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PSALM 42

Psalm 42: 10 My bones suffer mortal agony
       as my foes taunt me,
       saying to me all day long,
       “Where is your God?”

Isaiah 48:11

 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
       How can I let myself be defamed?
       I will not yield my glory to another.

I swapped blogs last week and I literally had a thousand hits yesterday on this blog regarding Todd.  So, if you have come back I wanted to talk about something that I think some people may be confused over.  The teacher in me has to write and part of that is how I express myself.  If you are a non believer in Jesus Christ some of you may have been thinking to yourself thoughts like: “Was Todd’s faith all a sham? Why didn’t God heal him?  Why did God let him take his life?  Was Todd’s God a sham?”  I would like to address a few of those questions as my mind has been inundated with memories and thoughts.

There will always be people who scoff the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The One True God.  Let me say after over a decade of very aggressively seeking God, He is more real to me than the air that I breathe.  He is more real to me than anything I can see, touch, taste, or smell.  He surpasses the senses.  I have come to know his faithfulness in the midst of great hardship in my own life.  Things like knowing Him as my husband (even when I have one). No human being can meet the deep longings of the soul that God can meet, these are not just words on a page to me…they are life and breath.  I have known Him as my Father when my own father abandoned us at the age of 4.  He is the Only One I look to as Abba.  I have known Him as the Only One who could bind up my broken heart when my first child, Shelby, went to be with Jesus.  He has been the Provider of my spiritual needs as well as physical needs.  I have also known Him through illness.  After I had Morgan I began to have panic attacks and if you have never had one, let me say you don’t ever want to.  It was three years of sheer terror for me.  After many trips to the doctor and several ambulance visits to my home, I was finally diagnosed with this because of my mitral valve prolapse.  Do not be quick to judge anyone who goes through this because you sure don’t ever want to be in their shoes.  I am not talking about some quick passing anxiety either.  It is horrifying like I am sure other things are as well.  God has used it all in my life to use the enemy to sift me like wheat.  That is not the reason for everyone but it is mine.  He knocked the judgment right out of me as I have battled this.  He has been faithful even as I have gone through this particular thing.  He has also not treated me as my sins deserve, He has been so more than merciful and I praise Him. 

So, was this Gods “perfect will” for Todd to take his life?  NO!  This was His permissive will.  Did Todd have license to take his own life? Heck no!  But was it sin?  YES!  I was reminded in my spirit a few days ago that the only “unpardonable sin” was to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:10).  Todd did not reject the Holy Spirit in His life or scorn Him.  Hebrews 3:15 says the following: 15As has just been said:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
      do not harden your hearts
   as you did in the rebellion.”

This is the repetitive rejection of God in Your life.  Rejecting salvation and rejecting God.  Scorning Him.  It is not His will for anyone to perish.  Yet many will harden their hearts against God because they are blinded by satan the prince of this world.

God knew before the foundations of the world that this would take place.  The fact is God is in control but He will never force our love or our obedience to Him.  He will not make us do anything.  Do I have answers to all of the “why’s?”, NO!  Yet as I mentioned in one of my previous posts the believer in Christ is never separated from the love of God.  God will still be glorified even in this and God will not yield His glory to another.  The enemy does not have the victory.  Just like God does not want us to commit s*xual sin, lie, steal, lust, cheat, and a whole other host of things, this was a sinful act and covered by the blood of Christ.  YET DO NOT MISUNDERSTAND…God, does not approve or give any of us license to take our own life as a means of healing.  Life is sacred and holy.  He is the giver of life.  Job33:4 The Spirit of God has made me;
       the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

He gives and He is the one to take away yet in Christ Todd is washed in the blood and standing in the presence of the Lord.  Just like the Israelites had a promised land, a perfect part of Gods perfect will for them, they fell short of entering Gods rest on this earth, yet He remained faithful to His covenant.  His covenant with His chosen people was not depending on anyone but Him.  The gospel is spelled out and points to Christ all the way through the Old Testament.  So Gods covenant was not contractual and is not contractual.  Our salvation is in Christ Alone and all of the power of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 

Why didn’t he get healed here on this earth?  Well, we never know.  The Apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh that he prayed would be removed yet it wasn’t and in his weakness God was made strong.  Still God is not perverted, the suffering we endure is part of living in a fallen state as you see in Genesis.  Satan has been wreaking havoc since his fall from heaven.  God can use medications and doctors to heal us yet as research shows some of that can harm.  We are not even going to discuss that here.

