Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A New Direction and Focus

If y'all haven't read Tim's blog, he has been doing a great job updating everyone that reads on there all that God has been challenging our Waters family to do.
I'll try to list some things from my side of it:
For one, we have cancelled cable for several months in an effort to spend more quality time together, both as a couple, and as a family. I have seen nothing but positive things of it. I was not real glued to the tv as I had only 2 shows a week that I watched regularly, so taking that away was not a big deal to me, but Tim admits that the 1st week was tough for him. But it's not so hard anymore as he is seeing the fruit of this step of obedience. The girls have still had DVD's to watch or some recorded programs that we have. But I am able to monitor their time on the tv much better that way, instead of having the endless show after shows on the kid's channels, which I admit was hard to pull them away from. Needless to say, their tv time has diminished greatly!
We have also wrote a list of things as a family to do together. The girls listed their ideas and we have them hanging on the fridge for reference. I was amazed at how simple they were, yet were just what we need to do to learn to enjoy each other more. We have implemented a few already.

We've been helping Hannah practice her volleyball skills outside more, and as a result, Faith is even learning how to play at the young age of 5. Hannah is improving her skills more and more at each game and it is getting more and more exciting to watch her grow in this area. And we're having fun in the midst.

The girls and I planted a garden together a few weekends ago, also with Gramma's much appreciated help, which I wanted to post pictures of, but have misplaced my camera at the moment. But that was a special memory that I will never forget. And the girls are staying very involved in watering it and keeping it going, which I am so thankful since I am not much of a green thumb.
These are just a few things. I will add more as I remember.

As I had spoken briefly before, there are other more difficult things that the Lord led me to lay down and I am seeing more confirmation from Him of why he led me to do so. There is a specific friendship that I was in that had brought many blessings to my life over the years, but in the recent past, had been rather out of balance and consuming in a negative way, to the point that my marriage, relationship with God, and family, as was my friends' same relationships were suffering. We kind of became a hindrance instead of a source of growth for each other. So, the Lord specifically told me, then later confirmed to both of us together, that there was some major work He needed to do in her life and in mine individually and that we needed to go our separate ways. The toughest part is that we still see each other at church, and are still learning how far to take this, which kinda makes my church experience right now a bit wierd at times. But at the same time, I am so yearning for God's voice, that I am receiving everything that He is telling me and am determined to walk it out. Absolutely determined! And that is never a bad thing. I just know today that God has me right where he wants me, and many strongholds are being lifted already because of it in my life and in this friend's life, yet I still battle the guilt of feeling like I've abandoned a friend. I know that is the enemy, and I am having to keep my focus on the right things to allow God to work this all out in His perfect, mysterious way.
More blessings that have come is that my depression and anxiety has been gone for 3 weeks now, and as Tim puts it, I have a lighter kick in my step these days. I am so enjoying God's presence all around me and the beautiful presence of my 3 sweet girls and my amazingly wonderful husband.
Which leads me to say, the best thing thus far that has come of this, despite a closer relationship with my Lord, is that Tim and I are closer than ever and we are becoming best friends again. Now THIS is the marriage that I signed up for :). It would not have happened had I not chose to follow God's voice the past month. And I know the same is happening with my friend and her husband. And I know God has much more that He wants to do. I am so thankful that I have a faithful Saviour who knows what is best for each and every one of us and walks us through every step of our lives to fulfill His purpose. God is SO GOOD!

Until next time...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My husband's blog

There were some things I was going to share regarding decisions Tim and I have made for our family, but lo and behold, he beat me to it. If you are interested, go to the "More Than Conquerors" blog that is on my blog list and scroll down til you see the pic of my 3 sweet girls and you will be reading what direction God is taking us.

Here is the Link


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Potter and the Clay

Isaiah 64:8

Yet, O Lord, you are the Father,

We are the clay, you are the potter;

we are all the work of your hand.

I'm returning temporarily because my heart and mind are so full of what God has shown me this past weekend. This stuff is too good to not put out here. God is so faithful and he has put my focus back to the right place.
I attended our Women's Retreat for Central this past weekend and boy did God prepare me for what was revealed. All the trials I've been thru and decluttering God is doing in my life has set the stage for me to receive so much out of the beautiful message of the Potter and the Clay.
The speaker for the weekend is a real potter who has her own pottery business, but uses her talent also as offering to God, as she travels around and teaches church groups about all of the amazing parallels between how a piece of pottery is made vs. how God, our own potter in our lives, molds and makes us in our daily lives here on earth.

This is a lot of the meat that the Lord gave us to chew on and live out this past weekend:

-God wants to re-work us over and over until He is pleased. That is the forgiveness of God. And also the way God continues to keep us useful for his kingdom. He is a God who gives us endless chances to be surrendered into His hands so that He can shape and then re-shape us into His purpose.

-Clay can be re-molded many times before it is put in the fire for the final step before it becomes an actual pitcher or bowl to be usable, or whatever it is shaped into. Yet, the more clay is re-worked, the more moldable it is before it is made into use. The more God remolds us and reworks us, the more moldable we become, therefore He can work into our lives more effectively. It's all about surrender.

-While our speaker was talking in each session, she was always up there creating a piece of pottery. A piece of clay has to be perfectly centered on the wheel to be shaped right. One question is, how centered are we in our relationship with God?

-As she asked this, she would then shape the lump of clay into a beautiful shaped pitcher. But obviously, she didn't have the time or resources with her to make us a finished product. So, she would crush and re-knead the same piece of clay, and then create a new shape. We would cringe when she would crush the clay pitcher or whatever she had made because it was so beautiful, yet she made the point that we get so attached to being a certain way or having certain things so quickly, that we have such a hard time surrendering ourselves or our things to God, so that he can reshape us for use in a new chapter of our lives. That was a biggy for me.

