Feb 28, 2012

Tuesday SHINE...

Today's Reading: Romans 11

Happy Tuesday, SHINE girls! Can I just say.....I love you girls! 

Seriously, even when I am in a big huge pit, you girls reach down and pull me up with your encouragement and love of Christ. Thank you so much!

I received the Spotlight SHINE girl's testimony yesterday afternoon. I could not believe how her story came at just the right time for me. Wow. 

Get ready to be blessed...big time.

Sandy Clark's introduction:

What a joy and privilege is mine to introduce this week’s SHINE Spotlight Girl!  I am so blessed to call her my friend and my sister in Christ.  At a time when I was completely burned out as the “preacher’s wife,” God miraculously called my LEM to a new ministry, not in the pastorate.

  We had to find a church home, and this amazing lady became our “preacher’s wife!”  We’ve been through a lot together, and even though we don’t get to spend a lot of time together physically, I know she is always there for me, praying for me and mine and loving us unconditionally.  I could call her for prayer (and have) at any time, day or night.  

She has proven herself time and again to be a faithful friend, prayer warrior and daughter of the Highest.  She has a grown, severely disabled child, lost the love of her life to cancer, and has fought her own valiant battle with cancer.  Yet her unwavering faith has been an inspiration to all who know her.  But wait!!  I don’t want to tell her story!!  I could talk about her all day long because I love her so much!  Please read and be blessed by what our Sweet Lord has to say to you today through Marsha Sandridge.

Marsha's Story:

My dear friend, Leslie Jones introduced me to SHINE Girls.  I’m so grateful she did because this blog has strengthened me in my spiritual walk.  Jill, you are a blessing from the Lord!  I love your transparency, the beautiful ways you express your love to Him and how you encourage us through the Word.

To Leslie and her mother, Sandy Clark, “I thank My God for every remembrance of you.”  You are my sisters, not by birth but of the heart.  We are family because we have blood ties in Jesus!  Your unconditional love is such a grace-gift from the Father to me.  I love you both sooo much!

My life is blessed and highly favored.  Not because I’ve done anything to deserve it, but because of my gracious God!  The Lord has given me a beautiful family: 3 great sons and 2 extraordinary daughters-in-law, whom I love as daughters.  My middle son, Matthew, has autism.  He is severely disabled, but God is using Him mightily for His glory.  He is dearly loved and so precious to my family and me.  Matthew’s behavioral issues and disability is definitely a challenge—but he is never a burden!  By God’s grace, Matthew is a joy.  In our family circle there’s also a little girl who calls me “Nana.”  Gabby is 2 yrs. old, a delight to my heart and a miracle from our Father.

Time spent with my Lord and time spent with family, both biological and spiritual, brings much joy to me.  At one point in my life I couldn’t have truthfully written that about my Lord because my husband and family took place above Him.  So I wasn’t allowing Him to be Lord in my life… I see that more clearly now than I did then.

As a young girl I always dreamed of being a wife and mother.  I married Dave, a wonderful, godly man---my soul mate and dearest friend on this earth.  Dave was called to ministry and already serving in a church when we met.   When Dave proposed to me, He promised that he would always love me “second best.”  That was fine with me; I knew his first love was Jesus and even as a young bride-to-be I realized that there could be no stronger foundation upon which to build a marriage.  My joy increased as over the years God gave us our 3 precious sons:  David, Matthew and Stephen.

However, during the years I was plagued with “what ifs.”  In other words, I was taunted by Satan with some of my worst fears.  Now I was in Christ and He was in me so Satan had no authority to destroy me, but he would threaten to destroy me.  And I’m sorry to say, I allowed him the victory many times because I did not fully trust God.  I didn’t trust Him because I wasn’t digging deep into His Word and spending intimate time with Him. Some of my “what ifs” included:

  • What if I have a child with a disability
  • What if we suffer severe financial hardship
  • What if I get cancer
  • What if my husband dies

All of the above and more came to pass.  I also need to say that many of my fears never became a reality!   But my Father had to bring me to brokenness and in that brokenness I became desperate enough to seek the Lord with all my heart in His Word and through prayer.  The process of brokenness is painful but the product is more than worth it!  On the other side of brokenness lies new intimacy with God and new power to serve Him.  I would not dare say it’s easy or that I would want to go through it again, but this I know:  The Lord has used each situation to purify me and mold me more into His likeness as I’ve yielded to Him.  So brokenness is not a curse, but a blessing!

We can be so scared of what brokenness is going to require us…scared of what God may do to us…scared of the cost of being broken.  With that fear comes spiritual paralysis—I know that so well.  We take our eyes off of Jesus and look at the circumstances we’re so afraid might come our way.  Then we forget about the grace, mercy, strength and joy that God promises He will give us in those times of adversity.

You’ve heard it said, “The will of God will never lead us where His grace will not keep us.”  We never get grace until we need it!  If someone had told me in advance about some of the things I would experience in these past few years, I would have been overcome with fear and been spiritually immobilized.  I would have been focused on a future trial, but without the future grace!  Only by His all-sufficient grace and clinging to the promises in God’s Word have I endured.