Will God be glorified in this, yes!  Yet this is not a way that God chose to get glory.  He is no more or less God based on our actions.  Can we bring reproach to His name because of our witness? YES.  Yet He will be no less God because of us.  He is the Eternal, Immortal One, that has never had a beginning and will never have an ending.  He goes on and on and on.  He is already in our tomorrow, today and our yesterday.  He never changes.  He never shifts.  He never ceases being God on the Throne.  Yet He came wrapped in tiny flesh and experienced life and pain and paid for all of our sins past, present, and future when He could have forsaken us.  He could have done away with us, yet He made a way for us through the cross.  This isn’t some legalistic baptist chick typing you a bunch of crap.  This is real.  He is our life and the length of our days.  Yet hear me again…if you are suffering please get help.  You and I should not see this as an example of “finding your healing from this life” but we should see that Todd suffered, he did commit sin in taking his life, yet I am certain from years of knowing him that his faith was real.  Christ was life, and he is in the presence of God.  Yet we grieve the loss of our friend.  I am glad I have the assurance of his salvation but it doesn’t take away our pain for now.  We were never meant for this fallen state, yet here we are.  Still we have hope. 

Lamentations 3:21-22

 21 Yet this I call to mind
       and therefore I have hope:

 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail

Let me also recommend a book that is very accurate about Heaven.   It is called “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn.  I don’t like any of the hokey books on heaven/hell if they are not based on scripture incase anyone wants to suggest one ;).

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Todd’s Funeral

Here is what Tiana talked about at the funeral today for those of you who could not make it:
 
The Speech I (Tiana Gaston) Gave at Todds Funeral Today
 
 Today at 10:56pm
I am totally standing here today only because God is carrying me thru this. I can’t even get up and make announcements in front of some of our closest friends in our Sunday School class – Todd had to do it for me!!! But God has laid a lot on my heart that only I can share being the only one that experienced this illness with Todd.

Todd’s Sickness and Suffering
I do not have to tell anyone what a wonderful man my husband was. For those who knew him well, you got to see a different part of Todd than what I saw. You got to see the fun-loving, joking, funny guy. Full of life and compassion and love for everyone else. I got to see the tremendous suffering that he kept hid so well from the world. He suffered with depression and anxiety for 25 years and it got progressively worse over the years just like cancer or any other illness. Most of us have experienced one if not both of these illnesses but they have passed. For Todd he lived in a constant anxiety/panic attack every waking second of his day every day! To put it in his own words he was terrified of life itself.

Do Not Pity Me
I knew Todd suffered before we were married. He had never confided in anyone of his illness but confessed that that was why he had stayed single for so long. He had never found anyone that he felt would understand him. His confiding in me was a testament of his love for me. I made the choice to love him thru this no matter how bad it got and I am grateful that he did not have to suffer thru the worst time alone. I am honored that God would choose and appoint ME to walk this path with Todd.

My Dream
About 6 months into our marriage and after praying for Todd’s illness for over a year, I had a dream one night. I dreamt that I was standing in heaven and it was like I was a spectator. God was seated on His throne although I could not see his face. His robe flowed throughout the temple just like what is described in Isaiah 6. Todd was standing at the foot of the throne in front of God. The robe flowed and wrapped around Todd and pulled him into the breast of God just like a mother comforting a hurting child. I awoke that night with the biggest sense of peace that God was going to heal him someday. What I didn’t understand until this happened is what that dream TRULY meant for me.

Gods Faithfulness
The bible says his ways are not our ways. I always thought that someday God was going to perform a modern day miracle on Todd that he was just going to wake up one morning and be healed. I thought his healing would be here on earth. Tuesday night God enlightened me on that dream. 2 ½ years later!!!!! Wow… I can look back and see the work that God did in those 2 ½ years in Todd, in me, in our children. God NEVER forgets us and he is ALWAYS faithful and working even when we do not see it. It is comforting to me to look back at that dream and to know that Monday morning when Todd took his own life, he KNEW what I had not seen from that dream yet.

