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between praise and warfare

Things have been so hectic the last several months. Between extended family issues (they are never ending), my health, my nephew’s future, Hannah’s growing pains and now my brother’s health; I have found myself asking God for some down time. Please Jesus, can things be calm for a bit?

This morning I was listening to LifeWay Women Devotions and I came across Tammie Head. I have never heard her speak before, but this morning, her words were what I needed to hear.

We are between two worlds. We are set in here for a reason. We are always between praise and warfare, just as Jesus was and I need to be okay with that. Not only okay with it, but able to recover from one quickly to move to the next.

I say I need to be able to, but I will never be able to on my own. I must always have my face fixed on Jesus. I must always stay fixed on Him. Where my face is fixed, my body and mind will follow.

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following not chasing

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

I read this scripture this morning. It has stuck with me. As I have said, I have been at a crossroads. And, since I don’t feel there have been any further instruction, I am waiting.

Waiting isn’t easy. Waiting feels like laziness. Waiting makes me itch to do something. Make things happen.

Reading this scripture reminds me. I don’t need action. I need Jesus.

God promises to instruct and teach.

I have always thought these words meant the same thing. They don’t. When you are intructed, you are directed or commanded to do something, like as an official order. Teach is to show or explain how to do something.

God promises to order my life and my steps. And not just to order them, but to show and explain to me how I should go. He will also give me advice. What a promise! When I am worried. If I keep my eyes focused on Him. If I wait for His timing, He will make clear to me those things He wants me to do.

Just leaving it at this would make it seem like a transaction; I do x and y, then Jesus does Z. But that is not how life is, not how relationships are. Sometimes we do things and we never see the Z. Or we go through things and the purpose is not clear. This is when we have to trust the most. God is infinite; my thoughts, my ideas, my life here is finite. I may not understand. I may not even like it, but trust is what makes things clear. Trust says that I believe no matter what I think or feel, God knows what is best. Sometimes that is very hard. But, at the same time, it is freeing.

Psalm 33:20

We wait in hope for the Lord.
He helps us.
He is like a shield that keeps us safe.

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Changing Seasons and #thebestyes

In other words, the only way to diminish our regrets is by making decisions that lead to peace. And peace requires from us some sort of release.

Release isn’t stealing from us. It’s a gift-a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, desperate, so desperate for help. She can feel the twinges and hear the creaking sounds of a splitting break about to happen. She knows she can’t take much more. tears well up in her upturned, pleading eyes. “God help me. It’s all too much. I’m tired and frustrated and so very worn-out.”

The wind whips past her, trailing a whispered, “R-e-l-e-a-s-e.”

She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can’t embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can’t carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she’ll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.

These words bring so much truth. The release is what is so difficult. To know, what exactly needs to be released.

One thing I know for sure, it is difficult to wait for the release. It is difficult to wait for the whisper that tells you what to release. But what is harder, much harder, is living with the consequences of a rushed or wrong release.

Satan loves to tempt you when you are wondering. He also loves to accuse you of not being able to “handle” things because you don’t have your plan of action intact and ready to be implemented.

But the things he whispered to me…I knew they were not the way I should be directed. Sometimes I want to scream at him, you think I am soooo weak. I am! But Jesus is so much stronger than me. And I trust and WAIT for HIM.

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changing seasons

over the last several weeks, everywhere I look I am reminded of seasons changing. Okay, of course in nature, but in many things that I read.

I am definitely in one of those season changes right now and it is not easy. I am really having a difficult time knowing how to move forward. What do I do to move forward? And, what does this move look like?

Physically, I am tired. I have not shaken the fatigue from this summer. And, it seems as though I just cannot kick a cold. Or get motivated to work out.

Mentally, there is no silence. I feel as though my brain is racing. When I know there is something coming, something to change, I just want to jump into it and make the changes. But, what if you aren’t sure what is supposed to change?

How do you narrow it down? Of course I know, the real answer is to stop. When you don’t know what to do, you are supposed to stop and wait.

I have been unhappy with my job for years. I guess after this summer I keep thinking, really, is it worth staying at something you don’t like? I stay because it is a government job and I already have 21 years invested. I stay for the hope of the retirement in the future. But we aren’t guaranteed a future, so what is the answer? How do you remain prudent, but also follow your heart? Although, I am not totally sure what I would rather be doing either. ha, ha, ha.

Waiting is never easy. Waiting takes patience. Waiting on Jesus takes time to rest and to listen.

What do you do when you feel in between to seasons?

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Process

I read this yesterday from Jesus Today, but never moved my marker, so I read it again today. Sometimes it is so important to repeat yourself.

You are being renewed day by day. So do not be weighed down by yesterday’s failures and disappointments. Begin this day anew, seeking to please Me and walk in My ways – focusing on today! As you do, I am able to transform you little by little. This is a lifelong process – a journey fraught with problems and pain. It is also a journey full of Joy and Peace because I am with you each step of the way.

