February 28, 2010

Feeing Better

It is Sunday, and it is raining. Last evening, we had a good soaker. The forecast said to expect rain sometime in the afternoon-early evening hours, and that we would get about .50 inches in our area. I am not sure how much rain we got locally, but we did get a pretty strong downpour from about 11-2 a.m.

I spent the night on the sofa, thinking that I would sleep better (with less interruption from my furry friends). I did sleep pretty well. I think I had one visitor sometime around 4 a.m. -- I just remember something warm and fuzzy on my lap. Overall, I am feeling better. I woke up this morning with a cleared head, less coughing, and generally feeling rested. I said to myself (and the Lord) that "I must be better because between today and yesterday -- well, it was like war and peace." I don't think you know how bad you are until you get well...then you realize just how ill you were.

I was pretty ill the last couple days. Yesterday was really the worst of it. I thought about dying (not in the physical sense), but just that I didn't think it could get worse without having to go to the hospital. I hadn't gone to the Doctor simply because I thought the preceeding day was worse that the current day. Know how that is? You think, "well, I think I am getting better," so you don't go. Then later in the day or in the overnight, you are completely worse and you wish you would have gone to get some medicine.

I did venture out yesterday and headed to Walmart to get some different medication. I bought some Advil and some Tylenol Cold and Sinus Severe medication. I have taken the Tylenol stuff before and it does work, so I thought I would try it again. It did work. I took it twice and it opened up my head, controlled my cough, and generally enabled me to sleep.

So here I am today...my DH and son are at church. I am here blogging, taking it easy, deciding not to go out in the rain, and also not to be around other people. I still get lightheaded when I walk to far, and feel clammy when I try and do too much. I need to stick at home, rest more, drink more fluids, and just wait this out. Oh, how I do detest being sick.

One good thing about being sick is that you have plenty of time to think. I am a thinker by nature, so thinking deeply is not a rarity for me. I ponder just about everything, discuss it with myself and the Lord, and tend to like to sit and think (as Pooh said, "think, think, think...").

This past week has been really difficult for me. I have been ill the majority of the time. I have gotten progressively worse as the week wore on, thinking that I was getting better, when in reality I was just settling into a nasty cold. I have not done much of anything other than try and keep the house clean. I didn't even practice the cello (that tells you how bad I felt). I barely got school work set out. I made it out to the store, when I had to, but other than that, I was stuck at home.

I have been nursing my aged cat, which pains me daily. He is losing control of his bladder, so he pees whenever he feels the need to pee. I am about at the point of taking him into to be put down, but that breaks my heart, and I haven't been able to do it. My other cat, Gus, is being territorial and pees in response to Zachery's pee. It is a royal pee fest in my home, and I hate it. All I do is wash bed linens and towels and pillows. I am tired of all the pee.

I prayed today and asked the Lord, "why?" Why is this happening to me now? I mean, I am dealing with separation from my husband, trying to find a job, thinking of moving out of state, keeping a roof over our head, struggling with illness, participating in a support/recovery group, and managing our everyday life (home schooling, home, elderly parents and parents-in-law). As usual, I am doing it all. This is how my life has been for so long, I really don't know of any other way. I have always been a multi-tasker. I have always managed to keep all the balls in the air and to do fairly well with everything.

My health is at issue right now. I am resting. I am eating right. I am trying very hard to take good care of myself. But, my health is not good. I am not sleeping (due to the cat's peeing at night), and struggling with my own lack of energy. I have lost a lot of weight (a good thing normally), but wonder now if I have lost too much, too quickly. I am not on a diet, well at least not one of my own choosing (at group they call it the "divorce diet" -- you either gain a lot of weight or you lose a lot of weight).

I am trying to figure my life out, what is left of it. I am trying to discover God's purpose for me, His plans for me, and then abide in His will for my life. I know He has plans for me. I feel connected to His will. I feel His pull on my life. I know I am safe. I know I am well-protected. I know that it will all work out. I just feel so lost, so out of sorts, so completely out of control.

Perhaps that is the crux of the problem for me -- I am no longer in control of anything. I cannot even keep my house clean nor take care of myself or my animals. Everything seems to be falling apart, right in front of my eyes, and I am helpless to do anything about it. I have internal peace. I feel calm and confident in the Lord. My outer life is haywire and out of sorts...it all seems one big jumbled mess of things.

I prayed today for the Lord to help me. I have asked Him for release, but all I hear back is to "endure." I don't like enduring. I don't like waiting like this, especially when I am hard-pressed on all sides. I know that what is happening to me is shaping me, making me into a more perfected reflection of Him, but it hurts. It is not fun. I don't like it. I don't like how I feel while it is happening. I like to be in control, to feel as though I have it all figured out. I like to know where I am going, how I am going to get there, and then be in the drivers seat -- making it happen.

I don't like being a passenger in this van of life. I don't like where it is going, and the fact that I am just a rider, not a driver. I don't like the way I feel -- helpless and hopeless. I don't like it at all.

But, then I remember who is driving me. I remember that I am a passenger out of choice. I chose to allow the Lord to be my Captain, and therefore, I go where He goes. If He leads me through the "valley of the shadow of death," He is there. If He leads me "beside the still waters," He is there. If He leads me to "green pastures," He is there as well. No matter where I go, will He not be there? I will never be alone because He has promised to never leave me.

As I travel this uncertain path in life, I am reminded of this one fact. Nothing else matters to me, because right now, all I can think about is how lonely I feel. All I can see is the bleakness of night. Yet, despite how I feel and my lack of vision...I know I am not alone. He is with me. He loves me. He cares for me. He has promised never to leave me.

I will endure this trial because He has asked me to do so. I can not do it in my own strength, so I rely on His Grace to see me through it. He has asked me to endure this for His Glory. He has asked me to stand firm while He sharpens me, shapes me, and molds me into something of His Own Choosing. It is not fun, and it is not the way I would choose to do it. It is His way, and His way is always Best. He is Perfect. Nothing He does lacks purpose. There is no "willy nilly" with the Lord. There is always Perfection and Planning and Purpose. We are, afterall, His Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. ~Ephesians 2:10

February 26, 2010

Learning to Let Go

This is probably my second or third post on this topic (Do you see a pattern here? I must not have learned how to do it yet, so I have keep writing about it! LOL!!)

Last night, I spent the entire night in dream mode. I am a dreamer, always have been. I dream in color (the experts say that we all dream in black and white, but my dreams seem to be in color) and have very vivid recall. I liken my dreams to a video or movie as they tend to play either in a stream like a movie or in choppy fashion like a music video. Sometimes they are like flashbacks or photo albums, with the pages being flipped and picture after picture coming up and going away. Most of the time, I wake up and can remember what I have dreamed. My mother says she never remembers her dreams, but scientists say that this is not true. Some of us are just less sharp when it comes to recall. They "suggest" that we dream and recall the dream to help us psychologically, to help us deal with difficult or stressful situations and events. I think this is probably true, at least, it does explain why I often dream of tornados and other scary weather or situations.

My dream last night seemed to be the photo album type. It was as if my mind was flipping through the pages of an old album. I saw snapshot after snapshot of images taken of places I had seen before. There was no real commentary, no dialog and no interaction between me and the photos. I knew them, but it wasn't like I was in the dream and looking at the album. The pictures just came up and went. They were grouped together, however, which is probably significant in some way.

As I pondered the night, I thought about some of the pictures I remembered. Two specific things stood out to me: one, these were pictures of places the Lord showed me awhile ago; and two, they were all about one thing...His Will. You see, I have known for sometime now that I was to relocate to another city. I have been plodding through maps, through websites, through streams of data, trying to learn as much as I could about "potential" cities. This is something the Lord placed on my heart about two years ago. Back then, I didn't really understand it, other than I had this sense that we were to go....GO there...and live there.

Over the course of time, the journey has been made more clear to me. I wasn't just seeking a new home, but I was seeking a way of life. It wasn't so much about the place as it was about His Will. I have probably "previewed" a half-dozen potential cities, scrutinized them (in my road-weary analytical brain), and turned them inside out, until I can no longer think straight. My mind has become fuzzy on the details, and I have mixed information up (not much, but some of it).

Of all the places I have looked at, only two evoked the message that said: "GO!" I cannot really explain it well, but it was as if I heard the words come through my head. The Word was simply "GO."

The problem, of course (as usual -- ME), was that I was not willing to Go where God was leading me. There were too many issues, too many concerns, too many unknowns. I couldn't handle them, and I weakly refused to go. I sort of said, "I will go," but when push came to shove, I caved. I didn't go. I ran like Jonah, as far as I could into another lifestyle, into another way (the way I thought would bring me safety and security -- into legalism, into submission of another sort). I thought "Perhaps, this way, this life will please the Lord BETTER than the other way." WRONG! OUCH! And, just like Jonah, the Lord sent a whale (well, not really, but figuratively) into my life to chase me down and grab hold of me.

It took time for me to come to terms with the fact that the Lord was sending me somewhere. I wanted to go where He sent me; I even repeated the words of Isaiah:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" ~Isaiah 6:8

I was ready in my mind, but not ready in my heart and soul. I wanted to follow after the Lord, but at what cost? Rarely are Christian's asked today to "pick up their cross" and follow Him. Yes, we all are asked this, but not in the sense as it was spoken of the Lord. Our life has become pretty comfy. Christian's live a modest life, have most of the modern conveniences, and if they live in North America, for the most part are free from any persecution or harrassment. They may be carrying their crosses, but they are not really leaving behind loved ones, a life, a way...just to follow Him.

