Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thankful

I am thankful for my husband who works so hard to support us and who puts up with this crazy woman's moods and quirkieness.

I am thankful for my little princess who brings a fresh new perspective to my life and gives me hope for the future.

I am thankful for extended family and friends who have been so supportive through life's ups and downs. They have wept with us when we wept and they have celebrated with us as well.

I am thankful for friends who quietly go about their work, drawing no attention to themselves. I am humbled by them.

I am thankful for my home in the country that makes me feel like I live in a Currier and Ives Christmas card.

I am thankful for the wonderful smell of turkey roasting in the oven; a warm, cozy home and a beautiful view out my back windows.
I am thankful that I live in a country where I am still free to worship and live as I choose.
I am thankful most of all for my savior who I need so desperately because I am so flawed. Without Him I would not only be bound for Hell, but also completely incapable of surviving life on earth. I love him more each day as I continue to open the doors of the darkest places in my heart to him and he so graciously loves me in spite of my shallow faith, my judgement of others who he loves so deeply, and my pathetic attempt to live a life that brings him glory.
I am so undeserving of all these things and I realize all but One could be gone in an instant. And the One is really the only thing I need. How often I think I need so much more.
Thank you, heavenly Father, for your presence in my life. Thank you for the unswerving hope you give me. You overwhelm me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Day at the Woodshed

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:10-12

God is really taking me to the woodshed these days. I have been so caught up in my pride, my self preservation, my isolation, my... my... my! I have not been joyful in hope. I have not been patient in affliction, and I have not been very faithful in prayer. I've whined a lot. I've complained a lot, and even blogged my confession for doing so. But I continued to whine and complain. God, how do I get out of this cycle. Every now and then between moans and cries, I hear you speaking to me, encouraging me, convicting me, calling me to get outside myself long enough to encourage someone else. But, after a pitiful attempt, I pull my head right back into my turtle shell, being overly sensitive, easily offended and pathetic. And all the while, I am offending others, trying to bring them down to my level. Oh, wretched soul that I am!

If I could just find hope in the calling that God has put on my life. If I could just believe that He will accomplish far more than I can ask or imagine in my life and in my ministry, I would be so free from competition and comparison. Free from jealousy and envy. Free to be who God has called me to be!

As I read my devotional today on The Hope Experience, this quote jumped out at me and grabbed me by the throat: "Once I saw my father's sacrifice for me in the middle of our family's hardship and suffering, a patience and peace came over me. It replaced my detachment and self-pity." This is a quote about a man's earthly father, but the spiritual application just about bowled me over. Maybe I need to quit blogging, facebooking and twittering long enough for this truth to sink into my soul. How can I see my father's sacrifice for me in the middle of my family's hardship and suffering? How can I allow that patience and peace replace my detachment and self-pity? I have got to find the answer to that question or I will never grow up. God will never be able to use me the way He wants to use me.

God, help me to believe that you are able to transform me from the inside out. Help me to believe that you can will make me into the woman you want me to be. Help me to put my hope in what I cannot see, a redeemed, usable, valuable child of God.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding Hope All Over Again

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Yesterday I was sharing with someone about my spiritual condition a year ago. Last November I entered a black hole where I spent several months. I described it as a time when I had lost all hope in God. But I realize it was more a time of finding true hope in God.

I have been a Christian my whole life--since I was a little girl. So, I really don't remember of time of not having faith in God. I trusted God for lots of things, and life was good. But the last five years, life has not been so good.

Last November, people kept telling me to remember that God was in control. Well, if He was in control, it sure didn't look like He was doing a very good job. My daughter was dead, my son was struggling with an addiction so powerful, I felt like I was helplessly watching him die a slow, painful death, and my granddaughter was in a foster home 2,000 miles away. How could God be in control and still allow my family to suffer so deeply? A year ago, I was struggling in my faith. I had to decide whether I was going to continue to follow this God who was allowing me to be broken so deeply.

For about four months, I argued with God. I was angry with him. I asked him where he had been the afternoon the car my daughter was riding in was hit with such force that it was almost unrecognizable. I wanted to know what was keeping him from healing my son. And on top of it all, how could he let my granddaughter to continue to sit in a foster home so far away instead of moving the court system to allow her to come and live with us.

"Where are you, God!? Why won't you move on my behalf? I have covered my children with prayer since before they were born. I continued to cover them everyday when they went to school. I have trusted you my whole life and you have let me down!" Those were the kinds of prayers I was praying, and some of my friends wanted to keep their distance so they wouldn't get struck by the lightning bolt that God would surely send my way for questioning him so vehemently.

And yet, God was not moved. He didn't strike me with a lightning bolt. He wept with me. And he sang over me. He understood my pain and frustration. But he didn't budge. He knows the plans he has for me and they are plans for good and not for evil. My attempts to manipulate him to do things my way didn't work. He was and continues to be unmovable in what he is doing in my life and in the lives of my son and granddaughter. He has already completed his work in my daughter.

As I began to hear from God and sense his nearness, even as I shook my fist in his face, I fell in love with him all over again. I don't understand him, I can't see the end result, I wish it didn't have to be this way, but I trust my heavenly father. I trust him in the midst of circumstances that seem insurmountable--painful beyond survival. But God walks with me every day. He cares for me in my pain. He doesn't completely relieve it, but he comforts me. And that is my unswerving hope.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Taking Control of my Present

A year ago, we had a women's ministry big event that is near and dear to my heart. We worked so hard and poured our hearts and souls into the event. It was the first time we had done it and it turned out quite well. The day was an emotional high for me. But within a couple of days after the event, I had an emotional let-down that lasted about three months. It was a very dark time of anger and distrust of God. There were other external circumstances, but I am convinced that there is a connection between successes, the emotional highs that come with them and the lows that often follow.

That dark time was not wasted time, however. I came through it with a much deeper faith, more appreciation for God and his grace and patience with me. This blog is a result of that time and has been theraputic in helping me dig my way out. So thanks for listening!

This past weekend, we held the event for this year. I have been gearing up so that I don't experience the same crash afterward. This year's event also had a great turn out. I had a wonderful day, but the emotional high was not quite as high as last year's. Many of the external circumstances have changed, some have not. This morning I wrote in my journal several significant prayers that have been answered since my crash last year. That's the beauty of journaling. It helps me see patterns in my life so that I can begin to take control instead of letting the cycle to continue. I'll let you know how that's working for me in the next few months!

Whatever the case, I want to be very intentional about my faith. I want to be in tune with my spirit so that I won't be blindsided by any emotional let-downs that would have the potential to take me as low as the one I had last year. I'm determined to trust and lean heavily on my Heavenly Father, who is my Unswerving Hope!

About Me

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I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother raising her granddaughter. I am blessed with incredible family and friends. I love working for my church and serving on our Women's Ministry Team. I especially want to reach the women who wear their "Everything's fine" smiles on Sunday, but go home to deal with tough real-life issues throughout the week.