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)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Need For Endurance to Run This Race {Life After Open-Heart Surgery}

Words that breath life cannot be birthed until they have been carried to full term and made ready to be delivered.

I've been burdened with the weight of bearing these words, but unable to bring them forth. I've been stuck and some might call it writer's block, but you'd have to consider yourself a real 'writer' to blame the block. It's more like they, the words, have been choked deep down inside me and I was too weak and weary to release them. Now, lately, they have been keeping me awake at night and I wonder if it's time to start gently labouring. To take some deep breaths and bear down in the pain and see what beauty might begin to emerge.

So, I'll take the role of midwife and speak softly and firmly to the heart and soul holding onto these words deep within and remind her to let go of the fear and with courage and love and a whole lot of brave to ease these words out and surrender them and trust.

There have been so many lessons of surrender and trust in the One who is Sovereign and breaths life into all and sustains life and is Life. But to hold onto them so tightly and refuse to let them out, well, they will only intensify the pain and not do anyone any good. The time has come to let them out into the world, wrap them up to be received, and hand them over that others can share in the blessing of the Suffering and Joy.

Five months ago today, this heart thought she was brave when she was wheeled into high-risk open-heart surgery, but coming out of it was a whole new story. For weeks after, when her body baffled even the wisest of Doctors, set-backs were relentless, and Death was a persistent knock at the door, she wanted to welcome it. And then she would remember that she had a husband and three young children and she would find that she was stuck in the middle of Living and Dying. Her husband would stand by her side and plead with her, look straight as arrows into her eyes and tell her that it's not her time for answering That Call and he firmly believed that God was not finished with her here on earth. "To live is Christ and to die is gain", she would scratch with her pencil on the clipboard when she had no voice and she would try to find a middle ground. But, with Living and Dying there is no middle ground, only Looking to Jesus so as to not grow weary and lose heart in the Living and run with endurance till we come to the end.

She knows her days, like everyone's, are numbered, but fear keeps her from, at times, living each one to the fullest. Every moment of her days she needs to surrender her life to and trust the One who knows every intimate detail of her time on this orbiting earth.

But, when Death is meddling with your Living, this trust confronts an entirely new vulnerability. She weeps in the darkness and through tears sees that it's not so much the welcoming of Death, but it's the desire for the Suffering to end. And when she keeps waking up and there is no end of Suffering on this spinning globe, she stands face to face with Grief. This Grief keeps her company for days and reminds her that Suffering is a result of Sin but at the same time this same Suffering transforms her, one degree at a time, into the very likeness of the Son of God. The One who endured Suffering for her sake and conquered Sin that she might know Life Eternal. And she learns all over again that God's glory shines brightest in her darkest days.

She's swollen with painful memories, but somewhere in the middle of Surrender and Trust is the Hope that she keeps speaking about to her own soul.

There is life to be lived,
lessons to be learned,
strength to be gained,
grace to be received,
glory to be revealed.

There are words that breath life and need to be birthed and Grace and Gospel to be spoken to her own soul to keep her moving forward with Hope in God. To prod her on to take one step more, one step more, give her faith for one step more, and with the need for endurance to run this race set before her even as it dips into deep valleys and great Suffering. For as she moves forward and along the way, she will find that Joy has been waiting for her in the midst of Suffering all along.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Night Before Open-Heart Surgery

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit."
{Psalm 34:18}

This road has been extremely hard. I cannot say it any other way.

I'm weary. There is still a lot of hard to come.

The days of tests and waiting have come to an end (for now). Through them we have had an incredible peace.

Today we were told once again that my aortic valve needs to be replaced. If it is not replaced, my heart would stop most likely before I turn 40.

For the first time we were told by the heart surgeon that he was confident he could do it. It will be very high risk but I will be in good hands. For that we are so grateful.

I'm being prepped for open-heart surgery for 12pm tomorrow.

The only way forward is complete trust and surrender into the Lord's hands.

I know many are praying and we flat out beg you not to stop. Your prayers are upholding us through this time.

There are too many risks and requests to list here tonight, but we told Dr. David that many would be praying for him.

Pray for God's hand to be at work and that He would be exalted through all of it.

Thank you for walking with us.

