Sunday, October 9, 2011

Don't Worry--- Be Happy

Worry- to agonize and meditate on things you have no control over, to be anxious for something that may (or may not) happen in your life

I worry. I know that I shouldn't, but I do. God tells us,

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" Luke 12:22-26

All of my life, I have been very quiet and reserved. I do not open up easily to anyone. I've battled depression most of my life, seen therapists on and off when things got tough, and have taken anti-depressants as needed. I also tend to be controlling, wanting things to follow a pre-determined plan and panic/have anxiety when those things don't follow the plan. I have Adult ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and that affects my ability to not only relate to other people but it bogs me down in my own thoughts, flitting back and forth from one topic to another, while getting "stuck" in my own head time and time again. As a result, I tend to get overwhelmed in large group settings. I tend to be "overlooked" and become invisible. Lately, I have been going through a season of depression. I'm unhappy in my job, in my church, even with friends. I find myself regretting choices I have made that have forced me to break out of my shell. Maybe I have done too much...... maybe I didn't observe God's timing....... maybe it's just me. I find myself becoming so sensitive about things and taking stuff way to personally. I get frustrated when people say, "Oh you are just under attack. You need to trust God." Or, "you just need to get over this." If it were that simple, don't you think I would have done that a long time ago? Trust me, living life in a state of constant "overwhelmedness" is not fun. I also get frustrated when people think I can just "snap out of it"...... I've had to deal with this all my life.... I wish I could find something that worked!

Right now, I'm wanting to just withdraw from everyone. I want to crawl into a little hole and just retreat. I want to give up even trying to do something different and just try to survive.

I get frustrated and jealous of other people who seem to so easily make connections with other people, who never meet a stranger, who always have faith. I wish so badly that I could be that way just once..... but that's not me.

I honestly don't know what to do anymore..... and it frustrates the crap out of me! :(

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tug of War

Ever feel like you are in a tug of war? I've felt that way at work lately. For those of you who know what I did before teaching third grade, I'm sure you find this hilarious! "We told you so!"

As a teacher, I have had to learn how to balance my own personal beliefs about education with the "greater good". I've had to change how I teach certain skills. I've had to follow an increasingly stricter pace. I've had to chart and graph more data than I ever cared to! I've had to stay "on schedule" not only with my grade level, but also my whole district. And I have to tell you...... I don't care for it one bit!

At what point is it still about the good of the children? This year especially I have wondered that. I don't have an issue with the curriculum I'm using.... in fact, I like our reading and language arts series! I've finally figured out how I need to best teach math! Science and social studies? Well.... I'm still working on those. Not to brag, but I'm (or I used to be!) a good teacher. I enjoyed taking time for "teachable moments" and leading students in how to be good thinkers and reasoners.

However, now I feel as though I am a robot. "You...... must..... stay...... on....... pace........" "You....... must....... document......... every.......... word....... said........ by........ the.......students......" "Don't........ think......... for.......... yourself........."

Granted, these are exaggerations, but they are not that far from the truth! I have grown weary of never having enough time to teach my students. We never have enough time to practice skills before we have to assess. I'm tired of all the forms and paperwork. I'm tired of "easier" solutions that just make my life more complicated.

For example, Today........

my day started with a impromptu conference with my boss, an irrate letter from a parent, using my "extra instructional time" to call the disgruntled parent, thus leaving my students reading quietly in the hall while I used the phone. Once we got settled back into the room, it was time to leave again for a bathroom break so that we could be on schedule when the exceptional education teacher comes into our room to work with a student. (Let's not forget two of my students being taken for extra reading help then me panicing at the bathroom because I've lost two kids!) Two hours of reading instruction and practice (I STILL can't meet with every group in a day like I need to!) Time to break for lunch, then bathroom, and reading aloud from our chapter book (while students furiously try to finish any morning work they couldn't work on because they were sitting in the hall!). After our read aloud, quickly cram spelling and grammar down the students' throats.... introduce cursive writing... but, wait! It's time to leave again to go to p.e.! 40 minutes of "planning time" (HA!) for me as I furiously answer emails, put papers and notes in student mailboxes, go to the restroom (if I'm lucky), try to actually SEE my desk instead of the stacks of papers on top of it! P.E. is over, ANOTHER bathroom break, daily calendar, math warm up, review rounding.... but, SURPRISE!!!! time to leave AGAIN to go to the library! Come back from the library, work on a math test (another student leaves to see the OT) but then have to stop in the middle because it is time to pack up to go home...... get everyone in the right spot and the day is OVER!!!! (of course, then i stayed to help with tutoring, but that's another story!)

