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STRESS AND SOUL CARE

Man makes his plans, Solomon tells us, but the Lord directs his steps. I was planning to finish differently before Lent (two weeks away), but the Lord has been telling me you need a pause, a “selah,” a psalm to help you care for your soul. So this where we will be for the next two weeks. So many of you are going through stress, and life seems out of control. That’s frightening. Elizabeth remembers a time of illness, when she felt “crippled with fear because she didn’t have control.” The truth is, we never have control. There is no guarantee that Julie’s son Kyle will overcome the emotional distress of the war he was in. There is no promise that this little boy Angela has unselfishly brought into their home will not cause great disruption. We cannot know if Susan’s husband will come to the Lord. Laura-Marie fears she may get laid off. Tammi is in a hospital right now — and we pray for her recovery — but we do not know what will happen. How often, in my own life, I have cried the prayer from 2 Chronicles:

We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.

Each of you has a story of a time, either right now, or in the past, of tumultuous circumstances. At any time, life can spin out of control — and for many of you, it feels that way right now.

We’re going to hear from David Powlison again this week — so many of you loved his gentle humble spirit. (I do too — I am most drawn to people of humility.) In his soothing way, he talks about the storms of life. How like hurricanes they can spread havoc all around us. We may not be able to stop the havoc, but we can be in the eye of the storm with our Savior.

We cannot control the storm.

But we have a rock and a fortress.

This picture hung in the emergency room

when Chris waited to see if her son would live or die

and it gave her strength

Jean Guichard

Our own dear Joyce, who has faced so many storms, sent this picture, reminding her that she is under the cover of His wings.


What Powlison also says, which is easier to receive because of his gentleness, is that storms can help us change, can help us see our own sin. Even when storms are not a direct result of sin in our lives, they can still reveal our idols, our sins, and help us change. When my husband died, it revealed so much that was selfish and sinful and misplaced in my heart. Angela, who has brought a little boy into their home, wrote: “God is doing a painful uprooting in my life through this little boy.” When Anne had a difficult time with a patient this week, at first she was in tumult, but she slowed down, and allowed God to search her. She wrote: “I looked to the Lord and asked Him what was in this for me to grow on. That is when He showed me how starved for love this young woman is and how I was once very much like her.” This is how the godly respond to suffering, and may we do the same.

Two huge things to remember in the storm:

Jesus is your refuge.


Jesus is your refining fire.

He may show you things about yourself so that He can conform you to His image. In question 2 of the ice-breaker, I’m going to ask you to look back, remember a storm, and then remember how God was with you, and how He refined you. It can be a hurricane from the past, or simply a ten minute downpour from last week.  As I’ve been praying for Angela and her family, as they have brought this child into their home, it has caused me to reflect on the storm that came to our home when we adopted Annie.

Anne Brestin Lano

Annie was five, and was like a little stone because of hurt from her past. Steve and I threw ourselves into loving her well. But that triggered a storm in our 11-year-old daughter Sally. She felt, as she put it to us, “rudely displaced.” She spun into a depression, losing weight she really didn’t have to lose, not sleeping, in despair. We got her help, we gave her love, but the storm continued for two more years. In this storm I saw my own failures as a mother — I’d been too lenient with Sally — I’d been too selfish…storms show where we are weak. They reveal our sin. This storm also revealed sin in Sally’s life — but it took time for her to see it.

When she was thirteen, she went to a Christian concert and the singer said, “If you have yuk in your soul and you cannot get rid of it, God can help you.” Sally practically ran forward. And, as she says, “God took the yuk out of my soul so I could love my sister.” When she was on Focus on the Family with me, Sally said: “The night before I was to leave for college, I was snuggling with Annie on top of our bunkbed. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, ‘Sally — you are my very best friend.’ I’m so thankful God took that yuk from my heart.” Storms can always reveal sin — can always help conform us to the image of Christ. Romans 8:28-29 show us God has a purpose in the suffering of his saints, and that purpose is to conform us to the image of Christ. The fire may be painful, but the Potter is at work, making us beautiful. In light of eternity, is this not what matters most?

 

 

That is the ultimate rescue, whether He delivers us from the actual pain of our circumstances or not.When I met Cyndi, who has also adopted, she told me my adoptions had inspired her, and yet “It was really really hard!” 🙂  However, God is molding her into a beautiful woman. Last week Cyndi posted a song that was filled with word pictures to speak to your soul when it is in the midst of the storm — and you may want to see this, if you did not before:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lx3ias0H1os&feature=youtu.be

I think these will be a tremendous two weeks — whether you are in the storm, helping others in the storm, or simply strengthening your soul for the inevitable storms around the corner.

Sunday/Monday

1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

We’re going to begin Psalm 31, a psalm for soul care in the midst of stress. It is a psalm that Jonah, Jeremiah, and Jesus all quoted in the midst of stress. In fact, the final words of Jesus from the cross are in this psalm. It opens with David reminding his soul of times when he was in the storm and the Lord was his fortress, his refuge.

2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study of Psalm 31

This is a psalm of lament which was to be sung in the assembly. God wants us to tell Him our need. He also wants to reveal, through suffering, the sin in our lives. He wants us to know He understands our pain, for He has suffered, and that He will, in His time, rescue us — if not on this earth, in that broad place in heaven.

3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

B.  Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

A.  David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.

C. What is the word picture in verse 8?

This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

D.  How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances?

Thursday-Friday: David Powlison

David Powlison is a counselor, who definitely uses the approach of gospel transformation in his counseling. Listen to this 7 minute testimony from him.

Link:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWJMBFKoRho

5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

7. Other comments on the above?

The following is a message from David Powlison preached at John Piper’s church. It’s free and if you download it then it will be easier to stop and start. Piper has a long intro! Listen to just the first half, or about 38 minutes, until he gets to the part where “Sarah” begins to see Jesus in Psalm 31. As a background, Powlison is speaking to pastors, encouraging them that in most cases, they are competent to counsel. I think this is relevant to us as sisters counseling one another on this blog. We’ll complete the psalm and Powlison’s message next week.

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/god-psychology-and-christian-care-of-the-soul-part-1

8. Write your notes on the first half of his message here:

Saturday

9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

Next week we will have a discussion on Courageous, as well as finishing this study. As we are beginning to understand how the gospel can help us overcome not only the penalty of sin, but also the power, I think this could be an interesting discussion. So if you have to time to watch it do — if not, you can still benefit from the discussion. This is from the producers of Saving the Giants and Fireproof. Christianity Today rated it number 10 in the top ten redemptive movies of the year.


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296 comments

  1. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why? Two really heart jerking things. One was your story of Annie and Sally. My 10 yo is having issues like this. It is so difficult but i am seeing how I was too lenient and stuff like that too. So similar. And this is so very sad but yesterday our little guy shook the baby gate at the top of our stairs and it gave way. He fell all the way down 5. He was so upset and hurt. We rushed him to the ER and found out he broke his collar bone. So of course he is getting even more attention and love…I saw some real selfishness in my oldest. And she said she sees her heart and wonders if she will go to Heaven. We talk about what Jesus has done is complete. I believe she believes it but is really struggling to accept it is enough. Seeing her sinfulness. Over and over it is self focus. Thinking there is not enough love for everyone. Your story struck a cord. We have talked about counseling too. Oh how hard this all is. Yet I know the Master builder is molding her. Which brings me to the second thing, that picture of Jesus as the Potter. I can see it in all our lives right now. Love it!

