Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful on Thanksgiving

Each year, as we have celebrated Thanksgiving, we have always implemented asking our kids to think of something that they are thankful for and share it before dinner. Our answers have always been the ones you would expect: First and foremost, we are thankful for Jesus, who laid down His life so that we could spend eternity with Him, Danny and I would next prioritize each other, then our children and our families.

We have endured unique challenges that have forced our attention toward our hope in those challenges as birthing a mission and purpose that we trust God to reveal. After each transitional period (or survival through them), we have attempted to exercise our faith as well as our hope that we have in Him. I don't question God's wisdom being greater than any I could understand, but I do fear at times His allowance of the burdens I am learning to let Him carry.

Each burden, while I can understand God giving me my personality and perspective that I seem to have; as well as trouble controlling this personality of mine oftentimes, I have allowed it to be an "excuse" for my reactions to things that rub me wrong, as well as the very blessing within me that allows me to embrace those challenges. Each burden or blessing (depending upon the day), I have shared with Him, carrying it within His plan, but I still felt the weight of it. There is a balance to be accepting of, but feeling the weight to the point that I justify my toil, which is NOT part of His plan. The bible says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30.)

It is only in weakness of doing it this way, His way, is possible. I recently realized that while each challenge gives direction for life, it also can bring a greater sense of self. My thoughts and actions have often gone spinning as I attempt another plan, another level of resourcefulness, another way of either escape or embrace...again, depending on the day or the ability to adapt.

Our recent challenge, having the stamp of the enemy all over it and counterintuitive to my fiber of being, has enabled me to see with a new lens. Where past challenges have enriched my perspective, this one left me speechless within my internal reconciliation of understanding. It was in that space that I learned more about Thanksgiving than I ever knew possible. I learned how to let go. I let go of my gifts for optimism, my determination for truth to be "heard", even my expectations of what I thought was a nearing of the end of our valley that we have been in for so long. I am more thankful now than ever for Who I serve, Who has called me to purpose and Who has perfectly orchestrated my weaknesses for His glory.

Because I have no where to go to create another plan, find another path, commit another day, I am surrendered. Surrendered to Him. The fears I have had in letting go are beginning to bring me peace. I am not the same wife, not the same mother and certainly not the same child of God. While I have let go of my natural perspective to remain determined to dig deep within, I now trust God for just enough grace for the day. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2Corinthians 12:9

He has allowed me to placed in a situation that I can only look at how my life can honor Him. I have begun wondering whose life I am meant to speak into as I walk out His road to mission and purpose. I can assure you, I do not relish the pain, but I am focused on the purpose. I hold onto the expectation alone that our Father wants great things for His children. Matthew 7:11 says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

He knows my heart is bent toward Him. He has entrusted me with a God-fearing man with a tremendous anointing on his life and 5 incredible children who are all uniquely blessed and burdened as well. I have failed plenty, but I have not avoided the challenges in physical fear, although there have been times when the emotional scars of my youth have stood in the way of all I desired to be in those places of purpose.

I have also learned that the place of purpose is right where we are. It is not in the next chapter. It is in the one we find ourselves in today. Trust Him with your life. Trust Him with your marriage. Trust Him with your children. Trust will NEVER understand His ways, but you will always rise above your circumstances if you surrender your heart to Him. "...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." Romans 5:5 That is where my hope is. I cannot help my expectation, but it is no longer in MY plan, but in His. I walk each day out in His grace and expect one day He will show up and show off as any father would for a child determined to have her Daddy's best!

May we “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” --Psalm 100:4-5

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To My Wife Merily, On Her 43rd Birthday

I wanted to honor you in a special way during this difficult time. At the most stressful time of our lives, I believe God is showing us what is most important-"RELATIONSHIPS".
Our relationship with our Lord being at the top and then our relationship with each other. Our relationship with our children will be determined by our dedication, commitment, and our love for each other and our love for God. With that said, I want to honor you by reading this in front of our children to show them my love, admiration, and respect I have for their mother.

