Not By Might

Not by Might - Zechariah 4:6

2017 didn’t start out all that great for our family.

One of our sons had staples on his head (he’d injured his head on Christmas Day)…

All three boys were recovering from respiratory infection and a dose of antibiotics…

One of our car tires burst on the highway, while we were returning from church on New Year’s Day…

My husband was leaving back to Zurich in a week… and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spending the rest of the year alone with the boys.

I hoped and prayed that 2017 would be a better year for our family.

It was challenging at first, but God reinforced my faith and taught me to remain in Him.

Eventually, things did turn around for us.

The kids and I were permitted to join my husband in Zurich.

His work assignment ended sooner than expected.

We got to take our first real vacation as a family.

Now that we’re back home in India, I look back at the past year and wonder how we made it through. Each of us went through bitter struggles, as our family was separated by distance and time.

I certainly missed my husband. The kids felt the absence of their father. And my husband couldn’t completely savor his overseas assignment without his family beside him.

I could say we made it through by sheer will power, determination, our own strength and abilities… but that would be a lie.

It was the Lord who helped us every single day.

It wasn’t my planing…
I tried to plan our days efficiently, but when you have 3 young sons, things never go according to plan!

It wasn’t my strength…
Many evenings I’ve stood at the kitchen counter with barely enough strength to get dinner on the table.

It wasn’t my will power…
I can be a very determined person, but it all crumbled when we went through continuous seasons of sickness.

It was the Lord who planned our days (though I personally didn’t always like what He allowed).

It was the Lord who strengthened our bodies to endure the strain of everyday life.

It was the Lord who nourished the soul and spirit, so we didn’t buckle under pressure.

It was not by my might, nor by power, but by the Lord’s Spirit that we made it through.

It’s the Lord who bolstered our faith and kept us firm through sifting sands.

It’s the Lord who reunited our family and made the bond between us stronger than before.

It’s the Lord who taught us countless lessons through suffering that we might have never learnt otherwise.

And to Him, we give all the glory…

Thank you, Jesus!

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.” – Zechariah 4:6


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2017: The Year to Remain

2017: The Year to Remain

We’re 2 months and 10 days into the “new” year. The novelty of a fresh beginning has worn off, and so have many plans, goals and resolutions.

The one thing I wanted for 2017… was that it wouldn’t be a repeat of 2016. (Strange, I know!)

Last year was a roller-coaster ride that I didn’t quite enjoy at all. My husband was deputed overseas, the kids faced numerous health issues, and I honestly struggled on a daily basis.

For months I wrestled with God as desperate prayers remained unanswered. I’m ashamed to admit, at times I felt God was determined to make my life miserable.

But something beautiful did come out of all that brokenness and pain…

I drew closer to God than ever before.

When nobody else could help me, I realized it was God I truly needed.

The words, “Lord, I need you… Help me. I can’t do this without you…” became my constant refrain. Life did not magically become easier. But I did become more aware of God’s presence on a day to day basis, and my prayers transformed into a never ending conversation with Him.

Late last year, when I asked God what He wanted from me in 2017, He gave me the word “Remain”.

I had been busy striving hard, using every physical, emotional and spiritual muscle I possessed… but all God needed from me was to simply remain.

Remain in His presence…

Remain in His will for our family…

Remain in constant communion with Him…

Remain in His Word…

Remain steadfast in faith…

Remain His daughter…

Remain in His unending love for me.

My husband is still away at work, the boys are still a handful, and I still struggle to do it all.

But through it all, God’s been faithful.

His grace is always enough. His love is all we need.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5


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Free to Live

Free to Live

For the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into the habit of picking a word for each year.

My word for last year was Peace.

And the year before that, it was Persevere.

This year, I chose (or rather, God showed me) the word ‘Free’.

And the verse to guide me was:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

I was supposed to blog about this way back in January, but life happened and I let blogging slide :).

What I didn’t expect was the fight I had to put up in order to live free this year!

I always knew that Jesus had set me free. I was no longer bound by the chains that used to hold me. But I realized that I had allowed myself to come under the yoke again.

I was bound by stress, anxiety, fear, other people’s opinions, and so much more…

I spent the past three months, overcoming struggles I thought I had already overcome. I was fighting the same battles all over again.

