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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What Defines You?

What Defines You?

We began the much anticipated #YouAreLoved Bible study at Good Morning Girls this week. Apart from the daily readings, there are also weekly challenges we are encouraged to participate it.

The Week 1 Challenge was this…

#YouAreLoved Week 1 Challenge

I really thought I would pass up on this challenge. I mean, it seemed pretty pointless. I’ve known about God’s love for as long as I can remember. And I’ve been actively growing in Christ for more than a decade. I already knew who I was in Christ!

{That, my friend, is spiritual pride. What a blow!}

Anyway, I thought I’d just do the challenge in my mind, but was persuaded to give it a proper shot. And boy, am I glad I did!

I took a clean sheet of paper and started listing down my failures, my insecurities, my weaknesses…

As I wrote,  my throat constricted… my heart became heavy as I thought of all the things that were defining me.

Mistakes I had made…

Words that had hurt me…

Experiences that had left behind scars…

As I filled up that page, I realized I had subconsciously allowed a lot of negative things to define me. But it didn’t have to be that way.

I wrote in bold words across the page, “Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.”

I took a deep breath and tore the paper to bits!

Oh the freedom I experienced!

It is one thing to know you are free… but to physically do this was so very powerful.

I had a spring in my step as I walked over to the dustbin and threw the pieces of paper inside.

I am not defined by my failures, the past, words that have hurt me, or people who have let me down.

And guess what? Neither are you!

You are not defined by your past mistakes, the insults hurled at you, the abuse you’ve endured or what others think of you.

You are defined by who you are in Christ… and in Christ you are a conqueror!

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

I want to urge you to take up this challenge today. Don’t put it off for tomorrow… it only takes a few minutes. And the end result is well worth it!

Have a blessed day, fellow conqueror!

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Did You Experience a God Sighting Today?

Did you experience a God sighting today?

It’s VBS week in our church, and we’ve finally been able to enroll our kids in the VBS. While we do have to spend half the day there with them, it’s well worth it to see them learning about God’s love with loads of games and activities. And to top it all, it’s sharpening their social skills too!

Well, one thing that caught my attention was a tit-bit on God sightings. A God sighting is, as I learnt, something that is undeniably God’s handiwork.

The beauty of nature.

An answered prayer.

A personal encounter with God.

An unexpected miracle.

A God-orchestrated coincidence.

The VBS volunteers encouraged the kids to write down their God sightings and stick it on a poster board. And wouldn’t you know it… by the end of the first day, the entire board was covered with stickers! And the number of God sightings only increased on the second and third day, as more kids looked out for them.

This made me wonder… how often do we recognize God’s handiwork in our lives? I started counting my blessings, so I wouldn’t miss out on the simple things I’m grateful for… but so many more slip through my mind before I can jot them down.

I want to encourage you today… keep your eyes open for a God sighting. And when you do… you’ll start seeing God’s hand even in the midst of your everyday mundane.

Did you experience a God sighting today?

Write it down… Share it with us…

And keep adding to it as the days go by.

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J.O.Y.

J.O.Y.

I don’t remember where I heard it first… this full-form of J.O.Y.

J – Jesus First
O – Others Next
Y – Yourself Last

I spent years moving loved ones (and beloved things) down my list, giving God His rightful place in my life. You ask me to name my top 3 priorities, and I will say without hesitation – Jesus, my husband, my kids.

When it comes to marriage and parenting, yes, you should consider your family’s needs above your own. You die to yourself, give up your wants, sacrifice your desires, to satisfy the needs of your husband or kids.

You might:

  • Get up early and make a cup of coffee for your husband when you really want to sleep in.
  • Give up your portion of the chocolate cake for the kids.
  • Make do without a new outfit, so the kids can have something they like.

But I have since learnt that there is a flip side to this. Putting others’ needs above your own could be detrimental to your sanity at times. At some point, you will have to give yourself some attention lest you get dejected. A friend was telling me the other day, how she mothers better when she takes some time to pamper herself. While it may not always be possible, it’s worth trying to carve out a little time for yourself.

Have you heard the analogy of an oxygen mask in an aeroplane? If there is a disturbance, the stewards instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first, before you help someone else with theirs. You’ll be of no help if you’re passed out for lack of oxygen.

Unless you take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of everyone else in your family. You need to take timely breaks in your day/week/month/year to relax and refresh your body, mind and spirit.

Sleep in once a week.

Quiet your soul with prayer.

Go for a walk.

Read a book.

Eat some ice-cream! 😉

Let Jesus be first in your life, your husband and kids next, but take time to do whatever makes you happy once in a while.

Oh and in other facets of your life… please put yourself above others. All the more if you veer on the side of people-pleasing and obsessing about what others may think! Yes, your extended relationships, career and ministry are important – but they are not as important as you are… especially because your family is counting on you!

