Nuggets: The Hand That Rocks My Cradle

Today’s little post is for sure a “nugget”. I’ve been hustling my tail to clean, mow, shower and cook while Evie is napping. And I even snuck in 15 minutes of chill time! My window of opportunity is closing.

But my heart wants to share what God spoke to me late last night. Little One has slept through the night (mostly) from a very young age. But since she became super mobile, she’s often very restless at night and wakes herself up. We’ve seen her sitting up rubbing her eyes (still asleep) then slump forward, legs in a criss-cross-applesauce position, but her head down on the pillow.

Several times last night, I hurried to her room to calm her and give her a pacifier before she woke up too much. Finally, she was standing in her bed, crying and mostly asleep. I decided just to make her a bottle and rock her for a while.

Maybe it’s because yesterday was Mother’s Day. Maybe it was just God’s timing anyway, but as I sat there thinking, “Five in the morning is going to be here so fast!” I heard Him whisper:

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.… Psalm 121:3-5

God continued, “You will never rock her with as much tenderness as I rock you. I’m never impatient or confused when you’re upset, awake, or fearful for seemingly no reason. I’m never out of sorts when you need me or even just want me. I’m thrilled to be up all night long with you. And I can’t wait to see you in the morning over coffee when you’re awake and want to talk to me, too.”

“Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassionon the son of her womb? Even these may forget,but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.… Isaiah 49:15-16

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Prove It, God

dried-flower-721462-mI wouldn’t have even seen her, she was so frail, but for the blood curdling scream that rent the air.

My dog and I had just arrived at the pediatrics floor of the local hospital for therapy visits. Ashana, (I don’t know her real name for confidentiality purposes) was just leaving and stood at the elevator with her mother around the corner from me. The doors yawned, they stepped inside and she was gone. I found out later from the nurses that four-year-old Ashana is terrified of dogs, butt as our conversation progressed I learned a little bit more.

Ashana has cancer. They found it when she was two. For the last two years, she has spent ten days a month in the hospital receiving treatments.

“That’s not the first time I’ve heard her cry like that,” one of the nurses said. “It happens almost every time she leaves. She loves it here. But if you think about it, this hospital will probably be most of what she remembers of her early years. It’s like a second home to her.”

I pictured that tiny little girl and her mother. Talk about a trial, a refiner’s fire.

When someone is in the middle of those flames, the worst thing you can say is something like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or, “God is working in you. You’ll come out of this much stronger on the other side.”

But that’s what we think isn’t it? We imagine that God crafts our personal struggles to test our faith. But maybe, it’s the other way around. Maybe, God allows struggles and pain in our lives to prove HIS faithfulness, not to test ours.

Remember the story of Elijah running for his life in 1 Kings 19? The wicked Queen Jezebel was massacring the Lord’s prophets and was gunning for Elijah. The prophet ran and hid in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. He was so miserable and lonely that he told God he would rather die.  But God sent birds to feed Elijah; He even came personally and allowed Elijah to glimpse His glory.

Elijah’s experience in the wilderness did not prove his faithfulness. In fact, it proved his weakness—He felt hopeless and wanted to die. The experience didn’t make him stronger, Elijah was not suddenly a mightier man of God than he had been before. Instead, those moments in the wilderness proved that God was faithful; in the middle of that trial, God proved that He was strong enough, able enough to care for Elijah when all else seemed lost.

Romans 5:3-5, urges us to find joy even in the middle of our pain: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Did you notice that Paul doesn’t say, “suffering makes you stronger”? Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance means, “determination for a course of action, purpose”. (dictionary.com)

In our pain and suffering God proves His faithfulness; He proves His strength in the midst of our weakness. It is there, we see His faithfulness and understand that He is able to care for us no matter the situation.

Setting Captives Free, A Review

This week I am in Texas preparing for the best day of my sister’s life! Chelle gets married on June 16!

But, the show must go on! So, this week I was planning to share some life-giving, truth-giving resources with you. With each of the links I provide, I am speaking from personal experience. I have either done the Bible study, sat through the tuition, faithfully read the blog, dialogued with the founder or participated in some other way.

This week we are looking at Setting Captives Free. I began the In His Image study  a couple months ago. I was in the middle of a couple other studies at the same time, so it took me a while to gain momentum. My generous mentor never rushed me, but she did encourage me that doing the study at a steady pace produces better results. She was right!

When I finished Breakaway at my church, I stepped up my progress at In His Image. Almost every morning, I find myself in tears in front of my computer. The lessons have been convicting – very. At the same time, my mentor balances the brunt of the truth with empathy and hope-sustaining Scripture. But I warn you these studies aren’t for the faint of heart, or just to make you feel good!

Here’s an additional devotional that my mentor shared with me today. We have actually developed a broader relationship, as she has experienced many similar pains to myself. This devotion was in response to another situation I shared with her. Enjoy!

WHICH ARE YOU?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

A young woman went to her mother and told her how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength? Or are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a loved-one’s death, a relationship breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or are you like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If I am like the bean, when things are at their worst, I get better and change the situation around me through Christ-likeness.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

RESPONSE: Christians are like carrots, eggs or coffee beans. They don’t know how strong their response is until they get into hot water. Which are you?

PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that every experience You gives me, every person You put in my path, is the perfect preparation only You can see.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International.