You see, Jesus had already won the victory for me. Freedom was mine. But I was not walking in the freedom that Christ purchased for me on the cross.

I had to put to death some old habits, and put on some new ones.

I even wrote down some power words in my journal to remind myself of the freedom I had.

I’m sharing some of those words with you here, praying they empower you as well.

You are:

Free from sin.

Free from shame.

Free from guilt.

Free from anger.

Free from other’s opinions.

Free to live.

Free to give.

Free to worship.

Free to serve.

Free to be you.

Along with the freedom, comes responsibility. Christ set us free, so we may live lives that glorify Him. If we aren’t, our freedom serves no purpose.

When we don’t actively live for Christ, we allow old chains to bind us up again.

That isn’t a pleasant feeling, is it?

I hope you’ll join me in living free for God’s glory!


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2014: Year in Review

2014: Year in Review
The last couple of months in 2014 included a whirlwind of activities as is always the case. The kids’ exams, Christmas choir practices and a couple of weddings kept us on our toes. Now that the new year is upon us, I finally have time to reflect on the past year, and pray about what God wants from me in 2015.

If you’d like to review the past year as well, here are some questions to guide you.

1. What made you happy in 2014?

For me, it was seeing a picture of my husband leading the choir at a major conference. I was also simultaneously humbled and proud when one of our sons walked up on stage to collect his award for academic excellence. {I blogged about it here: Imperfect Parents; Perfect God}

2. What made you sad?

I didn’t like how my kids kept falling sick every month for the past 6 months. I also neglected the goals I set for myself and achieved only about 10% of them. {Pretty sad, eh?!}

3. What are you proud to have accomplished in 2014?

I’m glad I finally took the plunge and launched my own website in April. I’ve also made quite a bit of headway in reading through the Bible again.

2014, in review was a mixed bag. There were some important areas I neglected, some unexpected blessings and new ministry opportunities that have kept me clinging on to God with all my strength.

I chose “Peace” as my word for 2014, and boy did I need it! I didn’t always feel at peace when storms rocked my boat… but God kept reminding me that He was there with me, and He was going to carry me through.

As I tuck 2014 back into the recesses of my mind, I am grateful for the Prince of Peace who led our family safely through yet another year on this earth.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.

(Isaiah 26:3)

How was your 2014?

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Let. It. Go.

Let it go

I started this week with a heavy heart.

3 children I knew (one of them, my own) were going through 3 different struggles – physical, emotional and spiritual. My heart was burdened for them, and I did the only thing I possibly could – I prayed.

I went to sleep Sunday night very disturbed about what each of these little ones had to go through. And I woke up Monday morning with an even heavier heart.

The fact that I couldn’t do anything to help them only compounded my anxiety. I continued to pray, but my heart did not become any lighter.

As the day wore on, I was so consumed with thoughts of these children that it became exhausting. And then I heard it…

Let. It. Go.

I don’t always hear something very specifically from God, but there are times when He speaks so firmly into your spirit that you can’t deny it was Him.

This was one of those times.

That afternoon as I was pacing the footpath, waiting for the school bus to bring my boys back home, these 3 words took on a different meaning.

This wasn’t Elsa’s mantra, or a careless attitude. God seriously wanted me to let the kids go.

But why?

God reminded me that I was already praying for them; He held those precious children close to His bosom. He loved them more than I possibly could. He cared for them, and He could do for them what I personally could not.

Yes, I would continue to pray for them until my prayers are answered. But I would no longer worry about them.

I would offer to support them in any way I could, but I would not break my head over what I cannot do.

This whole episode taught me such a valuable lesson!

So often, we pray about situations that bother us but then continue to worry about them as well. Isn’t it sufficient that we’ve already placed our burden in the hands of an Almighty God? Why then do we constantly try to ease His load by holding on to the weight with our petite hands?

If we have truly surrendered our problems into His able hands, we should be able to rest and allow Him to do the impossible.

So, does that mean we do nothing?

Absolutely not!

We continue to pray…

We continue to do what God has asked us to do…

We continue to trust Him to work things out…

But we DO quit worrying!

Is there something burdening your heart today? Leave it in God’s hands, and then take your hands off!

Take a backseat, and let God steer you in the way He wants you to go!

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”
(Philippians 4:6)

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Remember Who Holds You!

Remember Who Holds You!

