May 31, 2010

Lesson Learned

WOW! Today was a very close call. My MIL rang this afternoon saying that she was unwell. We were supposed to go up there for dinner tonight (all three of us), but she was not feeling good enough to have us come up. The more she talked, the more concerned I became, and the more I pushed for information. She is a very private person and doesn't often share how she is feeling. Today, though, it was obvious that something was wrong. As we ended the conversation, I urged her to call the paramedics and have them come and check her out. She did, and to all our great relief, she was OK (well, OK enough to stay at home; but not OK enough to let this go -- she needs to call her doctor first thing in the AM).

As we spent the afternoon together, my thoughts ran through my head. I wondered about her condition, about my FIL's welfare (he is a stroke victim), and about my DH, who was absent (off at a pool/BBQ with friends). I worried about my husbands parents (not the first time), and wondered, who would care for them once we are moved. You see, over the course of almost 26 years of marriage, I have been the one to do most of the caring. My DH tagged along, but rarely did more than "show up." Recently, he has had to pick up the pace because I put my foot down and told him that I was not going to continue on in this capacity after we move. It is not that I don't love my in-laws, it is just a matter of priorities. I have been the care giver for my parents and parents in-law. I guess this naturally falls to the daughter, but in the case, with my life now changing, and the opportunity for us to move on our own -- I think it is time for him to take care of his parents. His sister lives in another state and often travels, at great expense, to care for her mom and dad. He cannot rely on me or his sister for this type of support. Oh well.

The good news is that Mom is OK for today. Hopefully, over the next few days, we will find out what exactly is going on with her.

The point of this post is really not about my DH and his parents; but rather, it is about a lesson I learned today. It is all about waiting and being still. I have blogged about waiting ad nauseam (it seems like to me) and about the concept of being still before the Lord. I just read through an older post, posted back in June 2007. I was surprised by my words -- I remember 2007 well. June was the month when my DH suffered an almost fatal heart attack. He almost died, and I was almost a widow. It is amazing to think about how things have changed since that time. I was actually blogging about not being able to wait and be still, about not having patience, and about not being consistent in my reliance upon the Lord. Then wham! my DH has a heart attack and nearly dies. In one fell swoop, I was cascaded right off the water fall and down into the storm and tempest of the river.

It would be another 2 years before I would get my second chance at learning how to wait. In February of 2009, my husband suffered a near fatal stroke. He recovered, which was accorded a miracle by the nursing staff and doctors at Barrows Neurological Institute. In sure fire fashion, I found myself once again floating right off that water fall and crashing down into the torment of the river below. I survived by the Grace of God, and I lived to tell the story. But, the story was not of joy or of praise for God's healing; no, not at all. Later in that year, I would be plunged beneath those falls again, this time with the truth of my husband's infidelity, and his desire to live a solo life. It was something I was not prepared to handle, and something I was totally ignorant of (meaning feelings).

The last year has been the year from hell. It has taken a huge toll on my body, my mind, and my soul. I have been so downcast, so devastated, and so destroyed; yet, I have survived. Just like in 2007, 2009, and most recently in 2010 -- I have survived. The mighty and powerful hand of God has rested upon me, and has instructed me in how to "be still and know that He is God." Yes, this psalm has been my refuge and my solace:

Psalm 46

1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

2Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

4There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.

6The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

7The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

8Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth.

9He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.

10Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

11The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

The Lord of Hosts has seen to it that I learn a very important lesson. It was His desire that I learn how to be still and rest in the knowledge that He is God. The events of the past three years have been more than enough to convince me of His Being God. However, the learning to be still part has been the hardest part to actually live and accept. I have wanted to accept being still, but haven't acted the part. I have wanted to rest in His sufficiency, but I haven't done it totally and completely. It has taken total surrender of my will, total dependence upon Him for His provision, and a total reliance upon Him as God, to get me to this point -- in tact, in one piece, and completely and solely devoted to Him.

God has been so Good to me. He knows me so well, and He loves me in spite of myself. I sing this hymn today to bring Him Glory:

All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my bless├Ęd Savior,
I surrender all.

Preparing to Move

Yesterday, our Pastor gave another great sermon. We are almost finished with our current series entitled, "Quarter Life: The Next Big Adventure." This series has focused on the fact that our church, Paradise Valley Community Church, is 25 years old, and is no longer a "baby church." In fact, our membership places us in the "large" church category. Our church doesn't feel large, but I guess by polling standards it is. I digress. The purpose of this series is to help us understand what God has in mind for our church, now that she is a young adult. In reflecting on the mission of the church, we have come to see what God has in mind for His People -- His Mature People. It has been a wonderful series, with a lot of thought-provoking messages.

One of the things that struck me in Sunday's message was our Pastor's words about praying and waiting for God's direction. Our Pastor is a pretty funny guy, he is very down-to-earth, and very, very real and humble. He says funny things (on point), and always makes us laugh (mostly at ourselves for being so foolish and arrogant). He gave a great illustration about how we can sometimes thwart God's plans by doing Godly things such as praying. I know, doesn't make a lot of sense, but really it is one of those "truth kernels." He told a story about a small church back in the Midwest that had a problem, a very good problem. They started having too many Jr. High kids show up on Sunday, and didn't have a program setup to meet their needs. The church recognized the need, formed a committee and started to pray about what to do. Sounds normal, right? Well, apparently, this church prayed for four years, all the while those Jr. High kids either went some where else or were turned off to church completely. The point of course is that we can pray ourselves into doing nothing, if we allow our prayers to hinder our movement.

I thought about this in relation to my current situation. No doubt, the past ten months have produced volumes of prayers for me. I have prayed myself silly at times. I am a prayer person, so I pray all day long, but even someone who naturally prays knows that there are times when you just cannot get enough prayer up to Heaven. I was in this same situation -- still am to some extent -- but also understand that there have been times when I prayed and then didn't do anything else. I said, "Lord, I need your help to solve this matter." Then I waited. And, waited. And, waited some more. Sometimes we do indeed need to wait. And, sometimes we just need to get our hands dirty and start doing something, anything that propels us forward.

I think the key difference is this: we can pray without guidance (rely on our own or another's advice) or we can pray with guidance from the Holy Spirit of God. The latter is what matters, and is the only way things will ever change. I have done both, and know there is a difference. I can feel it, I can sense it, and I can see it -- I can see change happening. This is prayer in action, power praying or simply Spirit-led prayers (just like Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 14). The Holy Spirit is the one who can get us moving, even in doing small things, until God is ready for us to make the big move. We need to be attentive to Him and listen to what He says. In doing so, we will waste far less time, spend more time actually doing things that are practical and helpful, and feel like we are not spinning our wheels.

I am at this point now. I have prayed about moving for so long now that I just don't want to think about it any more. I know we are to move, this is for sure (I feel His comfort saying this is so). I am tired of waiting for things to come to pass. I mean, "How long must I wait?"

As I started to think more about moving, I was reminded of our Pastor's message. I will admit that I have been praying more than being active; even though I don't really want to be this way. It must be a natural thing -- to pray and not walk until you absolutely must.

Now, that I am closer to actually moving, I realize that I have been behaving this way. It's not that I am doing this intentionally, I think more so out of habit.

So this is my plan (the Lord's):
  • I have applied for several jobs (about 8-10); about 1/2 locally, and 3 out of state
  • I have focused on jobs that were in the field I wanted to pursue (education), and most recently I started applying to jobs in my current field (IT)
  • I have come to the conclusion that the job market in Phoenix is really bad, and that 6 months is nothing (I have heard of others seeking jobs waiting 9-12 months)
  • I am now willing to relocate for a job, believing that "a job is better than no job."
  • I am also willing to accept this same axiom that says "any job is better than no job."
What does this mean for me? Simply this: I am now willing to work in any job; in my current field, in my desired field, or in any field available to me. I am also willing to go anywhere I can find a good income producing job (sustainable -- livable wage, etc.) This means that I have decided that if the Lord provides a job out of state and it will provide a good income, then I will take it. I cannot afford to continue to wait for something to open up here, unless that is the Lord's will for my life.

Now with my reserve in check, I am ready to get moving. I have prayed, I feel confident that the Lord is ready to move that last boulder, and set me free. All I need to do now is get out there and start doing what I need to do: get prepared; put my ducks in a row; make tentative plans, and then look for His Hand as it moves over me to send me on my way.

Dear Lord,

This is my prayer today. I am ready to move. I understand now that your plans for me may take me out of my state, and to a new place. I also understand that the work you have in store for me may be different than what I want or expect. I am willing to do whatever work you want me to do, wherever you want me to do it. I Praise your Name now, thanking you for your provision, and trusting you to provide everything I need -- down to the last and smallest detail. May God be Praised forever more this day and forever!