    2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.
    I remember the 7 year illness I went through and how much God grew me and showed me Himself. I was being molded so much then and He continually reminded me He would never leave or forsake me in it and He never did. I did not know if He would heal me or not here but He did. It is a time I can look back too and remember. Seeing His mighty power at work and gives me the courage to trust in all other trials that come our way like this one now. I know it is for our good and God’s glory. Even at the hospital yesterday it touched two people who said it. The doctor (who had to question us because this kind of injury sends up red flags apparently) and a lady who was with an aunt who overheard a lot of our story. It was nice to be able to share the entire story with someone because we have not been able to just for confidentiality purposes not wanting to slander the birth mother. Both admired what we are doing and said there need to be more people like us out there and we pointed them to Christ. I see Him working.

    Sorry those are so long! We are home today instead of church because we are caring for this little man and his injury. He is doing great! Such a trooper. Love to you all. Hoping to better keep up with comments this week Lord willing.

  2. As I pondered I am also struck by this. How you are drawn to humble people. I am finding it hard to love this boys mom because she flat out denies neglecting her children though the court ruled this and there is tons of evidence against her. I told my husband if she would just admit it and then try to work on her stuff I would be able to love her. That is why I call her an enemy at this time. I am having to love her as an enemy until she accepts responsibility and starts moving forward. Oh how emotional and how hard. Struggling with the flesh and trusting HIM.

    1. Oh Angela, I am really praying for you–I know this is so hard. I thank Him that this sweet boy is in your home–where when he is hurt, he is cared for in a way he’s never experienced before. I will pray too for this birth mother. I do understand your feelings–though I know every situation is different.

      1. Thank you both for your prayers!! It is incredibly hard…But God is not surprised. It is part of His plan.

    2. Angela. my best friend has had 2 children in her home like your little guy as well as their mom. what we have learned in the last 3 years is that they do not even see the truth themselves. they live in such a lie in order to feed their habbit that their brain protects itself and they really dont see it. that makes it so hard and dangerous. until she is clean, she will not see and she will lie at every turn..your not going crazy but you will feel like it at times, they can be so convincing of their lies because they believe them themselves!!! hang in there and let the court do as much as it will, if you can stay out of her life do it, you can not be Her advicate and his at the same time…even though you really wish you could!!!

    3. Angela, this line is so thought provoking to me:

      “I am having to love her as an enemy….” it seems so contradictory, but it is true! Jesus never stopped loving His enemies even though they killed Him.

      Thanks for making me think, and hope your little one is well soon 🙂

      1. Thanks Laura! Oh how I have to keep remembering that truth. So very hard. Also it is hard not to cross the line of gossip…sigh

  3. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

    I am SO looking forward to these next two weeks of this Bible Study. When I read the first paragraph above, I breathed a great big sigh of relief! Within the last few days, I read something from an acquaintance that just didn’t sit right. She had lost something, claimed (commanded) in prayer that it be found because her “whole life” depended on it, and then had “proof” of God’s love/answered prayer when she found it.

    This feels so different. Jesus is my refuge, and I’m safe in Him — even when I lose important papers (not the WHEN… not IF!).

    I see how Jesus has been my refining fire, in that He has refined me through difficult circumstances by making me more patient and accepting. BUT it’s also clear to me that I don’t always surrender myself to His refining fire; instead, I often go in kicking and screaming, probably making it more painful.

    I’ve listened to the song Cyndi posted last week MANY times and listened to Powlison’s clip a few weeks ago after I heard the first ones from him 🙂 His example is VERY relevant to me, my family and my friends right now.

  4. 2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

    One of my very small storms from last week is a big storm for a friend and similar to a previous big storm from my not so distant past. I know a couple people who recently have had to retire due to dementia. My heart goes out to them and to their families. As I’m typing this, I realize that in small storms, I often don’t seek refuge in Jesus. Small storms aren’t “too bad” — and I was trying to “figure out” how to help a good friend who has a long road of caregiving ahead of her. I could see that she would NEED Jesus as her refuge during what easily could be 10 years of caregiving becoming progressively more difficult and exhausting. Now I see that I can seek refuge in Jesus for the small storm of my heart aching for them, as well as for grief related to remembering my bigger caregiving storm. I’m learning right now that “figuring out” often is a sign of my idol of self-sufficiency and a big clue to turn to Him in repentance and for refuge.

    1. This line, Renee, says it all for me “I’m learning right now that “figuring out” often is a sign of my idol of self-sufficiency and a big clue to turn to Him in repentance and for refuge”. SO insightful and true for me as well. Thank you.

    2. That was encouraging to me too about the self sufficiency. I see myself doing that too.

    3. so good….i am a figurer outer….need to stop that:) fall into HIS arms and look to HIM to figure it out~

  5. I never got to post my take-away from last week due to being gone yesterday for 12 hours at two swim meets! A long day and I didn’t have the energy to do it last night. One of my take-aways is a new pondering of and a new appreciation for the picture of Jesus as The Warrior Bridegroom by Martin French. So many of you posted your thoughts, feelings, and insights on it and I want to consider it more. I especially liked what Elizabeth said about it, that it not only speaks to the future, but to the now, how she can imagine Him hoisting her up on that horse with Him and carrying her through whatever she is dealing with right now.
    My second take-away is the part of putting on. I am quick to put off, at times, but often fail to replace it with anything, and then the problem comes right back and is worse than before. Elizabeth, again, reminded me of this with what she shared about refraining from gossip, but then she realized she HADN’T PUT ANYTHING IN ITS PLACE, so she prayed for her friend.

  6. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why? I liked the very first picture is it a picture of a tsunami or hurricane? It reminds me of where I am at last week I was very depressed and by thursday night I was wanting to commit suicide. But on Saturday I got up did some exercise( which i hadnt had time to do all week) and got into the word and I was feeling much better by yesterday afternoon.

    1. Oh so what i wanted to say was last week i felt like i was going around and around and not getting anywhere just getting more depressed!

  7. 2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week. I think that i already answered this above 🙂

  8. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now. Turn your ear to me come quickly to my rescue v 2 I Picture Jesus turning his ear toward me and saying I am right here Meg just tell me what you need.. and I will help you. I can actuallu picturing it.. Like I am right there with him fellowshipping with him face to face!

  9. B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is. I guess needing to commit everyting to him.. especially in my pain. I picture actually putting it in his hands.. Like his hands are cupped ready for me to give ‘the spirit’ to him

    1. Yes this is good Meg. So sorry for your deep depression. So glad you got out of it. Praise music often helps me too or songs of lament too. They keep me focused on HIM despite the tough circumstances. I have been in that same deep pit of depression…Feeling the temptation to suicide. It is scary and not fun but what you are doing is right in talking to yourself by His word. He loves you so!!!!!

  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3as00TMO84

    Ladies wanted to share this song.. I think that i have shared it before but wanted to share it again!

    1. Meg, you have done a beautiful job of talking to your soul in this song and in answering the above questions. This will not be the last time you will have to do that. This is a long journey but your victory begins right hear with learning to do just what you did.

  11. 1. I am excited to hear that God has given you special direction Dee. He must have something for us. The story of Sally and Annie just ignites my soul. As a mother I know this is the stuff for which we pray and yearn. Sally grew in such a beautiful way and even more profound was Annie’s growth to be able to open up and say that to her sister. This is so encouraging for we who are mothers. Sometimes the way can seem hopeless with our children, especially when we realize how powerless we are to change their hearts. BUT~what a great example of what God can do!

