"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness..." 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blessing Out of Trial

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 11:30

God answered our prayers with two beautiful adopted children, twenty-one months apart, but parenting was far harder than I had ever imagined. We spent days on end in doctor’s offices, first one would get an ear infection, and then the other, then I would get a sinus infection. One never slept, night or day and wanted to be carried all of the time, while the other found mischief everywhere.
I was exhausted, sick, and disheartened. Finding time for a quiet time or Bible study often eluded me; though my Bible often stayed open on the kitchen counter, for quick peeks as I passed by. When I asked my mother why she had not told me how difficult it would be, she said I wouldn’t have believed her. Everyone has to experience it for themselves.
Life is often hard and answered prayers are not always what we think they will be. Difficulties are a part of life and no blessing comes completely without cost. God answers our prayers, but challenges our souls. He wastes no experience, but uses even small events to train us and with great blessings come great challenges. Our God wants us to look to Him in every season of life and realize our need. He is a great economist and nothing is wasted which might draw us closer to Him.
The pain of infertility was a blessing which brought me two of the greatest joys of my life. God uses our children to teach us great lessons. As our heavenly Father, God experiences pain when we must learn things the hard way also. He knows our pain, and therefore is our perfect help.
Joy and sorrows both are wasted if we gain nothing from them. We must learn to look for God in every situation of life. God is faithful no matter what our situation. He is there is the good times to rejoice with us, and there in the hard times to comfort and guide. His desire is to show us Himself and to draw us closer to Him.
Lord, help me not to miss you in the place where you have me today. In both blessing and trial, help me to see what glorifies you and what benefits me. Help me to do my part in never missing the lesson you are teaching, that I might more fully reflect you to those around me.

© Copyright 2012 by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman and www.normagail-2mefromhim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Finding Peace

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7

I was upset, hurt, and afraid. Every time I turned around I was being met with something else that sent up red flags, hints that told me things were not as they should be. I couldn’t concentrate, felt like crying, felt like nothing would ever be right. I felt hopeless, with no peace of mind and heart. I was in turmoil.
            I had done everything I could. My emotions were raw and my patience was exhausted. I felt miserable and in turn I made others miserable also. Praying was the only thing left, but it was the one thing which had the potential to settle me down and bring me peace.
            We are often guilty of saying, “There’s nothing to do but pray.” Far from being a statement of hopelessness, this statement is full of hope. It is full of truth. If I would learn to make it the first thing every time, my life would be better off and so would the lives of those around me. The one, single, most important thing we can do is to pray.
            Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing.” That speaks of a life of prayer, of praying being as natural as breathing, not something we do after calling all of our prayer partners and crying on their shoulders, and worrying ourselves half sick.
            If I was to take all the energy I put into worrying and use it praying, some marvelous things would happen. I have seen it happen before when I focused on keeping things in God’s perspective rather than my own.
            The one thing we crave when everything seems out of control is peace. We want to let things go and feel like they are being handled, that something positive is being done. Why then, do we put ourselves through such torture and upset? Why do we avoid the very thing which can give us hope?
            Dear Lord, help me to keep my priorities right, to keep things where I can see them from your perspective. Help me remember that only you have the power to make things right when I am helpless and hopeless. Only in you can I find peace. Father, help me remember to take things to you first, and leave them there. Only then will I experience the peace that passes all understanding. Thank you for always being my Prince of Peace.

© Copyright 2012 by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman and www.normagail-2mefromhim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Two Fathers

When I was very little and afraid of the storm,
My father would hold me, so I felt safe and warm.
Silly songs, funny stories, and wild games we would play—
The fun and his love chased the bad things away.
The lightning and thunder were never so bad
When I was held safe in the arms of my dad.

As I grew older and the problems grew more large,
The gentle, patients answers still came straight from his heart.
There was no more important thing he ever had to do
Than take time to show— the important thing was you.
He never gave anyone less than his best,
No matter what the need was, his commitment stood the test.

When lightning struck our house one night,
Shattering the darkness with its brilliant light—
Hobbling on crutches from a broken leg,
He soon had us laughing from the jokes that he made.
Once certain that all would soon be well—
He soon had another great story to tell.

Many things set my father apart,
Not the least of which was his great, loving heart.
People who came to my father in need
Always left knowing they had a friend indeed.
He did much to further the Father’s plan
By the generosity of his giant hands.

My father rose each morning to meet with his Lord.
He loved Him and served Him and cherished His word.
He was a man of great strength—yet gentle and kind
Because he loved the Lord Jesus with heart, soul, and mind.
He would say that if anything set him apart,
It was the presence of the Savior, who lived in his heart.

Then the lightning once again appeared,
Something all in the family but my father feared.
He, rather than seeing something to fear—
Said it showed the protection of God very clear.
For all in the house were both safe and sound
And only slight damage to the house was found.

