Friday, September 4, 2015

Spirit lead forgive.

Holy Spirit, Helper,

All my walls are down I say...yet why when I pray do I feel like there is a blockage?  What's there, tough and sinewy, not of God, trying to intercept the words I speak to Him like a spider web?  Plaque in an artery, gunked up and sticky, not easily removed, affecting my whole body?

Sin, more directly, unforgiveness.  Although I've forgiven I haven't forgiven.  Forgiving, evidently, can be harder than I thought.  Repenting, turning away from this behavior, Spirit, lead me how to forgive.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.  Isaiah 59:2
Grace - God's free and unmerited favor toward me.  While I was still insulting Him and His ways, He softened my heart and drew me to Him to hold me and love me.  And what did I do to deserve this? Nothing.  I did nothing.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Forgiveness - Canceling a debt.  I needed to pay for all those sins I committed, but Jesus did it for me and now I'm forgiven, my debt is canceled.  I still continue to make mistakes.  I'm not perfect.  I still require more grace and more forgiveness.  I'm little, I'm human. And others are too.  We all require forgiveness and grace.
But Jesus was saying, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.  Luke 22:34a
So, as I look to forgive like God repeatedly forgives me - I will exercise grace, I will love, I will extend my forgiveness much like a gift - not expecting anything in return - no strings attached.  I will cancel the debt owed.  I will not expect that I'll never be hurt again.  As I cut through the tough fibers, they will release her from the debt of what she took from me, cutting the unhealthy tie to the offense and opening up more communication with Him.  And when the plaque wants to start to stick again, reminding me how I was wronged, it will find no place to stick as I tell it that she, like me, needs grace and I'm going to extend it.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'  Matthew 18:33
As I write these words I can literally feel my heart softening, thank you for helping, Holy Spirit.  This is my heart, help me to do it.

Yesterday's Sunrise

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Jesus Came For The Broken

The season of healing continues for me.  Although pain and sadness has abounded through this season, I am confident that the work that He started in me is being strengthened and made better.  I know that He has purposed this season in my life for healing, growing and learning - making the circumstances what they are and opening my eyes to what was unseen and peeling layers that haven't seen light in years.

Just recently I can see how there is a specific desire and passion welling up in me as I learn more and more about Jesus.  Let me share.

Jesus came, He says in Luke 4:18, for this purpose:  'The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free'

Thanks to my friend, Sean Glaze, for this beautiful picture!
Psalm 34:18 says, 'The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.'

In the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:4, Jesus taught, 'Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.'  A promise.

Psalm 56:8 says, 'You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.'  I have always hated crying, but He hurts with me and must think that my tears are important and significant enough to save.

Matthew 9:11-12, 'When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, "Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?" But when Jesus heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick."'   - Jesus chose to hang out with those who were sinners, who were choosing a lifestyle that wasn't godly, who were mourning and weeping, who were broken and hurting.  He wasn't drawn to those who were pretending to have it all together and to already be righteous, like the Pharisees.  Those who could not humble themselves enough to admit their weakness missed out!!

So, over and over we're shown how much Jesus loved and comforted those who were a hot mess!!  I am taking extreme comfort in the fact that in my weakness, He is strong.  But I'm wrestling with this: If we are the hands and feet of Jesus - shouldn't we be doing what He did?  Shouldn't we be weeping with those who weep (Jesus wept)?  Shouldn't we be comforting those who are broken?  I realize that we do not live in the biblical times of weeping and wailing and tearing your clothes when you are sad, but I bet those people were healthier.  I bet that they grieved well.  I bet since emotions were shown when needed, others were not scared by it and knew a bit more how to comfort and encourage. Of course in these days, we need to have grace that not all understand what to do to help those who are hurting!  Some though, are gifted in mercy-showing and encouragement and prayer.  We live in a time where emotions have become 'bad.'  Why over the years has it become the norm to stuff and ignore and deny our emotions?