    I have something I would like to share about Alfred my oldest. I guess this is really my take-away from last week. It is about the taking off and putting on and the danger of one without the other. It made me realize some things about how I was praying for him and dealing with him. He has an addiction to something that is not necessarily bad in itself but it is an addiction because sucks him in, changes him and controls him. He knows it and has since he was in high school. To get through college he had to totally leave it alone. It has hold of him right now. A couple of weeks ago God called me to pray for His finished work in Alfred’s life and when I listened to Keller I realized why. He has to come to the place that he realizes that putting on Christ is his only hope. If I guilt him into not doing this thing I think I get in the way of what God is doing in his life and put him in danger something worse.

    1. Oh Anne, I’m praying for you and for Alfred.

      Last week, it was so clear to me how often I “put off” without intentionally “putting on” Him. I know well the danger of putting off out of ‘self’ discipline, but not replacing it with what is good.

    2. yes good encouragement not to step in the way of God. I need to hear this!

  12. Sunday/Monday
    1.What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

    These great promises—“Jesus is your refuge. Jesus is your refining fire. He may show you things about yourself so that He can conform you to His image.” He doesn’t waste the storm.
    And I love that precious, precious picture of Annie!

    We don’t usually sing contemporary songs at church, but this morning we sang this–and the lyrics are so fitting, I wanted to share. Give Us Clean Hands http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNwc5uzpkMU

    I’ll share this too–my son (5) got candy at Sunday School for knowing his verse. He asked if he could eat it on the way home, I said “yes,go ahead and then we’ll get you some real food at home” (meaning lunch). He finished the candy and said “I sure liked that pretend food!” He really meant it–if it wasn’t real, it must be pretend, and he sure liked it. I thought about how much I like that “pretend” satisfaction too–the idols of my heart aren’t real food, only He is REAL, but the temptation for them can be so strong!

    1. Now that’s a good word picture for me! The pretend food of idolatry.

    2. I just remembered why this seemed so recently familiar–Susan posted the lyrics a few weeks ago–so fitting!

    3. love that Real picture! A good visual for idols!

    4. I just love this picture of how tempting the “Pretend food” is, when only the “Real food” will satisfy us. This is such good “food for thought”. Lol!

  13. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.

    I couldn’t pick just one 🙁

    First one: ‘Keep me free from the TRAP that is set for me’ The trap with which I have most experience is a mouse trap, and I even get queasy thinking about them after they have done their job. When I see a mouse go into the garage, I set all types of traps: poison, the cheap ones with the springs, the sticky ones, and the ones you are supposed to be able to dump out. Traps can vary so much in style and appearance — and I’m sure that I’m not even aware of how many traps God has kept me from (reminds me of this that I saw on FB last week http://myemail.constantcontact.com/A-Message-from-The-Resource-Center.html?soid=1102100181320&aid=eWkpS3h9NKg )

    I know some traps are set to capture something desirable, but to me, dead mice are disgusting and creepy. But they are not nearly as disgusting and creepy as me trapped by sin. This is a good visual for putting off, and a great visual to lead to thankfulness for His protection. I’m also thankful that He doesn’t treat me as disposable when I’m caught in a trap. (ALL mousetraps are disposable!)

    Second one: “Into your hands I commit my spirit” I visualize His hands and my spirit intentionally moving into or even jumping into His hands. This is a “putting on” word picture that instructs me HOW to put on, something I’ve been slow to grasp. Ok, even my language demonstrates wanting control and self-sufficiency. I’m going to let His hands do the grasping when I think about “grasping!”

      1. The mouse/mousetrap image has fit my week well! Tonight when I got home from work, I noticed a dark blob just inside the front door — and the first thing I thought was MOUSE—aaaggghhh (not completely rational because of the shape and location). It was a crumpled, dark colored napkin that had fallen out of my coat pocket. Some word pictures might be TOO effective 🙂 but this one has definitely captured my imagination this week,in appropriate ways too.

    1. Thanks Renee for the link, I haven’t seen that one yet on facebook, but it was really good. Going to pass it along, what a great reminder to just let God be God and handle our days for us.

  14. 2.Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.
    The one that comes to mind may be a little long/big, so I’m not sure about sharing it here-still praying and will come back to this question.

  15. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5
    A.
    Verse 4 “you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge.” Last week a similar verse from Ps. 25 reminded me of Susan “My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for he will pluck my feet out of the net”. Something about the net is sticking with me. Growing up, we went fishing a lot and especially when I was young, I liked to let the crabs loose from the cage—back into the water! I remember when we’d catch something we didn’t want, like a carp or something too small—my dad would gently toss it back in the water and you’d watch it swim so fast away! That picture—he sets us free from a tangled up net, and lets us swim, soar, in an ocean of grace. My answer I’m praying about for #2, fits with this picture—being set free from entanglement of repeating bad habits, from stress and disorder–free to live the life He has for us.

  16. I feel like I have missed so much here by being away for three days. Looking forward to catching up. Retreat was very interesting. I’ll try to share more tomorrow.

  17. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?
    The story of Sally at the age of thirteen seeing how she had “yuk” in her soul, and asking God to remove it so she can love her new sister. It touched me when Anne said to her ,” your my best friend”.

    The video clip with all the different images people coming to God, and the amazing fact how He is able to meet us any circumstance or storm we may face!
    Every Sunday I post something on FaceBook pertaining to going to church, worship or praise.
    This morning I post a video clip of Hillsong United, You Have Made Me Glad. http://youtu.be/WzN4qqqisbs

    This is one of my favorite worship songs, and along with it I shared the first verse of Psalm 46 , God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
    I believe the verse in Isaiah 55:11, where its reads that His word will not return void.

    I work from home and on my desk I have a little devotional booklet called Grace by Max Lucado. I have had it for two years. Each day has a verse and a small lesson for the day.
    October 4th was the last time I looked at it. One day while working, I stopped and starting crying. I feel I am in a dry season of my life. I feel my mind is being bombarded by the enemy with lies.
    I started crying because I feel so without purpose, so defeated, so depressed. I looked over to the booklet and this is what it reads:
    In The Eye of The Storm. Matthew 14:30-31 ..Peter shouted, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter.

    Lesson; We come to Christ in an hour of deep need. We abandon the boat of good works…We realize, like Peter that spanning the gap between us and Jesus is a fear too great for our feet. So we beg for help. Hear His voice. And step out in fear, hoping that our little faith will be enough…Faith is a desperate dive out of the sinking boat of human effort and a prayer that God will be there to pull us out of the water.
    I made a point to highlight the words ” Jesus reached out”

    This is the third time this scripture has come to me.
    First time was awhile back from my Pastor. He made a great point about Peter and this story.
    He said most people walk away looking at this as Peter having little faith and then sinking. In reality, Peter was the only one who acted on his little faith and walked out of the boat.
    The second time as I had mentioned, while working and busted out crying and looking over at this booklet.
    Third time, last week a missionary from England came to our church, used this scripture. talked about who Peter was, his personality flaws, his denying Christ.
    But he used this scripture to illistrate that although Peter had many flaws in his character, he was the only one to believe Jesus enough to walk out of the boat.
    Peter was one of those in the upper room on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit ascended.

    So, I am in a storm of sorts. And the Lord is showing me something about faith.
    One of the things He is trying to show me is that faith is not based on feelings.
    I tend to rely to much on how I feel, and very little on faith.

