Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Losing Out on His Love. Psalms 105:4 Seek His Face Always.

Its been awhile since I have posted. Not sure what to call it other than a "break", a catharsis, a mistake. Because for awhile I have neglected my relationship with God. I have kept him in my heart drawing on his strength in difficult times but not putting my effort and time into this relationship. There were many excuses, an illness, a death in the family, job issues, etc. etc. etc. It wasn't only the attending church issue, I went from a daily bible study and devotional time with God to next to no time with God, and its a wonder to me that it happens so quickly and without my attention.

I could beat myself up for it, could get discouraged and feel bad but God is a forever friend. He does leave us simply because we have become lazy or neglectful. When we are ready to come back to him, his arms are wide open, welcoming us home.

I have missed out though. That time away from him, have left me with an emptiness and I want it back. I have talked to non believers through the years, and sometimes wonder if I could ever walk away. If I could accept my inability to keep up with the relationship. The answer is no. God has given to me an unconditional love again, and again, and again. My life is a testimony. Miracles abound, and to know that, to have that proof reminds me that its time to get back on track.

If there is someone out there who has been there, or is there, I encourage you to know that with God, there is always hope. When you let him in to your life, when you accept his Son as your Saviour, he grabs hold of your heart and never lets you go. Simply get on your knees and talk to him. His arms are wide open, his heart is yours. He will always be there.

This devotional arrived in my inbox today. I think God was talking to me!

If you're not choosing to spend regular time with God, then you're choosing to die spiritually.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This is What I Know. Jeremiah 9 11:13

"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans for hope and a future. If you seek me you will find me, when you seek me with all of your heart". This is my hearts verse. I am proof of a loving God who doesn't make mistakes, who loves unconditionally and who will never leave me or forsake me.

At one time, were just words to be applied, to memorize, to practice. They held little meaning at one time, and yet I latched on to them finally deciding that in order to experience God I had to let him in. I had to believe all of the bible, all of what it said. The more I began to change my way of thinking, the more that I began to notice God's hands on me, guiding me, changing me, nudging me to be better, stronger, more of a participant in this life here.

I am not perfect. This I know for sure. I make mistakes, I walk off the path a bit, but I catch myself more frequently, get back on the path. I fall in and out of letting God hold the reins and taking the reins in my hands all by myself, but this is what I know. I am proof of what God can do in our lives IF WE LET HIM.

It's not a one sided relationship where we ask and God Answers, it takes work to get to know God. Sometimes very hard work and sometimes he comes to us in our weak moments and shows his grace on us regardless of our mistakes. We are not mistakes in God's eyes, and its such a relief to know that he never leaves us.

Recently I have been challenged in my thoughts and actions. I was in a trench of sorts, trying to dig myself out. Trying to determine my life on my terms. A vendor to our company came in to the office today and he began to share an uncertainty that he was dealing with in his life. I could hear the angst, the pain, the sadness, the discomfort. I prayed to God for patience in listening to him and guidance as to what to say. I was reminded of my own journey and I told him that he should try to enjoy being in the trench for awhile because it means that God is working hard with us to lead us to a blessing we can't even begin to imagine. I firmly believe that sometimes we have to wallow in "Stuff", we have to feel sadness, discomfort, pain in order to grow as Christians.

As I said it I was reminded "Okay God, I am listening", that perhaps I should follow my own guidance. Perhaps I need to settle in for the ride a bit and that I am not alone. God is with me always, and he knows the plan that he has for me. How wonderful it is to know that he took the time to select the perfect plan for his child. I don't know about you, but to me its as if he holds me in his arms all the time. He never lets go, and the more I listen and let him in, the more my plan unfolds.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grief...Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 A time for Everything...

This week a friend of ours son died of multiple wounds from 2 pit bulls. He was trying to protect a smaller dog from harm and the dogs turned on him. He was a young 20 year old. A kind gentle young man with a huge heart and a wonderful sense of humor. We attended his funeral yesterday and I sat there watching two grieving parents bury their son. The church was filled with over 200 family, friends, friends of family. The sadness, tears, agony, despair was all around us. My husband hesitated about going at first but in the end he knew it was something he had to do. He was worried about what to wear. I told him, "It won't matter what you wear, it will matter that you are there". I was surprised to see the level of support, the range of ages, the different ways of paying respect. It was a Catholic service and I was unfamiliar with the traditions, but I was sure of one thing. God was there.

The Priest said two things that stood out to me. 1) That we often question if the deceased is in heaven. He reminded us that God chose us. 2) The second was that the more the extreme suffering the greater the room for love.