Many, many, many people are suffering silently and some are brave enough to show that they are a very blessed mess.  Whether they are trying to be perfect, trying to earn love, depressed, anxious, hurting physically, mourning a loss of relationship through death, divorce, a move, or an ended relationship, trying to be all to everyone, facing an addiction, being abused in some way or another or living through the consequences of bad choices - wow, I could go on and on and on.  People are hurting...badly...and most of us just push that emotion away and fill our time with more stuff, more serving, more things, better things...  I know.  But sometimes He allows us to break and that emotion that we thought was gone...well, it makes an untimely appearance.  He has said to me, 'Amy, you can't keep it up, always trying harder.  You are tired and weary and I have come to give you rest.  You are unwell and I am your Physician.  You are broken and I long to make you whole.'

I close my eyes and see the church filled with open arms to allow others to wail and tear their clothes in sadness...filled with those who are accepting and understanding when it takes years to heal and change ...who are comfortable around emotions of all kinds.  I'm seeing heaven I'm sure - Jesus, really.  But, as a friend recently said, "And if my Lord showed compassion for the lost and broken of the world, how much more should we not show that same love and compassion to our own who are suffering in silence.  You are not alone.  You will never be alone."  

Another small step of being more like Jesus.  It seems these new desires and passions are spurring me to explore opportunities to allow others to have a safe place to express their emotion and be accepted while doing so.  I trust that He will reveal more of what He wants me to do with this when the time is right, for now I'm resting in all I've learned.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Season of Healing

My mother-in-law just told me yesterday that she's heard that you should expect one week recovery time for every day spent in the hospital.  She told me this after I turned the keys over and she drove me home after we shopped at two stores and I was ready to fall over.

In November I started having severe pelvic pain.  My doctor was perplexed after an exam and ruling out a few things.  It persisted for a few weeks so she ordered a CT scan.  She called me with the results which showed several ovarian cysts and a 'spot' on my small intestines which might want to be looked at but 'was most likely nothing.'  A consult to a GI doctor was made which led to setting up a colonoscopy - just to get a look since my grandmother had colon cancer.  A consult with a GYN led to an ultrasound of my ovaries and news that the cysts were resolving on their own - good news.

In the mean time, I figured out that the lump that I'd had in my groin that ached was most likely a hernia - thank you Google - you'd think that nursing school would have clued me in!  My doctor set me up with a general surgeon consult.  When Dr. Matthews walked in the room, he and Jeff hit it off since they both attended Indiana University and grew up in Indiana. I think I disappointed them when they had to stop talking about the Colts embarrassing loss and get on with the appointment.  Dr. Matthews' conclusion: Yes, I have an inguinal hernia.  Yes, it would be best to get it repaired. But then, he asked what had been told to us about the CT scan and asked why I had it done.  I told him that I was having a colonoscopy later that week but they had all said 'it's probably nothing.'  He burst our bubble right there and said, no...that is something there...some kind of growth - probably on the outside of the bowel but in the wall of the bowel.  He mentioned a few things that it could be but wanted to wait and see if the GI doctor saw anything inside of the bowel.  So, we left knowing that the colonoscopy was more of a necessity than we thought.

The colonoscopy was uneventful...yes, the prep is as bad as everyone says it is.  The GI doctor saw the area during the procedure and agreed with Dr. Mathews that something was on the outside of the small intestines right where it hooks to the large intestines.  They talked.  Dr. Matthews called me and suddenly we were talking about the possibility of a bowel resection - cutting a section out and sewing it back together...and a long hospital stay.  He mentioned the scary "C" word (cancer) this time when he went over the list of what it 'could' be.  Surgery was scheduled.

I woke up on that afternoon to learn that the 3 1/2 hour surgery led to him and his team seeing the tumor - which looked much like a carcinoma - and proceeding with a right hemicolectomy -removal of a portion of the small bowel, the ascending part of the large intestines, the appendix and some lymph nodes.  Oh - and they repaired my hernia, too.  The tumor had pretty much eaten up the entire appendix and was attached in the bowel wall.  They sent it all to pathology with a promise to know something in 5 or so days.  Recovery in the hospital was hard, but I did it. Lots of nausea and bloating and pain and shots and weird things happening to my body.  No food for 6 days, no appetite, lots of talking about gas and poop.  Fun times.  On the third day Dr. Matthews came in and said 'we got the pathology report back early.  It was an endometrioma and completely benign.'  And the rejoicing began.  6 days after surgery, I went home.

