Monday, January 31, 2011

Staying the Course

31 days.
 It's been 31 days since New Year's Resolutions have been stamped down.  How are you doing with yours?  I can tell you that I have failed miserably at most of them already.  
I joined the gym in December with a goal to lose 10 pounds.  Then, I met the Elliptical. I did the "fit" test and it gave me a Poor Health rating.  What??!?!?! Tell me about it!
 Elliptical and I have been at odd's ever since.  Then, out of frustration I did what all scorned women tend to do. 
I retaliated.  
But, I didn't work extra hard to prove Elliptical wrong.  
I retaliated in a chunk-your-New Year's-goals-in the-ditch-type manner! 
I baked cookies.  
Then, I ate the whole batch.
I got mad at myself.  Then, I did EXACTLY the opposite of what I needed to be doing. 
What is wrong with me?

I think the Apostle Paul sums it up best:

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a]For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:15-24

You know, despite all the chocolate chip morsels we have devoured in the past, we must move forward.  
So what if you had to make a new, New Year's Resolution on day 29 of the first 31 days of 2011?
Who cares if you had to add "NO MORE SUGAR" to your list of resolutions.
Stay the course! No matter where you find yourself today, stay the course!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Slaying Giants and Slinging Stones

I was going to post about slaying giants tonight, but I got a little side-tracked.  See, my Mammaw is having knee surgery this week.  Even though physically her knee is the body part in need of fixing, spiritually her heart needs the Lord.  

When Robb and I moved from Dallas to Huntsville in 2003, we lived in my Mammaw's backyard.  I had always heard that my mammaw was saved at a revival in her early 60's.  It turns out, that was not the truth.  It's really hard for me to understand the depth of her unbelief. 
 I got saved when I was six years old.  So, the reality of God's love through the death and resurrection of Jesus has been a fixture in my heart and mind for a very long time.  As near as yesterday, my mammaw said that she does not believe in Heaven. She does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  But, she does believe there is a 'god.'  
She told my aunt that she has never felt this way before but she feels like she won't live through her surgery.  
I am really concerned.  I don't know that kind of hopelessness.  No matter how hard life can be, I have had Jesus as my hope - at the center of it- from nearly my first awareness that I had a decision to make.  The closest I ever came to that kind of hopelessness was when I blogged about my experience with depression in 2002.  Yet even in that dark time, I knew that Jesus held the keys to my freedom.  Even in such a lonely place, I understood-because Christ had saved me- that my grief was only temporary. 
 I knew that God could fix it, that he could fix me.  
Even though I don't understand her heart completely; God does.  He is still in the business of saving people (which we were reminded of at church tonight).  He made the entire universe.  Are His hands so short that they cannot save?  They are not.

Will you join me in prayer tonight?  I would like to pray for you too.  If you would like prayer please leave a comment below.  Maybe tonight is more about slaying giants than I thought.  Unbelief is the giant. The word of God and the prayers of the saints are the stones.  Keep praying with me and we will watch this giant fall in my family and yours. Let's get to slinging!

45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
 48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. 1 Samuel 17:45-48

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ordinary Men

"The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him."
- Henry Varley

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:5

I've been praying about my purpose.  The world screams at me that I need to have a defined "status," but I know better than that.  Everything we do is based on our status.  
Married or single?
I get so tired of having to define myself. Don't you?  
Yet, I keep praying about my purpose. I don't want a worldly definition- I'm tired of taglines.
I want my life to count.  I want God to use me. 
The more I pray, the more I learn. 
His purpose for me continues to unfold like a flower.
But, I'm scared.  
The whispers seem impossible. 
I'm just so...
He whispers into the recesses of my mind.
"Feed my sheep."
I stare at blank cursors and white pages. 
I nurse sick children, cook dinner, pay the bills.
Yet, I hear it again...

"Feed my sheep."
One line.  One instruction.  
One step at a time.
He has a purpose for me; a very ordinary girl.
God knows that if He told me too much I would run way ahead of Him.
His instruction illuminates what I am to do today

What whispers do you hear today?

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baby A Says

Baby A says: "Hey mom, yesterday at church this girl looked at me while we were coloring and said "Hey are you copying me?"  

Mom says: "Well, were you copying her?"

Baby A says: "No, I was just coloring my page." 

Mom says: "So, did you say anything to her?"

Baby A shrugs "No, I just kept on coloring my page."

Is that toddler-speak for "turning the other cheek?"  Maybe, just maybe, this Baby got an A for conflict resolution.  But, I'm curious: How do you resolve the conflict in your life?  Do you...

