Saturday, February 2, 2013

God's Thoughts - Dinner #67

     A month has gone by, and I still can’t help but be awed and amazed over the birth of our little Jacqueline Grace . . . Wow! Our God is SO good!  Psalm 139:17-18 declares, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand . . .” How very many thoughts our Lord had concerning this Tiny Bundle!  And how perfectly incredible that our God – the God of the entire universe- takes the time to THINK about US!
     Having kept a careful watch on our ultrasounds, my doctor had already been concerned about our daughter’s slow rate of growth, and warned us that she might have to face some time in the NICU.  I had wondered about the details of Baby #2’s delivery, and played endless scenarios through my mind, but only the Lord knew the events that would unfold.   Jacqueline came into the world exactly 3 weeks before her due date.  When I think back upon it all, now, my heart wants to sing with the words of King Solomon, “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time . . .” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)  We had good health insurance, and a doctor whom I greatly admire . . . Our 18-month-old was able to be lovingly cared for by her Grammy, while we were in the hospital . . . A dear relative had brand new preemie outfits shipped to us, immediately, when she heard that our Baby Girl would be so tiny . . . And even though she was born at 37 weeks, Jacqueline weighed JUST ENOUGH to keep her from requiring a stay in the NICU!  We were able to start out the new year by going home from the hospital, as a family!
     Psalm 31:19 says, “Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” And that’s exactly what our baby’s arrival was like – like taking carefully stored presents off a shelf, one after another – each one, a special blessing and answer to prayer.  Some of the Lord’s answers regarding our Baby Girl had been “yes” or “no”, some had been “wait”, and some were greater than anything we could have imagined!
Was there a reason that God closed all job possibilities in Virginia, last October, and gave us peace about staying here a while longer? Yes, indeed! If we had left in OUR OWN TIMING, Jacqueline would have surprised us before the 60 days that it usually takes for a new health insurance plan to go into effect!  More than likely, we would not have even had time to choose a new doctor, yet!  Isaiah 55:8-9 declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
    Things are quite busy 24/7 in the Kelley Household, right now, but my heart is just so full of all that God has done for our newest Baby Girl!  In Mark 5:19, Jesus told a man, “ . . .Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee . . .”  What has God done for us? He has blessed us with Jacqueline Grace!! Weighing little more than a 5lb. bag of sugar, at her birth, she went from sipping milk on a plastic spoon, to drinking with a preemie bottle nipple – no IVs necessary, praise the Lord! A month later, now, she is growing, eating, and doing great!  Usually gobbles down 3-4 oz. at a time, and lets you know REAL QUICK when she's suddenly starving! SMILE! Her big, beautiful eyes warm the heart, and make this mommy want to touch her hair, kiss her little cheeks, and rub noses with her, for all eternity! And this is only the beginning!  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil . . .”  What wonderful plans God has for your life, Little Jacqueline!  What wonderful plans He has in store for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US!!

     God Bless & Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Great With Child - Dinner #66

     This December, I find a sense of joy in the fact that, because of Jacqueline,  I get to share in a little of what Mary must have felt.  Luke 2:5 describes her as “being great with child”, and, at 36 weeks, this Christmas, that is exactly where I find myself! Knowing the desire in my own heart for everything to be clean, and comfortable, and ready for when this baby arrives, I have a keener sense of the FAITH Mary must have had!  She was traveling, probably walking miles upon miles, with no knowledge of where her Baby would be born, or if she’d even make it to Bethlehem in time.  How many nights did she lay awake, imagining herself giving birth out in the wilderness, somewhere? Wondering if Joseph and she would know what to do, when the time came? 
     Luke 2:6-7 tells us, “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.”  Labor was upon her, there was no shelter for them except a humble stable, and Mary did what she had to do – She was specifically chosen by God - the right mother for the job!  It is a beautiful and comforting thought to me that, no matter under what circumstances Jacqueline is born, when the days are “accomplished” that I, too, should “be delivered”, I’ll be the right mother for the job!
     During these final weeks of my pregnancy, I sometimes find myself tearfully wondering if I’m really ready to take care of TWO children.  During one such recent night of reflecting, the Lord sweetly gave me II Timothy 1:7 to hold onto: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I don’t have to be afraid of having two little ones . . . The Lord will give me the strength and the love that I need to care for them, and will help me to keep my sanity, in the midst of it all! SMILE!  He has CHOSEN ME to be their mother!
     So many special things followed the birth of Mary’s Baby Boy: the arrival of the shepherds, the admiration of the wise men, the rejoicing of Simeon and Anna, the night flight into Egypt . . . Mary had to be the right Mommy for God’s chosen Messiah, through all of that! She needed peace, and tranquility, and faith – all of which came from the Lord! This December, as I begin quickly approaching my own due date, I want to have a little more of the faith and the strength that Mary must have had!  I can’t just crumble because I’m a bit scared that nursing a newborn and taming a toddler at the same time, is going to be too much!  If I want Brooklyn and Jacqueline to one day be women of faith, I need to maintain that godly faith, myself! In II Timothy 1:5, Paul says, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Genuine faith is an EXAMPLE to the generations following!  One day, my girls are going to be calling to cry on MY shoulder about their mothering fears and anxieties, and I want to be ready when they do!  I want to be ready to say, in all honesty, “The Lord helped guide ME through such days, and He will be right there to help you, too!”
     This Christmas, I write to you, battling back aches, fatigue, mood swings, and Braxton Hicks contractions, but I’m THE RIGHT WOMAN FOR THE JOB! SMILE! I GET to bring another little life into the world!  I GET to help raise another young lady for the Lord Jesus! I GET to look into another beautiful little face and know that God has richly blessed the love my dear husband and I have for each other! This is my PRIVILEGE! When Mary thought about all that the Lord was doing IN her and THROUGH her, she lifted up her voice and said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” (Luke 1:46-47)  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for making me and enabling me to be a MOM!

