Peace, Be Still.

storms

In the midst of the storm……Jesus was in the back, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him up. They said, “Teacher! Don’t you care if we drown?” He got up and ordered the wind to stop. He said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down. And it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Don’t you have any faith at all yet?” They were terrified. They asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” Mark 4:38-41 (NIRV)

Do you ever wonder why He was sleeping? Me too. Didn’t He know they were scared? Why didn’t He come to their rescue before they cried out? I’d be frustrated too! Jesus, You KNEW! Yet, You slept……until I woke You. As a human, He slept. As our Savior, He never does. He slept in peace. He woke in peace. He calmed in peace. He spoke peace. He IS Peace.

I have no idea how many times Jesus has come to my rescue before I even knew I needed Him to, but I have no doubt that He has. I have also cried out to Him many times wondering why He won’t come or “wake up” (like I want Him to). Now, I trust He hears me each time I cry out, but His answer will come when and how He says it will.

In financial storms, can He calm? In relational storms, can He calm? When a friendship falls apart, can He calm? Yes. He is our calm before, during, and after the storm. Cry out and trust that He hears. That is faith. Only through Jesus can we sense peace in the midst of a storm…..and maybe even get some sleep like Jesus did.

Let’s remember that in His humanness, He may have slept, but in our humanness we may not. Let the sleepless nights and anxious days be a powerful and prayerful reunion with Him. May His Presence alone bring you the peace you crave. He is mighty. He is personal. He is with you.

My Prayer…

prayer

I found the following prayer in my documents folder at work today. I wrote it nine months after my divorce was final. That year was hellish. That year was a whirlwind of confusion and pain. Pain that would wake me up at night. Pain that would roll down my face at the most unexpected moments. Pain of betrayal, replacement, and loss. That year I surrendered. Rereading it, I thank God for the surrender and am warmed by my words in the midst of the painful events and changes taking place. May I continue to surrender every day of my life. Oh, how He loves…..and hears.

6/18/13

My God, My Father, My All……

I believe in YOU. I want to trust you with my future. You know my weaknesses and my struggles. Thank you for my strengths, they come from you. My weaknesses are where the enemy gets me. He knows my weaknesses but you know them better. Help me to know better. In my weakness, I turn to YOU. Sometimes I feel your presence and sometimes I don’t, but I pray that you strengthen my belief so that I am dependent on you even when I don’t “feel” your presence.

Use me for your purpose Lord. Refine me and mold me to desire your perfect will. Don’t let me get in the way of you one more day.

Please remove anyone from my life that would alter the purpose you put me on this earth to accomplish. Please add the people and opportunities in your timing that will further that purpose and ignite my love and openness to you.

Show me how to serve you. Show me how to share you. Show me how to please you. Speak clearly and I will try to obey. Give me the strength and desire above all other things to obey and to listen. Your direction is for my good, I believe that too.

I yearn to be transparent before you and others Lord. I know that may come with rejection and pain, but the suffering will be worth it in eternity knowing I was used, in any way, by you. As I grow and stumble every day, help me to look to You. You are why I grow and you are who I reach out to when I stumble in my humanness.

I love you. Thank you for loving me. I need you. Every day I need you.

Hashing Out the Holidays

holidays

After living through it as a child and as an adult, I have no doubt why God hates divorce. And, it becomes all the more evident over the holidays when sentimentality and family time is planned around, planned for, and deemed most precious. That being said, I also know God hates abuse and infidelity. God hates selfishness and pride. And, because of these traits, divorce is imminent in this fallen world.

Hashing out the holidays with my ex is always painful. Who wants to share kids on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, or Christmas morning? No one!

Being a child of divorce, I’m well aware of the scheduling that goes into seeing everyone. We have multiple homes to visit and presents to open, along with mass quantities of food to consume. All blessings! I’m the type who wants to be everywhere with everyone I love….all the time. But, the schedule can get tight at times. And, we still want to make time for the personal Christmas with our spouse and kids. That’s hard enough married, but throw my own divorce in the mix and I just can’t do it. Well I can, but not with my kids. It’s painful and, no doubt, the hardest time of the year for most divorced parents. We want to celebrate the season, but without our children, there is a fog that’s hard to lift. There is definitely something (someone) missing.

Thank God for family to celebrate with. Thank God for children to buy for. Thank God for a family who understands my situation. Thank God for places to be. Help me, Lord, with patience and the aching heart that comes along with absent children at each and every event where I crave their presence. So much more than their presents.

