Thursday, July 26, 2012

God Just May Be Speaking To Me

I've been out of town and haven’t posted lately….my apologies! I hope everyone is having a great summer.

I may have been on vacation but the dear Lord has continued to speak to me. I’m glad for that! I need all the help I can get. J 

I’m a bit obtuse sometimes. I’ve had the same thing happen to me over and over again, and every time I’m surprised.  This is how it goes down. I find myself upset about something. In one case this summer it was character issues with my children, or rather lack of character issues. Anyway, I find myself mulling this over and over in my head. I’m upset. I’m thinking about it. I’m worried. I ruminate on the issues for a while (often days!) I let my poor husband have a huge earful of my concerns.  I just can’t shake it.   Somewhere in the middle of all of this I cry out to the Lord for help. I pray. I beseech the heavens.  And lo and behold God moves. In the case of things with the girls this summer, I felt like God gave me clear direction for how to work with them and I moved on it.  I’m now feeling pretty confident that God wanted me to address these issues with the girls all along….and now I am.  That sounds really spiritual and great, doesn’t it?

Here’s the funky part. When I’m in the middle of my distress, one of the things I often do is try and talk myself out of being concerned. I even use scripture. “Be anxious for nothing….”  “Trust in the Lord”….you know the verses; there are many of them. I am upset that I’m upset and I try to counsel myself off of the proverbial ledge, like there’s something wrong with me for being worried.  I’m convinced that I shouldn’t be worked up. It never dawns on me that GOD may be bringing up this issue for me to deal with. It never dawns on me that He may be trying to get my attention!  I’m feeling like I lack spirituality because I’m concerned, and He’s trying to direct my heart and mind towards something He wants me to deal with! Now I’m guessing He doesn’t need me to get quite as worked up as I manage to do, but I’m grateful He’s willing to work with what He’s got…..a faithful but flawed individual!

What I want to learn to do is this: I want to learn early on to ask God what HE may be doing in the situation. As soon as I feel the burden on my heart…and before I jump to conclusions that it’s just me worrying…..I want to take it to Him and ask Him what to do with it.  I want to be willing to think that God just might be trying to speak to me! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Lies We Believe

When did I get to be old enough to have a senior in high school? I swear I've been ambushed! I've actually been somewhat stressed over that reality. She’s in the midst of career and college decision making and the enormity of the decisions she’ll be making in the next few years just hit me like a ton of bricks this summer. With the economy the way it is, it seems that making a good decision is more important than ever. She needs a career where there are jobs available, and she needs to make a choice where she doesn't come out with a lot of debt. Finding godly friends is another important ingredient of a successful transition to college and deciding which school might lend itself to being the best place for all of these things has me sweating.

She’s been sold on medicine, but nationalized health care is wreaking havoc in the medical scene. It won’t be possible to come out of medical school with $300,000 of debt if there are ceiling caps for doctor salaries. 

She’s been praying about her decisions and trying to hear whether God wants her to pursue something medical. Recently she told me that, at least for right now, she believes she’s supposed to go for medicine.  She said, “I always thought I’d live in the nice house and go on mission trips in the summer. But I’m not so sure anymore. I think it may be an all the time thing.”

On one hand, I was thrilled. My daughter wants to lay her life down for the needy. Isn’t that what I’ve prayed for since she was born, that she would serve God all her days? On the other hand, how on earth is this going to happen? She’d have to come out without a lot of debt in order to follow that path! I don’t want her to be disappointed if this doesn’t all work out either. My instinct to protect her is on high alert.

As I listened to her I was absolutely cut to the heart. She was a LOT more matter of fact about it than I was. She figures if God wants her to do this, He will make a way.  I’m the one whose faith is questionable.  ME. The example. The mother. The one who has been trying to show her the path to Christ her whole life. I was caught in my desperation to control all of these circumstances. Somehow I thought I could. I was convinced I should. I must. Protect her. Make sure she’s on the right, happy path. What a lie I have believed. I cannot control this. Oh mothers of young children! Appreciate the time when you can control the day to day workings of your small ones. That day will evaporate. And when it does, I hope that you can cling to the truth that God is in control of their lives and He will lead and guide them in the way. I have to keep opening my hands and surrendering them to God….and trust that He will take care of them, because the real truth is, I cannot. He is the only one who can.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

God is a God of Victory

True confessions: I hate going to the dentist. I have endured migraines and leg pain and shoulder pain that keeps me awake…but there’s something about the dentist that reduces me to a quivering mess.  This has not always been the case. I used to love the dentist. I didn’t have any cavities until I was 30 years old and pregnant, so up until that point getting my teeth checked was lovely, a great opportunity for me to enjoy the dentist’s accolades as they all beamed at me in approval, commented on my “beautiful mouth” and sent me out the door.

