DROWNING IN DOUBT

I’m so glad the Gospel includes the disciples.  Especially Peter.

I had a “Peter” week last week, and what a roller coaster it was! My last post was bold and brave. The next evening, I cried in doubt and insecurity. Where I had been confident of God’s provision, I became anxious. Where I had felt strong, I became insecure.

Long after my work-week bedtime, I stayed up crying, frustrated with God and His timing. Long-story, short, our family is struggling financially. My husband has been unemployed for a little over two months and his unemployment funds haven’t been released to him yet. We’ve been relying on what little retirement funds he had to pay bills that were already mounting heavily for us. We have no savings. His retirement is the last of our financial resources, and finding employment suited for my husband has become a challenge.

I’ve been trusting God to help us,  believing that He will provide. I would love to say I have a steadfast faith, but I don’t yet. Although I’ve found that I’m far more resilient than I have been in the past.

So Wednesday I stepped out of the boat in faith. I decided to focus on Jesus and trust in his word to see us through this trial. I wouldn’t focus on my circumstances. My faith was strong, and I wanted to be used mightily by God to encourage other children of God to be strong, too. By Thursday night, I was frustrated and, honestly, a bit angry with God.

I had been trusting that not only would our needs be met. I even dared to believe that we might actually experience abundance. Now, I was simply hoping that we would get the unemployment funds that my husband was entitled to. What kind of God withholds what little is owed to us? Where’s the victory in that? How does our lacking provide a testimony to His greatness? Why wasn’t my faithfulness being rewarded? Does God even care?

And as I sat in the dark of my living room, crying, doubting God, I began to sink into despair just as Peter sank into the sea when he looked out on the intimidating waves. ‘This is ridiculous,’ I decided. ‘Who was I to think I could step out in faith and not drown? Look at all that surrounds me!’

Fortunately, Christ is patient with our doubt. He is patient and compassionate when we act like Peter. Peter was the first to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God, the messiah. He was bold and outspoken. He stepped out in faith and then sank. He vowed to never deny Christ, then denied him three times. He defended his Lord with a sword only to learn that Jesus didn’t approve of his methods. He believed in Christ’s divinity and then heard, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’

But! But Jesus knew Peter’s heart and saw his potential. In Luke 22, we find Christ understanding Peter in ways that Peter doesn’t even see himself:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (31 – 34)

What I love about this passage is not just that Jesus knows that Peter will fail him, but that he knows that Peter will “turn back” and strengthen his brothers. He knows that Peter will repent and return. And He knows that upon his return, Peter will be strong enough in his convictions and faith that he will encourage and strengthen his brothers. After he denies him. He doesn’t count Peter out for failing Him; he counts on Peter’s return.

I think our great Intercessor knows that we will fail Him. He knows we’ll step out in faith, only to step back in fear and self-preservation. He also knows that we have the potential to develop resilience and come back to Him stronger. And he never stops loving us. He always welcomes us back with compassion and forgiveness.

I think if Peter had had a second opportunity to walk to Jesus on top of turbulent waves, he would have given it another shot. I also think he would have started sinking again – although not as soon as he did the first time. So today I pick myself up, dry my tears and humbly repent and return to my Savior – still wet from the water, but a bit stronger in my faith as Christ reaches out to pull me up saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 31)

And, like Peter, I am returning to my blog to encourage you to not give up faith. It is my prayer that each time we fail, we repent and return stronger in our faith. I pray that we allow God to work through our weaknesses and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, empower us to soldier on. Jesus is there to immediately reach out His hand to catch us. We have only to call out to Him.

WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY DISTURBED!

I love Pinterest! I think it’s great therapy. I can hoard all I want and not need more totes, and I can organize to my heart’s content. But I have two boards that are locked; no one but me can see them. One is Christmas gift ideas. The other is a combination of pins that talk about depression, poor self image, etc. They’re all things that I don’t want anyone to see because each is a part of that place in me that I don’t want anyone to know about.