{You can find a prayer schedule to keep the prayer constant here.}

{Updates will be made on the A Soft Gentle Voice Facebook page}

"When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid." 
{Psalm 56:3,4}

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Praying with the Hope of the Gospel

"Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body . . . " {Philippians 1:18-20}

Our family has been humbled by the prayers of many saints and we give thanks for all who have partnered with us in proclaiming the goodness, faithfulness and unfailing love of God for the sake of the kingdom of God.

Tomorrow {August 27} I will be admitted to the hospital in Toronto at 11 am for more investigative testing to determine if open-heart surgery that has been scheduled for Friday {August 29} will be possible.

Our local church has set up a prayer clock for family and friends to be praying over the next few days in 15 minute intervals. If you are burdened to continue to join us in praying and you would like to commit to a time, you can find the times available here.

As we journey on, and you walk with us it is my prayer that you would turn your eyes toward Jesus and "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity."

"May I say to all I meet,
I am journeying towards the Lord’s given place,
come with me for your good." 
{Valley of Vision} 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How to Fully Trust ~ Words of Wisdom for the Weekend

"Paul . . . learned a lesson that he never forgot; to rejoice in his infirmities. He said that the weaker he was the better it was for him. For when he was weak, he was strong in his Lord Christ. 
"Ah, yes, God will have to bring us down very low. A sense of emptiness and despair and nothingness will have to come upon us. It is when we sink down in utter helplessness that the everlasting God will reveal Himself in power. Then our hearts will learn to trust God alone.
"What is it that keeps us from trusting Him perfectly?
"Many say: "I believe what you say, but there is one difficulty. If my trust were perfect and always abiding, all would come right, for I know God will honor trust. But how am I to get that trust?
"My answer is by the death of self. The great hindrance to trust is self-effort. So as long as you have got your own wisdom and thoughts and strength, you cannot fully trust God. But when God breaks you down, when everything begins to grow dim before your eyes and you see that you understand nothing, then God is coming near. If you will bow down in nothingness and wait on God, He will become all. 
"As long as we are something, God cannot be all. His omnipotence cannot do its full work. That is the beginning of faith; utter despair of self, a ceasing from man and everything on earth and finding our hope in God alone."
"Let us say: My God, let my life be a proof of what the omnipotent God can do. Let these be the two dispositions of our souls every day: deep helplessness, and simple, childlike rest."
~ Andrew Murray, "Absolute Surrender" (pp122-123) 

Christa Wells: "How Emptiness Sings". If you cannot see this video, click here.


A Soft Gentle Voice

For other Words of Wisdom for the Weekend posts see here.}

Thursday, August 14, 2014

4 Lessons Learned While Walking a Hard Road with a Friend ~ Titus 2 Tips {on Thursdays} A Guest Post

When Rebekah asked me to guest post for this series, I decided quickly that I was going to write about teeth.

I wasn’t sure how it would fit into Titus 2 . . . maybe somewhere around drinking too much wine – red wine stain doesn’t polish off easily!! I could make it work. I am a dental hygienist. Talking about teeth is easy, it’s safe and it comes naturally to me. Blogging is scary, hard and something I have never done before.

But God. I have spoken those words to myself dozens of times over the past few days as I knew he was calling me out of my comfort zone to share from my heart.

But God. Those words have carried me through the past 2 years as I have watched my closest friend face trials that I can’t even begin to understand. I have walked through all of my adult life with this woman. We’ve talked on the phone until 2am, stood at the front of the church when each other got married, held each others babies in their first hours and even by the grace of God raised our families on the same street for a few years. We have discussed theology until it was too late to think straight, texted each other out of bed at 6am to read through the Bible and tried to be spiritually accountable to each other. It’s been a blessing to learn and grow alongside her but its been truly amazing to stand and marvel from the sidelines as I have watched God bring her faith to life like never before over the past 2 years. There have been many doubts and fears in the process But God has proven Himself faithful repeatedly even as He has chosen to deepen the trials in her life beyond what she could have ever imagined. Any of you reading this blog has read my friend's story and can’t deny that God Himself penned it from page 1. 

I have told her story to many people. Sometimes to encourage them and sometimes to ask for prayer and I get excited every time I get to tell of all the ways that God has shown Himself so undeniably real in her life. You see God loves to write stories like this. Life stories that seem to glorify Him even more every time we tell them and that He can use to glorify Himself in others and teach them about Himself.

I have learned many lessons these past two years.