My husband is an avid lover of music. When a singer he loves hits a particular note, the expressions on his face are priceless. I often wonder what it would feel like to be so enthralled by music.

Well, just recently I heard a song that did the same to me. No, it wasn’t the music that touched me, although it is quite good. It was the words…

As I heard about the One whose arms held me, and whose voice called out to me, it made me feel loved, protected and truly cherished. I certainly hope it encourages you too, today.

The Arms that Hold the Universe

If you can’t view the video above, click here.

Lyrics:

I know it seems
Like this could be
The darkest day you’ve known
But believe you me
The God of strength
Will never let you go
He will overcome, I know

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

Through many dangers, toils and snares
You have already come
His grace has brought you safe this far
(And) His grace will lead you home

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

You can hope, you can rise, you can stand
He has still got the whole world in His hands
You can hope, you can rise, you can stand
He’s still got the whole world, the whole world in His hands

And the arms that hold the universe
Are holding you tonight
You can rest inside
It’s gonna be alright
And the voice that calmed the raging sea
Is calling you His child
So be still and know He’s in control
He will never let you go

He will never let you go!

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How do you greet God?

How do you greet God?

It was a Sunday night and the boys had just jumped into bed. My husband and I sat down beside them, so we could end the day together in prayer.

As Judah began to pray, we noticed that Jon was still reclining on his pillow. My husband asked him to sit up for prayer, but he was simply not in the mood to comply.

We took a few minutes to explain to Jon (and the others) why their stance during prayer matters. Here’s what we said.

“Imagine Grandma just walked in through the front door. What would you do?”

“We’d jump up, and run to her,” they said.

“Wouldn’t you hug her, and talk to her about everything that’s on your mind?”

“Yes!” they admitted.

“If you would do that for Grandma, won’t you do that for Jesus who loves you, and has done so much more for you?”

… I think they got the point!

And I think I got it too…

When we sit down for time alone with God, our physical stance does not matter as much as the state of our mind.

What is our attitude when we approach God’s throne of grace?

Do we approach the Master of the universe with reverential fear?

Do we run to our Father with overwhelming joy?

Do we get excited over what He’s teaching us from His Word?

Spending time with God everyday is not a mundane ritual, or a non-negotiable duty.

It is life-giving…

Hope-inducing…

Fear-abating…

Joy-filling…

Peace-stilling…

Clarity-producing…

…time alone with our Father, Master, Savior, Creator, Brother, Shepherd, Redeemer, and Friend.

I am blessed to know Jesus, and consider it a privilege to meet Him without any hassles on a daily basis.

I’m learning to greet my God with a cheerful attitude every morning.

How do you greet God?

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Thanking God in Sickness & in Health

Thanking God in Sickness & in Health

I remember stumbling upon a series of books by Merlin Carothers way back in my late teens. I devoured several books in the series, starting with my late grandmother’s copy of “Prison to Praise”. The essence of these books was how praise works, especially when we choose do it in the midst of a trying circumstance.

I’ve heard it said that we thank God for what He’s done, and praise Him for who He is. When we choose to praise God amid our difficulties, we reaffirm our faith in Him who will work it all out for our good and His glory.

When we went through an extended period of sickness last month, I tried to praise God and stand on His promises. Let me tell you, it was not easy. My affirmative prayers and words of praise quickly turned to desperation, pleading, and a whole lot of whining. I definitely was not a pleasant person to be with at that time!

Now that we’re all back to good health, I’ve been led to thank God for that period of sickness, and make note of what He has taught me through it all.

1. I’ve learnt to appreciate good health

I woke up with a sprained back today, and even the easiest task seems herculean right now. I needed help to roll out from bed, and the tiniest movement causes me immense pain. This (and our past sickness) made me realize how often I take a regular day for granted. Not anymore! I am grateful that the kids are not coughing, my husband is strong, and I am able.

2. I’ve learnt patience, endurance and selfless service

I’ve never been good with waiting, but sickness has taught me to patiently endure – whether I like it or not. There was little I could do, but wait till the infection subsided and the fever ran its course. But it wasn’t passive waiting either. A mother can’t remain passive when her family is suffering. Mopping up messes, changing soiled clothes, taking temperatures every hour, swabbing hot bodies, cajoling kids to take their meds, staying alert through the night… None of it was easy, but it had to be done.

