day with him. I have a notebook that I keep of things the therapist does and says. I think his progress has improved because we’re now working with him at home, in the structured method. He’s putting these things together–consonant, vowel, consonant. He now has about 32 words, but most of them are approximations. On top of that, he knows about 150 signs, which is fantastic for him. He’s improving his sequencing. We probably have five new phrases just in the last month. The word “no” is very constant now. Which I’m realizing, how blessed was I because I had the only child that didn’t say, “no”?
I saw a Facebook posting, “Guess what my son did for Mother’s Day! He said, ‘I love you’ for the first time.” Though, I do want to hear that one day, I’d rather him be able to tell me what his favorite color is. We long for him to tell us something we don’t already know about him. That’s our desire.
Q: How has this affected your faith?
A: It pulled me closer to Him, honestly. I became more committed to my quiet times, getting back into The Word. I had to have Somebody that understood and loves me more than I love myself to make me stop blaming myself. I had to find something to power my energy into so that I wouldn’t focus on the wrong things. So I chose to focus on God. This isn’t about me. It’s so much bigger than me.
Q: How does this affect Caleb’s relationship with God?
A: I think Caleb feels God’s love through all the others’ around him loving him. I see these people giving him this special love that can only come from God. It’s almost as if it’s channeled down through them. Camden is getting that same exposure. But the only difference is that Caleb has extra people in his life working with him on his challenges, so there’s more opportunity for love.
Q: How has this changed you and/or your family?
A: Concerning Shaefer, he deals with this differently. After reading a lot of blogs, I realized that husbands can’t figure out why the mother is so bothered by it. It’s something they maybe think they can just fix. So, Shaefer and I had to come to an understanding that it affects me in more of an emotional way than him.
Concerning me, at first I wondered how other moms are busy with typical children. We have to go see the Developmental Pediatrician, his regular Pediatrician, his Speech Language Pathologist, run to an IFSP or IEP meeting, etc. That was maybe a bit of resentment, wondering why others have two typical children and I don’t. But by the grace of God I’m able to push those thoughts away.
Concerning Camden, we’ve tried to teach her that God made all of us all differently. If she sees someone in a wheel chair, hopefully we’ve instilled that this is the route God gave them to walk. They use that chair instead of their legs. But there’s nothing wrong with us for being different.
Q: How’s Caleb’s relationship with Camden?
A: She’s a super-supportive lil’ big sister. If he’s signing in the back seat while I’m driving, she communicates it. She tries to give him speech therapy. She’ll say, “If you say ‘candy’, I’ll give you some candy.” Knowing he can’t, but still trying. Of course she gives him candy in the end. It’s very sweet. I said that Bella’s his best friend but I think Camden is truly his best friend because she “gets” him.
Q: Has Camden ever said anything to you that really just struck you?
A: Her awareness of how much time having a special needs child takes was evident because she said to Shaefer’s Nana, “When Caleb can talk better and walk better Mommy will have more time for me.” This of course devastated me so I moved all of his therapies outside of the house. It was an internal struggle to figure out how to expose her less, but also teach her that this is how God made her brother. No matter how much I want to, I can’t shelter her from all of this. I want her to know so that she can tell others. Camden can be that voice for Caleb.
Q: What has God taught you conceptually as you reflect upon your experiences up until now?
A: Everybody has their own challenge. Ours happens to be a special needs child. But we’re not special because of that. Somebody else’s family may have the death of a loved one that haunts them. Another family may have someone who’s chronically sick or financial struggles. Whatever our challenges are, we deal with them. We learn from everybody’s challenges. That’s how we grow.
Q: That we’re not alone in our struggles?
A: Exactly. God gave us the verse, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” [John16:33] He didn’t tell us this was going to be an easy life. But everything we have is a gift. Caleb and his challenges are a gift. Even though I don’t always view it that way, hopefully one day I will.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything toward awareness in general?
A: If you’re wondering about a child that seems different, or if you’re wondering what the braces are on Caleb’s feet/legs, just ask. It’s more beneficial to ask instead of wondering or judging. If you ask you’ll gain understanding and empower yourself with knowledge.
In my mind, I think Caleb will be “typical” one day. I don’t know if that’s false hope or if I haven’t mourned the loss of a typical child. Most likely Caleb will not live with us until he’s forty because he should be able to be functional in the world. So maybe I don’t have to mourn that. But in my mind, I’m mourning the loss of a typical boy who can tell me right now at three, “I want ice cream. I like chocolate, not vanilla, Momma.” I need to mourn some of those experiences.