Many were asking "Why God? Why Carter?" I asked What God? What are we to learn here, How will our lives change?" This morning this burden of sadness was still with me. I was tearful, tired, emotional, and I took off on a hiking trail along the water and contemplated this with God. And here were his answers to me.

I have often questioned two things in my relationship with God. This unconditional love that he offers us and the thought that perhaps I don't truly understand what love is or what it feels to love unconditionally. In our humaneness we struggle with unconditional love and if we are honest that sometimes we get so angry with a spouse or child that if even for the briefest moment, our feelings change, and we wonder. Our love is challenged. We may have favorite friends who we care for more, or siblings that we just get along better with, and sometimes we question whether we are truly loving people if we can have such negative thoughts.

But in sight of death, unconditional love emerges. We forget the past, the bad choices, hurtful words, idiosyncrasies of the person who is now gone. I think its because at the moment Jesus takes over in our lives and our hearts are pure. It is in those moments that we are given God's greatest gift. His son Jesus Christ.

It's hard to say how many lives will change from this ordeal. Some may walk away from God feeling the need to blame him for taking this young man so soon. Some may draw closer to him because they know that life is too short. I do not know. Some may find Jesus. And Carter will have the glory of viewing it from Jesus's viewpoint.

I am sure that another life lesson I was to learn from this is that its important that we stop and take time to pour out God's love to everyone we come in contact with. That our mission from God is to Love Him and to Love Others. Those are the two greatest commandments. We sometimes get caught up in daily tasks neglecting what is important. On that dreadful day, no one knew that in the afternoon this young man would be gone. No one knew.

In the midst of great suffering, great love will emerge. Let your love shine through the eyes of Jesus Christ. A wonderful prayer was read during the service and I will print it tomorrow. I think it is a wonderful testament to what can lie ahead for all of us. It is all in God's time. Not ours. Life on earth is short. Live in the present.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bible Verse Challenge...

I had an "aha" moment with God today and usually a verse comes to mind, or I see it on a license plate or I turn right to it in the bible, but today nothing came. I know it will, he teaches me that way, but I thought rather than wait for the verse why not share my story with you while I wait for his voice. Perhaps he wants the verse to come to me from you. Someone will find this blog, and know the exact verse that applies to me and the lesson. But if not now, I know it will come.

I have so often agonized over my job, I wake thinking about it, I argue it out in my head, I anticipate problems before they happen and even though they usually do and I am always prepared when they come, I find that its not the most healthy place to be. First it takes me away from quiet time with God, Second, it gets me all riled up about the job and I become obsessed with the job and forget about all that surrounds me.

Today God told me that work is to take 8 hours. After that, its my time. Time with my family, my friends, my husband. I devote 8 hours of strong, hard steady work to my job, and then that is it. The rest of the time is time spent on me, my relationship with God, my relationship with my family. Work will have to wait.

For me, this was a jolt to my daily routine of waking up, thinking about what lies ahead, feeling miserable and not wanting to go in, blah, blah, blah. Today I approached it differently. I owe them 8 focused hours. That is it. So on the way home, my husband and I talked about other things, made plans for our vacation, cooked dinner together.

I came home and didn't check my emails, and it is a little difficult breaking the habit, but I turned off the blackberry, we ate dinner on time, I was able to sort through some mail, make my husband's lunch. I had more energy, more time for me, more time for us. I was even friendlier.

I seem to have lost track of what was important. The job pays the bills. The title, the pay, the status means nothing to the Lord all he wants is a relationship with me. He wants me to put my priorities in other places. Places I have neglected. Its going to be an interesting journey over the next few weeks. I know its all part of his plan. It's so exciting to have someone so focused on me as his child. And we all can have that relationship with him. We can all let it go and let him do his work in us.

You know some might shy away from or ignore the lessons that God has for us, or even his plans. But lately I have found that by sitting still, listening to him, doing my best to hear and follow his direction is well worth the investment. Less stress, more time, more peace. A restful place to land.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

If you feed your emptiness with addictions, you will starve to death...Luke: Chapter 9

My addiction for the longest time was alcohol. And if you read past posts of mine you will know that God took that addiction away. To me, its my own miracle. I had suffered with my drinking, but when I laid it down desperately in front of God and begged him to remove it, he did, free and clear, on September 11, almost two years ago. Luke Chapter 9 talks of God feeding thousands with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. He fills every hungry soul. Isn't that the most beautiful guarantee? How do we accept that into our lives? Remind ourselves that we are his. We don't need to be fed by material wants and needs. He fills every hungry soul.

