• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene

anger+

 

I lost my temper. Again.

Before I knew it, I was raising my voice, trying to talk over my daughter. Our discussion was heating up and I was tired of listening. In my mind, she was saying the same thing over and over.

I, of course, had fresh new things to say.

As far as I was concerned, I needed to be heard. I didn’t need to hear. Which was the heart of the problem.

I’ve been thinking about the need to listen for a while, particularly since I finished our Bible Study on James last fall. In it, James exhorts us to be quick to listen.

Quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry. I can recite that verse from memory. I’ve always thought it had great wisdom. Wisdom for other people.

Learning Scripture is an entirely different thing from living it.

In the heat of a discussion, all of my knowledge goes out the window. I am quick to speak and slow to listen, and my anger spills out everywhere.

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Paul Demski held+ 

This month marks twenty years since our beloved son Paul was born and I am reposting this article from 2014 about him and the song “Held.” I am reminded once again that God’s ways are not our ways, but we can trust that he will ultimately use all the sorrows in our lives for our joy and for his glory.

***

Burying my precious baby was devastating. I had no idea how to cope with his sudden unexpected death. True, Paul had been born with a heart problem, but he had survived the critical surgery at birth and was thriving. He’d come home from the hospital at three weeks old, and after a slow start, began gaining weight.

With his winsome smile, easy disposition, and mop of curly dark hair, he delighted us all. He was healthy and beautiful. Even the physician filling in for Paul’s regular cardiologist was so impressed with his progress that he impulsively eliminated most of his heart medications. Paul didn’t need them anymore. He was fine. At first, I was encouraged by the good news. But two days later, Paul was dead. He was only two months old.

I struggled to accept what had happened. That a doctor’s foolish mistake took my baby’s life. As I watched them lower Paul’s tiny casket, I buried my dreams for him. How could his life glorify God? I felt nothing good could come from his pointless death.

But God in His wisdom knew differently. He uses everything in our lives as we submit to Him. He can turn the broken and marred and ugly into something beautiful. And He did that with Paul’s death.

Month later, I shared the story of Paul’s life and death with a new friend. That friend, Christa Wells, is a recording artist who subsequently wrote the song “Held,” which begins with the story of Paul. The opening lyrics are raw:

“Two months is too little, they let him go. They had no sudden healing. To think that Providence would take a child from his mother while she prays is appalling.”

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  • September 1, 2017 - 10:11 am

    Jimmy - What a beautiful and sad story. I am so sorry for your loss. So many people are killing their babies out of convenience and you tried to keep yours with all your might. Our world is in a sorry state. But God has a reason for everything. What a beautiful song. I forwarded your message to as many people as I could. I pray for you!

    1 Chronicles 16:34
    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.ReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:35 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Jimmy. It’s amazing how good God is in the midst of suffering.ReplyCancel

  • September 1, 2017 - 10:19 am

    Crystal - What a beautiful little boy! And what a beautiful song as well. Thank you so much for sharing such a painful yet profound message with us. You are so right when you speak of how God uses suffering and loss for much greater purposes in the grand scheme of things. Even the torture and murder of his own son Jesus was allowed by God in order to bring healing, restoration, and salvation for us. The Lord knows firsthand the utter agony of loss but I thank God that He prepared a way for us to never know that pain again in heaven. In eternity, this earthly life and all its agony will be but a fleeting memory and our real lives in eternity will be shared with those little ones like your adorable baby (and also my little baby brother who was named Bruce Jr.) who are waiting with open arms to hold us and welcome us into eternity with them and with God forever and for always.
    Hallelujah to God for that!ReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:39 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing Crystal! Heaven will be great as we get to see all our loved ones who have gone before us. But the most exciting thing about heaven is that we will be with Jesus in unending fellowship with him forever and ever. And there will be no more tears or crying or pain. When I look at this life in that perspective, all my suffering is indeed a light and momentary affliction…ReplyCancel

      • September 4, 2017 - 11:38 pm

        Guerda - Amen.ReplyCancel

      • September 5, 2017 - 7:05 am

        Crystal - You are 100% correct! By the way, I hope you go to youtube and look up your song… I have scrolled through the comments underneath and the amount of people your song has helped to get through devastating tragedies is amazing. I thank God for you and for the talent He has given you to help others through painful experiences and to lead them back to God for comfort, salvation, and restoration.ReplyCancel

  • September 1, 2017 - 10:20 am

    Leslie - This song has ministered to me so many times in my life. I had a miscarriage in 2007, and God used that time in my life to show me many things about who He is. Thank you for sharing your story– I had no idea who the song was about, but I was sure there was a real story behind the song.

