Sunday, January 31, 2010

You Better Bring Some Friends Along--unknown Big Audacious Prayers Answered

"In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" Proverbs 3:5. This is my life verse. This is the verse that has carried me through so much in my life. Because every step I take it reminds me that this is not about me but about Him.

Acknowledging God is God in all your ways is a very difficult path. As we walk, we do get weary, as we climb the mountain, we do get hurt at times, when we walk in the valley we can tend to fear what we might find. But, when those times come, and l acknowledge He is the one that can direct my path, I get the chance to catch a glimpse of something bigger God is doing out of the corner of my eye. Maybe a word that stood out, a sermon that went a little deeper in my heart, God's Word that jumped out at me on the page….just something that pricked my heart to say "stop and listen". At those times I know he is giving me that special armor that I might stand a little taller , a little stronger, and have just a tad more confidence than I did the day before on who my Father is in my life. That I might not turn to the right or left but keep my eyes focused on Him. Those special moments wrap around you like a blanket and you want to stay safe and secure. We don't want to have to face that trial that we are walking in. And most of the time, that safe secure feeling comes from the friends and family that surround us in our walk with the Lord.

They are walking the journey with us. Crying with us. Laughing with us. Rejoicing with us and if they are true friends, letting us know when we have missed the path completely and need to get back on track. I just want you to know that I cannot walk this path with the Lord to my best ability without opening my heart to people. That is the hardest thing I have to do. I want to appear strong, confident and portray that God has it under control.

 We, as women, can be such "Steel Magnolia's". The first time I heard that phrase I did not get it. But as I get older, and hopefully wiser, I get it so much more. God made women with extraordinary abilities. We are the counselor to all family members, we are the cook, maid and chief finance officer. But we are also the heart of the family. Sometimes that heart is broken, sometimes it is full of joy, sometimes it is afraid. Whatever the heart "is" we get afraid to share it with others. We are busy being so strong. But without sharing, we can never really know that true freedom of giving, sharing and breaking free of the chains that surround us. God gave us each other so that we could not only have friends but that we could have confidants, someone to hold our arms up when we are weary, to share in our joy when God answers a prayer and loves us through all of our imperfections.

Taking a moment to get to know someone a little better, or allowing someone to know you a little better is hard. But not only taking that moment but taking it a step further and extending a hand to another. We are all so busy with husbands, kids, schedules, school, church and family. We barely have time to keep our own lives together let alone investing in another. But sometimes, when you extend a hand with a meal, or a note in the mail, or a moment with a phone call you never know what God will do. A friendship might emerge that you never thought possible. And that moment when your heart is weary, the emotional bank is overdrawn….you might find your self in need and God has already made a provision of help. You had stepped out side of your own life for a moment and that investment came back ten fold.

I learned this very hard lesson when I started down this path with Olivia. The Family of God that came to my rescue even though I kept saying I didn't need anything. But I did. God knew I did. And my family did.

DIdn't I say earlier what a strong, independent, self made woman I am, LOL (oh and God is really laughing). I have been a Vice President of a Company, ran my own successful company and thanked God for the provision along the way. I would be the first to help anyone but the last to ask for help. I could work it all out somehow. I have walked some very dark and lonely places and kept my joy in the Lord, ministered where I could to people but never asked for it for myself.

I have spent the better part of my life relying solely on God and the last ten years realizing for the first time that His people have a strong part to play in His plan
Girls, I have learned the hard way…that is pride. Those things are not bad things but they can be so strong in you that they weave a huge banner of pride that you may never see in your life, until you are lost and alone in your circumstances. Thankfully God knew me and sent people  rushing to my door when I needed them. But not just once, not twice, but consistently over the next ten years. I learned a long time ago not to ask for much from anyone, to be self sufficient, to carry the burden alone because everyone has needs. Even if the weight of the burden was so heavy.Again Pride raised it's ugly head because the real lesson is in the relationship not in the heart ache.  The real joy is in carrying and bearing one another's burden. My heart has been torn in two because God sent people oonstantly over the past ten years depsite what I said. You did what God asked you to do, in spite of me. Even years later, you still call, send a card or note, email, encourage and ask if there is anything you can do. …it has been my amazement to see God do things that I have never seen in my life. And to my Nashville friends, I stand in awe.  Ten  years later and you are still not tired of me yet.  WOW.  That is God.  And that is friendship that I can never understand but thank God for every day. 