Is anyone still reading?  That was a lot of technical, medical information.  As I think back over the past 7 or 8 months, struggling through depression and the work that I did in counseling to try to heal emotionally...the steps I've been taking to dig in deeper with God and become healthier spiritually... Apparently my body also had some physical ailments that needed attention and healing.

Our bodies are amazing...intricate.  I find it crazy that my physician could separate apart all of that goop inside of me and cut the right parts out and sew the right parts back together. I couldn't tell one part from another when we dissected cats in college!  But my doctor obviously knows the inside of the body well.  I trusted him completely.  God the Physician, God the Healer...He knows my body even better.  He knows every cell, every hair, every drop of blood, every tear, every time my mind is sick, every part that needs healing, every part that is broken.

This is obviously a season for me - a season of healing.  I'm struggling, 15 days after surgery, to accept this.  I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm bruised, I'm swollen, and my mind isn't healthy again.  As much as the doctor 'fixed me'...I'm still so broken and in need of fixing. I trusted God that my doctor would take care of what was wrong with my, I need to trust that my Doctor will take care of the rest of the mending and heal me.  And maybe I could be patient while He does this.  But I'm so tired. I'm tired of not being well...for 7 months I've not been myself and I've been in pain - whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual - pain.  

Jesus is here to bind our brokenness.  He is that soothing balm for our pain.  If we were not sick we wouldn't look to our Physician. If we were not lost we would not need a Savior.

Jesus, let me praise You and remember You. Come and heal me of ALL my diseases...renew my joy! Satisfy my desire to be healthy again and light a fire in my heart for bringing You glory. Amen.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.  Psalm 103:1-5
Image courtesy of taoty at

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Flowing Water

Memories of hot summer afternoons poking my stick into the twigs and soggy leaves and breaking apart the little dams that had formed in our backyard creek.  Pieces of dark gray slate lay in places and when the water flowed, I found it more pleasing.  So, I did my job and helped the creek along by breaking up those dams.  And sometimes 'saving' some crawdads into a gallon ice cream bucket of water.  Ew.

I have shared this before, but I absolutely love moving water and always have.  Babbling mountain streams flowing over rocks with the lush green foliage draped over the sides - richly nourished and completely healthy -- one of my favorites.  I take pictures...they never are the same as being there and hearing and watching as the water turns white in places where it gets all stirred up because of the force of the flow...I don't have to unclog the dams in those streams because the force of the water just finds a different way around it.


The ocean waves breaking on the beach, water running to fill my bathtub with bubbles, the fountain in our neighborhood pond, a sprinkler watering the new grass seed...  why do I love all of this?  They all bring me a sense of peace...

In my last post I mentioned that making changes in my life, breaking chains/habits that have been there for years, can not be done on my own.  I've been devouring books on healing, growing, breaking chains, etc.  What has the Lord consistently had me take away?
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
These scriptures tell about how Jesus was going to give the Holy Spirit to believers.  The Spirit lives inside of us and is our Helper. He is part of the Trinity, He is fully God.  He LIVES IN US!  The power of God is inside of us.  When I can not do it - He can.  Am I stepping aside and letting that living water flow from my innermost parts?  Do I even remember most of the time that He lives in me?

I have been meditating on how often in the Bible, water - especially moving water - is used to describe things.  As I close my eyes and look at the Spirit inside of me and focus on an actual flow coming out of my soul, my spirit, my heart, my belly (however you want to word it) it calms me.  I allow that water to flow through my entire body, visualizing it getting in every crack, working it's way around any dams that may be there or busting right through them, filling the voids where I ache and long for something to make me feel significant, secure and satisfied.  And after the healing water of the Spirit covers me completely, still flowing and moving, I visualize it coming out of my core and spilling over through my words and my actions -- things that will affect those around me.  And when I am actually 'in the Spirit,' God can pour His healing water over those I interact with.  I am at that point allowing the Spirit to use me as a vessel - I'm a living sacrifice.  Not my will but His be done.

