Welcome to Heartsprings, where I share what springs forth from my heart for God and His people. I pray that what you find here blesses you and draws you nearer to your Heavenly Father who loves you like no other.

In His love,
Brenda :-)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thank You, Jesus!

Thank You, Jesus, for fully understanding me in a world where I am so easily misunderstood.

Thank You for loving me unconditionally when this world puts so many conditions on its mere acceptance of me.

Thank You for judging me fairly because You see the intentions of my heart while this world sees only what it wants to see.

Thank You for curing me of my need for approval by reminding me that Yours is the only approval I really need and I've had it all along.

You saved me, You've blessed me more than I could ever deserve, and You've loved me in spite of myself.

You are worthy of so much more than I could ever give you, yet You give me more than I could ever be worthy of.

Thank You, Jesus, for loving me fully in a world where love is so incomplete!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Out of Control or Exactly According to Plan?

My devotion this morning talked all about trusting God when your life seems out of control.  I realized that I get many opportunities to trust God every day because my life very often seems out of control.  Out of my control anyway.  Things are not at all how I pictured them to be at this stage of my life.  I think that's a testament to God's sense of humor.  I had it all figured out in my mind.  By now, I would be just a couple of years away from an empty nest; more travel opportunities with my husband, more time to study and write, a slower and more comfortable pace of life overall.  That's how it was for my grandparents, so that's how I expected it would be for me.  Ha!  God had completely different plans.  

Four years ago this month, my husband and I (then in our late, late 40's) were looking at an empty nest just a short 6-years away.  We were already getting a taste of independence since the boys were older.  We had a freshman in high school, a middle-schooler.....and the opportunity to adopt our then 2-year old granddaughter.  There was no way we could let her go to strangers so I became a MOP again at the age of 49.  Today, at the age of 53, I run a household full of kids.  Our high school freshman is now a college sophomore and lives at home.  Our middle-schooler is now a junior in high school, and I am homeschooling our now 6-year old granddaughter/daughter. Oh!  Did I mention that none of these kids drive?  The empty nest is now more like 12-years away when I will be 65.  That's pretty close to retirement age, right?  I'm not holding my breath on the whole retirement thing.  I've been a front-line mom for over 30-years (I also have a 32-year old daughter, and a 25-year old daughter).  I'm beginning to think it's God's call on my life and I'm wondering if there will be more children to come.  I wouldn't be surprised.  

I love my children with all my heart and they ARE my ministry.  There are times, however, when it all seems way out of control.  The demands on me far exceed my energy level at times (a lot of the time) and my stress level goes through the roof.  I dream of peace and order; a clean kitchen and a living room devoid of cardboard boxes that have been turned into colorfully decorated "houses".  My perfect day would be one in which I would actually get through my entire "to-do" list without interruption or getting sidetracked.  I've gotten to the point where I don't even bother with a "to-do" list anymore.  I rarely get to cross off even one thing!  The experience of already having raised several children tells me that one day I will miss the chaos and clutter of young children and teenagers.  It's this experience that allows me to cherish the crayon drawings and high school text books scattered everywhere at the same time that I'm lamenting their existence.  It's an odd sort of paradox that I live in and some days I cherish the evidence of my lifestyle more than others.  What I think it all comes down to for me is exactly what my devotion was speaking of - trusting God when your life seems out of control.  