And I wonder why I feel as though I am being pulled in all directions! The saddest part? that is a "typical" (or as close to typical as I can get) day. These are the days that I hate my job because I feel as though I can't DO my job anymore. :(

So many of us have a tug of war in our own lives. Maybe, like me, it is your work life. Maybe your family has activities every day! Maybe it is your "free" time (do any of us really have free time anymore?) But we all struggle to accomplish all our goals in one or more areas of our life. I don't know about you, but when I feel pulled, I only stretch so far........... at some point, I either give in or fall apart.

So...... how do we keep from giving in? How do we keep from falling apart? For me, I find that when I am at my "rope's end" (get it? tug of war? rope's end?) it is usually because I took too much on myself. I had unrealistic expectations of what I wanted to do, or get done, or wanted things to be. In other words, I became so detail oriented, that I lost sight of the "main thing". In work, my main thing is- to prepare my students to be successful in third grade, but also to be prepared for their future education. In life our main thing should be to "love God and love others" (Matthew 22:36-40)

That's a great lesson, but I gotta be honest, sometimes I need more. Sometimes, I just need REST. I was in need of rest last weekend. Sometimes I just need to get away from my stress and rest...... mentally....... physically......... emotionally............. REST.

God promises us rest.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon yu and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

"He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul." Psalm 23:2-3a

"The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace." Psalm 29:11

I need rest. I need to be reminded that God provides rest. I can't let my rope (life) be pulled so long that I break. I need to be smart and learn when I need to lay my rope down and walk away. Rest, so that I can pick my rope back up another day.

Lord, Help me not to become so overwhelmed with daily life. Help me to keep my rope steady, not allowing it to be pulled in different directions. Help me to remember my focus (You). Give me rest when I am weary. Give me the wisdom to know when I need rest. Amen.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mommy Dearest

I have a heavy heart tonight.

I want to be a mom. For a while I thought I was o.k. if that desire never came true.... but I'm not. It is so disheartening to know that the opportunity probably will never arise and if it does, I may never be able to conceive.

Many of you know that eight years ago (ish) I was diagnosed with type II diabetes. (I always have to think about the students in my class the year I was diagnosed then count forward to the grade they are in now to see how long it has been. When I was first diagnosed, I was faithful to take my medicine, check my blood sugar, etc. but soon I began to skip it. The medicine I had to take for diabetes made me constantly nausious and sick to my stomach... plus, most of the time the medicine did not seem to help.

About three years after my diabetes diagnosis, my blood sugar could not get under control, so I was referred to see an endocrimologist. It was here where I received the news that still haunts me..... along with many other health issues, I have PCOS. For those of you who have never heard of it, PCOS (Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome) causes infertility. My doctor recommened that if I had any plans to have children, I better go ahead and do it. No problem, right? PROBLEM... at the time I was single, not dating anyone, with no prospectives to date. Also, because of my personal beliefs, I knew that I didn't want to go find a random guy to have a baby with..... (I couldn't have afforded one anyway!)

One and a half years ago, I had gastric banding surgery. My weight was out of control, I was unhealthy, and I knew that losing weight was my only chance of ever controlling my sleep apnea, my diabetes, my thyroid, and my PCOS. It was my "shot" at having the life I have always wanted. I went through all the classes, attended the support groups, had everything lined up... fasted for two weeks before surgery (not a problem!), had the surgery and initially lost 35 pounds. My dreams of a better me were coming true!

But then the weight loss slowed...... then stopped.... then the weight began coming back on. Of the 35 pounds I lost, I have regained 15. I have been sicker now than ever before. The list of foods that I can't eat (because they make me throw up) is longer than the list of foods that I can. In fact, there is not a single food that I can successfully eat every time!

I tell you all of this to say that I have had to come to grips with the fact that I will probably never be a Mom. It isn't easy. I work with children every day. I work with them at church every Sunday. Being around them causes me physical pain because of my strong desire for a child.

