Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Letting Go.....

I have been so honored and yes, amazed, at the number of people who have told me how blessed they are by my posts. And I have to say, that all the credit goes to God our Father. And I am so grateful to each of you for your kind words and encouragement. So I was wondering, could you return the favor? I need a few words of encouragement from those of you who have been where I am now.

You see, I am totally stressing out! Most of you are aware that I am a mother of five and even a grandmother. But I've never had to say "goodbye" to one of my children. While my two oldest boys are married and out of the house, they live close by and we see them often. And even if a couple weeks go by without seeing or hearing from them, I know that I can stop by or have them over for dinner anytime.

My third son, Mitchell, just graduated from high school and two weeks from today he leaves for Cleveland, Tennessee!! And the "mommy" in me is having a really hard time with this...

We were hoping to have him fly out with a friend who attends there, but that flight was unavailable to us. So I had to book him on another flight that's not a non-stop... he's going to have to change himself.

I was up until 2am this morning trying to find financing for the rest of his tuition. I don't get this.....there are all these websites that say there is "tons of money" out there for education, but I can't seem to find it. I cannot begin to tell you how many scholarship offers we have filled out! It's crazy!!! And so incredibly frustrating...

And you know what the craziest thing is???? As I'm sitting here typing this, feeling sorry for myself, crying into my Kleenex my play list below is playing. And the first thing I hear is...

"I will be still and know and know You are God".

And while I am trying to ignore that one, the next song comes on.

"I am not forgotten....He knows my name"

As I continue to type and spill out my woes to you, the next song comes on....

"Shake yourself loose from everything that binds you up!"

I guess while I was hoping to get pity and perhaps a few more Kleenex from some of you God decided to use what He has already given me to help me through this storm. God has reminded me to be still and know that He has all things under control. He has not forgotten us; He knows MY name and He knows Mitchell's name. Therefore, I will stand on His Word and shake loose from the fears that have tried to encamp around me. Mitchell is perfectly capable of doing this without me, because, in fact, he won't be alone. God is our provider. And all things, including the enemy, are under our feet!

But, if you think of us, please include us in your prayers...I still have to say goodbye; we still need provision for tuition, books and the miscellaneous items he will need for school.

And there will be that empty room downstairs....

Friday, July 23, 2010

From Traitor to Super Hero...

"How far has the LORD taken our sins from us?
   Farther than the distance from east to west!"
Psalm 103:12 (amp)

I'm a simple person, really. If you've read much of my writings you probably know that. God speaks to me in the simplest of things. 

Today was the last day of VBA (Vacation Bible Adventure) at our church.The theme this year was Heroes and my son, Mitchell (18) was part of the dramatic storyline that carried throughout the week. He was  Secret Agent 0011. I stopped in this morning to see the opening session and watch his skit. As the story unfolded, to my dismay, it was discovered that Agent 0011 had in fact been working all along for the bad guy...Mega Really Bad Dude. My son was a double agent and my mother's heart broke! But in the end, he did the right thing and became a Super Hero. I was so proud of him!

It was a simple story, and the kids all loved it. But what was interesting to watch during the course of the day was how Agent 0011 was treated by the children after that session. At the end of the day, the children were coming up to the actors and getting their autographs, and several of them would call Agent 0011.....traitor. Even though in the end, he realized the right thing to do and saved the city from Mega Really Bad Dude, what they remembered about him was who he was; not who he became. 

 "Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ 
(the Messiah) he is a new creation 
(a new creature altogether); 
the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] 
has passed away. 
Behold, the fresh and new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 (amp)

As I was driving home from the church today, thinking back on it all and feeling proud of the young man my son has become, I pondered  the story line and wondered if the children actually got it. I think they understood the concept of being a hero, but did they get the idea that once we come to Christ, we become different...a new person?

For that matter, do we get it?

How many times have talked about someone and said, "You know, the ex-drug addict" or "the ex-prostitute" or the "ex-whatever"?  And while we are so grateful for God's mercy and grace and the deliverance He has brought, we still describe them by what they were and not who they are creations in Christ.

If God has indeed separated our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west, then why do we act and treat each other as if they are still in our back pocket? They no longer define who we are. The redeeming work of Jesus' blood now defines us.

So, if like Agent 0011 you have been working in the past for the wrong side, so to speak, but have come to know and serve God, don't let the enemy remind you that you were once a traitor. You are a new creation. And greater is He who is within you, then he who is in the world....You are a Super Hero now!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fear vs. Dentist....

"But perfect love drives out fear..."
1 John 4:18

I have an irrational, totally unreasonable and unfounded fear of dentists. I have never had a bad experience with one...just don't like them! (I apologize to any dentists who are reading this; it's nothing personal, I assure you).

My whole life, I have had those ridiculous dreams that have me in some public place or party and suddenly all my teeth fall out. The weird thing is...nobody seems to notice. It's kind of like those dreams where you are the only one with no clothes on and no one cares or thinks it's odd. I'm not sure if I'm afraid of dentists because of the dreams, or if I have the dreams because I am afraid of the dentist.

I have been to the dentist three times in my life. The first time I was about six or seven years old and had a loose tooth that I wouldn't pull. So my mother decided to take me to the dentist, who informed her it wasn't ready to pull. Later that night...I pulled the tooth.

My second visit to the dentist occurred about 15  years later. I was on a lunch break from work and eating a piece of chicken. Something broke off the back of my bottom front tooth. I dreams had come true and my teeth were falling out! Turns out it was only plaque that had built up over 22 years. 

