Blog Makeover In Progress

I have some exciting news! I am moving my blog to my own domain name. penneydouglas.com I will be combining the two blogs I had before in that one place. Everything I have here will be moved there plus the posts that I had on my homeschool blog will be there, too. It will be like two blogs for the price of one! And the price is free!

I will be writing new posts there from now on. It is already up and running. I just have a few things I need to tweak.

Jocelyn Dixon from A Pondering Heart did the new theme for me and she helped me set everything up on my new blog. She has been so wonderful. If you need anything done on your blog, she’s the one to go to.

Please follow me over there to penneydouglas.com I will continue to write about what God is showing me and has shown me that is stored up in my spirit just clamoring to get out. I so want to help others to experience God in a way that captivates their spirits and binds their hearts to Him in a way that will keep them safe and secure in His arms no matter what life throws at them, no matter how hard times get. I want to encourage others to keep holding on to their faith, because that is what will get them through, and the enemy is trying to pry that faith out of our hands through every means he can think of.

I will also write about our everyday life as a family. Our family is our means of ministry. So the two topics are not necessarily mutually exclusive. If you’re not interested in homeschool projects, you can just skip those, but please check in often to see what the Lord may put on my heart to say. He may have something just for you!

I want to end this post with an encouraging word from Renee Loux that I shared on Facebook, and it seemed to touch a lot of people:

Hey, you. Yep, you. The one feeling a little weary. Carrying that load. Fighting this battle.You’re amazing, you know that? It’s true. And you can do this with Him. Keep going. It feels like your strength is small. But it’s not. It’s BIG. World changing big. Make-it-over-that-mountain big. Big enough to do what you need to do, because your strength is as big as the GOD in you. Phil 4:1

See you at penneydouglas.com!

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Biting and Devouring One Another

Galatians 5:15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Yes, we know that words are powerful. Don’t we? Do we really believe that they are, or do we just say whatever comes into our heads?

We should always be careful to say positive things, not negative, about ourselves and others. Because what we say is what we get.

Experience has shown us that words of faith get much better results than words of fear and doubt.

But what about words of condemnation, gossip, or making fun of someone? Are those words powerful? Do they have any effect on the people being spoken about? We believe that they do.

Lately, we have been learning about curses. We learned many things about the causes and effects of curses from Arthur Burk. We have applied what we learned, and we are finding that words that people speak about us, even if they are far away from us geographically, have an effect on us. If we sense that something is wrong in the atmosphere of our home, we pray to discern what kind of spirit is attacking us and command it to go in Jesus’ name. Many times, the Lord lets us know that the spirit was given authority and sent to us because someone was speaking negatively about us. At first, I found this kind of hard to swallow. Some of the people whose names we got were people who seem to love us. But I know that they probably speak their fears about what may happen to us or speak judgmental words about what we’re doing that they don’t agree with, and they don’t think we will be affected by it. They don’t know what they’re doing. But it’s really serious, because our peace and joy is disrupted every day by some foul spirit because of well-meaning and sometimes evil-intentioned people talking about us.

I found this verse and thought about the word picture given in these words: Biting and Devouring One Another. When we speak negatively about others, we are viciously biting them, even if they don’t hear the words being spoken. It’s like a wild animal tearing and destroying with its teeth. The cross-references to this verse speak of enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, dissensions, factions, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, envying, etc.

Words can hurt. Whether we hear them or not, words spoken against us can hurt us. One time, a friend called me after a long period of time and told me she had a dream about me. She said that in her dream people were talking about me, and somehow it was affecting me. I immediately thought of some family members who had talked about me to my husband about a year previously. I thought they must be talking about me again. As I prayed about it, the Lord revealed to me that the words that were spoken about me at that time really had affected me, and since that time, I had started thinking about myself and my family the way those people did. I felt like we were poor, pathetic people who just couldn’t do anything right. We were somehow substandard and definitely not as good as the people who spoke against me. The words were critical of me as a wife and mother and housekeeper. When the words were first spoken, the Lord said to me in my heart, “Who are they to judge another man’s servant?” I knew that God loved me and that He knew I was doing all that I could to take care of my family and my house, in that order. But somewhere along the way, those negative words took root in my heart, and I started believing them.

After my friend told me about her dream, I realized that I had let myself be affected by those words. I needed to come out of agreement with them and break their power over me. I had to repent for allowing them to affect me. I couldn’t believe I let them take over my thinking like that. I did the repenting and breaking and instantly my good, honest opinion of our worth as a family was restored. I could see ourselves the way God sees us again.