As the years passed by, the family grew,
The son-in-laws came, and the grandchildren, too.
Each one he loved in a unique special way,
And faithfully, for each one, he daily would pray—
Upon our family, God’s blessings were poured,
Because each day my father spent time with his Lord.

It could have been just a regular day,
But our heavenly Father didn’t see it that way.
A man going fishing—just and ordinary man—
But our heavenly Father had another plan.
Ordinary things, when you live for the Lord,
Can often have bearing on eternal reward.

Once more, God’s lightning entered our lives,
And on fiery wings, bore my father home, through the skies.
The look on his face showed amazement, they said,
And confirmed for us all that he was not really dead.
He had gotten his first glimpse of his heavenly home,
And he knew that our Lord would not leave us alone.

The lessons that he taught us through the life that he lived;
And the Lord that he gave all the love he could give;
Are still here inside us—though he’s gone from our sight
Across that wide river— the River of Life.
He’s sitting there watching—he knows we will come;
And from his side, it really won’t be very long.

If we could just see—each event in our lives—
Is meant just to show us, God is loving and wise.
The traits that I loved in my father, you see,
Are all of the things God will be—just for me.
And so when I long for Daddy’s face—just to see,
I’ll look up to heaven—where two fathers wait for me.

Written June 14, 1996.  In loving memory of my daddy, Lyle E. Thurston, who died when he was struck by lightning while fly-fishing on the San Juan River, in the “Quality Waters” below Navajo Dam near Farmington, New Mexico on September 29, 1995.

  © Copyright 2012 by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman and www.normagail-2mefromhim.blogspot.com. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grieving in Hope

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope…we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13,17b, 18
My mother walked in from shopping with a friend to find out my father was dead.
My parents were visiting some dear friends. The women went shopping while the men went fishing on their favorite stretch of river. My mother’s life, as she had known it for 42 years, ended in a split second when they returned from shopping and the son of her friends explained that my father had died. Their plans for trips, a cabin, and retirement time together, were exchanged for a life of learning how to go on alone.
She has become a source of strength and inspiration to everyone who knows her. My dad told her that if something ever happened to him, she must go on and live her life doing the things they would have done, not sitting around mourning his loss. The other reason is her deep and unfailing reliance on God, and her acceptance of His sovereignty and loving wisdom.
She has led Bible studies, been to Israel and Hawaii, bought a cabin at age 75, been an involved grandma to her eight grandchildren, and served as an encourager, to her four daughters, and countless friends. Her season of grief has become a life of loving service to others.
Death is a part of life. As Christians, we are not to give up and sit on the sidelines feeling sad and alone. Loss should move us closer to the Lord, causing us to seek Him with more diligence, and to live to the fullest. God does not want grief and loss to paralyze us. Every experience in life is meant to grow us and allow us to touch the lives of others in new ways with His love and hope. Holding onto pain makes us useless. Releasing that pain to God enables us to comfort and aid others in need.
At my mom’s insistence, we wrote the Bible verse at the top of this page in the thank you notes. Yes, we grieve, but our grief must have the inseparable component of hope, the certainty that as believers we will see our loved ones again. Unlike my dad, if your loved one was an unbeliever, you must be able to leave their fate to God in faith and trust.
For the Christian, out of grief should spring hope, and out of hope springs abundant life.

© Copyright 2012 by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Father's Reward

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3

            I thought I new my father well. After his death stories began coming to us in cards and letters, often in person, of things he had done that even my mother knew nothing about.
His generosity was described well by a dear friend of many years, when he wrote a story which none of us had ever heard, in spite of the closeness of our families. They told us about a time over thirty years before, when the wife had all of her Christmas money, an amount equal to her husband’s weekly paycheck, stolen. She told my mother of the problem. There would now be no Christmas for their sons.
As they discussed what to do about their problem, the door bell rang. There stood my father, his trademark smile lighting up his face, a check in his hand. The amount of the check was equal to what they had lost. He ignored their protests, saying he wanted their boys to have a good Christmas.
My mother was the most surprised by the story. She said at that point in time they had little money to spare and she knows my father never told her what he had done.
Often we hear of someone’s loss and have it within our means to remedy the situation, and do nothing. We hate to put ourselves in financial peril, so we say we’re sorry and go our way. That was not my father’s way. If he was capable of helping someone he did it, and almost seventeen years later, we still hear the stories.
Our good deeds are to be done in such a way that no one knows except for God and recipient. If we want worldly accolades, then that will be our only reward. God’s desire is for us to do as He prompts, trust Him for our needs, and do what we can to supply the needs of others, saying nothing to anyone.
Perhaps you know of someone in need now. Too often we are willing to give at Christmastime, but don’t show the same love and charity the rest of the year.
Ask God to show you how He might use you to fulfill someone’s need. Then do it right away, and without making a public display of your act. Trust God to reward you in the way He sees fit. He never fails.

© Copyright 2012 by Norma Gail Thurston Holtman. All Rights Reserved.