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Category Archives: Faith

Expecting Great Things

photo beachI have had a lot of time to sit these past few days.  I’ve been in ERs and ICUs for three days and although my tushy is tired, my heart is being moved continually by the time I’ ve had to ponder His word and to consider my life, my family, my hopes, my struggles, my decisions, and my circumstances.

I can’t say that I have answers yet…still waiting for some leading…but I’ve been convinced that although I write and speak often of prayer, I’ve not prayed often.  I’ve not approached the throne of grace with confidence.  I’ve not approached the throne of grace much at all.

I’ve glanced at it.

I’ve thought about it.

I’ve even studied it.

But I haven’t approached it.

And today, God has reminded me again and again that there is something for me at that throne…there is Someone for me at that throne.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  Hebrews 7:25

Why I continue to wrestle with things when I have a Savior who already wrestled everything down to the ground baffles me.

Why do I choose torment over trust?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

I’ve been reminded repeatedly today that I can bring everything to God.

The God who cares to number the hairs on my head surely cares about all the other little things in my life.

And even the very hairs on your head are numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31

I haven’t modeled much praying for my children.  I think the only time they see me on my knees is when I’m sorting laundry in my daughters’ room.

There have been so many opportunities for prayer…so many…and I’ve been too tired or busy to take advantage of them.

I’ve been so busy not handling things well that I’ve forgotten to whom I can hand everything.

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

Today I have taken the time to pray.  In fact, I have prayed a lot.

My heart is still a bit heavy, but God is working.  I have a great anticipation of what He can do with my life and the lives of my children.  I have great hope for what awaits us!

I haven’t had this hope and expectancy in a long time.  In fact, I think I’ve been just plain worried and anxious about things.  And I’ve had the sense that nothing good will happen, difficult things won’t change, and life will remain what it is for a very long time…how different from the way God wants me to view my life.

I have settled in on fear and worry instead of settling down at the mercy seat.

I wonder sometimes if I have some things I need to take care of before I can move forward…before change will happen.

Not that I’m limiting God…because God is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine…He doesn’t NEED me to do anything before He works, but maybe He wants me to…maybe He wants me to recognize some things, learn some things, or let go of some things.

I have a hard time letting go.  I hold tightly to things, especially things I love.  God has asked me to give up a lot of things I’d prefer to keep.  That Frozen song “Let It Go” has become my theme song.  (Now you have that song running through your head…you’re welcome!)

I’m really looking forward to the day when God says, “Hold on, Sweetheart!  This is for you!”

Maybe it will be sooner rather than later.  Maybe He is simply going to ask me to hold on to Him.

Hold on to Him.

He is enough.  He is more than enough.

I know that, but I’m afraid of saying it.  Ashamed to admit it.  Scared He will want me to prove it. But I know that isn’t how my Father works.  He doesn’t wait for me to pray some prayer that enable Him to womp me with a lesson.  I hate that I fear that sometimes.

My God loves to be kind to me…loves to make me smile…loves to see me laugh…loves to bless me.

I know that and I want to pray for that perspective more than my gloomy gal perspective.

Like William Carey says, “Expect great things from God!”

I’m ready to do that!  I’m ready to see God work.  I’m ready to take a step of faith, pray a big prayer, and watch God do something amazing!

All of It and More

IMG_5748I have started no less than three blogs this week.   I have thought of about fifteen I want to write.  Time has been limited so I had hoped yesterday would be the day to put words to page, but God had different plans.

I spent the day at the hospital with my mom.  It is so very reminiscent of my time at this very hospital with my dad 2 years ago.  Thankfully, I do not believe my mom is in a life threatening situation, but it is heart breaking to be here.

I’m back here again today and will be again tomorrow.

And I’m torn because while I’m here my children are home.  I’m so thankful for my big kids who continually step up and help.  This time it has been my oldest daughter who has been simply amazing.  She very rarely complains about helping me…in fact, I can’t think of a time she has.