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It is a day when we honor those who have sacrificed their life for the welfare of our country. I am always reminded of the thousands of men who died prior to this century, often unknown heros, who left home to fight a war that they didn't really understand. This war occurred on our own soil, and was fought literally between brothers.

In the US Civil War, 625,000 men lost their lives due to war or war related injury (and disease). Many of my ancestors fought in the Civil War and those that survived, returned home as shattered men. The brutality of war has never ceased, but it is different now. Modern warfare and medical science have improved the chances of surviving, and certainly, lowered the risk of death by disease. In the Civil War, however, soliders who were not killed on the battlefield, died shortly thereafter due to lack of proper care. There simply were not enough doctors and nurses to care for the wounded, and the wounds were so severe that little to nothing could be done to save someone. Most died horribly painful deaths, either on the field or in the field hospital.

I am reminded of this fact simply because it is something I can relate to, and understand. Wars are caused by men who desire power, position, and possessions. Yes, many wars are fought in the name of justice, as was the case for the Civil War. Slavery needed to be eradicated from America, but this war did little to actually remove the social stigma associated with slavery. Africans and those born here later on may have been freed, but they didn't receive real freedom until nearly 100 years later. The ensuing years brought increasing racial tensions and still today many African-Americans feel disenfranchised, even though they have been in America (or their ancestors) for over 200 years.

As we remember those who have given their lives for the freedom we all enjoy, let us today not forget that war never ends anything. It simply causes more pain for those who are left to deal with the ravages of it. May we seek peace, if at all possible. In Romans 12:18, the Word says "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men" (KJV), or in modern paraphrase, "Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone." (NLT)

Is it possible to live in peace with everyone? No, not really. The wickedness and evil of a sin filled and fallen world prohibit true peace from ever taking place, but as Children of God, we can endeavor to be peaceful people. If the God of Peace, the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus lives and reigns in your heart, then you can indeed live peaceably among men. It takes great effort to do so, but it can be done.

My prayer this day is for all of God's Children to remember that our Prince of Peace calls us to live peaceably among all men. Trust Him to bring His Peace, the True Peace into your life today. If you have not trusted Him as your Savior, and are lacking that Peace that brings contentment and satisfaction, consider His offer to you today:

"And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Acts 16:31

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ today, and you can be saved. You will experience the peace that brings joy and contentment into your heart and life.

May 30, 2010

Making Sense of What Is

Today was another good Sunday. Our Pastor delivered a fine sermon, the folks on the worship team did a superb job leading Praise, and our time of reflection (communion) was lovely and moving. As usual, a well-done and effective morning of Praise and Worship.

The funny thing is that I don't feel very praise-worthy or worshipful right now. No, not at all. I thought it was lack of sleep due to our new baby kitten. Then I thought it was the onset of summer (and near 100 degree days). The thought also crossed my "little gray cells" that perhaps another spirit of oppression was at work in my home. Church was fine. Lunch was OK. Now, that I am spending the afternoon sitting quietly at the computer, I feel numb and almost in a deaden way. I cannot really explain it other than to say I feel dead (I am not of course -- I am after all blogging and that requires some gray matter to function! LOL!!)

No, something else is going on and I am trying very hard to make sense of it all. It really started last week. As far as I can tell, I went from being good and solidly set to this feeling of being numb and frozen in time. I am trying to recall what happened, if something happened here at home, that sent me whirling into the depths and coldness of outer space. My mind draws a blank. I have confessed everything I can think of, and I have acknowledged God as God (always a good idea). I simply am baffled at what I am experiencing and how this numbness has suddenly come on me.

Prior to this post, the Lord took me through my older posts. Many of them were quite inspirational, and were written shortly after experiencing something life-changing. Some nugget of truth, some kernel of revelation -- and then some time to sit and thing -- to percolate -- and voila! A new blog post. I couldn't help but say, "Yes, Lord -- this is so true!" Most of these posts were clearly inspired by the Lord and directed by His Spirit. I am just not that good of a writer nor am I that savvy when it comes to Biblical knowledge. He is, after all, He is God. So be it.

So what do I do? How do I figure out what is going on. All I can tell you is that right now, I can barely keep my eyes open and I feel as though I haven't slept in days (not true). I don't want to feel this way, not now. Not when I am perched on the week of deliverance and can feel that one of the jobs I applied WILL come to pass. I just feel it (well, that is FELT it -- I don't feel anything today).

The truth is this: something is not quite right with me. I am typically pretty "on" most days. Yes, I had decaf this am and missed my morning jolt of java, but I did have diet pepsi when I got home. Enough caffeine in there to satisfy any craving. Hmm...I need to pray on this one a bit more. I will blog more shortly.

Update: June 6, 2010

I thought I would add an update to this post rather then leaving it so open-ended. Some things have changed recently, and some are still the same. I think the biggest change has been with me personally. I have chosen to remain here in Phoenix, and to find work locally. I have also chosen to remain in my home, and not seek to move out of it. I am feeling more confident that this is the Lord's will for me, and that in doing so, He will provide what I need to be able to live well and continue to minister to my extended family.

This past week was spent caring for both my FIL and MIL. My MIL was hospitalized once, in the ER twice. She is doing better, but her condition has reminded me that my parents as well as my DH's are of the age when care is a necessity.

I have also re-evaluated my relationship with my husband. Though we have not been restored to marriage, I think we have an agreement of sorts. I have decided to not pursue divorce nor legal separation and instead allow the Lord to continue to work as He desires. In doing so, I have chosen to place my entire future on the Lord, and to believe that everything He desires for me will indeed come to pass.

With that said, I have determined that the best course of action is to stay put (here in Phoenix) for a time longer, and give the Lord the time He needs to do what He does best. I have also graduated my son from home school, and enrolled him at our local community college. He will take full-time classes in the fall and work towards transferring to our local University to major in Music Composition.

Moreover, I will continue to do what the Lord has told me to do: school my son (though now handled through the CC); study cello; work on graduate studies. These are the commands/directives I have received from Him, and these are the only things I have been told to do.

Though I do not understand everything, nor should I be able to do so: I do know what the Lord has told me to do. I intend to be faithful to His commands to me, and then will leave the rest into His capable hands.

God is so good to me.

May 29, 2010

A New Baby

Well, this week HAS been eventful. On Thursday, right when I was getting ready to practice cello, my DH and DS called out to me to tell me that there was a baby kitten in our front yard. It was in our bushes, and looked very tiny to be left alone. I am a cat person, so naturally, I am called in to handle these types of situations. I was able to rescue the kitten, with my son's help, and now we have a new baby in the house.

His name is Ike (posting a picture as soon as DS uploads one for me). He is about 6 weeks old, and as far as I can tell, either wandered away from Mama or was weaned early and let go. He was covered in dirt (smelled like it to), and after he settled down a bit, gulped down water and food (a sure sign of dehydration and several days without food). Funny thing was, this little guy, didn't behave like a feral kitten. I have hand raised several feral kittens, so I know feral ones when I see them. This little guy behaved strangely friendly, rolling over to show his tummy and all. He nuzzled and purred and generally acted like I was his Mama.

So there you have the short and long of it. We now have three cats again (Winston and Gus, age 3; and Ike, age 6 weeks). I guess Ike coming along when he did was really a gift from the Lord. My beloved Zachary, whom I loved and had as a companion for 20 years had recently been put down. He was very affectionate too, and liked to nuzzle. It is nice to have that experience again -- a warm fuzzy face, wet nose kisses, and soft purrs.

May 27, 2010

Three Things I have Learned about God

Today, as I was praying, the Lord asked me what I had learned recently. He does this with me, tests me to see how well I am retaining His instruction. He often asks me when I finish reading the Word. He will say to me, "So what did you get from that passage or chapter?" I then tell Him what I THINK I gleaned, and then He will say "yes or no." Most of the time, I get it right, or part of it right. There is always more to learn from His Word, so the second, third, or umpteenth time, I am still learning some new kernel of truth. I love the Lord, and I love the fact that He cares about my training and instruction.

The Lord greatly desires His Children to know and understand His Word. He wants us to really know it, not just in the sense of repeating it back (parroting); but, more-so in knowing what it conveys about Him. You see, the Word, from beginning to end, has been designed to teach us about God. We come to know about Him, to really know Him, through His Written Word. His Precious Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and through the reading of the Word (the washing as the KJV says), our minds and consciences are cleansed. We not only receive instruction, but we benefit by getting our minds washed clean. We come away refreshed, emboldened, and ready to take on whatever the Lord has in mind for us to do. We are trained by the reading of His Word. Therefore, it is vitally important that we do not forsake reading His Word.