I love you! I do not say it enough perhaps, but I hope my commitment to you and the actions I live out on a daily basis speaks it louder than my words.
I can't imagine a more perfect wife for me. God knew I needed a strong woman-strong you are. During my time of illness you were more than there for me. You reminded me of who I was and what God had called me to. You took our vows seriously, "for sickness and in health". You have honored me in both and stuck by my side. Not many people could have stuck by me during that time. You know I always said it would have been easier if I had had cancer. Only you and God know how difficult it was at that time. And just when we thought we were clear of that challenge, we were facing another. This time, the decision to take on 2 children after we just had a new baby (Simon). I was wavering but you never did. The media, "The Grandmother" or anyone can say what they want, but I saw your commitment to Dylan and Olivia from Day One. Again, no one but myself and God know what you have done for me and those children. NOBODY! God knew, just like with me, exactly what they needed to be whole. Satan used grandma to stop you from being their mom but God said, "NO!"
Nothing can stop what God puts in motion. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
People give me credit for getting Dylan well when it was really your dedication and stubbornness that got him well. He would not be where he is today in school without your determination to make him independent. Any other mom, especially in a situation like ours, would have allowed him to dictate the pace-not you. You reminded him of who he was as well as who he could become-like you did me.
Olivia would be lost without you. You never allowed her to control as she tries and fall victim to Satan's plan. I would never have been able to do what you did and are doing for her. I just do not have the strength to do so. I do not know another mother who does. God knew. The very thing you are criticized for is the very trait God saw that this family needs. I can speak for us all and say thank you and we all love you.
The three boys all need you in different ways. Daniel needs you for his anchor to keep him grounded. He, like you, has to talk in order to do life and also talk "it" out just to stand firm. He also needs you to badger with-I just can't keep up. Izik needs you to keep reminding him of who he is and that he can do whatever he sets his mind to. Izik is me so only you will fill that something "us Pompa's" need-especially during breakdowns. Simon needs only a whole lot of love that only you are able to give him. God has great purpose for him and that needs to be nurtured. That too, is being provided by you. That boy is anointed for God's kingdom.

I am not the greatest writer and struggle to put my feelings on paper, therefore this is only a fraction of my feelings for you. Our times have been hard the last 10 years but I know that God has purpose in it all. Nobody will ever know what you are to this family outside of God and to some extent, myself. I have to believe that is why you have it so hard. I love you Merily and I could never make it without you-nor could these kids. God knows.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

VOICES: Danny's 45th Birthday Tribute...A Crechendo of Pain And A Crechendo of Purpose

There is a voice inside each of acknowledges our potential as well as our fears. It is easy to listen to the voice that speaks the loudest. I have been in the life of a man...who for the first decade of our relationship (5 years dating and almost 5 years of marriage) easily heard the voice of potential. In fact, if he ever forgot it was screaming at him, all he needed to do was to watch our wedding video where the videographer asked me the question as I was going in to the wedding chapel, what is was about him that I was most attracted to? My response? "His potential!"

Potential drives us. It ignites our passion. It speaks to our soul. It trusts in our call...especially when it is a mandate from God. What it cannot do is unwind the wounds which are nothing more than ways we have coped, lies we have believed, and roadblocks to our destiny.

As I sit and think about those voices in my own head and compare them to my husband's, I realize that Danny is anointed. While that term used to intimidate me, I now realize that what God selects for each of our surrendered hearts is perfectly equipped in every way to fulfill its destiny. For Danny, his anointing focuses on the call. Nothing detracts from his focus except enormous and painful distractions that hold his heart hostage, like birth pains in labor. Because he is fallible the process of learning to surrender to the dance is the greatest challenge. It supersedes every wound. I often remind myself that while each blow to his body, soul and spirit have wounded him, they have been wounds that are being healed by God Himself and they were allowed for a much larger purpose than what we can understand with our limited ability to conceive of God's ways.
1 Corinthians 2:9 comes to mind: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." We are not able to know exactly what that means in our trials, but God knows that in our finite ability to understand the pain we endure during this life, His promises give us hope.