Those words spoken out of envy and jealousy almost destroyed me. I should never have let them change my thinking the way they did, but it happened so subtly that I didn’t realize it was happening. I thank the Lord for giving my friend that dream, and I’m grateful that she cared enough and was obedient to call and share it with me.

I’m also thankful that God has given us a way to deal with these kinds of curses. We can break them in the name of Jesus, and their power is broken over us. He gives us all that we need to defeat the powers of darkness that come against us. Sometimes we need to take some time and seek God to find out why bad things keep happening or what is causing a repeating sin or disease or behavior in our family. God will reveal to us the root of the curse or whatever iniquity has brought it on from our family’s history. Then all we have to do is repent, renounce and come out of agreement with the sin God reveals to us and break the power of the curse over us, whether it was spoken over us or is the result of sin or iniquity. We can break the power of words in the name of Jesus.

For our part, we all need to be careful of our words. There are many verses that tell about the creative power of words. God created the universe by speaking it into existence. So be careful what you say. You might be creating a mess for somebody if you carelessly gossip or criticize them.

Primer Lesson

Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling–
Look out how you use proud words.

Carl Sandburg

Keys to Surviving Seasons of Lack

Sometimes God lets us go through some hard times. Suffering produces good things in our lives.

Rom. 5:2-4
And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Rom. 8:17, 18
If we share in His sufferings, we will share in His glory (my paraphrase).

Phil. 3:10
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,
and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

We went through some major suffering in the form of having no income for four years. Because of the lack of money, we were attacked on all sides. Our society does not like you if you don’t have money. Our government, especially, looks unkindly on people who don’t have money. The devil used the state government, the federal government and other government agencies to hurt us while we were living by faith.

But God delivered us from every attack. We emerged victorious every time it seemed like the devil had us down.

We found some keys to live victoriously even when everything seems to be stacked against you in the natural.

Keys to Surviving Seasons of Lack

1. Praise Him in the storm. One time when we had a utility bill that was due, and we had no money to pay it, I took my song book and just started praising the Lord. I got to a place of peace. I didn’t think about it any more. Soon after that, we got a money order in the mail for $800. It was a gift from Jesus, no other name on the card. Things like that happened over and over again. Our whole family sang together a medley of songs about God’s greatness often. When we were tempted to feel down, we started singing. We always got to a place of faith when we did this, and soon after God answered our prayer.

2. Don’t look at your circumstances. Look at God and His Word. Don’t believe what your circumstances tell you. Don’t believe what your senses tell you. Believe what God’s Word says. Find His promises and pray them over and over again. Believe it or not, your circumstances really don’t matter. I know what you’re thinking – well, maybe not to you! But they sure matter to me! What I mean is – God is not affected by your circumstances. They could be any kind of difficulty. What He is after is your heart. The trouble may seem like your worst nightmare coming true, but it’s not a problem for God. What you’re going through may seem like it’s impossible to fix, like there’s no solution. Like your life is ruined. You may even feel like you’re going to die. But nothing is too difficult for God. I know those feelings. God brought me through. And I know that if you’ll keep holding on to God and trusting Him, He will come through for you, too. Keep your faith strong. Your faith means everything to God. Your faith in Him proves to Him that you love Him. He wants to be loved by you.

3. Give. The law of sowing and reaping really works. We gave whenever any money came in at all. We prayed together about who to give to and how much to give. There were times when the Lord told us to give everything we had. That was hard. The Lord dealt with me and Gary about this on the same night, but in two different locations. I was at a conference, and Gary was at home lifting weights. He was praying about what God wanted us to do to break the cycle of lack. The Lord told him, “If what you have is not enough, give it all away.” The conference speaker who I was listening to was giving testimonies about how God had blessed her time and time again because she gave extravagantly in obedience to His leading. When I got home, Gary met me at the door and said, “What did you learn?” I said, “We need to give!” He said that he got the same thing. So he said we were going to give the whole amount in our checking account away. I was shocked and said, “Really???” I wasn’t sure we should go that far! We gave to some people who had been ministering to us. Our bills were paid. I don’t even remember how God did it that time. He used so many different people. Men stuffed a hundred dollar bill in Gary’s shirt pocket many times. Or they gave him a $100 handshake. I would find $20 bills in my purse that I knew weren’t there before. God gave a dream to a friend of a friend, and because of the dream she came and gave us a check for $1000. We helped a friend move to another state when we couldn’t even pay our own mortgage payment. It cost us about $1000 to rent the U-Haul. The Lord gave us a couple thousand dollars from other sources after that. We are still reaping from the sowing we did during that time. Before we moved from Kansas City, the Lord moved on someone’s heart to give us $20,000. We are in a place of abundance now. We give all the glory to God, and we know that He has honored our giving by prospering us.