As a newbie believer, I really struggled to read His Word. It was not pleasant for me to do so. Now, after so many years, I have come to love His Word and think of it as honey, something so sweet and wonderfully tasting -- a real treat. I love the way it sinks down, the way it changes me, the way it guides me, and at times the way it reminds me to do better (be a doer of His Word).

So back to what I have learned about God. Well, there are many things, mostly His Attributes, and I have learned to recognize them through creation, through His hand on my life, and through the Word of God. But, really, I have come to know three things about Him, and in doing so, these three things have radically changed my life:
  • God is Good
  • God is Trustworthy
  • and God is Faithful
These are the three attributes that have meant the most to me, and in understanding them, have shaped my eternal destiny as well as my earthly path. God has demonstrated to me the very things I needed to know most about Him. I needed to understand His Goodness. I needed to experience His Trustworthiness, and I needed to rely on His Faithfulness.

I always end my blog posts with something like this: God is so Good to me.

This is the very truth of the matter. God has chosen for me to recognize His Goodness, and in doing so, I see it in everything and in Him and His Handiwork. I see His Goodness in my life, in the lives of others, and in creation. God is GOOD. And not just Good, as we think of Good; but, in the highest, most ultimate sense: PERFECTLY GOOD.

His Trustworthiness was the most difficult attribute for me to learn about and understand. Partly this was due to my childhood experiences where I was abandoned and betrayed. I came to distrust everyone who sought to do good to me. I simply didn't believe it. I was a "show me the money" kind of girl. If you want me to trust you, then show me that you are trustworthy. Ugh! God and I, well God, worked on that issue in my heart for months (perhaps longer, but I can tell you that there were days and days when I only heard one thing from Him: TRUST ME.)

I came into my relationship with the Lord already believing He was Faithful. Yet, that wasn't enough for me or for God. No, I needed to rely on His Faithfulness and that meant that I had to understand that He keeps His Word. This is part TRUST and part FAITH -- God is Faithful and True, as the Word says. Therefore, He is Faithful to do as He promises us in the Word.

These three attributes or characteristics of God are the three that mattered most to me, and I think are the three that are most crucial to my life in the Lord. I mean, He knew that I needed to understand and grasp these significant traits, but also that in doing so, I would be empowered to do His Work in the way He has designed and planned.

All I can say is this: I am so glad I learned this from Him. I know this about Him and it settles me. I am at peace with this understanding, and I am willing to follow my Lord wherever He leads me. God is so GOOD to me. He is FAITHFUL and TRUSTWORTHY. Amen, so be it. Selah!

May 26, 2010

Trusting the Lord

For reference see this post, Trusting the Lord.

I just came back in from my weekly cello lesson. It has been such a wild ride, me and my cello. I love this instrument more than I can easily articulate. I simply love it, and I am getting to be a pretty confident cellist. The Lord has so graciously blessed me with the ability to play the cello, and I am seeing progress every single week. Just today, I played through a Rondo by Henry Purcell -- never having seen it before -- and was able to sight read it and play it fairly well. My teacher was playing along with me on the violin, so I had to play with her and read at the same time. Pretty neat!

I came home and the first thing I did, after getting a snack, was to come out to the computer. I have my head phones on and am listening to Yo Yo Ma play several pieces from his "Appassionato" CD. Right now he is performing "Appalachian Waltz" with Mark O'Connor. Oh, how I love his cello playing. It is so moving, so expressive, and so Yo Yo! This is my goal, to be able to play with feeling and expression and really make the cello sing. I can see myself getting to this point, so long as I don't give up and don't give in. I can do it, but it will take commitment and drive and determination -- in short -- persistence. I know I can do it, because I believe it is the Lord's will for me. This is a gift He gave to me, to play the cello at age 47 (after having no musical ability at all). I am an intermediate-advancing cellist after just five months of cello lessons (and not even given by a cello teacher, but by my son's violin and piano teacher). There is no way, absolutely no way that I could pay the cello this well in five months of lessons. I can only give testimony to His Faithfulness to me, and so I do. Soli Dei Gloria.

Trusting the Lord

So what does playing the cello have to do with trusting the Lord? For me, it simply is an expression of God's Grace at work in my life. You see, back in 2008, I wrote a blog post where I was dealing with trust issues. I was struggling to trust the Lord in my life. I had trusted Him years before for my very salvation, but I wasn't trusting Him to plan and carry out His Will in my life. I was content with what He was doing for me, but not what He wanted to do with me. In future events, I was scared and timid and lacking trust -- even basic trust. No one could have foreseen the trouble I have experienced since that post (well, no one but the Lord). He knew what would come down that road, and He knew that I needed to learn how to trust Him.

I did. I have. I am.

Trusting the Lord isn't something you do, it is something that happens to you. Usually, you learn to trust Him when something awful comes into your life and you look around you and realize you've been "ditched." You know, betrayed, left alone. You find yourself standing there admist the crushed and tangled pieces of your life, begging for someone to come and hold you and help you; but, no one comes to your rescue. No one, that is, except for the Lord. He reaches His Mighty Hand down from Heaven and lifts you out of the mess you are in and begins to work in your heart to help you trust Him. This is when you need to trust Him most, and He knows it. You suffer, you struggle, you go back and forth, but eventually you learn that He is TRUSTWORTHY. In doing so, you experience such great relief, such boldness and confidence. You come to know that whatever He purposes and plans, He can do it. He can do anything because "nothing is impossible for God." You also learn that you can lean on Him, rely on Him, and believe in Him, and in doing so, you are blessed royally with such warmth and tenderness. You know Him, you love Him, and you expect certain things from Him. You know that whatever you ask of Him, He will be faithful to you. He will not leave you alone, nor make you walk any road without Him beside you.

As I look back over my life, this is the one thing I see: I see the Mighty Hand of the Lord upon my life. I see Him as He gently and carefully plucked me out of the muck and mire, and set me on solid ground. I see Him as He took the time to nurture and love me, to show me Himself, and to help me learn how to trust Him. As we spent time together in relationship, I began to feel better, to feel like it was OK, like I was going to be OK. So long as He was with me, well, then I was OK. I learned that if I stayed with Him, then I was indeed OK. I learned that I was blessed, I was comforted, and I was instructed ONLY when I stayed with Him. If I walked away, then I was on my own. I learned to tell the difference between being next to Him and being far from Him. I learned that it was far better for me to stick to Him like glue then to do anything on my own.

As I grew stronger, I also learned that there was so much He wanted to do for me. He wanted to give me the desires of my heart in exchange for my obedience and loyalty. The more I leaned on Him, the more willing He was to grant me my desires. I learned to ask for things that aligned with His will, and in doing so, I started to receive gifts and blessings to my life. Some were internal blessings, helping to heal hurt, to establish my mind, to strengthen my resolve. Some were physical gifts, such as healings of physical problems. Some were plain out right gifts, like learning how to play the cello at age 47. Some were spiritual gifts like being able to know and understand His Word better. The more I drew closer to Him, the more He came to me. The more I sat at His feet, the more secure I felt. The more I looked into Him, the more He touched me and changed me. The more I focused on Him as the object of my worship, the more worshipful I became, the more I experienced worship, the more I glorified Him through my worship.

All of this is to say that trusting the Lord is step one on a life long journey into knowing the ONE TRUE GOD. You cannot believe that He is Lord unless you BELIEVE THAT HE IS. This was the crux of my belief problems, and not so much not believing, but simply attributing to Him all the glory and knowledge that HE IS GOD. Once I did this, once I got my head squared, then everything clicked into place, and I began to experience God in a way like no other.

I will never go back, I never want to go back. I am right where I plan on staying every day now until my eternity comes to pass. I will be at His feet, worshipping Him with every fiber of my being, not allowing anything to surpass His Greatness and His Glory.

To God Alone Be The Glory.

May 24, 2010

Thinking Ahead

Well, I am starting to think ahead, and am planning out the next few weeks (Lord willing!) I have been in the wait-and-see mode for the past several months, and finally have made the move forward, into the "action" phase of God's plan. I had been misled into thinking that waiting was normal, that waiting was what I was to do. Yes and no. I mean, while this is typically a good thing to do, sometimes we can wait when the Lord has clearly said to go. We think we must wait until all the little 'ducks are in their rows.' Sometimes, though, the little guys just waddle in and out, and waiting for them to line up might waste precious time. Sometimes the Lord sends us packing, even without all the ducks lined up. He knows how to get them in order, in their places -- and needs us to move on down that road -- while He does what only He can do.

