October 27, 2015

Open for 2015 {Week 42}

You might be wondering what the "Open for 2015" series is about if you are new to Life in the Valley.  (Welcome, by the way, I am glad you are here!)  The initial post in the series was at the beginning of the year; I had asked God to give me a theme word for the year and OPEN was the on that rose to the surface.  I have been blogging about it regularly, to give myself accountability and to invite you to think about being OPEN with me.  You can read the first post here.

Meditating on being OPEN has opened my eyes to how closed I can be, to God and to others, but it has also been incredible to see how often the theme has come up.  Even this week in his sermon, the visiting pastor said, "OPEN YOUR LIVES!"  And I was like,  Okay, okay, God.  I will keep listening, keep blogging, and endeavor to love and serve you openly!

Today I'm still catching up a little on some OPEN things that have stood out over the last month.  Late summer and fall derailed my bi-weekly blogging, but I am getting back on track.  In fact, November is really fun because I blog daily every November around a single theme.  More on that later, though.  For this blost (that's my condensed word for blog post) I'm going to talk about the importance of remembering.

Do you ever find yourself in a difficult situation or emotional space and all you can envision is a future of despair and turmoil?  If you don't, I want to hang out with you and let your optimism rub off on me!  If you do, then you're nodding your head.  Sometimes life can seem so impossible and hopeless.  We're in the middle of a change in our lives and loneliness, bitterness, and hopelessness quickly want to be our bffs.

I received an email from a friend a couple of weeks ago in which she sincerely poured her heart out about things going on in her life.  My heart was overjoyed that she took me seriously when I sent her a note asking how she was doing, rather than telling me things were "fine."  As I typed out a response to her, I felt compelled to encourage her to remember.  For if we are OPEN to remembering God, loneliness, bitterness, and hopelessness don't seem like such great companions anymore.

As I wrote to her, I was struck by how much I needed to practice what I was preaching.  I have had many moments of fear and despair as I have been preparing to share a message with our local MOPS group tomorrow and at the 'A Mom's Heart' conference in Illinois in a couple of weeks.  As I wrote to my friend the Spirit was speaking to me, Heather, will you, too, be open to remembering how I have provided speaking engagements in the past and been faithful to use them in your life and the lives of others.  Remember, daughter, I will not abandon you.  Remember my track record with you!

My friend was not the only one who needed to remember!

These are some of my favorite verses from the Psalms that always call me back to remembering, to "forget not all His benefits."

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 
As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
Psalm 103:1-5 & 13-18 

Being OPEN to remembering provides us with protection and strength to persevere!  Reviewing all God has done for us in Christ will lift up our heads and send loneliness, bitterness, and hopelessness packing.  Further, remembering the many ways that God has specifically done more that we could have asked or imagined in our lives gives us strength to stand up and keep going in faith.

Time to Take Action:

Here's some of what I shared with my friend.  Use it today to help you to remember the Lord!  My prayer for her at the end is the same for you today.

For the time being can I encourage you to remember?  Remember how faithful, very specifically faithful, God has been to you with previous [changes] and other trials.  Remember His promises to never leave and forsake you.  Remember how loved you are beyond what you deserve and regardless of your ability to measure up to anyone's standards, especially your own.  Remember that you are in the middle of a huge transition and, thankfully, life is not ALL transition - none of us would make it!  And remember that you can cry out to the Lord at any moment of any day or night; remember that He hears.  May remembering strengthen your faith and your arms to press on in these difficult days.

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