Monday, August 27, 2012

Before The Throne of God Above, by Sojourn

Yesterday at church, I heard a beautiful song of worship I haven't heard in quite some time, although I actually have this particular version on my iPod. 

I first heard it years ago on some CD my daughter borrowed from our church library. It was so moving to me then and it remains so today.

Originally, it was written as a hymn entitled, "The Advocate," by Charitie Lees Bancroft almost 150 years ago.  While many artists have recorded it, I chose to share Sojourn's beautiful and simple rendition of it.

May the lyrics touch your heart, as they have mine.  And on those dark and lonely days when you feel lost -- as I often can -- and are prone to forget -- as I often am -- may this song remind you of who and Whose you are, and invite you to draw ever closer to your Abba. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Don't Lose Hope

Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
    I will gather you and your children from east and west.
 I will say to the north and south,
    ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
    from the distant corners of the earth. ~ Isaiah 43:5-6, NLT

Rebellious.  Stubborn.  Mouthy. Sullen. Mean-spirited. Disrespectful. 

What do these words have in common?  Anyone, anyone?  Bueller...Bueller??

Answer: they are words that are often used to describe teens.  Now, I know there are folks out there who have teens who are well-behaved, respectful, sweet-natured, etc., folks who cannot relate to this and would beg to differ with this description.  But I don't know any of them personally. 

As the mother of two teens -- a 19 year old son and an almost 16 year old daughter -- I've found the waters of the teenage years choppy, difficult to navigate and quite frankly, very murky. The advice I found in the many, MANY books I've read about dealing with teens rarely seemed to address what I was dealing with at that time, and when it did, it never seemed to 'work' with my two. 

I've done everything possible to raise them the best I could, dedicating them to God and praying for them, although not always consistently.  I am an imperfect parent who, more often than not, has placed them both on God's altar, only to run and snatch them back again when I slip and fall into my 'Mother Knows Best' mode. 

These days, it's painful for me to stand on the shoreline and watch as both of them seem to drift not only farther away from me, but away from God. 

Yes, they attend church, Sunday School and youth group; they've gone on retreats and have been involved in many missions projects/trips.  But outside of that, they act, think and speak like those heavily ensconced in the world.  They are often drawn to and embrace things that break my heart and cause me great anxiety. People encourage me, telling me it's just a phase. And yes, I know much of it very often IS a phase.  But the very weak, foolish and doubting Thomas part of me is worried and afraid. I ache.  I cry.  And yes, I do pray.  

But some days, I just feel like giving up. I'm losing hope. 

There's been an email, sitting unopened in my Inbox for close to a week.  It's entitled, "Your Children Will Return."  I have no good excuses as to why I left it sitting there for so long.  I just did.  

This morning, however, I opened it and found an article written by a woman named Joy Frangipane Marion.  She is the daughter of Francis Frangipane, a Christian author and the founding pastor of River of Life Ministries in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Apparently, back in the day, Joy was quite the sullen, rebellious, mouthy, disrespectful and mean-spirited prodigal daughter, causing her family -- but especially her father -- much pain, heartache and grief.

But these days find her the happily married mother of two, a successful businesswoman and back in a right relationship with her earthly father AND her heavenly Father.  A precious testimony to God's unfailing love, protection and provision, and to her parents' faithful, tear-ridden prayers. 

Near the end of the article, Joy has this to say, and I share it here in the hopes that it will encourage someone today, as it has for me; someone who is also having great difficulty in navigating those murky, choppy waters of the teen years (and even beyond to young adulthood); someone who is drowning and losing hope:

Listen, please don't give up on your teenagers. Don't sacrifice God's standards of righteousness to appeal to their carnal nature. They can't respect you for it and God won't honor it. Your children were not consecrated to Satan; they were dedicated to the Lord. He has had His hand on them and He will not forget them. He has heard your prayers and He is faithful to your cries. He is God. ***

*** To read the entire article, please click on the link below:
Your Children Will Return

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Word For The Overwhelmed

So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up. ~ Galatians 6:9, HCSB

When things are flying at you from all directions; when you feel bombarded and frustrated and weary, ill-equipped to face what (or whom) is staring you down; when anxiety and fear threaten to paralyze you today; when whatever you have done and are currently doing looks like it's not making any difference to anyone, but instead, seems like SUCH a waste of time -- take a breath. Look to and lean on your God and your King.

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