Q: It almost seems like a daily acceptance?
A: That’s right. In my marriage, it’s a constant conscious effort to put Shaefer before me. He does the same thing so that’s why it works. Maybe with Caleb it needs to be a constant conscious effort to accept, learn, and empower. Because being sad, negative, or mourning is not helping him. BOO-YAH!
**A hearty “Boo-yah!” isn’t the “typical” response in any of the interviews I’ve conducted. However, of the many things I’ve learned from this extraordinary family, here’s one of them:
do we really want to be “typical”? Probably not.
I was the most fortunate of kids!
I was brought up with a Mum and Dad who loved God.
Being the youngest of five, (I had twin sisters but sadly one died of TB when she was only one year old) I guess things monetary wise were a bit stretched, but we certainly never went without the essentials and we certainly had plenty of love handed out liberally, especially by my hard-working and devoted Mum.
That didn’t stop us going off the rails – (well the boys that is) unfortunately when we became of age and even had families of our own, the world and it’s lures were all too much and even though I personally put on the face of a Christian and did all the ‘Christian” things – I was far off from the Lord.
But Mum and Dad kept on praying for us – determined and sure that God would bring us back to Him.
Personally for me their prayers have been answered.
Dad died in 1998 and our Dear Mum passed away in 2000. Before they died they both recorded a message to us from “beyond the grave” sort of thing and re-listening to them again recently I was staggered at Mum’s simple yet solid faith in God – determined that her sons would come back to the Lord.
She says at some point that she has never stopped praying for us even before we were born. And in another part that “It doesn’t matter if Dad and I don’t see it for we have prayed fervently for you all.”
Well I’m afraid they didn’t see it – But I know that one day we will ALL meet around the throne of God in unity and love of our Lord and Saviour.
Here is a transcript of her message – I pray that you will be blessed as you read it as I was to hear it.
The prayers of a faithful Mum and Dad for their kids is awesome in it’s simplicity and mighty in it’s outcome – Praise God.
(From my Mum)
As my Savior has said – Weep not for me for I have only gone ahead to rest and wait for you in a place where there is no more pain or loss.
My children, when you were under our care your Dad and I endeavoured under the scant knowledge that was ours to show you that God has an infinite plan for us.
That plan of God’s was to bring home to us the amazing power and love that is available to anyone who has surrendered their hearts and love to the guidance and teaching of the Holy Spirit which is the gift from God to those, when in faith believe in the hearts and confess with their mouths that Jesus is the Messiah, died to pay the price of our sins and that He rose again.
I tried to teach you of The advantages of a committed life, of the security we have knowing that what ever happens we are the children of the Almighty God and nothing can separate us from Him – we have someone to go to when we are in trouble – and who isn’t in this sad world of ours.
Our God is a prayer answering and miracle working God – how many times have we proven that – over and over again.
He has promised never to fail or forsake those who put their trust in Him.
Sin unconfessed is the only thing that can disturb that relationship which exists between man and His maker for sin uncovered by the sacrifice of the Son of God CANNOT, literally CANNOT, exist in the presence of the glory and holiness of the Father.
So that those who have not come in faith to the Father find that sin puts a barrier between them.
Sin estranges God and Man – for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ happened only that man may be restored to the relationship that should exist between the creature and his creator.
Gods greatest miracle is not the creation of the world, the suspension of the sun, the ceaselessness of the tide, Gods greatest miracle is the salvation of the human soul that all people should be saved and is unwilling that any should be lost and He has bound up the salvation of men and women with the prayerful ministry of his own people.
There is no doubt that the prayers for the salvation of others are well within the will of God. Your Dad and I have prayed fervently for the salvation of all our family – and this type of prayer is never in doubt and being the will of God shall in is own good time be fulfilled.
It doesn’t matter if your Dad and I don’t see it, for we have prayed for you all and these are just some of these promises we have held for you all.
Isaiah 54:13 That you all will be “taught of the Lord” and great will be your peace.
Psalm 119:11 That you all will “hide God’s word in your hearts.”
Colossians 1:9 That God will fill you all with the knowledge of His will so that you can walk in a way that’s pleasing to Him and that your lives will bear fruit.