This is where I have been, misled into believing that I had to wait for everything to come to pass BEFORE I could start walking. Some how walking out ahead was like "walking ahead of God." Really, this was not the case at all, because even in the Bible, Jesus often sent His disciples out ahead of Him. Often this was to test their loyalty, their willingness to go and do what He asked of them. Mostly, it was so that they could experience His Power at work through them, without Him being present all the time. It was sort of like when Mom sends you to the store for the first time. She already has planned the trip out, but gives you a bit of leeway so you can test out your wings. God does this too, especially when He is getting ready to send His servants out on a mission. He prepares them, educates them, empowers them, and then sends them out on small little journeys so they can get their feet wet, and learn to trust and rely on Him, even when He is not physically with them. Though in our case, we are blessed because we have the Holy Spirit of God always with us -- we are never really alone.

However, sometimes we get our signals mixed or through fear/doubt, we sit on the sidelines long after the coach has "sent us into the game." That was me for a long while. I was waiting for the "go" when I had already received it. I just thought I needed to wait until everything was set. I was mistaken, because once I stepped out and started walking, it was like everything I was waiting for started to fall into place. I think this is what is means when we say "faith without works is dead." In some ways, our faith is dead if we don't put it into action and start using it. I mean, we can believe all we want to, but unless we demonstrate what we believe, we really cannot be empowered to do good work. Why would we need empowerment if we are always going to stay parked in the garage? Think of this way: you have a fine car and keep it locked up in storage. You look at it, wash and care for it, but you never put any gas into it because you don't intend to drive it. Why keep it? It is just a big piece of metal, pretty yes; but, useless unless you actually get in it and drive.

It is new knowledge for today, at the least for me. I realize that God expects me to use the gifts He has blessed me with, and I am supposed to get them out of storage and put them into work. If I simply keep them locked up, then I am no better than that person who keeps their perfectly good car locked in their garage.

Mercy College

I am waiting to hear back on my applicaton, to see if I have been accepted to Mercy College's Master of Arts program in English Literature. I have all the required courses and experience, and very good grades...so it should be no contest. I just have to wait for them to go through the application process and decide whether or not to accept me.

Once I get the notice, then I feel like I can start moving on to the other items on the list. Graduate school has been a "must" situation for me. I have believed so strongly that this is the Lord's will, and have felt confident that Mercy College was HIS CHOICE for me. I knew it too, especially after I looked over the course content. It is a really traditional program, and it fits my style and interest well.

I have been waiting on a job, but now realize that in the Lord's timing, first things must always come first. His order is often not our own, and it often doesn't line up with what we think is top priority. But the Lord knows best, always does and always will, and we can be far more relaxed and patient if we bear that in mind.

In my case, graduate school has been on my "to do" list and I believe that it is integral to the plans the Lord has for my life. Therefore, it gets top billing, even above a critical need like a job. The Lord knows I need a job. He knows that I cannot live on my own without one, but He also knows that things like school, especially at the graduate level take time. The school does things in their own way, according to their own rules, and in their own time frame. They hold the decision, yea or nay, in their very fingers and there isn't much that can be done one way or another. You simply must do it their way, and then you must wait for their answer.

In doing so, I have had to trust the Lord on the outcome. He has promised me this: if it is His Will, then IT WILL BE. I hear this all the time (in my head), as a reminder to me that says "Trust me, I know what will be." If something is the Lord's will, then it will be done. It is really a matter of cooperating with His Spirit and then letting the Lord do what He does best: orchestrate, facilitate, and bring to pass those elements and components that make up His Will.

Oh, how I have come to love the Lord's Will. I used to fear it, to be afraid of what it meant, thinking only that it was something ominous and bleak (aka, suffering or painful). This has not been the case at all, for instead of fearing His Will, I have embraced it, and in doing so, I have come to see His Mighty and Precious Hand on every single element of it. It is so GOOD, just as He is, and every part of His Plan, including His Process, is GOOD. His Will lacks nothing, it is not incomplete nor imperfect. If we can believe strongly that God is Good, then we can begin to see that everything He does is Good also. It can be no other way. His inherent being is GOOD; therefore, He is Good through and through. His Will, His Plan, His Process, His Love and everything in between is GOOD.

I am so in love with His Will and with seeing His Good come to pass in my life. I recognize everything now as being from Him and being Good. I see the pain, true; I see the sorrow. I experience both; but something overcomes me and I simply see GOOD stamped over it. It is Good because He is Good.

As I think forward, looking to the future I only see the Lord's Goodness coming to pass. I see Him facilitating His Will and restructuring my life. I see His Hand moving ahead of me, clearing a path for me to follow. I see Him point His Finger and hear Him say to me "Go here or do that." If I obey Him, then I reap the reward of that obedience. I experience blessing for being obedient, but I also experience the reaping of what is to come (the thing or event of my doing). I get double-blessing from Him, first in my initial step, and then later when that thing or event comes to pass. It is an awesome thing to be blessed by God. It is an awesome thing to be considered valuable to Him, worthy of His Time. I love Him, and I love what He is doing in my life. He has shaped me, molded me, and created me uniquely for His Own Purpose. I am seeing that purpose come to fruition and it is so very exciting.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for your Love and for the Work you are doing in my life today. I thank you for everything you have done, and I praise you and honor you and give you all the glory for only you are worthy to receive it.

Taking Responsibility

Wow! The past couple nights have I been dreaming! It seems like from the moment my head hits the pillow until the time I wake up, I am in a constant dream cycle. The dreams, all very vivid and full of color, are practically about the same thing. They are prophetic, meaning that they have relevance to something actually happening in my life at this time. They are not foreteliing -- which is what most people think of when you say something is "prophetic." In the true Biblical sense of the word, prophetic simply means something that has significance and meaning. For me, these dreams are specific to my situation at home.

One of the dream cycles dealt with me being found in various situations where I needed assistance, help, and not finding the one person who normally is there to help me. In these dreams, I found myself and my son stuck, literally stuck in various places, with no way to get home. We look for my husband (and his dad), but he is not around. Moreover, our things, our stuff (clothes, etc.) are no where to be found as well. I end up having to make arrangements to get us home. I even attempt contact via cell phone only to find that I don't have a cell phone (which is not the case). I am not frantic or anything, it is more of a calmness where I simply see myself (as I am watching the movie-like dream) looking around for my husband, who cannot be found.

The second dream cycle, the one I had all last night was very similar. In it, I found myself at a restaurant and once again was ready to leave to go home. I went to get my car, this time finding it, but also finding myself stuck in a bad situation. I was blocked in, unable to get my car out of the parking lot. I recall having a conversation with a man who was telling me that he wouldn't move his vehicle, but that if I came back before closing, I could get my car out. I told him I wanted to get it out now, and he just gave me excuse after excuse why that wasn't possible. I was getting more and more angry with this man, because clearly the answer was for him to get into his car and simply move it! Argh! I finally forced this man (through my words and strong action) to move his vehicle. I got in mine and maneuvered (really had to maneuver) to get it free. I did and drove away. The next instant I realized that this was a situation I would normally defer to my husband, but after seeking him before confronting this man, and not finding him or his car at the restaurant, I took control and did what needed to be done.

In both cases, the dreams are significant and point to habits and behaviors I have either relied on or been forced to use over the course of my marriage. My DH often was not around or didn't choose to be responsible for a specific thing, preferring instead to let me take control and do whatever needed done. In the early years, I responded to this behavior with anger, with tears and with pleading. After a time, I simply gave in and did what needed so that I would avoid the condemnation and shame I felt at being irresponsible. Later on, it became habit to me. I would look for him to do something, ask and even plead, and then when that failed, I would simply do it. This waiting bit is really crux of my dreams.

As I have blogged on this topic for nearly ten months now, one element is clear for me. I have been waiting for a very long time, waiting for my husband to do the right thing. And, not just about our marriage, but about everything. I have waited through bad financial decisions, bad business choices, and bad personal/integrity choices. I have waited for him to step up and take the ball and start doing what I thought was right and best. Of course, all couples have issues as such. Not every marriage is united, always choosing the right course of action. But, most have a working philosophy that says "we won't cross this line," regardless of personal choice.

In my case, I simply wanted us not to cross the line, to take responsibility, the minimal kind of responsibility (pay the bills on time, don't buy what we cannot afford, do not say we will do something when we have no intention of keeping our word, etc.) These are kinds of things I consider to be the "minimum" when it comes to good and proper behavior. Rarely though, did we do those things. Most of the time, we simply chose to put things off until by default -- we defaulted or were forced by a higher authority (like lawyers or the police) to do what was to be done. I hated this all the while it was taking place, and I stressed over it, praying it would not be, and often having to grit my teeth and suffer through it when it did come to pass.