Do NOT Question His Salvation
I have heard lots of condolences and lots of comments that sadden me. Do not pray for Todds soul. Do not doubt where he is. Todd knew his healing would be at home in his Saviors arms. He put all of his Faith and Hope in Christ Alone.
2 Corinthians 5:4 -5 – For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE! He who had prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee

Do Not Feel Guilty
I have heard many say that they should’ve seen the signs, they should’ve been there more, etc etc. Do not feel guilty! Todd left me a sweet letter and instructed me not to play the “what if” game. Those were not just words for me but words I feel like I am meant to share. Even if he had talked to every one of you, it wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The Million $$$ Question
What Can I do for you???
• Give God the Glory!!!! Todd NEVER made this about HIM. I believe that’s one reason he kept it hid. He relied on Gods strength everyday and I would like to believe that the simple fact that no one ever noticed how bad he suffered is a perfect testimony to how much strength God can give someone
• Pray for each other – I had almost 5 years to deal with this and to at least know that there were problems and suffering for him. This is a shock to every one of you. Even though I will miss him horribly, I have a peace and an understanding with this and I believe with the foundation in Christ that we have given our children, they have that peace also.
• Unbelievers – For those of you who do not trust in God or have a relationship with God, look at this situation and see ALL that God is doing for those of us who believe in him. I am not Wonder Woman or Super Woman, I am simply a Godly Woman a woman who loves and trust my Lord and Savior
Let this make a difference in your life and bring YOU closer to God. That’s what Todd would’ve wanted out of this situation!!!!!! So that if any of you should go before your friends and family, they can have peace and comfort knowing where your soul rests.

Todd Coleman Gaston

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Words fail me right now.  Each few seconds I feel as if I am taking a heavy blow to the stomach.  We are so grieved for the tragic loss of one of our very best friends.  I have not even been able to get on here and type this because if I do then somehow that makes it all the more real.

I received a phone call from my man Monday.  I knew when I heard his voice that something was bad wrong.  He told me the news that his very best friend took his life on Monday morning.  We knew bits and pieces of the fact that he had been struggling with life in general for 25 years and battling severe “social anxiety/panic attacks along with depression.  As I type this I want you to know that his wife, Tiana, has given me permission to share his story.  She was one of the only people on this earth that saw his struggle and suffering day in and day out.  I can’t even begin to tell you what this man meant to me personally or to Rod.  There were hundreds and I mean hundreds of people lined up tonight at his visitation.  Todd touched so many lives and he truly loved God with all of his heart, that is something I couldn’t be anymore sure about.  He was a Christian, and is with Jesus, yet He suffered and was ill.  Some ask, “is he in heaven?”  A resounding YES!  Can someone suffer that way and have the hope of Christ in their heart?  Yes!  Is depression real, VERY!  My heart is just about to ache its way out of my chest.  If you or someone you know is battling depression reach out for help.  Tell your friends.  Please set aside your pride and speak up.  Get it in the light so people can pray for you.  Yes we live in a world chock full of judgmental people but you are not alone. 

For the true believer in Christ you are sealed unto the day of redemption, yet you can also be terribly oppressed.

Ephesians 4:30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

 Luke 4:18“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,

If you and I are sealed and marked with the Holy Spirit, then nothing is going to inhabit us but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 1:21Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Ephesians 6:11-13 

11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I have always loved Romans 8 and it speaks to the fact that NOTHING can keep the love of God away from the life of a follower of Christ.

 Romans 8:31-39 31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
   “For your sake we face death all day long;
      we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is it sin to take your own life? Yes.  Gods word teaches that we are all sinners.  We all fall short of the glory of God.  This is not justification for the sin.  We do not sin so that grace may abound. 

Romans 3:23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

If the Lord kept a record of sins who could stand?  None of us.  He bore our shame on the cross that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.  Todd is in heaven with Jesus. 

Psalm 130:3-4

3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
       O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness;
       therefore you are feared.

Why wasn’t he thinking of his family and friends when he did this?  He was ill.  Someone told me tonight that sometimes some people just feel like the world would be a better place without them.  I had to correct that.  No, I am sure for him to be that mentally ill he thought heaven would be better for him and the only way in his thinking to be free from his body of suffering. 

We are mourning but we do not mourn as those who do not have hope (1 Thess 4:13). 

