Thursday, March 29, 2012

He Who Dwells In the Secret Place 2: Focus on God

It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks.  I wasn’t even going to tell you the story but I had two problems: 1) I promised to be honest, and 2) this has been such a focal point that there isn’t anything else to say. It was either this or write nothing. So here we go!

Last Sunday I was in the doldrums….frustrated that my leg wasn’t better and that things were moving so slowly, upset at myself for overdoing it and causing setbacks. I was also upset because God had done such a big work when I went for prayer and somehow I seemed to have lost it. Because on Monday my leg hurt so much I knew I couldn’t work on Tuesday without crutches. So Tuesday morning, there I was, on crutches again. They didn’t seem to help much and my leg ached all day. It was pretty bad by that evening.  By this time my discouragement had reached an all-time high. I’d lost my healing! How does that happen? Wasn’t it real? Didn’t it really happen?  Maybe I imagined it? How stupid of me! And so embarrassing since I made such a public declaration of it….you get the idea. I was crabby and upset and had been on and off since my leg started hurting. I was not fun to live with! I wasn’t yelling or anything, I was just down.

When I’d gone for prayer, one of the things they strongly encouraged me to do was get my eyes off my circumstances and focus on God. Praise Him and thank Him for all He’d done. Remind yourself of the things He has done, and continue to pray for continual healing.  Well, I wasn’t doing any of that. Once I got discouraged on Sunday I dropped it all. I went back to analyzing and trying to figure out by myself what I could do to make it better and forgot all about praying and trusting in the Lord. And things went from bad to worse.

Wednesday morning I got up in a funk. My leg really hurt. Nick decided to pray for me. I wanted nothing to do with it but at least I didn’t tell him to knock it off.  By the time he was done praying I realized how far I’d fallen and what a mess I was in. I repented. God spoke to me. My leg felt better. I decided to go to school without my crutches and Nick agreed to back me in prayer. I made it! I haven’t been on crutches since. My leg is responding and getting better. One day, one hour, one prayer, one repentance and I went from crutches to no crutches.  I’m fighting a spiritual battle here; that much has become obvious.

There’s more but I’ll save it for another day and I will keep you posted!

Psalm 91:5-7 (NKJV)
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

He Who Dwells in the Secret Place: Being Grateful

God is good and He loves me. He is stable and ever present when I am up and down and all over the place in my human emotions and frailties. And I am so grateful. I’m glad I don’t blow Him away with my inconsistency. I’m grateful that He sees my struggles and isn’t mad. It’s one of the things I love best about Him, this love of His that is unwavering and sure. I’m leaning on it now.

Last week I was flying high from walking out of the Healing Rooms without my crutches. Right now I am tired and sore and dragging. It’s nothing terrible, I’m just having a bad day. I tend to let the feelings of the moment override the bigger picture. So right now as I write this blog I want to step back and celebrate the big picture, even though I’m currently in the doldrums.

1)      I had my first migraine since I got my migraine medication and the medicine worked….no spending hours in bed! That was a relief!
2)      My leg has been tired and sore but I haven’t had to go back on crutches! I’ve overdone it twice and set myself back. I’ve had a couple of moments where it started to get bad and I wondered if I was heading back downhill to the evil crutches zone, but I didn’t. I was teaching full-time, too, since my student teacher is done. I should be jumping up and down. Instead I’m frustrated that it isn’t totally fine and I’m not running all around will full movement.  I just want everything to be fine. I want no problems.  God help me. I was struck tonight with my ingratitude and the fickleness of my love. Dear Lord, thank you for the amazing things you’ve done for me. Thank you for rescuing me. I repent of letting my current circumstances interfere with my appreciation for you. Dear Lord, help me to be like you. I don’t want to be one of the “what have you done for me lately” type Christians but I was being one tonight. Since I have salvation and I have you, Lord, I shouldn’t be demanding. Please help me.

And so you see, this quest I’m on to love God, live for Him and draw close to Him, is a struggle for me at times. I fall, I repent, but on I go. Let’s go on in Him together, shall we?

Psalm 91: 1-4(NKJV)
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”
Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Miracles Still Happen!

I ended last Sunday’s blog post with “Tammy, you are really healthy. The snare is broken and I have escaped!!” Well, by Wednesday evening I was back on crutches. By Saturday I could hardly walk, even with crutches. Talk about falling from a great height. We weren’t sure what happened, though we think I irritated it with extra walking this week. Regardless, my muscles were all snarled up and unresponsive. I couldn’t put my weight on my leg. Nothing really relieved my pain.  Back to not sleeping except for 3 or 4 hours a night.