For the past several months she has been sharing a room with her 7 and 8 year old sisters, and she hasn’t complained.  How is that possible?  What a wonderful young woman!

Actually all my children rock!  Truly.  They step up without complaint in so many situations.  I’m so very blessed.

This hospital visit has provided time to be still.  I’ve had so much on my heart and mind this week.

And God has brought me to Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Sometimes God’s word just hits me…like a cool breeze on a hot day or a soft wave rushing over my feet at the beach.  There are other times when His word whacks me a bit more like the proverbial 2×4…but this time, it has been a gentle touch…a welcome hug.

What hits me most is the phrase “able to do immeasurably more” – that word immeasurably is one I can’t really wrap my brain around.

Immeasurably more.

It makes me wonder (again) why I can’t seem to rest in the knowledge that God is able.  GOD. IS. ABLE.

He isn’t just able…He is more than able.

I’m actually not sure what more than able means.  It’s like that phrase in Romans 8:37 more than conquerors – what does that even mean?

Although more than a conqueror I think I kind of understand…I think maybe it means that God doesn’t just make us the victor, He gives us the blessings of victory.  Like when the Israelites were freed from Egypt, He inclined the Egyptians to give them things so they began their journey with provisions.  They won freedom and provision.

Maybe more than able means that God is able and willing.

But that begs the questions, “Then why doesn’t He always fix things?”

Willing doesn’t seem like the right word, but I think it is.  It doesn’t seem right because when I think of willing I think that it means that if God is willing He should make it happen.  Just getterdone.

But I believe a better way to describe it is that God is willing to always do what is absolutely best.  Best based on His divine, omniscient, sovereign wisdom – not my limited, worldly wisdom (if that can even be called wisdom).

Good gravy!  I’ve ended up yet again at the issue of trust.

I have to trust that God’s ability and willingness to work in my life are always going to be based on what He knows, not what I know.

That’s a good thing, but hard to accept at times.  I feel like I know my situation so well.  I feel like I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what would be best.

But then again, I take forever to make a decision and then spend most of the rest of the time second-guessing myself. So being confident in my understanding of my situation is kind of silly.  Thinking I have the ability to make the best decisions is not exactly my standard operating procedure.  Why in the world do I question God’s ability and willingness to work in my life…to work perfectly in my life?

I’ll tell you why…because it doesn’t look perfect to me.  Not perfect AT ALL!

My life feels so less than perfect…ugh.

Actually I don’t even need perfect, I would settle for uncomplicated.

Yes, uncomplicated…simple, straightforward, unfussy, easy.

Unfussy.  I love that word!  Man, can I be fussy!

Maybe the change I need is not an unfussy life, but an unfussy me?!

Maybe if I get my brain around “GOD IS ABLE” things will look  less complicated.  Maybe if I can begin to grasp that God is able to do immeasurably more…exceedingly abundantly, infinitely more, above and beyond, far exceedingly beyond all that we ask or imagine.  Those were just some of the versions I found.

What has all of a sudden struck me is that it isn’t just what we ask – it is what we don’t even ask…those things that I just think, dream, hope for, wish for, envision, and imagine.

God knows me so well, He knows all that I hope for and all that I imagine…and He cares about it all.

I read this in the Matthew Henry’s Commentary
3:20, 21 It is proper always to end prayers with praises. Let us expect more, and ask for more, encouraged by what Christ has already done for our souls, being assured that the conversion of sinners, and the comfort of believers, will be to his glory, for ever and ever.

And all of a sudden, my perspective has changed, yet again.

I know that the words in Ephesians 3:20-21 are meant as more than just a comfort for me as an individual.  They are meant to encourage us that Jesus has already done more than all we can ask or think…who would have ever thought to ask God for Him to sacrifice His Son for their salvation?  Who would have imagined that God would be willing to do anything to save us?

And yet, He did.

He already did it!  I didn’t even have to think about it or imagine it.

While I was still a sinner, Christ died for me! (Romans 5:8)

Oh my goodness!  I think my lightbulb just went on!