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Some of you know what that place is like. It’s dark, sad, ugly, desolate and deliberately uninviting. It’s the “What Would People Think?” part of ourselves, and it’s the loneliest place in the world. As you can imagine, the only light is a single, naked bulb hanging in the middle of the room. (Ambience at it’s worst.)

But you know what I’m finding out? A lot of people have a room like this! Sure, some of them might be small closets while others are as large as a ballroom, but I think most of them are just about the same size as any other person’s. So I’m finding out that I’m really no more weird or damaged than the next person. (Although I have to respectfully acknowledge that there are people who have been through so much more than I have been.)

I think genuinely depressed people try very hard to appear happy because if you asked them how they’re doing (in any way other than that socially appropriate, rhetorical way), they might be tempted to tell you. And if they tell you, they might start crying. And if they start crying, they might not stop. And if they can’t stop, you might find out just how broken and frightened they feel. (Kinda sounds like a depressed person’s version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, doesn’t it – but without the cookie, which in itself is depressing.)

b93374320808c392e99e91e03685948dI applaud Brene’ Brown for bringing shame out of the closet. I appreciate Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson for revealing his own bouts with depression. I believe it’s time for mental health to be treated with the same degree of importance as physical health. After all, poor mental health can be life-threatening, too.

It’s one thing to tell children (and adults) that bullying and abuse is wrong. But there are so many victims of abuse and bullying who don’t see the wrongness of being bullied and abused! They don’t see enough value in themselves to make a stand and say enough is enough.

What’s even sadder is that some of those people are born-again, church-attending Christians. They’re children of a mighty God, and they’re living in despair. I know there’s hope, and as long as there’s hope, there can be victory. Christ has secured the victory over sin and He holds the keys to Hell. As Christians, we do not glorify God if we live our lives defeated and hopeless.

We don’t have to wear a fake smile and act like that everything is just peachy. Sometimes it’s hard. Cancer is hard. Financial problems are hard. Unemployment is hard. Depression is hard. Recovery is hard. Life is hard! But we’re not alone, and we’re not without hope and help.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this blog and how I could use it to encourage others. God has put it on my heart to not waste my own experience and to use the talents he’s given me to help others. But I haven’t figured out how. Who knows? Maybe someone else is already doing a good enough job of it, and I am doing this out of boredom or pride.

But here’s what’s on my heart that I want to share:

We are valuable. While we may feel broken or damaged, we’re not – at least not so much that we can’t be put back together as something even more beautiful. We started out valuable simply by being born, and someone perverted our value into something ugly.

We are not alone, even if there’s not another soul in the world who treats us with respect and affection, there is the offer of relationship with God through the sacrificial death of his son, Jesus Christ. But I also know how empty that can sound when we’ve been rejected by people who we can touch and hear. How are we supposed to trust in God when he isn’t physically present?

We are lovable simply because the One who has created us has set us aside for a divine purpose – all of us. But I also know how hard it is to believe that when those who were supposed to love us, nurture us and keep us safe did anything but that.

We are deeply and unimaginably loved by that same God, but how does that love translate into something tangible? It can feel pretty futile to tell ourselves, “but God loves me” when we go home to an empty house and eat lunch alone every day.

Some of you may think I’m looking for pity when I reference my childhood. I can assure you, I’m past that. I believe I’m finally at a place where I can refer to my past without living in it. If it bothers you, this is your warning to walk away while you can. But if you want someone who understands, stay tuned. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to send me right back to my mother’s house. I just don’t stay there as long as I used to!

I don’t want my experience wasted; I’ve wasted enough time with it and I’m done. I know that you can be a Christian and still be far from enjoying the love, approval and victory you signed up for when you gave your life to Christ. Christ didn’t just give you a Get Out of Hell Free card. You’ve been adopted into a whole new family where love and acceptance are abundant. You’ve been given the right to point to the Son of God and say, “I know I don’t deserve to be here, but I’m with Him.”