4. Stay in unity with your spouse no matter what. Pray together. Wives, let your husband lead. Let him handle the bills and the calls from debt collectors. Don’t answer the phone. Let your husband decide how the money that God provides is to be spent. Let him be the leader God called him to be. Trust your husband much the same way as you trust God, without knowing what is going to happen. Don’t try to figure things out or make things happen. Just keep praying and listening to what God might be saying to you. Learn to hear His voice. Be on your husband’s side, no matter what you might think about his decisions. If he stops trying to get a job, find out if the Lord has told him not to get a job. There were some good reasons that God let my husband go without a job for so long. He learned how to integrate into the family instead of just working and bringing home the paycheck and letting me handle everything else that had to do with the family. And God told him not to try to get a job. So I would have been going against God if I had demanded that he try to find a job. I realize that it’s hard to hear from God, especially if you’re not used to it or you haven’t really believed it’s possible. Now is a good time to learn how.

5. Read books about people who have lived by faith. George Mueller, Rees Howells, Lillian Trasher, Hudson Taylor, John G. Lake, Gladys Aylward, to name a few. This will build your faith, and enable you to believe when things seem very grim and impossible. I also meditated on Daniel, Joseph, Abraham, and David. Especially Abraham, Joseph and David. They had to wait SO long before God’s promises to them were fulfilled. And Joseph and David went through the opposite of their promises before their promises were fulfilled. But they believed all along, and in the end they received His promises. The Lord had me read the Psalms and Isaiah constantly during our Journey of Fire.

6. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you. All of the things you need. You find out what your true needs are during a time like this. You may not get all of the things you want, but pray and ask God what you really need and then pray for those things to be provided. You may be surprised to find that some things you considered absolute needs, God considers luxuries. What He wants from us most of all is to trust Him like a little child trusts his parents. He wants us to love Him and believe that He is good no matter what is happening in our lives. He wants us to believe that He has good things in store for us. He has told us that He would provide for us. How does He know that we believe this- how do we know that we really believe this- unless we need Him to provide for us some time? As Americans, we pretty much provide our own needs, and if things get tough, we rely on someone in the natural to provide for us, such as our family or the government. But God wants us to rely on Him, not Egypt.

Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. 2 Kings 18:21

Whoever or whatever has been the Egypt that you ran to in trouble, stop running there. Turn to God. He is always faithful.

7. Watch your words. Speak only words of faith. Don’t say what you see or what you fear will happen. Talk about the goodness of God. Talk about what God is showing you. Talk about God’s promises. Talk about your dreams and what you are expecting God to do for you.

8. It’s about “being” not “doing”. We realized that God is not that interested in our works. What He is after is our heart. Even though we weren’t in a position to “do” anything, God was pleased with us. We couldn’t minister to anyone else. We didn’t feel like we had anything to offer anyone. But we knew that God was pleased with our faith in Him.

Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Heb. 11:6

Don’t worry so much about doing something. Just work on your relationship with God. Realize that your walk with Him is far more important than your temporal needs. Concentrate on spending time with Him and becoming the person He meant for you to be. Also realize that there are purposes beyond what you can see or understand for God doing what He does. He may wait because of other people that He wants to be involved in your deliverance, but they’re not in place yet. There are a multitude of scenarios that could be the reason for your prayers not being answered yet.

9. Waiting is a form of suffering, and it’s also a form of worship.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Ps. 37:7

The same kinds of things that suffering adds to our lives, waiting develops those, too.

10. Keep your hope alive.

Hope does not disappoint. Rom. 5:5.

God will come through for you. Don’t give up, and don’t give up hope. He loves you. He’s your Father. He’s your Shepherd. He’s a Good Shepherd. He takes good care of His sheep. Remember, this is just a season. No matter how long it takes to get to a place that feels safe and normal again, just keep trusting Him. You will feel His pleasure. You will make Him feel loved. Our faith is THAT important to Him. Do it for God!

