Monday, January 31, 2011
When I was growing up when it turned midnight several of the TV channels went to "snow" or static. I doubt my kids will even know what the sound of static is by the time they are adults because it doesn't much exist anymore. So, if you're too young to remember "snow" or "static" you may not understand this, but for me during the fast all I got from God was static.
During the 21 day Daniel Fast at our church, many saw prayers answered and many have come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. For me, these 21 days have been spiritual warfare. Satan's attacked my family from every angle possible – Patrick's side of the family, health issues on my side of the family, home repairs causing us to spend several nights at my parents, unknown job factors for me, and financial issues. It didn't seem like there was one area where we weren't being attacked.
If I just went by what my feelings or emotions were, I'd be ready to throw in the towel and give up, but I'm thankful my faith has matured to a point that my faith isn't based on what I feel, what I think, or what I see. I can go back time and time again to the altars in my journals where God has provided, has delivered and has restored, and if He has done it then, He will do it now and in the future because HE IS FAITHFUL! No other power will prevail.
My lesson this past Sunday was on hope. I cried through most of it because while I knew them in my head, my heart just wasn't in it. To expose myself, my weaknesses to my girlfriends in class was me being totally transparent. Trust me, we have times of tearing up and crying in the class, but it isn't usually me. But I am so thankful for my friends not only in that class but on Facebook who posted Scriptures of encouragement and devotionals to push me forward and to not get stuck by the distraction of the "static." I'm thankful for friends who would text me and pray for me and send me verses on my phone to cling to.
One of the things I learned about hope is that I need to praise God while I wait and hope. To be honest, it just wasn't in me. I was exhausted beyond belief…worn slap thin. I went to church knowing I'd probably be crying through it I sat in the back of the sanctuary. I did begin to praise Him…song after song, tears rolling down my face. Little by little, the weight began to lift. I went Sunday night, and more and more I began to add praise to my belief that God would provide deliverance and restoration.I don't know quite yet why God allowed the "static," but I know it was for my good. If I were to bet, I'd bet He is working on something, and He didn't want me to "help" and screw it all up. Regardless, I trust that it was for my good, and maybe one day, I'll know or understand the reason for this time of trials.
My trials aren't over, but the heaviness is beginning to be lifted, and I can be grateful.
1 Peter 5:6-11 – "So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor." (Yes, Lord!) "Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you." (Thank you!) "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."
So, girlfriends, if you are struggling against principalities like I have been, HANG ON! STAY ALERT! AND BELIEVE even when you don't feel like it.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
OMW! (Oh My Word!) I thought this semester at seminary would be light in comparison to my last one and that is still true; however, my personal life has just gone spiraling in all different kind of directions…And not in a good way, if there is such.
I am starting the third week of the Daniel's Fast with my church family. Last week at work was crazy. We received notice the feds have requested documentation on a specific roofer, and I've been reviewing this roofer and files all week. It's a no-brainer kind of thing, but it is time-consuming when I have two troopers requesting information on two other rings I've worked.
On the home-front, my husband decides to complete the home remodeling in order for us to sell it. He wants to put it on the market by the beginning of March…Did I mention, I have lived without a kitchen for two years? He wants smaller, newer, closer into town, and something more manageable. I do not blame him one bit. I'm so thankful for the guys in his Sunday school class who came out to help this weekend to work on the master bedroom and bath. Now, all of this sounds benign except for the fact that my daddy came out to do his Dutch Oven Cooking – He is an awesome cook. While out there cooking the arthritis in his hip started acting up, a soft-tissue injury decided to spasm to the point that he could put no weight on the leg. The pain was so excruciating he almost got sick one time and passed out another…so I meet mom and Lori in the emergency room. We were there from 2:15 PM to after 9 PM. I didn't get to bed till close to 11 PM.
As if this all wasn't enough, Patrick got a phone call yesterday that did not end well. It's amazing how Satan can use people as his hand-maidens. I hate seeing my husband stressed like this…so much on his plate. Ready to be done with the remodel, into a new place, and separated from the trouble-makers – maybe we could have some breathing space then.
There is so much I need to do for women's ministry. So much I want to do for women's ministry, but God obviously has different plans.
Then I'm still waiting on the company to make a decision about my office.
I am looking for God. I am looking to see what I'm supposed to be learning. I'm looking for Him, so I am not distracted by all the things Satan would like for me to get bogged down in.