I can't help but reflect back to where my life started and all the ground work that was laid in my life to get me to today. I love that God has so transformed my life, that the pain, the sorrow, the heartache is not what is chiseled in my face. But His joy, His rest and His pleasure. When people meet me, if I am quiet, they never know or even think my life has been full of pain, sorrow, bruises, and heart ache, they only see the joy and caring that I want to know about them. Because I do. My life pleasure is not just words on this page or scriptures I know. I truly want to know about you because you are the reason that I make it through a day. When I was younger, Amy Grant came out with a song called My Father's Eyes. I have never been impacted so much by one song. I have clung to that song so many times because I truly want to see people as God has seen them, not with my earthly eyes and hindrances. And because I have clung tightly to letting the Lord direct my paths, I could allow Him to bring people in my life to teach me hard lessons of Pride, wrong humility and the joy of letting go and allowing God to work. Although I have not been perfected in this, I know He has surrounded me with women that are wiser than I am and they see through so much, reach in and love me where I am. Thank you for being God's heart to me. It has transformed my life. And I hope you will allow Him to do the same with you to transform your life.

Monday, January 25, 2010

How many "I"'s are There?

This week I have been tooling around with the idea of "I".  Is that the smallest word ever?  But, it has big conotations.  Such a small word that can hold a lot of weight.  This word can send someone to the brink of frustration ( I can't do it), can continue to fuel an empy hole ( I will never get it), display lack of wisdom ( I will never understand this) to the other extreme of I am the best, I know it all, I have all the answers, and I can do it better than anyone.  Wow, balancing "I" can have you on a rollercoaster ride.  But sometimes we stay at one end of the spectrum or the other. 

Why is "I" becoming my thought for this week? Glad you asked....because I have this awful frustration with myself. I have a hard time with anything being about me. Truth be told, the reason I started blogging was to keep people informed about Olivia so I would not have to make so many phone calls.. As I was writing  people seemed to want to "hear" more. I could not comprehend that because "I can't write", "I am not a writer:" and my understanding of the proper writing skills are sadly insufficient to really get across my thought. If you are a true writer even these sentences are making you roll in the floor at this moment.  I know it, I am comfortable with  it and I am the first to admit it. But, for some strange weird humor that God has....writing seems to be what He wants me to do. 

Since I am not a writer, I decided to join a writing group.  These girls are extremely talented and they can tear apart a page (in love of course) faster than you can breathe. They are gut honest and are perfectionist in their own writing and want yours to be as strong as possible.  I think I have been a member of the group for about 8 months and unwilling to jump off the edge and give them anything of my writing. I pray that they never come to my blog but I know some of them do at times.

For the first time turned in a paper for their review. Not a chapter, not even a full page, just a few paragraphs...with lots of excuses and scared to death.  The first thing they asked me about is why I did not use the word "I".  Why I used the word "you".  They explained that "you" can tend to sound preachy. My intention was to never be preachy. That scared me to death. They said that people wanted to hear about me and with all my heart I did not understand that at first either. They finished with the statement that people wanted to hear what I had to say....and that I took it to a second person and away from me. 

They were right.  Because me scares me.  Because I want things to be about what God is doing and not what I am accomplishing.  I want it to be about the journey, the walk, the life we live as Christ Followers and to me that has nothing to do with me. I would not be where I am except the grace of God.

But, as I pondered and went to read some of the things I have written I realized they were right.  Oh my goodness, they were right. We all have the best intentions. We all are trying to take the life we are living and share it with someone that might give them hope, encouragement, freedom or love so they can see the Father. The Bible even says that our testimony (not that second person or third person writing) will help them overcome... overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. That has always been my intention.  I want my walk to  bless someone that they might gain a glimpse of the heart of the Father. They can get out of that bad relationship, they can walk the next step because God is big enough, they can find the balm of healing in my Dad's hand, they can know a love so abounding, so big that even today as they are cleaning the house that God is there and singing along.

But that word "I" is my stumbling block. I knew it from the moment they said it. And before you get all "she is so Godly"  on me, we all have both spectrums going on and when I am confident about something...I have to hold "I" in check.  Because, when I know I can do something I am like a bull in a china shop, especially if I know I am right.  Poor Dean, he has had to hold me in check a lot of times. Now that I am older I prefer him(Dean) over not listening and praying something through and God bringing it out in a way that just humiliates me. I hate that but when you are hard-headed, sometimes he can't help himself. He has to get through to me some way because my heart is always about Him and He loves me that much.