Now, this is easy if you sit down and think on it...but we are busy and we are pulled in twenty directions and we are irritated and rubbed the wrong way and we have the flesh fighting the Spirit...we want our own way.  And honestly I'm not sure how often I've actually thought on the Spirit being in me and WHY He's in me in the past 18 years of being a Christian.  The Living Water will flow through us when we are allowing it to, but when we are not  - it stops.  Maybe it gets through every now and then.  Maybe.  What does water that is left with no movement do?  It grows stagnant, diseased, stinky, it attracts bugs...dams probably get stronger and stronger.  You get the point.

This is what I want to be...productive for the Lord and intentionally being nourished by the flow of the Spirit EVEN WHEN my circumstances are not great:
They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  (Jeremiah 17:8)
Revelation 22 describes a piece of Heaven.  "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city."  (v1-2)  I'm certain that you will find me on a bench listening to that sweet flow and soaking in the constant presence of the Lord.  I hope you'll come sit with me for a bit.

Image courtesy of alexisdc /

Sunday, January 25, 2015

I'm Being Rebuilt

Last time I posted was in August.  I just reread my blog post and see that the signs of depression were there already.  In mid-September, for no particular circumstantial reason, I was hit with the most paralyzing depression I've ever experienced.  I've battled it a few times in my past...but this time was different.  It was an all-consuming, dark, quicksand-like muck that I got stuck in and it stripped me of my 'self' quicker than I realized what was happening.  It's hard to explain to anyone who has never experienced it, but I'll try.

It is to have a physical pain that hurts so badly, but you can't quite pinpoint exactly where it hurts...mostly your heart.  It just hurts.  It's dark.  And it makes you want to cry out...but you don't have the energy to cry out, so you just lay down.  And hide.  But...then you have a lot of time, unless you're blessed with the escape of sleep.  And time is the enemy because within that empty time the demons, seeing that the armor is laying on the floor next to you, walk right up to you and sink their teeth in.  The accuser, the deceiver of this world, does his thing and brings to mind every failure, rejection and negative thought you've ever had...and whispers them til you agree...'Yes, yes, I am those things.'  Auto-piloting through the things you can't get out of, canceling the other things.  Things that normally bring joy you just don't do.  Everything seems fuzzy, what truths you had clung to are now just out of grasp and you don't have the energy or desire to grab on to them.  'I'm defeated...I'm so sad.  I don't want to be here anymore.  I can't pray.'  So much sadness, so much hurt but unable to cry and release it.  The feeling of being all alone is overwhelming.  The truth that many love you and want to help you sinks in the mud and the lie of loneliness and rejection rules.

NOT a good spot.  Very scary.  That was mid September.  I visited my doctor immediately, pleading for her to fix me now...and I received some medicine.  Which is great, but it takes 4 or so weeks to take effect.  I had amazing support from family and friends who checked in on me constantly.  I did not want to talk, but the effort was appreciated.  I can not say enough about the friends who 'loved at all times' during this...when I was un-engaged, unmotivated and not fun in any way.  It was probably the hardest for Jeff who couldn't help me, which is what he always wants to do.  With the help of a Christian counselor and the medicine, I started to get back to a level of functioning, one where when the sadness came I could cry at least and work through it.  Not the best, but do-able.

Since then I have been on quite a journey.  Medicines are not quite right and have been changed several times.  Counseling has been hard - very taxing.  But I already see that the reward and payoff is going to be great.  Because of the illness of depression I sought out counseling...but through this I received the opportunity to spend some time looking at who I am.  Typically you don't spend time in deep self-introspection and dissection, uncovering stuff that is 'just fine' buried under all the layers.  I see it now.  I've looked at why I am this way or that way.  I've cried, I've mourned, I've connected dots, I've wished, I've explored, I've shamed myself, I've hated myself, I've asked for forgiveness, I've forgiven, I've loved and I'm allowing others to love me.

And now, I am at a turning point.  I think. (I keep slipping on the side of the pit...soon I'll be away from it.)  God and I have scooped out of me every habit, hurt, hang-up, memory, experience, characteristic, etc - it's all sitting on a table in front of me.  Even many of the things that I'd worked on in the past seemed to only have been patched and the patches were chipping and curling off.  And now, I am ready.  And I will become me.  The beloved daughter that He wants me to be, the person I long to be.  The parts that He wants back in, we'll put back in, some will need to be thrown out, some will need to be replaced or toned down.  I'm being rebuilt...made more like Him.

