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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If You’re Having a Hard Day…

If You're Having a Hard Day...

Sometimes we have these REALLY good days… everything is going along well, things work out the way they’re supposed to, and all is fine with the world! But that is not a typical day, is it?

On most days we feel stressed, tired, frustrated, weak, overwhelmed, helpless, stretched… If you’re going through such a day today, I’d buy you a cup of coffee (or an ice cream)… I’d hold your hand, look into your eyes and tell you this…

You’re gonna be OK.

Take a deep breath. I know you feel suffocated, you feel like you’re drowning. But you’re not. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. It’s gonna be OK. It’s not the end of the world. YOU are gonna be OK.

God’s got this.

Open your eyes, sweetheart. Don’t you see? He’s got you engraved on His palm. He knows what you’re going through. He hears your cry. He sees your aching heart. You are the apple of His eye. How can He not take care of you? You feel it’s out of your control, but it’s not out of His.

You’ll get through today.

Maybe the tears won’t stop. Perhaps the pain won’t dull. But you’ll get through this. Jesus will lead you through this. Even if you don’t feel His hand holding yours, even if you don’t feel His embrace… He is there, and He’ll get you through today – one minute at a time.

You’ll feel better tomorrow.

You need a good night’s rest, or at least a nap. Your red-rimmed eyes need to close a while. You will feel better tomorrow. His mercies are brand new every day. His mercy will help you see tomorrow in a better light.

It won’t always be this way.

You think this pain will never end, this ache in your heart will never leave. It might not completely, but it will dull. It will subside with time. You won’t feel this way one year from today, one month from today, one week from today. Things will work out for you and you will have a better tomorrow.

In Christ you have hope. Don’t give up yet.

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A Peaceful 2014

peace-2014

Last year, I chose the word “Persevere” and selected 3 areas I wanted to persevere in: Prayer, Fitness & Home Management. Well, I totally bombed on all 3 fronts… but I did persevere through a lot of other trials that came my way. A new job and additional ministry responsibilities left me disoriented at times. But God gave me the strength to persevere, and the grace to end 2013 on a good note.

If I had to describe 2013 in one word, it would be “Full“! It’s no wonder that when it was time to brainstorm a word for the new year, words that appealed to me were: simple, slow, unhurried… you get the drift :).

And then I came across a blog post written about how a simple life may not be exactly be what God has in mind for us. It was written in the context of Christmas, but of course, the same principle applied to life in general.

Quoting Courtney of Women Living Well:

Is your calendar full from striving, serving or sacrifice? If it’s from striving – stop… But if it’s from serving and sacrifice – may God bless you.

One look at my work plans and our church calendar confirmed what I was already afraid of… 2014 was going to be another full year. But it would be full of serving and sacrifice – and that’s what God has called me to this year.

So, I then began a quest for a new word for the new year. One morning earlier this month, as I was completing my Good Morning Girls Advent Bible Study, {I was only about 10 days late! 🙂 } this verse stood out from my journal:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

…and I just knew it! I might face some mighty storms this year – a hectic schedule, numerous events, tight deadlines… but God has promised me one thing: His Peace.

And I cling on to His word, as a lifeline to take me through a year that I hope is not as tumultuous as the last. For He has promised:

“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed;
but my kindness shall not depart from thee,
neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed,
saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”

(Isaiah 54:10, Emphasis mine)

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Thankful for 2013!

Thankful for 2013!

I know, I know! This post is a week overdue… but I just had to share it sometime! 🙂

The last week of December 2013 was a good one. I had the week off work, and we were spending it away from home. It was a week filled with loud music, Christmas lights, an abundance of food, wedding festivities, meeting extended family, long journeys, the passing of a loved one…

We were back home on 31st morning so we could ring in the new year with our church family. I was so glad that the first words out of my mouth this year were praises to the Lord!

So, anyway… I spent a lot of time in God’s presence during the last week of December. Journal in hand, I spent my mornings talking to God and listening to Him while the rest of the family slept in. {Precious moments!}

I started writing down everything I was thankful to God for in the year 2013. It was a blissful time of looking back and being grateful for things such as:

  1. Our family’s health
  2. My husband’s ministry
  3. My ministry
  4. The kids’ education
  5. My work at Clothed In Scarlet
  6. Our finances
  7. Books I’ve read
  8. The strength to persevere
  9. Fellowship with friends
  10. Six years of being a wife and mother

… and a whole lot more I didn’t jot down. Sure there were tons of things that didn’t work out as I’d planned last year. Not everything was good, but I’m so glad our God has promised to work everything out for good!

As I sat recounting my blessings, I realized that it was my perspective that mattered. I could choose to be thankful for the good and the bad – and the bad might work out for good anyway!

I do not know how 2013 was for you. It might have been a great year… but perhaps it could have been better. No matter what you went through last year, it’s time to start afresh now… but not without the hope you have in Jesus.

It might be a smooth road ahead, it might be a rocky one… but be encouraged that God is with you. He has walked with you into 2014, and He will lead you right through it. Walk on in faith!

I pray 2014 is your best year yet!

Have a blessed year!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

Let’s seek Christ, not just this season, but every day of our lives. If you need a bit of musical inspiration, I encourage you to listen to the song, How Many Kings?

Here’s wishing you a blessed Christmas as you remember the love, joy, peace and hope you have in Christ!

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