...jump on facebook or twitter and share a piece of your mind to your "wall?" a friend or family member and state your case?
...stand your ground to the said offender?
...yell at the said offender?
...become a passive-aggressive mess and retaliate at the offender (all with a smile on your face of course)?

...toilet paper their house?

 All conflict is not the same and what might work for one situation may not work for the next. Here is one way that God has instructed me to deal with conflict in the past: 

Matthew 5: 39 says: "But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also."  In other words, let God vindicate you.  When we live in the light of God's truth, when we know who we are in Christ, then the opinions of others don't carry such toxic weight.  A slap to the cheek. A blow to our pride.  A dig at our honor.  What weight do these really carry if we are walking as God has commanded us to? It's hard to live out Matthew 5:39. I'm not going to lie.  My flesh wants to wage war against flesh and blood when someone offends me, but my heart knows that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." Ephesians 6:12 Sometimes, it's just best to pick up your color and keep coloring your page. 

Dear Lord, you word says that you are our defender; that nothing can take us out of Your hand. Do not let any weapon formed against us be able to prosper today.  Show us how to handle any conflict that might arise in our relationships.  Help us to be children of peace.  Let us remember that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against Satan himself.  Show us how to live by the truth or your word. Where words and actions have wounded our hearts, touch those places with your healing hand.  
In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A fancy cotton robe and the scariest day of my life

I thought there would be a fancy cotton robe, but there wasn't. I did not expect to re-visit nuclear medicine ever again, but I did.  I never believed I would ever see the little red-haired man with the tiny, black rimmed glasses, but he was there too.  I certainly never thought that a simple gallbladder scan would evoke such strong memories - unpleasant memories - from one of the scariest days of my life, but it did.  Last Friday was a very bad day for me emotionally.
  I went to Women's Hospital for a gallbladder scan, which in itself is nothing to fear.  Yet, when I got there, a wave of memories and panic settled over me like a blanket.  When I had my triplets, I ended up visiting practically every wing of the hospital before my six week stay was over.  On the scariest day, when I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, I was wheeled down to nuclear medicine for a lung scan which I like to call the "worst test known to man."  They lay you on a table, slide you nose to nose under the machine (which feels like you are in a coffin), and put a plastic bag over your nose and mouth.  There is a small amount of air in the bag and you are suppose to breathe in the air from the bag until it runs out.  Yet, once it runs out, you still have to continue to try to breathe in.  The purpose of the test is to check your lungs for blood clots.  You are already having trouble breathing, so when they purposely remove all the air from your lungs, it's not exactly welcomed.  So, when I went in for my scan this past Friday, all the fear and emotions of that day came flooding back.  To add insult to injury, the little red-haired man with the tiny, black rimmed glasses proceeded to strap my arms and legs to the table.  There I was, strapped down, and left to count ceiling tiles for 2 hours.  I was a wreck emotionally.  I thought, "Lord, why am I back here? Again? Why this room, why this man, why am I still struggling through all this sickness almost 5 full years later?"  

As I lay there on that table feeling defeated, God began to whisper assurance to my heart.  Sometimes, God Himself brings us back nose to nose to the people and events that have caused us pain.  Although as humans, our first reaction can be fear and doubt, God has shown me that we are often back to receive healing.   Often it is God who allows us to come face to face with our fears in order to set us free; to unload our heavy burdens.
See, my fear of that place was overwhelming me, because I felt all the dread of death upon me that had occurred in the past.  I felt the same pain, in the same room, back when I was sporting an oxygen mask.  When I began to pray and whisper the word of God during the test, I sensed that God had brought me back there, not for harm, but for good.  His plans are good, to prosper us, not harm us, to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Sometimes, we have to deal with our past (both physical and emotional trauma) before God can send us forward.  See, He knows more than anyone where you and I are emotionally. He knows the number of times a memory or trauma plays in your head.  God's word says that He has "bottled" every tear and "numbered every hair on your head."  Is He not powerful enough to take a painful past, whether it be a memory or event, and bring freedom to that situation?  

What painful memory are you dealing with?  One of the greatest weapons of the enemy is to keep us from acknowledging our pain.  You know why?  Because Satan does his greatest work under the cover of darkness, but when you begin to bring a situation to the Lord, you are bringing it into the light.  Once in the light, the very web of that stronghold in your heart will begin to self-destruct.  
Daniel 2:22 says "He reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him."  I encourage you to bring your pain to the light today.  You don't have to shout it from the rooftops or confess it to a congregation, but bring it to the Lord.  If you have someone you can trust that can pray with you and help you get free, tell them about it.  Tell a friend or your pastor.  Most importantly, just acknowledge it to the Lord so that you can move forward in your faith with peace of mind and heart.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dealing with It

While in the E.R. this week, the doctor on call said these words to me:
"If you are in pain and a doctor isn't listening to you, then it's time to find a new doctor."  She was right.  It doesn't matter that the full story was that I've been begging doctors to help me for nearly a decade and the resolution seems to continue to slip through the cracks and that I have been forced to get a doctorate from Google in order to find some relief.  However, her statement got me thinking about how we deal with the pain in our lives.  