    I love the pictures of the Lighthouse above as well as the one from last week.
    I love Lighthouses, I love what they represent.
    The church I was in prior is called, Lighthouse of All Nations.
    I wrote a personal testimony a long time ago that was published in their church paper called, “The Simplicity of Lighhouses”.
    Using the analogy of the church and Christ as a lighhouse, and my soul as the ship in distress.
    Its a blessing and a comfort to know there is a God who watches over me. I know this is the same for you. Be blessed!

  18. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

    Something that stood out to me was the part where Dee talks about Annie and Sally:

    “In this storm I saw my own failures as a mother — I’d been too lenient with Sally — I’d been too selfish…storms show where we are weak.”

    I can relate very well to this! You want everything to go well, and you are trying so hard that you are really missing the point. We know what is right and what should be done, but we try to “fix” it ourselves and unfortunately it needs more than we can do; the situation needs God.

  19. 2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

    Most of the huge storms of the past 5 years revolve around 2 of my 4 children. It’s a story of being in the midst of ugliness of this earthly life with them. I raised them to be “a certain way.” I sheltered them from the cruel, harsh world. When they became teens, they were exposed to things I never thought they would be, at least not on my watch. I was proud that I kept them safe. Instead, I should have taught them about the bad ways of others and warned them to beware. I didn’t really know how to raise them as teenagers. I definitely have felt the scariness when life is spinning out of control. So many tears, so much pain. I have blamed the world for being such a cold place, but I could have been smarter and done things differently to “save” them. I felt alone and lost at the time. My husband had no answers either. We fought, the kids fought with each of us. It is sad.

    Luckily, although he isn’t who I want him to be, my son John is a kind hearted young adult and that gives me hope for my daughter Sarah also. I think one thing I should have pushed was finding the right church and youth group for them to be involved in. It is hard here in the northeast though; not like where we were raised in the south. I’m not making excuses, things have just not turned out the way my perfect world was in my mind. I have been duped by life. It seems sad to me.

    The good news is that my youngest son is on the right path and we are trying to make sure he has the environment to grow as he needs to as a teen. I just still struggle with the thought that 2 lives under my watch are lost. My two middle children don’t attend church, and struggle in their lives. I think I will focus on this and begin a long term prayer campaign to ask God to bring them back to church. They were raised in church and have the foundation, they just need to come home to God and goodness.

    The other part of this is me. I feel SO guilty and don’t like that feeling at all. I look back and think of things I should have done, how I should have acted, how my husband should have acted, etc. It depresses me to think of this time. I went to church during those years but didn’t know God like I do now. I have learned so much over the last few years about Him. That is good! I just want God to forgive me for being so stupid sometimes. I remember praying, asking God to put the right ideas in my head to solve the problems with my kids. I used to tell Him that I wasn’t the brightest of His children and sometimes he needed to hit me over the head with the idea because I didn’t always “get it” the first time! I guess the fact that I prayed was good. I did have a few friends that hung in with me. They were troopers; I appreciate that He gave me them and at least I knew I wasn’t alone totally. They would listen and suggest, and were Godly women.

    I see us nearing the end of this time of ugliness. John is in community college, and Sarah is finished with high school and has a job interview tomorrow at target. We still have work to do to help them both, but we have come a long way.

    1. Laura dancer, I am praying today that you will be freed from this feeling of guilt, I really hate that for you. I think the enemy is trying to attack as you are growing so much. Your love for your children is so evident and love truly covers and conquers all. I pray you can rest in His love for you, His grace poured out on you and your family–

      1. Praying for u Laura dancer!

    2. Laura-dancer, what I have learned when looking back and thinking of how differently I should have done things when raising my sons is this: God knew where you were in your spiritual walk, how immature and lacking, when you were raising your children, He gave them to you anyway. It is HIS work that He is accomplishing in them, not yours. While He can use them and their circumstances to refine you, He isn’t allowing them to walk away just to punish you for not doing everything right, nor is it your job to make sure that they go the right way. You did what you did it can’t be changed, but it is covered by the blood. Continue to love and pray for all of your children and not give off the vibe that some are a disappointment and that you are living with guilt at how you failed and now they are “messed up”. The ones that are rescued from the deepest pit are the ones that give God the greatest glory.

      1. Thank you everyone, for the thoughts and kind words. I have to continually remind myself how much God loves me and my children. I feel so undeserving at times. Thanks for the reminder of the picture, dee 🙂 I have thought of it several times in the past week when I was feeling weak. I LOVE that picture!

  20. 1. What stuck out to me is in the midst of the storm there are two important things to remember, Jesus is my refuge and Jesus is my refining fire, and I loved Annie and Sally’s story-what a beautiful picture! Annie’s picture is so sweet. It would be so hard not to spoil her!

    This is crucial because if I forget that Jesus is my refuge and that He is my refining fire during a storm I will be more likely to curl up around the pain and not trust in His sovereign control or plan. If I do remember I will walk in confidence in Him in the midst of the storm even amidst the pain-I will be in the eye of the Hurricane. I think what it looks like is that I would cry out to Him while in pain as opposed to closing up and holding my hand up-as the Psalmists and Dee in her book “The God of All Comfort” so beautifully displayed. I need to trust Him with the pain and LET HIM refine me.

    Part of this for me is also accepting the mystery of suffering and what really helps is when I remember that Jesus suffered-When Jesus, in a time of incredible suffering and fear asked if this cup would pass-God didn’t allow it to pass-God said no. Jesus went to God and poured out the depths of his soul during his time of great suffering and trusted God as His rock. So Jesus has suffered and even so much more so than I ever will-and He went to God with it instead of closing up! He modeled what that intimacy looks like. The intimacy God passionately desires with us. God so desires to be our refuge! 🙂

  21. A.  David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock? For me it would have been last week when I was so depressed I literally ran to almost all my friends instead of the Lord it says in verse 9 Be merciful to me Lord for I am in distress my eyes grow weak with sorrow my soul and body with grief. If only I had gone to that verse and read it and cried out to the Lord instead of cryin to my friends which is ok but not to get fulfillment from them which I was looking for

  22. B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.
    He says I will be glad and rejoice in his love. Yes I do believe this I just need to remember to put it into practice more. I can’t say to a friend I will be glad and rejoice because you love me that won’t satisfy me only the Lords lOve will truly satisfy me.

  23. 2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

    I have several small and big ones and have spent quite a while writing them out here but need to think and pray through it more and come back.

  24. Anger is the result of love. It is energy for defense of something you love when it is threatened. If you don’t love something at all, you are not angry when it is threatened. If you love something a little, you get a little angry when it is threatened. If something you love is an ‘ultimate concern,’ if it is something that gives you meaning in life, then when it is threatened you will get uncontrollably angry. When anything in life is an absolute requirement for your happiness and self-worth, is is essentially an ‘idol,’ something you are actually worshiping. When such a thing is threatened, your anger is absolute. Your anger is actually the way the idol keeps you in its service, in its chains. Therefore if you find that, despite all the efforts to forgive, your anger and bitterness cannot subside, you may need to look deeper and ask, ‘What am I defending? What is so important that I cannot live without?’ It may be that, until some inordinate desire is identified and confronted, you will not be able to master your anger. ~Keller

    Had to share. I think this will be a help for me to explore with my daughter who is angry. I think it is a threat to her security and we are idols. I need her to look the Christ instead. Praying she can see this. May He open her heart

  25. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.
    The net was good. I feel like the broken bone situation is a trap set by the enemy. The mom will be angry. Yet God takes us out of the net. Having to be taken out of the net means you have been trapped in it. Yet God saves us and is our refuge.