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Too many of us are still living as a child of Judy, Bob, Maria, David – pick your adult’s name – and are failing to live as a child of God. We’re missing out on the blessing we could be to others. We’re missing out on a radical, abundant, joyful life because we can’t see ourselves the way our Creator sees us. Heck, even other people in our lives see us more favorably than we see ourselves and we can’t even manage to accept their version of us, much less God’s. My husband and girls love me like crazy, and I still don’t get it!

We were created to be glorious reflections of the God who created us and, in doing so, live amazing lives. But we’re not. And attending a church service or listening to a great preacher on television or reading an inspirational book just doesn’t cut it when you walk away thinking, “except for me.” Trust me, this includes you! This is one team for which you won’t get picked last.

So where do we go from here?

 

 

 

 

 

LETTING GO OF THE LIES

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV

This is such a short sentence, and yet it’s so powerful! It’s one of those verses that could be divided and each sentence would work alone. But they work together powerfully!

If you’ve ever felt inherently defective and undeserving of anything good, you’ve missed so much. My prayer for you is that you can move from a position of powerlessness and worthlessness to one of power and worthiness in Christ even if no one else has treated you that way – including yourself. I pray that you will open your heart and hands to what God has to give you.

A good place to start is by submitting to God and resisting the devil. I read this verse on my phone this morning and, for the first time in my Christian life, I read it differently (and I’m kind of excited about it right now because I need this now!). Today is different because I read it as a deserving child of God. I’m learning who my real Father is, and I have to tell you, He’s powerful!

My Father has already won every battle to come. In spite of how scary the devil can make things look, it’s all nothing to God. If you follow the story of Christ, you’ll see that demons fled when He spoke. They knew who He was and they were afraid. They were afraid Christ had come before His appointed time, which tells me they knew their time was limited. Their fear also tells me that they knew they were on the losing team. They were weak and vulnerable and had no choice but to submit to Christ as the son of God!ca320ee80218a2a06ce2f66d5db8dbf3

This is the same devil and demons we deal with today. They’re the ones who whisper to you that no one likes you, that you’re inadequate, that you’re alone. They’re the ones who lie to you!

Now, be honest for a moment. If you had a friend who you knew lied to you, how long would you listen to her and trust her? You’d be foolish to believe what she said. Sure, there might be times she tells you the truth, just to keep you in a relationship. But how long could you tolerate hearing, “Jill doesn’t like you.” or “Jim thinks you’re fat.” or “You’re not good enough.” when you know it’s a lie?

So why do we listen to Satan’s lies? Because they agree with the thoughts you already have? Test them against what your loving, forgiving Father says about you, and you’ll see that they are, indeed, lies. Remember that Satan condemns and God convicts. Condemnation is bad, and you don’t need that. Conviction is good, and you need that.

Submit to God. Read His word and learn how very much he loves you. Realize how wonderful and powerful you are as the child of the One who created the universe and you with the same hands. But you need to submit to God so you have an anchor to hold onto. It’s a bit like playing on the monkey bars; you don’t let go of one bar before you let go of the bar you’re holding.

Then resist the devil and make him flee. The verse doesn’t say, “and hope he’ll leave you alone.” It puts the truth very simply – he will flee. He’ll flee from you just as he fled from Christ and his disciples. Why? Because you are a child of God, and God protects His own. This is where you let go of the other bar.

Trust me, once you’ve got ahold of God, you can let go of the stuff that doesn’t help!

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GOD’S GOT YOU COVERED!

0fca0f31e3ae70ed82b1e571ed0ed6fdI wasted two days of my  life this past Friday and Saturday. They’re just gone!

I felt angry, bitter, and scared and numb. I was so scared that I shut down. Worry about what my future holds consumed me. I ran future possibilities through my head until I couldn’t think anymore. But I felt I had to look ahead to determine if I could handle any of those possibilities – just in case. I’m so tired! And the only thing I managed is to lose two days of my life.