Some men and women today receive calls to go to the mission field. Some are asked to do very difficult work, in very difficult places. Some are asked to lay down their lives for the Lord and for His Work. Not as many as used to be, not as many as in prior years. I think partly this is due to our modern world, and to the increased safety and security a modern world brings to travelers. I also think it is because fewer and fewer Christians are actually interested in "going" into the "outermost parts of the world" in the Lord's name. A lot (and I am generalizing here) would prefer to minister locally, within the comforts of their own community.

This is, of course, a needed work too. I hear Pastor's say that all the time, "our local church and community need you just as much as Africa." The problem is that the harvest is ripe and the fields are ready to be harvested. The workers are few, just as in the time of Jesus. "Pray the Father sends more workers into the fields," were His words (my paraphrase). The time is nigh, the workers are few, and the fields are ready to be harvested.

So back to my whale. I love the story of Jonah. I am a lot like Jonah. I am pretty hard-headed and stubborn. I am pretty self-sufficient. I like to be in charge, to be in control. I like to make plans. I am a planner by nature. You should see all my home school plans. I could have run an entire school, taught hundreds of children, and overseen dozens of teachers with all the plans and curriculum purchases I have made over the last six years! LOL!! I am an organizer, a doer as well as a thinker. I don't like to sit still. I don't like to be bored. I hate, really hate, to have nothing to do. I don't like busy work...go figure that one out (I don't want to be bored, but don't give me busy work to do either, please...Ah, the height of arrogance, eh?)

I will take the lead when given to me. I will handle the task when asked. But...if you really, really, really push me or really, really, really ask me to do something difficult (outside the scope of my own hand), well, then...I tend to shrink back in fear and run home with my tail between my legs. In the face of battle, I falter. I give up, I give in, and I sit down in the dirt. I don't go the long distance, I don't survive, and I don't endure.

However (big sigh of relief), the Lord doesn't ask that much of me. He comes along side of me and tells me that He never expected me to go to Ninevah on my own. No, He never planned on sending me there all by my lonesome. He wouldn't send me without provision, without a plan, without a future hope. Nope, He had it all figured out. I just didn't bother to listen long enough (can you tell that I tend to interrupt when others are speaking?) to hear the end of the story:

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." ~Hebrews 13:5

God's promise is this: no matter where He sends us, no matter the task assigned to us...He will never leave us nor will he forsake us (abandon us). God never asks us to do anything that He is not prepared beforehand. He has made everything ready, He has looked to all the details. He knows the task, He knows what is required to complete it. He sends us out prepared, not like tenderfoots who are left to fend for themselves. No, God takes the time to prepare the hearts and minds of His Chosen Ones so that they can go out with boldness and confidence and do the work He has alloted to them. He may not clue us in on all the details, He may keep some things back for Himself; but, He will give us guidance and direction so as to do His Will and complete the Work He has in mind for us to do.

This is where I am at right now. I have been shown the way. I have been told to "Go" (twice now). Yet, I haven't actually gone anywhere. I haven't left the comfort of my home and headed out to my "Ninevah." Why not? The first time I didn't go, well, that is pretty clear to me. I was weak. I was spiritual weak, and not willing to believe God. I simply didn't want to take the risk, to do the work, to give up what I had, to follow the Lord. The second time, well that is not so clear to me. I am far more spiritually-ready than before. I am willing (Yes, Lord, I am willing to go). I have received the Word, but the provision is not here yet. I cannot go without His provision, so I have been waiting and waiting and waiting. The provision has not come...what does this mean? Perhaps, I am mistaken. Perhaps, I am in error. Perhaps, this whole "Go" thing was just an exercise to test my "willingness" to go. Perhaps. Or perhaps it simply means that the provision is not here yet (sometimes things are actually as they seem).

As I conclude, this is the thought I am pondering..."which is it, Lord?" Have I misinterpreted your signal and missed the boat again? Or, am I still stuck in the belly of that whale, waiting to be barfed up on the shores of my "Ninevah?" I don't know...but I can tell you that it is getting pretty stinky waiting around. I guess I have my answer. I guess I know what the truth is...to Ninevah I must go. I just should have remembered Jonah's story a little bit better. I never did like fish very much!

February 25, 2010

Leaning On Your Own Understanding...

...a New Perspective.

Today, has been a really rotten day. From the time I got up, until just about 5:00 p.m. I was sick as a dog. I have some cold/flu bug, and it is just getting the better of me. I have been hacking my head off (oh how my head hurts, my chest hurts, my face hurts!) I finally got up the gumption to take my son over to Chamber Practice (nearby) and decided to pop into the grocery store to get us something "easy for dinner." While there, I headed into the Pharmacy and bought Robitusson DM (the best cough medicine in the world!) I didn't realize that you had to show ID to buy it -- has our world really come down to this? Anyhoo, I exited the store with a chicken, my cough medicine, toilet paper (the reason I went in the first place), some ice cream (Moose Tracks -- just to make me feel better), some lettuce and tomatoes, and four Kit-Kat bars (hey, they were 2-for-1, and they will make me feel REALLY better!) I got home, swigged the RBDM, which by the way is the most awful tasting medicine in the world, and settled into making us some dinner. Ok, so now it is an hour and 45 minutes later and VOILA! I actually feel better. That RBDM stuff works wonders!

My post is about understanding and leaning on your own interpretation, and not so much about cough medicine...but the two are tied together (if that makes any sense -- remember, I am sick and have just swigged RBDM -- I might be a little la-la-la!!) Well, as I was making dinner, I was having a good conversation with the Lord. I tend to do that...have conversations with Him while doing the most bland and begnign things. I think He likes it that way. He likes it when our minds are gently occupied with nonsense stuff -- we tend to listen better when our hands our busy. At least, that is how it tends to work with me. I talk, He listens. Then He talks, and I listen. I usually talk a lot, and for a long period of time. He listens really, really well. Then He tells me what is what, and usually I just go, "Yes, you are right." Amazing really...He listens to me go on and on and on...and then He just says "Let me tell you how I see it." Instantly, the fog clears up, and whatever was on my mind makes total sense to me. Almost always there is a pattern:
  • There is a problem without a resolution
  • I am struggling to "resolve" said problem
  • I provide all the case details to Him (as if He doesn't already know everything, LOL!)
  • I then provide "my summation" (this is how I THINK IT SHOULD WORK OUT)

When I rest my case, He intervenes and straightens out some of the details, changes my perception on some of the facts of the case, and provides a sense of clarity. After He has clarified the points, He pronounces His judgment. His judgment follows the same pattern too:

  • He is God
  • He knows what is best
  • His way is perfect
  • His plan is complete, lacking in nothing
  • His will is to be accomplished

Yes, no matter how I try and present the case to Him, the judgment always comes back the same way. "I am God (speaking as He would); you are not." Or, my favorite way, "Are you done yet? Are you ready to let Me handle this?"

You see, I am particular with a capital "P". Particular people, so I am told by Him, are His delight. He likes people who see the world a particular way, who tend to analyze and observer things, work and roll them around in their heads, and then make value judgments on them. Don't get me wrong...the Lord clearly tells us to be careful about judging others. I am talking about making valuations, something that is slightly different than simply judging things.

Valuations are a key component to many aspects of life. The Word tells us we are to discern many things (the spirits, false teachers, false doctrine, and so on). We are to "evaluate" everything, wash it, test it, line it up against Scripture. In short, we are to be very particular about the people we hang with, the things we do, the stuff we let into our minds. Now, remember that there is a difference between ministering to those who are lost, and habitually hanging with folks that are doing the things the Word forbids. If we are ministering, we have our MINISTER hat on. If we are hanging, then more than likely we have our "WE ARE THE WORLD" HAT ON. Be careful to not mix the two things...it is really easy to stumble and fall and lose your witness to the world (be in the world, but not of it).

My particular-ness stems from the way my brain is wired. I am a logical person, very analytical. I like critical thinking and reasoning puzzles. I like to disect things to discover truth. I like to ponder and evaluate. I do it all the time because it comes very naturally to me.

The problem I have, though, is that I tend to be very particular with the Lord. I am really glad that He loves me no matter how particular I am at times. I ask Him -- "are you upset with me?" I ask Him hundreds of questions every day "Why is this? What about this person? How does this work?" I am like a little child, one that never stops asking "why." The great thing is that when I was a child, my parents got really tired of my incessant questioning. They would tell me to "give it a rest" because they couldn't take it any more. My Heavenly Father is a treasure-trove of answers. He likes it when I ask Him questions. He likes to answer my questions. We have a very special Father-child relationship. He doesn't always answer me -- so don't think I am an oracle or something like that ("When will X happen? Speaking in my most eery voice -- Nope, not a chance on that at all). I just ask Him, and He answers me. Sometimes it is just "Be still, Dear One...Know that I am God." Sometimes it is specific, with direction from His Word. Sometimes it is silence and I know what that means (to me, it means consider what you are asking...think about it...perhaps you already know this answer). Often, that is the case. Often, I need to recite Scripture that reminds me that I already know the answer (it has been written down for me...Thank you Lord!)