This year, I want to focus more on peace than fighting. I’d rather give too much than fight one more day. I’d rather know my kids are loved at both homes and give up time if necessary, than argue over going back and forth. I’d rather forego family traditions on my end than stubbornly fight to uphold them if all it causes is chaos and stress. I’ll make new ones. New ones full of peace, love, and sacrifice. And, I’ll also stand by the fact that it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I will once again grieve the old and embrace the new. I will choose peace. Isn’t that why Jesus came as a baby anyway? Peace. I choose to lay it down and let it go…

If this post leaves you with anything, I hope it emphasizes the importance of presence over presents. When you are loved and not present, you are gravely missed. Once again, looking forward to the day we can all be together…..all the time. Happy, healthy, and whole.

 

He Touched Me

touch

I believe God touches us so that we can touch others. My relationship with God has come more and more to the forefront of my life from the time I had my first daughter to now. He has moved to the top spot in my life because I’ve relied on Him so much. He’s been tender, patient, and authoritative in my life and I have been receptive. I needed to be. I knew I needed Him, there was no other way.

I am also so thankful I learned who God is to ME. It took a personal encounter with Him to change my heart forever. He touched me in the midst of my brokenness, literally. I felt Him wrap His presence around me lying in bed one night after silently crying out to Him. I asked Him to wrap His arms around me and He did. In that moment, no one else would or could. With His touch, He reaffirmed His love for me. I will never forget it and I will share it with anyone who will listen. He is real. He is with us. He hears us. He protects us. And, He speaks our personal love language.

I know, in my head, that He’s been with me my whole life. I just didn’t pay much attention. My relationship with Him didn’t alter or affect the choices that I made. It wasn’t until I had daughters of my own and the pain of a divorce that my eyes were opened to His relentless love. Now, my knowledge of Him has moved to my heart and I pray that He always stays right there. His touch changed me.

I would never want to go back to the “old me” who lived unaware, unobservant, and unappreciative of His love. The “new me” wants to comfort and encourage others, longs to be in His presence, and wants to conquer fear in His name. I just want to do what He wants me to do….and that brings me true joy. I want to because of what He’s done for me.

He didn’t just die for me, He touched me when I needed it the most.

 

 

No More Bills?!

bills

When we think about Heaven, we tend to think about how there will be no more death, sadness, or sickness. The absence of these three things is enough to make me want to go….yesterday. But, today I was thinking about how there will be so much more to experience and not experience in this truly glorious place.

Have you ever thought about the fact that we won’t have mortgages in Heaven? We get to live in our dream home, free and clear! No mortgages, light bills, water bills, trash bills, phone bills, or internet bills. We won’t have them, nor will we need them.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:2,3

It’s mind blowing to me that He’s not only preparing a place for us, but also that He wants us where He is. No matter the size, architectural style, paint color, flooring, or acreage of the homestead He graciously GIVES us, it will be our personally ideal home. A home like no other. A home like our humanly minds can’t comprehend. Our resting place. And we will have Jesus as our neighbor! I can’t imagine a warmer welcome.

Have you ever thought about the fact that there will be no more grocery bills, school bills, medical bills, day care, vacation costs, or taxes? We work and work and work and pay and pay and pay. We work hard to pay our bills and hope for some leftover money to entertain ourselves and our families with. In Heaven there will be no need for any of these expenses.

We won’t need checkbooks, ATMs, credit cards, insurance, retirement accounts, or new tires. No travel costs. No baggage fees. No security lines. No gas pumps. No oil changes. No tolls. No hotel costs. Life will be an eternal all-inclusive vacation from what we’ve grown accustomed to. I can’t even imagine…

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Where the streets are paved with gold and the gates are made of pearls, there is no need for online bill pay, stamps, or paydays. The relief of all financial responsibilities is not something I used to think about when I thought of Heaven. Now, raising 2 girls, it strikes a much deeper chord. There are so many reasons I yearn for Heaven…..

No more death, seeing our loved ones again, no more physical or emotional pain, no more violence, no more diseases to catch or panic over, and living in the light of The Lord’s physical presence gives me more hope and excitement than I can articulate with this keyboard!

Coolest part? God wants us home with Him even more than we want to go home! Now, that’s hard to imagine. He is the ultimate Provider. He sent His Son to die for us so that we could live with Him there….forever. ALL EXPENSES PAID!

 

To Seek His Face?

hideandseek

What does it mean to “Seek His face”? I woke up this morning with the strong inclination to do just that. “Seek Me. Seek My face.”

I play hide and seek with my girls and they squeal with excitement as they search and find me. It’s fun! The looks on their faces are priceless. Their eyes are wide as saucers when they find me and their laughs are contagious. I think a game of hide and seek is in our very near future. I feel the same way when I hear from God and even more when He blesses me with the courage and strength to obey. It’s in these moments that I imagine He may squeal with delight too. They tend to feel so few and far between…..