The second half of our marriage...the next 10 years, has shown the other voice's determined whispers and clanging for the purpose of creating fear. Fear of the unknown.

The knowledge he gained through his sickness has taken him on a journey into places of understanding of the workings of the body that he otherwise never would have visited. God Himself allowed the once virile man to fall captive to the law of diminishing returns. I can remember the places and spaces along the way that anticipated a healthy body again one day...and expectantly on this side of Heaven. The statement Danny would make was this..."if I could just regain my health...." (concluding that all else would be insignificant by comparison)...every challenge with our constitutionally corrected family, disappointing business ventures, rises and falls of various kinds, have all merged to a place where there is nowhere to turn except to the only voice that matters...His voice.

My husband is now well!! Physically. The process God took him through to teach him what he needed to learn to teach others has served its purpose. And now there is another challenge we walk through for another dimension of healing. It threatens aspects of our life that additionally challenges our family and it is perhaps even more painful than the physical aspect because it criticizes our efforts to restore our family to wholeness from the emotional as well as the physical wounds of that befell each of us. Once again, there is a journey that we are forced to travel with variables that aren't based on science. The battle for relationship has even more dimensions than the physical path of restoration. I have learned that both types of suffering have their roots in lies. The goal my husband has in his teaching reveals where and how those lies began. It takes the body's ability to heal back to the cellular level...where life begins and ends. In our emotional healing, we also must go back to the place our healing begins and ends...with our Creator who desires a relationship that is built on trust, freedom of choice, and evidence of love and desire for blessing those who choose His direction regardless of the consequences or uncertainties.

I sat down to write this as a way to honor my husband on his birthday, and realized that this is a message every one of us that trusts in God with all of our heart needs to dissect. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." We often stop there in our quoting, but verse 7-8 bring it all together: "Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones."

The understanding that my husband sought was not just for his own benefit or healing. It is a message that the world needs to hear in a time when our understanding of imperative issues involving our health is absolutely coming apart at its core. The institutions that are supposed to have this understanding locked down have failed us. Our leaders are profiting from their self-imposed and self-righteous agendas. Why is it so challenging for logic to retain its place? I still wrestle with my frustrations that I believe have that exact perspective creating turmoil within me. And as the challenges become greater, the more I realize there is another agenda that desires to undermine the effort that this anointing was given for.

I know God will intervene at exactly the right time and with every lesson learned and with each blow that frustrates our effort, a greater determination arises within that swells our spirit to persevere. The lesson we are learning is that while we have this mission to carry out, we cannot do it in our own strength. "...This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God' will not even need to fight. Take your positions, then stand still and watch the Lord's victory. He is with you...Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!" 2 Chronicles 20:15-17.

We are AS ONE in our posture to take the message to the masses. We have an amazing group of people that also have inflated hearts for this mission and who see far beyond the distractions of our foes. What we are now learning is only going to be found in our surrendered posture and learning to dance with Him in the lead as there is no where to turn. There are no words to be spoken; the position is already taken and now we wait for Him to set the captives free. The captives are not only people, but burdens for freedom. They are stolen dreams, unmet expectations and frustrated efforts. There is much at stake: Freedom from bondage.

What God desires for His people can only be found in the greatest of measure when we cannot do anything but wait. Coming to the end of our own efforts is a foreign concept that we could not even comprehend until we ran out of our own natural resources: whether physical strength, finances or ideas. We are now understanding what total surrender means and while we didn't abandon our inclinations to fight, God allowed our circumstances to force our surrender. His mission is not our own. And because it belongs to Him, and we are merely his messengers, as in any battle of biblical proportion, we must allow Him to fight it for us. And as we surrender in the battle, we learn it is really a dance. He is in the lead and we move according to His direction. If we really desire to trust in our Lord, He will not have it any other way to mature us in our faith and our character than to allow nothing but His grace to lead our dance.