Please don't tell me, "you can adopt". I've thought of that.... 37 years ago my parents adopted me! But I know that they had to wait a long time for a baby. And at the same time, I'm not sure that I could be a single parent (and Daddy must be hiding somewhere!). I have no immediate family near me, I'm the only income this child would have (and I'm a horrible money manager!) Besides, agencies are looking mostly for stable, two-parent homes for children. My best bet for a child would be to marry someone who already has children (but since I don't date nor do I even know single men my age, that's kind of tough!) Anyway, being a stepmother (evil or not) would be tough and I just don't know if I'm strong enough for that.

My prayer since I was about 16 was that:
a) I would become a Proverbs 31 woman... a woman who pleased God
b) God would send me a husband..... I didn't date much in high school, thinking I would meet someone in college, then after college....... 20 years have passed and I still don't date (by choice--- just not mine)
c) God would let me have a family of my own
d) If my prayers/desires weren't what He had in store for me, that He would change them....

That's been the hardest part. My desire for a family has not lessened.... in fact it has grown stronger the more time I spend with friends who have children! (Always the babysitter, never the mommy)

I just don't know what to do with my emotions though. In my head I know God promises that He will give me the desires of my heart. I know that through Him, all things are possible. My head knows these things...... I just wish that my heart would catch up. I've reached the point that I can't be around young is too painful seeing my greatest longing and knowing it isn't happening. I have a friend who she and her husband are going through the adoption screening process right now in hopes that they might be able to adopt..... I want so badly to be happy for them! But I can't help feeling, "why not me?" Why can't I find a husband and try for a baby?

I have to say that I feel like damaged goods. I've always had self worth issues (never pretty enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, etc.).... these are lies from the devil. I know that the Bible says that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made". But I feel, who would ever want me? I'm no Christian Barbie (I would like to point out that SHE is made of PLASTIC!).... I don't have the outgoing, fun personality of some, and now? I can't even promise a child! Who would want me? Once again, those are LIES from the devil. How do I keep myself remembering that?

I don't want encouragement that "oh, you'll have a child some day" cause no one but God knows that..... besides, at 37 I'm thinking that ship has sailed! I need to know how to deal with the disappointment. Short of changing careers and stop serving in church, I'm going to have to work with children. How do I get past the longing for one of my own?

No one but God can answer my prayers. He alone can change my heart and my desires to match up with His plan for me...... I just wish He would hurry! (but I've never been very patient!)

LORD, Heal my heart. Take away the bitterness I feel towards people who have what I want. Help me to be grateful for what you HAVE blessed me with! Open my ears, Lord so that I will listen and obey when You speak Your plan for me.

Monday, July 25, 2011

So Long Dreams,....

Dreams...... things that you hope for, wish for, long for. Dreams are good.... they can motivate you to take the steps necessary to make them come true. Dreams can also be bad.... they can distract you from the "now".... but at what point (if ever) should you give up on dreams?

It's hard to realize that some of the things you desire most (or your strongest dreams) probably aren't going to happen. I want to know why.... I want to know what is wrong with me that these dreams aren't right for me..... I want the pain of this realization to go away. I want hope that something better is out there for me. I want to know that another dream will replace the old ones.

I've felt incredibly lonely lately, but I've not been by myself. On the contrary, I've probably stepped out of my comfort zone more lately than I have in a long time when it comes to spending time with other people. I have been lonely in a crowd. This happens to me a lot. Surrounded by people having a great time talking and laughing and I sit (or stand) there like an awkward pre-teen, socially inept.

It is times like these that it is hard to rely on my faith in God. I know in my head the promises He has made.... "will never leave me nor forsake me" (Deuteronomy 31:8)...... "the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9)....."I know the plans I have for you... to prosper you and not to harm you... plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11-13)..."cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22)....."you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble" (Psalm 59:16).......... the Bible is full of promises that God has made to his people. My head knows these promises but my heart is broken.

I am the type of person to unwrap gifts then re-wrap them at Christmas. I read the last pages of a book to make sure it turns out right.... in other words, I'm not good at waiting! I hate surprises! I'm a planner.... I want to know the timeline of my life and whether my dreams come true. I wish I knew if my dreams would ever be fulfilled. But then again, am I ready if the answer would be no?

