Monday, June 22, 2009
As we catch up everyone seems to ask the same question, “How are you?” In essence they’re asking, “Who are you now?”
I want to proclaim to those in my Facebook world, “I am not who I was!” Life has changed…and praise the Lord I have changed too.
I am not that high school girl that I once was…awkward and shy, greatly lacking in self-confidence. I had been sheltered from the world…surrounded by church things. At that time I think I genuinely loved people; yet I was somewhat judgmental because I had never experienced…well, much of anything. I had been taught the Word of God, but I hadn’t established my own beliefs much at all. In fact, I was very confused about what I believed. My heart was doubtful. I was kind of going with the flow, trying to fit in (blend in) wherever I could…I just happened to be with church people most of the time.
I am not the girl I was right out of high school either. Thrust out into the workforce and straight into the realities of the world, I found that living life as a Christian was hard. Sometimes it seemed too hard for someone like me…not only a perfectionist, but also a people pleaser. I found myself doubting…doubting everything and once again going with the flow. I accepted things that I once thought were unacceptable…and further and further from my Christian foundation I went.
Then, there was the me in my early/mid 20s. What a time that was! I turned my back on God and chose to do things my own way…not all at once, but one step at a time. Although I felt the tugging of the Lord in my heart, most of the time I ignored Him. I put on a good front when necessary and still talked about God, but my heart was not very concerned with pleasing Him. My friends still considered me a “good girl”, yet I knew my heart wasn’t right. Really I just wanted to be cool, have fun…and feel accepted. I found all kinds of confidence, but it was in all the wrong things. To be honest, at first I thought I was having a pretty good time, but eventually, I paid the consequences of doing things my own way. I found myself in a huge mess. I felt empty and lost…wondering if there was a way out.
A tidbit from my life story:
In February of 2004, I hit what was “rock bottom” for me. I was 27 years old. I had recently moved back in with my mother because I was completely broke. I had just ended a long term relationship with a drug addicted boyfriend. I felt like my life was headed no where fast. One day I hit my knees. Cries from my broken heart pleaded with the Lord. I asked Him to forgive me for my rebellious ways. I told Him that I wanted to change. That I wanted to live for Him. That I knew that I was dirty and broken, but would He please renew me to live a life for Him and His service. I meant it and God heard my prayer. Something extraordinary happened within me that day. For the first time in a long time, faith welled up inside me. My heart changed. I knew-I JUST KNEW-that He was doing a “new thing” in my life (Isaiah 43:18 & 19).
God started a new work in me that day, but it wasn’t overnight. I’d like to say that the changes were instant and easy. In truth, growth has been gradual…and hard coming at times. At times I still struggle with old habits, doubts and ways of thinking. However, through God’s grace, I have seen amazing transformations take place in my life.
Things are not perfect and I still make a lot of mistakes, but God has done a work in me. I’m not who I was! I thank God that I am a forgiven. I am a new person…
“….those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!”
II Corinthians 5:17
As I look at my past my heart aches as I think about where I have been. I told myself at that time that I would have no regrets and only learn from my mistakes. I thought I was pretty smart. Yet, here I am today with many regrets…wishing I had followed the path I knew was right all along. Realizing that I wasn’t so smart after all.
However, I was right about something…I did learn from my mistakes. I learned not to judge others. To be sympathetic to their situations because I have been there. I understand the restlessness that so many young people feel. The fears for the future and the doubts about God. I know what the world has to offer…and that it isn’t much! And I know that what the Lord has to offer is so much better! He gives life…and life more abundantly! I know that I now have a HOPE, PEACE and LOVE that I never had before. I spent a lot of time searching for those things in all the wrong places. I also know that being outside of God’s will is a miserable place to be.
I really, really like the words to the new Remedy Drive song titled “All Along”.
It’s not everything it seems - the world and it’s dreams
Slipping like water through my hands tonight
All the things I thought would fill me up inside
Left me empty here - and now I know why
Chorus: All along I was looking for something else
You’re something else
All Along I was looking for something more
You’re so much more
I finally found what I could never see before
You’ve always been the one that I was looking for
All my castles in the sand - washed away again
And I’m left right where I began tonight
The only thing that can ever fill me up
Has been right in front of me all the time
I won’t miss you - I won’t miss you this time
I say I want you - how I want you in my life
It’s sometimes hard to forget the past, forgive myself and to accept God’s acceptance. Yet, I’m grateful that the Lord is faithful. He will complete what He started in me. I can look at where I’ve already been and where He has lead me. Isaiah 43:18, 19 is such a good reminder of what the Lord has in store.
