Saturday, December 31, 2011

One last time...

Well, I posted a blog I wrote earlier and it wasn't the real post I was supposed to write. Yeah, it was all about obedience and I totally wasn't being obedient.

So what was the real post supposed to be about? It was supposed to be about a big thing that I think about a lot, but rarely if ever talk about. It is painful and exposing and sharing it seems like the craziest thing to do. BUT it is what God is telling me to write about. So here goes....I am hestitanting...still hestitating....asking Him if I really have to do this....okay here goes.

When I moved to North Carolina I had an extremely hard first year. It was a good year, of healing, but healing can be painful because sometimes it involves needed surgery. God did some heart surgery on me and it was excurciating at times. I wouldn't trade that time for anything!

Okay, that doesn't seem like a big deal, but that's just some details. What happened that year was I met someone who stirred something in my heart I had never felt before. No, it wasn't a man. It was a 4th grade boy, and he stirred the Mom part of my heart. I had been teaching for over ten years at the time so I have had hundreds of students, and some who needed special care and loving, but they never stirred that spot in my heart before. His story is his so I won't tell it, but I can say he needed that Mom spot in my heart as much as I needed it stirred.

For two school years I spend time with him and enjoyed the ups and the downs, and sometimes there were serious downs. Even as I enjoyed time with him, I knew that it would change after he was done with elementary school. Those thoughts overshadowed too many of my thoughts and caused an ache in my heart. Then the day came and he moved on from elementary school to middle school. I have to admit I cried like I've never cried before. It honestly felt like someone had died. It felt like a part of my heart had been ripped out.

After a summer of missing him, he played football for his middle school team. I spent Saturdays watching him play and it was a very small taste of what I was missing. But it didn't last. The season ended and then, well then nothing. There wasn't a time to spend with him or watching him and it broke my heart all over again. I tried hard to figure out a way to hold on but I couldn't.  

So then periodic times of rare communication happened, and I realized that was all I was going to get. I wasn't sure if I should try harder. I wasn't sure if I should just let go and think of it as a time period that was. I wasn't sure of anything. I prayed. I cried. I tried too hard. I didn't try at all.

Days passed, months passed, and now years have passed, and the Mom part of my heart still cries and wonders. I wonder if anyone will ever fill that part of my heart. I wonder if some day God will restore a relationship and he will fill that part. Now I know God is the only one who can fill my heart, but there's a reason that there's a verse about the desires of our hearts. He made us with specific desires, talents, gifts. It's okay to have desires of the heart. If it wasn't He wouldn't have included a verse about getting them.

So why did He ask me to write this now? I'm not sure. Maybe it was another part of that heart surgery He performs (believe me this hurt, it hurt a lot!) I still pray for him. I still care about him. I still hope.


On the first day of this year, 2011, I asked God about this year. He gives me a word or phrase that is used to describe the year. This year, it was obedience. He was asking me to step out in whatever He asked me to do. How did the year go?

Well, I know sometimes I stepped out in the small things He asked of me, and the big things. He wanted me to go to Haiti. Haiti! I had never even been on a local mission trip, let alone one in another country, and certainly not a country like Haiti. I remember being asked what I expected of the trip and I could honestly answer with, "I have absolutely no idea!" I genuinely went there with no expectations and totally open to whatever God wanted me to do. It was an incredible experience that has spurred me to want to go to other places. I have submitted my application for a trip to Kenya this upcoming summer. I am so very excited about it!

There are the things He asked me to do that I am working on. My house is a constant work in progress, but I am making progress. I am doing the painting, changing, and organizing that needs to be done. I am so excited to see how He uses my house.

Have I been as successful with other things He asked of me? Um, in a word, no! I was partly obedient, which means I wasn't really obedient at all. We want to give ourselves some create for every little thing we do, even though complete surrender is the only kind of surrender there is. So I stepped out and lead a life group, but I didn't obey God's direction for the group. In 2012 the group will hopefully look exactly like what He asked for in the first place.

Then there are the absolute nos! The things He asked me to do that I let fear and pride keep me from. Sometimes I let the voices of doubt and dread speak too much. I could have told them to "shut up, in Jesus' name", and I did at times but not enough. By the way, one time of letting them speak without shutting them up is too many times. Now I'm not saying I only didn't shut those voices up only once! Do these things that I wasn't obedient bother me? Yes, they do, but I have gone to Him for forgiveness and He forgave me. I just want to listen and obey, regardless next time He asks of me.

So was 2011 a success? Yes! We are all a work in progress and I progressed to be more like Christ. I didn't get there, but I got closer, so yes it was a success. Could it have been a bigger success? Oh my yes! I pray that as I continue to grow more like Him, that each year will be more and more successful than the last one. That each year I will become more and more like Him.

So what about 2012? I don't know yet. I have to pray and listen to hear what His word or phrase for 2012 is. I can tell you that I am very excited about it!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why do I like Christmas?

Ask that question to the same person at different ages or stages of his or her life and I bet the answer would differ. I know it has for me. This year I know my answer was different than it's ever been before.

It wasn't about presents, although those are nice. It wasn't about family, although I love spending time with mine, and this year was so nice and relaxed and fun. It wasn't about food, although I love Christmas cooking and baking. It wasn't about the decorations, although this year was my first year in my house and I thoroughly enjoyed decorating it, inside and out. No, this year the answer is different.