    B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is? I have found if I just let go of striving and struggling and commit my Spirit or my whole self into His capable hands I am free to behold Him instead of the problem.

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this? He has redeemed us. That is what matters most. He is faithful and will never leave or forsake us even when we are bearing a heavy cross. Death brings forth life. On the 3rd day Jesus rose from the dead. Man Job had much faith. This is all prior to the cross and he knew…So amazing. Such faith

  26. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?
    “…storms can help us change, can help us see our own sin. Even when storms are not a direct result of sin in our lives, they can still reveal our idols, our sins, and help us change.” I’m seeing a lot of sin and idols in my life right now and I am still in the midst of replacing them. It gives me a rather crude image of when the wind blows away the leaves in our dog run area and all of the mess is revealed, stuff that I didn’t know was there. After all, I spend time daily cleaning up that area, how could there be so much still? I have some choices: sit around and complain about it, wait for the leaves to cover it back up (or cover it up myself) or clean it up. It would probably benefit me to keep the leaves raked up too, but I hate raking leaves!

    2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.
    Honestly, right now I am in such a storm and I find myself consciously choosing to continue in sin. Last year at this time I was cheerfully praying for my coworkers, sincerely asking for the best for those who are hard to get along with, making an effort to be friendly and helpful, I really thought that things were going great. The reaction from some of those who I have known the longest (as long as 25 years) when I was faced with a tremendous loss, left me in a state of shocked anger and I find myself never wanting to have anything to do with them. Ignoring them and making sure that they know that I’m done with them. I know that I shouldn’t act this way and some days I don’t, I smile, ask them how they are doing, etc. But most days I don’t care. While I know God isn’t pleased with my attitude, I am not ready or willing to give it up.

    1. P.S. I know this is why I am not finding the intimacy with Christ that I so desire. I’m only hurting myself 🙁

      1. Praying for u Dawn!

        1. Thank you, Dee. As God sheds light on my sin and I see it, my first reaction is Man, I am a MESS! then I think I am so thankful to have this revealed and not to live in darkness, blind to sin and the pain that I am causing myself and others.
          You are right, I need to be excited to do what’s right and not look at it as a dreaded chore 🙂

    2. Dawn, you wrote, “While I know God isn’t pleased with my attitude, I am not ready or willing to give it up.” I too can say that I’ve said this to myself and when this happens to me I ask God to give me the “want to”. He always does and then I wonder later why that was so hard. Try it and see if your heart doesn’t begin to change. Love to you!

    3. Dawn, i have two very good friends who lost children. sherry (lost her daughter to cancer 10 years ago) told stacia (lost her 5 month to a virus last year) that a lot of people would have grace for her during this time of loss, that many people would love her and try to help her BUT that she was going to have to have a lot of grace as well. that many people just dont know what to do or say and so they say and do stupid things and the only thing to do is to extend them grace..
      I know I have said things that are just stupid out of just not knowing what else to say…im sorry your friends were stupid and they hurt you:-( but remember that most of us have no idea what to say or do and we do the wrong thing most often….perhaps you just need to extend them grace….it was their stupidness and need to make sence out of things and not thier wrong intentions that hurt you for the most part.
      one person told stacia that her baby probably would not have been saved if he lived so it was a blessing that he died, another said “you still have 8 so you should be happy” and yet another asked 9 months after his death “arent you over that yet?”
      stacia said that she could not “forgive” these things but if she extended grace for thier stupidity she could just let it go.
      I am so sorry for your loss and really hope im not making things worse…its just that stacia told me this really helped her so i thought it would help you.

      1. Cyndi, I appreciate what you wrote about extending grace. (those were VERY stupid things people said to Stacia). It does seem easier to forgive (and/or extend grace to) “stupid” than “mean.” I know I have said stupid things — and also have said mean things, and am so thankful when people extend grace to me. I’m pondering the difference between extending grace and forgiving, but have more questions than answers.

        1. Thank you, dear sisters.

  27. 1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why?

    It is so true that “storms show where we are weak.” I feel like I have been through several years of storms showing me where I am weak. Thankfully, right now, I am experiencing a bit of a lull, perhaps even a warm south wind. Now, finally, at last, God is beginning to strengthen me again as I lean more and more fully on His breast. Now I am purposefully preparing for the next onslaught of storm, for I know they will come.

    I also love the song cyndi posted last week, “No more will I run from You”. I have listened to it again and again.

  28. I just accidently lost all my answers and don’t have time to re-write. Here’s a quick overview:

    1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why? The bride running in Cyndi’s video. I don’t want to run from God but run to Him in my wedding attire.

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.
    Refuge to hide. I see myself as one of Joyce’s birds safely under His wing.

    B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?
    Jesus trusted God to hold His future by making a statement of faith. I too must trust in my darkest hour.

  29. B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?
    When I look back at times of deep pain and struggle in my life—or even the small ones, the struggle continues as long as I try to manage it myself. The path towards freedom only comes after I “get it”. Once I remembered Who God Is, and who I am—humility breaks me to my knees, and I am finally able to lay it down, to trust it into His hands. Never has it been a one-time deal though—for each struggle, big and small, it is an act of humility I repeat over and over. Every time I find myself trying to fix it, I know I have grabbed it back—and again must give it over, lay it down on the altar, again.

    I’m still waiting for peace/wisdom about sharing my struggle I referred to in #2, but it was one that lasted over 14 years. And while it was in our marriage–not something just my own, I know my continual efforts to fix on my own strength only kept me caught in the net. He did set us free, and I believe He always will–not always from the circumstances, but from the struggle, the pain that is caused by my twisting and turning in that net. If I will be still, and trust Him, He will set me free. But OH, how hard it is for me to be still, especially with the big struggles. I don’t think I’m making sense–sorry a lot on my mind, but I have to run, and didn’t write/edit in advance–so asking for grace 😉

    1. I love your image of the net. if we are still we don’t get even more caught…some times we cant escape the storm, some times we just have to keep our eyes on Him and get really wet in the process but when we look at those waves we start to sink….why do i insist on looking at those waves and thinking I can control them??????

  30. as I think about storms in my life the one that has been so long is my marriage….for almost 20 years our marriage has been one long storm. even when I had given up control, prayed for him, let it go to God, did all the things that you are supposed to do to make things better it just never got all the way better. I learned how to go to God to get filled up and how to manage things so that they didnt blow up as often….but it has never been easy.
    but ladies I am here to share that a break is in the clouds and I see sun and feel its warmth on my face for the first time in our marriage…..I cry as I write this because I had given up that Paul would ever find healing
    He has never been a bad man, please dont think i was married to a bad man because i was not, but a broken man who could not find healing. I do not know how or why now but He is a new man..He cried for the first time since i have known him as he prayed for a hurting friend….He is being healed by our wonderful savior and I am so very happy…I am IN LOVE with my husband. 5 kids and 20 years later. we had a wonderful honeymoon last week and Im so glad that God waited to give it to us until this healing had taken place.