I don't struggle with alcohol any longer but there are other addictions I deal with: Spending, Shopping, Over eating, procrastination, relationships.

Today while praying and in conversation with God and wondering why I always find myself in this predicament it occurred to me that I have substituted one addiction for another. Why? I asked? Its not like I just happened upon overspending. I have done it for years. But my overspending has now become a focal point now that the alcohol has been removed. The layers of addiction are peeling away like an onion and each layer removed helps me see further into my soul and my relationship with God.

We can't fill the emptiness with food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, (Fill in the blank). We know the list of things that keep us from growing, from being the best we can be. Only God can fill the empty space, only God can take away the fear, the doubts, the uncertainty. Its a struggle some days. Me, I just want to believe that I can handle it, that I don't need anyone. But the more I rely on God, the more I realize I need him all. I need all of him in me. The Holy Spirit can be a powerful defense against the challenges and struggles of this world. If we would just let him. Are you struggling with something today? If so, know that you are loved. God loves you and he has a plan. He can and he will fill the emptiness with more love than you can possibly imagine. It's Him we need, it's his Son Jesus Christ. I believe this with all that I am.

I am rich in Christ.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Gossip Girls and Boys Ephesians 4:29

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." I told you yesterday God is leading me in this area so it came as no surprise when I came across this verse.

I have over the years participated in GOSSIP. Good and bad, hurtful, behind the back gossip of any kind is detrimental not only to the people involved but to building a stronger relationship with God. Its hard to remember that when we are hurt or upset with someone, jealous or angry, those thoughts and feelings are against one of God's children. Christian or not...Buddhist, athiesist, Muslim, we are all God's children. Chinese, African American, Spanish...you get the idea...we are all God's Children. Tall, short, fat, alcoholic, addict. We are all God's children.

So, when we have negative thoughts we are not only hurting relationships but hurting God as well. He aches when he hears us and when we particpate. Over the years I have removed myself from those opportunities, but every once in awhile, I walk into a situation where someone is talking about someone else. My reaction is to listen without saying words, or in some cases to offer another point of view. In any event I am still participating. It takes courage to say..."This is gossip and not healthy for the organization, community, church". Sometimes its uncomfortable and I feel as though by commenting in that fashion I won't be liked any more. It's a difficult task for me but one that I feel I need to work on.

Watch your self over the next month, how many times do you find yourself drawn into a situation where you know the conversation is being heard by God and he is aching over it? Think about how you can change the world one conversation at a time by ending the conversation or making others aware of the damage it is causing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Psalm 37:7 Rest In the Lord...

"Rest in the Lord and be willing to wait for Him. Do not trouble yourself when all goes well with the one who carries out his sinful plans."

Yesterday, work had my full attention. People were protecting themselves by blaming others for what was done wrong, while the boss simply wanted a new process to avoid mistakes. One worker plays dumb as if bored with the meeting, another states that "when she did it, there was never any problem" and here I sit taking on new responsiblities because of an unfilled position and its adiministrative. Here I am a hard worker, willing to work, willing to learn, and with all my years of experience frustrated that I am stuck doing the adiministrative work and on top of it, no one wantes to take on additional responsilibity so they play dumb.

Coming home from work last night God spoke to me and told me to "Just Be Still", they are not in control. Not one of them. God is.

I then realized that I was weathering a storm. I had been moved to part-time, and now I am back full time. Patience paid off. God is in control. And he may only want me here temporarily.

Its not about who is doing what, who did what, what didn't get done. It's about doing the work. As my Dad always says "If you aren't happy, leave! But NEVER NEVER leave a job without another one." So for now I am here.

I have to stop worrying about what the other person is doing, thinking, acting. If they are acting in a sinful way, in God's time, things will change. We all have lessons to learn. We are all his children. This to me seems to be the hardest lesson for me to learn and perhaps its why it keeps coming up as a topic of conversation between me and God.

He wants me to leave him in the driver seat, not try to take control of the wheel, not try to do things my way, but rest in the Lord.

Are you like me? Do you sometimes wonder why people get away with things? Do you wonder when it will be their turn? When will they learn their lesson?

It's not our debate. Thank God that he doesn't apply all the lessons I need to learn all at one time on the same day! Could you imagine?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Different Perspectives

God is quite involved in my life, and the more I let him, the more I learn and grow. If you have been following my journey you will know that its been quite the roller coaster ride for me. I was just offered full time status back at my office for the next three months. I was asked back because another employee was let go for not representing the company well. It was a tremendous shock to me because I had felt that this person was a hard worker. I had seen the work this person was doing. I felt bad, but also I was relieved for my situation. I questioned God asking why I was getting this gift at someone else's expense. I was confused, frustrated, saddened. I wanted to solve this problem, make it better for the person. In so doing, I would then be jeopardizing my own current circumstance.

