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One year ago today… August 27, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Counseling, Faith, Family, Feelings, God, Grief, Journal, Love, Prayer, Testimony.
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One year ago today our world changed. Our son Steven was in a horrible car accident on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2007. And he died one day later Monday, Aug. 27, 2007 without ever regaining consciousness. Did I pray over him, absolutely. Did I long to see his eyes open one more time, his smile? Yes, with all my heart, YES. Just one time. Was it to be? No. In that time I knew, God prepared my heart and gave me the knowledge that Steven was not going to walk this earth anymore. Is there still grief? Yes, at times unbearable. But, it doesn’t consume my life (at least anymore). I don’t walk around in a daze like I did for the first little while, thinking I was doing ok, but in reality looking like I was going to shatter into a million pieces any second.

How have we gotten along? I have no answers for the rest of the family, we are all in different stages of grief, some still very angry and confused, some have run from God because they don’t understand.

I can only answer for myself. My hope is in Christ. I am confident that Steven will be in heaven when we get there. In January I did go to counseling for about 3 months, and it was good! Good, godly counsel is so important.

And these last couple of months I have been spending hours upon hours with the Lord. Really searching my heart. Going outside, alone with Him, my journal, my bible. His Word is truth and He is drawing me ever deeper into it. He is my salvation.

This is what He asks us to do. And these are His promises.
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. NIV
James 4:8 Come near to God, and God will come near to you. NIV
Psalms 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth. NIV

Psalms 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge… NIV

God is so faithful, as I woke this morning I didn’t feel the sadness I had expected to feel. Just peace. His peace which passes all understanding.

Will I feel sadness today at times? Without a doubt.
Will I cry? Without a doubt, as right now testifies.
Will I dwell in that sadness? No.
Will I run to the Lord to comfort me? Yes
Will I pray for my family? Yes

Will I praise Him today? Yes – and everyday.

My Pitcher August 18, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Feelings, God, Grief, Journal, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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08/08/08 The day was finally here. The day for my pitcher. Since May I knew that one day I would throw this pitcher to the ground, shatter it, and put it back together again. A picture of my life, and allowing the Lord to put me back together again. In the way He desires, not I.
And if you know anything about me, I am a perfectionist (trying oh so hard not to be). To put that pitcher back together, having cracks show (uneven ones at that), glue bulging out everywhere, and that huge hole! Oh my…
Holding the pitcher in my hands, I was so hesitant to throw it on the ground. Nervous for what the Lord wanted to show me, scared for what He might show me, ready for what He would show me. Deep breath and then I flung it to the ground, CRACK! I can’t really describe well the feelings that followed; relief, calm, peace, expectant, love. But so much more in an inexplicable way.

The Lord and I spent most of the day together out on the back patio, talking, listening, learning, reading, writing. It took hours to glue the pitcher back together. I started out really smashing the pieces together hard so the seams wouldn’t show. I don’t think I was listening. Gradually, as the imperfections continued to be blatantly obvious the Lord showed me that the pitcher would not be the same size. Using hot glue, no way that was going to happen. The harder I tried to make one seam meld perfectly together, the larger the opposing seam would get. Anyway back to learning…I realized the pitcher would be slightly larger and that was okay.
So, back by the handle is where I started, and it was going to be perfectly put back together. Oh, that would be according to my perfection. So already it was a mess – because that is what my human perfection is, a mess. You can see that the closer I got to completion (the front center/spout section) the larger the seams got.
It’s like my life, trying so hard to help God when there is no need to. HE is able, I just need to be available, willing, lead-able, and teachable.

The biggest lesson of all? The huge hole in the side…I found the large top piece and thought I would snug it right in there, I knew there was one below but I was sure it would go right in later. So, I snugged that big one in. Then I really looked at the hole…and thought, ‘oops’. I found the piece that went there and spent the next 1/2 hour trying to make it fit. Oh did I try, and finally I thought I would just sort of push it in as much as I could which was about 1mm and then glue around the edges for protection…U.G.L.Y. Man was it ugly, it looked like this huge disgusting growth. Well, stubborn that I am, I left it on until the pitcher was completed…I thought it was telling me something. And it was, only not what I thought. I tried to reason that it was a picture of the bumps and turns, that I’m not perfect, everyone else knows I’m not perfect and I’m bumpy and rough sometimes. The big ugly bump has smooth edges now with all the glue surrounding it. Even in the bumps God loves me. Really? The only part of that whole scenario that is true is the very last line ‘Even in the bumps God loves me.’

What was the Lord telling me? Again, I was using my own strength, my own desires to make it fit where it no longer belonged. I cannot move forward in my relationship with God when I try so hard. I cannot do what He has called me to do if I am still holding on to something else. I had to remove it, and so for the next hour I struggled to pry it off. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to remove something in our lives we know does not belong there? It takes perseverance, the strong desire to place the will of God before my will. It takes time. When I finally got it off, the relief and sense of well-being was almost tangible. And it was the end of my struggle with God, of me trying to be where I wanted to be. I thought it was the right place, and for a time it was. Maybe it will be again. Only the Lord knows, and I am content.