So, to make a long post shorter...my experience today was just another in a series of attempts at figuring things out on my own. I came up short, as usual. I was frustrated, feeling really badly, and out of sorts. I wasn't mad or anything, I was just sick. I was just feeling so icky, that nothing I seemed to do made any difference. I had to stop for a moment and remember who I was and who He is and then everything became clear again. Yes, I am sick. I will get better. He is God. He knows this about me. He knows everything about me. I just have to stop putting the "i am god" hat on. I do that, you know. I have this paper hat that says "i am god" (well, not really, but symbolically....metaphorically speaking). I put it on when I am feeling lost or feeling as though life is not moving as I want it to move.

Today, I took that paper hat and crushed it up and threw it away. I am not God. He is and He knows me. I rest my case.

Update: The Lord has shown me several things since I wrote this post. One, He is God and His Choice reigns Supreme. Sometimes I want my choice, because to my human eyes and ears and brain...it just makes more sense. But to God, it is a faulty human choice based on human valuation of need. He knows me best. Two, often when I think I have Him all figured out, a curve ball gets thrown my way. This illness has been that curve ball. It sidelined me to the point where I had to sit down and literally "rest". I had to stop all my wanting, and thinking, and tinkering to try and put Him into the neat little box I made. Three, after feeling really, really crappy, and thinking it just couldn't get any worse...it did. I really felt bad. I mean, I was sick as a dog, and then sicker than a dog. Yuck! I rested my case. I decided to follow Him, to choose His way...yet, I was still hoping, still holding out that somehow my plight and my plea would sway His judgment (NOT!) He is righteous Judge and He knows best. Four, after crying and stomping and sighing and laying in my own miserable selfishness, I realized that God is right. He is right. I am not right often (well, practically never...and then in the light of eternity...NEVER!) He is always right. He is always right (my new "mantra"). Five, once I caved and gave in and admitted that He is right, always right...I immediately felt so much better. He told me I would feel better. He told me that I would experience good change this weekend. Yep, He is always right. Six, learning to accept His will is difficult. On face value, it is easy to do (just do it). But, when push comes to shove, it is much harder than we think. It requires laying aside all selfish desire and choosing His way above all else. There is no other reason OTHER than because it is His will. You cannot make up excuses to cover His Will. It is either His will or it is not. There is nothing more to say on that point. Last, when in doubt, choose God. "Trust your feelings, Luke" (Obi-wan's mantra in the Star Wars epic)...but not always the best idea when confronted with a God who wants you to do something. The Word says that our feelings often betray us, they lead us astray. We are not always to trust in them. Sometimes they do clue us in to things, especially when something is wrong (like when we have sinned). They also can disguise the truth, hide it from us, when we need to face it head on. It is better to Trust the Word -- to believe what it says and then know that no matter what, the Word will not return void. God's word stands. Trust God and Trust His Word. In closing...lesson learned this week. God knows best for me. He has a plan for my life. He knows what He wants to accomplish and He will do it.

February 24, 2010

Understanding God's Provision

I dragged my sickly body out the door and drove over to Walmart early this afternoon. I really didn't feel like it, but was worried that I might feel worse tomorrow. So, better to go now, then to be stuck at home without the necessities, KWIM?

I found everything I needed, even a few items I didn't need (isn't that the way it is with Walmart?), and was packing my bags into the trunk, when this thought popped into my head: "Thank you, Lord for this provision. I am grateful that you have provided this to my family." As the words came out of my mouth, "my family," images of my husband filled my mind. I slowly placed a bag into the trunk and thought, "yes, God has even provided food for my husband."

I know, weird thought, right? In our case, we are married and are living in the same home, but we are in a state of separation. My DH is pretty much living as he pleases, and I am doing what I need to do to keep my home over my head (or I should say, trusting the Lord to do that part). We are in this weird state of transition, married but not really married. So much water has passed under that "marital bridge." I have spent countless hours in therapy, on my knees in tears, and venting to friends over coffee. I have joined a support group where I am getting Godly and Biblical advice on this whole process. In short, I am dealing with this change, and through it all, the Lord's steady hand has never left me.

As I got into my car, I started to give Praise to God for helping me see how His provision works. I didn't have it quite figured out until the Lord brought this Scripture to memory:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ~Matthew 5:43-45

God is always good. Everything He does is good. Everything that comes from His hand is good.

As I pondered this thought, I began to see how I have treated "money" as something to be grasped at, to be held on to, and to be sought after. I am not a "money lover" per se, it is just that I have never had any real income or investment over the course of my life. I have always had to pinch pennies, to give up certain items in the checkout line because they exceeded the amount in my wallet (even when they were greatly needed). I tend to be very frugal as a result. I am a saver, a horder; someone who is extremely careful to count out every cost, and to weigh the significance of every purchase.

The Lord has graciously provided some small income to me. Over the last few months, He has provided me with some small amount, enough to purchase groceries and other small items for our family. Mostly, I have used this money to buy food, gas, and some curriculum. I have also used it for little things, things I wouldn't normally buy like Wendy's or Burger King. I have enjoyed having this money, it has taken the edge off my worry, and given me great comfort. It is not enough to provide for me and my son long term, and it certainly wouldn't cover all our bills, but for now it is more than enough.

I have been very judicious with how I use this money. The Lord has carefully helped me make some wise choices. He has also given me freedom to spend it if I want to do so (like to buy a drink through the drive-thru window). Sometimes He will tell me to buy something, and I will not do it. I don't think it is a good enough item or I am worried about the timing of the purchase (like if I buy it now, then I might not have enough to last until the end of the month).

So, long story short...as I was driving away and mediating on that Scripture, the thought occured to me. God has provided this income to me to help me and my son make it through these dark days. But, in Glorious fashion as God is always arrayed, He also has brought blessing into my husband's life as well. You see, he has been a recipient of God's goodness too. He has had more good meals in the last four months than in perhaps our 25 years of marriage. He has had the color ink when he needed it for business. He has had drinks and personal items, even though he has not offered nor volunteered money (or had the money) to buy them himself. God hasn't fulfilled all his needs -- there have been times when he has needed something and his money was out. He looked to me to provide, but the Lord said no.

The very nature of God is Glorious to ponder. He truly does send rain on both the righteous and the wicked. He does provide sun and shelter on the evil and the good. God is a God of Goodness and His Provision is well enough to satisfy the needs of every person.

My response to Him today was to thank Him for His provision and then confess my own sin in thinking that somehow what was given into my hand belonged solely to me. God has blessed me, no doubt, and by extension He has blessed my DH. I may not like what he is doing (my DH), but I can see that God is impartial with His blessings. The rain comes down on everyone whether we like it or not.

My hope is to be able to live a life without fear of money concerns. I have turned this over to the Lord, confessed it to Him. I have learned how to be so frugal that now all I think about is not having enough money. God, the Giver of All Things, has more than enough money for me. He knows my needs. He will provide for me exactly what I need and when I need it.

God is so GOOD to me.

Cold and Flu

Well, I thought I had passed this winter without getting sick! Crud!

I woke up today with a pounding headache. I have had some sinus/allergy trouble this entire month (thanks to all the rain). This is the norm for me -- winter allergies -- seem to get me the most. I usually survive with my trusty supply of "real" Sudafed (not the fake stuff that is over the counter -- the old fashioned little red pill that you have to ask for due to all the misuse by drug dealers/makers). This time, however, I got something along with it. It has been about a week now, scratchy throat and sinus pressure. The headache has intensified, and settled down into my neck (yuck!). I am now coughing up junk and feeling pretty miserable. It is a virus for sure (sweaty and feverish).

Oh, how I detest being sick!

February 23, 2010

Finishing up our Y11

We have rounded that corner!! The end of term 2 is just one-two weeks away (depending on the book). It has been a really long two terms, mostly because of personal issues and such. The school year has been filled with lots of fits-and-starts, and finally, I see the end in sight.

I have just finished typing up our Term 3 schedule. We are studying Modern History and Literature this year, so we will be focusing on the Post-War era for most of our readings. DS has done well, though not as much writing as I would have liked. He has managed to finish or stay on top of all his books (hooray!) and has been doing consistently well with math.

The next term should be interesting, though not my cup-0-tea really. I am a Medieval girl and much prefer the early centuries to the present day. Here is a quick run down of our studies for the rest of 11th grade:

Bible

Same as before...daily reading along with a weekly devotional book. DS is about mid-way through Deitrich Bonhoffers classic work, "The Cost of Discipleship." It has been a really good read for him -- lots to glean and think about regarding his testimony and walk of faith.

Math

More Thinkwell. This is a really good course, though dreadfully long. DS is only about 1/3 of the way through and I think we will need most of the summer to finish it. So far he has scored in the 90s-100s on every lesson. The format and delivery seem to work for him. Next year, we will back track and complete College Algebra in preparation for entrance exams.

Science

Science has been so-so this year. We have finished reading through "Introduction to Geology," my college textbook, and are just about to wrap up watching "Planet Earth," the video series from The Annenberg Project (http://www.learner.org). We will be switching gears for the next term and picking up Apologia's Physics textbook. DS is really well-versed in Physics and has already studied most of the topics at an introductory level. I am planning on having us read through the text and complete the labs (based on interest). It should prove fun and interesting, and I think DS can pretty much do Physics in his sleep.

Russian 1

We are back to learning Russian. We started with Pimsleur back this fall. DS was gung-ho on learning it, and then the family crisis settled in, and he lost contact with it. He has sinced worked on it through an online translator (and he has a gaming friend from Russia -- so they speak to one another). His Russian has really picked up, and now he is interested in pursuing it again. Our library has Comprehensive Level 1 so that is what we will do for Term 3. Next year, Comprehensive 2 and 3 and then he will have 2 credits for Russian (along with 2 for French, 1 for Spanish, 1 for Latin and 1 for German -- Rosetta Stone).