I get it!  Again, God brings us back to the gospel.  That God is able thing…it’s not just about my life, my nitty-gritty, my fears, my dreams, my hopes, my prayers…it’s about it all!  It’s about life.  It’s about salvation!

It’s about Jesus!

He is so good!  To remind me again that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead…that the same God who created me and watches me do dumb stuff constantly…that same God decided on a rescue plan for me, for us all… He willingly put it into motion…He made it happen because HE IS ABLE!

He is able to save to the utmost!  He is able to completely save.  He is able to forgive and redeem and sanctify and perfect!

Sometimes I think I’m quite able to do what needs to be done, but Jesus has proven that some things (all things) are done better by Him.

He was able to save me when I couldn’t.

He is able to forgive me when I can’t.

He is able in all the ways I am not.

He is able in all the ways I think I am.

He is able in every way to do all that I can’t even imagine or think.

Our Savior is so good…so good!

I’m so thankful for this time, even if it is sitting in a hospital room.  I’m so thankful for a moment to ponder things.  I’m so thankful for my Lord.  I’m so thankful for hope.

Whenever God brings me back to the gospel, I have renewed hope wash over me.  If He is able to save me, He is able to do it all!

All of it and more!

So Loved

lillyI feel kind of silly because I so wanted to write daily and that lasted about a week.  Best laid plans… I’m determined to get in the habit because it helps my focus.  Hopefully, tomorrow?!?

This week is my last of graduate class homework!  Yippee!  I really don’t even have time to write right this minute, BUT I just had to give God a shout out!

Last week was one of those weeks…you know the ones so I don’t have to go into great detail, but discouraging would be a good adjective to describe it.  Enough said.

Anywho.

I’ve been part of a women’s Bible study since the fall.  I’ve been able to go only a handful of times because of family issues.  It has been a very discouraging thing to me.

I NEED FELLOWSHIP!

Tonight is Bible study, and I texted all the ladies about 2 hours ago and asked them to pray that everything would go smoothly so I can join them.

They’ve all been praying.  I so appreciate it.

I just received a text from a lady in the study who barely knows me, and this is what she said,

“Praying that we will see you tonight.  Do you have a favorite tea?  I’ll pick some up for you.”

I read that and tears sprung to my eyes.

Just a simple act of loving friendship, but what an indication of faith that God will provide a way for me to be there!

I love it.

I’m afraid lately I’ve been less than stellar in my faith.  It used to be that I felt faith for the big things, and faltered with the little.  Now it’s just everything.

I think after a while it’s easy to assume that nothing is going to go smoothly…mostly because the record of smoothness has been pretty abysmal.

My life has gone more like a ride through a ravine full of rocks that jolt and branches that whack.

And yet, God IS faithful.  I do know it to be true.

I think I have always taken fellowship for granted.  I’ve always had friends nearby.  I’ve always had support, encouragement, and love from people around me.

Now, not so much.

And those precious few who live in my vicinity…poor ones…they get to be near the neediest of women.  I could probably suck the life out of anyone at this point.

I have found that in the moments when I feel desperate or just down, the One I must turn to is God.  As much as I want a friend to listen, encourage, help, and hug…God really does answer the needs of my heart better than anyone I have ever met, near or far.

Interesting.

I think I have had all these same feelings with regard to a husband.  The longings to be a wife again…the missing of daily care and love of a husband…real things.

Real things that can be answered by a real God.

Amazing as that sounds.  It is true.

I do not need to be afraid of loneliness, because my God understands.

In fact, He knows sorrow, grief, and loneliness much better than I ever could, or ever want to know.

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  Isaiah 53:3-4

Sometimes (although I wish all the time…

All

The

Time)

I am in awe of what Christ did for us…for me.  I cannot wrap my brain around it.  This perfect man…this loving, kind, gentle, wise man…

But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:5

And this is how awesome God is….