Watching Rebekah’s story unfold God has taught me that I really can trust Him fully with my future, an area I have struggled in fear with letting go of for years.

He has taught me that His Word is sufficient for any trial He may choose to take me through. At one point Rebekah asked all of us not to try to understand what she was going through but just to always point her to the Word of God. She taught me an important lesson in those words.

She has taught me that it’s ok not to always understand - a difficult lesson for my analytical mind to learn and that it’s ok to cry but the best way to cry is with your hands lifted high. I have taken this literally many early mornings on my way to work (one hand still on the steering wheel of course) as I have ached for the pain that she has been called to experience.

She has taught me that even in suffering God gives us a special strength to minister His love to all the others hurting around us and that maybe entering into their suffering makes our own a little easier to bear . . . Oh how mysterious are His Mercies!

I think I can speak for all of your friends, family and blog readers Rebekah when I say that we thank God for you and the things He has used you to teach us. We are honoured that you have invited us to walk parts of this hard road with you. We love you and we are praying daily for you as you face the next steps on this road. We love recounting the deeds of the Lord in your life, we are thankful for the peace that he promises you and we are confident that we can trust Him in the coming days and wait in expectation to see how He chooses to glorify Himself in you next.

Melanie lives with her husband Matt and 4 children in Haliburton, Ontario. 
When she is not busy at home raising her young children She works as a Dental hygienist in a private dental clinic and also volunteers regularly at the Haliburton Volunteer Dental Outreach Clinic a non profit organization that provides free dental care to local adults in need. 
Her family is active in their local church and enjoy serving the Lord together in their local community.
A Soft Gentle voice
I am honoured to host these guest posts in this series on women mentoring women 
Some weeks you may find tips from the kitchen or healthy recipes, tools other women have used to grow spiritually, hints to help us build up and love our husbands, and lessons they have learned as they have walked along with their children to teach them to love God wholeheartedly, habits they have developed in keeping their home, ways they have worked on to keep their behaviour respectful, or rhythms that allow peace and rest in the home and hearts that dwell there within.
You will find all the posts in the series here. 
"Older women likewise are to be 
reverent in behaviour, 
not slanderers or slaves to much wine. 
They are to teach what is good, and so train 
the young women to love their husbands and 
children, to be self-controlled, pure, working 
at home, kind, and submissive 
to their own husbands,
that the word of God may not be reviled."

{Titus 2:3-5}

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Come To Our Help ~ Words of Life ~ A Link-up

{Join us below for Words of Life Wednesdays with a link-up of your post.
We'd love to hear how God's Word has been nourishing you.}
{Also linking with Coffee For Your Heart}

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?

Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

She's stuck. Gone numb to the needs around her.
She wishes for the tears to come to water the dryness and barrenness of her heart
then she shoves them down when they threaten to flood her soul.

Dishes stack up in the sinks, laundry piles spill over in the halls
till her little one wonders where all her clean underwear is.

The list of to-dos would be endless if she cared to write them all down.
It's easier to pretend that there is nothing to do when you can't do them yourself.

What do these things matter anyway?
The world has gone mad.
Why should she care if the beds are made?

Rain breaks from heaven like unstoppable tears.
Thunder roars and lightening flashes across the sky like there is something
to pay attention to.
Something beckons her to look.
She turns her face toward the sky.
There are slivers of light;
Speckles of blue sky in the fast moving storm clouds.

Day after day she will wake up and notice that she did.
Her heart kept beating.
The storm rages on 
the madness races on.
Day after day she will speak to her own soul.
Hope in God.

It appears in this world that He may be asleep.
That while she lays low in the dust
she must cry out for Him
to wake up.

to Rise up.

to Come and rescue us from ourselves.

To Redeem us from the darkness
for the sake of His steadfast love.

Nothing will separate her from His love.

It's in the slivers of light and speckles of blue sky:
The way her brother comes and empties the dishwasher,
and friends bend their knees, and pick up the phone
to boldly speak truth to her in her darkness,
the way her husband keeps on loving her,
and her sisters know the ache and cry for her,
and her sister-in-laws cook meals for her,
and her Mama comes and helps to get things in order,
and her Dad holds her,
and her children need her to laugh at the days to come.