When I became part time God told me to be still, be patient. And I tried my best to do that. I did not get involved with the turmoil. I paid attention to the task at hand and even though that was very hard for me it did get easier.

Two weeks back to full time I stumbled upon some emails this former employee had written and was shocked to find that she had been talking about me behind my back. Her perspective was that my part time status was a good thing for me, and bad for her. She was getting all of my work. Here I was struggling to accept this drastic change and cut in pay, and this person felt put upon.

The sad part about it all was that I believed we were becoming friends. I had been there for her quite often and I felt she was becoming that kind of friend to me. I was wrong.

But the lesson here for me has been that at times when I am feeling put upon, treated unfairly and depressed, that there are others with different perspectives on the same situation. Perhaps neither perspective is wrong, perhaps both are childish and insensitive to the other. Regardless, God continues to work with us right where we are. He has one perspective, and when we dwell too much on our selves, we get away from his plan, his mission, his perspective.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Finding Solace with God in my Isolation...

Today I was laying in bed, caught between the time of actually being up and still dreaming. Its this quiet morning time when God gets my attention and I can hear him so clearly. He has been leading me these past few weeks into places I am not always comfortable. Places, thoughts, ideas, dreams that I have closed off, and have chosen not to think about. Lately the question has been "How did I get here? Where is the girl that I once was, or was I ever that girl? Or was I pretending until I was what I thought everyone wanted me to be?" Gently he has let me have these negative thoughts, gently he has led me out of the despair I was feeling. This morning he gave me one word, one thought. Isolation. The idea that I have been isolating myself. Isolating myself from people, activities, events. Shutting everyone out, shutting myself down, and setting up my environment so that it would be difficult for people to get in.

I was surprised by that, but it was true. I have isolated myself from feeling, living, being. My church attendance had become sporadic, my time out of the house less spontaneous and less tied to activities that help to define me. I had become the work, home, work, home person, gaining weight, become less and less physical, canceling time with friends. I was isolating myself so much, that the worse it got, the harder it might become to get myself out of it.

But that is where God steps in. You can't isolate yourself from God and seek him at the same time. I was still seeking him, still looking for answers to my questions, and he has never left me or forsaken me. He stays with us through the turmoil, and he continues to prod, push, move us gently as we make this journey, always closer to him.

So where does this road lead? For now its a slow process. Listening to him, stepping out a bit more, challenging my old ways of thinking and not being afraid to sit in the solace of isolation. It is here where I meet him each day now, listening to his whisper, being obedient to his direction. I am here in this place for a reason, his reason, and rather than creating activity around myself to feel less isolated, I think there is a much bigger lesson that is going to come from this. God is good, and sometimes its in the turmoil that we become better people.

If you find yourself filled with doubt, negative thoughts, insecurity, loneliness, ask God to show you his presence. Give it all to him and let him work the wonder of your life.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking...Psalm 90:17

Creative Thinkers think a lot, about a great deal of things...all of the time. Lately I have been thinking about my job path, what I want to do with the rest of my life, how I want to do it. This morning during prayer time so much was running through my head. The more those ideas run, the less I move. The circle goes round and round and nothing ever gets completed or finished. It becomes overwhelming. And that is not God at work. God is not about confusion, frustration, guilt, doubt. So I prayed. I have said in earlier posts that since my reduction in hours, I have really had a sense of peace about it. That God knew this was going to happen and wants me to use this time to find my resting place. My passion, my strength, my own success. But at the same time, this mind keeps going jumping from one idea to the other and God works at slowing me down giving me time to think, process.

So in my prayer time I decided I knew what I wanted. I want to have God as my boss all the time. I want to run his company with the highest level of honor and respect for the people it employs whether it be one person or 500. I want the company to be God honoring in all it does. Recession Proof. I don't want to be rich by monetary standards. I am rich already. I want to be healthy. I want to treat people in an honoring way. It then occurred to me that all these "things" that have been happening, have been used to teach me to care for others beyond the normal way of caring. It doesn't matter how others act, it matters how I act, how I respond, how I treat people.