We have been studying Hebrews in our Bible study and tonight’s lesson is on Hebrews 9-10.  These chapters are beautiful reminders of why the Cross matters.

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.  Hebrews 10:12-14

When you compare the old covenant with the new, the differences are amazing!  The one that really stuck out to me was that the old sacrifices purified the flesh, but Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself purifies our conscience.  Our sins are forgiven…completely.  Our sins are forgotten…completely.  And that knowledge is almost too wonderful to comprehend.  And in only grasping it a bit, we can approach our God and Father with confidence, trust, and faith.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:19-23

When I read those verses I think, why does my faith waver so?  Where is my full assurance?

And AGAIN, for the millionth time, God brings the gospel of grace RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE!

This seems like a great time to preach the gospel to myself…those times when my faith is not the firmest and my fear is taking hold…that is the time to remind myself that God is with me…that God chooses to be with me…that my mess can be meaningful in God’s hands…that the struggles, setback, and sorrows are not wasted when I have a God who loves me faithfully and perfectly…that Jesus’ sacrifice on that beautiful, scandalous Cross was so that I would be forgiven, so that I would be His forever.  His love is amazing…His grace is overwhelming.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.  For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not be perfected in love.  We love because he first loved us.  1 John 4:16-19

I can’t even remember what my point was when I started this blog…nothing new…my brain is a little mushy by the end of the day…and sometimes it is so fun to see where the Holy Spirit leads…well, actually it is pretty awesome!

And I feel so refreshed by the Scripture He put before me…so blessed by the reminder of His sacrifice…and so comforted by the knowledge of His love.

It All Depends on Where You Look

Recently I went on a walk through a beautiful park.  It was almost a spring day…chilly, but still warm enough to skip the jacket.  The trees were still bare, the flowers still asleep, and the air still a little crisp.

At one point, there was an overlook which provided a lovely view of the marsh and the river in the distance.  The contrast between the tall yellow grass of the marsh and the beautiful blue of the water beyond was stunnings.

IMG_0571

I loved the view.

But when I glanced down, I found that the view close up was rather unappealing.  It was muddy, dirty looking water full of  branches and old, wet grass.

IMG_0572

And it struck me that from this one vantage point there were two decidedly different views.  And how, in my life, there are definitely two views offered…two views ahead of me.

I can look at what is right before me and the view is kind of disappointing, definitely a bit muddy, and far from the view I was hoping to have.  While taking in the scenery of this view, I can only see the situations I find myself in…the difficulties, challenges, and disappointments.  I don’t seem able to see beyond the troubles of the day. And, oh boy, are there a lot of those I can see from this vantage point.

BUT, if I can lift my eyes, even just a bit, I can see beauty in the beyond.  Beyond my circumstances.  Beyond my setbacks.  Beyond my troubles.  Beyond my exhaustion.  Beyond my disappointments.

It, apparently, is the lesson of my life.  The lesson I must continually learn.

If my view is only of my circumstances, they will overwhelm me.

If my view is of my Savior, He will overwhelm me.

I guess I have to decide what I want to be overwhelmed by…been saying this forever.  When am I going to get my rear in gear and live as I know I should?

Part of the problem is that I make choices that aren’t great.  I’m not talking about decisions…all those life decision I need to make…I’m talking about choices each day.

I choose to worry when I just need to wait.

I choose fear over faith.

I choose to seek comfort apart from God.

I choose to disobey, when I need to (I must) obey.

I choose to question instead of trust.

I choose the struggle instead of the peace.

I choose it all instead of Jesus.

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.  And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:13-17

I choose the things of this world…the things right in front of me…and somehow expect them to heal my broken heart, to fill the empty spaces, to comfort me completely.

They don’t.

Nothing does, but Jesus.

I’ve said it before, but in some ways, I almost want to go back to the place when everything fell apart.  When everything was truly out of my hands…when all I could do was rely on God.

Since then I’ve been under the false impression that there are things in my control…that somethings need me…that I can rely on myself…good golly!  That is so not true.

