Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Most Important Thing I Learned While Hunting in November 2013

"November is usually such a disagreeable month . . . as if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully . . . just like a stately old lady who know she can be charming even with grey hair and wrinkles. We've had lovely days and delicious twilights." 
~L.M. Montgomery, 'Anne of Avonlea'





She was nearly silenced.

Left without words to offer.

Stormed in with only a whisper.

Barely breathing in grace.

As the sun and moon took their turns in the November sky she could only keep hunting in the storms.

Groping her way to shelter.

Searching for refuge.

Gracefully bending under burdens.



Day after day, weak ones begged for intercession.

Storm after storm, weary ones cried out for sanctuary.

Battle after battle, warriors appealed for peace.

She tuned in for a song to be somewhere in the suffering.

She watched for joy to come in the mourning.

She waited for worship to follow the weeping.





She shook her head at the things that could silence her.

How the exhausting days, an off-handed comment, relentless struggles, winds of life whipping her in the face, darkest nights, and the depravity of her own soul could leave her hushed, scared, unsure of setting one foot in front of the other.

Her default, to wrap herself in fear instead of walking in faith, threatened to deride her.

But she had set out to hunt and although it looked different then she anticipated, in hunting, she opened her hand to God's grace, steadfast love and never-ending mercies, she released her grip on fear and she found refuge in the present suffering by seeing it in light of God's eternal promises.



Yes, tears fall in the tiring days.

Yes, strength fails in the storms of life.

Yes, disease and death do sting.

But as prayers are on the lips of the saints, the God who bottles our tears also gathers our prayers in golden bowls.

As our weeping endures for the moment, we know the victory has been won, the Messiah has come in mortal flesh as a babe, conquered all sin and death as the God-man, so our prayers will be worship to the One who sits on the Throne.

As our suffering must be seen in light of God's eternal promises, so our prayers will be made sweet incense when the worthy Lamb, who suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, opens the book and loosens the seals.

This is the thing with bottled tears and bowls of prayers:

God turns our wailing into dancing and our prayer into worship because, "behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered" and we will weep no more.







When the world screams no God she yearns for more God.

So she set out in an earnest search and called this month 'Morevember'.

And she found that this hunting was just what she needed.

To open her eyes to see,

to open her hands to grasp,

to open her heart to hear.





So even when she was dumb she was not without a hope.

When her tears fell, she believed there would be a turning to joy.

When prayers faltered on her lips, she presented only groanings and was confident the Spirit would plead on her behalf.

With bold supplication she surrendered, knew her own weakness and found refuge.



November grew old, and now passes on with a white gleaming crown.

And the one who was silenced, now she silences the nay-sayers with a charm of her own.

She gives thanks for the delicious twilights and the sunrise after the storm.

For the Son in the midst of the storm.

For the Rock who is her Refuge.

She finds her song in the suffering.

Her hope in the hurting.

Her joy in the world.

In Him. More of Him.

In His presence. His goodness. His love.

November wanted to fill her right to the deepest marrow with melancholy.

But in the hunting, her ears were ripened to His music. His mercy. His grace.

In the silence her heart heard His song.

"The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."


Emmanuel has come.

In the morning we wait for fullness of joy.

God with us.


***



I invite you to never stop hunting along with me for more of His mercy and grace  and steadfast love to see more of Him in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.




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Linking with Emily. What have you learned this month? Please share.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Way to Endure Present Suffering ~ See the Promises of God for Eternity {#Morevember}

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time 
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Romans 8:18




Email subscribers view Randy Alcorn's message:

C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering here.)


***


Hunting for more of God's Grace,Steadfast love and His Mercies that are new every morning in 'Morevember'.

3 gifts ugly-beautiful:
~fighting through a storm and finding safety
~present sufferings and comfort in eternal glory


I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   


Friday, November 22, 2013

"I'll Fly Away" on A Friday Morning {#Morevember}


I wake with the words of this hymn on my mind.


"I'll fly away, oh glory
I'll fly away
When I die, Hallelujah
By and by, I'll fly away.

Some bright morning
When this life is over, I'll fly away
To a land on
God's celestial shore, I'll fly away.


When the shadows
Of this life have grown, I'll fly away
Like a bird from
These prison walls, I'll fly, I'll fly away."



