Friday, August 31, 2012

Weary and Broken

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 41:28-31
This has been a long two weeks.  Loooonnnggg.  I am tired and weary and am stumbling and falling.  Right now I need to hope in the Lord so that my strength is renewed.  So I can walk, run, and soar over my circumstances and not become bogged down.  I know.  I have heard.  He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He is not someone we can understand.  He does not become tired or weary.  He gives His own strength to the weary and gives His own power to the weak.  I am so thankful that His Spirit is inside of me, picking me up right now as I stumble along.  I need a recharge!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12
On the morning of August 22nd I woke up at 4am with a headache.  It was so dark and quiet in the house.  It was raining.  A steady hard rain.  I was praying myself back to sleep.  Praying about the sell of our house.  God spoke to me.  He said 'soon.'  I knew it was question.  I was so at peace, thanking Him.

Since that moment, it seems like I have been battling.  The rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil are present and trying to make themselves known - that is not a joke.   I definitely am not battling with any human right now...well, except my flesh maybe.  I know what I believe yet I question myself. I need to claim what I heard and Who I heard it from - He told me that it would be 'soon' - I need to cling to it. The devil is trying to tell me that I didn't hear it or it wasn't Him. He is also letting me entertain feelings of complete hopelessness on the whole situation.

Since that morning...
  • Jeff's company had a consulting group (or whatever you call them - probably could insert some not so nice names here!) in to make some 'suggestions' on how to save the company money.  They made some decisions on cutting some jobs/positions out here and there and reorganizing some others.  They have known this for a few weeks now - us knowing that Jeff would find out on August 30th.  What a weight to carry around.  I'm proud of Jeff - he handled it so well - giving it all to God and letting Him have complete control of it instead of worrying day in day out.  He found out yesterday that his position was going to be fine.  I always felt pretty positive about it - Jeff has done wonderful things with his department since he moved here and has been recognized for it.  But you just never know...and being in the situation we are in... Ugh.  So, praise Him for protection for Jeff's job - once again!
  • Our church home of 34 years in Indiana went through some hard changes last week - that had most likely been brewing for a few years.  Many mistakes were admittedly made in handling the changes and unfortunately has left many disheartened and so broken.  We are hurting too for the divisiveness this has caused amongst the body.
  • Our church home of 9 months in North Carolina went through some hard changes last week.  Our lead pastor stepped down.  There was inconsistency between his behavior and the standard for spiritual leaders as listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7.  We are so sad - we so enjoyed his preaching.  And so burdened to pray for him and his family.  What is affecting us the most though - the fallout from this - the ripple effect that goes throughout the families in the congregation.  As life group leaders, Jeff and I are in the midst of this - trying to check in on and comfort and encourage our friends and the church leaders.  Jeff has been incredibly strong through this - speaking truth and God's encouragmenet into lives here and in Indiana.  As a couple, we have decided that our church has handled this the best that they could - taking many steps to prevent it from happening, we agree with the plan they have moving forward so that this is less likely to happen again, and we are letting go of the want to know 'what in the world happened??'  There are several couples/people that I feel we have grown closer to through these past few weeks of this hard, sad time.  So, praise Him for giving us friends - once again!
  • I still have not heard a thing from the 7 jobs I have applied for.  But, I will praise Him for providing for us, Jeff's job stability, and more time at home!
  • Our house has been for sale for 14 month now (minus the few months the renters were in).  This has been where I have struggled the most...for a year  God wants me to trust HIM.  Our sense of security and stability should be found in Him, who never changes and never fails - not our situations, our relationships, our finances, our jobs, our homes, our churches... He wants me to learn this and accept this. I am being broken...I do believe.  God and I have been in a tug of war over this for a year.  I am tired.  Of course, He is not pulling  - I am.  He'll let me keep trying to control it.  Our poor realtor got the brunt of my frustrations this week.  I hear suggestions and advice and I think - ah! maybe that will work - maybe that will sell it.  All the while, God is standing patiently right by my side saying - 'Just give it to Me.'  So I give it to Him, I wait a while...then I take it right back...thinking - you aren't doing anything, so I will try.  “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”(Mark 9:24)  I really do believe.  THIS is what spiritual warfare is all about...I believe.  I do!!!  Then self gets in the way.  Then the devil whispers - 'this is's been 14 months!  take action - you need to do something.'  Then I say - "Get away from me."  Then I'm ok for an hour...maybe.  Exhausted.  Weary.  I will persevere.  God gave me encouragement a week and a half ago.  I will NOT let the devil stomp out my hope.  And as our Indiana neighbors celebrate because they just sold their house in about a month so they could relocate out of state, I will choose to celebrate with them.  He can't make us all have cookie-cutter stories and experiences, so our situation is what we need. Them selling quickly is what they need.  I wrestled Him last night for awhile over least it was a nice night out - full moon, pretty fountain to look at - hopefully no mosquito bites - we'll see!
  • I went to the doctor for a UTI on Monday, but am feeling much better from the drugs.  Having palpitations though.  I know that is from stress though.  The three day weekend will help I'm sure.
  • The kids started school on Monday.  They love their teachers!  I'm so glad.  
  • Emily pulled out her last tooth without us knowing and put it under her pillow to see if the Tooth Fairy would come.  Jeff and I talked to her last night and now my baby girl is another step closer to being an adult.  There were tears...mostly hers.  But she accepted things really well.  And once again, Jeff stepped in and did an amazing job explaining things to her.
So thankful that God has provided us with a great community, growing friendships (new and old), a good school, a good job for Jeff.  That my husband has stepped up and been so strong through this since I've struggled.

