Tag Archive | Lord

A spiritual gift

I was listening to Kari Jobe on youtube this evening while trying to conquer my to-do list before hubby and dd got home from work.  She was talking about how they skipped the normal gift-giving one particular Christmas.  Instead, what they did was give a gift that had a strong spiritual meaning to them.  I paused and thought, “Hmm….what would I choose to do for a gift like this?”  It didn’t take long before the answer came to me.

My gift would be two-fold.  First, I would give an instrumental flute CD with Christian music on it.

Secondly, I would include some anointing oil.

Now why those two items?  It is because I tend to be easily stressed and I have a hard time quieting my mind before the Lord.  There was a lady named Dawn Johnston who attended our last church.   She would play the flute during the offering.  I told her it was like the Lord was pouring warm oil over my head.

It really ministered to me.  My mind would settle down, and for a few minutes, I would have peace from the constant “voices” in my head reciting my mental to-do list over and over.  It was such sweet, sweet peace.

Thank you, Dawn, for the precious gift you gave me when you played your flute.  You will never know this side of heaven how much it meant to me.  Thank you for sharing your gift with others.  May the Lord richly bless you for being His hands extended through your music.

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Three things for which I am thankful

I have refrained from blogging for several months.  After suddenly losing my brother to a massive heart attack in March, my priorities greatly changed.  As you have likely noticed, blogging was one thing I dropped rather quickly.  As we have watched world events unfold in the last five months, my desire to blog has waned.  Other things seem so much more important……Things such as sending cards to those who are facing trials.  Things like making phone calls to let others know how much I care about them.  Time with family.  Checking in on my parents as they continue to deal with the daily grief of having lost a child.  And the list goes on…..

However, today I felt the need to share three things for which I am very thankful on this holiday weekend.

Most of all, I am thankful for the cross.

In these trying days in which we live, I am reminded daily that God alone is my fortress and my refuge.  If it wasn’t for the cross, I wouldn’t be able to have peace in the midst of the chaos taking place in this world.
I am also thankful for my marriage.
Daily, my hubby and I discuss world events, Bible prophecy, and the reality of our Lord’s imminent return.  We are becoming closer to each other as we watch the world face incredible times of tribulation.  He is truly my best friend and I am so thankful for him.  I cannot imagine facing the issues of the day if I did not have him here beside me.  We find comfort in each other’s embrace in this world of constant chaos.
I am also thankful for the American Flag and what it means.
As I walked into Sunday school this morning, I noticed one of the men had on a shirt with the American Flag.  I sadly expressed my thoughts, “Enjoy wearing that flag while we still have that freedom.”  There were several people standing around at that moment, and none of them blew off my comment.  Rather, they sadly concurred that we are in a time where we do have to wonder how much longer our beautiful flag will be able to fly freely….how much longer we will still be called The United States of America.

Surrounded by God’s Mercy

Surrounded by God’s Mercy

 

After the initial shock of hearing my brother died of a massive heart attack in March, I knew the Lord had given me a message to share at his memorial service. Having a mission in my pain certainly made those days of such intense grief a bit easier because the message He gave me about his mercy was something I was living out firsthand.

 

You see—my brother died the day before my scheduled weekend off work. After that, I had to get back to work. I didn’t want to use my allowed bereavement days until my parents returned from Arizona (where he lived), and we could plan our memorial service here. (And that didn’t happen for two weeks.)

 

Nearly every morning, I would get up and start getting ready for work. About the time I would be putting on my eye make-up, I would start crying. Eye make-up and tears don’t work well together! I remember crying out every morning, “Lord, I need Your strength and Your mercy. I cannot do this on my own.”

 

I work the switchboard at a local hospital. It is very busy since I answer every call that comes to the switchboard from inside the hospital, outside the hospital, as well as those for the after-hours answering service for over one hundred doctors. It requires a lot of focus, multi-tasking, and people skills. Yet, every day, in spite of the excruciating ache in my heart, I was able to come to work, put on my happy face, and do my job. Granted, I would sob all the way home, but at least I was able to hold myself together while I was on the clock. That was nothing but God’s mercy carrying me. Through this, I felt the prayers of others like never before.

 

After a grueling day at work, having been on the phone all day, I would come home and have to spend the evening on the phone, updating people on what was going on. Not only were we dealing with my brother’s death, but his wife was admitted to the hospital that night. The day after she got out, my mother was in the ER for dehydration. There were several times when I wondered, “Are they going to die too?” I cannot begin to fully exemplify how terribly stressful all of this was to our family. As my dad said, “This has been the worst two weeks of my life!” So to say it was a flurry of activity would be an understatement. Yet, the Lord continued to infuse me with strength.