Music

Ds is continuing to work on his performance skill. He is now playing Bass guitar for Trinity (a Youth Praise group). His piano study is coming along well. He recently finished a Nocturne and a Prelude (Chopin and Bach, respectively) and is working on a new Nocturne and a more difficult Prelude. He is also going to be singing in Chamber and will be performing on guitar, piano and bass.

History

Modern history continues this term with the Post-War era. We have finished reading Clarence B. Carson's Basic History of the US, so I am purchasing BJU US History for this term and next year (focus on the US Civil War -- AO/HEO Y10). We also finished Barbara Tuchman's book, "The Guns of August" (a WWI military history), Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl, The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig (Siberian Jewish life) and Mein Kampf by Adolph Hitler. Biographies for this term include: (all by Albert Marrin) Hitler, Stalin: Russia's Man of Steel, and America and Viet Nam: The Elephant and Tiger. Various speeches from the period round out this study. We will also read "Lost Horizon" by James Hilton. This book is about WWII and the idealized vision of what war achieves.

Worldviews

We are behind in Dave Breese's book, "Seven Men Who Ruled the World from the Grave," so we will need a couple weeks to finish it up. Next up is Gene Vieth's book, "Modern Fascism." This book may be completed by the end of term 2 or may need to bump into summer a bit. Overall, great books with great explanation of the ideas that have shaped our world.

Composition

We are set to being IEW's The Elegant Essay this term. This is a short course in the basics of writing beautiful essays. I think it is a great program, and I really like how it is developed and written. Two thumbs up!

Literature

Last, but not least...our English course for term 3. We have finished up several books for Literature, though we lost "The Great Gatsby" somewhere along the way (we will study it again next year for American Literature). We did finish "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok as well as books from term 1: 1984 and Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad. Books for term three include: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, The Jungle byUpton Sinclair, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Two Progeny Press study guides will be used to help us with literary analysis (Conrad and Lee).

Art

DS is beginning to draw and wants to learn how to do it properly. I will be using ARTistic Pursuits course for High School this term and over the summer to teach art. It should be a lot of fun -- I love art and was quite good when I was in high school.

Well, that is our program. Not too shabby I think. It always looks like we don't do enough work, but then after I type it all out, I am amazed at how much we really do accomplish. God is so good for providing some new curriculum to me. We have made do with hand me downs, library books and free online sites for many years. There is an abundance of good curriculum out there, and it is really nice to be able to finally purchase it for our use.

Dealing with Chronic Stress

I have lived with chronic stress now for almost 38 years. I would characterize my stress as being consistently mid-level. I am not in a situation where my stress goes up and down anymore. I used to live that way, but after counseling to determine why this was so, I was able to develop strategies to help me level out my emotions and my reactions to stressful situations. Now, my stress is under control, but it is still somewhat higher than normal.

One of the issues I deal with beside the chronic stress is chronic illness. The two go hand-in-hand and feed off of one another. When your body is forced to fend of illness, it gets right into action, despenses the guard cells and begins battling whatever it thinks is attacking it. This is a normal response to any type of infection or bodily injury. God designed the body to be able to heal itself, and gave us a wonderful immune system (to ward off disease and infection) as well as the ability to repair damaged bone and tissue. The body is a living testimony to Creator God and the very fact that we live and breathe and fight off infection on a daily basis gives Him Glory.

When our body comes under attack from stress, the immune system goes into high gear and prepares for an attack of some foreign intruder. However, with any stress, chemical compounds are released into the body that "heighten" the awareness of said attack. Consider it a "forewarning" sent out to the troops -- "be prepared, the enemy is poised for attack." This what stress does to the body; it sends out a signal telling the body to get prepared. The body, like the good little factory it was created to be, does exactly what it thinks it needs to do: it prepares itself for war.

The problem is that often stress is just an indicator of "possible" attack. It is not always imminent. Sometimes the attack does come; sometimes it does not. The body should go back into normal mode when the stress passes; but for some who suffer under chronic stress, the body never actually comes down from the "prepare for attack" mode. Over time, the body begins to wear down. It stands at the ready for so long, but never actually has to attack anything.

If you have ever had a "friendly attack "situation with the cats or dogs in your home, then you will know what I mean. My cats will often sit at the patio door, spying on anything that might come wandering into our yard. Our neighbor's cat comes by often and is a friendly sort. She comes and sits right at our patio door, meowing and rubbing her head on the doorframe. She is saying "hello!" My cats don't like this one bit (well, one doesn't mind -- the other two go territorial on her). My cats begin to yowl, claw, pound (in short - they go into attack mode); but, due to the glass between them and the "enemy" they cannot reach her. So, all that "attack juice" has to go somewhere, so it gets redirected into the calm cat sitting next to them. Wham! Fur flies and cries and howls -- a scuffle. All this commotion simply from a "friendly hello!" by the next door cat.

The body, when under prolonged stress does the exact same thing. It waits and waits and waits for attack, but the attack never comes. Instead of releasing the "attack juice" back into the body to be reabsorbed, it stores it up, keeping it ready for the big battle. After a time, the body behaves like my cats. Rather than reacting to normal bacteria and infection, it begins to attack anything it "perceives" as an enemy. Often this is the body itself.

Prolonged chronic stress can actually weaken the body so much that the body becomes unable to defend itself against common illnesses. The person under this kind of stress finds themselves always feeling "unwell." They never feel "good" because their body is at work fighting against itself.

There are strategies that help defend against chronic stress, and most work well. Exercise, faith in God, keeping a healthy diet, sleeping well and regularly, meditating, etc. Other services also can help: massage, deep tissue stimulation, relaxation technique (breathing). Doing all these things will help ward of the constant feeling of being under stress. However, if you live under these conditions, these things will simply bring your stress level down; they will not eradicate it.

To eradicate stress would require two things: you would either need to die OR you would need to go live on another planet where you were the only person alive! LOL!! In short, we can never be free from stress in our life. Our life is a constant struggle against the stressors of life. Why? Well, head back to the garden of Eden and think about what took place there. In one little moment of eating enjoyment, man and woman became enemies with God and with His Creation. Stress was born. Stress became a factor of life the moment Adam and Eve were forced from the garden of God. Man had to work and till the soil and it would no longer produce crops effortlessly. He had to WORK the ground just to survive. Woman would bear children, but not with the joy and excitement of the moment, but with pain and hardship and suffering (and even with death). The ground became an enemy, the animals which were once all friends now were savage. Everything around them turned from being God-blessed to being God-cursed. They were enemies with God and enemies with the World He made.

And, let's not forget the serpent (Satan). He was cursed as well and become chief enemy between the man and the woman (especially against the woman because she was the bearer of all mankind).

So, in summary...stress began in the Graden of Eden and it has not changed one bit since that time.

How then does a person deal with chronic stress? First, they must be at peace with God. They can no longer be an enemy to Him, they must become a friend. How do they do this? They trust Jesus as their Savior and confess their need for Him to save them. Secondly, they must get to know Him as Lord and Savior. They must come to learn to rely, to lean, to adhere, and to trust Him. This is known as "faith walk" and simply means that they must walk with Him as a Leader/follower (He leads, they follow). Third, they must devote themselves to learning His ways. This incorporates Bible reading as well as communication (prayer) with God. And, lastly they must come to recognize and then acknowledge that He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Without Him there is no life. With Him there is life abundant.

Once the person enters into and begins a faith relationship with God, they are able to receive His healing power in their life. They are able to let go of the stress that is around them (consider it no longer a threat) and then begin the process of learning how NOT TO go back into that high attack mode. Then comes the hard part -- it is practicing this on a daily basis. It is letting go and letting God be in charge -- of everything, even of all those stressors that fire up the "attack juice." When they let go and let God be in charge, the stress level within them returns back to normal. This happens immediately, but unfortunately, the amount of damage already done to the body is done. The body will heal itself, but sometimes there is so much damage, that the person will have to learn to live with some lingering issues (some mild health concerns). They can overcome some of this through the strategies above, and in taking good care of themselves, they can live a relatively normal life.

The key is first to recognize the stress in your life. The process then is to turn the stress over to God and allow Him to heal you from it's deadly affects. It takes time. It takes faith in God. It takes a trust relationship that says "I trust You. I know You will heal my body and help me learn how to live rightly WITH the stress that is in the world."

This is where I am at right now. I have lived with chronic stress for so long that my body is badly damaged from it. I still suffer from illness, mainly fatigue and colds/flu like symptoms regularly. God has healed my body. He has restored my soul. He has helped me "de-stress" my life. Now, I am walking in faith trusting Him and letting things go. I am learning what stressors are out there that I tend to seize up over (prepare myself for attack). As I identify them, I let them go and give them over to the Lord. He takes the stress out of them. Note: He doesn't remove the stressor, He just removes the feeling within me that says "watch out for this one. Be prepared to get hit!" In short, He gives me His Perfect Peace which helps me overcome that feeling of needing to duck all the time. He gives me the Peace that says "oh, that...not a problem for me." Sometimes I avoid the situation entirely; sometimes I confront it with kindness and compassion and mercy. Sometimes I simply look it in the eye and walk on by. Sometimes I acknowledge that it is indeed a BIG STRESSOR and then I confess my inability to deal with it on my own. In this case, the Lord takes it on and says to me "Don't worry -- I've got this one under control."