Proverbs 3: 5-6 That your hearts will trust in the Lord and not lean on your own understanding
Psalm 5:12 That God’s favour will surround you all like a shield.
I can assure you, my children, that you were prayed for and committed unto the Lord before you were born- the Grandchildren also – and Gods promises are true.
The salvation of a soul is a mighty BIG undertaking for it just doesn’t include cleansing from sin but a full commitment of a life to God’s will and the receiving of a place in the family of God and the freely given gift of a life everlasting to Christians of all ages – there is no generation gap here – and also the presence of our beloved Lord Himself.
No one can be saved unless they are convicted or conscious of sin and when that consciousness of sin is present the way is opened to bring that one to the feet of the Saviour.
To confess and repent, that is being sorry for sins committed, and being determined to turn to Christs way of living will enable us to partake freely of the peace, joy and love that can be found in this earth.
Turning from sin and trusting Jesus also includes safety and perfection in the next world when our Lords presents us faultless before the presence of His Father and ours.
Now I know we have enjoyed a happy life together in spite of troubles that may have sunk the ship, but we also shared the gift of laughter, a sense of fun, of little private jokes as well as tears and I am very pleased to have loved you all and I am so looking forward to a wonderful reunion with you ALL in our Lord’s good time.
Your dad and I praying that you all will see the value of sins forgiven, a walk in a plain path, and a keeping in a world of sorrow and danger.
May God bless you all my darlings from the eldest to the youngest child and may He give through you the answer to our continual prayer.
Will the circle be unbroken? – God grant that it may – see you in the morning – Love you – Mum.
My heart is broken as I watch the devastation and heartbreak on TV from what is now being called one of the worst tornadoes in history! I don’t know what it would be like to lose everything I had worked so hard for in just a matter of seconds. Of course, even more heartbreaking would be to lose one’s child in school, not knowing, as you kissed him or her goodbye in the morning, that you would never see them on this earth again! Of course, questions come to my mind: Why did God let this happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? Were these people more wicked than others to have such a catastrophe occur in their neighborhood?
I can answer the last question with an emphatic, “Absolutely not!” I lived in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which also suffered severe tornado damage a couple of days earlier, a lovely city located about 30 miles from Moore, the city virtually destroyed in the storm. My late husband and I pastored a church in Shawnee for two years and our youngest daughter was born there. Oklahoma people are by and large God-fearing, salt-of-the earth people and my feeling is if God were choosing somewhere to pour out his wrath, it would not be Oklahoma! Then, you may ask, why do catastrophes like this happen to seemingly good people?
Perhaps the answer can be found in the Word of God! In Job 1:1 God called Job a man who was “perfect and upright, and one that feared God and avoided evil”. Satan asked God if he could destroy Job, a very wealthy man, and God allowed him to bring about evil in his life on several fronts. Verse 19 tells us, “(His) sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead.” (ESV) His oxen used for plowing, camels used for transportation, and servants were also killed. Then Satan struck Job with severe boils over all of his body. Even so, Job 1:22 says that “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (ESV)
We all know the story: In the end God restored back to Job twice as much as he had before, including 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, and 2,000 oxen and donkeys. He also had seven more sons and three more daughters and lived to be 140 years old!
Does God send tornadoes? The short answer is: No! But he allows some tragedies to occur on this earth because we know Satan and his evil presence is alive and well on Planet Earth! Jesus said, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45 (ESV) Jesus also told a gathered crowd, “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.“ Matthew 13:3, 4 (ESV) These passages point out that God’s principles and patterns, even regarding the weather, apply across the board, and that many times seemingly innocent people will fall victim to weather-related phenomena. This does not mean these people were more wicked, but rather that because of sin, this world is an imperfect place. Many times God’s hedge of protection is lifted from entire nations who do not put Him first by obeying His laws. It is only because of intercession on the part of godly people that He delays His judgment.
One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” (KJV) There is a wonderful hymn written from this passage called, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” which I think should be sung in every church! So, in answer to the question, “Does God send tornadoes?”, the answer is “No, but he allows them and other catastrophes and tragedies to take place in our imperfect world.” Someday He will set up His Kingdom, and in that New Earth during the Millennial reign of Christ, there will be no more horrible, violent events, either from the weather or from humans. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and all will be peaceful. In the meantime, God has chosen to use the tragic events we humans all experience at one time or another to mold and make us into His likeness and bring out the character of Christ in us, if we let Him.