It's in the snuggles, coos and smiles of her niece,
the belly laughter of her nephews,
the sweetness of watermelon, and maple syrup on waffles,
 and strawberry jam surprises,
the zucchini loaf, and cookies and spaghetti sauce
made lovingly by her nieces,
and Lincoln Logs villages her boy made in the living room,
and precious prayers with her daughter in the morning,
and the way he kisses her fast pulse on her neck at night,
and clean underwear for her baby girl on a new day.

It's the way the sunsets in their lives 
and promises to rise again in their love.

Joy comes in the morning.

She looks back.
She remembers.
She speaks to her soul.

She may be stuck, but not forsaken.

God never slumbers or sleeps.

He will not let her go.

In the darkest of days,
He is Light.

In the hatred in the world,
He is Love.

In the brokenness in the world,
He is Peace.

In all things,
He is Sovereign.

Come to our help.

Make things right
and new
and beautiful.

Come, Lord Jesus
She cries with the saints who long for Him to



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Carpe Diem: Lean In. Listen. Love One Another

"Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils.
But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you.
Go on, lean in.
Listen, you hear it?— Carpe— hear it?— Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys,
make your lives extraordinary."
{Robin Williams, Dead Poet's Society}

"You heard it here first. Robin Williams is dead." a baseball mom yells out. "Apparently, suicide, they say." She hollers as our sons and daughters hit balls and run bases. I catch my breath.

At the first murmur of the news from a mom who checked her Facebook while her son sat on the bench, there was a hushed gasp. Then this outrageous announcement, that someone who gave so much laughter could possibly take his own life.

I sink back into my navy-blue, worn camping chair, while everyone shouts out their favourite movies starring the man who made the screen and stage come alive with side-splitting humour and heart-rending dramas.

My favourite: 'Dead Poet's Society', but I keep the thought to myself. 

He brought laughter and tears to so many faces, but his own heart was searching for deep happiness and it had lost its way.

He left a legacy.

He made his life extraordinary.

He was capable of great things and accomplished much. More than his one iota.

His heart still needed more.

The word for today may be, "Carpe Diem", but what on earth does it really mean?  Literally, yes, in Latin, in means, "seize the day" but what about in life?

How does one in deep sadness and hopelessness, really seize the day when they just want the pain and the day to end?

Today, I don't have the answers, but I'm asking the tough questions.

The world is spinning too crazy today. It appears that all is going to spin right out of control. Hearts are breaking, breath is expiring, humans are being ravaged by war, desperate souls are ending their own lives.

Seize the day? Seriously? 

This day? Seize it for what? More heartbreak? More despair? More inner groaning? People want the pain to end, not to hold on to it.

If laughter and money and family and fame and freedom isn't enough, what in the world can make life extraordinary enough to keep you from thinking that becoming fertilizer is better than seizing the day?

Where is the joy? What about justice? Grace? And hope for those who want to hang themselves?

I need to seize the day, the moment, the pain to pay attention to what is really going on in the world.

Lean in. Closer.

Cause in this world that is reeling as it spins, there is a God.

A God who sees what we don't. 

A God who knows what the answer to the questions is. He gave us the answer, but we keep refusing to seize it. 

A God who loves. He demonstrated so great a love so that we can know the deep joy to cure the deep sorrow in our hearts. We keep turning a blind eye to this love until one day it's too late.

I don't want to wait till it's too late to lean in and listen. To figure out that I need to listen to the hearts of those around me and answer with Love. It's love that makes lives extraordinary. Love that mends hearts and allows the hard questions and deep sorrows.

It's time to be brave enough to ask the hard questions. It's time to be bold enough to love the hurting, the lonely, the depressed.

It's time to listen to those whose laughter is revealing a deep pain down into the heart of the person. I can't wait till it's too late to listen to the laughter of those who so desperately need love.

There is a whisper of something in the world that we need to be able to really seize the day in life.

I can't do this in my own strength, by my own power or will, with any special formula, or best-laid plan, or man-made evangelical strategy. What we need is a God-given love.

It's not in the harsh-hollering. It's the love-listening. Listening to hurt-reeling hearts of humans longing to be made whole and allowing the overflowing of God's love in my heart to spill over to theirs.

Love brings real joy. Love makes lives extraordinary. Lean in. Listen. Don't miss it.

Carpe Diem. The key to do this is Lean in. Listen. Love one another.

(A Second post for today; asking tough questions, leaning in, listening, and praying for love to fill my heart while my own heart hurts and reels for a world that desperately needs love.)

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