I was in tears by the time I ended that prayer. And I randomly opened the book to this verse:

"May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
Establish the work of our hands for us;
yes, establish the work of our hands"

Isn't that beautiful? To know that we can seek God for Everything. He can be Owner and President of our lives and guide us even to the point of determining the work that we do, and how we do it. Its amazing to me as I move through my business plan, life plan, choices I make, that I keep meeting others in the same place. Reaching out to God. Today a woman I met on the crafting site ETSY was emailing me about some work she is doing for me. I had asked her how she got started and she said, "I prayed about it". All around me the Lord is speaking. To me, through the words of others, and to you through the people you meet. Today I choose to start listening more. What verse has moved you lately? What verse was a clear answer to your questions?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Listening to God...Malachi 4:2

When I first made a personal commitment to God and accepted Christ as my Saviour it was only 12 years ago. I had grown up in church, learned all about God, been confirmed, but I didn't get it. It wasn't until 12 years ago where I wanted to understand, wanted something more, and knew that it was through a relationship with God. And when I did, everything changed. Sometimes it was rather difficult, sometimes things turned upside down and there were times when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. I went through comparing my spirituality to how others heard God, and how others prayed, and how others sought God in their lives. How he spoke to them, how they heard them. My life was a constant comparison. I thought God was speaking to me, but it didn't seem as powerful as others talked about. I knew he was there guiding and prodding me or making me think of something and yet, I still doubted that it was him.

There have been a series of challenges I have faced with God, alcoholism in my family, my own alcoholism, rape, divorce, depression, life's challenges, and through all the years looking back I began to see his work in my life, his hands on me, I couldn't doubt it anymore. It made no sense to challenge it or think it was my own actions, my own doing. It made more sense to be thankful. To accept it. And so I began my journey of praise. Praise for everything that God brought to me. Praise for the challenges that were going to make me stronger, praise for the joy, the sadness, the good, the bad. Praise for it all. And my relationship with God became one of wonder. I look and see things differently. I have a sense of wonder about what is possible through God, what he can do in our lives, who he can touch through us and with us. I can and more often have peace in even the most difficult of circumstances. I am not saying that I always get it right, that every day is a good day because it isn't. But I can in the course of the turmoil reflect back on all of my interactions with God and know that together we can get through this one, we can climb that mountain, reach that peak, climb over the hill, walk around or go over the obstacle.

So, last night as I approached my 50th birthday, I was feeling a little low, a little emotional, a little sorry for myself. I don't think it had anything to do with turning 50, but everything to do with basing my life and my success on my job. I had let my job define me again, and again, I had been let down. As you know my hours were reduced to part time. I was no longer a success in my eyes. And yet, when it happened, I felt God's presence telling me it was okay, this was where he wanted me. And I began to doubt. Last night it all culminated into a tear fest.

At about midnight I awoke to the most melodious sound imaginable outside my window of our townhouse. We don't live way out in the country, where noises are to be expected. We live in the suburbs, in a townhouse community just outside the city. The bird was singing so beautifully and all I could think of was "what type of bird sings at midnight"? I couldn't sleep as this bird sang, and sang, and sang...I tried closing the window but it was swollen shut, my husband snoring next to me couldn't hear a thing. At 2:00am this nutty bird was still singing joyfully. You would think at that moment I embraced the joyful little miracle? Clearly a message from God!! NOT. I was tired, I wanted sleep. It wasn't until this morning that I saw the significance.

The next morning I got up determined to figure out what the bird was doing, what bird sings that late at night. Well, its a mockingbird. And believe it or not it holds very symbolic meaning in the many cultures. It was no surprise as I read that he symbolized adaptability, going with the flow, and finding your inner gifts. (Mockingbird) can also help you find your “sacred song” or your life’s purpose and helps you realize your inner talents. Mockingbird will help you act on it without fear.”

The evening before this wonderful song, a red capped woodpecker came to our bird feeder. We have never had one in our back yard and he came back three times. In researching the symbols of all birds, I learned that the Woodpecker symbolizes: tenacity, patience and straightforward actions. My favorite bird is the cardinal, and I come across that bird all the time. In fact, it was one of the first photos I took that I have cherished again right in my front yard. What do you think it symbolizes? He adds balance to life and shows that everything we do is important.

I know that God used my love for nature and the great outdoors to get his message through to me. He sent a beautiful birthday song at midnight to remind me of his power and love for me. He took my love of birds and my curiosity in finding out what bird would sing at midnight to give me the opportunity to read up and hear him through the reading. He gave me renewed hope on the wings of birds.

Four birds have been very visible to me over the past few months, the Eagle, the Cardinal, The Woodpecker and the Mockingbird. And they all brought messages of hope, a challenge to "Go For It' and Let Go and Let God.