I've been fighting a weight of darkness. Swimming upstream in a torrent of emotions, with joy set before me, considering Him who endured, that I may not grow fainthearted.

You know that saying that goes something like, "Don't be so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good." I don't know who said it or what he/she thought she was saying, but somehow the saying stuck. The problem is, it's not true. I grow fainthearted when I am not heavenly minded; when I do not have my mind set on things above.

How on earth do you suppose that you could be too heavenly minded? Why not long for the day that John tells us about when he got a sneak peak behind a door standing open in heaven? Why not linger on the hope that I will meet our Saviour face to face, dwell with Him in perfect unity, to sit at His feet, fall down before Him, singing a new song? 

Sickness has a way of giving you a more heavenly perspective. 

The specialist shared his most educated guess that I'd have about two years for my severely narrowed aortic valve to hold up, but he doesn't really know. It could be less time or more. I'll just need to keep toughing it out and when I faint call him and he'll sit down with the surgeon again and see if anything could be done. It's not hopeful, but nothing can be down to reverse the damage, so we will keep pressing on. Maybe, pray for a miracle.

I leave the clinic on Monday thinking of the woman who reached out in faith, touched only the hem of Jesus's garment and was made well. Is my faith too small? 

Do I want to be made well?

Like Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

What's so bad about this heavenly longing?

It actually gives me a peace and an inexpressible joy as I endure various trials. It's the good news that gives hope, the accomplished work of Christ that the angels long to fully understand, and we, as believers, get to experience and believe, and rejoice with this unspeakable joy.

Now on Friday, a young woman, far too young for death to claim her according to human standards, was called home. 

She knows this joy fully now. A few weeks ago, she proclaimed these words of hope as she fought the cancer in her body. The words made an impact on me when I listened the first time weeks ago, but this morning as I watched again after a friend posted the news that she was now FREE, her words reverberated hope in deep crevices:

"We are never alone, and don't have to fear the unknown. I try to live day to day, as everyday as truly a blessing from God because you never know when God may want you to come home. I try to just live through each day and to praise Him for every breath I have because you never know when it will be your last."

As her story closes here on this earth, tears slip down my cheeks. When we pause to bow and praise God for this young woman we've never met and for calling her to Himself, and now home to Him, my little one bores her eyes into mine and asks why. 

I have no words, just this deep rumbling in my soul that whispers of the mingling of pain and joy, trials and trust, an unseeing love that only a heavenly mind would dare to cling to.




God at Work - Jacqueline Li from Harvest Bible Chapel York Region on Vimeo.
{email subscribers, please click here to watch this powerful testimony
of a young woman called Home today.}
***



I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   


***
Also linking with Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: Fly

Officially, the rules are:

Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {Full disclosure: I spent a little more time on this post}
2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Lay Hold of Things Unseen: Grace of Faith {#Morevember}


"Almighty God, who of Thine infinite wisdom hast ordained that I should live my life within these narrow bounds of time and circumstance, let me now go forth into the world with a brave and trustful heart. It has pleased Thee to withhold from me a perfect knowledge; therefore deny me not the grace of faith by which I may lay hold of things unseen. Thou has given me little power to mould things to my own desire; therefore use Thine own omnipotence to bring about Thy desires to pass within me. Thou hast willed it that through labour and pain I should walk the upward way; be Thou then my fellow traveller as I go. 
Let me face what Thou dost send with the strength Thou dost supply: 
When Thou prosperest my undertakings, let me give heed that Thy word may prosper in my heart: 
When Thou callest me to go through the dark valley, let me not persuade myself that I know a way round..."
~John Baillie, 'A Diary of Private Prayer' 


***


Hunting for more of God's Grace, Steadfast love and His Mercies that are new every morning in 'Morevember'.

~words of love
~conquering fears
~walks in the brisk fall
~talks over hot drinks
~sisters who hold up each other's arms
~laughter about strategies to stay sane
~the grace of faith to fix our gaze on how God works in ways unseen
~the privilege to present our requests to God

I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Ten Truths {to Tell Yourself when you are a Mama who wonders how to get through Today}

Some days you get stuck in the muck. Some days you need to remind yourself over and over that you are not alone. Some days you need to re-read a letter you wrote for someone else . . . 




