The Thorn

2 Cor 12 9

I wondered aloud today if the apostle Paul every grew weary of the ‘thorn’ in his flesh. Or, was he fine with it because it was part of God’s plan and could (and probably did) bring glory to His name.

I got my answer when I looked at 2 Corinthians 12. Paul says:

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.”

Boy, oh boy, Paul. I can identify with the pleading. I spend a lot of my time there on days like today.

Today I am weary as well. I like to think I’ve been doing better. I like to think that I am less anxious, less stressed and able to give more of my ‘control’ (yep, totally delusional, I know) over to the One who has the actual control.

But today, I am failing. Today I feel like the battle is huge. Today the anxiety is a hard fight.

I long for the day that I can say, like Paul:

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I am not content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecution and calamities. I feel like everyone else around me handles these things with much more strength, faith and grace than I do. I feel weak and no where near strong.

Thankfully, I have no trouble believing that He is strong. I just hope that soon I can bring glory to His name during days my thorn is fighting for my focus and attention and not just on days when I feel fine.

Lord, help me to boast in my weakness. I could use Your power resting upon me. And peace, please. Your peace that passes all understanding would be really nice right about now. Thank you that You know what You’re doing… even when I don’t see it.

Especially when I don’t see it.

Amen.

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Ignoring the Giver

I just heard this song for the first time the other day.  I don’t know about you, but some songs have the power to stop me in my tracks and sometimes it seems like I’ve even stopped breathing just to listen.  This song did, and continues to, as I listen and think on the words.

I see the work of Your Hands
Galaxies spin in a Heavenly dance, oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise, oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Overwhelmed.  When I listen to this song, and quite a few others, I am just that.  I am overwhelmed at how deeply and completely lacking I am.

I am overwhelmed at the majesty of Him.  The deep and complete power and strength of Him.  The compassion, love, mercy and grace He shows me.  The reminder that I am worthy, because He said I am.  I don’t need to see the approval of man.  I don’t need to run in the ‘right circles’.  I don’t need to make the money the power players do.  I don’t need to be the focus of attention, be it in person or on social media.

Yet, I struggle.  I struggle to keep my focus on this magnificent God who has and is doing more for me than anything and anyone could ever do.

If you have followed this blog, or visited on occasion, you’ll know pretty quickly that I am a storm-enthusiast.  He’s given me an enthusiasm for all things storm after letting go of a 25 year fear.  I am so grateful for this.  As the dark clouds close in, I thank Him for the joy I take in them.

I have many storm chasing friends.  I’ve been blessed in making the connections I have.  Yet, I admit to making an idol of some of them.  My own stupidity.  I can look back and see how I’ve placed these very human people on a pestle because of what they do.  Not even for who they are.  Just for their job or hobby.  Sadly, relationships have changed because of my own inability to see them for who they are, beyond what they do.

I know this about myself and have been harmed by this way of thinking but I still see myself jumping at opportunities to be around them.  Not that hanging out with them is bad at all, but I feel like my priorities haven’t been where they should be.

It’s really disappointing.

I think nothing of passing off quiet time with my Father in lieu of blogging, finishing a movie, writing, reading.  Seemingly everything takes priority.  Prayer reserved for times of need. Relationship forgotten.

This is the same God that overwhelms me in the lyrics of a song, the creativity of a sunset, the majesty and power of a storm… and I can’t be bothered to continue developing a relationship with Him.

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One of my favourite places

The same God who gave me a passion for storms and has brought amazing people into my world to show me more about it… and I would rather develop those relationships than the One who put it all into motion.

I think it’s great to have friends.  I’m grateful for each and every one of them.  I think it’s great to want to spend time with my storm chaser friends, to encourage, to support, to learn from.  I need balance though.  I want balance.

I don’t want to ignore heaven and then find that heaven is ignoring me.

I don’t want to ignore the Gift-Giver and spend all my time on the gift.

I want my focus to be on the Creator and not on the created.

I believe that if my focus is there, that all the other relationships will fall into order.

~Sarah

Make A Difference

Pastor Saeed 2
For many months now I have been following a story that didn’t take long to work into my daily thoughts.  I find myself praying often, day and night, for a man and a family I have never met.