it's true that my life is not what I imagined it would be by the time I was slightly past middle-age.  In fact, it's almost completely the opposite.  It's also true that my 50-something, arthritic body often has to perform the tasks of a 30-something (neither easy nor painless).  It is also true that God is trustworthy and He knew exactly where I would be today before I was even born.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."-Jeremiah 29:11  The circumstances of my life cause me to rely heavily on God.  There are countless moments in the day when I look to Him for strength, patience, and joy.  I remind myself that I trust Him and that His Presence is with me.  "But I trust in your unfailing love.  I will rejoice because you have rescued me." - Psalm 13:5  There's a saying that goes like this:  "If God has called you to it, He will see you through it."  He has and He does - every moment of every day.  My children are a blessing and I know that even in the midst of any chaos that occurs.  I also know that I am a very blessed woman to have such children as well as a wonderful and helpful husband.  I may not have all the time I would like to write or pursue other interests, but one day I may, and if not then it wasn't really important for me to do so.  Apparently, what's important for me to do right now is to continue raising up soldiers for the Lord and to serve my husband at home.  I thank God for the privilege of doing so.  I thank Him for the times that strengthen my patience, and I thank Him that I get to lean on Him so heavily and walk so closely with Him.  "And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ". -Ephesians 5:20  I could not do any of what I do without Him.  I choose to trust Him when my life is running smoothly and when it seems completely out of control.  I thank Him for it all because it all has a purpose whether I see it or not.  Trusting Him and being thankful brings peace and I need all the peace I can get!

Friday, June 28, 2013

My devotion this morning said this, "The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.  This knowledge is essential to your faith-walk........spend time enjoying Me and experiencing My goodness." -Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

There have been many times in my life as a Christian when I questioned God.  I doubted His goodness as a result of something terrible happening that made no sense to me.  That's human nature, I think.  One of the biggest questions about God is "How can a good and loving god allow bad things to happen?"  That's a good question in my mind and the bottom-line answer to me is, "I don't know."  I know that sin is ever-present in this world and that man often chooses to do harmful things to one another.  Some bad things that happen are simply a consequence of sin and man's poor choices.  As to "acts of God", they're beyond our comprehension (most of the time).  I think sometimes, God in his mercy and graciousness, gives us a bit of insight as to why something happened.  Most of the time, however, it has been my experience that I am simply to trust that I don't understand everything, but God does.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."-Isaiah 55:8-9  It dawned on me that there's no way we could understand all the why's and wherefore's of what God does and doesn't allow to happen.  Our pride, however, demands that we have the right to know.  What silly humans we are!  Does a child have the right to understand everything that its parent does?  Is a child even capable of understanding everything its parent understands?  Of course not!  Some things that the parent understands may even be traumatic for a young child to be exposed to.  I believe such is the case with us and God.  He is the parent and we are the children.  We often tell our children, "You'll understand when you're older."  Is that not true?  How many things that your parents said or did, were you not able to understand until you became a parent yourself, or at least an adult?  Think about a teenager who thinks he/she knows everything.  Don't they come across as arrogant?  I think so, and I've raised several teenagers, believe me I have some experience here.  I believe that we Christians (children of God) are much like teenagers.  We either think we know it all, or we think that we have the right to know it all.  We will not completely understand God until we are grown up in Him, perfected.  For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6  We are BEING perfected, but we're not there until the day that we are with Christ.  "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." -1 Corinthians 13:12

I think that when we try to understand the reason for everything that happens, we are basically beating our heads against the wall.  We simply are incapable of seeing the big picture that God sees and, therefore, understanding all the why's of life on this planet.  Bad things happen.  Some caused by sin, man's poor choices, and all things are allowed by God - good and bad.  He IS the blessed Controller of all things.  If He exercised NO control, I shudder to think what this planet would be like.  The Bible tells us that God has a plan and He knows what He's doing.  It also tells us that one day sin will be destroyed forever and bad things will cease to happen.  Until then, there is a course that has to be run for reasons only God knows the intricacies of.  We can choose to enjoy our childhood, trusting in our good and loving Heavenly Father who works all things for our good, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28, or we can beat our prideful heads against the wall trying to be on God's level.  I think I will choose the former.  Focusing on His goodness and having faith the the Blessed Controller of all things knows what He's doing sounds much more productive and enjoyable.  I look forward to the day when I will "know fully" and choose to see this day as "This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." -Psalms 118:24.  I choose to relinquish control to The One who sees and knows all; trusting Him and rejoicing in His goodness.  It really does come down to a choice.  We have been given THAT right.  We get to choose.  What do YOU choose?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Ugly Truth and The Path of Peace

"When things don't go as you like, accept the situation immediately.  Remember that I am sovereign over your circumstances, and humble yourself under My mighty hand.  Rejoice in what I am doing in your life, even though it is beyond your understanding." - Jesus Calling

"So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor."
-1 Peter 5:6 (NLT)

There are many things in my life that I don't understand; the debilitating physical limitations that have plagued me for the past several years, the fact that I am still a stay-at-home mom with a kindergartener well into my 50's, the financial struggle that my husband and I are STILL in......the list goes on.  My LIFE has not gone as I like for many YEARS.  It has not just been a day here and there where some THING has not gone the way I wanted it to.  Every aspect of my life for the past seven years has not been going the way I wanted it to.  It has been an epidemic of "not going the way I like".  