    We read about peter on the water with Jesus this morning….He took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves and began to sink, Jesus catches his hand, gets into the boat and makes the storm stop…..the storm was still there when he was in the water. there have been times i have taken my eyes off Jesus in my storm and was sure i would sink, there have been times when I have kept Him in my eyes and not looked away and walked on the water with him despite the storm, but he never took the storm away, until now. my eyes are still on him and there are many other storms little and big in our lives but the waves and winds of this one have been stoped by my loving Jesus and for that I will forever be grateful.

    1. What a wonderful story, cyndi. I am so glad that God is healing your husband. Such a beautiful testimony. It gives me such encouragement. God works in His own perfect time.

    2. My heart is full and I rejoice with you! Such a wonderful report – we must pray a prayer of thanksgiving. Dear God, how you have heard our cry for Cyndi’s marriage. How we thank you for this breakthrough. I feel so blessed to have had a small part in prayer for this. We thank you and trust for completing what you have begun. Amen!

      1. Kim, i believe with all my heart that your prayers are a HUGE part of this!!! thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!!!

        1. Thank you, that’s the sweet part of being in the body of Christ – it’s all Him! It’s kinda cool because I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to building up/stirring up faith and when I began praying for your marriage last year I had this assurance that the prayer was going to be answered, like when I was a child praying for my grandma’s salvation – I knew she would eventually be saved. I don’t understand much about when God gives the gift of faith but I think that may be what I experienced here.

        2. I still remember you telling me that you had a heart for marraige and that you would pray….i knew you really would:) thank you, I don’t understand in all but it is so cool to watch God work:)

    3. Rejoicing with you, Cyndi!

    4. What a praise!! So thankful!

  31. Sunday/Monday

    1. What is one thing that stood out to you from the above, and why? For me there were a few things that stood out but the one that jumped out at me was the picture of the momma bird protecting her babies unde her wing. I had to look real close to see those babies, but it reminded me of how loving our God is that he has us under his wings. He’s not walking behind us, or way in front of us, but he is right there hovering over our every move, knowing our every thought and hearing our every cry. He is like our umbrella, protecting us from the harsh outside world. Jesus is our refuge. Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people; (Psalm 118:8 MSG)

  32. Sunday-Monday
    2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week. – The big storm for me would have to be my divorce. Even though I have the storms with my son Kyle as he works thru his injury received in Afghanistan, God is there to guide me with how to help me, but the divorce hurt not just me but him more so. My youngest son Justin was just three at the time, but Kyle was 8 and understood much more of what was going on. I got a lot of the brunt from Kyle that I believe was meant for his dad, but I was the one there, trying to get us thru those times so I was the one he lashed out at. There were many angry outbursts between us, which I am not proud of at all, so much so that a little 3 yr old had to stand at the bottom of the stairs as Kyle and I were yelling back and forth and tell me that he learned from his Sunday school teacher, Miss Dawn, ” that mommy, Miss Dawn says we have to love one another” oh how I did not want to concede to that statement, but knew that I needed help in dealing with two young kids by myself. There were many counseling sessions with Kyle some Christian and some not, there were blights with the juvenile courts when he got caught stealing a few times, how I can relate to those of you who think that you were bad moms, I definitely was one of them. I felt I failed him as a mom, that I did not know how to help me, how to get thru to him that I was not the enemy. This want on for quite a while and I finally reached out to God and said take him, he’s yours. Protect him and watch over him please, I will do what I have to as a mom, but his life is yours now. I truly believe that God is watching over him now and sees are being planted. He apologized to me for how he treated me for 18yrs when he got to basic training for the service, even though it was not 18 years, lol, that meant so much to me, and I cherish the work that God is slowly doing in his life.

    I’m sorry for the long winded writing but this truly has been my storm with the calming of the sea only due to Jesus.

    1. Julie, What a testimony. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful example of God calming the sea in both your life and Kyle’s. Also helps in praying for you 🙂

    2. Not long winded, I am glad for your sharing. So hard and such pain you have been through. I am glad you are here with us on this journey.

    3. Love this story. Love how God is working in and through it all.

  33. Julie, thank you so much for sharing this story. Oh, how difficult this must have been for you to be divorced and end up having your son hate you because of it. It is so wonderful how Jesus has worked and begun to heal both you and Kyle. Praise the Lord!

  34. 2. Remember one such time — either a big storm from the past, or a smaller storm from last week.

    I shared last week about how nervous I was about going to a retreat. Sometimes I really feel like a little mouse — fearful at every turn. It was really out of my comfort zone. This retreat was a smallish retreat/camp center attended this weekend by about 50 women with a speaker from the local area named Deb MacDonald. Well, the weekend went very well. My daughter found being ministered to (uninterrupted by her children) very renewing. I also was fed by the Word, encouraged by the raw but real sharing of women hungering after God, and I loved having the opportunity to worship in a much less restrictive way than in my more traditionally-minded small country Baptist church. I really did not want to go. It caused a storm of fear plus loss based on past experiences of retreats of years gone by that will never return. However, I have learned that feelings are just that, feelings. They do not have to control my choices. I knew going to retreat was important. I’m glad I went.

    1. Diane I’m so glad you went and had a great relaxing time to reflex on Gods word. Glad it helped your daughter too.

    2. Diane,

      So good to hear it went well for you and so glad you took that risk. I can relate so well. I lean more toward the introvert side and I do prefer alone times over group times, yet I can be so refreshed by other women-glad you were too!

      Good to hear your daughter had that time of renewal also! 🙂

      1. Yes Diane so glad that you had a great time and that your daughter was refreshed as well 🙂

    3. This is a gem, Diane – “I have learned that feelings are just that, feelings. They do not have to control my choices”. You just put feelings into their proper place! I want to write this down!

    4. Oh Diane I so can relate! I am so like this but often find I was glad I went. So glad it was good for you! Proud of you that you stepped out anyway.

  35. Please pray that I would respond graciously and have wisdom in a mtg tomorrow. This evening, I got stuck in a stinkin’ disgusting mousetrap of trying to manipulate a situation into working. I can’t write a whole lot — but I do have both authority and responsibility in a work situation (usually have responsibility with no authority!).

    In retrospect, I interacted via email with someone who has a pattern of manipulation — and my response was to try to out-manipulate him. And I might have “succeeded” (I had a suspicion, did a background check, and got all self-righteous). It’s one thing to give up an idol when it’s not working, but when it appears to be working… let’s just say that God put that disgusting, creepy mouse and mousetrap in my mind for a reason. This idol of control is right in my face, and I want to hang on to it because I think I’m “winning” — and I’m sick to my stomach because I know that it doesn’t honor Him.

    I may not be making any sense here. This doesn’t completely make sense to me. I probably did out-manipulate the guy just by discovering that what I experienced is a pattern, and I was reminded that I’m the one with the authority in the situation. As I’m writing this, I’m seeing that one reason I don’t want to “put off” is because I feel so lost in “putting on.”

    I’m not going to edit this because I’m having an “Aha” moment — and experiencing freedom. Now I know why I needed TWO word pictures yesterday (one for putting off, one for putting on): “Into thy hands, I commit my spirit.” Please pray that my spirit doesn’t jump out of His hands!

    1. Update: If I burned calories and built muscle by jumping in and out of His hands, I’d be in good shape!

      1. 🙂 yep, me too!

      2. Will be praying for you Renee.

        1. Praying Renee

      3. This is so good, Renee. You are speaking God’s truth to your soul. And I too can relate to the jumping in and out of His hands. Love your humor!

    2. I loved this post, Renee. It made complete sense and I can totally relate. Sometimes I find my “aha” moment as I am typing my comments, too. I’m praying for you.