I may be weak, but Your Spirit's strong in me.  My flesh may fail, but God - You never will.  Give me strength to trust what you say.  That You're good and Your love is great.  I'm broken inside.  I give you my life.
(click on it - it's a song I've been singing over and over and over in my head for weeks...)

Please pray for me to rest in Isaiah 41:28-31...thanks friends.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some of What I've Learned

A year ago today we left the comforts of a lifetime in Indiana cornfields and drove to the blue skies of North Carolina. We went through some crazy emotions of loneliness, sadness, anger, excitement, happiness, and jealousy.  We got used to setting our GPS every time we went anywhere.  We got used to introducing ourselves and telling where we came from.  Slowly we have put down roots in NC and cut ties in Indiana.  And today, one year later...we are blessed beyond measure - we love it here.  Our home is here and it is truly where we want to be.  God has done this.  I never wanted to leave Indiana. 

In a year's time you can learn a lot.  Especially when you are grieving on so many different levels.  Especially when most everything/everyone you know is gone.  Here are some of the things I've learned.

  • It's ok to cry - even in front of others!
  • Getting involved in what we love right away was good for us in so many ways.
  • Writing makes it much easier for me to express my emotions, pick things apart, and release my frustrations.
  • It's one thing to have a lot of acquaintances, but to have one or two real sister in Christ friends is absolutely a blessing like no other!  Getting redirected back to His promises over and over and over and over by these women have helped me get through this.  Their patience is amazing.  
  • Grieving takes quite a while.  Once you think you have one thing dealt with another pops up.  You can't rush it or will it to end.  You have to experience it so it is dealt with when it does end.
  • If you've gone through a big move in the past - you understand - you can relate - and you encourage those who are going through it SO much.  I felt so much more comforted when I was talking to or with those who 'got it.'  Not that those who haven't can't - but just not to the same level.
  • We have really fun and special times with our family when we see them now since we aren't seeing them every other day.
  • When making new friends - you can't wait on them to make the first, second, third moves.  I have to get off my butt and invite invite invite!  Most are too busy to think of doing it themselves, but love it when you do.
  • My passion is still connecting other women to other women in order that every woman feels encouraged and loved and a sense of belonging and knows His peace and love through others.
  • Another passion of mine is emerging - a sense of urgency that the lost in our own little worlds would know Him and what He has to offer before this life is over. 
  • Some friends I thought were friends weren't such good friends.
  • Some friends I thought weren't friends were good friends.
  • I love to belong to a women's Bible study, but I don't love to lead them.
  • Jeff and I are each others family here. He and the kids are most important to me.  Period.
  • It is hard to keep in touch with friends when you move, but those "pick up where you left off with" ones are precious.
  • You can endure anything for a time.  We drove 2 hours a day for 10 weeks when we first got here last year.  We have now had our house on the market twice - but since July of last year have had this burden.  And not just endure - live...and live joyfully...and learn and grow!!
  • We were saved from a situation in Evansville where Jeff would have lost his job earlier this year.  The loose ends of this transition are not tied up yet - but this is where God wanted us.  
  • We have no regrets about moving here - because this is where God told us to go.  If we would have stayed because of fear or doubt, I am positive we would have regretted it.
  • Jeff and I CAN do handy things around the house without my mom and dad - we just had to try!
  • Sunshine, blue skies, and working in landscaping makes me giddy happy!
  • It is a pain to move to another state.  Just the work for all of your stuff is enough.  But, the switching of driver's license/plates/registration, voting, address changes, insurances, utilities, nursing license, etc - it has been a job to get it all switched!  
  • Talk to new people like they are old friends - it's easier and more comfortable :) They get to see who I am immediately!
  • Surround myself with those reflect Him and help me to be a better me.  I need not bother with drama of relationships that I know are not healthy for me.
  • It is fun to have the ability to have guests stay with us.  We have been so happy to have had so many people pass through Charlotte and see us or come just to see us!
  • Tithing is important and an act of obedience and trust.  I'm learning to do it with a joyful heart.
  • Time with Emily is becoming more and more important as these years go by.  We now are having 'girl time' every single night were we can talk about anything and do some devotions together.  
  • Patience - ok, well, I'm haven't learned this one.  I'm 'learning' this one.  Everything has been about waiting this past year. 
  • It's ok to let a mess go in the house.  I can not stay on top of it as easily here...and it is ok.
  • Being by myself is ok.  Being over-committed so I'm not by myself is not ok.
  • "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails." Prov 19:21