What I didn’t know until I actually had to have dental work is that my mouth does not go numb easily. This was discovered the hard way.  They would give me a shot of Novocain, then routinely in the middle of drilling they would hit a raw nerve and I would just about go through the ceiling. Due to my limited experience with cavities, it was several years before I found out that my experience was not one shared by all those who frequent dentist chairs.  I switched dentists (twice) and found one who was better at giving shots, but by this time the damage was done…and I no longer skipped into the dentist happily, ready for my applause. I had officially become one of those people who dread the dentist.  I know the gory details are a bit dramatic, but you must know that my jaw also locks when they are doing dental work and I’m one of those lucky souls with sensitive gums and exposed roots. So much fun.   

As you might have figured out by now, I had an appointment today at noon. I didn’t wake up quivering, but as the time approached, there was a certain amount of dread that increased as the clock hands marched towards 12. I sat down in that chair and my jaw was clenched so tight I had a headache within the first five minutes.

My God showed up at the dentist’s today. Did you know He makes office calls? Fear over what I cannot control is one of my major stumbling blocks, a core issue that resurfaces in a variety of ways in the fabric of my life. And as I sat with my jaw clenched I had an incredible epiphany: my worrying over this possibly painful situation is not helping. It’s making things a lot worse. In reality it will never help. My belief that being hyper vigilant will somehow help is a lie and one I have struggled over believing since I was small.  I’ve tried to talk myself into the truth (and so has my husband a number of times), but today I was convinced. My fear was giving me a headache and making my jaw hurt! 

I prayed right then and there. I told myself the truth--if it hurt, it hurt, I had no control over that, but my being all tense and worked up was not the answer. I worked consciously to relax and things went great! It was the easiest dental appointment I’ve had in years. The amazing this is, I have tried to talk myself into relaxing in other situations before and it just didn't work. I couldn't let go of whatever was making me afraid. Who knew that I’d get the victory over a core personal issue today? I didn’t even see it coming. It reminds me that we need to be hopeful, on the lookout for victory, for God to show up in our lives and change it for the better. We never know when we are on the edge of breakthrough! 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How Great Thou Art

My grandmother died in the hospital when she was about 90 years old. I didn’t get to see her right before she died, but my mom told me this story about her death that has always stayed with me. Grandma had been blind since my dad was in high school.  She was amazing and I never heard her complain. She cut her own hair, cleaned her own house, and even had a system that served as a grocery list so my grandpa knew what to buy at the store. But more than the remarkable overcoming of her disability, I will always remember her for her devotion to God. Talking to my grandma about the Lord is my fondest memory of time spent with her.  I love it that she didn't turn from God when her life became difficult, but instead she clung to Him in faith.

Anyway, she got sick and wound up in the hospital at the end. I think it was pneumonia or something. Somewhere along the way she just stopped eating. The doctors realized that she’d decided she was done with this life and they planned to keep her comfortable until she passed. She hadn’t eaten for days and hadn’t spoken to anyone either, but the nurse walked into her bedroom one day and she was singing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her lungs. She never spoke again after that and she died within days. As far as anyone knows, those are the last words she said aloud.

I sang “How Great Thou Art” at her funeral.  Some people cautioned me when they heard I planned to sing that song. “You’re going break down in the middle of it and that will be bad.” I thought to myself, “If Grandma can get up the strength to sing that song on her deathbed, then I can sing it, too!”  What a way to go, really, with a heart full of worship.

Today we sang “How Great Thou Art” in worship and of course, I thought of her. I’m not sure she would have recognized it, because our young and vibrant worship band sings it the modern way with guitars and drums and keyboard, but it was lovely. I wondered if she could see me from where she is in heaven. Could she see me singing my heart out to this song? Was she singing, too? I smiled and even teared up a little at the thought of her singing her version while I sang mine, both of us at the top of our lungs. I will see her some day, and we will sing it together. J

The last verse and chorus of “How Great Thou Art”

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

 Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!