  36. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now. – I’ve put my life in your hands. You won’t drop me, you’ll never let me down. (Psalm 31:5 MSG). This brings a picture to my mind of Jesus carrying me against his heart like a new mother carries her baby in one of those slings they now have. He’s my safety net, that even though I may fall, I won’t fall out of His reach.

    B.  Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is? – I know that I have His unending love and protection, that he is with me at all times

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

    4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

    A.  David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock? – When I learned that things, my storm, my trials were not going away when I put my hands to it, I reached out and cried to God asking him to help me, to see my pain and suffering and he came and calmed the storm.

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment. – Oh do I ever believe this. He rescued me from the tormentors, the accusers, the liars that were in my life at the time.

    C. What is the word picture in verse 8? – You didn’t leave me in their clutches but gave me room to breathe. (Psalm 31:8 MSG). This makes me feel like I was in a cage with angry beasts and was suffocating but he saw, and rescued me from them and pulled me into his comforting arms.

    This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

    D.  How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances? – Just knowing that in the end I along with Gods help will be victorious and loved by the only One that matters.

  37. Your all so special to me and in catching up on everyone’s writing, I have a prayer list to pray for all of you. Love you, sister’s:)

  38. 5. What storm did Powlison face? How did it make him think about where is trust was and how did he respond?

    His storm was that he potentially was losing his ability to think and remember. He had to consider that he might not be able to perform in his job if this was a permanent loss of his memory. He thought back to his early years when bs was learning to be a counselor. He was asked the question if he was only able to mop floors at mcdonalds, would his life be sufficient? Did he need to be successful in his career?

    6. How might the picture of mopping floors at McDonald’s help you to face where your trust is?

    Well, sometimes I dream of being able to mop floors at mcdonalds! my life is so busy that it seems that that would be a Nice change of pace where I don’t have to think all the time 🙂 in my job teaching at the high school level, and working on two classes for my masters program, I have often thought working at the car wash would be awesome!

    Seriously, if I had God to talk to, I could handle the job at mcdonalds. I think I would probably get bored and wish for something else, but I would somehow try to reason that this was what He wanted me to do.

  39. 3. Read Psalm 31:1-5

    A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.
    2 Turn your ear to me,
    come quickly to my rescue;
    be my rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress to save me.

    This may sound really cheesy, but this is what came to mind: When I was young we used to go to the lake every summer at my grandparents lake house for two weeks to spend with my cousins. My favorite thing to do was to ski. What came to mind for me is when I would fall down, it was usually a pretty hard fall and I would always struggle with my ski’s on to get up out of the water as I grabbed onto the handles trying to match my power with the boats as it excelled. After a while the struggling would tire me and I had no more strength-I was done, and I would wave as a sign I was done. When I looked up to see the boat turning around heading toward me, it was like a real oasis-a refuge from the waters, a place I could rest from the struggle. That is what it is like for me when I am going through a storm-sometimes the enemies arrows can really tire me out in my thought life and I need to call to Him and immerse myself in His word-like my dad being acutely aware that I was done he answered me and came up beside me to provide me a refuge so I could climb on. God is my refuge.

    1. I like that picture!

  40. B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

    Jesus put his spirit in God’s hands in the midst of the most ultimate stress-as he died on the cross. He entrusted God with His pain and let Him have it all. God didn’t rescue Him. Jesus knows what it feels like to not be rescued from the storm yet at the same time taking refuge in God. He knows what it feels like to be separated from God-to not sense His presence as God turned His face away. Jesus is so acquainted with my grief, my pain, He has been through it and more, and He died so He could walk through mine with me.

    1. This is a helpful perspective, Rebecca. “Jesus knows what it feels like to not be rescued from the storm yet at the same time taking refuge in God.” He really can understand us when we feel this way. I need to ponder this more.

    2. He died so He could walk through mine with me. This really struck me.

  41. C. What is the word picture in verse 8? Setting our feet in spacious place

  42. D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances? God is Good and everything happens for a reason and is all part of his plan. So even if he doesnt change our earthly circumstances he is still faithful and will carry us through. It says in 119:32 that he has broadened our understanding.

  43. Just finished reading everyone’s postings. I can see why the Lord spoke to Dee that we all needed some refreshment – a “selah”. So many are dealing with really hard, painful things – and Joyce reminded me to make a prayer list…..
    for Angela, this difficult situation with fostering a little boy who now has a broken bone, and dealing with sibling jealousy and the biological mom who wont be accountable,
    for Julie and her son, Kyle, who is struggling emotionally, for Laura-Marie, going through a dry season in her life, for Laura-Dancer, needing to release the guilt of making mistakes as a mom (as all of us moms have!) and needing to release her children to God, for Meg, who needs the discouragement and depression to lift, for Dawn, who is struggling to forgive, for Tammy, who needs healing, for Renee, who had a heart aching for her friend, for Anne and her son, Alfred, for Diane as she continues to step out of her “comfort zone”, for Cyndi, that God would continue His work in her marriage.

    1. And you, Susan? What can I pray for ,you?

  44. A. There are several word pictures in this passage. Find one, describe it, and imagine how it can help you right now.
    4 Free me from hidden traps; I want to hide in you. (The Message)

    B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is? Jesus gave Himself willingly to God’s perfect plan and I have to, too. Trust Him no matter what the cost.

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?
    Jesus was and is and is to come. He was slain before the foundations of the earth. He always has been our Redeemer. It didn’t happen 2000 years ago (time is our limitation not God’s), it always has been. We were redeemed before Adam and Eve sinned, before Satan fell, before the earth existed. It doesn’t make sense to our finite minds, but it is truth. David, Job and many other Old Testament saints understood it.

    1. I like this, Jesus gave Himself willingly to God’s perfect plan and I have to, too. Trust Him no matter what the cost.

  45. 3 B. Verse 5a are the final words of Jesus on the cross. In every psalm of lament, if you look deeply, you will see The Man of Sorrows. How does this help you in your pain, whatever it is?

    Jesus made a willing, firm decision to commit Himself to His Father (he didn’t even say he was committing himself to his father’s will…but into his HANDS. The word “hands” is intriguing me; hands “take care of.” Will ponder more.) Not only was Jesus willing, He followed through. i.e., He didn’t jump off the cross or “call 10,000 angels.” I can be confident that the Fathers hands are the best place for me. And willingly going there is less painful than kicking and screaming.

    C. In verse 5b, David says, “You have redeemed me, O Lord” — and yet David lived before the cross. (Compare with Job — who also lived before the cross, when he says, “I know my Redeemer lives, and I will see Him upon the earth.” How do you explain this?

    Last night, something about this flitted across my mind. I’m sure I have heard a better explanation, but I don’t want to look up a better explanation until I have thought about this one more: Jesus has always existed; He is eternal. God isn’t bound by time; that’s a people/earth thing. So why wouldn’t those who loved God and looked forward be as redeemed as those who look back at the cross? When the cross of Christ and Jesus’ resurrection isn’t bound by time, the impact is incomprehensible! Today, we do have the benefit of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but a pillar was pretty good, too!

    Gotta go. IN coffee shop waiting for mtg and it’s gonna start!

    1. Loved this! I can be confident that the Fathers hands are the best place for me. And willingly going there is less painful than kicking and screaming.

  46. 4. Read Psalm 31:6-10
    A. David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock?