I'm starting with what I know is in me and can't be taken out - the Spirit...and I'm acknowledging Him.  He is IN me, actually IN me.  All that time that I was so miserable He felt it too, He wept with me.  Now and always, His power is available to me.  His truth is in me.  Who He says I am is a part of me - the foundation that I want to build upon.  The Fruit of the Spirit is in me:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I'm learning a few things as I'm getting ready to rebuild.  I'm not going to be constructed overnight.  In fact, I will not be finished until I meet Him face to face.  Habits and defense mechanisms and chains have been with me for 38 years.  So, I must give myself grace when I slide.  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Philippians 1:6

I absolutely must put on the armor each day.  Satan has seen what he did to me and knows my weaknesses.  He will not win though.  But he's still going to try.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

The mind is where the battle is...I fail regularly in the area of taking my thoughts captive...but I have to keep trying.  Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Romans 12:2

Rebuilding is not something I can do.  It's mostly about me becoming a vessel for the Holy Spirit to flow in and through.  It's about letting go of control and the hope to do things perfectly.  It's about submitting fully to Him and His plan, His timing, His control - trust.  It's about Faith.  As I read the title of my blog:  "Never Say Never: My Faith Journey".  I figure that my story can re-start right here at this point in my life.  It always comes down to Faith it seems:

        "Do I believe you God?"

                                     "Do I trust You?"

Welcome back to my faith journey.  Yes, I've taken quite a few months off from writing, but it's time now.  One thing that gets taken off the table today and put back in to me - Expressing myself through the therapy of writing.

I waffled on whether or not to share all of this.  I'm embarrassed.  I shouldn't be.  Why is this disease such a taboo topic?  I know it is hard to support someone who is constantly emotionally draining.  And it may seem as though those who are depressed aren't trying to get better and are just wallowing around.  Maybe some don't put forth effort in healing, but for me it was like trying to get out of a pit that had been rubbed down with is frustrating and seemed impossible at times.  It really stinks though that it's easier and more comfortable and not as messy to support someone who has had a heart attack or a broken bone.

If you know someone who is depressed and you don't know how to support them:  send a card, send flowers, bring a meal or a dessert, give them a hug or several - every time you see them, drop them a text - all you have to say - "I'm praying for you. This won't last forever." All that stuff goes so far even though it doesn't seem like much.

I realize that there is a possibility with me posting this for the world to see that someone might think I'm weak and won't try to understand...I am okay with that.  I'm picking up another few things off of the table and putting them in me - I want to continue to be real, open, honest, genuine, and approachable.  I still want others to feel like they aren't alone.  And one that I've not been so good at but I'm putting in me - I am going to be okay if someone doesn't like me over this or something else.  Not everyone is going to like me.  I will let go of the unrealistic striving for everyone to be happy with me constantly.  Thus, I will share these things.  This is me.  This is part of my story of growing in faith and the beginning of the rebuilding of me.  

There is hope.  Especially with Jesus' help.  He is our hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beauty Between the Valley and the Mountain Top

Life has it's mountain tops and it's valleys and it's monotonous lonely desert highways...  Lately I feel like I am set on cruise control down a very straight and not so scenic road.  On one hand that is good - no tragic circumstances...but in these times I don't recognize my God much, which makes me feel sad and lonely.  I keep dealing with the same issues, failing in the same places and vowing to do something different which doesn't last long.  It's comfortable here...not exactly exciting, but comfortable.  If I make some changes it will disrupt my flow and cause me to have to pay attention - turning off the cruise control - adding discomfort to my life.  But, oh how much prettier it is on those mountain tops and down in those valleys!  How I stop at both of these places and just acknowledge the Creator and His awesomeness!