Thank you, God, for holding me in the cleft of the rock, for engraving my name in your hand, for never letting go of me, and for preparing the way for me and my family.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I choose to be an optimist. I haven’t always been an optimist, but I made a conscious choice when I was in high school not to be a negative person. I’m not sure what brought me to that epiphany at such an early age, but whatever it was, I committed myself to being an optimist. Being an optimist doesn’t mean that I don’t have difficulty, or that I turn a blind eye to the negative, it just means I look for things to be joyful about. I dig to find something good. Do I always succeed? NOPE!
I remember one time when I didn’t succeed in being thankful and optimistic. It was when my mom’s surgeon came out and told us the cancer had spread from her breast to her lymph nodes, so he had to take them. I could not find anything to be optimistic about. Cancer spreading is not a good thing after all, but if our God can turn our ashes into beauty He can change what appears to be negative into something for which to be thankful. Since my mom’s cancer had spread to the lymph nodes, her oncologist ordered her to have additional CTs and PET scan done. The results from these tests may have just saved my mom’s life because they had revealed multiple blood clots in her lungs. These clots were treated and never became a factor – all because her cancer had spread into her lymph nodes.
Today for me was a discouraging day. I became discontented. I’ve discovered that something I’ve been working toward career-wise may not happen at all. You’d think I’d be more concerned about whether my office was closing and whether or not I’d have a job! But no! I’m discouraged at work, at this house that has been under renovation for over 2 years, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I want to be able to do more in women’s ministry but am constricted from doing so. And just so much junk that Satan would like me to get distracted by.
I’m discontent because I like to be challenged in what I do. Unlike some, I like change. I like growing, and don’t even think about telling me I can’t conquer a challenge. Those are fighting words!
So, I sit here the second week of this Daniel’s Fast knowing God is in control of everything. Nothing happens by “coincidence,” and I’m just wondering, “Why do I feel this way?” and “What am I supposed to be getting out of all this? Is my discouragement and discontentment a tool He is going to use to make me ready for the next thing (whatever that is)? Is my discouragement and discontentment a shutting of a door?” I want answers.
There’s one thing I’ve been praying about that God hasn’t allowed to happen. I believe He is protecting me (From what? Does it really matter?), so I am trying not to be discouraged in this area.
I wish I knew what He was going to do with me. I know He has called me to ministry; otherwise, I wouldn’t have voluntarily gone back to school to get my Master’s. I wish He would tell me where I’m supposed to serve and how I am to serve in a full-time position.
I just don’t want what I do in the here and now to be for naught. I want to be challenged. I want to grow. I want more.
Waiting on God…
Trying not to be impatient…
Trusting He’ll get me there on time. (I just don’t like the “in the mean time.”)
Still under construction.
Monday, January 17, 2011
When Patrick and I were first married, we lived in south Dallas, and I worked in the Lancaster claims office. Spring weather could be particularly brutal. There was one storm that brought tornadoes and baseball and softball sized hail. I remember the glass on cars was knocked out, and the cars looked like they had been beaten with a vengeance with a baseball bat. I was able to break away from working storm duty one day and made it to downtown Lancaster. I remember being so shocked by all the damage. A tornado had gone over downtown Lancaster removing every leaf possible of every single tree while leaving the trees where they were planted. There was no bark left on any of the trees either – bizarre. Then I saw a pine needle that had penetrated a sheet of metal – still can't explain that.
Psalm 29 talks about the voice of the Lord is powerful and majestic and can be seen in the strikes and flashes of lightning, the quakes in the desert and by stripping the forests bare. If His voice is that loud, why do so many people miss his voice?
Do you remember the commercial, "When E.F. Hutton speaks," everyone pauses, "everybody listens." Everyone would stop whatever they were doing to hear what he had to say.
When Elijah had slayed Jezebel's "prophets" after 100 of God's prophets were killed, Elijah ran for fear of his own life. He ran for 40 days and 40 nights. He went to where he knew he could find God, where he could hear God – Mount Horeb. There God displays himself in his power and might, but it wasn't until afterwards that Elijah heard God's voice.
Samuel in 1 Samuel 3 heard a still, quiet voice calling to him in the early morning hours when things were completely calm.
Do you want to hear from God during this fast? Do you really want to hear from God during this fast? Because if you hear from God then you become responsible for doing what He tells you to do. If you don't do it, you are being disobedient.
If you really want to hear from God:
- Be still. Stop your fighting and know He is God. Psalm 46:10
- Reconcile yourself to those with whom you have a disagreement (Matthew 25:21-28)
- Draw near to God. Elijah ran to Him. Are you going to places to hear God? Are you in a place in your life to hear from God? Are you with people in your life who will encourage you to hear God?