Sometimes putting our families’ needs above our own comes naturally, but not always. It was a good experience for me to ignore my discomfort, and selflessly serve my family that needed me. True, I did not have the best attitude, but I’m learning to cheerfully give of myself (even when I don’t want to!). I have a feeling this is one lesson God will keep trying to teach me until I finally get it! 😉

3. I’ve learnt that God’s grace and strength are just enough.

Those who know me personally will attest that I am not a physically strong person. I can be very determined though, and that has helped me ease through physically tough seasons in the past. But my determination and will-power fizzled out within the first week of our sickness. I was completely drained out and on the verge of collapse. But God… He remained faithful. He gave me just enough grace and strength to make it through yet another day.

I would wake up every morning those 3 weeks, wishing that would be the day all our kids would finally be fever free. I would get up from bed, knowing I did not have the strength to make it through another grueling day. But God… He always held me up when I was ready drop down. And my husband (God bless him), always took over when he knew I needed a break.

It’s never easy when our kids fall sick, and it’s worse still when we fall sick along with them. But I am grateful for the generation we live in. We have easy access to good doctors and effective treatments, and the money to pay for it.

No matter how much we try to protect ourselves, as long as we are in this world, we will fall sick. We need to believe we are the apple of God’s eyes. He holds our families in the palm of His hands. He will strengthen us and watch over us, until we meet Him face to face in the land where there is no sickness or pain.

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He Never Lets Go

He Never Lets Go

A few years back, we were visiting my in-laws and decided to take a sight-seeing trip. One of our stops was the Mathur overhead canal. There is a very narrow bridge constructed beside the canal that we could walk on. The only issue was that it was over 100 feet off the ground!

I had visited this place a decade ago with my college buddies – then it was an adventure. This time with 3 toddlers in tow, I wasn’t so sure. My husband was excited, and so were the kids… So, off we went across the bridge.

I was so nervous that the kids would look over the edge or slip, that I grasped Jason’s hand as if his life depended on it. And perhaps it did. The other two sons were with my husband, so I knew they were safe. But with Jason, I was the overprotective mother – determined that nothing would happen to him while we crossed the bridge.

It wasn’t until we were entirely across the bridge, and on our way back down the steps that I relaxed my hold on him. I’m pretty sure his wrists must have turned a light shade of red from my firm grip :).

If I, a human mother could be so protective over her son, making sure no harm came to him… I wonder how much more our heavenly Father will hold on to us when we walk across trying times in our own lives.

It’s comforting to know that when we’re walking through sickness, grieving a loss, experiencing physical, emotional or financial stress… God never lets go.

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”

(Isaiah 41:10,13)

He will hold on to you while you cross the rocky bridge.

He will protect you in the valley of darkness.

His hand will never let you go.

And at the end of the journey, when you’re safely across, you will look at your pink wrists and thank God that He never let go!

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When Sickness Strikes

When Sickness Strikes

It’s been almost a month since I blogged, and with good reason. We had a severe viral infection at home which took our entire family out for a whole 3 weeks! To say it was overwhelming is an understatement.

When the kids started falling ill the first week, I chalked it up as a minor bump in the road. It then hit my husband and I, and things drove to a standstill at home. Just when we recovered from it, the kids went into another round of a more vicious illness and we were back to square one.

After several doctor visits, plenty of medication, and boatloads of prayer support from family and friends, we are all back on our feet and back in the land of the living!

But those 3 weeks… Man, it was tough.

The gloomy skies outside seemed an exact replica of my heart. I professed my faith in Christ and His healing power, but I felt no hope. There seemed to be no end to the sickness plaguing our family – no light at the end of the tunnel.

I tried counting my blessings…

  • My husband could work from home for a few days.
  • He was also able to take a few days off.
  • Despite their sickness, the kids were still cheerful.
  • My employer was very understanding.
  • We had a lot of loved ones backing us up in prayer.

But still, on most days I was running on empty.

I’ve always heard that God never gives us more than what we can handle. Well, guess what? He had given me more than I could handle, and I was drowning.

I had to rely purely on God for enough grace and strength to get me through each day. And He did not disappoint.

God comforted.

God healed.

God restored.

It was not easy.

It was not fast.

But God worked it out as He always does.

And for that, I’m grateful.

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