If you haven’t heard of Pastor Saeed Abedini, let me tell you a bit about his story and why he is heavy on my heart these days.  In July 2012, Pastor Saeed was detained in Iran and told he must stand trial for his Christian faith.  The trial never happened.  Instead Pastor Saeed was taken out from under house arrest and transported to Evin Prison in Iran.  No trial.

save Saeed 5

In Evin Prison he was subject to solitary confinement for many weeks and torture.  Though he was tortured, he was denied medical treatment for his injuries because he is Christian.

President Obama, Billy Graham and countless others have petitioned the Iranian President to release Pastor Saeed.  Instead of forward progress, Pastor Saeed was moved from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison.  Not only is he in this terrible prison, but he is being housed in the ‘violent criminal’ ward.  Where a 3 meter by 3 meter cell is shared by murderers and rapists.  In this prison, in this ward, prisoner on prisoner violence (including murder) is common place.  We’ve just been informed today that he has been robbed numerous times, denied his medication and left in deplorable conditions so that lice has taken over his body and his health is quickly deteriorating.  Iran has send him to disappear and he has been left for dead.

This is where he spends his days and his nights.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be.  Away from everything he’s known and his family.  For 435 days so far.

Save Saeed

Through this, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands have been praying for Pastor Saeed.  We’ve seen movement in very positive ways but we’ve also seen President Obama leave Pastor Saeed out of talks with Iran.  I am well aware that there may be details and motivations that we don’t know about and that being the President is not always cut and dry.  However, I cannot see why the plight of Pastor Saeed has been largely ignored and why there isn’t a much larger public outcry being heard.  This man’s only crime is being a Christian, yet he is being housed in a ward with some of the most violent criminals in Iran.

“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Matthew 10:22

It’s hard to know how to pray for Pastor Saeed and his family.  God’s will will be done.  Of that I am sure and I will continue to pray.  I want to pray for freedom for him (and I do), yet I know that he is making an impact where he is.  One that may shake the very core of that prison.

Naghmeh (Pastor Saeed’s wife) wrote this on Facebook last month about Pastor Saeed’s time in Evin Prison.

Pastor Saeed legacyWow, what an amazing impact he has already made for the Lord in a situation so desperate.  My prayer is that the Lord will surround Pastor Saeed and his family with an abundance of peace and the sure knowledge that He is in control and loves them so much.

Prayer is fantastic and so easy.  The Lord loves it when we come to Him.  That is, after all, why He created us.

There are other things we can do though, to help Pastor Saeed and increase the pressure on the Iranian government to release him.  Tomorrow (DECEMBER 4th, 2013), every Christian who has access to a social media platform, great or small, is asked to feature Pastor Saeed and request that the government use it’s God given power for good to secure his release!  Here’s the request from Naghmeh:

Pastor Saeed dayThis is something so many of us can do.  It’s quick and easy and could make a huge difference in the life of Pastor Saeed and those who love him.  I hope that you will join me in spreading the story of Pastor Saeed all over the world.  Together we can be a huge beacon of light on a huge injustice.

More than that though, let us come together and pray that the Lord will continue to use Pastor Saeed’s imprisonment for His glory!  That many will be brought to the only One who saves.  The only One who loves completely.  The One true God.  Also, pray for others who are also facing persecution!

I heard this song for the first time today and I can see evidence that, through all this horror, Pastor Saeed (and his family) are living this.  So many ARE seeing the Lord in them.

For more information on Pastor Saeed and the path the Lord has him on, click HERE.

For the Facebook page ‘Pray for Pastor Saeed Abedini’ where you can see all the updates, click HERE.

For more information on tomorrow’s social media outcry, please click HERE.

“Scars and struggles on the way, but with joy our hearts can say: Never once did we ever walk alone.”

~Sarah

World Moment: Grenada

GRENADA

Granada flagGranada is a large island north of Trinidad.  The population is just over 100,000.  In 2004 and 2005, hurricanes devastated the island.  While fewer than 40 people were killed, 90% of the nations buildings were destroyed, and the agriculture and tourism sectors were virtually annihilated.  They have been rebuilt, but the nation is deeply in debt as a result.

The ocean life also required support after the hurricanes and was assisted in a very cool way.  Artist Jason de Caires Taylor created an underwater sculpture garden to help support the reef and encourage growth and habitation of marine life.  Here’s a very cool photo of some of his work in Grenada!