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dwelling on Proverbs 3:5-6

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
These are the very first verses that made sense to me and brought me comfort 15ish years ago when Jeff took me to church with him. I ripped it out of the bulletin in the old sanctuary at CFC that day and took it back to college with me, pinning it on my bulletin board.  This passage was tucked into Pastor Kevin's message yesterday at church and was the 'one thing' I needed to hear - making sense and bringing me comfort again.  I need to dwell here this week. 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  To trust means to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something/someone.  What do I truly trust in with all my heart - without abandon - childlike - completely - with my full being/passion/everything I am?  That's a pretty big claim - "with all my heart."  Not just most of my heart - but all of it.  Do I believe in the reliability, truth, ability and strength of the Lord with all my heart?  Do I believe wholeheartedly He is who He says He is?
Lean not on your own understanding.  The understanding I have right now is definitely not firm enough to be leaned on - it would be like leaning on something that you quickly realize is on wheels, falling awkwardly (then looking around to see if anyone saw that!)  But, if I leaned on God - He is a rock and a firm foundation, not to be shaken or moved.  Psalm 18:2 says, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."  I like to plan and I like to control.  I take what I know (or think I do) and I try to find a solution - the best solution. One problem is my own understanding is not complete!  I know only fraction of what is going on and why.  Yet I obsess over what I do know or imagine I know or think I know and work myself into a tizzy trying to manipulate the universe into lining up perfectly so that each part of the puzzle falls just right and THEN and only then I will be content and happy and all will be well in my world.  Whew! Just reading that sentence exhausts wonder every few weeks or so I hit a wall and cry out to God saying "I can't do this anymore, please help us!"  That's a lot of energy spent spinning my wheels on things that I won't succeed at.  Why am I looking at things and saying "I know what needs to happen here?"  We've been taught to be problem-solvers, leaders, and planners. But, my understanding is not His understanding.  They are not equal, not the same. Isaiah 55:8 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.
In all your ways submit to Him. All my ways would include everything I do, hence 'all.'  My ways = my physical actions, my thoughts, my speech, my interactions with others, my desires and wants...  To submit means to accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person - or in our case, God.  Do I, in all my ways, accept, bow down, and step aside to allow God to be in control - in the driver's seat?
And He will make your paths straight.  The first three points have been the IF and now this is the THEN.  IF I do this, this, and this, THEN He will do this.  It is a promise - it doesn't say He might, it says He will.  I picture 'making my paths straight' as a clear understanding of what to do, where to go, and where He wants me.  No confusion and lots of clarity. (Sunny clear skies and a working GPS.)  Straight roads are easier to drive than curvy ones (I know from experience since we have a lot of mountain curves on our trip to Indiana.)  They also get you where you are going faster than roads with lots of bends do.  When we do not trust in Him but trust instead in what we think we understand and we do not let Him be in control, I imagine our paths are foggy, curvy, hard to navigate, dark, stormy, with lots of detours, pit stops, standstills, and accidents.  (And isn't it annoying when you are on a long trip and you come to one of these?)  It does not, however, mean that our drive will be perfect.  We may have some of these hardships along the way, but with our trust in Him and not in ourselves with Him in the driver's seat then we are not thrown off course, but prepared, ready, and able to handle what comes into our path.  We throw our hands up and say, "I don't understand, and that is okay.  I trust you with every ounce of my soul.  Your plan is perfect and You will work everything out for my good.  I yield to Your plan in my actions, thoughts, interactions, and wants.  I know that You will bring me clarity as to what to do, where to go, and where you want me!  Now allow me to enjoy the beauty of the drive since You've got it under control!"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Renew A Steadfast Spirit Within Me!