Dear Mama,

I know how you feel.  You're tired, you ache, you want to made well, but this is it. This is the life that has been determined for you. 

God knows how difficult it is at times, but you wonder if anyone else can relate.

Is there another Mama who always wanted to never be the Mama who wasn't well? 

I begged for healing and I begged for babies.

Is there anyone else who has a twelve year old who takes the weight of it all on her own shoulders even though you've never asked her to and really she doesn't have to? But, she's the first-born and is intuitive and senses there are days that are a little rough. 

Anyone else with a seven year old boy who talks one day about inventing a lung so that other kids, who would have to go through what his Mama did when she was a little girl, will still be able to run a marathon one day? 

Any other Mama out there who can hardly keep up to her three year old because you live life now with 30% lung capacity?

I hoped to have stamina that would show up the Energizer bunny.

What about another woman who wondered why the months and then years would pass before two lines on a pregnancy test would appear? And then wondered how you are going to have the strength some days to raise and disciple these little ones entrusted to you? 

A Mama out there who fights to be free from fears of receiving a secondary diagnosis now that you actually are a Mama? And what do you do to keep on 'toughing it out' with severe aortic stenosis now as a mother, as well as the lung damage all because of a dreadful disease from when you were three years old?

I know it could be a lot worse, but your own reality is all you will ever know. 

desperately prayed for healing, but for so long I failed to see how God has already healed me:

And, Mama, you know what I've been learning as I live this life I never would have chosen for myself? 

I am never alone. Ever.

God will strengthen me and use me for His glory.

The One who has healed my heart is the One who I cry out to. 

He is my refuge

He is my shelter.

He is my strength.

When you wonder how you will get through these days, know that you are not doing this on your own.


Your story has its own challenges, but our solution is the same. 

Grace. Amazing, astounding, cascading, pouring down grace.


And like anything, perspective is half the battle. If I wallow in my woes I end up defeated. 

Like Paul, I need to learn to be content in whatever circumstance I'm in. 


  • Learn my own limitations and don't think I have to do everything.  
"For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." (Phil 2:13)

    • Know that Christ's strength is made perfect in my weakness. And His amazing grace is all I ever need. The joy of the Lord is my strength and in Him will I boast.
    "Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." (Cor 2:9)



    • Trust in the Lord. He will guide me in all I do.
    "But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence." (Jeremiah 17:7)






    *Edited from a guest post written for Jessica for her 31Days series.



    ***



    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   





    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Words of Wisdom for the Weekend ~ Beautiful Life =Tried Faith + Thankful Trust {#Morevember}


    "Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish as long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her . . . No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those that grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those that glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that with lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would have never have known God's strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious, too. 
    ~ Charles Spurgeon

    ***



    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   



    ***
    {Words for Wisdom for the Weekend: These are words that I have been challenged or encouraged by that I have read throughout my week that I kept pondering; words that I couldn't get off my mind and heart throughout my week. 
    For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}




    Five Minute Friday: Tree {#Morevember}


    She sits on top of the knoll, bare for all to see. I feel awkward for her.

    The show is now over and with an unpretensious surrendering she let go of her covering. She was a bold green and then as the summer matured she stepped up her display of radiance to crimson and orange, with gold the last to let go.

    The wind blew and stripped her of all her dignity until she was left with bare bones, her blazing glory gone to provide only limbs for a bird to rest or a trunk for protection.

    I love the elegance of the blossoming spring tree, the bountiful shade of the summer tree, and the stunning beauty of the autumn tree, but the bare tree of winter leaves me feeling exposed right along with her.

    Will I be brave and let go?

    Do I really have a choice?

    The winds of life blow and leave me exposed.

    Do I reach up toward the heavens like the many branches outstretched? Surrendering my ways to The Way.

    That new hope may spring forth.

    This brave tree, she continues to teach us so many things, if only we will be curious enough to look with our hearts to notice how she stands there and provides

    shelter,
    structure,
    support,
    shade,

    security,
    splendor,

    a rough cradle

    and finally a

    rugged cross

    to bring comfort, peace, and hope for the days to come.