So my challenge to myself, write from my viewpoint. It's okay to write about my stories, my thoughts, my hurts and even my accomplishments. God made me exactly the way I am, walked me through all those good and bad decisions I have made in my life, and if  I let Him, He will take every one of them and use them to do exactly what I want.  To help encourage, love on, grow with, give a hand of sprirtual freedom to another woman that needs Him just as much as I do.

So that is my journey this week.  I wanted to end with something different but I would have to jump right back into the "you" thing that I am trying to avoid. LOL

Be blessed this week and I hope you evaluate the "I" in your life and tell your "I" story to someone who need its.

In His Grip Always,

Monday, January 18, 2010

Big Audacious Prayers

Okay, obviously I need to start this off so here goes. I have so many Audacious prayers that have been answered. Some were not even asked for and they were answered before I knew I needed it.  Some have been years of trevailing and finally answered...and honestly some were answered but not the way I thought they would  or hoped they would be answered.  Trusting in the Lord is always easy when we look at God like a Santa Claus and sometimes that can happen. Escpecially when we are just "getting" it. The true trust is developed over time and through relationship. Just like with your spouse, your family, your children that trust in the Lord can only be developed over time and our walk with Him.

Do you remember when  you first realized that God answered prayers. It felt like spring. All the floweres were opening up and the air was clean and crisp.  There are some that actually do call this the Spring of your spiritual walk.  All your prayers seem to be answered from a parking place at the mall to that promotion you needed .  You felt like you were on the mountain and God was the best Daddy ever because you saw Him in everything that your hands touched. 

As the seasons changed and your relationship grew...winter set in.  My husband would call that the time in your life that things are frozen.  The time that  you spend with God one on one. You have to dig deep to find the warmth in just your relationship with Him. This is the time that  you are learning, leaning and trusting in the God who is your creator, your Father,  your Provider and your Friend. This time in your life is quite hard. You have to press in harder, listen closer and become more diligent.  But the benefits...ahh, when spring comes again!  What a refreshment to your spirit.  And the seasons continue.

So sometimes those Audacious Prayers are answered in the hard times and sometimes when you don't even know you need to ask. What you might have asked for in a different place in your life, today  you might ask for something completely different. We grow, we learn, we look into our heart and allow God to change us because our relationship with Him is born out of true love. The prayers we ask for change in our lives as we grow.

So here is one of my celebrations with God of answered Audacious Prayer.  In the easy and hard times.  Because trust is learned in all those times is it not?

I know some will understand this and some will sympathize with this but having a child can be challenging for some.  For me, for some unknown reason, I always believed I would never be able to have a child.  I don't mean after Dean and I started trying, I mean when I was a teen.  There was no reason for that thought,  no Doctor had ever said anything to me as such, I just kept having it.  So when Dean and I started thinking about children...well, the first thing that happened was a mis-carriage. The devil really tried to use that as an affirmation in my heart for what I "thought" I knew.  But I could not reconcile that strong desire that I wanted to have a child. I started really leaning in and trusting God with the answer. I was not sure what the answer would be, in fact, a little afraid of the answer but I couldn't stop trying.  That desire can be so strong. There is no denying it. That desire is so strong at times it can surpass logic. This might be a good thing because what ever the answer God give know it only comes from Hiim. It is a long, long road to walk down.

I can tell you that God answers prayers wonderfully, but not always the way we think. But I do believe that, for whatever the reason, if you are a Mom, trying to be a Mom or just think about being a Mom one day God placed that desire in your heart.  The answer may have been a little different than what you thought it may have been, like my friend Donna, that ended up being an adoptive Mom.  And guys, she is one of the craziest, fun, ever-loving Moms I know but her road was long and hard.  Or another friend that it was a pure miracle that she conceived the first time but did not have any more children or Mel who tried and tried the first time and after that...well, let's just say God healed her :) two kids and going strong. The list could go on and on because this can be our Big, Audacious Prayer right here and really never have another one.  Our kids. Our blessings.  Those that God has entrusted us with for how ever long to love, support and lead them hopefully to a relationship with Him.