Underwater Sculpture GardenWe can pray for this nation to continue to rebuild and to trust in God, rather than material things.

Granadian Woman

~Sarah

 

 

World Moment: Nauru

This is a new feature I’d like to start doing on my blog.  I’d like to take one minute (or so) and give you some information on a random country in the world.  We’re going through a really cool book with our kids called ‘Operation World‘ and I am learning a TON about this world I thought I knew.  I won’t go into a ton of detail.  I’ll leave that to you to investigate if you choose to.  So, here’s the very first country I’ve chosen:

NauruNAURU

Nauru is a 21 sq km coral island in the South Pacific, and is home to a little over 10,000 people.  One of the coolest things about this amazing little nation is that they shut down offshore banking on the Internet.  Why is that cool? Because the government discovered that it was being used as a front for the money-laundering activities of Russian criminals.  It was a courageous and bold move because it stopped the flow of that money through the country… an amount approaching tens of billions of dollars a year!  They have chosen what is right over getting rich!  What an awesome example they are!  They saw corruption and didn’t just turn their heads but did something about it.

I am praying that they are blessed for this courageous stand!

~Sarah

Thanks for stopping in on my World Moment.  Have you heard of Nauru before?

Nauru family

Noel’s Homecoming Service

Noel's Service

For those of you who weren’t able to view the live feed of Noel’s Homecoming Service on Thursday, you can click on the image above to view it.  Noel’s Uncle Mark edited it together for us.  There was some cost involved to get it live streamed for us so, if you are willing, please leave a tip on the page.

Thank you again to all of you who have been praying for Caleb and Alex at this difficult time, and for all your prayers for Noel as she spend a wonderful fifteen days with her family.  Caleb and Alex would like to thank you all for your prayers, so click here to see the message.

Caleb and Alex

I hope that you will continue to join with me in praying for them as they adjust to life.  Please keep sharing Noel’s story.  God has blessed us all as we watched this beautiful little girl have fifteen more days with her family than the doctors said was possible.  We serve a mighty God and so many can still be touched by Noel’s amazing story.  You can click on the picture of Noel below to see the sideshow from the homecoming service.  I love the video of all the prayer warriors in the hospital room.  I always cry.  I adore her little smile at the end too!

Noel's Slideshow

Thank you again for praying with us.  I am amazed at the outpouring of concern, prayers and love. Not only has little Noel touched my heart, but so have all of you with your thoughtfulness for my friends.

Caleb and Alex fund.

Here are the other posts for Noel:
Noel at home

Happy One Week Birthday Noel

Blessings

Two Week Update

Urgent Update

Sorrow and Comfort

Until We Meet Again

Memories of Noel: The Darkness and the Light

 

With gratitude,

Sarah

Until We Meet Again Noel

Dear friends,

thank you for your outpouring of prayer and support for Caleb and Alex.  They feel it all.  Thank you for sharing Noel’s story all over the world.  I am amazed at how many countries have been, and are, being touched by Noel’s life!

NoelSmile

There are many of you mourning with Caleb and Alex and they have been kind enough to work out a way for everyone to be present at her homecoming service, if you so chose.  If you would like to view the homecoming service, it is happening tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 10:00 am MDT.  You can click on the grey link below and the video will begin as soon as the page is loaded beginning at 10:00am.  You do not need to log in to view the live feed.  If you cannot be there for the live feed, there will be a YouTube posting after the service.  (I will link the YouTube video as soon as it is available.)

Homecoming Service Link

Please continue to pray for Caleb, Alex and all those who love Noel as they say goodbye for now.  I join with them joyfully in the knowledge that we will see precious Noel again.  Thank you Lord!

‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’ ~ Hebrews 10:23

‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’ ~ Hebrews 11:1

Please feel free to continue to leave prayers and messages for Caleb and Alex.  

Also, please consider making a donation to Noel’s medical (and funeral) costs by clicking the green link below.

Caleb and Alex fund.

A year after Noel went home, I ask Caleb and Alex some questions about the journey… here are their answers!

This is a wonderful song that I find so encouraging.  I love the lyrics.

Here are the other posts for Noel:
Noel at home

Happy One Week Birthday Noel

Blessings

Two Week Update

Urgent Update

Sorrow and Comfort

Until We Meet Again

Memories of Noel: The Darkness and the Light

 

Blessings, Sarah