And I couldn’t believe it.

I kept fighting to keep my mind focused on the Lord and not my circumstances but it was a struggle.  I didn’t even bother to try and post to my blog Thursday night. I had nothing good to say.  

When Saturday came and everything I’d been trying was obviously not working, Nick and I decided to take a quick drive down to Lewiston and go to the Healing Rooms for prayer. I crutched in feeling pretty desperate but actually somewhat hopeful. 

The person praying for me went to every exact problem area I’d had in the past two months (without my saying anything except that I couldn’t walk on my leg).  She laid hands on all the right spots and addressed all my key issues. That in and of itself was pretty supernatural and amazing.  They prayed for me for about 25 minutes. AND I WALKED OUT OF THERE WITHOUT MY CRUTCHES!!!!!

I had to hurry back home to go to a woman’s luncheon my friend was having at her church. That morning I’d been dreading going, because I’d be back on crutches and making a scene and people would be asking questions…I didn’t want to face it. But that’s not what happened. I walked in there and was able to enjoy the entire experience, including walking around and looking at the Silent Auction baskets, without my crutches!!!


Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

The dear Lord didn’t have to, but He proved to me afresh this weekend that He does indeed live.

Luke 5:23-26 (NKJV)
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”

Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Snare of the Fowler

Psalm 124:7 (NKJV)
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

I feel like that psalm! I’ve escaped! I thought I was heading into some bad health issues and I’ve just been given a clean bill of health…..halleluiah! Here’s the story:

I have been having migraines that make me throw up every 25 days or so. They put me out of commission for about half a day. It’s related to the downward slide of menopause.  That’s been going on since last July. Well then in January I started having headaches all the time, just varying degrees of bad. Back to the round of doctors. One doctor thought it might be the autoimmune. Another doctor thought it was due to the diet I’d been eating to help my leg (heavy in proteins). The third doctor thought it was the supplements. Anyway, the bottom line was….we think you have to go off your diet. It may be ruining your kidneys and liver. That meant I was staring Enbrel in the face again. It’s an autoimmune blocker that takes out your immune system. They told me I’d have to go to the hospital and receive infusions in the Chemo room every week for an hour. That would require a shunt. It increases your likelihood of cancer.  How can I be an elementary teacher with no immune system in place? In the middle of all of this I hurt my back….(I know, can you believe this?) so between that and the headaches I wasn’t sleeping. 

I was so dragged down by my problems. I was upset and stressed and afraid. I felt terrible. Every ache made me paranoid. I tried to analyze and figure out how to stop the headaches. Nothing helped.  In the middle of this I received prayer three times. Every time in different ways those praying for me said I needed to lift my eyes off my circumstances and turn to God. He is my one help and strength. I tried to do that with everything I had. Some days were better than others, but overall it really made a difference. I had strength on days when I’d only slept for four hours. I made it when all my muscles hurt. I quit worrying. I began to quiet my soul.  

Then the results started coming back. The headaches were due to muscle tightness which my physical therapist was able to fix. I added a bunch of stuff to my diet that didn’t bother my leg so now the doctor is happy about my diet and not worried about it harming my body.  My back’s feeling better so I’m sleeping again. My blood work was NORMAL!! The doctor said (and I quote), “Tammy, actually you are really healthy. Everything looks good. We just need to fix a couple of things. I can give you something for your migraines that should take care of it.”

Did you hear that? Tammy, you are really healthy. Halleluiah!! Praise you Lord!! The snare is broken and I have escaped!!

Psalm 55:22 (New King James Version)
Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is God Your Friend?

I’m not a big swearing girl. OK, I almost never say anything even remotely questionable…most of the “biggies” I’ve never said in my life. So when going through the list of the Ten Commandments, I usually feel pretty good at “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” Check. Got that one….I’m doing one right!! Yippeee…..

Well, this week Josh, who preached, talked about extending that commandment to mean more than just refraining from swearing. He spoke of truly honoring the name of God with our lives. Having that same sense of importance in “wearing the name” that a sports team might feel…..when you’re wearing the jersey, you live differently. (OK….So now Tammy can no longer feel smug about mastering one of the commandments!) That sparked a discussion in small group about what honoring God and living to glorify His name might look like. Which lead to one of the topics I’ve hashed over in my head a number of times due to the fact that it gets brought up in Christian circles frequently. It goes like this:

There’s a discussion about being aware of God’s holiness and his greatness, of seeing how powerful He is and being in awe of Him. In the midst of the discussion someone invariably makes this comment, “We put too much emphasis on being God’s friend, his buddy.  What we really need to do is fear the Lord more. We need more awe. We need to see that He is holy.” This always bothers me and I have never been able to articulate my struggle… until last night.