Let me close with a story: We all love the beautiful hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul”, but do you know how this hymn came to be written? An evangelist named Horatio Spafford wrote the song in 1873 after he experienced profound tragedy and sorrow in his own life. He was a successful attorney and Presbyterian church elder from Chicago who had a deep faith in God. Although he and his wife, Anna, and five children seemed to have a charmed life and beautiful home on Chicago’s north side, they were severely tested. In 1870 their only son, Horatio, Jr., died of scarlet fever. In October 1871 the “Great Chicago Fire” destroyed their vast real estate holdings near Lake Michigan. Still they trusted God! In 1873, Spafford decided to take his wife and four daughters to Europe to assist the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, and his song leader, Ira D. Sankey, who had written many songs. A business emergency kept him from accompanying his family, whom he sent on ahead on a steamer. He planned to join them in Europe a few weeks later. Tragically, on November 22, 1873, the steamer his wife and four daughters were on was struck by a British iron sailing ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. All four of his daughters were killed. Miraculously, his wife, Anna, who had lost consciousness, was picked up by a life boat as she floated in the middle of the ocean. A few days later, Spafford sailed to meet his wife in Europe. As the ship passed the place where his beloved daughters had drowned, he looked out at the sea and through tear-stained eyes, said aloud, “It is well with my soul.” Even though he could scarcely understand it at the time, and perhaps felt like Job of old, he was able to write the song that has gone down in history as one of the most beloved hymns of all time, “It Is Well With My Soul”! By the way, God gave him and his wife three more children.
Do we understand all of life’s tragedies? No! Does God work good through them? Yes! We can stand on Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (ESV) My prayers are with the victims of the Oklahoma tragedy. I know many have already given testimony on national TV of the grace and mercy, as well as their love, of God! May He continue to help them through the days ahead. Let’s all hold them up in prayer!
WOW! Mysteries – I love em!! – Well sometimes anyway – I must admit that the mysteries of the computer make me frustrated, angry and despairing!!
But other mysteries well that’s another matter; the mystery of creation; the universe; the gobsmacking splendour of the galaxy; the rainbows; the beauty of the sunrise; the stillness of star studded skies in the wilderness, all of these can leave me breathless with heaps of unanswered questions…
There is one mystery though that I will never get my head around – and I reckon it is the GREATEST mystery of all time!!
How God saved me is one HUGE mystery and one which I will eternally grateful for.
The plan of salvation is the mystery of mysteries and shows a love that is beyond our minds to comprehend.
God paid the price for my salvation – He took me to be His prize!! Me! that is a mystery that I cannot understand.
I had nothing; proud; deceitful; jealous; I could sin and feel no compunction; hear of my guilt and remain unhumbled. Then Jesus came!
He changed my life and where I was only ever out to make life better for me, whatever the cost, He made me realise that I was bound to sin; a slave to sin; I was in chains and didn’t realise it.
If we come to Jesus, we need to come bearing no gifts; there is nothing we can bring to Him; we owe everything to Him; how then can we bring anything to Him?
It is only through his grace that we can come anywhere near him at all.
Jesus is the King of the dependent: King of the despised; King of the weak; King of the left-outs and King of the hated!
Hated? – Yes Hated; we will be hated by others if we make a stand for Jesus. Left out? Yes certainly we will be left out; not part of the crowd; even despised.
The world at large will not take too kindly to us telling them about the only way to enrich their lives for eternity is to accept the invitation that Jesus brings; Why?
Because to come to Jesus we have to empty ourselves of all we have; we need to be totally dependent on Him bringing our sins; our past; our everything and laying them at the foot of the cross.
We need to leave behind the things of earth; and not place importance on the things that really don’t matter. That was one BIG lesson I had to learn – Jesus died for us just as we are.
When He died on the cross, He took my sins up there with Him; when He died so did I in a way; died to sin; I became bound to Jesus through His death when I accepted the gift of freedom that He offered me.
The old life I had is gone – Now I have to rely solely on Him.
I don’t know what mysteries lie ahead; have no idea, really what eternity will be like; death doesn’t scare me but it is a mystery – an amazing mystery and one where I can be assured of God’s amazing promises that where He is I will be also.