I hate to admit it, but it has gotten harder to be around my friends whose lives seem to be working out. If they have something that I dream of, I get jealous. I don't want to be around them, it is just too painful. That makes me a horrible friend! Rather than be happy for them or encouraging, I shrink away, lost in my own hurt. I wish I knew how to get over this.

So I struggle. Mostly alone because others don't want to hear my pity-party. Friends and well-wishers try to encourage me, "just trust in God" "it will happen when you least expect it" "stay busy serving God" "when you don't focus on it so much it will happen"...... the problem is, I can't seem to lose focus!

I covet your prayers..... I've prayed for years and yet here I still am. Please pray that God will change my dreams and desires if they are not what he has in store for me. Pastor Chris just finished a mini-series about Doors-Finding God's Will. Pray that God will shut doors while others are blown open.

Lord, Help me to wait for Your timing. Help my jealous spirit that I can encourage and rejoice with others when good things happen to them. Help me to continue to believe in Your promises, even when my heart breaks with longing. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Small Groups-- Social Club or Support Group?

In high school, I joined lots of clubs--- Spanish Honor Society, Junior Civitans.... I was in the youth group, helped the band..... all things social..... wanting a group of friends (which I got).
In college, I did the same thing---- I became a member of Baptist Campus Ministries, looked for a church with an active college ministry...... still wanting a group of friends, a place to belong. As an adult, it has become harder to find that group of friends...... I have my "old" friends (that I have known since childhood), my "work" friends that I see almost daily and even spend some time with outside of work.

I know that the best place to find a group of friends who have similar beliefs and morals is at church. However, it has been difficult to find that group. At my childhood church, that group was a Sunday School class. In my current church, it is a small group.

Core group, small group, Sunday School class..... lots of churches use different titles but ultimately these groups are meant to help Christians grow spiritually.

"Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage each other." Hebrews 10:25 (GN)

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying hte favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." Acts 2:42-47

I've been attending "Growth Track" through my church.... tonight's lesson was on how to grow as a Christian..... it spoke about small groups and it made me think..... the apostles in Acts spent time together, they studied together, prayed, met each other's needs...... I want a group like that!

Tonight, I learned that small groups are supposed to provide opportunities for: Bible study, fellowship, communion, prayer, support, praise and worship, and outreach (based on the Acts verses posted above). If even one of these elements is missing in the group, then it is not fulfilling its purpose. If a small group is only interested in fellowship or having fun, then they are a social club, not a support system. If they never spend time studying the Bible, worshipping, and praying together, then they are not being effective. On the other hand, if they only spend time in Bible study and never make the time to fellowship and have fun then they can't develop true relationships either. There has to be a balance of all these things.

As a shy, quiet person in large, unfamiliar settings, it is hard to truly get to know someone. It takes time. It takes trust. It usually (for me, anyway) takes a pre-existing connection with someone in the group. Then slowly, I will come out of my shell. This contributes to why I've had a hard time finding my group. There have been very few people that I can say are my "small group" (a.k.a. support system).

This is my prayer..... God will help me to develop my relationships with other people. I pray that I can be a support for someone else..... I know that this will take time and also require me to step out of my own comforts occassionally. It may even require me to take a role of a leader rather than an observer or spectator (terrifying thought!) I have truly enjoyed the group where God has led me to...... now I must take it to the next level! I cannot be content with just meeting for church service, or in hanging out and having fun.... I must make a conscious effort to grow and help others to grow.

Lord, help me to find the right small group. Help me to overcome my own insecurities in order to be blessed and be a blessing. Help me to live out John 13:34-35, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Help me to remember that I am not called to only be part of a social club, rather I am to be a part of a support system. Help me to be a true friend. Amen.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Watch Out! Don't Trip!

I have always been a klutz.... up until the age of about eight, I spent at least one night a year in the emergency room! Broken bones, a split open ear, passing out, hitting my head, all sorts of crazy things! It got the point that I'm sure we were recognized at the hospital! Most of my accidents were because I did not pay attention and then tripped or lost my balance.

At school, I see lots of "accidents". You know what I'm talking about.... "I accidently put my foot out and he fell"..... "I didn't mean to trip her"...... "my foot slipped"...... all of the excuses children give when they cause someone to trip, fall, or get hurt. (Trust me, with 8 and 9 year olds.... there are LOTS of excuses!)