I struggle between trusting God and trusting all the players, including – especially – me. I can say I’m going to let God handle everything that troubles me now, and then I worry about it.

When I worry, I take the whole thing outp of God’s capable hands. I know what I’m saying is, “Lord, I don’t trust you.” (Like I can trust myself to do better!)

Here’s one of those “fortune cookie” declarations I mentioned in my last post – the ones that are always optimistic and seem to be meant for someone other than me:cd608ccfde83a8700ac72470819c551e.jpg

But I’ve decided to claim this one because I think it reflects the personality of God. And these are the characteristics of God that I need now and believe I can go boldly before the throne and ask him to use in my life.

My God has me covered. He has already been where I’m going and has made a straight path and good plan for me. He has already spoken to the people who will influence my life, closed the doors that need to be closed and opened the doors that need to be opened. He’s got me covered.

When I had an emergency open heart surgery at Allina, I was helicoptered there. I learned later that before I even landed, the path to the operating room was cleared. There were no obstacles at all. Every door was open, including the elevator doors. Nothing was going to delay my arrival. And everything and everyone was there and ready to save my life in operation. That’s what God does in our lives.

And because he’s God, we can always be confident that he will – at his discretion and in his time – provide increase, restoration, healing and breakthroughs. He loves us and meets us where we are, but when we become His child, things need to change. He can’t leave us as we were without him. That means we can expect an upgrade in our life. Praise God that while I’m not yet where I want to be, to his glory I’m not where I was when he got ahold of me!

But I can’t do this on my own. I’ve seen what happens when I try to handb7458c51ee3ce0ffe8fcf57175829bd9le my struggles alone. I waste days feeling sorry for myself and nothing gets done. So I need to turn it all over to God. And that can be hard to do. What if I don’t like the plans he has for me? What if He takes too long? So the first thing I had to do was to surrender my heart to Him. And as I do (it’s a process for me!) I find him softening my heart, making my heart and thoughts right, in line with Him and his plan.

The hardest part for me is to “choose to trust”. I’m already in pain because there’s been a breach in trust, usually, and I’m hurt. Now I’m supposed to put my trust in someone I can’t see or touch?! If I want peace and want to see victory, yes.princess warior

I have to hold onto the fact that I am putting my trust in someone who truly loves me and wants what’s best for me. I didn’t grow up with that. In fact, I grew up with a parent who I believe hated me and would sabotage me every chance she got. She did not have my my best interest in her heart as God does. So this faith alone is very hard for me. But I have to believe it, and I have to believe that God will give me a new set of eyes to go with the new heart he’s given me.

Does God want us to have the victory over our enemy? Yes! Why? Because he loves us and because every victory we have is a victory for His kingdom. What sort of leader would he be if he had a defeated army with no hope in them?

I pray that I can remember Whose I am and who I am as I go through my present struggle. God has promised that He has a good plan for me. He’s promised me a new heart and new eyes to see more clearly. I think trusting Him sounds better than wasting my days in bed feeling sorry for myself.

IS IT JUST ME?

Isn’t it hard to be upbeat all the time? I don’t always feel a praise on the tip of my tongue when it’s been a really, really long, trying week! I mean, sometimes things are just plain hard and it seems like there’s no end in sight. If anything, that light at the end of the tunnel keeps getting further and further away. Or you suspect, as you’re standing on the tracks, that the light which seems to be growing larger is the light at the front of the train itself!

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I hope God’s not disappointed when I get weary of trying times. I don’t think he is. To the contrary, God gives us encouragement in such times:

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

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I don’t know about you, but I get really weary sometimes. I only decided to begin blogging (again) a few weeks ago, and already I feel tired. Not from writing; the writing has energized me and actually given me something good in my life to look forward to. I’ve always tried to be an encourager, but have most recently needed encouraging myself. Still, no matter how negative I may feel when I start a post, I find that I simply cannot empty my trashcan on someone else’s desk and walk away feeling satisfied.