I have no idea what lies ahead of me; what trials; what tribulations; what joy; what pain – but I do know whatever happens, Jesus goes before me anyway.
There is nothing that I could possibly go through that he hasn’t been there before me; and that He has promised to be with me through everything that happens.
My life is bound up in Jesus – My whole life is in Him.
The very same power that resurrected Jesus; that rolled the stone away; that killed death, is the very same power that saved me and brought me to life with Him.
Jesus paid the price for you and me. His blood bought us life.
When we are weak, then we are strong; God can’t use us when we are proud, haughty and full of our own importance. We need to be totally broken in front of Him; totally dependent on Him; giving Him the glory in everything we do.
Glorifying God is when we see God as more important than anything else we are doing or what or who is in our lives.
It is only when we humble ourselves to the His will and let the Holy Spirit infill us will be be even remotely able to kneel before a Holy God.
We have to come to a point in our lives where we realise that can do nothing on our own; all power comes from God.
We can hold nothing back thinking that God can do so much and we can do the rest; we have nothing with which to come to God save his miraculous grace by which we are saved.
It is only when we come to that realisation that He will lift us up and see us through the sacrifice of Jesus; see us washed and clean; free of sin.
Don’t you just love computer viruses??
A few weeks ago – the old laptop started to do strange and amazing things – like not shutting down – then shutting down 1/2 way through something!
Then it started dropping things off – like the web cam disappearing – the sound disappearing – strange messages appeared telling me that my anti virus was not installed – strange and mysterious are the ways of the computer!!
In desperation I called up my very favourite Daughter-In-Law (must say at this point that she is my ONLY Daughter-In-law, nevertheless) who I trust implicitly as a guru on all things techno!
She denies emphatically that she knows anything about computers but it amazes me (that for one, self-described novice, in all things tech) just how much knowledge her pretty little head can hold.
Anyway, she put me onto a tech minded Computer (and can I use the word) Geek. An amazing young man – quiet, determined, straight shooter, down to business sort of young fellow – who actually came to me without me having to go to him – extraordinary!!
He got straight down to the nitty gritty and YES!! – I had some sort of obscure virus that bi passed my security and anti malware programmes and embedded itself deep deep inside the driver of the Web Cam – making it give up the ghost entirely and taking out with it most of the other drivers as well.
That is about as much knowledge I needed to know and wasn’t at all surprised when he suggested that I needed to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and then re-load the hard drive!!
As I said earlier – don’t you just LOVE computers!!
Long story cut short – the Computer and I are friends again – I no longer threaten to hurl it down the steps onto the road and we have kissed and made up – even after hours of re-loading programmes.
All of that got me thinking long and hard about what actually is going on deep down inside our very souls – like the computer virus so easily stalked my little laptop and zeroed in for the kill so it is with sin.
Sin can get so embedded deep deep down in the very core of our personalities that it becomes so second nature to us that we accept it without question.
We can get used to and ever so comfortable with our sin-lives that we no longer have any consciousness of it there at all. That can be a HUGE problem!!
We can even get to like our sin – we like it so much that we can actually turn off the promptings of our Heavenly Father through His Holy Spirit and immune ourselves to not even thinking about whether it is there or not.
Yes, unlike the computer virus – our sin virus can slowly slowly take over our lives.
But, God will never give up on us – Believe me – He didn’t give up on me – and if He didn’t give up in me then He won’t give up on you.
He keeps wanting to get you back to Him – He wants you to have a full and lasting relationship with Him – How?
Well, the only way to having that sort of lasting relationship with God is to be prepared to hand everything over to Him – not just a little bit – but the whole lot.
So, maybe you are thinking I am just too bad – My sin/virus is embedded so so deep – not even a re-load of the hard drive will remove it – well, I have news for you.
No matter what you have done – no matter what sort of life you have led – Jesus loves you and wants you to come to Him.
Maybe you have wandered away from Him – He wants you back!
Maybe you been so hurt in the past that you have actually got so angry at God and you have vowed never to even think of Him again – guess what – He wants you back!
Maybe you have had a close friend or someone in the family that have been taken ill with a terminal disease or even died and you have blamed God and told Him so – Guess what – He wants you back.
No matter where you are on the “missing in action” list – God wants you back.
