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Heaven and Earth May 29, 2009

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Faith, God, Music, Testimony.
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I changed my theme again and I was thinking that I liked it okay. The next day I actually looked at it and realized – the header goes perfectly with the scripture I keep in my sidebar.

Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Ps. 73:25-26 NIV

So now I really like it, and it brings to mind the song ‘Glory in the Highest’ by Chris Tomlin.  And here it is with words and pictures. Beautiful!

 

I AM lesson 8 September 9, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Faith, Feelings, God, I AM...so you don't have to be, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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1. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to ‘go back’ to a place of shame or ridicule? How did that make you feel? Awful, selfish, sad, remorseful.

2. Is there any circumstance in your life that still has you running for cover? Share if you feel comfortable. No.

3. When is the last time you felt like an overcomer? When the Lord and I spent most of the day (08/08/08) sitting together on my back patio working on My Pitcher.

4. If you have not yet taken the serpent by the tail, are you willing to stop running, take hold and trust God to transform it into a tool for wonders? I’ve taken hold and am trusting God.

5. I would like for you to write down this statement based on 1 John 2:14 somewhere you will see it often this week: “I am strong, the Word of God abides in me, and I have overcome the evil one.” Memorize it. Say it over and over until you believe it. Will you do this?? Most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, but on this one, I’m expecting a ‘yes’! Yes.

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.

I AM lesson 7 August 22, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Faith, Feelings, God, I AM...so you don't have to be, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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1. How would you answer the question, “Who am I?” I am precious in the sight of God. He created me – just as I am. He knew what, when, how, all that I am or hope to be – He knows. Cracked, broken, redeemed, loved, growing. Seeking after God with my whole heart. Seeking to reach the world – such as He has gives me – with the Good News, which is Christ Jesus.

2. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt inadequate because of your lack of a ‘tagline’? Yes, way more often than I even like to admit. Thinking that titles matter. A whole lot. Thinking that if I don’t have a title, will people listen, will they hear? I’m learning that it isn’t the title, it is Christ speaking through whomever He chooses. It is not my responsibility to ‘make them listen’, only to speak. He will reap the harvest. Titles can actually ‘pigeon-hole’ people I think sometimes. So really, isn’t it better to not have a title so I’m not distracted by it? Hmmm…

3. Do you have skills or position that you believe God could use mightily if only He would? I believe so. But who’s to say He isn’t and I’m just unaware. I must be walking in the Spirit always so that aware or unaware I bring honor to Christ. A daily choice I must make. Phil. 1:20-22a For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. NLT

4. Have you ever lost a position or station in life you believe could have ‘helped God out’ with something He has asked you to do? If you haven’t lost out, do you perhaps feel you have to gain this in order to be useful to the Kingdom? Sort of. I know what an answer. Yes. But now I don’t know. The crux of the question ‘helped God out’ implies He needs helping, and I know that not to be true. That makes it about me. God is more than able! I know God is working in me, moving me. For what? I don’t know. Maybe for something I would have missed had I still been tied to this other commitment. Making sure that I really am free to move where He moves me, when He moves me. Really releasing my grasp on things earthly. Good kingdom work but was it taking the place of the Spirit? Was it holding me back from His good purpose? I think so.

5. How are you with your dialogue vs. doubt conversations with God? Which does God hear most from you? Dialogue. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding me, I do not doubt God or His will and purposes. Do I question? Yes, and that is good I think. If I didn’t question how would I get the answer?

6. Do you believe God’s Wonders become more wonderful if they originate in the ordinary? Any scripture references come to mind? If something is more than ordinary we seem to expect more and would not count it to God I think. Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter & John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. NIV The NLT translation uses the word ‘boldness’ instead of ‘courage’. Isn’t this what we want, people to know that it is Jesus and not us? The ordinary allows that to happen, allows them to be drawn to Him.

(more…)

I AM lesson 6 August 21, 2008

Posted by Theresa Madden in Bible, Faith, Feelings, God, I AM...so you don't have to be, Love, Prayer, Testimony, Thoughts.
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1. How current is your God? Is he up to date on all your issues or do you have old hurts you still hold behind your back? This lesson has been sitting so long, waiting. And now I can say “He is current-up to date-this very moment.”

2. Has the enemy ever told you there are situations that are ‘old news’ that are better left stuffed down? Or perhaps because they were so long ago they can’t possibly be affecting you now? Yes. The great lie of the enemy. The truth is they are very central to how we live now, unconsciously. Which takes some serious time with the Lord and deep soul-searching to see. Then understand. And finally to release them to the Lord and ask for healing. To learn to stop and think before acting or maybe I should say before reacting in the old way.

3. In the matter of established authority, does God truly reign in your life? Where are you when He calls your name? Yes, I believe He does. Where am I? The “right” answer would be (in my mind) to say on my knees. But really, am I going to spend all day long on my knees? No, so enough of that! I am living in this moment He has given me, open to hear Him speak to me at all times of the day or night.  Awake or asleep, it matters not to Him, just that I am open.

4. Do you ever feel God has forgotten you in your ‘west side of the wilderness’? I could say yes for sure. I think it’s a natural feeling, one that His Spirit overcomes when we stop to seek Him. Because I know (in my head) that He is always with me, He hasn’t forgotten me. Feelings – it is not good to be ruled by our feelings! What I really think is that I just couldn’t hear or see Him because circumstances (feelings) overcame me and I wasn’t trusting Him. Mostly because I was holding on to things from the past – which colored everything else.

5. Have you ever experienced a time of cleansing where God has illuminated and rejuvenated you? If not, do you find you are in need of this now? Yes. This last month I have spent many, many hours alone with God, His Word, journaling, praying, reading. God is faithful, sometimes it requires much action my part. Dedication to God for a time specified by Him. It really is amazing that we know when He really wants to talk the hard talk with us. We know how long we are to be facedown. We know when we have learned what He is saying, we have sought forgiveness, we have forgiven, we have laid it all before Him. And we know when He has released us from this intense time.
This makes my daily time spent with Him alone so sweet, because I am in His will. At least until the next time – and I know there will be – but less and less ‘ickiness’. Does that make sense? My prayer is that as I grow in Him, that these times would be more illuminating for me. That I learn more about Him, that I gain understanding and wisdom so that I more freely, more nautrally am His light in this world.

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?