Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

Lessons In Faith & Hope

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

 

 

 

Recently our Pastor posed a question to the congregation: “Why do you love your church?” There were as many different answers as there were people. I had a few reasons that came to mind that night. For one, it is where I began to learn about God’s truth. One of the first scriptures I studied that had taken a strong hold on my heart was Proverbs 3:5 & 6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

For most of my life I had put my faith and trust in myself, believing that others would only hurt and disappoint me. I had believed that it was up to me alone to make myself happy and to provide for myself. But no matter what I did or how hard I tried, things just never seemed to be good for very long. My life was not working out in the ways I had planned.

 

After I began hearing God’s Word, my heart began going through many changes. One of the most important was from learning to put my trust in Him. It was very hard for me to do at first, but I soon found that the more I put myself in His hands, the better my life became.

 

Shortly after I joined our church, my faith and my commitment to follow Christ was tested in a way I could have never imagined. I had to choose to hold onto my faith, and it was not easy. But because I did, I was blessed with peace and comfort that helped me through that trial. Even in the middle of my distress, I could feel God’s presence with me and it gave me strength to go on.

 

My faith became stronger over the next few years. As I learned more of God’s Word and believed what it said, my trust in Him began to grow as well. It was still hard at times, because I had to learn to let go of believing that I was in control.

 

God used my youngest son, Christian, to teach me some very important lessons about faith and trust. I have been surprised many times with the ways God uses people, places and events to teach us. As an adult, I had never thought I would be taught as much as I have from a child. But as Christian was being brought up in the church, he exhibited a profound faith and trust in God that I truly admired. Even as young as 3 years old, he had an assuredness in his spirit that everything was in God’s hands and that He was taking care of things. When Christian prayed, no matter whether it was for himself or someone else, it was a done deal to him. He knew his prayer was heard and was sure it was taken care of. I felt rather puny in my faith compared to his! But it caused me to grow more in mine.

 

I began to pray more from the center of my heart, and I gained a deeper understanding of the messages our Pastor preached. I learned what it meant to submit myself to God’s authority, and from this I was blessed with more security. I was learning the message that God is in control. My trust in Him was also growing, and I began letting go of the fear that I had for so long, the fear of being hurt. But it still took time to fully let go of the desire to try to be in control of my own life. Even though my heart and my life had gone through many changes and God was blessing me far beyond my wildest dreams, deep inside my heart I was still holding onto the notion that I was in control of my own day to day living. I still made my own plans, and lived my life according to what I thought was best. Then came time for another test and time of learning one of the strongest lessons of my life.

 

When things are going good in life, it’s easy to give God praise and glory. But it gets harder when things start to go wrong and the trials come. I had been in the habit of reading the bible and praying first thing in the morning, and most days it helped bring me peace throughout the day. But there were times that things would happen during the day, and I found my peace had dwindled away because of the circumstances. I was aware of this and had been praying for God to help me to become stronger.

 

When Christian’s accident occurred, everything happened so fast I didn’t even have time to think about it. As I watched my son dying in my hands, my first reaction was to pray like I had never prayed before! I was so utterly helpless to do anything of my own accord, except to pray and put it all into God’s hands. I remember the first words of my prayer were “I believe in You, and I trust You completely”. And that was true, and from every cell of my body, I called out in Jesus name. The next words I spoke were “I know in my heart, that You will heal him and make him whole again, if not here on earth, then in Heaven”. I can’t explain how I knew, but I did. And for the first time in my life, I also knew that I’m not in control. Right then and there, I put not only my life but my son’s life into God’s hands alone and I felt complete confidence in trusting Him.

 

God gave us many miracles that day. He brought Christian back to life. A tremendous revival of faith and love began to grow, and is still growing. And the beginning of a remarkable journey began for many. Throughout the following days while we were in the hospital, my faith never wavered, even when the doctors said it was likely that Christian would not survive. Watching the amazement in their eyes when he not only survived, but recovered fully in such a short time, strengthened my praise and faith even more.

 

I had reached a point where I didn’t think it was possible for my faith to be any stronger than it was. But when Christian told me that he had been in Heaven, sitting in Jesus’ lap, that was the moment when my faith was made whole and complete. Whatever doubts there may have been in my heart had been completely and permanently erased.