If you’re really struggling to understand why God would let you suffer, and you want a thorough biblical treatment of God’s purposes in allowing suffering, read a book by Bob Sorge called The Fire of Delayed Answers. It really helped my husband through our ordeal. It pretty much saved his sanity!

Another good teaching about the reason God allows bad things to happen to good people is this one by David Wilkerson.

The Meaning of Hope

Rom. 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I had just told God, “I hate to say it, but I’m kind of disappointed with the way things have turned out.” I didn’t want to complain. I had just spent the last four years carefully watching my tongue and not complaining about anything, no matter how distressing the events were. I was completely caught off guard by what God allowed to happen to us. I never would have dreamed He would let such bad things happen to me. I thought I was above such things. But I had so much pride, arrogance, jealousy, and lots of other nasty hidden things in me that I needed a jolt of reality. I needed to see what was really in my heart.

By the time of my confession of disappointment, I had been thoroughly humbled. But I was tired. My husband was so frustrated and angry about the things that were happening at work and in his life in general. The kids and I were doing spiritual warfare for him every single day. Things were better. We had a stability we hadn’t had in months. But things were still bad. We were cramped. Our house felt unhealthy. Allergies were bad. And we still had no options. We couldn’t do anything to make anything better.

Then I cried out to God. My heart was hurting. I felt disappointed. I knew God hadn’t let us down, but things were still so far from what we had prayed and sown for. I knew He was going to come through for us… but when?

I never asked that. That was Gary’s question. That… and “why”? I never let myself ask those questions. But I had come to the end of my stamina. I finally let out what I was feeling. I told Him the truth about how I felt. And then I opened my Bible. The first verse my eyes fell on was Romans 5:5. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” I didn’t really understand the whole thing, but I knew that God was telling me to keep hoping. He was telling me that the things we were asking and believing for were going to happen, and that I should not give up hope, because hope doesn’t disappoint. That’s all I needed to hold on to. Hope does not disappoint. That phrase helped me make it through the next three years of waiting for things to really get better.

And one day, they did get better! And they’ve been getting better all the time. We are going from glory to glory. My husband has had promotion and is expecting more. We are expecting great things financially, physically and spiritually. All for His glory.

Don’t give up hope. Hold on to it while you wait. Like a life preserver. And remember, Hope does not disappoint!

Dying to Save Our Marriage

When we first got married, I was selfish. So was he. But neither one of us knew it. We were both Christians. We were both following Christ. We loved each other. We thought we were Christ-like. We were clueless.

I had some issues. So did he. I wanted all of his attention. He wanted to watch TV or play video games all of the time. I hated games. He didn’t care for chitchat. I wanted to tell him all about my day. He was bored by all of my rambling and wanted me to get to the point. The problem was there was no point. I just wanted to talk. He didn’t see the point. It was a vicious cycle.

Throughout our years of marriage, we had several epiphanies. One happened for me when we had been married for 3 1/2 years. I was listening to a song from Robin Hood (the one with Kevin Costner), because we were going to sing it together in a wedding. The song was called Everything I Do (I Do it for You). I was sad and lonely in our marriage because of the reasons stated above. Oh, yes, he was also a workaholic. I was lonely because I hardly ever saw him. He worked late every night that he didn’t go to the gym. I had a baby boy and stayed at home with him all the time. I really resented the fact that the few moments my husband was at home, he was watching TV or playing a video game. I never got any of his attention. And I wanted ALL of it! I felt like he wasn’t meeting my needs at all. I resented the long hours he put in at work, too. I knew that he was trying to get ahead. I knew that he was having problems at work. I knew that he was trying to prove himself in his very first real full-time job, and that it was very stressful. But that didn’t stop me from resenting the time he spent away from me and our son. I stuffed all of my feelings inside, so he didn’t know how I felt. But as I listened to that song, I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that everything Gary was doing, he was doing for me. I was absolutely dumbfounded. It didn’t feel like he was doing anything for me. I felt like he was just doing whatever he wanted to do. But the Lord revealed to me what was really in Gary’s heart. He was trying to do the best job he could at work, hoping to make more money for me and our family. He believed that if he worked long hours and showed his willingness to work and did the best work he could possibly do that he would get a raise and possibly be promoted, and we would make more money. I never saw it that way before. I wanted time with him more than I wanted more money, and I just couldn’t get past that. Money didn’t mean much to me, and I didn’t understand how important being a good provider was to him. But, ultimately, he really was working long hours for me, and the Lord made me see that. Even lifting weights at the gym was as much for me as it was for him. He wanted to look good for me and to stay healthy and fit for me. I had been too selfish and self-focused to realize that, in doing those things, he was trying to let me know how much he loved me.