What happened to the piece of pottery that I pried off? I thought I would keep in in the bottom of the pitcher, as a symbol of my surrender to God. Of His lordship. I cleaned up everything and placed my pitcher on the table. About an hour later I thought ‘Oh, I need to look at the pitcher.’ I picked up the pitcher and immediately looked inside for the ‘symbolic’ piece. It wasn’t there. Panic! Where could it be? I must have accidentally thrown it away. As it thought I’ll go find it, another voice came to me. Not audibly, but in my spirit. ‘Do you think it was really an accident that it was thrown away?’ And I realized it was not, it was the Lord’s purpose. His will that I not hold on to it. He knew I would look at the shard, pick it up and think of what I gave up, desire to have it back, maybe even try to place it in the hole every now and again. He wants me to remember the sweet surrender, the filling of my heart, mind and spirit with Him. His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, and His grace. He wants me to look at the hole and see Him, see His love pouring out. So, in the trash it remained.

Cracks of all different sizes, some almost hidden, others large. This world has hold of us in many ways, as we have hold of it. Some is held tightly, some loosely. I believe for me the smaller cracks are the things I gave up willingly, easily for the Lord. The larger cracks…those that I struggled more with. And the huge hole? A turning point in my life. Where does it lead? I don’t know. But He does and I will follow, in His time.

Lord, only you know the deepest recesses of my heart. Only you know if there are any more ‘shards’ needing removed. I pray Lord that this process would not hurt anyone else. Change is most always painful in one way or another – but in doing Your will it is so worth it. I have learned You are so much better, living in Your will, walking the path that only I can walk.

Where did this journey with My Pitcher begin? Here, with Angie Smith.

Where will this journey end with My Pitcher? When Jesus returns for his bridegroom – all who have acknowledged Him as the Risen King, the One True God, ALL who have asked Jesus into their hearts. Kneeling at my Saviors feet, praising Him for all eternity, thanking Him for all He has done for me. Good times, bad times. Yes, even the trials, the sorrows, for without them I would not be able to see how much He truly loves me. Flawed…yet made whole in Christ.

p.s. My pitcher sets in my family room. I look at it often. I pick it up and thank the Lord for His great love. It goes to my table with me when I go outside in the mornings to spend time with the Jesus. Sometimes the light of a candle shines through the cracks, through the hole. Again I am reminded, the more He works in me, the more shards or cracks there are, the more His light will shine through me. From every angle Lord, let Your light shine!

p.p.s. Just before I threw it I looked at the bottom, it said ‘English Staffordshire China’, and briefly thought “I can’t break this!” Then the thought came to me, ‘What better to break?’ Aren’t we to give our best?

What does Quiet Time mean? May 30, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Feelings, God, Journal, Love, Prayer, Thoughts.
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This whole thought process started here with Cathi and Tawny so I’ll wait while you catch up.

Waiting…

Waiting…

Back yet? Okay.

Quiet time for someone like me (rules, rules, rules – even implied rules) starts with having to have the house quiet, that includes people, electronic media, you get it – quiet. Time – mere moments do not count, it has to be at least a 1/2 hour or I’ve shorted God. So from the get-go, I’m distracted. For me – Devotions is much better. I am devoting myself to God.

Therein lies my quandry, yes I am devoting myself to God for that period of time. Isn’t He though devoting Himself to me also? I know that my Lord is always devoted to me, ALWAYS. But still, the purpose (for me) is two way communication…I want to hear from God as well as talk with Him.

Devotions – from the Greek word “sebasma” means, object of worship.

We were talking about communicating…communicate comes from the Greek word “sugkoinoneo” (pronounced= soong-koy-no-neh-o) meaning to share in company with, i.e. co-participate in:-communicate (have fellowship) with, be partaker of.

I don’t know about you, but l love the definition of communicate. I don’t think we could coin sugkoinoneo as “the” new word for quiet time or devotions.

What do you think? What word comes to mind when you think of your time spent with the Lord?

I AM lesson 4 May 1, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Family, Feelings, God, I AM...so you don't have to be, Journal, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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1. I am going to present to you a little acrostic to begin our discussion today. What is your latest NLIP? (Not Like I Planned?)

I have been really stymied by this question. Feeling like it has to be one thing and not being able to pick something. Thinking it has to be “not” life shattering or by the other extreme to “fluffy”. What is my problem. Well, I posted yesterday that I was stuck and partly on this. My good friend said I should just say “the last 18 months have pretty much been NLYP” which you can read about here.

2. How did you react to your NLIP? Are you still upset about it? Happy about it? Baffled by it? Explain.

My friend also said I could say this “you have reacted in love for the Lord. I think that would be true.” Upset – my life will never be the same – I also know that it was God’s timing. Happy about it – not in the least. How to explain – my joy is in the Lord. Baffled – no, I know that again it was God’s timing.