The past seven years, I have run the gamut between steadfastly declaring my trust in God and coming within a breath of denouncing my faith.  I have been angry, sad, confused, and frustrated like never before in my life.  Rejoice in what He was doing?!!  I was barely speaking to Him at one point.  I knew truths about God and what was happening in my head, but it wasn't trickling down into my heart.  All I seemed to know was that He ripped away people and things that were very dear to me.  He picked me up off the path that I was happily skipping down and turned me in a completely different direction.  My response was similar to that of a two-year old having his favorite toy taken away.  Quite pathetic in retrospect, but I didn't see it that way then.  I saw that the loving Heavenly Father I had been following and trusting for many years, had hurt me.  Not only did he re-direct my path, taking me away from people I loved and happiness that had been hard to come by, but he plopped me down in one of the last places on earth I wanted to be.  I was NOT happy with Him.  The icing on top was the fact that all this happened while I was in the throes of menopause and heading toward an empty nest.  Fun, fun!!  NOT!  My little temper tantrum and the black cloud that accompanied it lasted six years!  How's that for childish and selfish?  Can you imagine?  Understand though, there were bright moments when my heart truly believed that God had my best interests at heart and everything would be okay.  Those bright moments usually lasted a day or two here and there.  It amazed me how fleeting and transient those bright moments were and how quickly I could dive back under the black cloud.  God was trying to teach me something and I was fighting Him almost every step of the way.  I wanted back what He had taken away.  I could not seem to humble myself under His mighty hand and remember that He was sovereign over my circumstances.  I tried, believe me, I told myself over and over again that His plans for me are good and He would work something good out of all this.  I repeated Bible verses like a Catholic doing penance, but my angry heart wasn't hearing it.  My heart was listening to the lies of the enemy; "God has forgotten you.", "You misunderstood when you thought you heard His calling on your life and He didn't really give you the gifts you thought He did.", "He brought you here to die.".  It was horrible.  Some of the darkest days of my life were when I believed that God was through with me.  I have never cried so much in my life as I did those first few years on my new path.  

Its hard to see ugly truths about yourself.  Spiritual rock-bottom is a dark and scary place.  Seeing the depth of my arrogance, selfishness, and overall lack of trust was gut-wrenching.  I THOUGHT I was trusting God and being a wonderful Christian, but I was wrong.  "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." -1 Corinthians 10:12  I was thinking a little too highly of myself and I needed to take some heed.  I've learned a lot in the past six years and eight months.  I've learned that one lie that the enemy told me wasn't such a lie after all.  God DID bring me here to die - die to myself.  He brought me to the desert and a time of testing and crucifying of my flesh so that He could take me to the next level of my relationship with Him.  