Last weekend we went on a tubing trip on the Green River in the foothills of North Carolina.  We turned off
From Wilderness Cove's Website 
the interstate and then turned onto a road that had eight or more hairpin turns straight down, down, down, into the valley, into the gorge, into the cove where this mountain river babbled along.  We did NOT have our cruise control on going down this road and I was definitely in discomfort as Jeff was going a wee bit faster than I would have liked as I looked over the edges.  Once we got our inner tubes, walked out into the freezing water and plopped down, the current carried us along.  I imagined a leisurely 'lazy river' float but realized very quickly that the many rocks, downed trees, and shallow areas in the river would give us quite a work out.  There was no 'lazy' about this trip!  Four days later my arm and stomach muscles were still telling me that they were used more than usual!  During the parts of the three hours that we did float slowly and peacefully I admired the canopy cover of the trees, the wildflowers along the banks, the way the water rushed along the rocks...beautiful.  Leading me to immediately acknowledge the Creator -- in this valley we were in.  I wish I would have been able to take pictures, but considering I started out with a plastic bottle of water and realized two minutes into the trek that it was gone - I'm glad I didn't have anything with me!

During our mountain top highs in life we turn and thank God - we reflect on how He has gotten us there - and we enjoy His presence.  During our valley lows in life we cling to God and rely on Him and commune with Him more than any time - and we enjoy that close presence.

How...on the straight, day-in-day-out, 'normal' roads with our cruise set do we find that closeness to God?  I'm writing this for me right now, because I need to know.  How?  How God?  Where did You go?  First of all, He went no where.  He is always with us.  I am the one who has changed since He is unchanging.  Sigh...  So, what has changed?

I have realized over the past few weeks that I have become lazy in so many areas of my life this summer. (Maybe that is why I wanted a 'lazy river' ride on the river??)  Undisciplined.  I offer the excuse that, "I just have no self-control."  But that is a lie that Satan would like me to believe and feel defeated by.  Guess what?  The Fruit of the Spirit includes self control.  And the Spirit lives inside of me.  His power is available to me.  Laziness in my eating habits, my quiet time and prayer time, my exercise (non-existent), making dinner for the family, being consistent in discipline with the kids has also made me feel rather much like a failure lately.  Overwhelmed by the extent of things I've let slide I feel powerless to make changes.

So timely this morning, Pastor Shane said, "The presence of unconfessed sin disrupts our prayer life."  A light bulb went off this morning as I asked, 'God, is that why my relationship with you has seemed so blah?'  I see a lot of sin admitted in the paragraph above.  And it has been unconfessed.  I've complained about it, seen myself doing/not doing the stuff...been aware of it and hated it.  I've tried to make changes with my own strength which have lasted at longest two days.  I've not confessed it with a repentant heart.  The sin of believing lies about myself is present too - I'm a 'failure' and I'm 'powerless to change' and I'm 'defeated.'  Those are lies that make Satan smile and make me not much good as a witness to the power of Christ living inside of me!

I've continued getting up early this summer to have my daily quiet time with God, but it has been anything but satisfying.  I've grappled with what I've been doing wrong.  I pray and feel like there is a ceiling that my prayers hit and fall back down on top of me.  I feel so far from Him and I miss that close relationship that I have when I'm on the mountain tops and in the valleys.  And as I miss that sweet communion with Him, the long, boring, dry, straight road I'm taking seems very lonely and non-colorful as I travel along.  I just set the cruise control, become as comfortable as I can, and cruise on...not doing anything about my behaviors...just complaining about them every so often.

Beauty in between the valley and the mountain top.  Just our backyard.
So, right now, I am going to brighten up my path because God gave me the tools to do this.  I just needed to be reminded of them this morning during the sermon. I can't control the circumstances that would put me on a path on a mountain top or a valley.  But I can control how I view this straight road I'm on right now.  First things first...the sin that is in my life is disrupting my relationship with God.

 Father God, please forgive me.  Help me to grieve over things that grieve You.  I'm sorry that I've eaten the bread of idleness for months and allowed myself to believe the lies that I have no self control.  I'm sorry that my time with You has been short and boring and dead almost.  Ugh.  I miss you!  I'm sorry that I've treated my body poorly by giving it anything that it sees and moving it rarely for exercise and health.  I'm sorry that I've not been what my family needs by providing them with good meals in the evening and by wasting a lot of time on the internet.  I'm sorry that I have let the kids do a lot of whatever they want, just so I didn't have to deal with discipline and consistency.  Lord, I feel like a failure in so many ways.  I know that it is a step in the right direction to confess my sins to you and turn away from them.  Help me to draw from the strength of the Spirit living inside of me.  I'm thankful for 1 John 1:9 that says "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  I'm standing before you cleansed and free from the weight of my sin because of your Son and I'm so thankful.  Please let this open my eyes to the color and beauty on this road I'm on, whether it be the same day-to-day-to-day stuff or not, because it is still Your creation and Your creation (even the stuff between the mountains and the valleys) is amazing!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Rich or Poor, God I Want You More