I was thinking about the question on the morning of Christmas Eve. I thought, "how would I answer that questions?" A smile crossed my face and I knew the answer. "I love Christmas because it was the beginning of a plan to save the World. To save me."

That afternoon I went to church for the Christmas Eve service. I debated back and forth about even going. I had family coming and although almost everything was ready, I used that as an excuse for not going. Even though I would be home in plenty of time to finish up any last minute details. It was weird because whenever I struggle with something like going or not going somewhere it usually means satan is messing with me. I am, by nature, a homebody so give me a reason to stay home and I will take it. I realized this as one of those times when satan wanted me to just stay home. So I went.

Pastor Rob's message was not a traditional Christmas message and I love that. Did he mention Christmas? Yes! He said that the reason he loved Christmas so much is because it was the beginning of the rescue mission. I sat up a little straighter and I smiled. I knew that God was confirming my own thoughts of that very morning.

As for the message Pastor Rob spoke, it was a salvation message and quite a few people gave their lives to Christ during that service. Over 240 people in all the services combined. You see, for those people the rescue mission came to a climax that day. They were rescued and on Christmas, the day we remember as the beginning of the mission makes them somehow sweeter.

Isn't that a perfect reason to love Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Just Give It Up!

This morning I was trying to sleep in, hard to do with furry babies telling you of their deep desire for breakfast, and my mind wandered to something ugly. Something old, very, very old and painful. Something I don't think about often because with it brings guilt and shame. Sometimes things happen to you and satan loves to use them to bring you shame and guilt. What happened doesn't matter, but I realized as I lay there and thought of it I never gave it up to God.

We all have painful memories, some are of things we did or said, and some are of things that were done to us or said to us. My memory was a mix of both. I lay there this morning and realized I never wanted satan to use that against me again. So I began to simply ask God to take it away. I didn't use any special words, I didn't even pray aloud. I just simply asked Him to take it away.

As I prayed the words, I literally saw the thing slipping away from me, over the side, and gone. The pain, shame, and guilt of just moments ago were gone. God took it and replaced it with peace and joy!

I know that sometimes I pray for God to take things put I pick them back up or I later realize it was lip service, just doing the "right thing". I didn't REALLY want to let it go at all. Whether it is a sin in my life or a pain, sometimes they bring some distorted sense of comfort to just keep holding on to them.

But the peace and joy I felt in that moment of really letting go was different than any of those so-called "gave it to God" times. My heart really wanted it gone!

Our walk with God is a process. We all have sins, hurts, and deep down, gut wrenching pains that we want gone, but God, in His love and mercy, doesn't deal with them all at the same time. If He did, I think we would surely die! We couldn't handle the pain of it. God knows that and that is why He does everything, EVERYTHING, in His perfect time.

We can stand back and see the sin or the pain in others lives and think, "why don't they just ask God to forgive them, ask Him to heal them, ask Him to help them?" Sometimes I wonder if that's what the whole speck in your neighbor's eye, but beam in your own verse is really about. (Matthew 7:3) It's not about judging the other person as much as it's about judging the timing of God. He will deal with that speck in their eye when they are ready. He will take it from them, once He has brought them to a place where they can flush that speck out, they can let it go to Him.

And He will deal with your beam, once you have gone through the process to give it up. He takes us through the process. He knows exactly what we need along the way. He knows who to put in our paths. He knows what challenges and joys need to be apart of the road to bring us to the point.

Have I wanted those memories gone? Has it been a long time? Yes and yes, but He knew the exact moment when I would be ready to just give it up to Him and accept the peace of letting it go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stepping Out (Hopefully Doing it Right this Time!)

Wow! It has been a long time since I have posted. I said before I post when I think God lays something on my heart to say. So I've been feeling it. Can I just say that I love the God stirring I get in my gut. Sometimes I don't really like what the stirring is about, because it makes me step out, step up, or give up. But ultimately I love His stirring in me!

A few months ago I felt God wanted me to step out in a way that I'm not at all comfortable with or even qualified for. I decided God was calling me to lead a group through church. I felt God was calling me to lead a certain type of group. Soon my wonderful brother and sister-in-law were saying they would lead with me. We talked about what the group could look like and I expressed my thoughts, but the conversation moved in another direction. That is when I buried what I thought God was saying to me and I went with what they saw for our group.

Well, we started a group and it was just the three of us for quite awhile. Then while I was in Haiti, we had a Group Link and people signed up to come to groups. A couple came to ours, but all the other people who signed up never came or responded when we reached out to them. It continued on with them and us for a little longer and then we had another group link. Again, a bunch of people signed up but only one couple and a woman came. Then although our numbers increased, each time we meet some weren't there and we never all meet together. Then other things came up, like school requirements, children's baseball tournaments, and vacations and soon we were cancelling more than we were meeting.

This past weekend I had a sit down my brother and sister-in-law and they stated that they no longer wanted to lead. That said that they may have led for the wrong reasons. I thought that it would be easy to just give up too. Then I was praying and felt God tugging at my heart again. I believe that He is telling me that He wants me to step out in the way He told me to before. So I sent off an email to set up a time to talk to one of the pastors. I am a bit excited and worried about it at the same time. I don't want to focus on the "you can't do that" thoughts and I just want to focus on what He is speaking to me.