    God uses your openness and vulnerability to minister to others who are hurting. Thank you for taking that risk.

    LeslieReplyCancel

    • September 1, 2017 - 10:40 pm

      Vaneetha - I am so glad that the song has ministered to you, Leslie. It has been a blessing for me as “Held” reminds me how tenderly God cares for us in our pain.ReplyCancel

      • September 13, 2017 - 10:52 pm

        Christina - Hi Vaneetha, Thanks so much for sharing ur lovely story, it truly touched me.ReplyCancel

  • September 2, 2017 - 7:28 am

    Chuck Bean - The promise of His faithfulness to us, not based on anything in us, but totally on His unfailing love, that promise is the subject of our gazing and as we see it, we are transformed into what we are beholding. Thank you for sharing your hurts.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2017 - 11:40 pm

    Guerda - Thank you for sharing your beautiful story.ReplyCancel

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shattered+

 

Sometimes my faith shakes when my dreams are shattered.

I wonder where God is in the midst of my suffering. I cannot sense his presence. I feel alone and afraid. My faith wavers. I question what I have long believed. I wonder what is real, especially when my experience doesn’t match my expectations.

This wavering deeply troubles me. I have tasted God’s goodness, enjoyed close fellowship with him, rested in his tender care. I have known both his power and his love. Yet in the midst of profound struggle, I have no answers. Just questions.

John the Baptist understood this struggle as he waited in prison. He, above all men, knew who Jesus was. Even in the womb, he leapt for joy in the presence of the unborn Savior. At the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, before any of his miracles, John declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). He baptized Jesus and saw God’s Spirit descend on him, testifying that he indeed was the Son of God.

And yet, at the height of Jesus’s ministry, John sent word to him from prison, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2–3). At one point, John was sure that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus further confirmed his divinity by performing miracles, yet now John was wondering what was true.

Why?

Unfulfilled Expectations

John knew from Scripture that he who gave the blind sight, made the lame walk, and preached good news to the poor could surely “open the prison of those who were bound” as prophesied in Isaiah 61:1. But Jesus didn’t do that for John.

So perhaps at this point, John doubted what he knew. If Jesus was indeed the Messiah, John probably expected to have a role in his earthly kingdom. He wouldn’t have expected to start with such a high calling, preparing the way of the Lord in the wilderness, only to end his life and his ministry in a small prison cell. Besides, John preached that the Messiah would come with an unquenchable fire. With judgment. With power. He likely expected that to be in his lifetime.

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  • August 17, 2017 - 1:48 pm

    Diane - Thank you for this post, Vaneetha. It has encouraged me greatly and helped me not feel so alone in my struggles this morning.

    I pray frequently for you. Thank you for being so generous of yourself in the midst of your trials. May you be encouraged today as you have been such an encourager to others.ReplyCancel

    • August 17, 2017 - 3:48 pm

      Vaneetha - I’m thankful that this post encouraged you, Diane. And thank you for your prayers. That means a lot.ReplyCancel

  • August 17, 2017 - 11:18 pm

    Jacob David - Thank you Vaneetha for sharing. This is a great encouragement as go through similar situations.ReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 7:53 am

    John - Thank you for this post. This is so good: “He has to dwell on what he knows to be true rather than fixate on his circumstances.”ReplyCancel

    • August 18, 2017 - 5:28 pm

      Vaneetha - Thanks for writing, John. I have to constantly remind myself of that….ReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 8:08 am

    Kathy - It is so encouraging to hear my feelings are not as strange as I think they are. I’m feeling so much of what you are saying, and feeling guilty for doing so because I do know who God is…just not feeling it right now with all the circumstances around me. Thank you, again!ReplyCancel

    • August 18, 2017 - 5:29 pm

      Vaneetha - I understand how hard it is not to fixate on my circumstances rather than focus on what I know to be true…ReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 9:42 am

    Leslie Cardwell - This blessed me so much. This is where God has been working in my life. Thank you!
    LeslieReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 11:51 am

    Mike R - So helpful–glad you reposted it. Indeed Satan has not changed his ways–“Did God really say..?” And when my world shakes I sink into confusion, revealing that I am not unlike John the Baptist, or the disciples as they could not grasp that Jesus did not come to pull the sword from the stone but came to be nailed to a cross.