3. Have you ever attempted to step into an area of ministry and found your desire rejected? Did this cause you to question God and yourself? Perhaps distrust what you perceived to be your calling?

Yes. Yes. Maybe.

4. Do you harbor any bitterness towards any individual or situation which you believe waylaid your best laid plans?

No, not any longer, forgiveness is a wonderful thing. A bit about that here.


5. Have you had a life experience or trial that left you with a shaken faith because it ended in an NLIP? Please share if you feel free.

See #1. I know that His ways are greater than my ways. That He knows. My faith is in Jesus…He is the only way I can make it through this life. I grow closer to Him, and stronger in Him. Stronger because in my weakness He is strong. He is the reason I live – to shine the light of His love to those He puts in my path.

6. Based on Moses’ response of faith to his own rejection, how will you re-evaluate your own experiences or look at future ones differently if a NLIP presents itself?

For me there is no other way to look at them. God has a plan and a purpose. If I need to grow and change, I pray that I do, for His glory. I do not want to do anything with a heart that is not set on Him and I pray that He will not let me.

Slay me Part 2 March 22, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Family, Feelings, Friends, God, Journal, Love, Ministry, Music, Prayer, Retreat, Testimony.
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I prayed that prayer sincerely with all my heart, confident that should He ask it of me, He will give me the strength to lay down my life for Him. See how one dimensional my thinking was? I thought of being slain in only one way, laying down my life for Him. The Lord sees it many ways as I soon found out.

Just before we arrived at Lake Bradley, our retreat location I was asked to run the sound. I said sure I would. A bit of background here; the Lord had asked me to lay down all the co-ordinating and speaking roles for this retreat just a couple months ago. I had been in the midst with the rest of the team and had started researching and writing my session notes. The Lord gave me a peace about this, that is until I went to the meetings and didn’t have any “physical, tangible” things to lay on the table. It became hard to be in the meetings. I persevered, with much much prayer. My role He said for this retreat was to be in the Word and prayer daily for all the women who would attend. I faithfully did as He asked.

Okay, back to the retreat. I was a bit confused as it is hard to be in the middle of something sometimes and see what God is doing. I was prepared to hang out with my sister and not have a visible presence. I started the sound, and had a bunch of fun playing with eq, adjusting between songs if needed, and for the various speakers. All went well until I gave a machine more credit for being smart than it should have. I switched out tapes to record one of the sessions, the prior tape had run both sides. Well, I thought that thing is so smart of course it will know when I put the new tape in, push the button to start at the beginning. I was so wrong. In this session Nancy J spoke of God’s extravagant grace and we have to reach out and accept it. In my perfectionist ways…I looked at it as “they had given me something to do and I managed to mess it up”. I had to apologize to Nancy, she was quite okay with it not being recorded and told me so, I on the other hand was crying my eyes out.

What was the big deal? My friend still loves me. She will not kick me to the curb and leave me there alone, she loves me. I am learning to accept that she does, that my friends really do love me for me, not what I do or how well I do it. And in learning to believe that I reflect deeper and see that also my pride was wounded. I looked at being slain in the ultimate sense of the word. The easiest really. God is looking at my being slain, as a daily laying down of my self. Did I not pray for that very thing? Yes, I did. And God answered my prayer in the way He knew was best for me. No, I did not get the easy way out, but do I really want it? I want to be closer to God, smack dab tight against His side, and the only way to do that is to be slain a little more each day. So I thank you Lord for loving me yet again more than I can know.

Even though You slay me March 21, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Devotions/Quiet Time, Faith, Feelings, God, Journal, Love, Ministry, Music, Prayer, Retreat, Testimony.
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Have you ever prayed that? I did last weekend at retreat. Our retreat was titles “Extravagance- A Glimpse of God’s Glory”. He was so faithful to show us many glimpses.

We had had a wonderful morning session with Tammy C teaching on the Power of His Glory and a video presentation by Louie Giglio (How Great Is Our God). We were ready for our Quiet Time with the Lord.

3.15.08 Excerpts from my devotional book: Ps. 104:1-4 The very thing we talked about last night and this morning Lord! Glimpses of Your glory Lord, thank You! Continue to reveal my weaknesses to me Lord so that I may identify, surrender, seek forgiveness, and have victory. You, Lord provide the victory. You, Lord are the only One – I cannot have victory apart from You. When we come to places like this retreat, we call them mountain-top experiences – not because we’re on a mountain top, but because You choose to reveal Your glory to us. We come expectant and waiting on You. Please Lord, reveal Your glory to me. Though I be slayed, that is my hearts desire, for Your honor.

Excerpts from my journal: Lord of ALL creation – how majestic You are, what You have created. Father, thank you for your Son – willing to do as You ask. You did not spare Him, who am I to ask that You spare me? Thank you for moving me out of the way so that Your purpose could and would be carried out. Blessed Father, how You have every moment sculpted out. We come to this place daring to ask, to plead for You to show us Your glory. I am determined to be bold, to be led of You, in Your time, in Your place, in Your ways. Not in mine. As YOU will Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tomorrow I will write of what happened next…