I felt a little better about things after that. I appreciated his efforts more. But I still felt like he wasn’t meeting my deepest needs. I needed attention. I needed for him to ask me how I was doing. I needed for him to talk to me like a friend. But he didn’t know I needed those things. And I didn’t know how to tell him. I was putting so much of my time and energy into my children that I wasn’t taking care of myself. We had 5 more children in the next 8 1/2 years. I had six children 10 years old and under. And I was doing almost everything for them and all of the housekeeping. Besides that, I was tutoring other children and trying to homeschool my own that were of legal school age. I was also doing homeschool assessments every summer for 100 homeschool families. In between all of that, I had to take classes to keep my teaching license current. As if that wasn’t enough, I acted in a Christmas play and started singing in a quartet. I was a bona fide “Mommy Martyr” to quote Cindy Rushton. I thought the busier I was, the better I was.

About this time, he had an epiphany at a Promise Keepers conference. The speaker challenged the men to do one thing each day to improve their marriage. Gary thought, “I don’t need to worry about that. My marriage is just fine.” Then he said he felt like a spotlight shone on him, and he heard a voice saying, “Your marriage is just fine? Do you really believe that? Your wife is caught up in singing in a quartet and busy with that all the time, and you’re busy working all the time, and you barely see each other, and you think your marriage is just fine?” He said he looked around to see if everybody in the stadium was staring at him, because it felt like he had just been put on the spot. Nobody else seemed to notice anything unusual, so he wiped his brow and thought about what the Lord had just said to him. When he got home, he seemed really serious and said, “We need to talk.” I was in such a state of mind that my thought was, “Oh no, he came back worse than when he left.” I always wanted him to act happy and excited. I hated to see him depressed. When he got down, I got mad at him. But when we went to our room to talk, and he told me what happened during the conference, I knew God was helping us to get this communication thing going. We talked and decided that we needed to do more together. I ended up quitting the quartet. He tried to spend more time with me. We prayed together more often. He asked me to tell him what I was really thinking, how I was really feeling. I still had a hard time with that, because I was always afraid of making him mad. It wasn’t that I was “afraid”. I just hated for him to be mad, and I avoided causing him to be angry at all costs. I assumed that things would make him angry that I know now wouldn’t have. But my desire for him to be happy all the time was so strong that I avoided communicating with him things that I should have.

To make a long story short, we went through some perilous times together, with no one but each other, the Lord and our children to depend on. We had the stuffing knocked out of us. We went through devastating loss and humiliation. But we made it through it together. I found out some more of my issues. Like how I expected Gary to meet some of my needs that only God can meet. I found out during our time in Kansas City that I was wrong to insist that Gary be happy and jolly all the time. I was wrong to get angry at him for not being happy.

Most of all, I learned that I needed to die. I had to die to myself and my desires. I had to turn to God for every need. I had to love Gary and pray for him as if my life depended on it. Because it did! Whatever happened to him happened to me. I was told by a mentor that I should pray down blessings on Gary’s head even when I felt like I hated him. There were times…! I started praying for him in a less selfish way. I started seeing things from his perspective. The Lord helped me to put myself in his shoes and sense the frustration he felt at work. I was able to build him up and encourage him in his efforts, because I got my eyes off of myself and my needs and the things I thought he should be doing and onto what he was going through and how he was feeling. I became a help meet for him in a way that I had never been before. I saw for the first time how talented he really was at technical writing. I became proud of his ability and thanked God for it in Gary’s hearing. I praised his abilities and talents and encouraged him to stand up for himself at work, instead of wishing he would just be content and not rock the boat. I was on his side for the first time. I was in his corner. We were a team working together. I got myself out of the picture altogether. I wasn’t worrying about my needs. I was too focused on his to even think about mine. And as I did this, he gave me more attention. He wanted to hear what I had to say. He shared with me every detail of what he was going through. He started trusting me to take his side.

We both died in a lot of ways during our journey of fire. Many of our dreams died. Many of our concepts died. But in the kingdom of God, life comes out of death. And sometimes you have to die to live.

As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 2 Cor. 6:9,10

He Knows My Name

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. Isa. 43:1,2

It’s so good to know that He knows us. By name.