     A very special “Merry Christmas” to all of you, Ladies! God Bless!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Year of Blessings - Thanksgiving 2012

A – ANSWERS TO PRAYER - Granting us sweet peace that the Lord wishes for us to stay here, in Tennessee, for Jacqueline’s birth.  We know that moving to Virginia, and taking that next step towards missions, will all come in God’s perfect timing! (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
B – BAPTIST INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS, INC. - My husband and I were able to attend a wonderful week of missions training at CAMP BIMI.  We thank the Lord for granting us the finances, the vacation time, the babysitting, and the health that we needed!
C – CHICK-FIL-A – Their chicken sandwiches were one of my only real “pregnancy cravings”, during the “nausea months”. We are also grateful for the stand this company recently took, regarding the Biblical definition of marriage.
D – DEVELOPMENT - Brooklyn reached many important milestones in her little life, this year, including sitting up, crawling, eating finger foods, walking, signing, talking, and climbing! K
E – ELECTIONS – My candidate may not have won, but I had the right and privilege to vote!
F – FELLOWSHIP – Our hearts have been encouraged many times, during precious evenings of Christian fellowship in our home.
G – GOD’S WORD - My grandmother purchased a Children’s Bible for Brooklyn, and she absolutely pours over all the illustrations. It used to be that we only read a story or two before bedtime, but now she asks for it before naps, as well! K We are so thankful that she already enjoys the Word of God!
H – HEALTH INSURANCE – We now have a much better level of coverage, through Brandon’s work, than we did before.
I – IN-LAWS – When talk came of possibly moving, my husband’s parents were more than willing to take us into their own home, for as long as it might be necessary.  I’m thankful for the love that they show our family!
J – JACQUELINE – God is growing us, once more!!  We were even able to surprise BOTH sets of grandparents with the news, at the same time! Due in January of 2013 with our Baby Girl #2!
K – KROGER – What a blessing this nearby grocery store has been! Their coupons, sales, and service have been invaluable, during these first few years of our marriage.
L – LITTLE ONES – How blessed I am to be able to stay at home with my babies! The work I do isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world!
M – MAGAZINES – The Lord opened the door for one of my “Dinner’s In The Oven” ladies’ devotionals to be published in issue #84 of ABOVE RUBIES Magazine! 164,000 copies were printed and shipped worldwide.
N – NO MORE NAUSEA – With God’s grace, I came through 6 months of pregnancy nausea and weight-gaining difficulties.
O – OVENS – After going 17 days without one, last month, I learned to greatly appreciate having an oven that works!
P – PROGESTERONE – I am so grateful to have an ob/gyn who carefully checks hormone levels, and made sure, early on, that I had the necessary medication to help sustain this pregnancy! 
Q – QUALITY TIME - There is something so sweet and peaceful about just being able to spend some time with my husband!! Meals, conversations, movies, snuggles, laughter . . . Thank You, Lord, for days off to re-connect as a family!!
R – RECOVERY – We each had bouts with various viral infections, food poisoning, sinus troubles, and other illnesses, this year, but are thankful that each one only lasted for a season. 
S – SOY - Brooklyn has now successfully transitioned from soy baby formula to soy milk, to some whole milk dairy products!
T – TAX RETURNS – The Lord allowed us to pay off Brandon’s remaining 2011 school bill!
U – UNEXPECTED PROVISION – Once again, we have seen a year where the Lord met our needs in numerous and unexpected ways!
V – VOWS – Enjoyed reading the true story of a Christian couple who stayed together through extremely difficult circumstances (“The Vow”– By Kim & Krickitt Carpenter).
W – WALKS – I’ve been able to get some good pregnancy exercise, pushing Brooklyn in her stroller, while having the opportunity to meet many of the neighbors on our street.
X – XXXOOO – With God’s help, our marriage becomes only stronger and our romance sweeter, every day! I love you, Brandon David Kelley!!
Y – YELLOW – I enjoy my husband’s love of football, and the way that he has been teaching our daughter how to say “Steelers” and “yellow” before she’s even 2-years-old! K
Z – ZANY FUN – We’re still young enough to enjoy a great deal of spontaneity in our lives, and are lovin’ every minute of it! K