Revelation 21:1-5

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Again, we knew Todd well yet he hid his agony well.  We are so sad and we will miss him so much.  We grieve for his wife Tiana,  son Jarid and step daughter Abigail.  Our hearts break that our dear friend was in so much pain.  Tiana and all of us want him to be remembered by how much he loved God and loved others.  We want others to seek wholeness and healing and continue to fight the good fight in the midst of great trials on the sod of planet earth. 

May his life bring God glory even in his death; and to the great praise and glory of God we know He is with God in Glory.  We will never be the same. 

The following is his obituary but we will remember him for so much more:

TODD C. GASTON

Photo
GASTON, TODD C., age 45, of Pelham, AL went to be with our Lord on Monday, February 22, 2010. Todd was raised in Decatur, AL and was a graduate of University of North Alabama. He was a long time member of Hunter Street Baptist Church where he taught a singles class and served in many other ministry opportunities through the church. Todd spent the last 15 years working in sales for Jenkins Brick Company and Averitt Express. He will be remembered for his giving and serving spirit as well as his humor and his love for God, his family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Tiana Roper Gaston, and children Jarid Gaston and Abigail Medina; parents, Cecil and Kathleen Spivey Gaston; brother Alan Gaston (Shannon); sister, Teresa Nelson (James); nieces and nephews along with many friends. Visitation will be held on Wednesday, February 24th from 5-7 pm at Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham, AL. Funeral Services will be held at Hunter Street Baptist Church in Hoover, AL on Thursday, February 25th at 11:00 am. Burial will follow at Southern Heritage Cemetery, Bill Decker officiating. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Todd C. Gaston Memorial Fund at Regions Bank.
Published in The Birmingham News on February 24, 2010

So, by now you think I am addicted to Lifeway.  I found the listener guide to our next bible study on the shelf at Lifeway.  I am thrilled so now you can purchase it without having to go online and order!

Then, I am watching Wednesdays with Beth and I see my sweet friend Donna @ Way more homemade!  So excited!

I Forgot I was hurt…

Isaiah 1:5-6

 5 Why should you be beaten anymore?
       Why do you persist in rebellion?
       Your whole head is injured,
       your whole heart afflicted.

 6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
       there is no soundness—
       only wounds and welts
       and open sores,
       not cleansed or bandaged
       or soothed with oil.

I made a quick trip to Lifeway this morning to get the audio cd’s to “So Long Insecurity”   by Beth Moore.  I have been reading the book and I wanted to listen to it as well to let it really sink in.  I was thrilled when I was in there to see this:

Many of you know sweet Lisa McKay otherwise known as “The Preachers Wife”. 

Back to my story.  There was a tall man coming toward the door holding a walking cane in his left hand.  His knee almost folded as I held the door open.  He then goes to his SUV and again almost fell.  I asked him if he was alright and he said “I keep forgetting that I am hurt.”

That struck a chord with me.  Some of us are the walking wounded yet we may have been in that injured place for so long that we keep forgetting that we are hurt.  We keep making the same poor decisions because we don’t realize that our hearts are not safe left to themselves (Jeremiah 17:9).  I was talking with a precious woman who I have been getting to know over the last couple of weeks.  She just went through a divorce and has had some major hurts and losses.  She has felt betrayed by more people than she can count.  She has been telling me about some other guys that she has been talking to and I want to shout, “No, no, no! Don’t lean on another man as a walking cane when you have some injured legs that need to be healed so you can stand on them, rooted and secure in the One who loves you and can heal you.”  Seek healing and wholeness in Jesus.  I have told her that the Lord really needs to tend to her and that she is not going to experience true healing and wholeness without the Word of God penetrating her heart.  I am not a fan of “men best friends” when your married or have come through a destructive relationship, unless it is your husband.  That is just me talking based on the fact that I have never had a “mutual friendship” without one or the other getting their hearts romantically involved.  When we turn from something or someone we will inevitably turn to something or someone in its place. 

I have often shared this but I went through a horrible breakup before I was involved seriously with Rod.  I was so broken beyond belief yet I had years of co-dependency behind me.  The Lord was calling me to a place of undivided attention on Him so He could bind up my broken heart.  It had been so broken that I no longer even understood why I did some of the foolish things that I did.  The Lord called me to almost a year of solitude before I dated Rod.  I thought it was going to kill me because my identity was so wrapped up in a man.  There were times where I was begging the Great Physician to let up in the process of surgery yet His steady hand continued or I would have hemorrhaged otherwise.  It was almost as if I could hear the still small voice of God saying, “child, you did not get here over night.  Not all of it was necessarily your fault, but you are here in this place and you need some healing.  It won’t be overnight that you are healed.”   I am just suggesting that what we continue in that is unhealthy and detrimental to our soul can become what is normal to us.  We can no longer recognize the lie even though it is like a mountain staring us in the stinking face. 