 

I would do what needed to be done, but then I had to allow myself to release the grief and stresses of the day through tears each evening. If I didn’t, I was a basket case the next day. There is such cleansing and emotional release in letting those tears fall. Through this experience, I have learned that even tears are part of God’s mercy to us because of how much better we can feel after a long cry.

Another was I experienced God’s mercy was in the message of mercy He spoke to me. You see – I used to teach Sunday school every Sunday. That isn’t possible now since I work every other weekend. Yet, teaching God’s word is still a passion in my soul. He gave me a clear, concise message on His mercy to share at the memorial service. He knew this would do two things: 1. Give me a mission in my pain, which would be a comfort to me. 2. Allow me to use the spiritual gift He gave me to comfort and encourage others as we all walked through this valley of grief together.

 

As you face your own struggles in this life, I challenge you to look for God’s mercy and see how He demonstrates it to you in new, unexpected places.

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

 

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God’s Mercy in Our Pain

God’s Mercy in Our Pain

 

Eat, sleep, work, and pay bills….That is a phrase my husband will often recite when it feels like we are doing the same thing over and over. However, there are times when “life happens,” and in that moment, you know your life will never be the same. We had one of those moments on March 14. I was working the switchboard, looking forward to going home and having the weekend off work, when I got the call that changed our lives. My cousin called to tell me my brother had died unexpectedly, just one day before his 53rd birthday.

 

He called because he didn’t want to deliver that kind of news over the phone to my parents. I quickly left work, sobbing all the way home, praying for the Lord to help me. After all, no child should EVER have to deliver that kind of news to their parents. Parents are supposed to die before their children – not the other way around. Having to deliver that news was the worst thing I have ever had to do.

 

My weekend off work became a whirlwind of activity. My brother lived in Arizona, so we had to drop my parents off at the airport the next day so they could be there to help my sister-in-law with the arrangements.

 

Two days after his passing, I dropped my daughter off for youth group. As I left the parking lot, I was playing a CD by Shannon Wexelberg. The song “Faithful God” came on. The Lord immediately began to speak to my aching heart. I want to share what He spoke so tenderly to me in hopes that it will help you when “Life Happens” to you.

 

We will all go through different, heart-wrenching trials during our journey on earth. Whether it is the gut-wrenching loss of a loved one, the herculean burden of finding yourself without a job, the formidable news that you or a loved one has a debilitating illness, or even the shock of receiving divorce papers, God’s mercy is there for you. His mercy is new EVERY morning. This means that the mercy He gave you yesterday won’t be the same today. It will be different, but it will also be new. And it will be just what you need.

 

To those of you who are dealing with the painful reality of losing a child, I will tell you the same words the Lord had me speak to my parents at my brother’s memorial service. His mercy will be there each and every day. That compassionate mercy will greet you as you face all of the “firsts” – the first Mother’s Day, the first Father’s Day, the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, and even the first Christmas. He lovingly cares for you, and He will not let you walk the valley of grief by yourself. Reach out, take His hand, and let Him extend His mercy to carry you through.

 

© 2014, Stacy R. Miller

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Working out – physically and emotionally

I haven’t posted an update on working out for quite some time.  “Life” has happened, and that caused quite a disruption to my working out.  After my brother died on March 14, I had to save all of my strength just to function and get through the days.  I am trying to get back to the routine of working out, but am only managing to get it done 2-3 times a week, whereas, previously, I was working out 5-6 times a week.

I have still been working on inner thigh squats.  I can do those even while at work.  That has helped me to keep the muscles in that area pretty firm.  However, I have neglected my arms and they are getting flabby again.  I’m not happy with that because I worked so hard to get them firm.  I need to get back at it.

I really would like to see my midsection slim down, but I feel like it’s an uphill battle, and I’m just not sure I have it in me to get it done.  Maybe once the pollen count goes down some, I can start doing more walking + working out, and just maybe I will see some results which will motivate me once again.  It is hard to be dedicated when you feel like you aren’t getting very good results.

Emotionally, I am doing very well.  Even after someone dies, life does go on.  You have to get back to the daily routines, even if you don’t feel like it.  It has been good for me.

After speaking at my brother’s memorial service, I had so many people tell me what a good job I did, that I am a gifted speaker, etc.  In fact, my mother said, “You are a natural.  You should be a preacher!”  Anyway, that stirred up the passion in me to teach again.  With working f/t outside the home, and working every other weekend, teaching isn’t something to which I can commit on a long-term basis.  However, I will be filling in this Sunday in my adult Sunday school class.  I am so excited!  Spending a lot of time preparing for this weekend has been good for me.  It’s gotten me focused on something other than the loss of my brother.  But oh, Lord, how I do miss him!!!

The warmer weather and longer days have also done a lot to lift my spirits.  I had several really good days this week, and I attribute that to making the Lord the focus of my days.  His presence this week has been so intimate and precious.  I told my hubby that one day, I literally felt like He had wrapped His arms around me and kept me in His arms the entire day.  It was pure bliss.