"But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings." God is all around us, and we just have to listen for him to reach us in the way that works for us. Its not the same for everyone, his still small voice to me comes in the way of words, nature, and song. When in prayer time, I often feel as though I can't block everything out to let him in, so he comes to me when I am not trying so hard to hear him. He speaks to me in a way that I can comprehend and understand and through it all, I grow closer to him.

How do you hear God? Are you paying attention?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

He who has been forgiven little, loves little. Luke 7:47

Over the past week as I drive to work there is statement posted in front of a nearby church that says "Prayer is the key to morning and lock at night". It speaks to every time I drive by it, and it occurred to me that I AM A PRAYING WOMAN! I pray every morning and I am thankful every night. I made a promise to God over 2 years ago about a certain situation in my life. If he got me through it, I would honor him each and every day by being committed to the healing. He did, and I do. But what is so amazing here, is the difference that morning and night time prayer make in my daily routine called life. Sometimes the prayer may be a simple "Thank you God for this life" and other times it may be a litany of all the doubts I have, all the fears, all the troubles. To me it has become more than prayer but a relationship with a dear dear friend, mentor, teacher, leader.

Lately though my thoughts have been a jumble. I am in an unsettled place and it has been said that this is when God is working on you the most. The discomfort, the frustration, the turmoil is not what God intends or wants but it is there because I need to work through it. I need to let go and let God. This morning I came to him with my fears. I want to give it all to him, all the fear, but I also know that much of this I have created myself. It seems to me that I don't deserve his help, nor am I worthy of it. It seems to me that I have to do the work, I have to get up and get moving. There is a certain level of responsibility we all have to correcting or changing our behavior, our actions, our thoughts, words and deeds. For example, if we don't pay our bills, do we expect God to write the check, put it in the mail? No, we have to do the work, we have to mail the bill.

If we don't pay our taxes, will God wipe away the debt? No, its our responsibility to pay the taxes, to fulfill our obligations. We can't wait for God to do the work. But we must seek him for direction, guidance, support IN EVERYTHING WE DO. We must search his words and seek his answers.

So I was reading my bible study and came across this verse: "He who has been forgiven little, loves little". As you read this you might wonder, where in the heck is she going with this? Honestly, I don't quite know, but I do know God has a message for me in this. I am a praying woman. My sins have been forgiven. What right do I have to deny that I have been forgiven for all my sins? It was and is a glorious gift from God, and therefore I have been forgiven much. That means I am loved ALOT. That means I love ALOT. Its kind of a revelation to me. I can't sit in my mess and feel sorry about my predicament. I should not feel alone and helpless when things go awry. I do have God to lean on. It comes down to believing that we are worthy of God's love. We may not always deserve it, but we are his children and he loves us MUCH. We therefore must love much. Love Ourselves, Take Care of Ourselves, and Love others.

So what is the mess? Well, like so many other people, my job has been reduced to part time. I am hurt, feeling unloved, unappreciated, and sorry for myself. I am angry and resentful, and have now begun the process of blaming myself, as if I have done something wrong. Many of us are in this situation today and many of us may not get through the pain it causes. I feel lost and unsure of what to do next. I feel the need "to get out of this" and yet, God is saying, "give this all to me". And I am saying: "But I got myself into this Lord, I have to do the work".

Yes, there is work that needs to be done in my life. Yes, I am going to have to be obedient. But I have been forgiven much. I am loved ALOT. A year from now, as I look back on this journey, I am going to miss this. So perhaps I will work at enjoying the process, the turmoil, the uncertainty. GOD Knows what the future holds, and he has been so very good to me.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Last Supper: John 13: 21

As they shared the last supper, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me". I have often pondered this statement, wondering why in all his knowing, Jesus continued to love the betrayer, continued to let him into his inner circle, continued to accept and treat him as he did all his disciples? He didn't tell what he knew, he didn't take it to a higher court, he didn't argue with Judas, he just knew.

I have been quite trusting in all my years here on earth. I have believed that people are inherently good, I have trusted what I was told and embraced everyone I came in to contact with. I have shared my story, my life experiences openly and honestly understanding that the information could be used against me. At times it has been and at times people have learned from my experiences, relied on my strength of character. Often times people have suggested I am foolish to be so trusting. Wondered why I share my life like an open book. I think I have always felt that as an open book, I couldn't ever be hurt because I wasn't hiding anything from anyone. There are no surprises. What you see is what you get.