And last but not least, me.  Olivia was a very special blessing because they had no idea if anything would work. It had everything to do with me. I have some overactive hormones that suppress the development process of the egg and then allowing the egg to have stability for the first 12 weeks,  But joy of all joys we were blessed with Olivia. That beautiful, full of life, wonderful person that I am honored to know. That teaches me more than sometimes I think I can teach her.

God did answer our prayer.  God did give us our Big, Audacious prayer!  And we celebrate that life almost everyday!!!!

So, that is my first Audacious Prayer answered.  For this year I have a few but the top of the list is really knowimg God more and deeper.  Not to be a cliche or spiritual, it's just that He is my Dad and I have a hard time truly realizing how much He loves me. Just me.  He loves us all the same, I know that, but sometimes I think He has other favorites.  But I know He can handle my thoughts as well on the subject. So this year, I really want to press in and know Him even more. "Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God"  only because then your will will line up with His and you will be walking in His will for your life. Maybe not for you, but for me, that can be a daily challenge.

Love to you all...and I like celebrating what God is doing in our lives and I really do want to know!  So let me know....

In His Grip

Monday, January 11, 2010

A new Year, A New Year of Possibilities, Tell me about that Audacious Prayer!!

January is always that new resolution time isn't it. Just look at all the commercials that come out and stay consistent, you can lose 100 pds, this new work out machine is going to do miracles, make sure you get all the pro-biotics to make yourself regular and lose weight. And for those of us that are Christ Followers, a new opportunity to grow, seek direction, seek a new level of relationship with God. 

I usually take January to ponder life and see where God may want me to go. Now, don't think I am some spiritual giant, we all do that in our own way. We re-evaluate the year before, we look at the New Year and we make some life changing decisions about who and what we want to be and where we want to go and then we make the changes we need to so we can walk on.

So, here is one of those changes.  We concentrate a lot on the lessons we learn with God. The strength we draw from, etc.....but, a lot of times we don't really scream from the moutain top the Big, Hairy, Audacious prayers God answered. (this was stolen from a friend but I thought the description was hilarious).  I know we all have them. Things we asked for and God really, really accomplished.  It was the big thing that helped us walk that other 10 feet to cross the finish line. It was what kept our life in tune with God when we were losing everything else.  So, tell me....I have a few and I promise to share them but I want to hear from you...share with us those big prayers that God answered.....

Let's celebrate together, this first part of the year, how awesome our God is and wants to do for us.  If you don't want to leave it here you can email me first, my email is kingbkmp1@bellsouthnet or you can Facebook me as well.  I think there is also an anonymous ability on here as well.  But I really, truly want to know what God is doing in your life. 

Let the celebration begin


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

My Shopping List

I know we all love a good sale. Last night I was talking to some friends about Coupons, 75% off January sales, the great deals out there and then one friend blogging about having the luxury of shopping by herself for a change at the after Christmas sales.  In fact, Mel has a great blog called Word is on the side bar and you should check it out. I can't wait for her blog sometimes just to see what she is going to say this time. But I digress.

The sales and opportunities are limitless, well okay, depending on your checking account or those plastic things called credit cards and we are so tempted to spend more than we really have to save more than we ever will again.  Or will we? When I was young, I think I had shopping down to an art form. I know my Mom did. The sales were part of the hunt. We would take a weekend in Gatlinburg just to go to the outlet shops to buy for Christmas. And oh the presents. We had piles and piles of presents for everyone. What a fun memory.

But shopping was also proving myself. Stuff seemed to be the object of my ambition at times. Do you ever feel that way. I had  a friend at one time that placanted her emptiness with lipstick. The girl had every color known and not just the cheap stuff..noooo...she had the Cosmetic Counter Clinique. Leslie loved her make up. And when she was down, frutstrated, happy, sad, well really any excuse, she was shopping. I love her dearly and could share her passion but mine was on something else.  Just about everything else.The clothes, the shoes, the make up, the purses and the list goes on. And Christmas, was just another excuse to shop. I know you can see us out shopping. Circuling the parking lot for that perfect parking space. In the mall, walking up and the down the halls, all of our bags in tow, looking for the next store and finally stopping at some restaruant to finally refill our energy to move on because shopping can really be hard work.Honestly, we did not need a sale. We were young, good jobs and living at home. Life could not have been easier to spend all that money. How in the world Leslie and I got ourselves in debt...well, looking back it does not take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

As the years have gone by I have realized the changes my heart and life have taken in this area . Before I thought my achievement in life was based on what I made, how I dressed, (and this will make Melissa laugh...) even the car I drove. I thought it all said something about me and about who I was. And I was not always so pleased with what it said.  Now, years down the road, a  little bit wiser and a little bit more  in tune with what God wants and not what I think I want I have learned a few lessons that you might be surprised to see.