To be healed by the Healer we will have to cease trying to go at it on our own.  We will have to cooperate with His plan. for our healing.  We will have to seek Him in the process.  Here are a few of the steps I took along the way:

1.  Commit to Cooperation with God.

2.  Immerse yourself in the word daily.  It will have to truly be your daily bread if you are serious about seeking wholeness.  This is not legalism it is about relationship.  Memorize scripture, take your lunch break and spend time in the word, write verses down that are ministering to your heart on index cards and carry them around with you.

3.  Do not forsake the assembling of believers.  You can’t do things all on your own.  You need to be around other believers in Christ.  Isolation almost always leads to captivity or is a sure indicator of it.

4.  Prayer.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  Get a journal and just pour out your heart in prayer to God.  Tell Him anything and everything.  He knows you better than you know yourself. 

Don’t persist in willfull rebellion it will only make the process harder.  Ask God to give you a holy hatred  for what He hates.  Ask Him to give you a lack of physical peace whenever you are outside of His will.  He will do it.  Rest in Him and allow Him to heal you.  He who promised is faithful.

Love to you all!!

Oh and here is a pic of my baby girl:

toxic communication

Jeremiah 2

 11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
       (Yet they are not gods at all.)
       But my people have exchanged their  Glory
       for worthless idols.

Recently I have felt as if true living had just been sucked out of me.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was exactly.  Yet I just had this gnawing empty feeling.  It is so easy with all of the mass forms of communication to get sucked into scattering your attention all over the place and coming up empty in a quest for some semblance of fullness. 

I overheard Morgan on the phone with my sister yesterday and the conversation went like this:

Morgan, tell your mom to go look at the new pictures I put up on facebook.  Morgan replied, ” Aunt Steph my mom got off of facebook so she could spend more time with Jesus.  You should get off of facebook to.”

We died laughing and how hilarious she is.  Just because the Lord is calling me to do something doesn’t mean He is calling her. 

After a few days of refocusing it is amazing how much time I was wasting on things like Twitter and facebook.  I got so sucked in that I almost had a “communication addiction” when there was actually a bunch of empty communication with little intimacy.  Most of all, I began to just waste time that could have been spent focused on Jesus or in His word.  I began to be afraid that if I shut it all down, I would be missing out on something.  I mean what if President Bush was trying to contact me or something?  It is almost ridiculous because all of my family relationships, some friendships, and etc were all being conducted via facebook and almost replacing face to face contact and accountability.  AGAIN, I feel the need to state that I am not saying this goes for everyone, I am talking about me.  

I truly felt like I was exchanging the Glory of the One and Only for a worthless idol.  The idol of needing to feel important or connected or in the loop.  Whew!  Did you need to know all of this?

Also, I had someone suggest to me a while back when I felt the desire to halt the communication frenzy (because you really do need to know that someone is eating cheese dip, or has just gone to the store, or hates traffic on Twitter or you might die for lack of substance) that it was like communism for me to just quit cold turkey.  I personally have an addictive personality.  If I am going to do something, I do it.  I have joked about going to one of those machines where you can win a stuffed animal and getting so caught up in trying to win it that I began to freak out after I had no more quarters in my purse.  All for a stinking stuffed animal.  So, I know my limitations.  Like the fact that it would never be OK for me to go gambling.  I can hardly handle chuckie cheese.  What I am getting to is if we are going to cease one activity we need to begin another in its place.  So, while I have not been on the computer, I have been spending more time in the word or prayer and I feel so refreshed. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have met many wonderful people via blog world and esp through Beth Moore’s blog.  It’s just that I need to stay focused on the One who can truly satisfy the longings of my soul instead of me trying to stuff myself with a million other things and still coming up empty. 

1 Corinthians 10:23

The Believer’s Freedom

 23“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.

test!

my main blog is http://jennyhope-jennyhope.blogspot.com/ but I am giving this a try so I can comment on other wordpress blogs!