Look to The Lord and His strength; seek His face always. Psalms 105:5

Remember the cultural phenomenon “what would Jesus do”? This saying was about seeking Him. Seek His will. Seek His words. Seek His wisdom. Seek His character in any given situation. To seek means to search for, to discover, to look for, to ask for…To seek can be grueling. To seek can be hard work. We may not necessarily like what we find because it’s not the “easy” thing to do. We may be so scared of what could be found, that we stop seeking altogether. But, to seek His face is the prize. His face is the pot at the end of our rainbow and well worth searching for. Matter of fact, His face IS the rainbow after the storm.

Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

I don’t think this verse means we will always get exactly what we ask for. I believe it means that if we are seeking Him, we will find Him. Being the perfect parent He is, He won’t give us everything we ask for. In His ultimate mercy and wisdom, He gives us what’s best for us. No matter the circumstance, He is always best for us. He is the prize. Ask, seek, search, grow….

One of God’s favorite “hiding places” (if you’re seeking Him) is in the Bible. It’s His love letter to us. It’s His instruction booklet and owner’s manual. His word is there for our own good, not to punish us. His word is there because He loves us, not to condemn us. His word is there to instruct and direct us, not to force us. It’s there to convict us, not to shame us. Seek and you shall find.

But Why?

question

The ultimate question when things go wrong…….but why? I have my fair share of the same question. There are so many whys in this world. Why did she get sick? Why didn’t I get that job? Why didn’t he love me? Why didn’t God save my marriage? Why didn’t that relationship work? Why did a tornado hit that neighborhood? Why did it hit mine? Why does that person have a problem with me? Why did that child have to die? Why???

These questions will boggle our minds and test our faith. They can make us turn TO God for comfort and refuge or AWAY from Him in anger and disgust. Consider the story of Job in the Bible. God allowed him to be tested above and beyond what most of us have ever had to experience. Job was a Godly man with a blessed and happy life. He was a better person than most of us and the Lord allowed him to be tested more than most of us. First, his livestock died therefore his income was gone, then his children died (all of them), then his body was covered in painful sores, then his wife and his friends turned on him in disgrace, and he was left to wonder WHY Lord?? His story will leave us scratching our heads as well. What on earth did he do to deserve this? Why on earth would God allow that? How much can one person take? It’s just not fair!

I love God’s response to Job’s questions: “Job, have you ever walked on the ocean floor? How large is the earth? Who carves out a path for thunderstorms? Do you control the stars or set in place the Big Dipper? When lions are hungry, do you help them hunt? Can you count the clouds or pour out their water on the soil?” These questions are all from Job 38 (CEV). Wow! I mean, touché.

These answers may come off as insensitive when we are grieving and craving only comfort and need relief. The truth lies in the fact that an explanation won’t comfort us, only the presence and love of  God will. Some of the questions we want so badly to know the answers to may actually cause us more pain. Do you REALLY want to know why he or she doesn’t love you? Do you REALLY want to know all the details? I mean….ouch. The pain is already bad enough. Take the pain and turn it over to a God who loves you unconditionally. Ask Him to carry it because it is just too heavy and hurts too much. When our hearts are broken, He wants in so badly.

I believe one of the ways God loves us in a crisis situation is by sheltering us from some of these answers. Instead of demanding answers, maybe we should ask different questions.  Questions like: How do I forgive him for that? How can I show her love when she treats me that way? How do I stand up to him the way You want me to? How do I respond to that? What do I do with this broken heart? How do I deal with this anger? What do I do with this pain? How do I move forward from this? I believe His response to these questions is always positive. First, He’s thankful we are turning TO Him no matter the reason. Second, He wants us to be honest with Him and get real. Tell Him how much it hurts and tell Him why. This is how a relationship is formed. Yes, He already knows, but He wants us to come to Him about it. He wants to have dialogue, even if it’s messy and angry. Any communication is better than none.

Questions and pain are something we all have in common. How we deal with them is what sets us apart. We need to make peace with the fact that only God may know why and that’s for the best right now. And, we need to RUN to His arms when we are hurt. Don’t run the other direction. Let Him hold you and comfort you when the pain runs deep.

When our children get hurt, they naturally crawl, limp, run, or cry out to us for help. We should be just as inclined to cry out to Him when we are hurt. Sometimes the pain is our fault, sometimes it’s an accident, sometimes it’s inflicted by someone else, and sometimes we’ll never get our answer this side of Heaven. What matters most is that we turn TO our Heavenly Father when it hurts. This will not only heal our hearts sooner but it will also prevent us from hurting others in the process.