“But forget all that-it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand new thing…”
The girl who was so concerned about just fitting in and pleasing others is now free to please only ONE. I don’t want to blend in anymore! Rather my prayer is that I will stand out as a woman of faith, obedience and trust…in the only one who fills the longing heart, Jesus.
I spent so much time searching for something more like He wasn‘t enough. Searching for someone who was right there all along! I should have known, but I guess I had to find Him for myself. Now I wonder how God will use me: my story, my mistakes, my experiences to help someone else.
Instead of proclaiming anything to anyone on Facebook or anywhere else, I will pray that my life, my spirit, my very being will proclaim the message of Jesus to them loud and clear. I pray that despite all my major short-comings and imperfections that His saving grace will be so evident in my life that they will see Him for themselves. That all who come into contact with me will see the reality of Jesus…working in a flawed, but forgiven person.
I pray that I can walk the walk worthy of my calling (Ephesians 4:1) and speak the words (His words) when He opens the door. I’m looking forward to what “brand new thing” He has in store for me next. I still have so much growing to do…but I’m not who I was!
Tell me, are you a new person? Are you searching for other things to fill up the longings of your heart? Or how is God working in your heart and life? What new thing is He doing in you?
As always, I am here to pray with you. Please e-mail me with any prayer requests, questions or thoughts that you may have. Or leave a comment on this post below.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The first time I read it I was almost offended by parts of it. Not only am I not the biggest fan of ritualistic type prayers, but when I read certain lines I thought, "Like I have control over this?!" But, the more I read it, the more powerful it became in my life. It gave me words to pray over myself when the words didn't fill my mind like they should...when I couldn't think clearly and didn't even know how I should be praying. I realized as I read it that it truly is a choice to praise God even in the midst of our pain when we feel like it the very least. That what I felt and what is true were two different things.
The friend that gave the prayer to me filled my name in the blank spaces. She promised that she would pray this prayer over me each day. When I prayed it over myself I entered either "me, myself or I" where appropriate.
Since then I have had the privilege of hand writing out this prayer for a few other friends and family members when they were going through a tough time. I promised (and did) pray this prayer over them each day until I saw a change in their situation. It has been such an honor and privilege to share it with them...and to pray it for them. Not only is the time taken to hand write it and deliver it appreciated; it's so reassuring to know that someone is praying for (and with) you. I have seen God move in these situations!
So today I want to share it with you. There is life-giving power in these words because they are so scriptural! Please read:
Thank you for promising us a sound mind. I lay claim to that promise for _______. I pray that her mind be clear, alert, bright, intelligent, stable, peaceful and uncluttered. I pray there will be no confusion, no dullness, and no unbalanced, scattered, unorganized, or negative thinking. My she be renewed in the spirit of her mind (Ephesians 4:23) and have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).
Whenever she is overtaken by negative emotions surround her with your love. Teach her to say “this is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) Deliver her from despair, depression, loneliness, discouragement, anger, and rejection. May these negative attitudes have no place in _______ nor be a lasting part of her life. May she decide in her heart, "My soul shall be joyful in the Lord, it shall rejoice in His salvation.” (Psalm 35:9)
I know that any negative emotions that _______ may feel are lies, contrary to the truth of Your Word. Plant Your Word firmly in her heart and increase her faith daily. Enable her to abide in your love and derive strength from the joy of the Lord, today and forever.
If you're going through a valley in life and don't have the words to say to God at this moment, try praying this prayer over yourself...until both life and words return. If it helps you don't keep it for yourself, pass the blessing on. Share it with the next hurting person who comes across your path. Only God knows how He may use it!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind"
II Timothy 1:7
If you need prayer I would feel honored to pray with you. E-mail me: email@example.com
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"...let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Anyone who knows me very well has probably heard me complain about our very slow dial-up internet service. Not only is it slow; it’s unreliable. Many times before I can even get logged into my e-mail, I have already been kicked off of the internet. It’s very frustrating. So, you may say, why are you thankful for that?
Although I consider myself a rather grateful person in general, as I thought about it I realized how often I grumble about “wants” and call them needs. I think I need wireless internet which by the way won’t be available in our area for another couple of months (yes, we really do live in the “sticks”). Really, I don‘t need wireless internet, I just want it (badly). I should be grateful to have internet at all…or to even have a computer…a home…that has electricity. Just think about it!