Thank you for letting me share another year of God’s marvelous blessings! - Kristen Kelley

Friday, September 14, 2012

Peaceful Thoughts - Dinner #65

     I am so grateful to God for all of you who have been praying for us! I am so grateful to Him for the work that He has been doing in my heart!  For what has felt like ages, I could hardly even talk to the Lord about this possible moving situation.  I wanted to trust Him so badly, but felt as though somehow He just didn’t know what He was doing, this time . . . He just didn’t understand . . . I wanted to be the one in control! I didn’t like all of the waiting for answers, and somehow felt rather like Jacob, “wrestling with the angel”, left and right. I didn’t want to move . . . Then, was willing to move . . . Worried about MY parents if we DID move . . . Then worried about HIS parents if we DIDN’T move . . . Fretted over my husband’s work situation . . . Fretted over my own pregnancy and delivery situation . . . Gave the Lord all my problems in prayer . . . Then took my burdens right back off the altar . . . . . . again and again. 
     Just this week, it was finally as though I came to the end of myself  and saw all of my distrust of the Lord for the ugliness that it truly was. One night, I prayed and cried from our bedroom, telling the Lord every single thing I was afraid of, in the midst of this waiting process, and every single thing I needed HIM ALONE to care for.  Psalm 139:2 says,“ . . . thou understandest my thought afar off.” How GLAD I am that He does! He knows EXACTLY what we’re going through at any given point and time in our lives! The Bible reminds us that He even holds our very breath in His hands (Daniel 5:23). Why don’t we trust Him more?!
     The truth of the matter is, I still don’t have the answers for the things our family is facing, right now.  I still don’t know if we will be moving to a different state within the next few weeks.   I still don’t know how we would financially take care of everything if we moved OR if we stayed. The Lord has recently reminded me of Colossians 3:15, however: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . .” It is a CHOICE we make! His peace is right there for the taking, but we must LET it rule within our hearts!  Sometimes we don’t truly want that peace of God, do we? We THINK we want it, but we aren’t really LETTING God give it to us! 
     Could I allow those anxious worries to come right back to my heart? Quite easily! I could become fearful, all over again, of having a new delivery doctor, of uprooting Brooklyn from her “baby routine”, of temporarily living with my in-laws, of not making it back to Georgia for Thanksgiving, or of possibly not having our own home until month 8 or 9 of my pregnancy . . . but I’d rather LET God’s peace be at rule in my heart! I’d rather trust Him for Who He really is! Psalm 55:18 declares, “He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me . . .” I don’t want that “fear battle” to rage within my heart again, any time soon! I’d rather say with the Psalmist David, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3) We may move or we may stay, but God is still in control! And HIS way is BEST! Thank You, Lord, for Your precious peace!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Weary Mom - Dinner #64

     As a mother with an ever-active 14-month-old, and a baby on the way, I know what it is like to sometimes be TIRED . . . physically tired, mentally tired, emotionally tired . . . Days when I’d really rather not fold the next load of laundry, let alone hear that we might be about to pack everything up and move!  But do you know what? Isaiah 40:11 tells me, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” What a comfort it is for this expectant mother to know that God will lead me GENTLY!! When God designates the next step for us in life, He won’t drag me along! My kind Heavenly Father GENTLY leads “those that are with young”, and that is such a blessing! He will also “gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom . . .” He won’t let my little one feel unsettled and tossed about, if we pick up and move – He will care for her, as well!
     God knows us better than we even know ourselves. He created us! Psalm 103:14 “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” This same loving, Creator God, is He Who will care for us! Isaiah 44:2-3 “Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; Fear not . . . For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.”  Who gives us this caring promise? The One True God! Our Trustworthy Savior! Isaiah 44:6 “ . . . I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”
     There is another blessed comfort in Isaiah for the sometimes-weary mom: God NEVER faints nor grows weary, and it is HE Who gives us strength! HIS strength! Isaiah 40:28 “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.” Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” We will ALL grow weary, at certain times in our lives! Weary of illness, weary of the same daily routine, perhaps, even weary of life . . . Isaiah 40:30-31 reminds us that, “Even the youths shall faint and be weary . . . But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  What a blessed promise! You may feel as though you cannot even WALK, but the Lord can keep you from fainting! He can grant you the strength to make it through any day and any situation.
     One of my favorite verses in all the Bible, declares, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10) When we are weary and worn, we do not have to “make it” on our own! Whenever our day grows too long or too hard – He is there!  Isaiah 41:13 reiterates, “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  
     Are you a weary mommy, this week? Let the Lord God be your strength!  He IS ALWAYS THERE!