- Find some time to meditate and be quiet in God's presence. Samuel was in the early morning hours when he heard from God. AND LADIES, when He does talk to you – BELIEVE IT! DO WHAT HE LEADS YOU TO DO! Act in faith.
- Be silent and wait expectantly (Psalm 37:7).
- Meditate on God's Word (Psalm 1:2).
Based on personal experience, it can be a scary prospect to do what He leads you to do or say. God has laid things on my heart for different people that I should not have known, and He laid a message on my heart for that person. Sometimes He lays a person's name on your heart and mind – PICK UP THE COTTON-PICKIN' PHONE and call them. Sometimes He leads you to do something – GET OFF OF YOUR BEHIND AND DO IT!
I promise the more that you follow through on His directions, the more confident you will become in realizing it's His voice. Your confidence should never be in yourself, but rather the One who is working through you.
When God speaks, what will you do?
Friday, January 14, 2011
Repentance is not self-loathing or self-deprecation. It is a lifestyle of dying to your selfish desires and wants and focusing on Christ. Whatever you feed flourishes. What you starve shrivels. If you feed the fleshly desires and wants, it will flourish in your life. If you feed your spiritual life, your spiritual life will flourish and the fleshly will shrivel up. We must cast off the self-centered life and focus on him.
This past week, I asked them, "What are you expecting from God during the fast?"
I fully anticipate the Spirit coming down and full revival breaking out. That is just one of the things I expect, but I expect more. Exactly what, I'm not sure. What I do know is when God comes down he will rock our church's world. Isaiah 64 said God came down and the mountains shook -- He rocked their world. It also said he did more than they had expected -- He rocked their world.
Some may wonder why do we want the Spirit of God to come down? Isaiah tells us it's because he is the only one who cares for those who wait. I'm waiting. I'm waiting for answers about my job. I'm waiting for answers regarding the full time ministry he want me to do.
We also covered Romans 8 the most chapter in the Bible. Hey, any chapter that starts out with, "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," has to be good. I love how this chapter talks about how the Holy Spirit communions with God and he delivers messages when we don't have the words to say. If we don't have any expectations and we go before God, then the Spirit goes before us. If we are open to receive from him, he will place a desire in our heart. It won't be our desire. It will be his desire, and it will be his pleasure to meet that desire.
So, if during the fast, God leads you to do something or puts a desire on your heart, step out in faith and do it. (James 1:2-7).
Here's the thing about a corporate fast, the Holy Spirit can come down everywhere, and you can miss it. You can miss it because of unrepented sin. You can miss it because of your unbelief. You can miss it for simple disobedience. In the Message, Job 9:12-13, "We'll never comprehend all the great things he does; his miracel-surprises can't be counted. Somehow, though he moves right in front of me, I don't see him; quietly but surely he's active, and I miss it." I don't want to miss out on what God has in store for me, for my church, for my community. Please, open the eyes of my heart Lord!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
It is by no coincidence that Erin's birthday is during the first part of the first quarter of the year. It is by no accident that my church is participating in a fast beginning on Monday lasting through the end of the month. It's also no coincidence that my Nissan has given us more problems without resolution.
Every year on Erin's birthday, I reflect on the journey that God took me on just to become a mom – 6 plus months of failed fertility treatments, failed private adoption, and depression. From the time we started trying to have a baby was 3 years and 3 months (but who was counting, right?). It was an excruciating journey that I wouldn't wish on anyone, but one from which I grew immeasurably in my faith, blind faith and trust in God to provide the desire that He had put into my heart.
Last year, our church went through a Daniel's fast together. I thought I was going to DIE! (That first week was a doozy!) During that fast, God called me to full-time women's ministry and insisted I go to seminary. Since I work full-time outside of ministry, am a wife and mom first and foremost, I thought God was crazy not to mention it had been well over 15 plus years since I was in college. But, I obeyed. He has provided time, energy and resources. I have learned so much, and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting women who have similar passion as myself. It's encouraging and equipping. I love it! WHO KNEW!?
I know that the decision for my office comes down this quarter, and God is reminding me of his faithfulness by Erin's birth. In the Old Testament, people would build altars to remind them of what God did at certain places in their lives. It was a reminder to not only them but to the generations to come. The fast is in beginning of the first quarter to help me focus on the one true thing in life and that is my relationship with Jesus Christ. It also reminds me that God can and will use anything to grow me and stretch me beyond my comfort zone for my good.