The key for me is to let go and to let God be God in and through my life. This is what I want. It is what I pray for all the time. The process of letting go is not difficult for me. It is more of an emotional control issue now. It is something that just happens within me and often I am unaware of it happening. I just "feel" off. The Lord is helping me to identify these stressors before I "feel them". This will help me diffuse them and save me from reacting to them. This process requires me to be aware of what they are, to be willing to acknowledge them, and then actually allow them to "be" there so I can deal with them. It is not comfortable for me because I would much rather flee and let my body go into attack mode (this is my "normal"). God says "no, you cannot keep doing this because you are damaging your body." I have to deal with them. I have to look at them, experience them, and learn that they will not harm me.

It is all about letting go and letting God be God.

"Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10

February 22, 2010

Knowing Who You Are


This is Winston (also called "Poohster") and he is my cat. Really, he happens to be the cat who chose me as his companion. Winston (named after Sir Winston Churchill) is a unique cat. He is someone who KNOWS WHO HE IS. My son and I named him after Sir Winston because at the time we were reading "The History of the English Speaking Peoples" by said person, and because we both greatly enjoyed Sir W.'s history account. My son also read a biography about Sir W. and had formed quite an attachment to him. We named our cat after him, because even as a kitten, he simply had that aire of sophistication that says "I Know My Name."

Winston was a difficult kitten to raise. He was not sweet and loving. He was not quiet and cute. He was non-stop "attack" cat. For a time, I thought we had made a mistake with his name and that we should have named him after my son's other favorite WWII person, Gen. George S. Patton.

For nearly six months, I suffered daytime and nighttime from his "attacks." He would spring out at me, scaring me almost to death, and leaving behind victory wounds. He stalked me. He pounced on me. He climbed up my legs. He pretty much treated me like a tree or a beach to be stormed (keeping with the WWII theme here).

Winston was all cat. He reminded me of another cat I loved, Samantha. Samantha was the first cat I adopted, shortly after marrying and moving out of my parent's home. Samantha was similar in temperament. Very boisterous and very confident. She was a climber too, almost shredding the apartment curtains in our first place. Samantha always knew her place. She was QUEEN OF SHEBA, the top cat, the QUEEN BEE. Even when other cats came home with us, they all quickly learned their place. "S" was always first. She was the QUEEN.

Winston came into our lives at the waning of our last "black" cat. This was nearing the end of our first cat family. Our first cat family began with Samantha and ended with Zachary. There were six all together, from oldest to youngest. Zachary is still with us now. He will be 20 in June. The rest are passed, several are buried in our back yard. Zachary is the last of that old family. Winston, and now Gus, make up the new family. Gus came to us when Winston was about a year old.


Something happened to Winston once Gus arrived. Gus was a foster kitten, only three weeks old. He was very tiny, and very sickly. He needed a lot of care. I hand raised him with the help of Winston. Winston simply took over as big brother and from that time on, the two became best buddies.

Winston grew up (he is now almost four) and he has become quite the "cat." He is all cat. I cannot say it enough because if you know the old saying, "curiosity killed the cat," then you will immediately know our Winston. This cat loves to be a cat. He is all cat, from morning until evening, and in every moment in between. He simply enjoys being who he is -- a graceful, a skillful, a beautiful, and a loyal cat.

I like to watch him often because he makes me smile. He is very smart. He carries things around in his mouth. He knows how to open doors. He can fit into the smallest places, jump from the highest heights, and can climb anything (especially things that really shouldn't be climbed). He loves ice cubes, mostly when they are floating in your glass. He chases you around the house, and waits for you to run. He pounces on you, stalks you, and generally plays with you. If you don't play with him, then he gets into trouble. His newest thing is lamps. He loves light bulbs and tries to tip the lamp over so he can see the light bulb. He loves to knock pictures off the wall, and often will climb up on them to try and pull them down. He can pull pushy-pins out of the bulletin board, take nails out of the wall, and remove almost any small thing with his mouth. At night, he likes to snuggle (finally) and will come and lay on you while you watch TV. He lounges on my keyboard, sits atop my son's computer monitor, and will nap just about anywhere up high.

He is the perfect cat. He is perfectly suited to being a cat, and he knows it. He knows who he is.

Oh, how I wish it would be the same for me (for people, I mean). How many people do you know who walk around this earth, knowing they are part of the human race, but have no idea who they really are? They are humans, but they don't act like humans. They act like animals. Sometimes they act like inanimate objects. They simply do not know who they are.

Christians are the same way. Not all, of course, but many are this way. They do not know who they are in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that in Christ we are new creatures. The old man is dead and buried. The new man is alive and well. Yet, for all intents and purposes, the old man seems to the one we see and experience most often. The new man makes his appearance every so often. The old man, the icky, the stinky, the smelly, and the foul old man is the one who hangs out most.

We need to gain a healthy-like appreciation for who we are in Christ Jesus. We need a boost of "Winston" to help us remember that we are who we are because of the One who created us and died to save us. Winston is a cat because Creator God (Jesus) created him to be a cat. He never had issues to deal with, never had to wrestle with his true self. He just was born to be a cat, and is currently living to be a cat. Some day he will die...a cat.

We are the same way. The Bible tells us that God's plan for salvation began before the foundation of the world. Before Sin. Before Man fell. Before this whole "curse" thing began. Before Time, God planned out how He would redeem His creation. He set about how to do it and He did it. God redeemed man. God saved him from the ravages of sin and the wages of death. God made a way to not only save man, but to truly redeem him or restore him. God made a way so that fallen man could be once again the man he was created to be. In short, God gave us back the ability to be human, to be like Him, to be made in His Image. We, as Christians, now are no longer the old dead man, the one with the "sin problem." We are, instead, the new man, the restored man, the one who now can live and breathe and be what he or she was made originally to be.

You may be asking "so what was I made to be?" You were made to worship the Creator. You were made to be in fellowship with Him. You were made to be the recipient of a love-relationship with God. Yes, you were given gifts and talents and abilities -- but your ultimate purpose is to worship and love the One who made you. You did not make your self. You were no accident. You didn't arrive by evolutionary process. You didn't evolve from slime.

No, a loving God created you. A loving God died to save you from the mess of sin and the wages of death. He died so that you could live a restored life. He gave you His life. He gave you the chance to be reborn and to live a life worthy of that great sacrifice.

Dear Brother or Sister,

Are you struggling to understand who you are? Are you still living with the old man? Are you trying but feeling like you always fail? Chin up and know that you are not that old person. That person is dead and he is buried. You are a new person. You are new and all things are made new. Start living today as you should. Start living the new life that Jesus died to give to you.

Victory in Jesus

This morning, I posted about how tired I was and how I felt so low and depressed. The enemy was attacking me (it seemed as if overnight), and I was battle-weary and worndown. After my post, I cried out to the Lord and claimed His Name in victory. I immediately felt better. It is interesting how oppression works -- if you feel relief in such a quick way -- then you know that you have been fighting a spiritual battle.

I am praising the Lord for His Goodness to me. The Lord has covered me with His Wings and I am sheltered. Unfortunately, my enemy knows how to hit me, how to attack me in such a way, that he literally can knock me off my feet. I know what to do as well. I know that I have to stand back up, pick up my Shield and weild the mighty Sword of the Spirit. In doing, so the enemy will flee. He cannot stand against the One who has been made Victorious over Sin and Death. He cannot stand against the One, the Holy One, the Mighty One -- against Jesus, the Risen Lord and King.

God is so good to me. His Mercy never ends. His Faithfulness endures forever. His Love secures me and saves me and keeps me. I am saved. I am saved. I am saved.

Praising God is a such a Good thing to do! PTL!

Past Tired

I woke up today feeling tired. Have you ever experienced this feeling? It is like you wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed the night before. I have this feeling all the time. I am chronically tired.

Back in 1988, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatique Syndrome. They didn't know much about it then, but classified you as such if they couldn't make any other diagnosis. My main symptom then, just as now, constant tiredness or fatigue. Sometimes I feel weary. Sometimes I just feel as though I haven't slept in months.

In addition to the fatigue, I also suffer from chronic headache. I have two types that seem to go on and on daily: sinus pressure and/or tension headache. Sometimes I get them both at the same time -- wow -- it is like getting a migraine in two parts of your head.

I also have Fibromyalgia, another muscular type disorder that is lumped in there with CFS. Often people who suffer from Fibromyalgia go undiagnosed for years because their symptoms are not clear. I have chronic back pain. I have chronic hip pain. I have chronic knee pain. I do have some arthritis. I also have Scoliosis, fairly severe, which causes my body to function off-kilter. My neck is twisted so that my head is pointing slightly off-center. My neck muscles have learned to live in this position. They don't like it, so they spend their days tense and tight. It hurts to move my head a certain way. I am always stiff and rickety.

This is my normal life. This is how I have lived my life for the past twenty or so years. I have gotten used to it. I have a very regular routine, a routine that allows me to function well within my day. I don't rush. I don't hurry about. I get up when I get up. I don't do much in the morning, preferring to do more in the afternoon to early evening hours. I walk slowly, I move slowly. I simply live my life in 1st gear.

When I was a child, I was the type that always seemed to live in a dreamland or fantasy land. I had (have) a very vivid imagination. I remember playing make-believe all the time. I had imaginary friends. I made up stories and believed that they were real.

