Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sweeter than Honey

Two and a half years ago, as a mom of a newborn baby, a two year old with special needs, and a rambunctious preschooler, I sat in church on the first Sunday morning of 2012, not knowing that God would use this day to do a powerful work in my heart. That morning, our church introduced a new Bible memory plan, encouraging each church member to join together in memorizing a verse each week from the Desiring God Fighter Verses collection. I had been praying that the Lord would give me discernment to know how to read His Word that year, as I was sleep deprived, my time was limited, and my mind was mush. When I first heard about this memory plan, I immediately thought that this was the perfect plan for me.  One verse a week – I could do that! So, I committed to memorizing the fighter verses each week in 2012, thinking that this would be a simple way to meditate on God’s word in the midst of the busyness of life. Little did I know what the Lord had in store for me.

Looking back several years later, I can clearly say that God orchestrated this event to prepare me for the hardest years of my life. In these years I have received heart breaking diagnoses for my children, watched as my husband has suffered more deeply than I could have imagined possible, and had my faith strongly tested.  During these times, I have often been stretched so thin that my mind has struggled to hold together everything necessary for daily living. In the process of making sure that all my children have been fed, clothed, arrived to school and countless therapies and doctor’s appointments on time, while also carrying the weight of heavy burdens, I have experienced what it is like for a brain to go into survival mode. During long stretches of time, my mind has been physically unable to understand and soak in the prayers of others, the kind emails of encouragement, the sermons on Sunday mornings, and the Scriptures I read each morning. It has been as if what goes in one ear (or eye), finds that there is no room to stay and promptly exits the other ear.

But in the midst of these trying circumstances, I have found that God has used the Scriptures I have memorized and meditated on to sustain me and remind me of His steadfast love and faithfulness. His words have upheld me as I have clung to His promises. When all around my soul has given way, I have found that He has been my help, my sustainer, my shelter, my refuge, my life. As the old hymn says, as I have stayed my mind and my heart on the Lord and His promises, I have found perfect peace and rest. As I have trusted Him wholly, I have found Him to be wholly true.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 119:7-11

After several years of memorizing and meditating on Scripture, I can say with confidence that these words from Psalm 119 are true. During times when I have been unable to recall the words of others or even the words from the Bible that I have read, the Lord has been faithful to consistently bring Scriptures that I have memorized to mind, reviving my soul. On days when I have desperately cried out for wisdom, God’s word has flooded my mind, granting me wisdom and enlightening my eyes. At my darkest and most fearful moments, God’s promises in His Word have brought joy and hope to my heart. Many days, when my soul has been cast down, the Lord has lifted me up and set my feet on the rock by reminding me of His promises that I have hidden in my heart. As I have recalled who He is and what He has promised, hope has again filled my heart that He will give me His strength to keep going, keep fighting for my husband, keep caring for my boys, and keep doing all that He has called me to do.

Because I have always struggled with long-term memory, soon into my Bible memory plan I decided to spend one day each week reviewing all of the verses I had memorized so far. Over the course of the last two years, I can say that the times I have spent reciting verses have been some of my sweetest times with the Lord. As I have meditated on promise after promise, I have found that the Lord has used those times to encourage and give life to my soul. One day last fall, in the midst of a particularly painful season, I sat down to write a short list of promises I could cling to. As I wrote, verse after verse flooded to my mind, with promise after promise breathing new hope into my heart.

  • The Lord is with me wherever I go. 
  • He gives me strong support. 
  • He upholds my hand. 
  • He blots out my transgressions for His own sake and will not remember my sins. 
  • If the Lord wills, we will live and will do this or that. 
  • Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. 
  • His way is perfect. 
  • He is a shield for me as I take refuge in Him. 
  • His peace will guard my heart in Christ Jesus. 
  • He is my salvation. 
  • Even to gray hairs, He will carry me. 
  • He has made and He will bear; He will carry and will save. 
  • God’s plans for me are for welfare and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope. 
  • Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 
  • His anger is for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime.
  • Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