In fact, I have a confession to make. The last few posts have started out as an invitation to a pity party. I’ve had a lot of discouragement lately. I read declarations here and there about how God is about to bring my trial to an end and how He’s about to bring me out of the wilderness into my promised land, and honestly they’re beginning to sound like fortune cookies that someone else was meant to get instead of me. I know my God is a God of “suddenlies” and abundant victories, but I just don’t feel it right now.

So I end up feeling like a bad Christian for being discouraged and disappointed and frustrated, you know?

What’s the solution, then? I suppose I have to rely on what I know and not on what I feel. It’s as simple as the first song I learned in Sunday School: “Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And it does. The Bible is the longest love letter ever written. I don’t get it. I can’t fathom how God could keep loving someone who can be so unlovable sometimes. I don’t get how God can keep forgiving someone who is so often unforgiving, especially when He knows I’ll probably be right back asking forgiveness for the same thing in a couple of days.

But His Word doesn’t tell me to understand. It tells me to trust.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

But even if I turn out to be the only person encouraged by what I write, then I guess I’ll continue to write. And that may well be the case! (You’re going to love this one!) Yesterday followed one of the worst days I’ve had in years. (Not the worst, but right up there in the Top 10.) It happens that a friend of mine put me in contact with a friend of his, who was in the process of reading my blog to offer me some feedback. He found a post from my first attempt at blogging over seven years ago – which also happened to chronicle one of the lowest points in my life (Also in the Top 10). He proceeded to tell me I was on the right track with it.

I didn’t want to be told I was on the right track. I wanted to be at home, in my bed, eating worms – alone! – while I slowly melted into a worthless puddle of slime. How ironic that someone could go into my past and shine the light on an encouraging post that I wrote.

Things aren’t any better today, by the way. God hasn’t pulled a “suddenly”. To make things worse, the situation that troubles me is quite out of my hands. In fact, the only control over it is to accept it or reject it, and the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, as far as I can tell. (By the way…I don’t like it!)

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So, what’s left? Hope. As hard as it is to grasp right now, I have hope. Right now, it’s just me and God – and the hope He promises me.

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5 ESV)

I spent enough of my life in shame. It would be easy to feel shame now. After all, my life doesn’t look so promising, and I’m honestly a bit anxious. I don’t feel like a model Christian. If anything, I’m a struggling Christian. I struggle to keep trusting God when he’s silent. I struggle to keep faith in Him when he doesn’t answer my prayers quickly. I struggle to put my life my life in his hands when I’m afraid he might end up taking me through homelessness to glorify his name. I’ve read those stories, and I don’t think I have the faith or fortitude to go through that! But at least I’m not hopeless.

 

 

RISE UP AND STAND FIRM

For a devotional today, I read Psalm 20. It was incredibly encouraging!

Psalm 20:4 says, “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

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I really like that part! Who doesn’t want God to give us the desire of our heart? Who wouldn’t appreciate having all their plans succeed?

But there’s such a temptation to limit God, isn’t there? I look at my present situation and think, “If only God would….” I see my immediate need and pray that God will meet it. But what if meeting my immediate need in the way I think is best isn’t what would glorify God? Then God becomes little more than a Santa Bunny, there to make all our dreams come true and give us a pony if we beg long enough.

First of all, God is so much bigger than we let him be. He is able to do all things and to give us an abundant life. Too often, we settle for a little blessing because we’re in a hurry, when we could have a greater blessing and a genuine heart overhaul if we would only trust and wait on his timing.

The second mistake we make is in expecting his blessing to glorify us rather than Him. We don’t really mean to, but it’s our nature to be self-focused most of the time. God loves us dearly and wants to bless us, but he owes us nothing. The way I see the scripture, he has a victory planned – but for “his anointed” and for His kingdom. I believe all of God’s children have been anointed for something. His anointed have been set apart for a sacred and divine purpose. It is the anointed who will bring glory to the kingdom of God:

Now this I know: The Lord gives victory to his anointed. He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary with the victorious power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Lord, give victory to the king! Answer us when we call! (Psalm 20:6-9)

When you are anointed and you go to battle in the name of God, there is nothing and no one who can stand in the way. God has already established His victory. The only question is when and how. And what are we to do as the enemy falls in defeat? Rise up and stand firm!