Notice that you are being renewed. This is not something you can do by your effort and willpower alone. My Spirit is in charge of your renewal, and He is alive within you – directing your growth in grace. Do not be discouraged when you encounter problems and pain along your way. These are vital parts of the renewal process. Muster the courage to thank Me when you are going through painful experiences. Find hope through trusting that I continually hold you by your right hand – and I am preparing you for Glory!

It is so difficult to remember that I am ‘in progress’. There is no finish. I will never ‘arrive’.

On top of that, God doesn’t expect that from me. He is absolutely happy with the process.

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slow suicide

In August our church started the “The Comparison Trap” series by Andy Stanley. I have been ruminating on pearls of wisdom for weeks.

Proverbs 14:30
…envy rots the bones.”

Where do I look to feel okay? Who or what is my mirror?

As we are working through parenting and family issues, I have to continue to remind myself, that my parenting skills and/or lack thereof do not define me. This is a process. I am learning, she is learning. We are going to make mistakes.

Am I allowing what others have to keep me from enjoying what I have?

Am I allowing what I don’t have to keep me from enjoying what I do have?

For me, why am I allowing my feelings or insecurities keep me from enjoying all that God has blessed me with? Often times, for me, the answer is yes.

We are all using someone or something as a reference point; who or what am I going to use to tell me I am okay?

We all have a wonder, a whisper in our minds that say “am I okay?”

The “ought” and the “ought not” is the law of God written on our hearts. Even if I had ______ (any number of things that I have my heart set on), I would still wonder.

This I know to be true. There have been times in my life when my insecurities have been at bay, yet, I always wonder.

Because of the break between the Creator and creation, there is an insecurity deep within out soul. Nothing and no one can ever fully restore this break. What God did when He sent Jesus to the world, was to make us “Sons of God”, we were adopted.

God, who knows everything about you, about me, sent His Son to make it possible for me to be adopted by God. I am His child. Because I am His child, He sent His Spirit into me in order that I can call Him “Daddy”.

Daddy

He made me for something particular. It is something for me, that He wants me to do. Since no one else is made for this same thing; God doesn’t compare me to anyone else.

As long as I look to my left and right, there will be no peace.

Heavenly Father, I want to see me the way you see me.

God tells me, He tells you, you are fine, because you are Mine.

My greatest potential is found in the will of God.

Andy Stanley closed with something that I try to tell myself, “Take your cue about you from the One who made you, who loves you and who redeemed you.”

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always faithful

I have wanted to write for weeks. Each time I begin to formulate what I want to say in my mind, it seems so incomplete that I stop. Wait for the ideas to materialize into a cohesive entry. As you can see, the wait has been a while. Maybe I just need to dive in…

I finished radiation treatment on Friday, August 22. It took until Monday, September 1 for me to cry. Crying can be cleansing. Can allow you to start anew. I feel that is where I am now, starting anew.

What did I learn? There are easy lessons. Show up. That was a big one for me. I often look at what I have to offer and it seems so little. So, I don’t. This experience taught me to show up. When people need me, when they need help even when they won’t ask, show up for them. So many people showed up for me. They loved me with their kind words, their prayers, cards…I was blessed by a community and a family I sometimes think I don’t have. Everyone was wonderful. It is my turn now.

Just as it is taking time for my skin to heal, it is taking time for the lessons to reveal themselves.

I have felt as though I needed to run away at times. Need time to myself. Be away from concerned eyes. I get to take that trip tomorrow. Just an overnight. But, it is to see Women of Faith. I am going alone. I have been looking forward to it all week. I keep imagining it as a date with Jesus. Time to be with Him. Let Him do His work. I haven’t been to Women of Faith for years and years, so I am looking forward to seeing the ladies and sitting under the blessings of their teaching.

Can I just say, in the event you are feeling otherwise right now….God shows up. He does. It may not be in our timing. It may feel like He has forgotten or doesn’t see. But during this hectic week of trying to adjust to being back in the office, learning a new routine, keeping my health in perspective, being there for Hannah as she navigates this new school year, He has shown up. He has comforted my soul. He has given me rest when I was threatening to stay up all night to worry. And, the Holy Spirit has been revealing how He has been with me every step of the way.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to sit and rest. I ALWAYS have a hard time with that. But God has been blessing those small breaks I take to breath Him in.

Thank you Jesus.

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what i know to be true

This week has been so very emotional. Last Sunday I walked into church with such a heavy heart. The situation in Iraq had me shaking; angry, sad, hurt. The message was exactly what I needed, isn’t God so awesome like that? It is just like Him.

It was a reminder to be combat ready. We must have the expectation that there is an enemy and is ready to attack at any time. Therefore, I must always be ready. We studied 1 Corinthians 16:13. We can be combat ready when we are watchful, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong and do everything in love.

The Bible tells us we will be hated just as Jesus was hated. We will face horrors because of our God. This doesn’t by any means negate the horrors and atrocities happening to Christians around the world, but it tells me, I shouldn’t be surprised. Yes, I can outraged. I should do all I can to help them. But, I should never be surprised. The world is sick. We cannot believe that because we love Jesus we will be spared this sickness. He wasn’t.