Lately, I have wondered about the word "Friendship". I have struggled with knowing people with all their faults, knowing they may hurt me, and loving them anyway. I fear that I am becoming less trusting, less willing to let people in. Tired of being the one that everyone turns to for strength and goodness, and then being disappointed when they don't reciprocate. And yet, here was Jesus, knowing he was about to die, by someone he trusted, mentored and supported so willingly. Someone who he had "let in". It's remarkable to me. To be able to watch it unfold. By the time he was crucified, he knew that he would be betrayed, denied 3 times, rejected, and more. And yet, he loved them anyway.

Should we expect more from the people that we embrace? Or should we simply give as God requests of us, without expectation? While Jesus let him in, he certainly didn't trust him as he knew he was going to betrayed. Is it possible to love someone, include them and yet not trust them? For me, they go hand in hand. Trust has to be a part of the equation. Doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ephesians 4:15 Speak the Truth in love

Today a friend of mine that I felt was becoming a good friend let me down. First she lied to me about something so unnecessary which caused me to doubt her sincerity, and then today she laughed about a situation at work and when I disagreed with the behavior she became childish and almost demanding, finally walking away and saying "Whatever". I so badly wanted the last word, I was angry, frustrated and she was blowing me off. I knew I was right and when I took it to God I was still angry and was seeking his guidance on how to handle it. But I wasn't willing to let it go. I wanted to be heard, to be listened to. I was mad. Very mad. I simply couldn't understand how someone who was standing there with a full time job, after I had just been given part time status could laugh at the thought no one in the company was volunteering to take on extra work to get us through a tough time. How could anyone who cared about their job, the customers, the company think that not wanting to help, that being difficult would be funny? And how could the company choose that attitude of a person over me?

To add fuel to the fire, rather than coming in to talk it through she pleasantly said goodnight, and left a little note of encouragement on my desk with some scripture she found that she thought would help me through this hurtful time. In addition, she went to my boss and told her that perhaps I was hurting and not taking it very well. Arrrgh, I think I am still angry.

This all led to a fight with my husband for not being sensitive, and finally a long tearful drive towards the river where I could sit, listen to music and hear God. Only he wasn't speaking too loudly and my anger was drowning him out. But he stayed with me, comforted me and reminded me that he is always with me. He I can count on.

So right now I am not really sure what this is all about. I know I was lied to, and I know that while her intention was not to harm, she did hurt me. She broke my trust in what I thought we were building. And perhaps that is where the hurt is.

I am trying to figure out how to handle this one, and in my bible study tonight God lea me to Ephesians 4:15. Speak the truth in love. That requires us to speak directly to people. Not go around them to others, but to approach them with the truth and with love. I am not quite there yet. I struggle with the desire to want to speak my peace. Wanting her to apologize without me having to take the first step. Wanting her to be the one who grows in the process and perhaps teaches me. Not take the cowardly way out by writing words rather than meeting me head on face to face so we can talk it out. I know that sounds selfish, but aren't we all at times? I know that by following God's plan, doing his will, I will grow in the process and most of the time, that makes it all okay. But sometimes its hard to do the right thing, be the better person. Sometimes I feel out of place. I wonder if my thoughts are correct. And then I am reminded of Jesus and how out of place he must have felt. And I wonder how he could keep one of his disciples in his group knowing that he would betray him. I don't think it was in line with "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer" strategy that many of us learn in business. I think it was because he saw the bigger picture. He let go and let God not caring what others thought or saw or determined, but caring about what his father thought. Can you imagine knowing that you are going to be betrayed, and letting it play out as God intended?

My prayer tonight: Heavenly Father, Lord God. Thank you for letting me be human. For giving me the space for anger, hurt, doubt and disappointment. You have a plan for me and right not its bigger than I can see. I trust you Lord and I know that this is all part of your plan. Help me Lord to grow stronger from this, show me how you want me to respond, and let me do it with love and truth.

I want to be obedient to you Lord, and will do what you ask of me in your time, not mine. Amen

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Being Humble...Having Character...even while Hurting Job 39 1-30

Well, the part time status of my job begins April 15th, and its sometimes hard to not let my hurt feelings show. I want to shout "Why me God? What did I do to earn this difficult lesson?" I do have peace about it, but sometimes that little niggling thought enters my head and I find myself obsessing about the unfairness of it all. Today I am at our annual convention. I will come in contact with the Executive Committee, the Board of Directors - those people that are aware of my fate. I want, maybe even expect them to understand how valuable an employee I am and to tell the President "This was a BIG MISTAKE, GET HER BACK!" and then on the other hand I want to see what God does with this. The reality is that no one will probably say anything. Most people would rather believe that everything is okay, that I am okay with it, even when I know I am not okay with it all the time. That is the human side of me and GOD understands. Which makes it that much more peaceful. To me sometimes it seems like a dichotomy. The negative thoughts that sometimes creep up, the insecurity, the Why mes??? compared to the sense of Peace, Joy and Inspiration that comes from this blind space that I am standing on right now getting ready to take God's lead.