I know, I should have said "enough" and walked away. Yes, I should have done that, but I chose to stick it out, believing that if I was patient enough, and waited long enough, RIGHT would triumph and the truth would hold fast. I guess it is the way I am wired mentally, I simply believe in Justice and Truth and Fairness, and believe that in the end, eventually THEY will win.

With these dreams freshly in mind, I am at a point where I have to accept what they are saying to me. Some people don't put a lot of stock in dreams, and it isn't as if I believe everything I dream. No, that is not the case with me. I simply look at what they are saying to me and then if they prove true, I accept it as truth. These dreams are true in my case. These are true examples of what has happened over and over again and again in my life. I have waited for the right thing, the right time, and the right person to do what needed done. The problem is that the right person was not doing what needed done because I WAS THAT RIGHT PERSON.

You see, no matter how much I wanted my husband to do the right thing, and I did; I allowed the wrong thing to be done simply because of my unwillingness to accept responsibility that was not mine. I have read the book, "Boundaries" by Dr.'s Cloud and Townsend, and it is a good. I have actually put boundaries in place in my marriage and in my personal life -- and they have helped me keep from taking responsibility that was not mine to take. In short, I have learned to say "No, that is not my responsibility," and then hand it back to the person who is trying to give it to me. The problem, though, was that over the course of my life and marriage, I stubbornly refused to take responsibility when I saw that my action would not prevent heartache or sorrow or even financial loss to occur. I chose to be adamant and keep the LAW about who was to do what, when the reality of the situation was begging ME to take control, to take over, and to say "enough."

I don't want to spend a lot of time going over past mistakes, there is no real need in that; but, there is value in recognizing that at this point in my life, I am still doing the very same thing. I am in a different situation now, a situation where no one BUT ME is acting responsible. If I am a single person, then the "buck" falls to me, so to speak. No one is going to step in and save me from poor financial decisions or from poor personal choices, KWIM? I cannot continue to behave like I have before -- expecting Robin Hood and His Merry Men to swash on by and drop a sack full of coins in my lap. Nope, it is up to me to do the right thing now, and againt tomorrow, and all the tomorrows that follow.

As I review these dreams and what value they hold for me, this is what I take away from them: I am a person who craves responsibility. I am a person who holds integrity in the highest position of honor. I am a person who literally will fight to be loyal and will battle to the end for "the good, the right, the best, and the one thing that matters most." I won't give up, I won't give in. This is my personal testimony -- the key now is to make sure that I am always fighting for what Paul calls "the good fight;" and, not waste my time fighting that which will not stand the test of time (wood, hay and stubble).

So where does this leave me? I think it simply reminds me that from now on, the responsibility falls squarely to me, and I can either reach my hand out and take hold and do the "right thing" or I can repeat the past simply by allowing old patterns and habits to do what they naturally do (as a stream follows the path of least resistance -- so can our habits and behaviors). No, that is not what I want nor is it what the Lord asks of us. He calls us to account here in Earth just as surely as He calls us to account in Heaven. We are to live quiet and peaceable lives and follow the Word of God as closely as possible. This means working to earn a living wage, paying laborers what is due them, giving to Caesar what is owed, and giving to those in need. I want to do all these things, and have before me the chance to do so. As I embark on this new journey, I can choose to do what I must or I can wait for someone to show up and do it for me.

I have thought about it this a lot, and know that no one is coming in to save me (or my marriage or my financial situation or any other distress that has been caused by sin). No, the Lord has shown me a way out, but it is not through a "hand out." It is through doing the right thing, day in and day out, it is by being responsible and honorable, and it is by keeping His Word and His Commands and remaining faithful to them. This is the path I have chosen to follow, and it is the path that I know will lead me to finish this race in good stead. I do not want to stand before Him and be ashamed of my choices -- not after He has rescued me, and set my feet on the solid and secure path that leads toward Him.

May 22, 2010

Appassionato

In musical direction, this words means to be "impassioned" or to play in a passionate manner. I am currently listening to Yo Yo Ma's CD entitled, "Appassionato." My favorite pieces are his rendition of Camille Saint Saens, "The Swan" and Mark O'Connors "Appalachian Waltz". Both pieces move me to tears -- I cannot explain it or understand it -- but they simply touch me somewhere deep and cause a great passion to arise within me.

This feeling of passion is something that has been missing from my life for a very, very long time. I have always been a passionate person, a person who deeply feels things, who senses things, who observes and learns visually, and who studies at great length to understand and find meaning. I am this way with people, with events, and with life, in general. I tend to wait a very long time before making up my mind about something, and then once I do, I am wholly committed to that decision. The problem is often that I am quick when it comes to deciding on a path, but slow to actually follow it through. I have gotten better over time, more consistent in my approach, and more directed in my decision making process.

The interesting thing is that often I make decisions based solely on impassioned facts -- I take very careful stock of what I see and think and then with passion, decide yes or no. I am often criticised for my passionate language use, for the way my voice raises when I make a point, or for my unwillingness to budge when I believe I am right about something. I try very hard not to come off as a know-it-all, but often I am accused of being such a person. I don't think that is accurate, because I don't go around asserting myself very often. When I do think I am right, I don't back down unless I am proven wrong. If I am proven wrong, I will admit it and will confess my point was faulty or without merit. The issue is that so many people are passionate about things without really knowing whether or not they should be passionate about them. Often, then are passionate about things that are irrational and faulty. Instead of studying and taking the time to weigh the value of such views, they go all berserk and think that being passionate is the same as being knowledgeable. It is not. These are two very different things, and they should not substitute for one another.

I tend to be passionate about a couple areas only: Justice, Righteousness, Fairness, and the Holiness of God. I tend to see everything from this point of view. I believe this is because my personality type is very much legalistic, and is very factual and rational. I look at the facts, I study the details, and I weigh the consequences of action BEFORE I do anything. This whole process takes a long time, depending on the nature of the decision. Sometimes it can take a lifetime; othertimes, it is right now and only right now.

As I study my life, as I look back over it, the course of time, the roads chosen and followed, I see a pattern emerging. I see myself as I am, not as I used to believe myself to be. I see a very careful person, a caring and committed person, a passionate and devoted person, a person who deeply loves and is deeply convicted and convinced of certain things. Over the course of my life, I see decisions I have made -- some good; some not so good. I see the outcome, as expected and as not planned. I see one thing clearly, one thing only: I see a consistent approach to everything I do, from the way I view life to the way I construct answers. I see careful, considerate, and cautious choices -- not random or haphazard. I see choices that were made, and outcomes that were different than planned, but not turned away from or discounted. The deed was done, the work completed, there was a sense of duty and honor and a view that said "this is the choice you made, now you must deal with it." I look at myself through very different eyes now. I see the truth in myself and I confess that I am pleased with how I have turned out. I don't mean to sound arrogant here at all, just there is a sense that I have been true to myself, to the way I am, even when things weren't as they should be.

I think this has been the whole reason why I have experienced such a tremendous upheaval in my life -- at this time in my life. I spent a great many years believing that I was worthless, and a sham, and a counterfeit. These were all lies told to me by other people, by Satan, and by myself. None of this was true, because the truth is told in the stripes I bear and in the burdens I carry. I can honestly look back over my life and evaluate it rationally. I see myself now, I think, as God sees me. I am not a horrible person, a person who was wishy washy and unstable. Oh, my goodness, no. Instead, God has shown me that my strength lay in my sheer will and determination to do right, always right. I might not have succeeded in that path -- but it was the point and effort of every action. My life was bound up in doing right, I think from the beginning. I can see that God created within me a desire for His Law and for Obedience to His Law. I tend to be legalistic in many aspects of my personality, and I always thought this was not good. God has shown me that it is indeed a great asset, so long as I remember that I am under Grace and not the Law. There is nothing wrong with seeing His Holiness through His Law -- there is only burden when we place ourselves under that Law instead of Grace. It is His Grace that sets us free, that looses the binds that hold us tight, that keeps us from experiencing the Liberality of His Gift.

As I gain a right appreciation of myself, my personality, and my traits (gifts and abilities), I am more and more convinced that I am whole, completely whole, and no longer fractured and torn apart. My life may still be in shreds, but myself, that part of me that belongs to Him, is 100% whole. My mind is stable; my heart is steadfast, and my will is surrendered to Him.

Now, I know that I am able to walk forward, to live a passionate life, a life that is surrounded and completely devoted to the One whom I love dearly. I love Him because He first loved me. I love no one else like the way I love Him. I am completely and utterly His -- to use, to mold, to shape, to create, to change, to empower, and to fill with His Precious and Passionate Holy Spirit.