I had just fully recovered from cancer surgery, chemo and radiation (that’s another testimony of God’s grace) when my beloved Dave became ill.  The diagnosis was liver cancer; no treatment would help and he was ineligible for a transplant.  We were stunned…heartsick…and went running to the One Who embraced us so lovingly and tenderly.  And oh, how the Body of Christ prayed for us and cared for us!  Even now, it moves me to tears...

Every day I would pray for Dave’s healing, not bargaining with my Lord, not sobbing my heart out, but with perfect peace in my soul.  This was NOT me—this was truly the power of Christ in me, carrying me. What grace…what all sufficient grace!  In those weeks, one particular scripture would come to me as I prayed or read.  I would hear it in a song, in a message on Christian radio, and I would hear the Spirit speak it to me in a still, quiet voice.  Time and time again I would hear, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Hebrews 13:5) 

Dave did receive healing, not as I’d asked but on a greater level.  He received his ultimate healing, which came much more quickly than we’d thought. God was merciful in that he didn’t suffer as much as the doctors predicted.  Every day grace was lavished upon us from our Father.  It would take pages for me to give testimony to how our Lord was so merciful, gracious and tender towards us.  He did numerous miracles in our midst---and by His grace we were still able to laugh together…sometimes in the midst of tears.

So my beloved went home to be with his First Love.  And the Lover of My Soul has, just as He promised, never left me nor forsaken me, but continues to strengthen me and uphold me with His righteous right hand.  (Isaiah 41:10)

It was a week or so after Dave went to be with Jesus that I picked up a devotional book to read.  The scripture for the day was Hebrews 13:5, which certainly got my attention.   My heart was overwhelmed by my Father’s love when I saw the explanation of the verse in the original language (Greek) in which the word “never” has 5 negatives.  I love that Father was confirming this truth to me and making sure I “got it!”  It reads, “I will never, never, never, never, never leave you or forsake you.”  That’s Truth, dear sister, and I’ve experienced this promise in ways that could only be attributed to God and God alone!

There’s a gravestone in a cemetery a few miles from my home that has my husband’s name and a scripture that he chose inscribed on it.  When he made that choice, I told him, “It’s perfect---it so describes how you’ve lived!”  The verse says, “My grace is sufficient…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

I now believe the Holy Spirit prompted my husband to also choose that verse for me.  I’m reminded of my Father’s all-sufficient grace every time I visit Dave’s grave.  My name is inscribed on the gravestone, as well.  It doesn’t bother me to see it, instead I’m encouraged to live out the rest of my days as a vessel of His grace…because I’ve received such an abundance from Him.   Even when I am faithless, He remains faithful!

The complete verse reads: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I am weak…He is strong.   Jesus, Your grace still amazes me—what a wonder You are!
I love You so…with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.  Thank You for giving me the grace to sing with joy:

“Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say…

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name!

You give and take away,
You give and take away.
But my heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your Name.”

In the Grip of His Grace,


Vows and a promise to love "second-best"

The family celebrating Jesus' birthday

Our precious Matthew
Mother and son remembering and missing their loved one

Marsha with daughters-in-law and sons (and granddaughter in the womb)

Nana and Gabby singing "Jesus Loves Me"


Neodesha Hendley said...

God bless you Marsha and you Jill. Both of your blogs really sum up my faith walk. There are days when I am buzzing with the spirit of God. The. There are days that my fears creep into the recesses of my mind. I notice that's where it starts - the mind. There is a scripture somewhere that talks about "taking every thought into captivity", I try to use His word in my time of weakness. My oldest sister always tells me to Philippians 4:8 it. That helps me too. Thank you both for sharing, it has been a blessing to me.

Rebekah Hudgins Vepraskas said...

What faith! I am feeling very grateful and encouraged by your story as hot tears roll down my face. God bless you today and guard you as we are all being filled with so much hope from your journey.

With Love,

Women Who Pray said...

Thanks, Marsha...much needed today...as my dear friend Vickie's soulmate went home last night...watching his favorite thing in the world...the NASCAR race. Pray for her as she's had several strokes this last year and surgery for degenerative bone stuff in her neck. I also pray daily with two prayer warriors who became widows suddenly withing 2 weeks of each other 2 years ago. There was no time for suffering in any of the 3 cases...all suddenly...easier for the one leaving...so hard...so much disbelief that it's happening...for the ones who were just there. Makes us realize what the Word says that there is no promise of tomorrow...no wonder He says not to worry about tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. It's up to us..to make each day our day of salvation..walking so close to Him that if it is time to go...we just walk over easy. I'm glad that Milton was a dear precious man that was so easy to love. There's no regrets with any of us about him. It does, however, show me that I need to check all areas and make sure that that's true about all those the LORD has placed in my life...that when they leave or if..that I've not left anything undone...that I've called, or written, or visited with whoever Holy Spirit has brought to my mind. Vickie and Milton are like us with regard to being high school sweethearts, and it has been just the 2 of them since their daughter died a few years ago at 21 years..of cystic fibrosis. I'm reminded today how blessed I am to have so much family, as she has 2 brothers and no nephews and nieces, and he was the last of 3 children to die, as well as 2 grandchildren (including Ashley)...leaving his Dad with no children and only one grandchild left. When we all get together, and I don't know that we have in the last several years, except at Baba and Paw Paw's funerals, we fill up the place. February is a memorable month for sure! My Daddy died on the 25th..Mama on the 26th...and Milton on the 28th. I'm glad Mama and Daddy are there to welcome him...and Ashley...and his Mama and sisters! :) It's we who are left behind that will surely miss him much!! Marsha your testimony is quite remarkable...as all of the ones have been that have shared. God gives us our unique story, and yet, they have enough of the same elements, that we reach out and connect with each other. I love the body of Christ with all its many members.