There are still so many things I don't understand, still so much I need to learn about God and who He made me to be.  I am still uncertain about my future, and am still asking "What do you want me to do here?".  For right now, we're rebuilding trust.  I have learned that God is indeed sovereign over my circumstances and that I CAN trust Him truly with my every day AND my future, but these truths need deeper roots.  They're still trickling down to my heart.  I am amazed by my Heavenly Father's patience with me and yet, I have been just as patient with my own children and their fits, how much more so would God be?  There is still much too much pride, arrogance, and selfishness in me.  The difference now is that I am so much more aware of it.  This awareness allows me to finally humble myself under His mighty hand like I never have before because I realize how pathetic I really am and how amazing He really is.  I think I would be lying if I said I have successfully completed this trial and I am fully out the other side.  I still struggle now and then with a tinge of holding on to the past and not fully accepting this situation that did not go my way.  I am, however, almost completely out from under the black cloud.  My relationship with God is improving daily.  Every day I feel a little closer to Him and a little more trusting of Him.  A strange thing for someone who has been a devoted Christian for seventeen years.  Just like my marriage though, my relationship with God has had hills and valleys.  It is a constant process that needs constant attention.  My relationship with God needs as much care and attention as my relationship with my husband.  In both cases, there needs to be forgiveness and understanding.  I had to forgive God (as crazy as that sounds) for the hurt I perceived and come to really understand His sovereignty.  I had to understand that I will not always understand, but that God truly does have my best interests at heart and I simply need to trust Him - really trust Him.......with everything.  He knows what He's doing.  He really does and I can see a lot of good that has come from his re-direction of my life.  I am extremely grateful that He did not give in to my fit and let me have my way because I see now that it would not have been for the best.  I have learned to trust Him, no matter what the circumstances look like, and give it time.  Some things need time to heal and some things need time before they can be revealed.  His timing is also trustworthy.  That was another tough lesson to learn.  I'm learning, one day at at a time, to take His hand and just walk through that day.  No preconceived ideas, relinquishing my agenda to Him, trusting Him to lead the way.  It's not easy for us control-freak, prideful humans to relinquish control, but when I do it the result is a peaceful day no matter what happens.  I just have to stay connected to the one who is sovereign over all my circumstances and rejoice over all He is doing in my life whether I completely understand or not.  It's a choice to trust and it's the path of peace.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

To Cover or Not To Cover

I recently had a certain issue of obedience brought to my attention and it has consumed my thoughts ever since. The reference is to 1 Corinthians 11:10-17 which talks about a woman having her head covered when she prays or prophesies.

I've done a little research so far and it seems there is more than one school of thought. A lot of my confusion comes from the fact that I know not one single woman of God who practices covering her head when she prays. This would mean that, if we are to take these verses literally, I and every mentor, teacher, and sister-in-Christ I know are walking in disobedience. I find that hard to believe.

Many argue that the context of these verses is cultural. I could agree with that except for one little phrase; "because of the angels".  One reason women are to cover their heads is because of the angels. Angels are not a cultural "thing".  Has something changed with the angels between New Testament times and now that they don't need us to cover our heads?  Why do they need us to do that in the first place?  I don't really know for sure and I can't find where The Word tells us.  I have a hypothesis and it has to do with modesty and the angels' history with human women (Genesis 6:1). It's just a wild guess. I am not a theologian and have never been to seminary so my book knowledge is very limited. I only have The Holy Spirit. Even then, my flesh (in the form of my imagination) can get in the way.

The real issue here is that I do not want to walk in disobedience. We are responsible for what we know and I now know that for some reason having to do with the angels, and as a sign of submission, Paul has instructed women to cover their heads when praying or prophesying. Again, if it was just a cultural command, why are the angels involved?  In a practical sense, does this mean that I need to always have a shawl around my shoulders ready to be pressed into service at any moment since I talk to God off and on all day?  Do I only need to practice this in church, or just at home...or just in public in general?  How is it that I've been a Christian for 17-years and have never felt my prayers or my
relationship with God for that matter, hindered by the lack of head covering?  I have never had a pastor's wife practice this either. Questions, questions!

I believe a couple of things in regard to all this. One, we are under grace, not law. Our sins are forgiven and I believe that includes sins of ignorance. Two, God never gives a command without good reason. There is a perfectly good reason why this should be done and it is probably just as relevant today as it was then. Should the fact that it is not practical in today's society have any bearing on whether we obey it or not?  I tend to think not. Obedience is not cultural. It is a result of our love for God, regardless of the time or age we live in.

I still have more questions than answers regarding this issue and I am still seeking God regarding my responsibility here. For now, however, I would prefer to err on the side of obedience. I will do my best to cover my head when entering (praying) or speaking from (prophesying) the Throne Room of God whenever possible. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the reason I've been inheriting shawls and scarves over the past few years, when I never owned a one in the past. Much food for thought and I would welcome your insights.