-There is importance in the waiting for a piece of clay to be ready before you put through the fire or kiln. If it is put through that too soon, it will explode into a million pieces. Sometimes in our lives, we jump into something too soon before we sit and wait on God to show us where he wants us. It's the being still and waiting on the Lord that this society is so bad at. How many of us just barrel forward into a position that God never intended for us to be in and then we burn out or even explode over and over and therefore become useless.

-We are broken vessels because of sin in our lives. But praise the Lord Jesus that he has put the pieces back together through his love, patience, and sacrfice. He has made perfection out of something so imperfect. Something we could never do on our own.

-We fall into the temptation of comparing ourselves to others. We are a "bowl" or a "vase" when we wish we were a "pitcher". But God made us the way he made us, and we have to ask the Lord how he wants to use us.

-Pottery is made to be used. Some people buy pottery and display it on a mantle. But the true intention of it is that it should be used. The potter said that she likes to see her pottery being used for a purpose, not to be just displayed on a shelf. God didn't make us the way he did so we can just sit and look pretty or be displayed on a pew but not be used. But we also need to make sure we aren't trying to "be a bowl full of candy" when God wants us to "pour out like a pitcher".

-Last but not least, it is the pain of the fire that changes our character, so we can actually be used. A clay molded into something but not put in the fire is useless. Some people rather just be a lump of clay their whole lives and sit in a church pew every Sunday, but are not willing to go through fiery trials to build their character and then be usable. Sometimes God has allowed us to become a lump of clay again though so he can have a place to start over and re-shape us into His image and use us for his service. We just have to be willing to let him complete what He has started.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Taking a Break

I am really feeling the need to lay this little part of my life down for a bit. There is some de-cluttering to be done in my life right now as I mentioned in my last post, and it includes laying some stuff down for a while that I've enjoyed even, including this, and I'm trying to re-organize priorities and all. I will return hopefully before too long and will be able to start fresh. God is doing great stuff right now and I don't want to hinder him in any way. Thank you all for your encouragement. It has meant so much. Please check out some of the blogs I have posted on the left column. Tim's is the "More Than Conquerors" one in case you're curious.
For those who are looking at this for the first time, there is plenty of stuff from the past few months that I've posted and feel free to play with my music playlist at the bottom of the page. It is all my favorite stuff. Love you all and God bless.

Friday, April 4, 2008

God is Doing a "Spring" Cleaning on Me

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false. Psalm 24:3-4

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

First of all, I wanted to say thank you to those who have sent encouragement to me in regards to my blog and what God is using to bless others. I am so humbled. I really had no idea what starting a blog would entail, but it has been so encouraging to see how God is using it for others. I've never been the "teaching" type, and really have never been much of a writer, but what an incredible opportunity God has given me to reach out and touch others through my little life here on earth. I am starting to truly believe that it is through our testimony of our journey with the Lord that we can help others in their journey as well. So keep passing it on.

These past few weeks have not been all daisies and roses in many aspects of my life. God has definitely been working on me in some areas in ways that have made my heart feel a little battered and bruised. And I'm having to come to him for healing in that. I have had to make some tough choices through some difficult circumstances this week that really just wasn't fun to make. I'm not coming to talk about the circumstances as much as I am sharing what God is still trying to pound into me through these circumstances. Having a pure heart, and remaining steadfast with Him. I have been praying for God to teach me how to have a heart of integrity, and boy has he been teaching me.
For 32 years of my life, I have been somewhat of the follower-type, people-pleaser, quick to make peace kind of person. I see that there are times when that trait is needed, but I had been so used to that way of being that I never got good at making tough choices for myself or others, that might ruffle feathers between me and others at first, but in the end, is the right choice. And truthfully, that way of being has been the root issue I believe of some anxiety and depression that I have been battling for a year or so now. I've been surrounded all my life with very strong-willed people. I know God was sovereign to some degree in that, but I also know that some of it was that I chose to be with these people because they could just make decisions for me, and it was easy for me be the follower.

I've realized recently though that my integrity had become so shallow because of it. And when conflict arises, I want to run away or if that's not a choice, I crumble, because ultimately I'm not confident in my choice-making. I'm not listening to the voice of God for answers, and instead just listening to the voices of man and the enemy and trying to find my choices with that. And God is such a good God that he just wouldn't let me stay there anymore. "Hello, Bethany, it just doesn't work that way!", is what God has been trying to tell me lately. And I believe it has also become a root problem that had caused trouble in my marriage and some close relationships. But, as I have slowly become more of a confident individual in the past month or two, it has made my marriage grow more than ever. Tim came out and told me recently how attractive it was to have a confident, decisive wife. Who'da thought? That was a big light-bulb moment for me.

In that, I finally realized that others really want me to be true to myself too, have a heart of integrity, be real, and not try to say or feel a way that "just feels good" or what will make the other person happy all the time. There's a time for encouragement and uplifting, but some things just don't allow that to always be the right answer. Because who can trust someone who just wants to say what feels good? So I've been praying for God to get me to the point where I have a heart of integrity in every situation that arises, I can be confident in my ability to make right choices, and be able to stay in tune to God's voice over all the voices that are trying to sway me in their direction. Because the multiple voices will eat me alive if I try to please everyone. This passage has been the verse that describes my life lately, and is exactly what God is teaching me. I remember memorizing this in my late teens and wondering what all of this really meant. Now I know!
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. (James 1:2-8)