God has been so good to me. He has Graced me abundantly, and has given newness of life to me. I can only give testimony to Him because there is no reason why I am able to say today, with such boldness and confidence, that I am indebted to Him, freed by Him, and living (alive in Spirit) because of Him. My life is His to do with as He pleases. I am passionately in love with my Lord, and I worship and praise Him now and forevermore.

Seeing the Truth

Yesterday was a very bleak day for me. Actually, the past couple days have been pretty horrible. I cannot really explain it other than to say that I think that same spirit of oppression which harrassed us earlier in the year was back. It was like we (me and my son) went from being OK, feeling OK, to feeling downright depressed. And, I don't mean just depressed -- I mean black depression -- the kind that just sinks you overnight and sucks you down into a really dark and deep place spiritually.

I felt it first, but I didn't put tw0-and-two together. I just started to notice that I was getting really irritable, popping off quickly, even at the tiniest things. My son's attitude was also affected. He was acting like he was numb, just numb, and not caring about anyone or anything. I snapped at my Mom, at my son, and even at the Lord. I was plain right disagreeable for a couple days.

Now I know you may be saying, "Welcome to my world, Carol...I get this way every month!" Yes, I can get irritable too, especially right before my period. But, this was different. This was for no apparent reason, it was just a black and dark and very nasty feeling bundled up inside of us.

It came to a head on Thursday morning. I just lost it with my son, gave him the sternest talking to, and said some really horrible things to him. These things were coming out of my mouth, but they were not me, not even truth or reality. They were just mean things streaming from my mouth. I stopped it as soon as I realized what was happening, and then was swarmed with guilt like you cannot imagine. I spent the rest of the day in despair, feeling like the most worthless person ever.

Later in the evening, I took my son aside and sat down with him and told him that I thought what had happened was a spiritual attack of the worst kind. I had taken some time to think it over, and knew then that what I had said had some truth in it, but the words were simply not me. I mean, they were not me. He and I have a really good relationship so we are very genuine when it comes to repentance and such. I asked for his forgiveness, and he gave it. He is such a great boy.

Yesterday, I sat at home, befuddled. I felt lost and estranged and all alone. My DH was gone all day (and did not return until 10:30 p.m.) I was left alone without any concern to my well-being. Granted, I am a big girl, and I can fend for myself. It was just this awful feeling like I was waiting for someone to show up, and they forgot to come by. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited. I waited some more, until about 4:30 p.m. I asked my son, who in 16 year old fashion, told me that Dad had said he would be home "after dinner." I was tired of sitting around and waiting, so I got up and took us to the movies (a big splurge). I just needed to do "something."

When we got home to a dark house, no lights on except for the one I left on in the living room, the sad eeriness of the house cried out to me. I realized then that this was what was left of my former life. I may still be living in my home, but it is no home any longer. I am living here because there is no other place for me to go. It is no longer a happy place, a place with laughter and joy -- no, it is a dark, depressing and at times a frightfully scary place.

My son has asked to move away from our home, to leave it now. He tells me almost daily that he wants to move today. This is not like him, not at all. He is very sensitive, as am I, but this is not something he would normally say. I have told him that I want to move as well, but that until I get a job, we cannot leave our home.

So the days plod on, and the days are dark at times. I have studied more about spiritual oppression and have learned that there is a spirit here in our home. It is here, and it will not leave. I have done what I can, stood on my authority, claimed Jesus, etc., and it simply will not go. I have prayed over it, and the Lord has assured me that we are safe, but has told me also that this spirit will not leave our home. I believe this is why He has continually said that we must move -- we must move, we must go.

As I thought about all this, and some other things that came to light yesterday, I again was confronted with the truth of what is happening in my life. I told my son how hard this was for me -- in my attempt at repenting from my words -- and that no one can understand how difficult it is to leave your home, and the husband you love. I love my husband, even with all that has gone on, and even with the truth still staring me in the face. I have had to accept so much truth, so many things that I didn't want to accept. I did it, with the Grace of God, with His help, only with His help. He enabled me to see the truth, to accept it, and to deal with it (process it).

Everyone is supportive of me, of my decision to separate, but the timing of it (why I delay, why I wait, etc.) is constantly an issue. My family wants me to move on, to make things final. I want that as well, but there is this part of me that is still waiting, still longing for reconciliation. I think the issue is this: I am reconciled. I am on friendly terms with my DH. What I am longing for is restoration -- it is something completely different.

I got out my DivorceCare book yesterday evening and looked through it again. I went to three or four sessions before I stopped going. It was all too much, too soon for me. I couldn't deal with the attitude of the hosts, the tape seeming to accept divorce as the only option, etc. I couldn't stomach the pain, the suffering, and the sorrow of the other women who were there. They were in deep sorrow, and I was living on the Grace of God, believing that everything would be OK. It is truth, I know they spotted it, and I know they thought "Oh, she hasn't crashed yet." They would have been correct, too. I didn't crash. I was living on a high, a spiritual high, a high that had held me up and lifted me and carried me through all the sorrow and grief. God had tempered my sorrow for a long time, He had spared me so much grief. I got tastings of it, just a touch, enough to devastate me, but not enough to destroy me.

These other ladies, well, they were in that destruction spot, that place of utter destruction. I didn't fit in, and I didn't want to go through it. I stopped going, and put that course and the book aside. But, last night, something made me take it out again and look it over. I looked through the latter chapters and discovered that what the course was really saying was pretty right on Biblically-speaking. I guess I just took what was being said as being too off-the-cuff, not serious enough, not Biblical. I didn't stick around long enough to really see the grit of it -- the truth that said there is no real reason for divorce and that God hates it (just as I believe). Then it gently states that it is "permitted" in the case of adultery or abandonment. The reasons most people divorce are considered to be non-Biblical (we grew apart, we have different interests now). Their stated position on marriage is 100% from the Word of God -- until death.

The key thing for me was that there was a chapter on reconciliation. I read it, thinking I already knew what was in it, only to have my eyes opened. Reconciliation doesn't mean restoration. To be reconciled is to come to an agreement; restored means to be brought back to a previous position. I can be reconciled to my husband without being restored to him as his wife. This is the long and hard rub of it -- right where I am sitting now. I am waiting to be restored as his wife; yet, this is not what he wants from me. He is looking for "the perfect person," and is seeking out other women, hoping to find "Ms. Right." The problem is that I am still here, still married, still bound to him as a wife, and I am waiting to be recognized as such. He will say that I am the one who wants to be single, that I am the one who wants the divorce. Yes, and no. I want to be free from this oppression, from this place of dishonor. I want to be restored to my rightful place as a wife (Biblically speaking). I want this, but I am not willing to look at sin and adultery and turn aside. I cannot do this -- the Bible forbids us to condone sin, even when it is comitted by someone we love. We are to lovingly correct them, encourage them to seek repentance and such. But, if they choose to willingly continue in sin, then we are told to look away, to walk away, to not stand in sin's midst.

This has been my position all along. It is a lonely place to stand, to stand alone on the Word of God. I don't want to stand here. I don't want to watch anymore. I don't want to live day in and day out with the knowledge that my husband is seeking a new mate. I don't want this to be the end of my life, the end of my marriage. I don't want this to come to pass; but, this is where I am, and this is what has transpired. All fault aside, all arguments ceased -- the truth remains: I am standing here, standing by God's Holy Word, and am waiting to be restored to my rightful place as a wife. I am still here. I have not engaged in sinful lusts and pursuits. No, I have stood here, made the most of a pretty rotten situation, and watched as someone I love pursues other women, other enjoyments, other pasttimes. Me and my son, we are left overs from the old life. We are trash, nothing more, just spoiled and rotten left overs.

The problem is this -- Biblically speaking -- we are the ones who are doing what God's Word says to do. We are showing ourselves faithful, true, and dependent upon God. What a terribly lonely place to be, and my heart is so filled with longing and sorrow. I barely can keep it in, I barely can keep it covered any more.

This all aside, I think what has been happening, all of it is this: The Lord has told me what will be. There will be no restoration for me. The time I take to long for it, only lengthens the entire grieving process. I am ready to move on, but then I look back and I see what was and I see my husband, whom I still love, and I cannot move forward. I just cannot walk away from him, no matter what he has done, no matter what he is presently doing.

Proverbs 31: 10-31

10 Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
15 She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes tapestry for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies sashes for the merchants.
25 Strength and honor are her clothing;
She shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She watches over the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “ Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
And let her own works praise her in the gates.


Dear Lord,

I think this is my Garden period, that period of time when I have found myself all alone, sitting in the Garden -- right before the moment of sacrifice. You were in that place as well, where everyone deserted you, where you pleaded with God to find ANOTHER way. I am here as well, though not contemplating the CROSS. But perhaps I am. Perhaps this is my cross -- my cross to pick up and bear. Perhaps this is the moment when I am being asked to go it alone, to pick up this burden and carry it on. Perhaps this is my time to choose. I have certainly chosen before, but not like this, not this way. This is the time when everything else is left behind, and I must either sit here alone in the garden, or go forward with my cross, my cross of shame and guilt and sacrifice, and follow you.