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What an awesome God we serve when His name is stronger than chariots or horses, whispers or doubts, or whatever weapon the enemy chooses to use against us. We’re not told to put our faith in our checking balance or our relationships. And we’re not told to fidget and worry. We’re told to rise up and stand firm.

I pray that today I can do that. I pray that I can put my worries in God’s hands and let the victory over my circumstances be for God’s glory not mine. And I pray that I can simply rise up and stand firm.

JUST ONE OF US REGULAR FOLK

For most of my life, I dreaded reading the Bible. It seemed so boring! All those doth sayth’s and verily’s can really get to a person after a while. God always seemed to be smiting some tribe or another.

But at some point in the last year, I had a refreshing perspective of the Bible.

First, I realized that this is a collection of some of the most flawed people you could imagine. The fact is that they were just like us!

Second, I realized that God loved them dearly and used them in mighty ways in spite of, or actually through, their weaknesses. Jonah was kicking and screaming while God used him; but he used him! Abraham and Sarah got ahead of God’s timetable and decided to take things into their own hands and “help” God.

Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re bursting full of God-ordained potential, but you don’t feel like you have a starting place? You’ve been sent on a mission without a road map or a timeline? You don’t know when to start or where to stop. Maybe you think you heard God wrong! You know there’s a big plan for you, but the plans are anywhere from sketchy to questionable.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the patience for that. To me, that’s a whole lot of nothin’ that leaves me standing in the middle of nowhere looking like a confused Minion.

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I want a plan, an Excel spreadsheet, a T-shirt…something! Because if I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing, I don’t know if I’m doing it right or not.

But if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s this: God is as merciful as he is sovereign!

He can take whatever mess we’ve made and still work things to fit His plan because His word never returns void. And it never gets readjusted. He didn’t look at Ishmael and say, “Well, that’s not what I was thinking, but it’ll work.” No. He didn’t listen to Jonah and say, “Fine! Someone else can do it instead.”

So rest assured that if God has planted a seed in you, it will grow to fullness in His time and in His way for His purpose. You might go kicking and screaming. You might try to “help” him. You might even try to get ahead of the game and do the wrong thing. But you cannot make an irredeemable mess of what God has spoken over you.

Just remember who ends up getting the glory here. Oh, God’s going to use you and the talents he’s given you, but the glory will be His. After all, where’s the glory if he lets you do what anyone else can do without his help?

 

FREAK OR FIGHT?

Yesterday was rough. It was one of those days when you begin to feel hopeless; nothing is ever going to be fine, much less good, again. And, as usual, it comes down to our finances. I feel horrible admitting that my faith in God is measured by my checking balance, but that’s the truth of it.

See, when my account balance gets lower, my fear and anxiety increase. When my anxiety and fear increase, my faith in God decreases. And I know that’s when my faith in God needs to increase. I know the verses about fearing not and casting all my cares on Him. But I’m still scared.

This is the crack in my spiritual armour that I mentioned a few posts ago. This is the moment of truth. What will I do? The way I see it, I have two options: Freak or Fight.

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I’ve already freaked. I cried, worried, and what-if’d my way down a few rabbit holes. I’m still broke. And I’m still anxious. This is what I’m comfortable with. I think I probably come from a long line of freakers. My mom certainly was one.

OK, time for a quick side story! When I was about 23, I made the horribly desperate (the decision was both horrible and desperate) decision to move back home. It was a bad neighborhood, and within two days of living there, someone set my car on fire when trying to steal the radio – which was sad because it was the only part of the car that still worked well. At 2:00 am, my step-father, Frank, woke me up to let me know my car was on fire. When I asked him if he’d called the fire department, he answered, “I thought you’d want to do that.” (Now you know Frank.) The car was consumed by flames by the time the fire department got there, and my mom was screaming, “What are we going to do?! What are we going to do?!” (And now you know Mom – the Freaker.) Since the only pressing business for the morning was getting me to class, and since we had a city bus system, I decided I’d get up in time to take the bus and went back to bed. That’s what I was going to do.