Friday, August 17, 2012

That Promise Will Not Fail . . . - Dinner #63

     What a month of ups and downs! What a month of struggling doubts and blessings!  How we rejoice as we watch a precious little life on an ultrasound, and then how we stumble as we wonder how we will ever take care of two instead of just one . . . How we praise the Lord as He provides unexpected groceries at just the right time, and then how we falter as we realize just how many hundred of dollars a long-distance move would cost us . . . In the midst of this daily faith and frenzy, the Lord showed me a beautiful verse in His Word:  Joshua 23:14 “ . . . not one good thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.” Not one! When you read the promises of God’s Word, it is as though you can say, “THAT promise will not fail!” and “THAT promise will not fail!”, after each and every one! What a joy that is, to think about! If God has said it, it will NOT fail! And how VERY MANY wonderful promises God has made to His children!

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

Isaiah 40:29 “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”

Proverbs 1:33 “But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Psalm 37:4 “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Isaiah 65:24 “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

     When all else crashes about you, God’s Word will never fail! His promises are ever true! Others will fail you miserably, but His “faithfulness is unto all generations” (Psalm 119:90). How can we ever doubt such a wonderful Savior? Why do we ever take matters into our own hands and worries into our own hearts? Joshua 23:14 declares, “ . . . not one good thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you . . .” He is a TRUSTWORTHY God!  When the trials come, may we say to the Lord, just as David once said, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Security of God's Presence - Dinner #62

     I’m SO grateful that God has chosen to give another Little Blessing to our home! I’m rejoicing in the fact that God reached down from Heaven and is making my body ABLE to carry another baby, despite the world warning me differently!  But there are so many times, when I look around me and wonder, can I really do this?! I’m struggling right now, just dealing with an active 13-month-old who’s had runny diapers and been staining outfits left-and-right for the past week!  HOW ON EARTH will I EVER do dishes or keep up with laundry when I’m back to sitting on the couch, nursing for 8 hours out of the day? Or how will I EVER properly correct and discipline as Brooklyn moves into the 2-year-old stage? Am I really READY for two children? I think I need to re-memorize Psalm 57:7 – “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” And then there’s my special verse in Psalm 113:9 - “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children . . .” A JOYFUL mother of children!  Yes! Ok! I can do this! I just have to trust in the Lord! I’ll be joyful! It will all work out! And then I begin to question and doubt again . . .
    What other thoughts have been plaguing this expectant mother’s mind? I have no idea where this baby is going to be born!  Is the Lord suddenly going to supply the job, the house, and the money required, for us to make a long-distance move? If we stay here, can we possibly fit two cribs in that one small bedroom? How can I start planning, rearranging and decorating for this poor little one, if I don’t even know where we’re going to be in the next few months? Will I even still be here NEXT month, to find out the baby’s gender, or will we be caught in the middle of an insurance transition? My mind just wants to go CRAZY sometimes with all of the wonderings, the fears, and the “what ifs”!
     Do you know what I KNOW that I need, more than anything, right now? THE SECURITY OF GOD’S PRESENCE.  Psalm 36:7 declares, “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”  Our daughter Brooklyn usually cries HYSTERICALLY if someone is vacuuming in the house, but if someone else is HOLDING HER during the vacuuming, she’s perfectly fine!  How often are we just like that? Completely flipping out when we’re overwhelmed and scared, unless we STOP and realize that we are being HELD by our Heavenly Father! Psalm 34:17 “The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Not just one of my fears – ALL of them! How I need to hold onto that verse, once again!
     If I feel alone with my fears, Psalm 139:7 reminds me, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Why have I chosen to write about these things, tonight, as my baby girl is sleeping and my husband is working? Perhaps, because it is during the quiet moments, that we tend to THINK and to FEAR the most.  The month of July has threatened to choke my heart with fearful discouragement, this year.  I wrote this devotional because I NEEDED to write this devotional! I NEEDED these verses, this month! Are you, too, in need of the security of God’s Holy Presence, tonight? Then may we pray the words of Psalm 61:1-2, 4: “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I . . . I will trust in the covert of thy wings.”  God Bless, Dear Sisters, and Goodnight!