Spiritual Enablers

The Spiritual Enabler

In recent years, the terms “co-dependent” and “enabler” have become quite popular in dealing with people who are in dysfunctional relationships. These ideas have infiltrated the church.

For instance, we may fail to obey the Lord when He tells us to step down from a place of ministry. After all, if we step down, who will fill our shoes? The church needs us! We are spiritually co-dependent when we think God cannot find someone else to fill that place of ministry.

I went through a situation where a lady kept seeking me for advice. I spent a great deal of time talking with her on several occasions. I gave her clear-cut, scriptural guidelines. Yet, she refused to make the necessary changes. By allowing her to monopolize my time, I was enabling her – enabling her to take time away from my family and my priorities, not to mention enabling her to drain me emotionally, physically, and mentally.

I have seen a situation in church where a lady lies continually. Several people refuse to confront her lying ways. Doing so enables her to continue in her sin, whereas, loving confrontation may lead her to repent for her sins.

I think women fall into this trap too often because we have such a hard time saying “no” when we are asked to do something. Keep in mind that when we refuse to say “no,” sometimes we hinder God’s plan for someone else. Perhaps what we just agreed to do was really a job God had planned for someone else. Yet, we just got in His way.

Is there someone who seems to be drawn to you like a magnet, constantly needing spiritual advice? Perhaps they discern you are a person of the Word, so they seek you instead of the Word because they are too lazy to seek God on their own. By letting them continue in their behavior, we become enablers. We may also be co-dependent; for we may love the way they make us feel when they seek our wisdom. Often, one feeds the other. We enable the behavior because it makes us feel good to be needed.

David asked the Lord to search his heart. I think it is wise to ask the Lord to also search our relationships. Perhaps we will discover that we have become spiritual enablers.

Have you fallen into the trap of being an enabler?

© 2007, Stacy R. Miller

Spiritually Used

In my quest to be a prudent and frugal woman of God, I have discovered that we need to be cautious in our friendships. When we become friends with the wrong types of people, it might not necessarily drain us financially. However, it can certainly drain us physically and emotionally, not to mention keeping us from being as effective in other areas where the Lord desires to use us. The toll it can take on our families can be very pricy, thus we are wise to be cautious in friendship. I have written some devotions along those lines, sharing from my own experiences in order to try to help others learn not to make the same mistakes I did. Here is the first of those devotions:

Spiritually Used

It is a noble thing for a woman to desire to model Titus 2:3-5. However, because a woman has a passion to minister to other women, she can easily fall prey to the tactics of a user. Women who are timid find it difficult to say “no” to a user. Women with strong personalities often find pleasure in being asked to share their opinions.

I met a lady whom I will call Betty. We hit it off very well, seeming to share the same values. We forged a friendship, attending some of the same classes, and even visiting each other on occasion.

I began to notice a pattern to our conversations. They seemed to revolve around the happenings in her life. She was constantly seeking my advice. When I would respond with scripture, she would quickly affirm my insights with comments like, “Oh, that is good,” or “I never thought of it like that.” Because I thrive on words of affirmation, I never seemed to notice that she rarely brought scripture into our conversations.

Several months later, Betty was faced with a difficult dilemma. Because of my desire to help women, I spent a great deal of time counseling her with a scriptural approach to her situation. A few times I even left messages for her, stating that I had some more information which she may find helpful. Those calls were always quickly returned. Yet on other occasions, she would rarely, if ever, return my calls.

One evening, I was quite stressed and in despair over a situation of my own. I knew Betty had faced this very circumstance, so I decided to call her. I left a message for her, leaving no doubt as to my frame of mind. I knew I could count on her to help me. After all, Betty was my friend. However, she never returned my phone call.

As I pondered and prayed about this, I realized that I was not being unreasonable in feeling that I deserved a return phone call, for true friends are kind to each other. (Job 6:14)

I also came upon the realization that some people are only friends with us if we give them gifts. (Proverbs 19:6) I had poured myself into Betty’s life, yet was not getting anything in return. I discerned that what Betty was doing was using me. She was seeking the spiritual food which I had earnestly sought so she would not have to be diligent in the Word herself.

By trying to be a Titus 2 woman, I had ended up becoming spiritually used, allowing her to use up my time, my energy, and my spiritual food.

The Word tells us that faithful friendships are refreshing. (Proverbs 27:9) A true friend sticks by you in good times and bad times. (Proverbs 17:17; 18:24) Real friends are like iron sharpening iron. (Proverbs 27:17) If you cannot say this is true of your friendships, perhaps you have also been spiritually used.

Take some time to evaluate your friendships. Have you been spiritually used?
© 2007, Stacy R. Miller