I choose to follow you. I will pick up this cross and I will follow you. I will go where you send me, and I will live my life to your Glory and Praise.

May 19, 2010

Filled with Love

I am experiencing some new feelings today. Actually, they started about three-four days ago, and haven't stopped. I think it is the Lord (of course), for only He can change hearts so much. Anyhoo, I am befuddled a bit, wondering why I feel the way I do, and trying very hard to get a handle on it.

This past weekend, I had to help care for my father-in-law. He is a sweet elderly man, whom I love dearly, and who loves us (all of us) with so much enthusiasm. My FIL suffered a massive stroke nearly 17 years ago. No one thought he would survive (at all), let alone five years. Yet, here he is, still living and still loving the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell him that the Lord isn't done with him yet. He just laughs at me.

My FIL was a music teacher for many years. He also was a band director for a Christian High School. Music is a huge part of his life. He has a lovely singing voice, and before his stroke, performed with a quartet in San Francisco. He also was President of a Christian Jr. and Sr. High School. He played piano, and always had music playing. He loved photography too, and fishing (oh, and fishing). My FIL is probably the biggest fisherman I know.

He really cannot do that any more, nor can he perform. He did sing in the church choir for a couple years after his stroke. Now, he just listens to the music (and cries all the time when he hears really good performers play). He loves my son and tells him all the time how talented he is -- he is his biggest fan.

So, this past weekend, we were on care duty while my MIL went to Minnesota to teach women's groups. My son and I decided to give a recital. DS has given a number of recitals, but this was my first one. I was very nervous, though I had no real reason to be nervous. My son played Billy Joel's Rootbeer Rag and Chopin's Nocturne (Opus something). It was lovely. I played two pieces by Handel (from Water Music). I did OK. My FIL loved it, of course, I knew he would.

This weekend was really a turning point for me. My husband spent Wednesday through Saturday evening at his parents house. My son and I remained home. It was a trial run, so to speak, for us living a part. This is something we have discussed, well, I have discussed it mostly. I put my foot down and asked my DH to leave at the end of last year, due to some issues in our home and marriage. The economy being what it is and all, he has not been able to do this. We have lived in a truce since then. I have been patiently waiting for the Lord to do something; and my DH has been trying to save enough money to accommodate my request. It is has just been downright weird, that is all.

I mean, we are married, yet not acting like we are married. To further complicate matters, my dear FIL doesn't know that we are having marital problems. My MIL chose this path because she didn't want to upset him. This meant that during the week and weekend, we had to act like everything was OK. Not an easy feat, but doable. We are not at odds right now -- just in a settled truce. We are trying very hard to remain on good terms for our son's sake and well-being. Still, it was really hard to do things like old times. I mean, the past ten months or so, I have been working hard to come to terms with my own singleness and my own path. I have formed my own opinions, and tried to reconcile the events of the last few years. I have come through the "wringer" as they say, and I survived it.

Now, here I was trying very hard to show that everything was OK, when in fact, it was not. I remember praying to the Lord, and asking Him to help me do this very thing. I love my FIL. I love him dearly, and the last thing I wanted to do was upset him. The funny thing is that the Lord not only answered my prayer regarding my FIL, but He gave me something to boot.

You see, on Sunday, I was in quite a quandary, and didn't know what to do. My folks had invited me and my son for dinner. My DH was going to pick his mom up at the airport, so it was something we could do separately. For some reason, I just didn't feel right (good) about doing that, and I told my Mom so. In the past, my attitude has been "I don't really care," meaning that I was going to do what I wanted without a lot of regard for my DH's whereabouts and such. In the past, this was OK, because after all we were on the verge of divorcing and my DH wasn't really trying very hard not to do what he wanted to do.

Something in me changed this weekend. I cannot really explain it, but it was definitely a shift in my opinion. It wasn't anything my DH did at all -- in fact -- we had a huge argument about some things earlier in the week. There was no real change on that front. But, within me, there was a definite shift of purpose and of mind. I cannot really say it any other way, but my entire perspective and attitude just changed. I went from being pretty upset, (ok, really upset), to simply not caring about anything, to coming back around to looking at the situation with a new found sense of justice. I looked and saw real people for a change, and not just hurt feelings. I saw my FIL who so dearly loved us and was loving our recital; I saw my son performing and making his granddad laugh so loudly; I saw my DH looking rather sad and forelorn; and I saw me, sad and depressed over what I recognized as the end of a life together. It was surreal -- no pain, no hurt -- just the reality of a life ruined by sin -- and the leftovers all mashed together and not looking so pretty anymore.

As I reflected on this past weekend, I realized this: I am really through the entire separation process. I have run the gamut, scaled the peaks and surfed the valleys, and I have come through it all in one piece. Not only am I whole, but I am whole in the sense of being able to set aside my personal feelings, and see things the way God sees them. I see the people whose lives have been ravaged by sin. I see how the choices we make destroy people, hurt them so deeply, and affect them in such a way as to cause them to lose heart, to lose their way, and to potentially, fall victim to sin's temptation themselves.

The sad truth is this: sin leads to death and not just death of the body. It kills the soul. It kills the personality. It destroys life in all it's forms and facets. It is a destroyer of all that is good. The Word is right to warn us to flee it's temptations -- to rid ourselves -- to run away as fast as we can. The Word says: "The wages of sin is death." Amen, this is truth. Sin kills everything in it's sight, and we as believers need to treat it as the Black Plaque. Run, run, and run faster. Avoid it at all costs -- it will destroy you, your family, your relationship with God, and ultimately your eternal resting place. It is death, Black Death, and we must not give in, play with it, or even give it any measure of consideration.

So where does that leave me? Well, in this very odd place, actually. I am finding that my heart is filled with love and I cannot account for it. I have seen with God's eyes the destruction of my family, and I have made the decision to stop it, to not let it go on. I choose life and all that life brings -- and I choose God's way in all things. I cannot stand by any longer and allow death to reign in my home and in my family. I don't want to suffer the affect of sin on my life, especially not my own sin. I want to be free, I want to live free, and to walk in that freedom. This is the freedom Christ died to give to me, and now I want to embrace it and live in it. But, not just me -- I want to help others to receive it as well. There is no reason for Christian's to remain in bondage to sin. There is a way out -- there is a way -- and it is right through the Cross of Jesus Christ. In Christ alone do we have our victory. He has overcome sin, and we overcome in His Name.

May He be Praised forevermore.

May 17, 2010

Flummery

I love words, especially words that are no longer in common use. One of the words I really like happens to be "flummery." I love the sound of the word -- flumm ery. It is just so perfect, so completely non-sensical and I love the way it rolls off your tongue. I happened to be praying this morning, and as I was speaking with the Lord, I said to Him: "this is just complete flummery." It was correctly stated as I was speaking of my situation and the way I was feeling this morning. I went on to say that I was "flummoxed" over the details, the way things were coming to pass. Ha!

I love the word flummoxed too -- it is also a superb word. It sums up my feelings today -- I am flummoxed (confused, confounded, bewildered).

Yes, today things are coming round and are complete flummery (nonsense).

Perhaps the day will bear itself out better. It is only 10:30 a.m. after all -- there is much left of this day, so I think I will chin up and think happier thoughts for the rest of the day.

May 14, 2010

Walking by Faith

Good morning, world!

Today, is going to be another lovely day in Arizona (a bit hot, but that is to be expected for May in Phoenix!!) I am feeling pretty well, and thinking nice thoughts this morning. I have had my first cup of Joe, two mini cinnamon buns (the little ones you get from Costco), and am now working my way through cup number two. I do love my coffee. I have decided that of all the store brands, my choice is Maxwell House Master Blend. It is pretty good drip/grind coffee. I have tried more expensive cans, and they just don't cut it for me. This one always brews smooth and easy to drink. I am not a dark coffee drinker, but I don't want a mild flavor either. I prefer something right in the middle, something that can withstand my need for cream, and not completely lose it's flavor. Oh well, just some rambles for today...

I am also sitting here blogging and thinking "what in the world am I going to write today?" Writing is not a problem for me (or talking for that matter -- I do both well! LOL!) For some reason, today my mind is drawing a blank. Hmmm....a potent sign of danger perhaps? No, not really, just some fuzzy mental fluff still needing time to be shooshed away. My 2nd cup of Joe should do that for me -- I just need a little more time to sit and relax.