I don’t know about you, but I so often take for granted the everyday things of life like nutritious food, a solid home, a warm bed, an abundance of clothing to wear and shoes for our feet, a feeling of safety, freedom to worship in whatever way we choose, etc.
I believe the key to truly being grateful is contentment. Our society tells us that we need MORE, MORE, MORE to be happy! We want everything bigger, better and faster. It’s easy to believe that the next thing will bring us the contentment we’re seeking. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 that true contentment comes only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ…and seeking His priorities. He's the only one who can fill the longing in our heart.
Paul learned the secret of contentment. He encouraged young Timothy to strive for contentment. In I Timothy 6:6-8 he wrote:
Today I will focus on all the blessings God has given me instead of focusing on the things I want that I do not have yet (I may still get them, Lord willing. I just don’t want my focus to be on them). This doesn't mean that I give up on my dreams or don't work hard to achieve my goals. It just means that my contentment will not be based on them.
This tree is in our front yard. Yet, we can smell it when we walk out our back door…or when we are all the way across the road. We have lilac bushes also and we like them, but they’re not quite as fragrant as this little guy. I wish I could bottle up it’s fragrance and e-mail it to you. It’s so delightful. :) I thank God for His awesome creation!
3. For the things God teaches me through my son
I’m learning so much through being the mommy of this little guy…
Let me give you an example:
Today I broke the refrigerator door handle off. Not so good. It’s going to cost $30 to replace it. Anyway, Andrew was very concerned about what happened to the refrigerator handle. I told him that I broke it. He said, “I tell my daddy to fix it.” (DHmmm…I said, “How about we ask daddy to fix it instead of telling him. Daddy would like that better.” Andrew happily agreed. :)
What are you thankful for today? Has there been something this week that has really stood out to you? What is something you tend to overlook or take for granted? What will you do this week to keep your attitude of gratitude in check? Please share.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The winter frost and tilling of the ground (preparing the ground for planting) cause rocks that lie beneath the surface of the field to rise to the top. Every year this happens. There are fields that my father-in-law has “rock picked” every year for the past 35 years. The rocks have to be picked up before the crops can be harvested so that they don’t damage the machinery that we use. Farm machinery isn’t cheap, you know?!
I drove the tractor for 3 ½ hours yesterday (with my little guy along) while the men picked up rocks ranging in size from the size of a man’s fist to larger ones that had to be dug up with a shovel and that one guy could not carry alone. We also picked rocks on Monday and are going back out to do it again this evening.
Stick with me here…this farm lesson has a purpose…
As I drove the tractor on Saturday (and last Monday as well) it was interesting to me how sometimes we would be traveling along quite well; speeding right through the field (if you can EVER call 2 to 3 mph speeding…*giggle*). There were places where it was rather smooth. There may be a rock here or there, but they were smaller ones. They didn’t slow us down much.
There were times when we could see a big rock coming up ahead. We knew it was coming and were kind of prepared for it.
How many times have you been sailing right along when all of a sudden, out of no where it seems, you’ve found yourselves upon one of those rocky paths in life? You find yourself saying, “WHOA! Where did this come from? How’d I get here? What do I do now?”
Read Matthew 7:24-25, “Anyone who listens to my teaching and obeys me is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse, because it is built on rock."
God doesn’t promise us that there won’t be hard times. The floods still come…the water still rises…the valley still nears…the rocky path still appears. We live in a fallen, imperfect world. The difference is in how we handle the tough times. What do we have our “house” built upon? Where do we go? What do we do?
If we have our house built upon the solid rock, Jesus Christ, we will not collapse.
I love the entire chapter of II Samuel 22, David’s song of praise. In verse 7 it says, “But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I called to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.”
Then, in verses 17-20, 29 it says, “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the LORD upheld me. He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.
O LORD, you are my light; yes, LORD, you light up my darkness.”
There was distress. There was deep water. There were enemies who attacked. There was weakness. There was darkness.
BUT GOD heard. He reached down. He rescued. He delivered. He upheld. He gave strength. He lit up the darkness.
What do we do?
“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”
“What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” Hebrews 11:1
Praise God, the rocky path doesn’t last forever! Sometimes we have to slow down and put our spiritual muscles to work. It's dirty. It’s not very fun, but it’s necessary. Then, before we know it, we’re shifting gears and moving onto smoother ground.
If you’re going through a tough time, be encouraged! If you’re house is built upon the rock, not only are you safe; God hears your prayers.
If there’s something I can pray about with you, I’d feel privileged to do so. firstname.lastname@example.org