    ***


    Hunting for more of God's Grace,Steadfast love and His Mercies that are new every morning in 'Morevember'.

    3 gifts golden:
    ~the golden leaves are the last to let go with hope of spring to come
    ~the precious moments on the couch reading books with my little one
    ~the way my husband pours out his life on his knees, living, loving as a 'boring romantic'


    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   


    ***
    Also linking with Five Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place. This week the prompt is: Tree

    Officially, the rules are:

    Five Minute Friday1. Write for 5 minutes  {Full disclosure: I spent a little more time on this post}
    2. Link up at Lisa-Jo's  and invite others to join in.
    3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community...

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Behold the Works of the Lord and Be Still {#Morevember}




    (Email subscribers, listen to song here)

    ***


    Hunting for more of God's Grace,Steadfast love and His Mercies that are new every morning in 'Morevember'.

    3 gifts silent:
    ~sharing hearts during storms in life even amidst the chaos
    ~a bowl of stew delivered to my door by a thoughtful neighbour and friend
    ~a rare quiet evening at home and a hot bath and a book before bed


    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   

    Wednesday, November 13, 2013

    Startled by the Surprises of His Never Failing Goodness {#Morevember}

    Wake up to His wonderful deeds
    and there is His tender mercy that never ends.

    Listen up to His voice calling 
    and there is His everlasting hope for the days to come.

    Hold up His precious promises 
    and there is His overflowing grace out that never runs dry.

    Look up to His ever-present help 
    and there is His steadfast love that never ceases.

    Treasure up His eternal words of life 
    and there is His perfect peace that flows like a river.












    ***


    Hunting for more of God's Grace, Steadfast love and His Mercies that are new every morning in 'Morevember'.

    3 gifts behind a door:
    ~Listen, He's standing at the door and knocking {the gracious calling of a long-suffering Saviour}
    ~Looking outside and seeing the sparkle in his eyes as he plays in the snow shimmering in the sunshine
    ~Children gathered and learning together at our homeschool co-op

    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    When you Wake up to His Abundant Mercy and are Made Whiter than Snow {#Morevember}

    "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; 
    according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 

     . . . wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

    (Psalm 51:1,7)


    There are times you want to hibernate with the bears and wake up in the spring.

    Escape the pain and wait for the joy to return.

    But the long dark days have barely begun and the only way through to new life is to walk the way of death.

    Although death no longer has the victory, there is still a very real struggle with the darkness.

    So what do you do when you don't know what to do with all the loss and pain and anguish?

    These are dark days.

    Days of trial, terror, and typhoons.

    Days when doctors tell you to come back for biopsies.

    When brothers refuse to talk to each other.

    Days when mothers wail.

    When fathers walk away.

    Days when daughters cut and cry out for love.

    When sons flounder, lost, longing for affirmation.

    Days when babies are buried.

    When sisters talk about and tear each other up. 

    The way these days hurl us against the waves leaves us battered. 

    Tossed and torn, ripped and ragged, struck down and troubled on every side.

    But not in despair.

    From our mother's womb we knew sin. 

    But darkness never has the final word.

    Light always shines forth.

    Mercy is poured out and washes the dark stains bright.


    Morning breaks and we wake to a winter wonderland. 

    A delicate white covering the deadness of autumn.

    For what can make sin whiter than the snow that falls down fresh in the morning, like new mercies? 

    Nothing but His blood.

    His crimson blood that makes the scarlet sin whiter than snow.

    He has made us whiter than snow and His never-ending mercy, steadfast love, and grace know no end.

    So no matter the turmoil we face in this life, as we trust in His goodness, He gives us hope and the confidence that our sorrow will blend with joy, fusing the music of our days to bring forth a beautiful symphony of praise.

    In the storms, seek Him.

    In the dark days, dwell with Him.

    In the trials, trust Him.

    And in the morning, sing of His mercy.

    "I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever."
    (Psalm 89:1)




    ***



    3 gifts at noon:

    ~the first snowfall fresh on the ground

    ~driving out of the storm and into the city

    ~meeting up with friends to hear the symphony together 


    I invite you to hunt along with me for more of His mercy and grace in #Morevember on Facebook and Twitter.

    Enter your email address to subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice and have this series delivered to your inbox.   


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