None of us are promised an easy ride in this life – We are going to suffer all sorts of stuff – from persecution, disease, grief, doubt, confusion, financial disasters, marital breakdowns – you name it – BUT God says – we are just passing though – this place is not our home – this place is just such a temporary dwelling – our real home is in eternity with Him.
I have heard people say that “there could never be a loving God in Heaven because Look at Bill – great man, gave all he had to the poor and yet God will send him to Hell”.
My answer – How do you know that? – we cannot judge a persons heart – we cannot put our puny minds in the mind of God – Yes – God has said that all sin must be paid for either by accepting what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary or at the throne of God! BUT…
We are not in the ‘judging’ business!! – That is up to a mighty, just and merciful God!
We desperately need to get our own homes in order while we are living here in the days of God’s Grace – while there is still time – we need to come to repentance and kneel at his cross where the burdens of past sins can be chucked into oblivion never to counted against us ever.
Are you one of those people, who think they are just too bad for God? Or are you angry at God for some reason? Or are your sins embedded so deep inside your personal computer ‘drive’ that you feel so comfortable with the whole set-up you just want to leave well enough alone?
God still wants YOU!! – He gave His son for YOU! – Don’t try to put your mind in the mind of God? You will never do it!
Your sin embedded too deep? – God can go deeper!
Too angry with God for perceived injustices? God’s love can overcome anything – even that – Come to Him today!!
Don’t delay – He wants you just the way you are – Angry, hurt, confused, doubting, full of deep sin – just the way you are.
He worked a miracle in my life – he can work one in yours as well.
Oh the Deep Deep Love of Jesus (S. Trevor Francis)
O the deep deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love.
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
As I get older I am realising more and more just how forgiving My God is.
When I look back on my life and see the incredibly stupid decisions and mistakes I have made and how I have botched up heaps of areas in my life I remember just one thing that God is amazing and awesome and in his awesomeness he has forgiven me and will always be my wonderful Saviour and Lord.
It was years ago that I came to a pretty clear decision that I needed God.
I came as young person to ask forgiveness and accept God’s free gift of a clean slate and a chance to ‘start over’ with Him. Did than mean that I would live a spotless life without mistakes? – NO!! – but it did open a miraculous door to be able to tap into the everlasting forgiveness and mercy of our Great God.
I was a bit too young to realise at that time just how big that decision was, but I thank God for it because I can honestly say that he has never let me down.
God is so willing to forgive only because His love is just so deep and it is His deepest desire that everyone comes to Him. He doesn’t want to turn anyone away.
I, unfortunately constantly let Him down but He has never failed me. Does that mean I have lived a life without things going wrong? – DEFINITELY NOT!! – things happen in my life that happen to everyone. Sickness, financial worries, death, job security – you name it – but through it all God has been there always willing to talk to me and comfort me and through His Word and prayer to give me hope and courage to face the future.
Does it mean then that I will never make mistakes again? – I wish!! but NO!! Unfortunately mistakes and sin are inbuilt in all of us and being human yes I guess it will happen again – Will God forgive me again if I am truly sorry and come to him – of course he will – amazing!!
God also gives us the strength to walk away from mistakes and sin if we let Him – He does say in the Bible that “He saves us FROM our sin” – meaning from the sin that we are about to commit.
All I can say is – keep Him close – as close as you can at all times – ask Him by His spirit to live in you and control your thoughts and deeds.
God is not only forgiving but he is just and Holy.
Because he is so holy – he cannot bear to look on our botched up lives – I know because my life is probably one of the worst botched up lives there is. That is why he gave Jesus to die on the cross and take our punishment and so instead of seeing our wrecks of lives when he looks at us He sees the life of the sinless Jesus. How amazing is that!!
So God sees us as holy as well – whew!! But only if we accept Him into our lives.
God is the source of every good thing in our lives. He is the one who daily gives us strength and a reason to have hope and faith. You can tap in to the divine strength today.
Years ago I said a prayer like this:-
Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me.
I am truly sorry for the sins and mistakes I have made.
Please come into my life and take control.
Don’t ask me how but God’s spirit can come and take up house in our lives and change us. He did it to me and he can do the same for you.
Note from Lyn: I found this amazing testimony on the web and wanted to share it with you. Maybe it will touch someone who reads it.
By: Dana McKlure
The Holy Spirit has prompted me to share a synopsis of my personal story so that hurting souls may know there is true healing and restoration at the Cross, where lives are changed from glory to glory!