As I grew up, I struggled to come to terms with reality. I can remember moving from CA to IL when I was 8 (almost 9). I had spent most of my time in Bakersfield, CA living in a play world. Even in school, I was rarely "there." I liked some of the things we did at school, but most of the time, I just stared out the window wishing I were home and able to play more with my "make believe friends."

In Hazel Crest, life was very different. For the first time, I had real friends. I had friends -- lots of them -- kids from all over my block. I was never alone. I rarely had time to be alone anymore. I played outdoors. I played hard. I enjoyed my days and went to bed exhausted. No more living within the recesses of my mind, no more hiding away from the real world.

It was hard for me to give up my inner world, but every day there were real people waiting to play with me. In time, I let them go and learned to live in the "here and now."

In times of stress, I would retreat back into my mind, back to that place of safety and serenity. I learned that the door was always open, and that I could go back anytime I wanted. Of course, my imaginary friends were no longer there waiting for me. I learned the difference between what was real and what was make-believe. Still, I could picture myself anywhere in the world, doing anything I wanted to do. I could dream. I could pretend for just a moment and take myself out of my present difficulty and into some other situation, whether fantastic or benign. I could control where I went and what I did. I found out that the only place I could truly control life was within my own mind.

It took me years, literally years, to learn that I had no control over the outside of my life, but that I could take control on the inside. And, for many years, that is exactly what I did. Whenever I faced stressful situations (whether they were terrifying or simply overwhelming to me), I retreated back to that place of quiet and calm.

The problem was that the place of calm and quiet I wanted to escape to didn't really exist. It was just a tiny fantasy shop holed up within some back quarter of my mind. It wasn't a real place and because it wasn't real, my physical condition never benefited from the vacation. In essence it was like my mind took a vacation from the war, but my body had to keep on fighting.

Over the years, my body has taken that beating. It has worn down through constant barragement from stress inducers. My mind has been safely protected, but my body has borne the brunt of the battle scars.

I am now at a different place in my life. I have learned that the only real place of calm and quiet is with the Lord. His Peace provides Perfect escape from the stress of life. Only His Peace can calm the mind, and the body, and the soul. Only His Perfect Peace can restore that which was lost. Only His Perfect Peace can make what was damaged and ravaged by time, new and healthy again.

I have sought this Peace. I have sought it with my whole heart. I long to be restored to the point where I am no longer suffering from the effects of years of stress-induced fatigue and muscle tightness. I long to be released into the Perfect Peace so that I can wake up happy, wake up refreshed, and wake up feeling ready for each new day. How I long to experience the freedom from the pain, the soreness, the fatigue and experience what real living is supposed to be like?

I cry out with the Psalmist: How long O, Lord, will you forsake me?

How much longer Lord? How much longer must I wait for your provision for Peace in my life? I have your eternal Peace in my heart and mind. Now, I am praying and waiting and hoping for it in my life as well (within my physical body).

Dear Jesus,

I cry out to you this morning...heal my broken body. Help me to experience your Peace in every area of my life. I am in pain. I am suffering. I am so downtrodden today. Heal my body. Heal my mind. Heal my soul. Let me experience fully the Joys of Your Salvation so that I can bring you Praise this day. In Your Name I pray...Amen.

February 21, 2010

Loving Until It Hurts

I woke up this morning to a dream I didn't quite understand. It was one of the last dreams I had before I actually woke up. I tend to dream at the beginning and end of my sleep cycle, at the time when I am almost awake. I guess it is when my mind is most free to dream.

My dream last night was interesting. It was not the usual type, scary or filled with turmoil. Those types of dreams usually are indicative of my present circumstance or unconfessed emotion. If I repress my emotions, I tend to dream horrific situations whereby that emotion is released. I don't like it when this happens, but it reminds me that emotions are there for a reason, and repressing them is never a good idea.

This dream, however, was not like those types at all. It was about me and my husband, though I was the only one in the dream. I was in a hotel room with another woman (I don't know who she was -- I never saw her face, but there was someone there). I was anxious and irritated at my DH because he was not there. I wanted so desparately to go home. I wanted to pack my clothes and get in the car and go home. The funny thing was that in my dream, I had the car keys and the car. I could pack and go home. I just didn't want to leave without him.

The last image I saw was me in the mirror. I was brushing my hair. I had taken my robe off, hung it in the closet, and was going to start to pack. I was making myself ready to go.

As I woke up, I immediately asked the Lord..."did this dream have meaning?" Some of my dreams are just random collections of images. Some are actually storylines, plots, whereby I explore my emotional state (dream/sleep specialists say that these dreams help us deal with reality -- usually they help us come to terms with something going on in our life). This dream seemed to be revelatory -- to mean something important.

After prayerfully considering it, I came to the understanding that the dream simply was a snapshot of my life right now. It was me waiting for my husband to return to the Lord. I was ready to go HOME, but my DH was not there with me. He was no where to be found. He was out with some friends, having fun, and I was left waiting to get in the car and go HOME. I didn't want to go without him. I was waiting for him to come back, even though I didn't know when that might be. I was irritated at him. I was annoyed with him. I wanted to know when he would come back.

Today our Pastor spoke about the Call and Mission of the church (our church) for the next 25 years of life. Our church just recently celebrated it's 25th anniversary. The last 25 years have been filled with a lot of good things. There have been some rough spots, but over all the church has survived and is growing. This is a BIG deal simply because many churches do not make it to 25; and of those that do, often they are not healthy. Our church is very healthy, and is currenting experiencing slow, but steady growth.

The new message series is called "Quarterlife: The Big Adventure." The idea behind it is to explore what the next 25 years will be like for our church as well as our church community.

In his message, our Pastor defined what a "call to ministry" is and then gave some examples of calls from the Old and New Testaments. The really funny thing (not ha ha, but interesting) was that the description and examples he used paralleled my life. Well, not exactly...but in a similar way. I was able to identify the call on my life with that of the call to our church. It was so similar. In fact, the words our Pastor used to explain this call, were almost exactly the same words the Lord had spoken into my heart some three years ago. The examples he cited, were examples of people from the OT and NT that I had read and studied when I was trying to discern the call on my life.

I came away from the service today scratching my head and wondering how God could use a message about church ministry to help confirm the call He has placed on my life. Isn't God amazing in that way? There have been many times when I have come out of church and thought, "that message was written exactly to me." I know this is the work of the Holy Spirit. As the message is spoken, He ministers to our heart and we hear what we need to hear. It is not that we do not hear the same message, it is just that certain parts stick to us more than the others. We make a connection to a word, a phrase, or a story and it just sinks in to us.

As I look back on my post of this morning, one this is clear: I have received a call to ministry, but my husband has not. I am in transition right now, living with great uncertainty. I know what the Lord wants for my life. I know some of the plans. There is a lot of empty spots, a lot of missing details (as always -- our Pastor gave hilarious testimony to how the men of the Bible accepted God's call and then compared it to how an American Christian might respond to the same call!! Think Noah and then think Wi-Fi at Starbucks!!)

My life is all about doing the Lord's will. My purpose is to worship Him. My goal is to live my life in such a way that brings pleasure to Him. I am to do this through Faith. I may not have all the answers, I may not know all the details, but I know the One who is calling me to Himself. I know Him and I trust Him.

So today, I am all the more convinced in the call I have received and in the knowledge of His will for my life. I also accept the fact that uncertainty and ambiguity are all apart of God's design. There are just some details that the Father keeps to Himself (wink!)

I know this: my Lord loves me. He died to save me. He has a good plan for my life. He knows me and I am priviledged to know Him. Amen. Selah!

February 20, 2010

Friendship

Today, it is raining (again!) We love the rain here in AZ, and are looking forward to the chance of four days of rain! PTL! It is a nice, soft rain right now...just the kind to make you want to stay inside and curl up with a good book.

As I was looking out at the rain, I started to think about friendship. I don't know why that thought popped into my head, but it did. Perhaps the rain reminded me of a childhood experience, one that tied the two thoughts together? Perhaps?

When I was a child, I was blessed to have a group of girlfriends who were my same age. Three of them lived on my same street. The other two lived in my neighborhood. The final friend lived in the neighborhood right across the big-four lane street from us. We all attended the same Elementary, Junior High and Senior High school.

From the time we met in 4th grade, we did everything together. We did all our parties together. We did sleepovers and skating night-outs, pizza and movies. We were inseparable. We laughed, we cried, we tested out new clothes (and new moves -- remember the Hustle -- we all danced it in our basements). We were the best of friends, always, always together.

When one friend was sick, it was like missing a key member of the team. It just wasn't the same without that person being there. No matter what the event, somehow that person just made it more fun.

Within the midst of that group of friends, there were two girls who became "best friends" with one another. Now, I have nothing against being a best friend at all. I just remember how these two decided to become "best friends." The process of besting a friend simply meant that you could no longer be "friends" with anyone else. It required sacrificing all other friends for the sake of this one.

I know, pretty childish behavior. I am sure you can identify with me. This type of thing is pretty common in childhood and in adolescence.

I will never forget how those two made the rest of us feel. It was awful -- like two of our team were missing. These two decided that they would join us for get togethers, but they would only hang out with each other. They would isolate themselves from the rest of us, even when we were supposed to be enjoying each other as a group.

This single-minded friendness lasted a long while, and in the end, it accomplished two things: first off, the two friends didn't last as "best friends"; and secondly, the rest of us decided that we didn't really like those two that much to keep them around. The short lesson was that if you going to play the "best friend" game, you had just better be willing to pay the price for that "oneness."