I no longer want to be in control of my life…it’s too stressful.  I want to let God have it all…so why don’t I?

Because for some silly reason I continually think this little thing…this thing before me…this one thing I can handle.  I can handle this thing.  No worries.

Thanks God…but I got this.

Ahhhh…why do I insist on this silly way of living?

Does anyone else have this struggle?  This insistence on self-reliance?

How do we win against it?

What’s the secret?

Focus.

Focus? Is it really that simple?

Simple….might not be the best word to use to describe anything in our lives.  At least in mine.

Even focus is not simple.  I’m a mess of focuses…kids, house, meals, schoolwork, classwork, homework, work work, teenagers, college student, college admission process, church, health, sleep, family, friends, car, stuff, and stuff, and stuff…

I just want to focus on Jesus alone, but all the other things in life seem to edge into my vision.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12: 1-2

It sometimes feels that I can’t really get my focus on Him alone because there is just so much to do…how in the world do I do it?

Maybe the problem isn’t the focus point (Jesus) as much as what I think focusing means…what does focusing look like?

I usually envision it as something akin to prayer on my knees, Bible study, and time spent fellowshipping with others.

That can’t be what focusing on Christ means because I can’t stop everything else in my life to do that and that alone.  We would be the most ragamuffin family ever…not to mention we’d probably starve!

Alright, so what does it look like?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:4 came to mind:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 

It made sense to me that that would be a way to focus – rejoicing, praying, thanking.

If I’m rejoicing, I must be focusing on Christ, who is my Savior.

If I’m praying, I must be focusing on Jesus, who is working in my life.

If I’m thanking, I must be focusing on Jesus, the source of all things in my life.

It just makes sense.

So maybe in some ways it is simple.  It is simply living my life with my mind focused on who Christ is, what He has done and continues to do, and thanking Him for it all!

Good golly!  We are brought back again to the Gospel!

If our focus is on Christ, we cannot miss the gospel and its impact on our lives.  We cannot lose our focus, because our lives are so covered by the gospel of grace.

Each day begins with the knowledge that I am saved, that I am blessed with another day to serve, that I am loved beyond measure, that I am forgiven, that I am precious to my God.

Each day continues with the sustaining strength of the Holy Spirit working in and through me to bless others.  If I am praying and thanking Him throughout the day, I find myself more aware of how and where He is working.  My focus is on what He is doing through me, rather than what I am doing for me.

Each day is covered with the grace of God…how can I begin to thank Him for that?  How often do I just want to crawl into a corner and weep for my sinfulness?  For the way I spoke to my child, the facial expressions I used, the anger I showed, for the thoughts I had that were unkind, the muttering and complaining that spilled from my mouth, the temptations I gave in to, the judgment, pride, and arrogance that invades my heart sometimes…oh Lord, how is it possible you love me so much?  I’m so very unloveable.

And yet, I AM so very loved.

Crazy.

Unexpected.

Amazing.

The view I’m taking right now…and I pray it will continue into the next 5 minutes…even into the next day!

Is the view of Jesus my Savior.

Jesus, who is my life.

Jesus, who is my peace.

Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of my faith.

Jesus.

Had You Known?

photo (32)It was about this time 6 years ago when my husband left.

And although in many ways I’m stronger and better…the repercussions still vibrate through my life.  In the midst of something wonderful, I can feel the stirrings of fear seeping into my thoughts, the beat of insecurity pulsing through me, and the blending of sorrow and hurt spilling over my heart.  Sometimes it comes at the oddest times…sometimes it almost makes perfect sense.

And although the hurt and sorrow are dulled, the insecurities and fear have not…if anything, at times, I think they have increased.  And it drives me crazy!!!  I don’t want to live with the repercussions of someone else’s actions…I have all the repercussions of my own actions to deal with! (thank you very much.)

If my ex-husband could have comprehended how much his actions would hurt me, would he still have left?  If he could have looked ahead and had any idea of the sorrow and fear that would plague me, would he still have had an affair?  If he could have felt the pain that washes over me so often, would he have abandoned our children?