This morning I happened on to the The Lord's Challenge to Job. "Who gave the horse its strength, he commands? Did you give the locust the ability to leap forward? Are you the one who makes the hawk soar, and spread its wings to the south?" He asks. Who am I to question the almighty God just because things don't go my way? Rather than complain I need to consider how much he loves me. Complaining blocks out the sight and sound of God, it leaves no room for him to reveal his greater purposes for me. My challenge is recognizing that it may unfold during the course of my life and not at the moment I desire.

I am reminded of a verse from a song by Casting Crowns:

Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt
Who am I, that the Bright and Morning Star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart

Not because of who I am
But because of what You've done
Not because of what I've done
But because of who You are

I don't have all the answers. And when I spend my time looking for them on my own, rather than seeking God's direction, I become wrapped up in a "poor me" mentality and in that place I accomplish nothing.

Lord, I want to seek you in all I do. I am going into an uncomfortable place this week where people know my situation and to my face will act as though everything is right. Help me to honor you in my actions, words and deeds. To think positively and in anticipation of the purpose you have for me and the growth that will come from my submission to your will.

I love you God.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I have stilled and quieted my soul...Psalm 131

Well, the day came and while I thought the worst would be a lay off, I was given a pay cut and reduced hours to part time. Have you ever felt like you were outside your body watching yourself react? I can honestly say that I was calm, responded with care, character and integrity and accepted my fate. From the beginning I had this sense of peace. I was confident in my abilities, did not feel threatened by my pay reduction or in responsibilities. But at the same time, while I had peace, my mind was spinning out of control. There was this fear of the possible. I have been working 50+ hours a week, taking on more and more responsibility and now I have one responsibility, a 30% paycut, and a 20 hour work week. The possible was the potential for God's plan for me. I now have no excuses. I need to be patient and wait for his direction.

I know as I look at myself, that this is an opportunity, an actual blessing from God. I can't tell you why I feel that way, but I know it. I have the chance to reinvent myself. I have the opportunity to prove that I can survive anything put in front of me as long as I let God have the reins. I know that the top two people did what they had to do to protect themselves. And it doesn't matter. God knows too. And its his decision regarding how and why things happen. We are all his children. And we will all learn from this experience.

Psalm 131 is a psalm of contentment. Quiet trust in God. The verse that spoke to me: I have stilled and quieted my soul --helped me to see that pride results from overvaluing ourselves and undervaluing others. By realizing that we are all God's Children, then we all have the grace of God, his forgiveness. It doesn't make the attack to my person any easier, there is still the disappointment, anger, shame, embarrassment, even if undeserved. But I know that only blessings will come from it if I continue to honor God by seeking him in all I do. I no longer have to prove myself to others. Humility and trust will affect my perspective and give me the strength and freedom to serve God and others.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Be Still and Know That I am God...Psalm 46

Last year God made it very clear to me that I was to learn to "Be Still and Know that I am God". It was quite a challenge for me as I am never still about anything. In fact, if I can control it, I will. At times making the wrong decisions in spite of what I know. Rash decisions, faulty steps, and in the midst of this God was saying "Be still and know that I am God?" Was he joking? Yet every where I turned, with every decision I made, there was this still small voice saying "Be still, and know that I am God".

Today, the company I work for sent out an email saying each of its employees would be meeting on Tuesday with the boss individually and because of the economy we were going to have to cut back. Immediately the people affected in our small office began to talk, whisper actually. Was I getting laid off, are things really bad, how bad are they? The stomach began to churn and for about 30 minutes I felt ill, and then it came., the still small voice: "Be still and KNOW, that I am God". I sat there and listened, calmly letting the peace settle over me. Whatever happens tomorrow, the Lord God is in control, for HE knows the plans that he has for me. And while I of course will do my best to "BE still" if the worst were to happen, I am sure I may react irrationally, emotionally. But its not my plan right now. My plan right now is to handle it with grace and dignity because I know that he is God. And every day after today, and after the next is all part of his divine plan for me.

It's human to be emotional, and to react to a bad situation. But there is a sense of peace knowing that he knows. That he has a plan for me and that there is something much better in store for me.