Saturday, October 24, 2009

God is the God of Me

I never realized how much pressure a blog can be! I have sat down at this desk five times to write and then it just seemed to fall flat.I would look at the screen and just stare. I have a lot on my mind lately and trying to formulate one sentence to describe all that is going on seems like trying to grab a tornado by the tail. The strength to hold on seems to be overwhelming. Some days, just putting on "real" clothes to go outside the house can be a chore. But, I get up, put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  Because somewhere in the back of my mind I keep telling myself this is just a moment in time...things will get better and I will make it through the muck and the mire.

I can't fathom in my natural mind why God is allowing all of this to continue on. The stress of always wondering how we are going to survive this month with Dean still unemployed. Why Olivia has to be so sick all the time? Why I have to give up so much, sacrafice so much, be so strong, the rock...when really I want to fall in a puddle and have someoen else do the job. Why I had to lose my Mom to cancer when I really needed her the most.

But what I really did not realize was that not talking about it with Him could actually allow resentment . pain and hurt to build up. 

Have you ever felt that overwhelmed with life that you are not sure where to even start? You are strong because you have to be. You hold it in because you are really not sure if anyone could understand and help you walk it out. Someone comes up and asks you "How are you doing?", and you look at them with a huge answer but then you glance again and realize, really they are just saying hello. They really don't want to know "HOW"  you are doing, they just want to feel good that they asked. And when you look into their eyes you think, "Do I really know how to answer that question?".  So of course the answer is "great, things are are you and your kids?  and you walk away wondering if you really connected or if you will really connect with someone. Because as women, we need that.  We need to connect, to talk, to listen, to know that you may not have the answers but you have a friend to walk you through what God would want to say to you. Because sometimes, you can't do it alone.  Or maybe you have a dozen friends but the hard things, the deep things in your heart, you feel you can't share with them. They wouldn't understand. They couldn't understand. I know I walk in that place often. It just seems that my life is not just overwhelming for me but also for others. You start talking and you are waiting on them to pass out from the trauma of just listening. You just want someone to know and understand. My life can be overwhelming but so can yours.

Now that you have reflected in your own life and I have brought you way down. You are thinking, I might not say anything but I have been there. Let me tell you how cool God can be to help us start walking back up the moutain. Since I took a horrible roll down it.

God says that no one can know a man's heart but Him. That is so true. We don't even know our own heart. Several weeks ago I think my little family, all of us, were just so overwhelmed with life that we did not know where we were at emotionally, spiritually and even physically. I knew God was trying to get to the heart of the matter. I felt it all the time. He was whispering in my ear that I needed to go a little deeper. He even placed people in my life so that I could hear some truth to my already wharped perception. In obediance and nothing else, I went to a women's bible study. At first, I fought it, but then God had the leader call me to remind me and check to see if I was coming. Well, I had run out of excuses so off I went to an incredible Women's Bible study over the summer and it started the process of softening my heart. Every week, we would talk about things that were really hard, really deep and completely God. I had not been in such a God led group in so long that every week I would come home and vow not to talk the next week. It seemed God was welling so much up inside of me. Not what I had expected. I wasn't talking that much about me but I was sharing things that God had walked me through. WOW. In my few short years on this earth I have walked through so much and I was able to share, hopefully, the care, the kindness, the warmth, the majesty of God that was not only my God but my provider and my Dad. That allowed me to start listening. Hearing God again, for me. In a very real way. Because I was able to change my perspective. Remembering the things God has  done, not what work was still to be done. The trust was coming back, the healing was beginning and I felt I was really walking where God would have me. Wanting to help people. I have such compassion for people that it overwhelms me at times. Gets me in to trouble at times. And that led to this blog.

Then, I went to a Women's Conference that really opened my eyes. Though I knew most of the stories, the testimonies, God was talking to my heart in so many ways. Not with what was being said, but because God was wanting to talk...and loudly. Olivia had been exhibiting some very harsh, emotional attitudes lately that seemed to be from out of no where. She seemed to be so angry. I wanted her to go with me because I felt like God wanted to help us all through it. There did not seem to be a way for that to happen but then God worked it out. I am so thankful He did. It became a pivotal point in our lives that weekend. God started talking, things started changing, and He provided friends that had a fresh, true revelation about our lives.I did not really realize how oppressed we had become as a family. I did not realize the pain, the hurt and the struggle had pulled us into the trap of oppression.