I don’t know, but I can’t imagine causing anyone the pain he has caused us.  I can’t imagine being okay with any of this.

But then again, there are a lot of things I can’t imagine.

I can’t imagine this fear ever leaving…I pray it does though.

I can’t imagine ever being free of this pain…although I pray fervently I am.

There are moments…sweet, precious moments of freedom.  Moments when I forget.  Moments when I see clearly a bright and hopeful future.

The fight for those moments is daily.  It is a constant battle to take my thoughts captive.  I know that settling in that fear and insecurity is a miserable place…a not-God-honoring place…a hopeless place.

I know that God wants more than that for me.  He wants me to be more than a bruised and shattered woman…He wants me to live a life of confidence and hope.

Each morning is an opportunity to set my mind on things above, not on things of this earth.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  Colossians 3:1-3

Every morning is the opportunity for something new…a new start, a new perspective, a new vision for my future…

Every morning provides me a fresh way to grab hold of hope.

The LORD’S loving-kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.  “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”…  Jeremiah 3:22-24

What do I hope for?

I hope for peace.  I long for peace.  I have found that this world offers little peace.  It is a decidedly not peaceful place.  BUT Jesus is the author of my peace.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

I often pray for peace that passes all understanding to guard the hearts and minds of those who share with me…I should absolutely be praying that for myself as well.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

I hope for the ability to truly trust again.

Trust others to know my heart…to take care of my heart…to treat me as precious and valuable.

Trust others to be faithful and honoring.

Trust others to love me.

But trust has to start with me trusting God.  Trusting that God has a good plan for my life…for this day.  Trusting God with my heart.

Yes, my soul, finds rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my might rock, my refuge.  Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:5-8

I hope for freedom from fear.

Freedom to love without fear.

Freedom to let go of the fear of pain.

I do not believe there is any freedom apart from Christ.  I will not find the peace, hope, and freedom I so long for from anyone but the Lord.

You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its remotest parts And said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you. ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, ‘Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:9-10

I picture this woman with her hands outstretched…with a huge smile…welcoming all that God has into her life.

I picture a woman, healed and whole…a woman who loves others with abandon and without fear.

I picture a woman on her knees praying for strength to face tomorrow with hope.

Don’t Worry…Just Walk

footstepsThis weekend was such a blessing. It set me up for a good attitude Monday…even with the sleep deprivation factor.

That factor is just life.

I was joking with my daughter that I’d look so much younger if the past 6 years hadn’t happened.  I’d be less stressed and more rested…but alas, the wrinkles are here to stay and the sleep deprivation for a little longer too I suspect.

I’ve always been a big picture person…and lately I’ve been focusing on long term life planning.  Where do I want to be?  Where am I heading?

My retirement plan has been an RV parked in each of my children’s driveways. With five children I shouldn’t have to be there more than a few months at a time, right?  Here come’s grandma!  J

But today everything seemed much closer.

Where do I want to live when my house sells?  What do I want to do this summer?  Will I be able to write more someday?  Another book?  What is my ideal job?  Am I already in it?

I can ponder questions with the best them…it’s the answers that are problematic.

Today I had all kinds of ideas, but really no definitive leading.

I have been praying for days…Lord, just show me.

I’ve been in this place before.  Asking for answers.  I’m pretty much always asking for answers. (Wish answers would just fall in my lap.)

I used to say that I’d just like a lightning bolt with a memo attached…and maybe some updates along the way.  Just some posted notes with status reports.  Just a basic outline of the plan…where am I going to end up…where do I need to look…what do I need to do…???

Where? What? When? How?

Honestly, sometimes I don’t even think I need to know the why…just what to do.

But I’m learning to trust that answers don’t mean everything…they are certainly nice to have, but I think I’m finally understanding that trust doesn’t always mean answers.  Sometimes trust just means taking the next step.