Fifteen years ago my shopping list might have looked like this:

1. Make more money so I can upgrade the car and the house
2. Make more money so we can have a  baby
3. Make more money so I can "feel" successful
4. Love God with all my heart and mind
5. Work harder to get the recognition I need to move up
6..Right all the injustices in the world
7. Walk upright with the Lord
8. Change Dean (my husband) so we will always live in harmony
9. Make sure to have Integrity in all that I do
10. Figure out why I am so hung up on number 1-3 in my life

I know, it doesn't look much like a shoppng list but when you make certain things priorities in your life then it really does direct your shopping list. Though I was striving so hard to walk with the Lord, I think my priorities were demanding something else from me.  But God knew what it would take to get my attention, what it would take to change my heart, and what it would take to fully know what it means to "lean not to my own understanding but in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path"...this is my life verse.

So ten years ago it started to change and looked like this:

1. I have enough money but my daughter needs a transplant.
2. How to save my daughter's life at age 3 1/2
3. Work harder so you can keep your mind off the hard things in life
4. Trust God, He will get me through, right?
5. I have to learn to lean on my husband and not just myself for everything...
6. Then of course I have to learn to Trust and Lean on God
7. I want to buy Olivia everything in the store to make it right...and I think I did.
8. What have I invested my life in, because now I really need my friends!
9. Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of I fear evil? IS God really with me? But I do feel His rod and staff comfortimg me.
10. How much can I really trust my God?  The one who has always seemed to be there for me but is tearing my life apart right now?

And how things have changed.  Though my shopping list changed, it changed because my contol on life was lost. I could not control my child's very life, nor to help her get the life I knew she needed. I really had some hard lessons during those first five or six years of Olivia being ill. The world was just forever changing. I could not depend on anything. I even lost my Mom, my stability, my rock, to cancer during those years. And moving away from friends, really family, that I had for years in Nashville to Atlanta...a place that can be cold and very money oriented at times.  But still that was the hand of God.

Today, my list is so different. My heart is so different. I can't believe at times how soft and tender it can be. Where the road has seemed to be so rough and hard but yet I look back at the tears and the pain and only see the most precious blessings of my life.  I think some of that comes with age, some with lessons learned and some with true, good friends that are ahead of you in their relationship with God that you can learn from and lean on. I love Beth Moore, I love Dr. Stanley but I can tell you that they do not hold a candle to a good girlfriend you can open up to and really talk. No one can give you that depth of love, understanding and healing that a true friendship can do. Though God works through those Giants of the Faith I think His better work is accomplished with the shoulder we can lean on in the coffee shop.

So today my list looks a lot like this:

  1. Love God with all my heart and all my mind
  2. Trust in the Lord and lean not to my own understanding
  3. Love my husband as he is and trust God to take care of Him....not me, God does a much better job
  4. Turn my hurt and pain over to God, for I know He listens and Cares
  5. Be a friend and a shoulder because that truly is a precious gift to give someone
  6. Be a Mom that listens, hears, understand and knows that God will give me direction when I am lost with being a parent
  7. Give, because there is no other feeling than being a friend Indeed
  8. Being a friend that can be counted on because I have so many precious friends that allow me to count on them
  9. Trust in God
  10. Trust in God 
Wow, how the list has changed. So many things I cannot buy with money, find on sale, or even buy on ebay. But things that direct my steps, my life and my pocket book. Now, I spend so much less, need so little when I walk in a store it amazes me at times. I have started doing this new thing. I know it sounds silly but I really stop and pray over almost everything I buy. As I walk along, if I feel the slightest bit of hesitation it goes back on the shelf. And you know what, I can't even tell you that I remember that thing that I put back....which tells me it really was an unneccsary item in my life. Because sometimes, for me anyway, is trusting God even in some of the basic decisions in life. Now, before you go off and think how great that is....remember, the list above is a shopping list and I am still learning those things and walking through them.  And I am not sure if you have a list or not but it might interesting for you to look at the different lists you have compiled over the last few years of your life.  Sometimes it can be very revealing.....

Praying for a wonderfully blessed New Year

In His Grip