    I guess I answered this above in #3. when I suffer, the struggle reveals to me that I am trying to sit on the throne of my heart. It reveals a hardened part of me-an unwillingness to give up my ideal scenario. The futility of my thinking is a) that I actually know what’s “ideal” and b) that I have the power to make it happen.
    Suffering has also revealed my lack of truly knowing God. The more I know Him, know His character, the more I cannot help but trust—for He alone, not myself, nor any other person. He alone is worthy of all my trust. I dare not boast that I would not be shaken to my core if I were to lose a loved one again. But I do know that no matter how long it takes me to stop squirming in anguish—He would remain. He would wait for me, He would always be present and unshaken and it wouldn’t be that He forgot or that somehow He didn’t care—His character is and always will be Love. I will not understand His ways, I’m not supposed to. When I finally rest in that, I can at least feel Him and know that He has it, He loves me, and He is good, He is God.

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment.

    David speaks of God’s character—His steadfast love, His omnipresence, His omnipotence. His compassion. When I feast on God’s character and draw my mind back to His truths, I can rest in it. Sometimes, it’s hard to honestly say “rejoice and be glad”, but I know He understands my weaknesses. I think sometimes “joy” is confused with “be giddy happy”—I don’t think God is asking me to do that in my struggle—true joy, to me, is something deeper than happiness. It’s a stillness of spirit that trusts, that rests in His Sovereignty.

    1. This spoke to me Elizabeth, I think sometimes “joy” is confused with “be giddy happy”—I don’t think God is asking me to do that in my struggle—true joy, to me, is something deeper than happiness. It’s a stillness of spirit that trusts, that rests in His Sovereignty.

  47. Thanks for you’re prayers. God protected me from the trap at work. The situation (or trap) was modified (no bait in the trap!) — and He gave put his finger over my lips so that I didn’t create my own trap.

    1. So glad to here that all went well.

  48. I picked up a book I’ve had for a while, Psalms-The Prayer Book of the Bible by Bonhoeffer. This was good for me–reminded me too of what Diane said about feelings. While I do love when a psalm or verse seems to perfectly reflect my cries to the Lord, and yet this was good for me to read also–sometimes my prayers become just my laundry list of anguish, and to pray contrary to my feelings–I don’t know what anyone else will think, but in case it’s helpful to others:

    “It does not depend, therefore, on whether the Psalms express adequately that which we feel at a given moment in our heart. If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. If we were dependent entirely on ourselves, we would probably pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. But God wants it otherwise. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.”

  49. Ladies,

    I need prayer regarding a friendship. I need wisdom I have tried to talk to her etc and all she does us put her guard up and not listen to me. Since most of you ladies know I will tell u what is happening: my friend told me that her boyfriend was joking around and saying that since I don’t have a boyfriend then I must be a lesbian she said he was just kidding but it really hurt my feelings and having a past of being a lesbian I am Afraid she is going to tell him. I told her that I dont like it when she keeps brining it up and I tell her why I don’t like it and she gets mad and defensive . I am in tears right now and I have gone to the Lord and have asked him to give me wisdom in this situation and he spoke to me too! I was crying and I said Lord I want to honor you and he said I know u do! That was special!

    1. Praying Meg that the Lord will comfort you and give you wisdom about how to handle this situation.

    2. Oh Meg I am so sorry. Praying! May He be your defender and keep you reminded of your robe of righteousness in HIM!

    3. Meg I’m sorry that your friend cannot see the good that God is doing in your life know. Continue to follow HIm and ask for his guidance and he will walk with you thru this and help you know what to do at the time it’s needed to be done or said. I will be praying for this situation.

    4. Keep your eye’s on him, Meg and he will not disapoint you:) Praying for you!

      1. Thank you Ladies for praying she did apologize to me which i think is huge for her!

  50. 4. Read Psalm 31:6-10

    A. David says he hates those who trusts in idols, but God will also use this suffering to reveal where David has trusted in idols of the heart. How has suffering revealed to you where you have trusted something or someone other than the One True Rock? Over and over. I am shown I trust in God’s gifts, or my securities over Him. I am thankful that then I can realign my life with Him being the true idol of my life.It is in suffering and pain that we are forced to soul search.

    B. What truths does David speak to his soul in verse 7? Do you believe this? Comment. He will rejoice in GOd’s steadfast love, because He has seen his affliction. Yes i believe it! We serve the God who sees like when He went to Hagar. God sees our affliction and loves us completely. He is the helper and shield to our souls.

    C. What is the word picture in verse 8?I love this now instead of in the net trapped God puts our feet on broad places. I love this, it seems spacious and free. It is for freedom that Christ set us free. We are delivered.

    This is a theme in the psalms — can be seen in Psalm 18:19 and 119:32. We may feel hemmed in by sickness, persecution, or poverty — and yet God will have the last Word, for all of eternity is before us. Eye has not seen the wonders that have been prepared for us. These are transitory troubles.

    D. How can the above give you hope, even if God does not change your earthly circumstances? Ok so this is so helpful and gives such hope. Sadly a broken collar bone in a kid is an injury of suspect. They question you about it and I believe have to report it or something. Though we did nothing wrong and the hospital told us flat out they admire what we are doing and have no doubt in their mind our story is true, I still have battled the fear of persecution it may bring. Questions it may raise. Yet I remember it is God who is our Defender. Then reading this I see if confirmed again. So hopeful. I can trust no matter what happens God is in control. I know too a few people are looking at us funny because of it knowing it is one of those injuries. The positive was when the doctor was questioning us I got to share the entire story which I could not until that point. I don’t want to slander the mom or share too many details about her drama. So I have felt alone in it. Sharing it with the doctor was helpful and she was able to give us good insights. He is malnourished so maybe his bones are weaker because of it. Who knows? And even though the baby gate was approved for top of the stair use, our toddler could still lift it enough to break it causing the fall. The springs just popped out of it. Freak accident stuff that no one could help. Oh but the Lord sees it all. He is the defender. We just must rest in that hope. The world cannot understand what we are doing or even why we would be willing to give a child a loving home yet they admire it. They see Christ, they want that. I pray as more people are exposed to him and his story (our story) Christ will be glorified and shared. Sorry that was probably a rabbit trail. But this is all what I needed to hear this week!

    1. This is not a rabbit trail at all, Angela. This is so hard for you and your family. You haven’t done anything wrong, but you are automatically suspect. May the Lord give you strong comfort in His hands. God is definitely with you in this storm. You are in our prayers, dear sister.

    2. Praying, Angela…your doing great!

      1. 🙂 love this story of Sally.

        1. me too! I would have done the same thing if one of the girls were involved. Oh how I pray my daughter turns out well like Sally! She had a break through last night. I asked her where that girl went who loved God so much. She just cried. She said, I just want to be cool and do my own thing. I am so sorry I lost my way. I want to get back. Today was better as she is seeking HIM and not her own way. I know it is a long journey just like for me. But seeing fruit again. 🙂

        2. “She said, I just want to be cool and do my own thing. I am so sorry I lost my way.” This is so precious. Wish I could hug her and tell I feel that way sometimes but God always takes his shepherds hook and draws me gently home. Love that girl’s honesty.

    3. Angela, I am praying for you in all of this, and just humbled by your obedience to the call. You said you pray Christ will be glorified and I pray that with you and see it already. It is your love for Him that has led you to such a selfless, hugely sacrificial thing–and already we see how it is refining you and reflecting His beauty. I praise Him for your steadfast faith–He is with you in this!