My third and final visit was about ten years later. My bottom right wisdom tooth began to fall apart. So, I took a deep breath and headed to the dentist. He simply pulled it and sent me on my way...still no cavities, mom!

Fast forward another 18 years (if you are good at math, you  now know how old I am). My left bottom wisdom tooth began to fall apart this past Memorial Day while we were visiting friends in Arizona. When we returned home I had things to to finish up school, Mitchell's graduation, anything else I could think of to put off the inevitable...another visit to the dentist.  

Last week, I finally went to the dentist. It was very obvious that I was anxious and well, afraid. He was very gentle in looking at my teeth, and yeah, mom...still no cavities. But that wisdom tooth has to come out. He could have simply pulled it....but he knew my fear. So,he decided that it was in my best interest to have me put completely under anesthetic to remove the tooth. So Monday I get to visit...the oral surgeon!

This may seem like a silly story, but it got me to thinking about fear. The thing about fear is, the more you give in to it, the bigger it becomes. It would be much simpler and easier to just have the tooth removed. But my fears have gotten the best of me, and so for my sake, and possibly for the dentists, it has become more complicated, more expensive and more anxiety ridden. often do we think we are protecting ourselves by letting our fear rule? If we play it "safe" we won't get hurt. We don't follow our dreams because we are afraid of failing. We don't follow our hearts because we are afraid of what people might think. We don't follow our calling because we are afraid we aren't good enough. We don't follow God's leading because.....we are afraid. 

What are we afraid of?

Have you ever sensed that you were supposed to go to someone and pray for them, but hesitate because you don't want them to think you are strange? Have you ever been sitting in church and felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to read a scripture or give an encouragement, but hesitate because... what if you're out of place? Do you feel like God has called you to the ministry but fear getting up in front of people? Has God placed in you a desire to sing but your fear of inadequacy holds you back? FEAR....

"What if I don't have what it takes? What if I fail?"
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (MSG) If God has it all planned out, and His only intent is to give us hope, then do we really think He would ask us to do something that would cause us to fail?

"The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1) When the enemy tries to put us in a stronghold of fear, we can tell him we already reside in a stronghold!

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25) Our fears trap us; but we find safety in Him.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) God is always with us..and will enable us to do that which we need to do. Whatever that may be...from the great things to the small.

"You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear." (Lamentations 3:57) He is there when we call out to Him, and calms our fears and reassures us. no matter how trivial our fears may be....even the dentist!

So even though my story is a little silly, I hope it reminds you, as it reminded me that we have a great big God that doesn't think anything that affects our lives is silly. He cares about everything, whether it be my irrational fears of doctors or something that takes a great step of faith. 

If you have a desire, a dream, a calling, and your fears are holding you back, remember that God is your stronghold; your shelter, your master planner. He has your best interest in mind and will not call you to do that which you are not equipped to do. 

And if you happen to think of me at 9:25am on Monday morning, I'll be facing my the oral surgeons office!

May the God of peace...strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). 
Amen (so be it).
Hebrews 13:21

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Going Through the Motions...

"Never be lacking in zeal; but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."
Romans 12:11

If you have kept up with my blog, or read my book, then you are aware that music speaks to me. Matthew West has done a song  called The Motions that makes me stop and think about my every-day life each time I hear it. There are so many days that I feel like I am just existing. I don't really do anything purposeful... no meaning... nothing important... just going through the motions. It's very easy to get bored and fall into the "nothingness of life".

You see, I am a stay at home mom who home-schools her children. It's summer, so we don't have school to do. We are a one-car family, so when my husband gets up at 3:30am and takes the car to work, we are home-bound. I get up fairly early, try to spend some time alone with the Lord, and then wonder, "What's next?" The  kids sleep in because I let them stay up later at night, so my mornings are quiet. My husband gets home in the early afternoon and usually takes a quick nap. Then it's time to fix dinner; clean up dinner; watch a little television maybe....and the day is over. The next day, we start again.Very little variation in the day-to-day schedule, except when Sunday rolls around. But, if we're not careful, Sundays can very easily become the same week to week routine.

Most of the time, I think I am doing just what I am supposed to be doing. I love my husband and children; try to be the wife and mother God has appointed me to be. I love God with all my heart; pray; read my Bible; go to church regularly...all those things good Christians are supposed to do. that enough? 
Is that all there is? 
What am I really doing to affect the Kingdom of God?

I don't want to just go through the motions. I don't want to do "just enough". Paul tells us to never be lacking in  zeal. What is zeal? And what does it mean to have spiritual fervor?  Zeal is defined as "intensity; eager desire; passion." So, how do we put that intensity, that eagerness into our every day, hum-drum lives? How do we keep that spiritual fervor, when it seems that nothing special is happening? These are the questions I have been asking God lately...

I don't exactly know what it means to "press in". But I know it involves stepping outside our comfort zone. There are things God has asked me to do that I am not comfortable with. But I believe as we become more willing to step out in faith and do what He has asked us, then the "nothingness of life" will become more exciting and satisfying.

I don't want to go through the motions
I don't want to go one more day
Without Your all consuming
Passion inside of me
I don't want to spend my whole life asking
"What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions?"

Colossians 3:23,24 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...It is Christ you are serving."

My challenge to myself today, and to you, is whatever you are it with all your heart; be zealous in what you do. And do it as if you were working for the Lord...for indeed you are. Look for opportunities to step outside your comfort zone. 

Let's give Him everything...instead of going through the motions.