 

Over the next 18 months there were still more trials that came. Sometimes it seemed that the more I tried to share about God’s miracles and goodness with others, the more trials and temptations came. Many times I questioned why these things were happening.

 

Through reading God’s Word and hearing many sermons, I continued to learn God’s truth. I began to realize that God’s blessings aren’t only about when good things happen, and it’s not always the enemy attacking when bad things happen. I began to understand that a major part of life is about learning, and then responding to what we learn by putting it into practice in our life. One of the things I have learned is that trials can be counted as blessings too, because they can help us to grow closer to the Lord. They can help us to become better than we were. And they can prepare us to be able to help and bless others who need it. Whatever trial or hardship I may face, I know God is with me and He will make a way for me to go through it. I know that it will be used to help me in some way, whether it is for my own personal good, or to equip me to help someone else.

 

Our Pastor has taught me about God’s truth through his preaching. There have been many in our congregation who have encouraged me and helped me. I have found genuine peace, comfort, support and love in our church. But I think what I love most about my church is that it was where I first knew the love of God, and then I fell in love with Him.

 

In my heart I know that God is using my life to encourage others in faith and hope in Him. I believe that it is a part of all of our lives, to be a help in some way to others. And that is my prayer for today, that faith and hope in Him grows, spreading like a wildfire that cannot be put out. May you find peace and comfort as you put yourself into His mighty and capable hands. God bless!   – Amber

Read Full Post »

For Jason

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

The temperature outside was in the 90’s, something I was not accustomed to. The air inside was much cooler, but I did not want to go in. I remember the room was filled with so many people, ranging in age from 7 to 70 plus. They were all very kind and most seemed very caring and friendly. Some I knew, others I did not. Music was playing softly, but I did not hear it. My eyes were focused on the floor as I was led to my seat, I didn’t want to look.

A man began to speak, but I couldn’t focus on what he was saying at first. My thoughts were drifting somewhere else. A flood of memories was filling my head, memories of the first time I saw you, and the last. It seemed like it had been forever, so many things had happened. My head began to clear a little and I began to look around. The faces were all very somber now.

The man speaking was the youth pastor. He was talking about what a treasure you were to the youth group, and how your smile would light up a whole room. He spoke about how enthusiastic you were, not only in the group, but in the services too. He said your dedication to serving the Lord, the church and the community was inspiring to all who knew you.

Next, the pastor got up to speak. He was an older man with a soft and gentle way about him. He talked about how it had always touched his heart to see you at the door greeting the congregation as they entered. He said you were always one of the first to arrive, and one of the last to leave. He shared a story from just a few weeks earlier, when you told him you were looking forward to going home. He said it was apparent you were speaking about Heaven, but he said he smiled and told you that you still had many years to come. Tears began to fill his eyes as he said, “but looking back, I think Jason knew”. He couldn’t speak anymore, and the choir was asked to sing.

A short while later we were all gathered outside. It was a beautiful setting, and there were lots of flowers. One arrangement that caught my attention had been made in the shape of a saxophone, your instrument of choice. I remembered the private “concert” you and Daniel had put on for the family when you were first learning to play. As hard as I tried, I could not swallow the lump I felt in my throat.

Standing there beside your final resting place, I could not fully absorb the fact that my firstborn son was gone. I was consoling myself with knowing that you were in Heaven, but it still felt as though I was in a bad dream and I kept waiting to wake up.

From the moment I had received the news of your death until after the funeral, everyone around me seemed so concerned about the possibility of my grief causing me to lose the unborn child I was carrying. For their sake, your brother Daniel’s, and your unborn brother’s, I tried to be strong. I even managed to smile as people came up to me to give their condolences. But in truth, I had just gone numb inside, and I wanted to stay that way. I didn’t want to think about anything.

After the funeral I was kept busy. There were still unfinished projects to get ready for the new baby, and the salmon runs were beginning. That meant it was time to get all the smoking and canning stuff out and ready. Even though I hate salmon, I looked forward to filling the jars and the smoker. It kept my mind occupied. I worked until I was too exhausted to stand anymore, and then stayed up half the night on the computer. I didn’t want to sleep because I didn’t want to dream.