Then there is the car issue. We've had more problems with this car than any other I have ever owned. It cost over about $2500 to get the timing chain and guide replaced, and they had my car for a month! They were taking the motor in and out – a minimum of 3 times. Since that time in October, I've had problem after problem with sensors going out. (They had to remove these in order to get the motor in and out, but of course, they didn't damage them and don't want to pay for them.) Then they forgot to put a part back on my motor causing it to leak oil. This whole scenario is no accident either. I know that Satan will do anything and everything to distract me from what God has called me to do and from whom God is making me to be. I believe calling a spade, a spade – Satan is a no-good-for-nothing, lying snake-in-the-grass who comes to sap the joy out of Christians lives and distract us from having an intimate relationship with Jesus, and I AM SICK OF HIM. I'm ready for God to cut his head off. The only good snake is a DEAD SNAKE!
So, let's review…
- My God gave me the desires of my heart answering specific prayers allowing me to become a mom of a beautiful, funny girl named Erin. He wants me to trust him to deliver.
- My God leads me to new places and experiences to enrich my life and challenge me, so I won't become bored and stagnant. He wants to bless me as I follow him.
- Satan will use whatever means necessary to distract and sap life and joy from my life.
Really, the choice is simple. I want to have life to the fullest (John 10:10). I will choose to trust God to deliver whatever job he wants me to have. He will bless my family and protect my family as he leads us down unfamiliar paths (Is 42:16 – love this verse). I will wait expectantly for God to do exceedingly more than I could ever dare to dream.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I will forewarn you. I'm going to be sentimental in this blog. If you continue to read, it's at your own peril.
It is hard for me to believe that ten years ago on January 5, 2001, I got to see my baby girl come into this world and take her first breath. This is not common for a lot of adoptive mothers, but it is what I had prayed for. It is what I had wished for. It is what I had longed for, for three very long years, and there she was. While the moments then were so sweet and moments I will treasure, the next 60 hours were fraught with a roller coaster of emotions. They are something that I would not wish on anyone, and I shared these hours with my husband and one other couple.
Dr. Dobson says, "Parenting isn't for sissies," but I say, "Adoption is not for the faint of heart." To have a sweet momma place her baby in your arms and have to leave her there was excruciating. My heart broke for her. My love for Erin's birth mom swelled so much I thought I would burst. I just wanted to take her in my arms and just hold her, take away her hurt, anything to make it better, but that wasn't for me to do. She is a phenomenal mom, and I am proud of who she is and who she has become.
It's been ten years, but I can still feel all those raw emotions of that day at the adoption agency – so very, very raw. WOW!
I recently got some of Erin's baby dresses out. Pink little Feltman Brother dresses and white ones with smocking. I remember putting a little, gold bracelet in the dimple we called a wrist, and for the first year or so, Erin lived in bonnets. We didn't do bows because she only had "old man hair" – you know, the hair that's around the ears and lower. There was nothing up top to put a bow on!
So fast forward ten years. She is entering the double digits. Erin is her own person. She knows who she is; she's just figuring out how to grow into the young lady God has created her to be. She doesn't much care if her socks match. She says, "Oh, mom, they don't expect my socks to match. They know I don't care. I'm okay with it." AND, she was right. She has never been one to care if her clothes matched at all. It's never been a great concern of hers.
Erin's timing is impeccable. She is naturally funny and laid-back, and as true to God's sense of humor, he gave me a child with the spiritual gift of mercy. Go figure! Erin often misses social queues or any other queues because she's not really into the details of life or she's talking. She is all about playing and having fun and enjoying life.
She is smart. When you start talking in complete sentences at 18 months, it's kind of a sign to hang on because she talks all the time often without filter – we're working on that.
She believes in prayer. She prays daily for those who serve in the military and for missionaries, especially our friends who went to El Salvador to be missionaries. She is a gift from God.
God gave Erin a voice. She has this low, raspy voice like she has been singing in smoky jazz joints all her life. I love it. God gave Erin a voice – I KNOW GOD HAS GIVEN HER A MESSAGE AND A PURPOSE, and I can't wait to see and hear what those are.
My challenge? To survive her puberty and all the drama that entails. To parent a child who is very different than myself (She's a lot like her daddy). To help develop Erin's strength and help her focus and grow into the godly, young lady God wants her to be. (It can be quite overwhelming at times, but I'm up for the challenge.)
I am blessed every day to hear my daughter call me "mom."