My biggest insight to life has always been perspective. You know the old addage "Is the glass half full or half empty?" . I always want my glass to be half full. That there are so many things that could be wrong, that I am fortunate to be where I am. And that is true. But sometimes, life rolls right over  you. Not just  a little bit, but like those big machines you see paving the road with the huge wheel on the front that flattens.  And that is you...flattened like a puddle on the groud. Well, to visualize that cartoon character that stands up and is flat as a pancake might be how we feel. But feelings are not always truth. But their impact can make us follow a false truth. The truth is that God does not give us more than we can handle. That He is interested in us and wants the best for us.

So, at the conference I flew to the moutain top. I did not just run. I soared like an eagle. I wanted to be as close to his face as possible. I wanted to cry and tell Him, no more. I wanted to sit in His lap and ask if He knew what was going on?  I wanted to sit at his feet with that perfume bottle and feel the essence of the scent to surround me and Him and know that I am willing. Lord, send me, I will go. When you can't find one, I will be the one. I have always been that way with God. So passionate. So ready to go where ever He leads. And on the moutain top, I can do anything. Survive anything. Handle anything. When I came home, I was tested. I was tried and I was given a lot to work through. Circumstances had not miraculous changed while we were gone. But we were. 

Now, we are walking a little taller, a little stronger and a lot more real. I am trying to hear, listen and know that God is the "lifter of my head", "my ever present help in my time of need" and " my loving Father that holds everything in His hands.". 

God is the God of me and I realized that my story may help you walk a little taller and a little stronger in the Lord. So, today we are talking about perspective. We have to remember the things God has done when we feel life is rolling over us. Because those things are the alters, the places that He proves himself, the places that He shows us how much He really loves us....and the place we hold on to when we can't see the Trace of His Hand. 

So, if God is talking to you today, hang on, because He has told me to get real....and tell my story because my story is all about Him and there are so many people right now that need to know Him. Know that I am not the rock, He is. That I am not that strong but He is strong in me.

In His Grip always,

Friday, October 02, 2009

Skinned Knee

Have you ever dreamed?  Of course you have.  Have you ever wondered if those dreams will come true?   What happened? Did all your dreams come true?

When we are little we envision what we will be when we grow up. We see ourselves "saving the world", 'becoming president", "bringing peace to the world." All day we are playing out these dreams with our friends building straw castles, chasing dragons and being saved by our knight in shining armor. We conquer the world, we have all the answers (really, all we have to do is share everything) and "if I were president that is just what I would tell people they would have to do". We preach to the entire forest and they all get saved and love God. In that same forest we marry ,with the forest as a witness ,and we live happily ever after. We close our eyes at night, snuggle under the covers and slip into the dreams that all come true. You can't help but smile as you listen to the dreams that children have, so fun, so innocent and so very real. They never question how that might happen, it just will, and all is right in their world. 

As we get older, life seems to slip reality into those dreams and they get lost. The hurts of this world, the bad decisions we have made, the hurts we have inflicted, can take a toll on those wide eyed dreams and turn them into bitter disappointments. We keep putting one foot in front of the other hoping we will find hope, and yet it seems to elude us. Our dreams seem to be gone and hope of new dreams seem lost. We could allow the different broken dreams to lead us into that place of darkness and desolation or we can release all our dreams and hand them over to God.

And for most of us, somewhere in that world wind of decision making, we did find Jesus and do just that. Hand it all to God. The darkness that had surrounded us for so long, the emptiness and solitude we felt in our hearts is finally filled with light and a real knowledge of the one who loves us more than we can even know and understand. He came to save us from that world.  How precious is that and overwhelming that love can be.

What an awesome love that God bestows on us. Our heart changes , our desires seem to change, we have new dreams and hope bursts new. We start walking down that path that leads to our mountain and it is beautiful. Nothing can stand in our way. But then, something does happen. What happens first?