So back to the question of whether I should freak or fight over our finances today. Freaking out is sort of satisfying and gives me something to do, I suppose; but it doesn’t really help, does it? And I know that every minute I take my sight off God, it pleases Satan immensely. Satan loves nothing more than to see me be anxious and fearful because that means my trust is not in my heavenly Father. I guess that means that I may as well put on the Armour of God, starting with the shield of peace.

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I know my heavenly Father is loving and gracious and good. His thoughts are higher than my thoughts. His burden is light. He has unlimited resources that we can’t even fathom. Our financial situation is no surprise to him. He already has a plan for me and my family because he’s already gone ahead of us and made a way. I have no idea how things will turn out, but I don’t suppose I need to know because I know the One who is making the arrangements for things to turn out well. (I just hope his plans for us don’t require us being penniless up to that moment when he “suddenly” performs a miracle to demonstrate his glory, ya know?)

So, today I take a stand that I will fight and not freak. I will remember Matthew 6:31-34:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Today I will cast my cares on God. I will put my concerns in his hands. And I will hope I will be smart enough to leave them there! After all, He knows me, He sees me, and He loves me. And he’s a God of  ‘suddenly’ and of Red Sea miracles.

OUR GOD ALWAYS SHOWS UP!

I can’t be the only one who has wondered if God was going to show up. And it seems the longer I waited, the less certain I was that he’d show up, much less on time. Once in a while, I could almost hear Satan whisper, “He’s not here yet, huh?”

I know the Bible is full of people who, like the newly freed Israelites, stood at the edge of their own Red Sea wondering where God was. But he showed up at the Red Sea in an epic way.

God always shows up!

Moses waited a long time before God’s plan for him came together.  First, he waited for God to use him – long after he killed the Egyptian, thinking that was how he would bring justice to his people. But God showed up in a burning bush.

Noah waited until it started to rain without end and people realized that he hadn’t been crazy to build that boat after all. Then, after the rains had stopped, he waited some more until the dove returned with proof that they would be able to get out of the ark finally. But God showed up with a rainbow.

Abraham and Sarah waited a long time to have a child of their own. But God showed up with a baby. Then God asked for Abraham to sacrifice the baby. But just as Abraham was positioned to end the life of the son God had promised him, God showed up with his own sacrifice.

Joseph waited and was rewarded several times before he was eventually where God wanted him to be. He waited most of his life to finally have true freedom. He’s a great example of “false starts”. Just when he thought his waiting was over, he took two steps back. But then God showed up with a position for Joseph.

And Job’s wait was so physically and emotionally excruciating, his loss and suffering so great, that it must have seemed much longer than it really was before God relieved him. Finally, God showed up with abundance.

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Each portrait of patience points the way to God’s purpose. When I look at my own life and the things I’m waiting for, I realize that my wait is relatively short. That humbles me! Still, I have to admit to a lot of frustration during that wait.

Fortunately, the waiters God chose were every bit as human as we are and sometimes showed poor patience while they waited. Abraham and Sarah went ahead of God’s schedule. Moses thought he’d blown the potential to save his people and gave up before God called him to deliver the Israelites. Joseph surely gave up hope at times. Job just plain told God off! I thank God for his mercies and second chances when we fail to wait for him with trust.

None of us have a starting gun to let us know when to start, no bugles to announce that our time of waiting is over. Neither did Moses, Abraham and Sarah, Noah, Joseph, or Job. None of them got a message saying, “Hold on. In just 1 year, 162 days, 2 hours and 36 minutes from now, this will all be over, and things will be better.”