Years later, one of the two girls approached me and asked me why I didn't like her. The truth be told, I didn't like her for a number of reasons (she was difficult, she always put me down in front of others, she criticised me constantly, she made fun of the way I talked...etc.) When confronted by her, I told her the truth. I told her that she was not a good friend to me. She was really shocked that I would say that, but it was true. Not only was her behavior very non-friendlike, but her treatment of me and the rest of our friends was a point-in-fact example of her attitude and willingness to choose one over the many.

To this day, I am not friends with this person. I care about her. I think about her sometimes. I know she has not had a perfect life (neither of these girls had a happy adult life). I think back on those days and how I wish they would have turned out differently, ya know?

This memory sparked my interest in the concept of friendship. I have been the recipient of unfriendly behavior recently, so the topic is of keen interest to me. I started to think about God and how the Bible tells us that He is our friend. The Bible is the most marvelous handbook on behavior and character. You can find just about any topic, and then see a good and a bad example of the behavior related to it.

In Scripture, the word friend has three components (thank you, Baker's Evangelical Dictionary): associate/friend, friend with loyalty, and friend with loyalty and affection. The first kind of friend is simply a fellow, a person with whom you associate. We term these people acquaintances, or someone whom we know, but not imtimately. Another type of friend might be a guest we invite to a party (know them, but not well) or simply a kind greeting to someone as in, "Dear friend."

The second type of friend is probably the kind we think of when we say "friend." This type is a person we know well, and with whom we share a loyalty. This type of friend shares intimacy with us in some way, but not necessarily with affection. I think we have the most difficulty thinking of this kind of friend, because in truth, we wouldn't normally classify this person as a friend. In Baker's dictionary, the suggestion is one of a friend who is loyal because of position or power (like loyal to the King). However, in Proverbs, this is the word used when it is written: "A friend sticks closer than a brother." The idea is that this type of friend is a friend who has some attachment -- some level of loyalty. This friend will not cast you aside quickly, but might not always be your most affectionate companion.

The last type of friend is the one we think of most: a friend who is both loyal and loving. This is the type of friendship that we consider to be highest value in relationship. Whether it is with another person or with God, this is the type of friendship that shows loyalty (bonding) and mutual friendship.

In the Word, this last form of friendship is most clearly seen in Abraham's friendship with God, and also in Paul's friendship with the Philipian church. John also uses this term through his letter in 1 John (using familial terms such as father, children, etc.)

The idea we should take from the use of friend/friendship in Scripture is that human friendship can be fickle. We can have good friendships and bad ones. We can have good friends who lead us astray. We can lead others astray as well, even with well-meaning, but misplaced advice. Friendship with the world, in and of itself, is condemned in James. The idea being that we cannot be friends with God and friends with the world. Yet, throughout Scripture we are encouraged to demonstrate friendship with loyalty and affection, first to God and His Son Jesus, secondly to our Christian brothers and sisters, and thirdly to the needy, to the poor, and to the lost.

As parents it is vitally important that we help teach our children how to be good friends. Friendship is something created by God, for God. It is a relationship of the highest level, a relationship that God desires to have with us. If we enter into friendship with God, then this relationship will help us create healthy and beautiful friendships with other believers as well as people we meet who do not know the Savior.

Friendship is a God-honoring demonstration of His loyalty and affection towards us. We should have the same type of behavior towards others, especially those with whom we call our friends.

February 19, 2010

Almost ready to move on

Today, I had another cello lesson. I am almost ready to move on to the 3rd Suzuki book. I am SO excited. My teacher gave me her copy of Strictly Classics, Book 2 to begin to practice. It is a little more difficult than what I am used to using, so I am going to see if I can find Book 1 tomorrow. In addition, I am to purchase Book 2 of my method/technical series (Carl Schroeder's Violoncello Method). I found it at Southwest Strings in Tucson, but will go and see if my local music store has it as well. Otherwise, I will need to order it online.

So right now...I am finishing up Level 2 studies. I will have learned all the Major and Minor Scales with Arpeggios. I will also have learned 1st through 4th position, though I am playing in 1st and 2nd most frequently. In about 3 more weeks, I will begin Level 3 (or third year studies). I just cannot believe how quickly I have progressed through these books. Now, granted, I am not playing perfectly, but good enough to move on. I am "stoked" (can you still say that word? A throw back to growing up in the late 1970s! LOL!

I am still on the hunt for a new cello. My beloved Kay is worn. I have banged it and dinged it up more than before, and now it has some cracks right along the ribs. I don't know how much longer I will be able to continue to play on it. I am thanking the Lord for this beautiful gift. I LOVE the cello!

Update - 4/23/2010

I thought I would add this little note. I made it to Book 3, and have been keeping a daily journal called, "Days of Cello." I am recording my experiences as I learn how to play through Book 3 and progress on in my cello studies.


Still no word on a new cello. I think my bow is more the problem then the cello itself. I really need a new cello AND bow. I have been doing more research online, but they are way to expensive for me. I will have to wait for the Lord to provide me with a new instrument. Until then, I will do my best with what I have. Thanking Him for His Gracious Gift of Music.

Passions and Being Passionate About Things

The Bible describes passion as something for Christian's to be wary of, namely because it can lead one to lust after things not honoring to God. However, our passion, just like our ability to love or to demonstrate compassion, is a God-given gifting. God has created us to be passionate about one thing, and that one thing is Him. We are to be wholly-devoted servants of the Lord Most High. We are to order our days around Him. We are to find our "purpose" and our "reason for being" in His Name.

Many Christians allow their passions to rule them. Many allow them to lead them into situations and scenarios where they are being continually tested and tried. Many also do the opposite, and bury them, thinking they are to be kept under lock and key. Many never live fully, never live passionately, because they erroneously believe that passion is something to be avoided at all cost.

In my experience, passion is something good, it is that experience that moves you from simply loving something to desiring it completely. I can say that I am passionately in love with the Lord. I desire Him, and I desire to please Him. My passion, therefore is all about Him.

What I have found out recently is that if your passion is centered on God first, He often allows you to experience passion in other areas of your life. This is exactly what has happened to me. I have been given the ability to play the cello. I cannot explain it other than to say that the Lord placed within my heart the desire to play the cello well. The desire to play the cello was already there -- it was a desire of my heart. I have wanted to play the cello for many years, but never got any where close to actually attempting it. When the opportunity presented itself this past year, I casually thought about it. I thought it might be fun, but really didn't think I had any ability or even could understand music enough to be able to play it well.

In God's economy and with His Desire firmly in mind, He thought otherwise. I picked up the cello, thinking "perhaps" I could learn to play it. God said, "You will play it well." I said, "Really?". He said, "Yes." This conversation, rather short and sweet and to the point, began my experience with the cello. I picked it up, practiced strumming it and plucking it before moving on to bowing it. I then worked up to actually "attempting" playing through the Method book. I made it through and then the Lord brought me a teacher to help guide me.

Over the course of one-and-one-half months, I have progressed so far as to now be able to play Level 2 pieces of music. I can actually play so that the cello sings beautifully. I am not ready to tackle more difficult pieces, but I am very pleased with my progress so far.

The one thing I have learned through this experience is that your passion can fuel desire. Often, it does, and often, it leads you to worship people or places or things instead of the Lord. If your desire is firmly focused on the One who is to be the object of our desire -- then some pretty wonderful things can happen. The Lord can allow you to become passionate about other things because He knows you and trusts that you will not replace Him with that particular desire.

I know that I had the initial desire to play the cello. The Lord added His emphasis and gave me the passion to pursue cello studies. I love the cello now. I love it, love it, love it. I can say that I am passionate about it. It is a different kind of passion -- it is tempered, it is proper and rightly suited to the "thing". I am passionate about God -- no doubt -- and nothing will change on that front. He is squarely in my focus and He is my soul's delight.

As I look back over my life, I am able to see other times when I was passionate about doing something. I have been passionate about art (drawing and painting). I have been passionate about foreign language (especially French). I have been passionate about school and studying and especially writing papers. I have been passionate about sports too: swimming, diving, ice skating, horseback riding. I have experienced these desires, but they never came to anything near being accomplished. In several cases, I was encouraged by teachers and trainers to focus, to pursue the "thing," but I never did it. Sometimes it was a parental thing, just simply not possible (financially, feasibility). Sometimes it was all of me -- being lazy or me believing that it wasn't possible to actually be accomplished.

Now, I see that the problem wasn't so much me, but rather my object of attention -- the thing that captivated my attention. I wanted to be accomplished for several reasons, mostly to prove to others that I could do it. I wanted to show off, to boast in my own abilities. I wanted to be good enough so that I could say that "I was better" than someone else.

Yes, I know...pretty lame reason for shooting for excellence. Some people, though, have used that same focus to propel them into the Olympics. Some have become world famous leaders or business people simply out of a desire to "be the best." In our world that is driven by performance and excellence, often this idea of "being one's best" is championed. We are told "do your best," "be the best you can be," and we are encouraged to forsake everything and everyone just to attempt to be our best. It is advice that sounds good on the outside, but actually is fueled by narcissisim, or a love of self.

God does not want us to be our best, but He wants us to pursue His best. There is a critical difference between the two mindsets. One puts all the emphasis on our self and our desires and our abilities. The other looks to God and acknowledges that He is the giver of all ability. One is all about the "self;" while the other is all about the One behind the "self."

