riding the struggle bus…

strugglebus1A little over a week ago I turned the big 37 and I have to admit since that time I am really riding the struggle bus.  Don’t get me wrong, nothing bad has happened and I have truly had some enjoyable times with my family during this busy Christmas season.  That being said, it’s in those times when we should be joyful and thankful for all that God is doing around us, that Satan so often wants to get us down.  Everything from loneliness, to fears about finances and our ministry support, to worrying about my kids, just keep coming out of nowhere to leave me just sort of down.

This morning as I took my daughter to school we were listening to “Don’t Bring Me Down” by ELO and she asked me what Don’t Bring Me Down means.  I explained to her that often when we are feeling really good people try to make us feel bad or hurt our feelings and take away that joy.  So the song is saying, don’t do that.  She understood and then went back to singing at the top of her lungs.  Sadly I couldn’t explain to her who “Bruce” was in the song.  The song though sorta hits where I am at currently, there are lots of things to be thankful for like the Christmas Season, my family, some great ministry opportunities, doors that I constantly see God opening.  Yet I really feel like there is this cloud that is hanging over me trying to bring me down and leave me in a funk.

It’s in this time that I am really trying to pray more and just ask God that I not be robbed of joy and that I will give fears and worries to Him.  I hate the struggle bus…

Advertisements

struggling…but God is faithful

anxietyThe past few weeks have been an exercise in truly trusting in God when I say that I am trusting in Him.  You would think after the past year I would totally rely on God’s promises to take care of me and my family.  I have seen Him provide for us as we sold our old home, moved to a new area, started a new ministry, helped my wife overcome breast cancer, provide the finances to cover all here medical expenses and so on.  It has truly been a year of one example of God’s faithfulness after another.  Yet, I sit here now knowing that Satan has been attacking me full force and making me worry and be anxious about God’s provision.

With the ministry that I work for, my family has to raise our own support to cover all our bills, living expenses, and ministry costs.  So, a big part of what I do is schedule meetings with churches, organizations, and individuals.  Currently, we are at about 82% of our needed support level and so I have been scheduling as many meetings as possible to try and get fully funded.  The great news is that I have been blessed with several meetings and people have seemed genuinely interested and concerned about our ministry.  The bad news is so far none of these meetings have led to new monthly and yearly support commitments.  Also, during this time we have had tons of trouble with our van and put money that we really needed for other financial issues into getting it fixed.  There are also some upcoming financial bills that I know will be here soon that just have led to me feeling totally overwhelmed.  There have also been some just struggles of loneliness and other issues that I really have felt have been hitting me hard during this time as well.

I am very much the type of person who likes a plan.  I like to know what needs to be done to get from point A to point B.  This struggling and sense of being overwhelmed this past month or so has really just began to take a toll, with anxiety, tightness in my chest, sleepless nights, and other issues derived from worry.  I have been so blessed with things that God is doing great in our ministry and opportunities to use sports to work with kids, but yet can’t help but feel Satan is using anxiety to rid me of the joy that I should be having.

The good though is that I know while I am nervous and anxious over the future my God is not.  He is in total control, even though I often feel alone.  In over 12 years of full time ministry and living on support, I have never had a need that God has not met.  And so I am retreating into His Word and promises.  From the time I accepted Christ as my Savior on October 14, 1984, my favorite verse has been Hebrews 13:5 which ways that God will never leave me nor forsake me.  That’s something I have to remind myself of overtime that I feel anxiety setting in.  Rather that wallowing in worry, I have to be diligent to call out to Him and not go to my automatic how do “I” fix this mode.

I know that deep down that if I trust God, He will always reveal Himself to be faithful.  That was evident this past weekend.  On Sunday after church, I was really struggling with anxiety and my chest was so tight that I was honestly scared.  I ran out to do some errands leaving my family at home and my anxiousness kept growing and I couldn’t shake it.  When I got home, though, as I shared in my last post, I had the opportunity to lead my 5 year old son to the Lord.  It was in that moment that God reminded me, “Andy, I got this.  I will take care of you and your family.”

great-is-thy-faithfulness

And I know that He will take care of us, I know that there is not a need that I have that He cannot meet, and I know that when I seek Him I will always find Him.  Pray with me that I will seek Him.  That I will look for God’s blessings and evidence of His faithfulness and not let Satan rob me of joy and thankfulness.  Pray with me that God will provide the needed support partners for our family to get to 100% and that I will have peace as we wait and be diligent to keep pursuing potential partners.  I hate being consumed by anxiety and worry, but once again am thankful that my God is not!

starting the week off tired…but choosing joy

IMG_0059This week is already off the a rough start for me.  Due to allergies and varios other things that are flowing around in my mind, I started off today, Monday, the first day of the work week…..tired.  I hate starting the week off tired as Mondays while representing all the things one must accomplish in the upcoming week, also represent all the potential to do and accomplish a lot of great things.  So this morning as I try to get moving, and try to get myself psyched up for the week ahead, I spent my prayer time asking God to help me to have energy, be joyful about all the possiblities and potential for great things this week has, and just be thankfulf or another day and week of life God has blessed me with.  Through foggy tired eyes, its hard to get excited about all we face in life, and I am by no means saying pray and you automatically will be Suzy Sunshine.  However, through praying I am reminding myself what a great God I serve, and that no matter what the week looks like, He will be there with me and so I have hope and joy!  So if you are like me and slow moving this morning and not looking forward to the week, spend some time talking with our great God and choose joy!