Just over a month after your funeral, your brother Christian was born. And when I looked at his shining little face the first time, I saw you. The last words you had said to me the day before you died were, “I’m really looking forward to meeting my new little brother”. As I was thinking about those words, a feeling came over me and it was like you were there with us. I felt peaceful for a moment, filled with such a strong love. It was overwhelming.

I never told anyone but the night Christian was born, when no one else was around, I cried for you even harder than I had when you died. And part of me felt guilty. I was being torn between the extreme sadness of missing you, and the extreme joy of having this precious new baby. I didn’t know what I was supposed to feel, but my insides felt scrambled. I thought about some things that I regretted not doing with you or not saying to you when I had the chance. It taught me to never miss an opportunity to say “I love you”.

Ten years have passed as of today, and I still miss you. But I know I will see you again. When Christian died and came back, he told me he met you in Heaven. I have no words to describe how that made me feel, but something tells me you already know. God has given me strength when I didn’t know how to go on, and He’s given me comfort and a peace that only He can give.

God blessed me with 3 beautiful boys, and I am thankful to have had the gift of being your mom, even if only for a little while. I am glad beyond words that you found Jesus and hung on to Him in faith, and that you are there with Him now. I know that you are alright, and it helps make me alright. You brought so much joy to so many, and inspired many more with your love for Jesus. I will treasure that always.

Jason, you were my precious firstborn, and you will always be in my heart. Not one day in 10 years has gone by that I haven’t thought of you, and loved you and missed you. It took a while for me to see it, but God has taught me that you have always belonged to Him. He only let me borrow you for a time. He sent you here for a purpose, and then He called you home. While I may wish that you could have stayed longer, I have come to accept that things must be in God’s time and in His ways. I believe His ways are perfect, even if I can’t always see it. In your own way, you helped me to learn about what real faith and real love means. And I am thankful for that. And I am doing the best I can, with God’s guidance, to help pass that faith and love on to your brothers. I will love you always Jason! – Mom

Read Full Post »

God Is My Strength

By Amber Leggette-Aldrich

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber… The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.” (Psalms 121:1-3, 7)

 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)

We all have something to overcome; don’t think that you’re the only one. God will be our strength if we let Him. He is the source from which all true strength comes. And because He loves us, He wants to help us.

For many years I was full of stubborn pride. I refused to ask anyone for help no matter what. Somehow I had the idea that I could get by just fine on my own, that I didn’t need anyone to help me. In fact, I wouldn’t accept help when it was offered! I always thought I was strong enough to handle anything. But I was wrong.

I learned the hard way that I am not as strong as I thought I was. Life has a way of dealing some pretty hard blows, and there were several that I was totally unprepared to deal with. I tried, but I failed miserably. And I felt completely alone.

But God showed me that I wasn’t alone. He showed me that I could come to Him. At first it was hard for me to ask Him for help. I had a hard time trusting anyone, even God. But as I learned to trust Him and my faith grew, I soon realized that He wanted for me to ask for His help in whatever I faced. Don’t ever be too prideful to ask for His help. Asking for help when you need it is the wisest thing you can do.

God has always been faithful in His promise to be with me and to help me. It doesn’t mean that He will let me be lazy and have Him do all the work. But He guides me and gives me the strength to do it. And I’m not just talking about the physical kind of strength. Sometimes it’s the strength to overcome fear or anger or anxiety. Sometimes it’s the strength to just keep trying. Other times He gives me the strength to face trials or temptations. Whatever the need, God is always there for me and He gives me exactly what I need when I need it.

As I have grown older I have learned that the only real strength I have ever had has come from God. When I remember some of the trials that have come into my life, I know that there is no way I could have gone through them on my own. Without God’s help, I would still be in that dark pit of aloneness. But through His grace and loving kindness, I have been set free to walk in His ways. I have peace and joy in my heart, even in hard times, because I know He is with me. I know He will give me the strength to go through whatever comes. God is my strength!

 

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: