Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Refiner's Fire

I recently was a reading a book and one of the questions asked was "What is my duty before the God who loves me?" This took me a while to figure out but I realized that I need to love people more and fear them less. I am easily intimidated by others and I tend to make people bigger than God. It's taken me some time, but I can now see that God is the one I need to look to for fulfilling my needs. I was created in His image and to image God means I must represent Him for His glory. I need to be like Him in every way.

For a long time, I had been relying on people to fill my cup of "need". I believed that I needed them to fill me with encouragement, love, support and friendship to make me feel good about myself. No where in the Bible does it say that I need to receive love so I can feel better about me. I was desiring these things not for God's glory but for my own pleasure. Jesus needed to break my cup of needs rather than allow it to be filled. Those needs had been growing and I was seeking people to fill them and consequently, I wasn't asking God to fill me up. Little did I know that I was about to enter the Refiner's fire. Through a series of events, I realized how unhealthy that was and in the process, God brought me to a place of brokenness and pain. A pain that reached my core and I can now see how that pain was His refining fire.

A refiner's fire does not destroy or consume, rather it refines and purifies. It melts down the metals, separates the impurities and leaves the silver and gold together. God is the refiner, the fire that purifies me. But, it is still a fire- hot, fearful and painful and although it comes at a cost it also has wonderful hope. 

I am tested because God loves me and when trials come my way, I know that I am being refined in Christ and I need to trust in Him. Through it all my character is being developed and I have hope of my salvation and I will not be disappointed in His love for me.

So what is it like in the the Refiner's fire? Honestly, it hurt. A lot. Over the past five months I have cried many tears, asked many unanswered questions and spent many hours asking God why. But as I've come through this fire and I continue on the path of following Jesus, I know that if there is no pain, there is no gain. I have learned to lean on the steadfast faithfulness and love of my Father as I trusted Him to carry me through. I've also realized that I "need people in my life in order to accomplish God's purposes so that I can reflect his glory" (Welch, 164). If I continued to think that I had this "cup" that needed to be filled so I could be happy, I wouldn't be able to fully be showered in God's love for me. The path of His love is not easy or without suffering but it will leave me overflowing - my cup that He fills cannot begin to contain all that He has for me.

I am now a stronger person, a little more confident in myself and am working at loving people more than I am needing them to fill me. I can look back and thank God for the lessons I have learned and I will continue to walk in His path. I also know that there will be many more fires to walk through in my life because God isn't finished purifying me yet. I need to be continually refined because I will always have impurities that need working on but God is good and I know He has wonderful plans for my life.

So back to the first question of "what is my duty before God?" It is to love people as God loves me. To show them grace and mercy as my Father has shown me grace and mercy. To show them the love of Jesus through me. I can see that the way that I need others in my life is different. I need them so that I can glorify God. To be taught and counseled, to ask me the hard questions and for me to do the same for them. His word encourages us to love God and love other people and that's what I am striving for.


Monday, February 1, 2016

40 Years Old

I have been waiting for this birthday for quite some time. I'm not sure if I think something great and wonderful will happen or what, but I'm really excited for this one. So, I've decided to do a post listing 40 things which you may or may not know about me. Feel free to ask me about any of them if you'd like!
  1. I am the oldest of four kids in my family.
  2. Princess Stephanie of Monaco shares my birthday. Odd little fact but I've known it for years.
  3. I met, dated and married my first boyfriend. He's a pretty awesome guy!
  4. I do not eat eggs, nuts or onions. I do eat peanut butter and french toast.
  5. I am the mom to four kids on earth and three in Heaven.
  6. Even though I am the oldest, I am also the shortest of my siblings. Why or how I received no "tall" genetics is beyond me.
  7. I love yellow roses. Or white roses.
  8. Summer is my preferred season- I barely put up with winter.
  9. I have been alcohol and caffeine free for 16 months.
  10. The above is because I have a few heart issues that I'm keeping an eye on.
  11. I have never lived outside of Spruce Grove and I have moved five times in my life.
  12. Up until 2.5 years ago, I had attended the same church since I was 2.
  13. I had no idea I would love a little country church as much as I do. The family-type community spirit that I feel there makes Sunday a very important day of the week for me.
  14. I didn't know how much God could change me once I was really ready.
  15. My oldest two kids are 16 months apart and the girls are all four years apart.
  16. I am the wife of an amazing, hard working man, which allows me to live my dream of being a stay at home mom and homemaker.
  17. My mom died when I was 23 and my newborn baby was only 9 weeks old. Her passing was an event that changed my life in many different ways.
  18. I love to eat chicken. Plain, in a sauce, on pizza, in salad... any way. I don't really like ice cream but if you offer me chocolate cheesecake, I won't say no.
  19. My name is Stephanie. NOT Steph or any other form of it. I will respond to a shortened form but I don't like it. At all. Doug, my sister and my dad all have another nickname that they use. But that's just for them.
  20. I can't jump. Please don't ask me to show you, just trust me.
  21. Other than Sarah, I am also the shortest in my family.
  22. I am the mom of a special needs daughter.
  23. I have always been a fan of the Royal family.
  24. Doug's parents have made wonderful in-laws. I am blessed.
  25. In the winter, our bed has fleece sheets. I'm so thankful my wonderful husband puts up with them for a few months of the year.
  26. I love to walk outside but I'm a fair-weathered walker- winter isn't for me.
  27. My hands and feet are almost always cold. (see #26)
  28. Since was young, there's always been a dog in our house. After our last one got sick with a brain tumor and we had to put her down a few years ago, I have no real desire to have another one for a very long time.
  29. I'm not very adventurous- I like things to be predictable.
  30. I love to spend time in the kitchen baking for my family or for others.
  31. The past six months have stretched and challenged my faith in ways I couldn't have imagined and I believe I am a stronger woman for it.
  32. I have a degree in Early Childhood but didn't really have a lot of time to use it since I became a mom fairly soon after we were married.
  33. I have home schooled our kids since 2005. I think that makes me a veteran now.
  34. I love books. Bookstores and libraries are my happy place. I need more bookshelves.
  35. I never drank coffee until I was pregnant with my second. Now, coffee is my favorite thing to drink. Decaffeinated of course with cream and sugar.
  36. I have read the Bible cover to cover once. I'm working on my second time through it now.
  37. Our family has gone to Alabama twice. In a motor home. I keep saying when we go back, I'd rather fly.
  38. I love people very deeply. This isn't always an easy thing but it is rewarding. I make close friendships and value and treasure them. I hurt when they hurt and rejoice when they do.
  39. Purple has always been one of my favorite colors. I don't wear it or anything like that- I just like the color of it. 
  40. I love my family with all my heart- I am doing it to the best of my ability and to glorify God in all I do!
I hope this next year (and beyond) is one that I can look back on and see how God has worked in my life. I want to strengthen and deepen my relationship with Jesus and I am excited to see what some of His plans for my life are.
 Psalm 139: 13-16
 13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

So, this is just a small list of things and people that make me who I am- wonderfully created by my Heavenly Father!


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