Soul Rest//Steph

Some days I feel like I’m playing a game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?” And the 2 year old is winning.

After a long week battling it out over nap time I find myself tired, pregnant, emotional, and feeling a bit drained. Life doesn’t stop because my son isn’t napping. Let me back up and say when you are a mom, and you often work from home, and you need to nap yourself because your body is tired from growing another human… nap time is PRECIOUS. It’s everything. You hold on for dear life. So when my toddler climbed out of his crib for the first time the other day I thought to myself, “Oh no! Game changer. This is bad!” We were both so tired and we both shed lots of tears that day (and most days this week). I just lost control of 1:30-4:30 pm. In the big picture, it’s just nap time. But today? Today it doesn’t feel that way.
It’s 3:49 AM as I type this because I cannot sleep. I had this stressful dream that I was trying to keep a bat in the basement but it had other plans. The bat wanted to fly around catching creatures and I was determined to keep it contained downstairs. I woke up realizing Benaiah is the bat and he just does not want to stay in his crib. He wants to color and watch Daniel Tiger and organize his blocks. The connection in my dream was pretty obvious when I shut the basement door and the bat suddenly yelled, “I wanna snuggle mama!” Which is what Benaiah does when I try to put him down for a nap. He’s pretty smart for a 2 year old.. which is a big reason why I’m losing this game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?”
So I was trying to fall back asleep. Anxious. Irritated to lose even more sleep while he was peacefully lying in his crib storing up energy for our battle later this afternoon. And then Jesus.
ed80e7ca26e83058609ed391fce9c573
Jesus reminds me I don’t have to do it alone. When I’m drained he’s not surprised or disappointed that I can’t. He invites me to sit closer, He draws me closer. He says You can’t do it alone but you don’t have to. He offers me strength and rest.
At that point I started thinking about rice chex (I am pregnant after all). So when I can’t sleep I eventually get hungry and crave rice chex. I check my email over a bowl of cereal… Day 6 of 40 days of prayer and fasting for Cru staff (confession: I’m not fasting). I have a verse from Cru delivered to my inbox. I’ve read it 100 times before but tonight is different.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in hear
t, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
My heart races.
Rest for your souls.
Rest for my soul.
 
And the tears fall. Jesus knows that’s what I need and He allowed it to reach my inbox at just the right time. It’s not just that my body is tired. My soul needs rest and the Bible tells us exactly where to get it. Jesus is the answer. He understands. He offers. He waits. He loves. He invites.
 
We can’t pour into others without resting in Jesus first. You might not be wrestling a toddler (yet) but you probably have a different “bat” in your life. Is there an area where you feel like you can’t keep up? You’re striving. You’re tired. You’re over it. You can’t win this battle on your own. Rest in Jesus. Tell Him. Tell Him when you doubt He’s even real and you’re not sure He still sees you. Tell Him what’s going on and ask for rest for your soul. It will come.
Because you are fully seen and you are fully loved.

NO IFS, ANDS, or BUTS//Victoria//CNU

Do you use “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” when praying? I do. I may not directly say it, but the underlying meaning is there.

If you can, please grant me ____”

If you could give me ___”

If you can help me overcome  ___”

Mark 9:14-29 is the story of how Jesus miraculously heals a boy that’s been possessed his entire life by an evil spirit. The spirit has thrown him into fire and water in attempts to destroy the boy’s body. The disciples were unable to heal him, so the father of the boy turned to Jesus, and asked:

  1. 22-23 “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”

Jesus’ response was “ ‘If you can’. Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Jesus basically responded, as if to remind this boy’s father, “there is no if about my power or if concerning my willingness”. “If” implies doubt; which means lacking faith or not believing.

It’s not a question of God’s ability but a question of our belief.

Instead of ‘if you (God) can do anything’ it should be ‘everything is possible if you (we) believe’.

How can I have such small faith, when I know that He has the perfect track record?

Time and time again, we forget how faithful God has been and how attuned He is to our hearts. During trials, valleys, mountains, joys, pains, sorrows… just life, why do we forget?

We forget because we get distracted by minor things.

Oh but how quickly we can refocus, with a simple humble prayer.

  1. 24 “…Help me overcome my unbelief!”

The boy’s father spoke this prayer, asking Jesus to help him to have a stronger faith. Instantly, Jesus spoke, and the evil spirit shrieked and fled his presence.

God is able. He both can and will. How does this change our prayers? Or the way we view God?

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,

forever and ever! Amen.

Read that again.

“…immeasurably more…” : Not just more, because that’s measurable. So much more that it’s off the charts! There’s no measurement. (my little brain doesn’t understand this, and that’s okay)

“…more than we ask or imagine…” : What He does will exceed what we imagine or hope. He will continually provide in more creative ways than we can imagine; after all, He is The Creator.

God will always be able. He will do immeasurably more than we could hope for, or what our brain is capable of understanding. He will exceed our imagination, and will likely answer prayers differently than we ask them.

God’s able.

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.

I still believe

You’re the same yesterday, today, and forever

I still believe

I still believe your blood is still sufficient for me

-Kim Walker-Smith, Still Believe

{great song, look it up}

thetaylorfamilysession-11

 

Hello! I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying the beginnings of Fall! My name is Victoria Taylor. I’m a senior at Christopher Newport University, and I plan to graduate in the spring. I patiently anticipate May, as I will graduate, celebrate my 22nd birthday, and become a Mrs. all in just 1 week! God has given me a passion for medicine and healthcare, so I’m currently applying to Occupational Therapy schools while planning our wedding. I am experiencing many new joys right now, but I am also praying and watching my trust in the Lord grow. Thank you for reading this! I hope it brings as much peace to you as it does me.

 

Still Learning To Trust Him//Cynthia Thomeer

A year ago this week, I had an incredible experience that filled me with terror and perfect peace at the same time. God’s presence throughout and His perfect love cast out the fear that seemed to be unavoidable. When I look back at it now, I’m filled with awe and gratitude for how He communed with me through His Word and His people. I had just finished a year of treatments for breast cancer that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Then, I was told that the breast cancer had spread to my brain. As I prepared to begin treatments for this new diagnosis, I had the privilege to share during the women’s time at the Tidewater RVA Fall Retreat. It was such a gift! Besides the tremendous blessing of spending a little bit of time with these wonderful women, the week I was able to spend meditating, reminiscing and communing with God was the most blessed week of my life. Amidst the chaos in my mind and emotions, He came in and calmed me in the deepest way. I knew that I should be terrified; I could see the fear on the faces of my loved ones and hear it in their voices. We looked at the statistics for my diagnosis and it was not good. That I am here right now and doing so well is not what we expected. As I thought about what to share with you here, I was drawn back to something that God has been teaching me for many years: to trust Him. It sounds so simple and, really, it is. But I have found that when everything is going well, I don’t tend to trust Him. I find ways to take care of everything, either by myself or, more frequently, with the help of others; and, honestly, most of the time, it works out pretty well. After all, if it didn’t work out so well, we wouldn’t keep trying to do it all on our own. God used my experience last year to show me that I am not able to take care of any of it, no matter how big or small. This thing was just too big and too out of my control. The “big” thing was the radiosurgery I had on my brain, but the sweetest thing was the week He gave me with Him. God reminded me of  His faithful and steadfast love and that He would never leave nor forsake me. He has used a passage in Jeremiah to remind me that He is the only one who is worthy of our trust. I want to share that passage with you and a little bit of what it meant to me specifically during this time a year ago.

Here is an excerpt from my Caring Bridge post right after my first cyber knife treatment (if you’re not familiar with radiosurgery, google it — it’s pretty cool!):

My first radiosurgery treatment is behind me now and I am so glad! It turned out to be fairly easy, so I trust that my treatments on Monday & Tuesday will be, as well. I laid on a skinny, but comfy table for about 1 1/2 hours with a plastic mesh mask over my face that was attached to the table. As soon as it was buckled down, I felt pressure on my head and that remained throughout the time; just a little reminder that, “No, Cynthia, you can’t sit up or even move your head, so don’t even think about it.” With my claustrophobia this should’ve been terrifying, but God kept me calm and it was actually a fairly pleasant experience. . . On Tuesday of this week, I was feeling scared all day; just thinking about the procedure and all that could go wrong (I don’t even know all that could go wrong, but my mind is pretty good at making stuff up). I was focusing on the humans who would be doing the treatment . . .

cynthia

 The next day, God began to remind me that He was going to be the one in charge of all of it, not the humans, they are His instruments, not the other way around. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to feel a little excited about getting it done (I also tend to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, at times), so by the time I went in today, I was feeling pretty fine about it all . . . A passage that the Lord has used for me in the past came to me today and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will be something that God will use for you in your current circumstances or to prepare you for what’s to come. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and was told by God that he needed to give them a warning they wouldn’t heed, they would reject him (Jeremiah and God), but that God would deliver him; not an entirely pleasant thing for Jeremiah to hear, nor task to be given, but Jeremiah obeyed. In this passage, God reminds him and us in whom we can place our trust:

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

At first glance, it can hit you wrong; we all have people in our lives who we trust and we don’t like to think that there’s even a possibility that they could let us down. But this truth is that we all have that in us, the inability to be trustworthy at times, because we’re human and the sin nature is still in us telling us that we are self-reliant and don’t need God. So, the strong word of “curse” here is definitely appropriate in the sense that no person is worthy of our full trust; only God is and, truly, blessed is the one who puts his trust in the only One who is worthy and able to carry out the promises He has made. This is the truth that I carried with me today into that room with the skinny table and apparatus that shot radiation beams into my head that were so strong that the humans administering them had to stand on the other side of a very thick door. And on that, I could not let myself dwell; my focus was, and is, on my Father who loves me unconditionally and so much that nothing can separate me from that love, even me. I hope that you are able to hear and apply this truth to whatever is going on in your life right now, whether it be something difficult or joyful. Often, the joyful things do a bigger job of drawing us into our own self reliance, so I pray that we will all be aware of where and in Whom we are placing our trust. Only He is worthy!

I’m thrilled to report that God used these treatments to knock out the three tumors! I have had three clear brain scans in the past year. I’ll have a brain scan every three months, most likely, from now on. I am so thankful that God is still reminding me that I can trust Him, no matter what comes.

 

cynthia2

 

I am a big supporter of CRU, especially Tidewater RVA CRU! I love seeing God’s love displayed through college students as they are faced with huge challenges and I want to offer encouragement. My husband, Paul, and I live in Yorktown; we have 4 grown children, a son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing all kinds of tasks at home, everything from sermons to true crime stories. I have found that there are not enough hours in the day for me to hear all of the ones I am interested in and that is very sad.