love seeing joy…

IMG_0059Last night our family had the opportunity to go see Disney on Ice.  We had a whole group of us as my wife and kids went, my mother-in-law, my parents, and my sister and one of her friends went with us.  A host of Disney characters were there skating for us to enjoy from all sorts of Disney movies.  Of course the classics of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy.  My kids were jumping for joy and dancing as soon as their favorites skated out.  Maeven went nuts for Arielle and Judah loved Mickey.  I’ll admit I myself enjoyed the show as well as the other adIMG_0056ults, but the main reason we were there and the main reason we had such a good time was being able to see the joy in my kids as their faces continually lit up with excitement throughout the entire night.  As their faces lit up, I couldn’t help but smile as I really notices the joy that grandparents were getting from the kids.  I know those of you who read this blog probably get tired of me talking about how blessed I am by the family God has given me, but it’s true.  And nothing blesses me more than seeing all of us gathered together and true joy on display!

where is your joy???

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation. — Psalm 35:9

choose-joy1This week I have had the pleasure of leading FCA Huddles at both our local high school and middle schools and on the heels of celebrating Thanksgiving last week I wanted to to talk to students about another side of being thankful, being joyful.  Too often, not only our students, but Christians in general don’t reflect the Joy they should have in their relationship with Christ.  To be totally honest, some of the most miserable angry people I know claim to be Christians.  How can this be so?  How can people who have experienced the love of Christ and now have the gift of eternal life with Him, have no joy?  This is something I can’t truly comprehend.

I know that it is not my job to judge whether or not someone truly has accepted Christ or not.  However, a true heart changing interaction with Christ should bring change to the persons life.  The Bible says in Matthew that we will be able to know true followers of Christ from false prophets by their fruits.  Later on in Galatians we read what the fruits of the spirit are, and guess what a big one of them is Joy!  As followers of Christ our life needs to reflect the Joy that we have found in knowing Christ.  As the verse above says, we need to rejoice in the Lord and the Salvation we have in Him!!!  We have a gift we could never earn and a relationship with the almighty Creator!   This should excite us and and pour joy out of every aspect of our lives.

I know that life can be tough and their are always going to be rough situations, circumstances, and people that we have to deal with that have the potential of discouraging our joy.  That being said, we have Christ who promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).  In all those scenarios, we can still take joy in the fact that He is with us.  People are watching us looking to see what fruit we exhibit.  As my father is fond of saying, we may be the only Bible that some people ever read.  With this being the case, being joyful and finding joy in Christ is a must!

I encouraged my FCA students today as we enter the Christmas season, we are going to be constantly reminded of the Joy we should have that Christ came to this earth so that we might have eternal life with Him.  So use this joyful season to really start letting others see the joy we have in Christ.  We are not called to be miserable, we are called to be joyful followers!

a year goes by quickly….

My 1 year old Big Boy Judah!

My 1 year old Big Boy Judah!

It’s hard to think that a year ago at this time I was meeting and holding my son Judah for the first time.  I had known I wanted to have kids for as long as I can remember, and my hope was always to have both a boy and a girl to love and spoil.  As I sat in that hospital room in Richmond, KY I realized that God had blessed me with what I had always wanted with this sweet precious baby boy!

Over this past year it’s been awesome to see Judah grow and develop his little personality.  From becoming a solid chunky boy with a very curly head of hair to also showing how sweet and cuddly he can be.  We’ve also gotten to see his little stubborn side develop.  When he makes up his mind to do something, it’s a battle to keep him from it.  A couple of weeks ago he discovered the cabinet with the tupperware in it right before his bed time.  For thirty minutes we dealt with him trying to get into the cabinet, no matter how many times we said now, lightly slapped his hand, or moved him to another room.  Finally we just put Judah to bed for the night.  Fast forward to the next morning, and Erin went to get Judah out of bed.  As she set him on the floor he went straight back to the cabinet picking up where he left off the night before!

Perhaps one of our greatest joys his hearing his sweet laugh.  When you get Judah laughing it gets loud, sort of raspy, but totally out of control.  Whether it be through making faces at him, tickling him, acting like your are going to eat his stomach, or even kissing his neck when that boy get’s laughing it is pure joy!

It’s only been a year, but it has been a year of blessing with Judah.  I can’t wait to continue to get to know my son for many years to come!

rejoicing over the potty…

pott trainingYesterday afternoon, there was much rejoicing in the Owens family house.  For the most part the day had been a pretty low key day with Erin keeping up with the kids while I was once again home sick with this crud that I can’t seem to shake.  Erin was starting to wear thin from the stress of potty training Maeven and keeping Judah away while Maeven was on the throne.  To be honest I think she was about to give up.  Then it happened!   My wife Erin didn’t know whether to cry tears of joy or squeal with delight.  Maeven danced around clapping and Judah smiled and laughed, not knowing what was happening to his family. After several days and many loads of laundry our baby girl Maeven finally decided to go pee pee on the the potty!