    Thank you for describing so well the experience of Christians. I want more faith, but not the means that God has chosen to build my trust in him. I want the crown, not the cross.ReplyCancel

    • August 18, 2017 - 5:30 pm

      Vaneetha - Totally agree, Mike. Thanks for writing. The crown is always more “shiny” than the cross…ReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 4:16 pm

    Juliano - We can see the glory of God in your life Vaneetha. When I heard about your testimony and about all the chalenges you had to face, all I could to say was: “Glory to God”! God has done wonderfull things and you are one of them.
    God bless you and sustain you in your ministry.ReplyCancel

    • August 18, 2017 - 5:32 pm

      Vaneetha - Thank you, Juliano. I so appreciate your encouragement.ReplyCancel

  • August 18, 2017 - 5:47 pm

    C. Lewellyn - Indeed, none of us will really know or understand why God has allowed some of His children to face such terrible trials in this life. I really appreciate your honesty in admitting how hard it can be to trust in God’s goodness, to cling to your faith when your whole world has exploded. I am so sick of the “plastic, fantastic Christianity”, where everyone wears a fake smile, never lets anyone see the deep hurts, and acts like everything is wonderful if you love Jesus and have enough faith. Then when a new believer encounters problems, or a prayer is not answered the way they want it to be, they are angry and feel betrayed because they have never seen another Christian actually handle such things. It is time for us to take off the masks, be real and share our struggles and triumphs, to be the body of Christ and encourage one another, not just be fake and cover up the parts of our lives that are not perfect. We can work together to help each other put on the full armor of God so that we can stand up and glorify God even in the trials.ReplyCancel

    • August 30, 2017 - 8:39 pm

      Vaneetha - I so agree! Life is hard and we all struggle with doubt and fear– and when we are open about that, its much more God-honoring. I’d never heard of “plastic, fantastic Christianity.” What a great description- I’ll be using it again! Thank you for writing.ReplyCancel

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pexels child parenting+

 

I have long wanted to be the perfect parent.

When my children were born, I wanted them to come with a user’s manual. Instructions would have been nice. Especially after they could talk.

I wanted to parent my daughters well. Perfectly, actually. I assumed that if I encouraged and disciplined exactly the right way, I would produce perfect children. It made sense to me. I just needed to find the right formula.

I read and listened to Growing Kids God’s Way faithfully to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I tried to model grace and instill obedience. But sometimes my children disobeyed and said things that would have set James Dobson’s hair on end. And sometimes I said and did things that would have done the same.

The harder I tried to be the perfect parent, the more I failed.

I started family devotions with great excitement but became easily discouraged if they were poorly received. I nagged when I should have listened and was lenient when I should have been consistent. I compared myself to friends and even strangers. They all seemed to parent better. More consistently. More graciously.

Somehow I felt my children were walking billboards, advertising my competence as a parent. And a person.

As a result, they needed to make me look good. And often they did. But in the moments when I felt scrutinized the most, my children performed the worst. Screaming when I said “no,” challenging my authority, eye rolling in defiance.

I rarely responded well and usually left those encounters feeling humbled and defeated.

God, in His wisdom, knew that was the best outcome for me.

Before I had children, I thought I was patient and easygoing. Focused on others. Not easily ruffled. But parenting has exposed my weaknesses and sin as I struggle with people who live and breathe in the space that was once reserved just for me. They have needs that must be met, sin that needs sanctification, and character that requires training.

And under that daily scrutiny, my real character is revealed. I am impatient. Irritable. Self-focused. View full post »

  • August 11, 2017 - 8:45 am

    Mary Ellen Kenline - Spot on! It has taken me 20 years to realize that He is the one at work both in me and my kids, and He is worthy of all my trust and all my obedience. Thanks for sharing your testimony with such well-written words!ReplyCancel

    • August 11, 2017 - 4:56 pm

      Vaneetha - Its taken me a long time too! 🙂 Thanks for writing!ReplyCancel

  • August 11, 2017 - 9:28 pm

    Lori - How can I parent my 17 year old daughter. She lives with her dad. She likes to spend time with her friends. I sometimes see her on a Saturday if she doesn’t see her friends.ReplyCancel

    • August 12, 2017 - 5:58 pm

      Vaneetha - I can imagine this is so hard…I’d pray, pray, pray for wisdom and grace. Praying that the Lord will direct you.ReplyCancel

  • August 14, 2017 - 9:10 pm

    Ann - I have read your story and a few of your articles, and I am captivated by your joy in spite of your suffering…your fellowship with Christ is obvious and your insights so encouraging. I am glad I found your website (through Desiring God)…I just wish we could hang out 🙂ReplyCancel

    • August 15, 2017 - 4:53 pm

      Vaneetha - So glad the Lord is using my writing to encourage you! Thanks for encouraging me!ReplyCancel

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