And the list goes on and on. Just in the past three weeks, as things have become more difficult again, God’s promises from Psalm 27 have breathed fresh life into me. As I cling to the promise that the Lord is the stronghold of my life, I am reminded that my heart has no reason to fear. The Lord has hidden me, and will continue to hide me, in His shelter in the time of trouble. “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

As I have hidden God’s word in my heart, I have found time and time again that His promise that His word does not return void is absolutely true. His Word has taken hold in my heart. It has changed me and is continuing to change me. By God’s grace, God has used His Word to give me hope when life seems hopeless, joy when there is nothing to be happy about, strength when all around me gives way, trust in Him even when darkness hides His face, and a strong belief that He truly is faithful and His steadfast love endures forever.

I am not writing these words as a story about me and what I have done.  This is a story about God and what He has done. This is a testimony of how God has used the memorization of His Word to do a powerful work in my heart. The discipline of memorization is not always easy. Some days I just want to be lazy and read Facebook or listen to the radio rather than doing the hard work of memorizing a verse. Other days, my heart is cold, and I go through the review of verses without even thinking about the truths within them. But more often than not, God uses the discipline of memorization to awaken within my heart a longing to know Him more, a desire to praise Him, and a peace and joy that surpass all understanding as I rest in His promises.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Last fall I wrote this letter to publicly thank Wesley's one-on-one helpers at church, and with the beginning of a new school year, I thought it appropriate to share it again:

What you do each Sunday may not seem like much. You show up to the 3s and 4s class and play with a sweet little boy, helping him to participate in Sunday School and reminding him how to act appropriately. It may feel like what you are doing is unimportant or that it goes unnoticed. But in working with Wesley each Sunday, you are serving the least of these. You are enabling him to participate in Sunday School, and you are blessing us, his family, by making it possible to attend church each Sunday. You may not know this, but most families who have a family member with a disability don't attend church at all, because it is just too difficult. Because of what you do, you are giving our family the gift of not being a part of this statistic. Your care for Wesley blesses our entire family each and every Sunday.

1 Corinthians 12:18-23 says, "God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor."

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, indispensable means "Not subject to being set aside or neglected; absolutely necessary; essential."

Our son is a five year old with a disability, but yet he is indispensable to the congregation of Redeemer Community Church. He is absolutely necessary to the body of Christ. And what you do each Sunday is actively ensure that he is not set aside or neglected.

You may not get much praise for what you do. In fact, most people may never know the ways you serve so selflessly each and every Sunday. But our Heavenly Father sees. And I am certain that your care for Wesley is pleasing in His sight. What you do for the least of these, you are doing for Him.

We can never thank you enough, but we pray that you know God's pleasure each Sunday as you care for our son, a boy made in the image of God.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Beginnings

Last Wednesday was a day of new beginnings for us. Both Zach and Wesley started their first day of this school year at new schools. While there was much apprehension on my part, a few nervous jitters in Zach’s stomach, and confusion in Wesley’s sweet little mind as to why things were different and what was happening, it brings me much joy to say that the first week of school has been a raging success.

Wesley’s kindergarten team has labored tirelessly to give him the best chance of success, and we have been so blessed by their collaboration and their sweet care of our precious son. While Wesley’s first week of school has not gone without hiccups, the open communication between us and his school and their obvious desire to provide the best possible education for him have made it all worthwhile. We are very excited about all that the Lord has in store for him this year.

Due to schedule conflicts with Wesley’s elementary school, Zach also transitioned to a new private school this fall. We were all a bit anxious about how easy the transition would be, so I have been thankful to hear his excitement at the end of each day. Zach loves the new uniforms, is thrilled to have his new school’s magnet on the back of our van (removing our old school’s magnet this summer was a sad moment for him), and has been blessed with a very sweet second grade teacher.

Every year, my prayer for my boys is that God will grant them favor with their teachers (and in Wesley’s case, teacher’s assistants, therapists, and school administrators) and classmates and bless them with one good friend. While I do not know what the future will hold, it is encouraging to me to see this year off to a great start.

And of course, this year includes new beginnings for Liam as well. This will be his first year with Mommy to himself. I think this will be a good year for us!