Shannon Pace said...

Wow, this is such a wonderfully encouraging testimony. I was quite moved my your faith and trust in the Lord through your trails and circumstances. You truly do seemed to be quite blessed, and you are certainly a blessing! Thanks so much for sharing!

Shannon Pace said...

Trials... not trails... sorry for the typo.

Marsha said...

This is what I love about SHINE Girls---the transparency with which everyone shares! Thank you, Neodesha, and bless you for reminding me of 2 Corinthians 10:5 (I had to google for the reference!) There have been many times I've had to speak that particular scripture out loud when I was paralyzed by fear.

Marsha said...

I can relate to the hot tears, Rebekah. Had a good bit as I was writing my story! : ) Tears from being overwhelmed by His marvelous, matchless grace that has been poured out on me. Thank you for your encouragement...what you've written affirms to me that my Father has answered one of the things I asked Him to do with what I shared.

Marsha said...

I will most certainly be in prayer for your dear friend, Vickie! She is blessed to have you and I know you'll be a wonderful support to her. Praise God for the assurance Vickie has that her beloved is forever with the Lord...and that one day she'll see him again. In times such as these, we cling to that truth and the Hope that we have in Jesus. Thank you for sharing, dear sister.

Marsha said...

Thank you for that, Shannon. All praise to the One Who has given me grace and strength, for I am weak---but He is strong! As I begin to write, I asked the Lord to please use it to glorify Him and encourage those who read it. So, bless you for affirming that He did just that!

Jill Hill said...

Marsha, your story and your FAITH has not left my heart all day. I have had the BEST day today...all because of reading and being so inspired by your story.

I KNOW that God used you to reveal Truth to me today. It's been so freeing, just knowing that He has never left me, and He never will.

You are truly special, and I cannot wait to meet you in person soon. I am so serious!!

Thank you for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's prompting as you wrote this...HIS words all weaved all through your story.

God bless you, sweet friend.

conny said...

Marsha your history touch my heart ... As was reading and got to the "what ifs " I stop and star thinking I few years ago when some love people was getting trouble in the marriage .. My fear star and I was thinking what ifs this happend to me even do my marriege was at that point perfect .., all that I know last year on march my husband told me that he was no feling the same love for me I was devasted and from there didn't god better unfurtune he decide for divorce ... And I am experience that in my brokenness I am despeate searching God ... I put all my trust on Him even thought I still don't know why this happend to me Because we love each other so much but I have to belive thar God plans for us ate better than mine .... Youu give and take away , you give and take away , but my heart will choose to say Lord blessed be your name .., l used to cry with that song but know I get that song ..,.,,.

Donna said...

I saw your post on Facebook about this blog spot and thought I might check it out. It seems to be a great spiritual connection for women to receive and share God's word. Thanks for mentioning this!
Your story was very inspiring to me even though I knew what you had gone through over the last few years but never really knew about your inner feelings as you went through all these circumstances. I too worry a lot about the "what if this happens". Some days it can be truly overwhelming and depressing. Your words and encouragement have truly helped me to see that God will give me the grace to get through things when I need it. To stop worrying and know that His Grace will be there when something happens. Thank you for this wonderful reminder... You are a true inspiration to a lot of women going through difficulty.
Donna (Your cousin-in law)!

Marsha said...

Oh, Jill! I'm so in awe of Him! And, so very thankful He's allowed our paths to cross through this blog. I am believing that the Lord will make a way for us to meet one day. You are amazing, dear sister! I'll say it again--the Lord is blessing me mightily through this ministry He's given you. I have such love in my heart for you...

Marsha said...

Conny, you have touched my heart with your story and testimony of faith! I will pray for you, dear sister. May you experienve the LORD as your Strength and your Shield; your Refuge and your Strength. The Word tells us as our heart trusts in Him, we are helped. Covering you in prayer today...

Marsha said...

You've blessed me with your encouragement, Donna. I wish we lived closer and could spend more time together! I could learn so much from you...
Please spread the word about SHINE Girls to whomever you think would benefit (I think that would be ANY woman!). So thankful you're family through marriage and that you're family because of Jesus! Love you...