So, jot down a list of things you like to do… and carve out some time to actually do some of them!

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10 Years From Today

10 Years From Today

The kids are done with their school year. It’s the end of Kindergarten and come June, we’ll be entering a new phase in their schooling. With the boys at home for their summer vacation, I won’t deny that it’s been a struggle. I’m used to having a couple of hours of quiet around the home… but with them at home, asking for peace and quiet is akin to asking for the moon! 🙂

However, I truly am grateful they’ll be at home for the next two months. And God has been impressing on my heart to make the most of this time – to love them, spend more time with them, connect with them, and teach them some good habits. I don’t know if I will have this time with them as they grow older.

Well anyway, I did a simple exercise that has really helped me be more intentional with my life. And I thought I’d share it with you today. I asked myself 3 simple questions…

What will my life be like 10 years from today?

  • My husband and I will be in our forties.
  • We would’ve been married almost 17 years!
  • The boys will be 16!

What do I WANT my life to look like then?

  • I’d like to have grown in faith, and reached more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • I’d like my marriage to have blossomed over the years – in love and understanding.
  • I’d like my boys to have a personal relationship with God and serve Him passionately.
  • I’d like to be healthy and able to care for my family.
  • I’d like to be writing on a blog I own.

What can I do NOW to accomplish that?

  • I can spend more time learning from the Bible, praying and serving in our local church.
  • I can love and respect my husband, and serve him wholeheartedly.
  • I can lead my sons to Christ, sharing with them all that He’s done for us.
  • I can make good food choices and exercise regularly.
  • I can create and design my own blog from scratch.

Going through these questions has helped me clarify the path I’d like to travel over the next 10 years. Most people talk about a 5 year plan, but I’ve found a 10 year plan to be more effective. Of course, I haven’t taken into consideration how God might mess up my plans for my good and His glory. That could always happen, and I’m game for that! 😉

So, have you thought about how you’d like your life to look like 10 years from today? I encourage you to answer the three questions above, and write down what you can do now to accomplish that.

Wishing you God’s best,
Sheena

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Just Say, “Jesus”!

When things happen that leave us overwhelmed and gasping for air, what do we do? We try to think of our options, do something to make it better, mutter a prayer, think some more, worry a lot more, whisper another prayer…

As I was reading Unglued, there was a section that stood out for me. It’s where the author writes about the effect of calling on Jesus. A lady had just received word that her grandbabies had died in a fire, and she had collapsed because couldn’t breathe.

This is an excerpt from the book:

“As my friend Beth began to pray, I noticed something miraculous. Every time she said “Jesus,” the woman’s body relaxed, her crying slowed, and her breathing eased. So, when it was my turn to pray again, I just said His name over and over and over. This sweet grandmother joined me, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” As we continued to repeat the name of Jesus, we felt an outpouring of power beyond what we were capable of mustering up on our own.

The Bible teaches that there is power and protection in the Lord’s name (John 17:11). I saw that power. I experienced it. And I won’t soon forget it. The human soul is designed to recognize and respond to the calm assurance of Jesus. When I am in an unglued place, I can invite a power beyond my own into the situation by simply speaking His name. I don’t have to know what to do. I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to remember everything I learned in Bible study last week. I just have to remember one thing, one name — Jesus.”

Did you get the last part? When we’re faced with a situation out of our control, we just need to remember one name – JESUS!

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee…” 
(Jeremiah 33:3)

You see, I’ve heard the name of Jesus being used as a mantra, as a curse, as some kind of magic spell, and even for no particular reason. All this made me decide that I would never ever take the name of Jesus in vain. What I didn’t realize was that I had the liberty to CALL on Jesus, which I was failing to use.

A few days after I had read the passage quoted above, we were on our way to church, when this song came on.

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

Lyrics:

Life gets tough, and times get hard
It’s hard to find the truth in all the lies

If you’re tired of wondering why
Your heart isn’t healing
And nothing feels like home
Cause you’re lost and alone just screaming at the sky

When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There is power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words won’t come
Cause you’re to afraid to pray
Just say Jesus

Whisper it now, or shout it out
However it comes out, He hears your cry
Out of nowhere He will come, you got to believe it
He will rescue you
Just call out to the Way, The Truth, The Light

When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There is power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words won’t come
Cause you’re to afraid to pray
There is just one name
Strong enough to save
There is just one name
There is just one name
Jesus

When you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus
There’s still power in the name
The name of Jesus
If the words wont come
Cause you’re to afraid to pray
If the words wont come
And you don’t know what to say
Just say Jesus

If you are facing a situation where you are so choked up that you cannot think or even pray, all you have to do is just say “Jesus”. Sometimes, a word is all we have to offer Him, but He knows every emotion that is contained in that word. And when that word is the name of the Word Himself, we know He hears and He will answer.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
(Romans 10:13)

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