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Evansville.  It was fun, got to see our parents and Jenny and Jason, saw a few other friends very quickly, checked on our house, and ate some Turoni's, Hacienda, and Donut Bank.  While there I commented how weird it felt to come back after not living there for a year and it felt so normal there -so routine.  We know every place there, every road, every restaurant, etc.  It is weird to not call a place we know like the back of our hand 'home.'  Yet, it didn't feel like home.  And it was frustrating, yet again, to visit and not have a heavy weight looming on us.  I imagine it will be so nice when our house finally sells.  It will be like the loose ends are tied and we can completely close this chapter.

Jeff and I left Em and Ev in Indiana with some eager grandparents and made our way back home.  It has been quiet here, but I've made friends with our kitties again since the kids aren't hogging them.  We have gone on a few dates.  I made Pad Thai for Jeff one night - something he's wanted me to make again for him for at least a year now!  During the days I've kept busy painting a cool design on the foyer wall that I saw on Pinterest, painting the upstairs bathroom, visiting with my friends Stephanie and Wendy, going for walks, running a few errands.  I'm glad I've had things to keep me busy so it wasn't lonely.  I have applied for six or seven nursing jobs now but haven't heard anything yet.  It's been so quiet I have had plenty of time to be in praise and prayer throughout the week, crying out to Him more than I ever have.  I have experienced several bouts of what must be anxiety (I guess that is what it is - my chest feels like it is going to split open almost!) over the last few weeks when I let my mind wander to the 'what if's' and start worrying about the future. 

Psalm 51:10
For the most part I have had an upbeat attitude and a steadfast trust.  The last few days have been a little rough though and I have let fear and doubt creep in.  It's hard.  I could easily choose to go down the 'it's hopeless' path.  I can not believe it has been a year and here we are - in the same position...  (yes, that was kind of a hopeless thought I just typed - see...)

I also went and ate at Chick-fil-A on Wednesday to show my support to the company's owners who will not deny our God, but lift Him up and bring glory to Him by not being afraid to say that they value and believe and practice what the Bible says.  I applaud him - we all need to be so bold!  And as the world gets worse and worse - as it will - we definitely need to expect that these type of situations will come up more and more. 
2 Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
It has amazed me all of the comments I have read from those who are so lost and so angry and hateful - they need Jesus and they need Him before it is too late.  Not to preach gloom and doom... Sometimes there is a place for personal opinion, but some things are God's doctrine that is not to be twisted for convenience and comfort.  Everyone wants to argue their stance, but the bottom line is - if you have not put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior admitting your need for help in this life and turning from your sins - when He comes back for us you will have an eternity to regret it.  Since we have moved to this city (I've never lived in a town larger than 120,000) I am constantly amazed at how many houses are everywhere we look.  There are people everywhere - and we are only in the 18th largest city in America!  There are people everywhere!  And so so so many of them are hurting and lost and have no idea that Jesus died for them.  Now, what do I do about this?  I think Christians took a stand this past week, but there are some who are being self-righteous about it and mean and nasty towards a certain group of people.  That doesn't help anyone!  I pray that God gives me opportunities to use the passion that I have developed over the past year on this subject matter in a way that would cause lost people to see a glimmer of Him.