After clarity sank in, the week begins with the death of Robin Williams; a fellow warrior in the life-long battle against depression. I think Glennon from Momastry said, when a fellow warrior dies, it frightens those that are still in the battle. Your mind races, “if they can do it and they have, etc. etc. How is possible for me to make it?”

As you work through these feelings, you are then bombarded with arm chair doctors and Christians who damn him. Who say that if you did xyz enough that you would not have depression. That it is a lack of faith. That it is a lack of joy. Just have more joy.

When I was watching the Olympics earlier in the year, they were discussing a skier and a close friend who had died. Do you want to know how it was described? The announcer said, “He lost his lifelong battle with depression.” (or words to that effect) I have to tell you. I love this. I love this so much. Because isn’t that how it feels? You are losing your battle. You didn’t give in. You didn’t take the cowards way out. You just were so wounded that you couldn’t fight anymore. You succumbed to your injuries.

I won’t go ad nauseum into the comparisons, though I have heard some awesome ones. If someone with asthma died from their asthma; would we say, “well, they should have just calmed down and breathed more. what a coward for not breathing more. They should have believed more in Jesus. Their faith was imperfect.”

Guess what? ALL of us have imperfect faith. Because we are imperfect.

As always, listening to everyone talk about it makes my brain hurt and race. It makes me sad that people can be callous about something they so clearly don’t understand. It isn’t the blues people. It is who I am. It is part of how I think, react, live. It touches everything about me. Just as diabetes, asthma, and congentital diseases are every part of the person who lives with them.

I won’t discuss medication. The argument is so tired and shameful. I am wounded by Christians who have opinions about medication, yet do not have depression and have never lived with depression and without medication. That tightrope act we put on, because we want to be ‘good’. The times we struggle to take medication because we don’t want to need it. We don’t want to seem ‘less christian’ than the next person.

2 Corinthians 12:9
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Paul says “I WILL BOAST ALL THE MORE GLADLY OF MY WEAKNESS, SO THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME.” I will BOAST! I will not hide. I will not pretend that I can handle it. I will not worry that my disease will make Jesus look less than who and what He is to this sick world. Just as I would hope and pray that someone who was born with a deformity would not worry that they make Jesus look less than who HE is.

I will boast. I will love. I will hug. I will not judge. I will seek out those who are afraid to get help and remind them, our weaknesses don’t steal from Jesus. They glorify Him.

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limping

the last few weeks have found me limping along. I had so many plans for all I was going to do and accomplish while I was working from home and undergoing treatment. Instead, I have found myself exhausted. I have cut my hours back at work; using up vacation days I scarcely feel that I can lose. I don’t have energy to exercise. Keeping up with just the bare minimum has been a feat of monumental proportions. I have let myself down. All of my insecurities have come rushing back. I don’t feel like myself. I don’t like how I feel.

Because I don’t feel like myself and have been experiencing the insecurities in rushing waves, I have found myself checking out more; too much tv, too many internet games, etc. All of these empty pursuits leave me feeling, well, empty. More empty than when I started.

Questions and ideas race through my mind. Should I start a Bible study? Should I host a group this fall? Which one? Should I force myself to do the exercise videos? Maybe you should just skip a couple of meals? You need to insert yourself in that situation, obviously so and so is not handling it properly. You are running out of time.

Issues and circumstances that have aggravated me and upset me start doing cartwheels and having small town fairs in my mind. Let’s overthink every idea.

Today, I sat down with Jesus and told Him, I couldn’t do it. He is so precious. His answer is always, “I know.” Then quickly, He always reminds me, “I never asked you to. Never intended for you to do it all.”

I started reading in Jesus Today

I will fight for you; you need only to be still. I know how weary you are, My child. You have been struggling to just keep your head above water, and your strength is running low. Now is the time for you to stop striving and let ME fight for you. I know this is not easy for you to do. You feel as if you must keep struggling in order to survive, but I am calling you to rest in ME. I am working on your behalf; so be still, and know that I am God.

Quieting your body is somewhat challenging for you, but stilling your mind may often seem downright impossible. In your striving to feel secure, you have relied too heavily on your own thinking. This struggle to be in control has elevated your mind to a position of autonomy. So you need the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him to control your mind more and more-soothing you from the inside out. Take time to rest in the shadow of the Almighty while I fight for you.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! Psalm 46:10

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

Like David often did, I find myself back to Psalm 25:1

O LORD, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, MY GOD!

Holy Spirit, I need you to control my mind. I need you to intervene in the thoughts and ideas I have allowed to run loose.
Teach me to rest. Teach me to rest in you. I don’t know how. Help me to stop trying to figure out your ways, and instead learn your ways.

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Prayer for Christlikeness from joyful mysteries

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread your fragrance everywhere I go;
Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so completely
That all my life may be only a radiance of yours;
Shine through me and be so in me
That everyone with whom I come in contact
May feel your presence within me.
Let them look up and see no longer me-but only Jesus.
Amen.

-John Henry Cardinal Newman