I titled this post "Walking by Faith" -- a title I have used before, but can't remember when. I tend to do that, reuse my titles. I am not the most creative writer, I will say that in all honesty, but I do write prolifically. I think I have come to find one of my many passions, and that is writing in journal style. I just love blogging, and I love the availability of blogs. I detest writing by hand, always have, and always have found it difficult to do. It has to do with the fact that I am a visual-spatial learner and I also have a visual processing disorder (IRLEN Syndrome). I never liked writing as a child, and always struggled to do it. I do like to type. I type about 90-100 wpm and find that I can type almost as fast as I can think.

So back to the point of this post. I have been stepping out in faith these past few months. I have been asked by the Lord to trust Him. At times, I have known exactly what I needed to trust Him for, and at other times, I have been a bit blind (just walking without a set direction). I have had to do it both ways for some time now. It has become a habit, a good habit, and I am learning how to relax and let Him guide me. I don't struggle anymore. I just do what He says and then reap the reward of obedience. Sometimes that reward is a real thing; but other times it is simply the sense of doing the right thing when the One who asks, has asked me to do it.

I do love the Lord, and I love the way He guides me. He is incredibly patient with me, waiting for me to be "ready" for whatever He has in store for me. He teaches me and trains me up, then asks me to test my new faith. I walk, I walk, and then I walk some more. I take baby steps at first, then go a little farther, and then finally take my own walk. He is always there with me, but little by little, He lets me go. It is like a father holding on the back of their child's bicycle while they are learning to ride on two wheels. The dad hangs on for a time, then he finally let's go. The child learns to trust their Dad, knowing that he won't let go until the right time. By the time he does, the child has gained enough confidence to know that they can pedal on their own.

This is exactly how it has been with me and the Lord recently. He has been holding on to me, helping me, guiding me, and gently keeping me steady. I have learned to trust Him through this entire process. Now, I am at the point where I have enough confidence in myself (and in Him) to step out and pedal (or walk) on my own. Not that I am going to stray from Him; no, not in the least. Rather, I am simply able to take direction and do what is being asked of me. If you recall, this is how Jesus trained His disciples on Earth. He walked with them, talked with them, ate with them, etc. Then He sent them out on their own (in twos) to practice what they had learned. They went out, did what the Lord asked, and came back rejoicing. God does this -- He never asks us to do something we are not prepared to do. He waits until we are ready, until we have understood the command, understood the responsibility, and understood what was to be done. In all, we are ready to be obedient to Him.

I used to think obedience was blindly following God's Word. I don't mean it in a negative way, it is just that is how I did it back then. I took the Word literally, and then TRIED to keep it on my own. I mostly failed. Obedience is best practiced, not through keeping the LETTER OF THE LAW, but in keeping faith with the AUTHOR OF THE LAW. Instead of doing the do-diligence of the Word, God has allowed me to learn about the One who created all things. The more I have come to know Him, the more I have wanted to obey Him. And, in obeying Him, I am able to keep the Word of God, the commands of Scripture, because I now understand the One who has written it. That probably doesn't make a lot of sense, but it is what I have come to understand about God. The more closely you draw toward Him, the easier it is to keep His Word, the easier it is to please Him, and to do what He asks of you.

Today, I am walking by faith. And, just like the child who has learned how to ride a two-wheel bike, my Heavenly Father stands by to watch me. He will be there when I tumble. He will pick me up, dust me off, kiss my bruised knee, and set me back on the bike. He will hold onto me once again, steadying me, saying to me "you can do it, just keep on pedaling," and I will do it. I will soar off again, knowing that He is there, right there, always with me. I will go where He directs, do whatever work He has for me to do, and trust that He is who He says He is.

God is so Good to me. His Love and Mercy endure forever.

May 13, 2010

The Oreo Cookie

The other day while I was doing the dishes and praising the Lord (not sure why those two go hand-in-hand, but they do), this thought popped into my head: "the Lord gives us what we need and not what we want." I was actually praying through some troubling information, details that were sticky and not easy to process, when I started thinking about how the Lord handles our needs.

Often, we ask Him to solve or fix a specific need -- akin to a child asking his mother for a cookie. In my case, I happen to really love Oreo cookies. These are my favorites (and Do-Si-Dos), and I try and keep a bag around all the time. I was cleaning the left-overs out of the carton when I thought about an Oreo, how it is a specific kind of cookie, and that is sort of represented how we speak with God.

When we are in crisis mode (as I have been), we tend to line up our list of "needs" and bring them to the Lord. They generally are petitions put to the Lord as such: "Lord, please fix this need. Please change this situation. Please resolve this tension;" or "Lord, I need a car (been there, done that one!) or a Job (ditto!)" They are generally requests for the Lord to intervene on our behalf and move mountains out of our way. Sometimes they are specific as in my request for a car. Other times, they are more about a change of heart or emotion, something internal, rather than an actual thing.

The point here is that regardless of whether they are a thing or an internal change request, they are tiny, when compared to the scope and complexity of our Lord's ability. They are gnats to Him, the "no see-um" types of little nuisance bugs that drive us all crazy. It is not that God doesn't care about our needs, but it is more that our needs are so small and He is so big, that really they are of no concern to Him (in the fulfillment aspect). God can breath the stars into place, therefore, He can provide food, shelter and clothing to you. Our requests are nothing to Him, and they are already accounted for, promised and delivered to us. So instead of just giving us what we want, God instead teaches us how to live with what we have and then enables us to use our abilities empowered by His Grace to accomplish His will.

As I thought about my Oreo analogy, this is what came through to me: God doesn't give us the Oreo, instead He teaches us how to become cookie makers and bakers. He enables us to use the skill and training we have received to not only help ourselves but to help others. He still gives us the cookie we ask for, sometimes the very flavor we desire. He will always grant us our request so long as it is asked for with the correct intention. We just get more than we asked Him for -- we get teaching and training and enabling and building and empowering -- everything we need to handle the situation at present and for the coming future.

As parents, how many times have we said to our child, "No, you may not have a cookie now. It is almost dinner time." Our child may not like to hear that answer, but as parents we know what is best. We typically allow them a cookie when the time is better -- perhaps at snack time or before bed. God does the same thing with us. He is not cold-hearted and unfeeling. He withholds some things for our good. He gives other things to us right away. It is all about a Loving Parent choosing the time and the opportunity to bless His Children with His Good Gifts.

May 12, 2010

Listening to the Spirit of God

Today, as I sat at my computer and listened to what I consider the saddest and most wrenching music I have heard (yet, of course!), a thought popped into my heading asking me: "what is this music saying to you?" As I contemplated it, I listened again, twice in fact. The first time, I thought about the melody, and then the second time, I listened particularly close to the instruments. It was as if they were speaking to me, singing a song that only I could hear. The piece of music, in case you want to listen to it is from the movie, The Mission. It is called Gabriel's Oboe, and was written by Italian composer Ennio Morricone. I have the music he wrote for Yo Yo Ma, a more elaborate cello version than what is in the movie. It is poignant and moving, that is all I can say. I also googled You Tube and found the actual video clip from the movie (I never saw it). I sat there watching that clip and had tears streaming down my face. Powerful and gripping, that is all I can say.

Now back to the part about listening, really listening to the music speak to you. As you know, I am learning to play the cello. I am an early intermediate player, progressing well, but not to the point where I want to be yet. I love the cello, I love the voice of the cello. Someone once said that the cello most closely approximates a human's singing voice, and I agree. The cello, especially when singled out as a solo instrument clearly sounds like someone singing. Yo Yo Ma or any number of outstanding cellists do it justice -- they bring the beauty and personality out of the cello, and they make it sound like heaven itself (well, to me, anyway).

As I sat here listening and then crying through this music -- it moves my heart so much -- given that I have a relationship with it now (and knowing both the movie and the actual history the movie was based on). I cannot help but link the two together in harmony with the Words of God:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:

“ Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;

The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

The voice said, “Cry out!”
And he said, “What shall I cry?”
“All flesh is grass,
And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.”
~Isaiah 40:3-8

To me this music represents the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, calling the people to prepare the way for the Lord. The voice is the Holy Spirit of God speaking, calling all people to repent and turn back to God. It is a warning, but it is a cry (a war cry, a battle cry -- not a harsh judgment), a cry to be received and to be replied.

God, the Holy Spirit, calls out to us today and begs us to listen to His voice. He longs for us to return to the Father, to receive the Son, and be forgiven and restored to our rightfully and created position as children of the Almighty One. Yet, no one listens; no one hears His voice.

As has just been said:
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion."
~Hebrews 3:15

Oh, that we would listen for His sweet and melodious voice and turn toward Him. Let us not harden our hearts and turn away as the Israelites did in the rebellion.