For me, when someone says “we need to fear the Lord more”, my tendency is to step away from Him. Focusing on how holy He is usually causes me to pull away. But when someone says “we put too much emphasis on being God’s friend” I feel guilty, because my relationship with the Lord is something I cherish. Feeling guilty about calling God my friend causes me to pull away, too. Either way I find myself distant from Him. Then I’m confused because this whole line of thinking is not helping me at all.

Last night I had an epiphany.  Drawing close to the Lord and being intimate with Him brings me into a state of awe. The closer I get to God the more amazed I am by Him. When people are talking about being too buddy, buddy with God, I think what they really mean is too casual. They are treating God like one of the “bros”. I think it’s a kind of indifference, like “God won’t care, He’s cool.” Being indifferent or casual about the Lord does show a lack of respect and honor.  Sincerely loving God as the precious and amazing Lord that He is…that’s not casual at all. That’s intimate. That’s close. I can’t get too close to God. The closer I get, the more I appreciate and love Him. And that always leads to awe.  So I’m going to go ahead and call God my dearest friend…and I’m not one bit ashamed about it!

John 15:15(NKJV)
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Prayers of Faith

I pray for my daughters more than any other thing. The ground of their lives is absolutely soaked with prayer. However, I realized a few weeks ago that I’d gotten out of the habit of daily prayer for them. They seemed to be doing fine, but I was still convicted and aware that the Lord has a plan for them and the enemy does too. I can’t quit being vigilant and proactive.  So I started back into my routine. I pray for the Lord’s protection over every area of their lives. I also pray that the Holy Spirit would come afresh and fill out home. “Come, Holy Spirit. Come and dwell in our home. Fill our hearts with your presence and our lives with your fruits. Inhabit our home.”   I pray that every plan and purpose that God has for their lives would be fulfilled. I pray that they would draw close to God and know Him better.  I figure, if they draw near to God, He will take care of the rest!

I pray these prayers with quite a bit of confidence, because I know they are prayers in line with God’s will for my daughters’ lives. I know God wants to do these things. It’s not like I’m asking that they’d marry some certain guy, go to some specific college or choose a particular career. I am praying for things that I know line up with the will of God. So when I pray, I pray expecting God to move and believing He will.

Well, this weekend I was making a run to a local frozen yogurt shop with one of my girls. We got to talking and she started telling me about what was going on in her life. She’d just re-listened to one of our pastor’s sermon series that he has online. She talked to me about what that spoke to her and how she was convicted. It was a spiritually alive discussion. I walked away from that so encouraged about what God was doing in her. And it hit me. I absolutely cannot stop praying for my kids. When I pray in line with God’s will, He moves. It’s like a spiritual lifeline for them.  And even though I think I pray with so much faith, my lack of prayer in the previous months showed that I’d been faithless. I had quit living in the awareness that my prayers mattered.  Yesterday I was freshly reminded that, in fact, they do.

James 5:16b (NKJV)
...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Turn Down the Volume of the World

I have made a commitment for over a week to embrace the verse “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). It has been really good for me. I've included some text written by Pastor Gary Oates that has inspired my quiet times:

“The wording ‘be still’ literally means to cease from striving. It means to let go and relax. It means to turn down the volume of the world and listen to the quiet whisper of God. It’s getting still and coming into a place of rest. It’s entering into His rest and soaking in His presence. The result is that you will know He is God.

“The word ‘know’ is literally an experiential knowledge of God. It’s not being still and you’ll know about God, it’s be still and you will experientially know God. You will experience God. You will know the Presence of God.

“Intimacy begins when we pursue Him no matter what our circumstances are. He really wants us to get to the end of ourselves—and our circumstances—and have nowhere else to turn but to Him. Intimacy will surely follow.”

So I've been working on this. I've been getting before the Lord and spending time with Him. I haven’t pursued a big prayer list, or poured out my woes, or anything typical. But I have “been still”. It’s proven to be way harder than I thought it would be, especially when my head is full and my thoughts are hard to slow down, or when I’m tired and I can’t seem to think straight. But I’m going after the end of myself.  I think it’s a worthy quest.