I absolutely love it when God speaks to me through every sermon, lesson, song, scripture, cute facebook captioned picture, and so on -- all having the same message!  He knows it takes that much for me to slow down, quiet down and see what He's trying to tell me.  I'm so thankful, however, that He doesn't give up on me, because what He's telling me right now is not something new... He's told me this same thing over and over.  I often wonder why Jeff and I have to tell our kids every single day to hang up their towels and put their dirty clothes in the hamper, but other things we tell them once and they remember, obey and do it??  But, we don't disown them or give up on them because of it...although at times it irritates me to no end.  God doesn't give up on me even though He's having to remind me of the same things yet again.

My women's bible study group is doing Beth Moore's study on Daniel right now.  I've learned a lot about Babylonia and how it was a me-centered society with a lot of glitz and glitter and must-haves.  Sounds a lot like today, huh?  Yup.  One of the last times my parents visited us they said something that included 'you guys live in a very rich area.'  Just stating a fact in a passing statement.  But, I honestly hadn't looked at it that way.  Now, I'm not saying this to brag so stick with me!  I wondered at times since we've been here how we exactly 'fit in' in this area - we aren't rich!  (With money anyway)  As I look back I know I've always struggled with always has looked better 'over there.'  And, now I'm saturated in it.  As I drive to the store I pass house after house that I would have considered mansions a few years ago.  I look at their perfect manicured lawn and pine needle garden, all brick home and sigh.  I walk into the grocery and notice her name brand clothes and purse.  I hear about the private lessons this son or daughter is taking and the third vacation of the year at the beach house.  I try in my own strength to be okay with that and accepting of the place we are in.  Because oh my goodness, how we are blessed!!!  We are SO blessed.  The truth is, there will always be someone who has more.  But to be perfectly takes more than my own strength.  It takes the Spirit's - He's inside me and He is my Helper and wants me to rise above any circumstance I'm in - taking my eyes off of my surroundings and keeping them focused on the One who blesses.  

In the book, "Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith" by Karen Ehman, which I just read for our book group, Karen says this:   "No two ways about it.  True godly contentment is unavailable in microwave form; it needs to be patiently and purposefully cultivated.  We must cease making comparisons and instead embrace our current lot in life - our past, present, and future - welcoming all that God will teach us through it.  Only then we will discover the secret Paul knew -- that true contentment isn't merely having what we want; it's wanting nothing more than what we already have."

Last night a friend from cold snowy Michigan posted this on facebook: 
Sitting on the beach, enjoying it all. Thinking "Gosh, if only we lived here."
Chatting with a local who visited an area of snow. She said "my poor children. I feel like they are missing out on life."
Reality is....we must choose to be happy wherever we are. Or the grass will always seem greener ( or the snow. Or the sand....)
There's some wisdom there, huh?

Today my devotion was centered on the parables that Jesus taught in Matthew 13.  Verse 22 is Jesus telling us what He meant in verse 7 about the seeds that fell among thorns that choked them.  He says, "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful."  I, of course, have never noticed this and know it was saved for me for this moment this morning.  I hear the word of God but I also care about the world and what is in it and what I have or don't have.  Riches are deceitful - you think they will bring you happiness, but it doesn't last and so then you move on to your next purchase or want.  And worst of all...I'm unfruitful, unable to be used by God, while I'm tangled up in this longing, chasing of happiness through the world.  

Sunday we sang a song at church called "All We Need" by Charlie Hall.   Wow, thank you Lord.  I will declare moment by moment this is a daily, conscious choice to be content, keeping You at the center of my focus and desire.  Thank You for all of these little whispers from You lately....

Rich or poor
Rich or poor God I want You more
Than anything that glitters in this world
Be my all, all consuming fire

You can have it all
You can have all my hands can hold
My heart, mind, strength and soul
Be my all, all consuming fire

Because we have all we need in You
And all we need is You
All we need is You

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