When God starts shining a light into your heart, it can really hurt. We might not recognize that the light is trying to shine at first. The situation seems so large and overwhelming. Maybe you married the man of your dreams to find that he is actually human. Maybe your not able to have children. Maybe you were college bound and got detoured because of a family crisis. Maybe some of your bad decisions had finally caught up with you and now instead of running you know you have to work them through. We run to the Bible and friends to get answers. We call our Pastor, our mentor, our Growth Group leaders, anyone that will listen. We want to do that right thing. We want to glorify God because we love him so much. But we are running so hard in other directions we neglect that true nature of the situation. Those circumstances, relationships, and hurts can be the catalyst to look at ourselves. To see inside our heart. I always say two things, "God is more interested in our character than our comfort" and "He loves us too much to leave us in the same place". Of course our first reaction is always to blame someone else or to look to someone else. We want to find the answer to fix the problem everywhere but inside us. That stubborn reaction happens all the time. But in reality, God wants us to look inside us first. To call into check our heart with him and with ourselves. Once we line up with him we can see our situation much more clearly. Yes, wise decisions are made in the wisdom of our mentors, pastors, teachers and Godly friends but, we first have the responsibility of taking it to God ourselves. Then seeking out help for the situation. Because sometimes trying to convey what is in your heart is hard. But if you take the time with God then He will help you articulate your problem so much better because His desire is for you to have the right answer.

I guess that forgiveness was God's first challenge for me. I had a very rough family life. On the outside it was beautiful, inside it was horrible. We called it the glass house. So I had a lot of trust issues. I had a lot of hurt and real pain. I had two parents that both had their abusive ways. I found that forgiveness was something I did not easily give or receive. I was running everywhere trying to find answers. I could justify my feelings and unforgiveness so easily. In a lot of my situations, from an earthly standpoint, I was justified in my feelings. You know, by earthly standards we can always justify. But when I finally exhausted everything else, I fell on my face at the alter and told God that I wanted and needed Peace. That peace that passes all understanding. I wanted to love Him and honor him in all my ways but it seemed that peace was eluding me on every corner. I was doing all the right things. I was at church every time the door opened. I was in the Bible everyday. I had all Christian friends now. I even worked at Chick-fil-A. Why could I not find the one new dream that I knew should be happening. Then even the final devastation, a friend at work looked at me one day and said, out of the blue, "Do you know there is no light in your eyes?". They just seem so cold and flat. How could that be? God, I love you. I am doing all the right things,. Of course I was. And now I had a new dream. I no longer wanted to save the world but I really wanted God to save me from myself.

Wow, I had no idea that forgiveness is what takes us to freedom and peace. I was racked in despair. I was running so fast that I finally, at that moment ran out of gas. When I ran out of gas, God could step in and show me the way. He was able to shine that light of His inside my heart and show me what was there. Because no longer was I able to do it, I had to allow Him to show me. He knew that I was seeking freedom. Freedom to trust, to love but most of all to forgive. There is such freedom in forgiveness. Does it happen all at once, no. Do you always feel it at first, no. And the list of forgiveness is so long at first. You start with the outside and work your way in. It might be a friend, then a sibling, then a parent…but eventually you get to yourself. Did you know that? Did you know that you have to forgive you? Remember those bad decisions, those hurts you inflicted? Now that you have the love of God inside you, you are the very first person you need to forgive. All else will fall into place.

I started there, and through the years have worked hard on that issue. You don't see everything at once. It is almost like an onion, you peel a layer off a bit at a time. I think God realizes we would be so overwhelmed we would never start. It takes years to work on the big stuff….now I keep short accounts. I want to fill my life with more joy and peace than anger and bitterness. So my accounts stay short and I lay it all at the Father's feet but honestly, it is not always the easiest task. At times I have been very hurt. I have had friends shatter my heart , people I love make decisions that have hurt people I love, Dean and I barely survived a church split and the biggest one, God. I have been upset with Him at times for all the pain and suffering I have seen my daughter, my Mom and some friends walk through. All those things leave their mark on you. So to say forgiveness is easy would be wrong. But to say that it is freeing and that God has so much more for you than the hurt and pain you feel is so true.

Take your time. Make sure you are right with God. And even if you forgive, the other person or the circumstance may not change. Know that….but know this! God will bring you through and you will have cleaned out a huge closet of stuff that was ready for the garbage can. And remember He loves us too much to leave us where we are and much more interested in our character than our comfort.

In His Grip,