Tonight, I spoke to a close friend on the phone who is struggling with her elderly parents.  She's in pain. She has been good to them, yet at the end of their life, they are not being good to her. I hurt for her.  She doesn't deserve that kind of pain.  
I've dealt with my pain in many different ways, sometimes...

I've ignored it.
I've worried about it.
I've pitied myself because of it.
I've been overcome by it.
I've wondered if I deserved it.
I've hated myself for not "dealing with it" effectively.  

As God's child, pain has challenged me.  
It has changed me. 
I am certain that I have broken every rule in the book.  Yet, through it all: I have prayed about my pain. 
 It has weighed so heavily on my body and heart that pouring my heart out to the Lord has often been the only thing that brought any relief (even when the physical pain continued).
This month, I have been reading through the book of Mark.  
Today, I read this in Mark 6:56: 
"And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well."
As I read this verse, I closed my eyes and imagined what it must have been like to walk with Jesus.  The hovering crowds must have been overwhelming and even oppressive at times! 
 So much hurt and only One Deliverer. The marketer in me starts thinking about the overwhelming nature of that kind of ratio of supply versus demand! Crowds followed him everywhere, oftentimes racing ahead of Him just to get a seat to hear Him preach. Other times forcing Him to preach from a tiny boat while the crowds gathered on the shore. 
Yet, pain drove them on; those with broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken minds.

 I would have been right on that road with them, anticipating, clinging to one last hope that the rumors were true.  I can see the sick lying on the road desperate to feel the hope that Christ offered.  I hear the crowds, the cries of hurting people.  I feel their anticipation and their pain. 
Hurting people don't always deal with their hurt properly, but in this case the crowds were on to something. The throngs of people who walked with the Messiah knew that they only needed to be in His presence to find healing.  The hurting flocked to Him.  They got themselves in line for a blessing of healing.  And if they couldn't get there themselves, they got friends to carry them and position them in the road.  

How are you dealing with your pain today?
 One thing is certain:  Jesus is the only one that can bring true healing to your life. It is in His presence that we find healing.  We can be in his presence through prayer, reading His word, and fellowship with other believers.  He will meet you where you are if you simply ask for His help.  God does not want us to "deal with it" without Him.

"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.."  
Psalm 55:22

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Peace and Perspective in the New Year

"Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near." Isaiah 55:6

2011.  It's kind of hard to believe that we are here already.  I remember all the hype and fear when the clocks rolled over to the year 2000.  My grandmother is still finding cash in jackets to this day in what she jokes was her Y2K stash. Yet, here we are; 11 years later. 
 I look forward to what 2011 holds for our family.  
Despite all my anticipation for what the New Year will hold, I find myself looking back to 2010.

 I've got 2010 in my rear view mirror.  New Year's resolutions have been stamped down, promises made, and maybe some already broken.  There are many things on my mind.  We shouldn't dwell in the past, but I think there is a time and season for healthy review.  My goal for 2011 is simple: more time with God.  I know that when I put God first, everything else follows suit.  
 When I look back at 2010 I see a lot of success and a heaping mound of failure.   I spent the first day of 2011 in the E.R. so I had a lot of time to think.  It's funny how God works out our mounds of failure for good.  Since I had a lot of time to ponder in the waiting room, I did just that...I thought about my year. There were lots of "bad me" moments.  I lost my temper a lot.  Yet, God was kind enough to increase my patience in 2010.  I got worked up over insignificant things.  Yet, God used those times to re-program my heart and show me what is really important in life.  I assure you I spent way too much time in 2010 thinking about what other people thought of me. However, God has shown me how to lay rejection down at His feet quicker than I used to be able to.  I spent a lot of unnecessary time trying to please people that cannot be pleased.  God has shown me that it's only His perspective that matters.  I have wasted a lot of time in 2010, but God has shown me how to be more balanced in the process.  I feel like 2011 will be a much more balanced year for me (with a little effort and a LOT of prayer).  

You can't get it back and neither can I. 2010 is over, but the door to 2011 is wide open.   I've pondered my year.  Now, it's time to lay it at the Maker's feet once again.   Jesus paid it all so we could be free from our sins, free from our failure, and free from guilt.   

"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you." 
Matthew 7:7

Wishing you peace, purpose, and right perspectives in the New Year!