So when you start wondering when God’s going to show up for you, try to remember that your wait can become an amazing witness in God’s hands. Be patient. He hasn’t forgotten you. He’ll show up. He always does!

In the meantime…

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ONE OF THOSE DAYS

I’m having one of those days today. I didn’t have days like this until I had emergency surgery for an Ascending Aortic Dissection in July of 2013. Which means that I have been having days like this since July of 2013. I don’t like them! In fact, I’m quite tired of them.

Before I write another word, I want to let you know that, yes, I am aware that there are people out there who have it worse. My heart goes out to them and I sympathize with their challenges. I don’t know how they do it. That being said, if you don’t want to attend my pity party today, take your comfort food and go before we play pin the tear on the sad girl. 😀

On the outside, I think I appear to be fine. People say they don’t usually notice the difficulty I have with my speech, although I am aware of the effort it now takes to speak clearly. Many of the people I know now didn’t know me when I did public speaking in high school or even when I did community theater here in New Ulm.  And they can’t appreciate how painful it is to me to work so hard on something that was once so effortless and fun for me. I’ve always said my favorite thing to do was to talk.

When others read my handwriting, they often don’t have my pre-dissection handwriting to compare it to. If they did, they would see a difference between today’s shaky, labored handwriting (which they say they can read) and my prior assertive, fluid handwriting that leaned forward in anticipation for the next word. I was so proud of my signature. It was me. It’s now as ordinary as I am. Today, I have to carefully sign my name as if it were simply any other word.

People might notice the care I take with my steps, but I fear they might also think I’ve been drinking when they see me saunter to the side or lose my balance. I can say with confidence that it is not because I’m drunk. Alcohol is no more responsible for my unsteady gait than it is my slightly poor driving and even worse parking. Those are more a result of my poor judgment of distance.

And it’s frustrating to have poor short-term memory when I’m accustomed to being able to juggle several different thoughts. Now, I have a hard time keeping a single thought in my head until I get it out. I often feel like I did when I was a kid and had to repeat “milk, eggs, bread” all the way to the grocery store so I wouldn’t forget what my mom had sent me after.

Anyone watching me type today would never imagine that I had excelled at that, too. I did. When I was in my late 20’s, I won 1st and 2nd places in national competition for Business Professionals of America in Information Processing. Today, I have to constantly correct myself in spite of how slow I go.

Since I was on heart-lung bypass for nearly eight hours to repair my aorta and save my life, everything seems to take more concentration and deliberation. It’s exasperating to have to carefully do simple things that I used to do with ease.

And on days like this, I feel a little broken and frustrated. I’ve prayed for healing, but I think God has his own idea of how I’m going to be healed. See, before my dissection, I was always in a hurry and usually managed to get myself in over my head with work and responsibilities.

I seldom took the time to relax, and I didn’t relax I assumed anyone (especially my family) who wasn’t doing something was lazy. I took it upon myself to feel burdened and offended by their lack of busyness.

I can’t hurry anymore. I can’t talk fast or write fast or type fast without the words coming out unintelligibly. I can’t walk fast without tripping or tiring myself. I don’t care to drive anywhere and prefer to leave the errands to my husband.

Here’s what I’m finding out as I find slowing down a necessity: A lot of the things I thought had to be done by me can actually be done by someone else. A lot of the things I thought had to be said, don’t need to be said by me. Most of the thoughts in my head really don’t need to be shared at all. And even if I get there slowly, I will eventually get there. All in all, the work gets done somehow.

Sure, my pride has taken a big hit in the last 4 1/2 years. I’ve prayed for healing. The body isn’t healing that well, but if God wanted to heal me of busyness, pride and arrogance…I think it’s starting to work. What God has done is to force me into relationship with others in a way that is much deeper and more vulnerable.

And if I wasn’t sure that God is working on my, he confirmed it just now. As I looked for an image to go with this post, I found on Pinterest the two graphics I’ve used in this post without having to do a search. My God has a sense of humor!

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