God says He will direct my steps…no matter my plans.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

I’m starting my day thinking of only today…it might not last more than an hour, but it’s the way I’m going to try to start it.  I’m going to focus on the tasks before me and not worry about the ones waaaaayyy before me.  Just what’s in front of me.  That’s all I need to worry about…actually I don’t even need to worry, just walk.

Big picture planning or little picture planning, I trust that God will lead me one step at a time.

Lord, thank you for today…for another day with You.  Even though it is my plan to just take one step at a time today, I know I will struggle with wanting more.  Wanting to see the whole path laid out before me.  Father, I know that I can trust you with everything.  I just sometimes really want to know…actually I always really want to know….where I’m going, what I need to do, how am I going to get there, how I can help you…as if you need my help.  Lord, I just really want to be in your will and I really want life to make more sense.  Please comfort me with your presence, bless me with your wisdom, and uphold me with your strength.  This path is exhausting.  Father, I trust that You have a plan and it is good.  I trust that you love me.  I trust that you will never leave me.  You have always been faithful to me.  Thank you.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.  

 

Some Quiet Please…

mud

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.  Isaiah 30:15

Ever wanna be alone?  Just for a minute or two?

Me too.

(I’m assuming you said yes.)

Today I tried for a minute…not even two…and it was a disaster.

It was a wet and dreary day with ice, sleet and snow in the forecast so our schools let out early today. It had been a long week with little sleep… a long day with little quiet… and  I had a few minutes before I needed to be home so I thought I’d take a ride on one of my favorite roads, pull over and look at the river for a few minutes.   Have a moment of quiet all by myself.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.  Psalm 23:1-3

Its either been snowing or melting, sleeting or freezing, or just plain raining for weeks, so there are puddles, mud, and slush everywhere.

After pulling in, I decided to turn around so I could face a better direction.  I did a wide turn in my Suburban which usually is no problem, but for some reason I went a little bit (truly a little bit) into the grass.  I thought no big deal, but it was.

I slid. And I slid some more.  Right into a massive amount of mud!

I still thought, “No big deal.  I have 4-wheel drive.”

Nope.  Stuck, sinking, and sliding.

My little trip to pull myself together for a minute was becoming a fall apart moment instead.

Definitely not the plan.

I called a friend who offered to come pull me out, but it was a huge inconvenience and I desperately didn’t want to be the damsel in distress.

I just wanted to get out of the mud.

Thankfully!  God provided a Good Samaritan who offered to drive my car and get me out of my messy situation.  When I got in my car,  I didn’t stay to look at the river.  I left.   My alone time was officially finished.

What a disaster.

Sometimes I’m baffled by the way things go.  And I feel so very sorry for myself.

Lately, as I step away from my situation a bit (like right now), I feel like a complete goof.

So I didn’t get a minute to look at the water…but boy did it upset me.

I think I also realized that as much as I want to be a woman who can handle it all, I can’t.

I was acutely reminded of that as I slipped and slopped in the mud.

When I called my friend I felt so badly, but I didn’t have another idea.  I had no idea how to get out of the mud.  I thought surely I can be instructed on how to do this and get myself out.  Nope.  Not that smart.

I had to rely on the kindness of strangers.  God is good to be sure.

And up until just this minute, I have focused on how dumb I feel for even getting into my muddy predicament and how miserable I feel about the loss of my minute alone.

But I just thought about how at just the right moment, God provided someone to help me.

How often does that happen?

I will tell you…He provides me with help as often as everything falls apart.

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Psalm 46:1-3

I wish He would prevent things from being messy, but that’s part of my growing up in my faith.  All the mess makes me rely on Him.

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

So maybe being a little bit helpless is okay…I get to see God’s provision.  I get to see God’s grace for me when I feel sorry for myself.  I get to see God provide hope when I feel absolutely hopeless.  I get to feel God’s comfort when I cry tears of sorrow or frustration.  I get to see God use everything in my life for my good.

Even muddy messes, deep puddles, and messed-up alone time.

Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:26-28

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