I remember that line spoken by the actor who portrayed Eric Liddell in the movie, Chariots of Fire." Eric Liddell was a missionary to China (as were his parents and sister). He was also an all-star athlete, a runner, who competed in the 1932 Olympics. His parents and family were supportive of his running, but they knew that Eric had special gifting by the Lord. He was an impassioned Evangelist and Minister. He could really preach the Word of God. His family wanted him to return to China, to the mission field, and continue his father's work. Eric wanted to compete in the Olympics, to try to give his best one more time BEFORE he devoted his life to God's work. In one very poignant scene, Eric tells his sister that "he feels God's pleasure when he runs." His sister, doesn't get it, she just doesn't get it. To her, passion and desire were reserved only for God. Eric said that he could have both: a love for God and a love for sport. He didn't see any reason why he had to give up the one to have the other.

I think what he was saying is the absolute truth: if your focus and desire are placed on God; then and only then, can you be passionate and driven to pursue excellence in something worldly. You can "have your cake and eat it too" so long as your cake is God.

God delights in His creation. He delights in seeing His creation express His creativeness. He delights in seeing a cat pounce and stalk -- why? Because in doing so, the cat is expressing the very creative nature of the Godhead. The cat is being a cat -- living and doing what the cat was created to do. The cat is giving highest honor to it's creator when it is simply fulfilling its purpose. Likewise, we give honor to God when we live lives that are in alignment with our purpose. We were created with one purpose in mind, and that is to worship God. Therefore, when we worship God, we are fulfilling our created purpose. God, however, didn't settle to create beings that would simply worship Him; rather instead, He created them to demonstrate the wide range of His creative ability. Man has the unique position of being able to worship God through various venues and outlets. He can worship through his mouth as well as through creative expression.

God delights when His children live their lives in such a way that: one, they please Him; and two, that they express His creative ability. God has created men and women to worship Him, and to do so through many different ways. We sing, we play instruments, we dance, we paint, we play sports (demonstrating excellence in form -- the Greeks called this ARETE or the pursuit of virtue -- the pinnacle of excellence and expression). When we use the gifts and talents given to us by Creator God, we are worshipping Him by demonstrating His creative ability. Just like the cat that is using his body to demonstrate agility, we also can demonstrate skill through sport or music or art or language.

God is a God that delights in His creation. He delights in seeing us excel and strive for virtue. We can bring Him glory by being what He made us to be: creatures that worship their Creator.

How are you worshiping the Lord today? Are you using your voice only? Or are you turning all your pursuits and passions over to Him so that He can use them for His glory?

February 18, 2010

Psalm 113

1 Praise the LORD!

Praise, O servants of the LORD,
Praise the name of the LORD!
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD
From this time forth and forevermore!
3 From the rising of the sun to its going down
The LORD’s name
is to be praised.

4 The LORD is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
5 Who is like the LORD our God,
Who dwells on high,
6 Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?

7 He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
8 That He may seat him with princes—
With the princes of His people.
9 He grants the barren woman a home,
Like a joyful mother of children.

Praise the LORD!

Lessons learned at AWANA

I help in our children's ministry program each Wednesday night. I have done this now for going thirteen years (though I did take two years off). AWANA, which is the acronym for "Approved Workmen are Not Ashamed," is a Bible/Scripture memorization program created for children aged 2-18. It is an international ministry organization based in Streamwood, IL. AWANA has been around for over 50 years, and has been "reaching boys and girls for the Gospel of Christ" in order to "train them to serve Him." I love AWANA. I love the scope and purpose and mission of AWANA. I love ministering to children, and I especially love to teach little ones about God's love.

Last night, we had our regular club meeting. We have about 9 girls and 4-5 boys (depending on whether or not they all show up). The girls are never the problem...it is just the boys (ain't it always so). Boys, especially those in the age I work with (K-2nd grade) are simply delightful. They are all "boy" with no hint of fear or failure in mind. They are non-stop bundles of energy, willing to say and do just about anything. They rarely sit still, rarely keep quiet, and rarely listen attentively. They want to play, to run, to jump, to hit, to fight, and to do all things little boys do. I love them to tears!

I work with several boys one-on-one each week. I guess I am just good with little boys, or else I am the naive one who simply gets stuck with them! LOL! Actually, I think it is because I am good with them that our leader has decided to give me the responsibility to work with them. I do enjoy them. I listen to them, I ask them questions...I like to engage them in conversation. I like what they have to say...which is always a BIG surprise to me. Sometimes they say things they shouldn't; sometimes they say the most amazingly observant things ever. I just love them...do you get that?

One little boy, in particular, is a challenge to me. He is super smart, a littler whipper-snapper. He knows the answer before anyone else and shouts it out. No matter how many times you tell him to sit and raise his hand -- out it comes before the teacher even asks the question. He reminds me of me. He reminds me of my son. I told him once how much I loved him. I told him that I could see how much he loved Jesus. He knows A LOT about Jesus. He knows a lot about the Word of God. I think he listens well when he is allowed to do other things. He can tell you word for word what was just said, even when he was talking and goofing off. I think he listens and the Word just soaks down into his little mind and body. I give him hugs all the time, because I think he yells and shouts out answers simply to be heard.

Some children are overlooked; some are not listened to by their parents or teachers. Some are constantly being told to be quiet, when in reality, all they want to do is share with you what they know. They happen to know a lot and they have a lot to share. If you won't listen to them, well, they up the volume or jump in ahead of you. They desperately what to be heard, to be listened to, to be validated.

I was watching this one little boy last evening, and the thought struck me: isn't that how it is in life? It doesn't really seem to change as we get older. We so much want to he heard, to be understood, to be accepted. We want our life to be validated as meaningful. We want to know that someone really cares for us.

Yesterday, I wrote a post and closed it with 1 Peter 5:6-7 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." In our crazy and never-ending world of go-go-go, how we want to know that someone really cares for us. We want to know that our place in the world matters. We want to know that we matter -- we matter to our family, to our friends, to our co-workers, and most of all, to God. This verse tells us that we do indeed matter to God. He cares for us -- He cares for our every need and He loves us deeply. Our validation and need for acceptance comes from the One who created us. We want to be validated as necessary -- and God says to us "You matter to me. I created you and I died to save you." Validation complete.

Unfortunately, there are many people, many good Christians out there who simply live lives of inadequate validation. They believe false information, information fed to them by the father of all lies (as it is disseminated through our family, friends, co-workers, etc.) The believe that no one cares for them and that the only way to have security is to be "in control." They believe that no one will ever love them, not even God (you know, that sin thing), so they had better just try and love themselves (narcissism). They believe that no matter how hard they try, no one will ever think they are worthy or valuable. It all comes down to them -- the survival of the fittest -- the survival of the one.

This is a big lie, one of the biggest that Satan feeds to us. It is not true; certainly not according the Word of God. God cares greatly for us. He loves us with a love that no man can ever truly understand. He believes we are worthy -- so much in fact -- that He sent His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO DIE ON THE CROSS, TO PAY THE PENALTY FOR OUR SIN, AND TO RECONCILE US TO A LOVING FATHER GOD.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~John 3:16

Why is it that we don't believe the Word of God? Why don't we read these words and say "Of, course, I see it now. I see that God loved me so much that He gave up His most precious gift -- the gift of Himself to save me." Why? I think it is just as Jesus said to His disciples (quoting Isaiah):

Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.

Our ears are stopped up. Our eyes are blinded. We do not understand because we are not listening -- we cannot hear the truth. We do not perceive because we cannot see the truth. Sin not only separated us from God (physically/spiritually), but it created a barrier to our ability to hear the very Word of Truth.

Without the Holy Spirit of God intervening on our part to open our eyes and to unstop our ears, we cannot hear and/or perceive the truth of the Word. This is an act of Grace. It is the first act that prepares us for faith, for without the ability to hear the Gospel message, we cannot respond in faith by believing the truth. Our faith is the second act of Grace. God opens our heart and minds (our ears so we can hear, our eyes so we can see) and then imparts His Word into us. We receive it, because now we can understand it. Once we understand it, we can believe it as being true.

Jesus spoke in parables to us and said, "I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world." He purposely spoke in such a way that made hearing and understanding difficult for us. This was for a reason -- He was being sent first to God's Chosen People, the nation of Israel. The Gentiles would be the ones who would eventually respond to the Word and who would lay the foundation for the Church of God.

The issue for Christian's is this: if you have the Holy Spirit of God living within you (and you should if you are saved), then you no longer are without understanding of the truth of God's Word. You can see and hear the Word -- you can understand and perceive the truth. You, therefore, are no longer blind and deaf.

Dear Sister or Brother:

Do you still believe the great lie of Satan that tells you that you are not worthy of God's attention? Do you still believe that you are worthless, that you are a sinner who is condemned by God? If so, unstop your ears (take the stuffing out of them) and open your eyes (rub the sleep off) because you are neither to God. You are worthy because God has saved you. You are worthwhile because He has made you His daughter and Son. Do not continue to live the lie. Do not continue to believe the falsehood and deception of the evil one. You matter greatly to God. You matter to Him and He does indeed care for you. Come to Him today and confess that He is Lord (acknowledge all that He has done and who He is). Receive His Word and know that you are now a Saint, set apart and sanctified for Him and His Kingdom. Start living in victory and stop living a defeated life. He died to give you victory -- take it! It is yours, bought with His very blood, and is His Gift to you.