As Christians, we are commanded not only to keep ourselves upright (and not trip and fall down) but we are also commanded not to cause anyone ELSE to trip.

"Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." I Corinthians 8:9

"Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall." I Corinthians 8:13

"Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God-" I Corinthians 10:32

We (as Christians) are held to a higher standard. It is our responsibility to show God's love, mercy, and redemption plan by our words and our actions. People watch us.... some to discover what we have that is different....... some to "catch" us in sin. We have to pay close attention to how we appear to those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. We cannot live by the world's standards...... we must live by God's standards.

I have a tendency to see things in very concrete ways.... things are black or white, right or wrong..... there is very little gray area...... the Bible gives us guidance on those "big things" that are right or wrong, however many of the "little things" are open for interpretation. That's where the Holy Spirit guides us.

Most Christians agree on the "big things".... don't murder (duh!), read the Bible, pray, don't do drugs, etc. However, many unsaved people also agree with these big things.....

It is the "little things" that give us problems. (I've struggled with my own beliefs in these areas as well!) Is it acceptable to drink alcohol as long as you do not become "drunk"? Is it okay to tell a "white lie" to spare someone's feelings? What about spending lots of time alone (at his/her appartment) with a special friend, as long as you don't "do anything"? It is these questions and others like them that are just as important as the "big" things. How Christians respond to these questions is what should set us apart from unbelievers.

My belief is that if we as Christians do something that may cause another to say, "Why are they doing that? I thought they believed in Jesus" then I have no business doing it. That's not to say that I want to live my life trying to please others (because I will never be able to do that!)..... I just want people to understand where I stand and why.... I want to live a life that is pleasing to God.

I Thessalonians 2:4 "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men, but God, who tests our hearts."

I Thessalonians 4:7 "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."

I Thessalonians 4:11-12 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

I don't know about you, but I struggle with this calling. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I have been forgiven of my past sins. However, I still have a free will. I am still a sinner.... I am prideful, I want my own way, I am still tempted by sin. I want desperately to please God but on my own, I can't. So what can I do? I can PRAY TO GOD that He will enable me to live a pleasing life, a life that could build someone up rather than cause them to stumble.

I Thessalonians 3:13 "May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones."

Lord, Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You. Help me to show an example of Your love and plan to those who do not already know You. Show me areas in my life that have caused others to trip and stumble. Forgive me for those areas and help me to change my example. Provide me with Christian friends who can keep me accountable for my actions. I love You. Amen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don't Leave Me!

Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)

Isaiah 41:10 "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."

Philippians 4:6a "Do not be anxious (worry) about anything,"

I have always been afraid of abandonment. As a baby, I was given up for adoption. While growing up, I was always afraid of being "left behind". As an adult, I see all my friends getting married, having children, moving away...... all things that cause me to feel as though I was abandoned. My parents even moved away when they retired, thus the feelings of abandonment happened once again.

I have even distanced myself (consciously or subconsciously I don't know) from people when I sensed that their lives were changing in such a way that would "abandon" me. I always told myself that "they were too busy" or that "they don't need me taking up their time". Time after time I've done this.... friends in high school, college, family members.... all because they couldn't always be my friend when I wanted them to be.

These fears of abandonment are not true. While it is true that life changes (and people's lives change over time) that doesn't mean that I can't still be a part of that life. People will let you down (intentionally or not). They can't always cater to my every need or whim. Nor can I do the same to them.

However, when I feel abandoned, God is still with me..... He commands me not to fear because He will always be with me! Even when my friends can't help me, God can! Even when I feel alone, God is with me!

At the same time, I cannot compare myself to what others have and then use those "haves" to feel worse about myself. Just because we aren't the same, doesn't mean that we can't be friends and support each other. Just because we are in different seasons of life, doesn't mean we can't enjoy each other and have things in common. I have to remember that God has a purpose for me during this time in my life, just like he has a purpose for my friend who may be in a different situation.

Lord, help me to remember that You will never leave me. You are my strong foundation. You are my provider. Through You, I can do all things. Help me to remember that I am Your child and that You care for me. Help me not to be envious of what others have. Help me to be used for good according to Your plan. Teach me to be content. Amen.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not-So-Patiently Waiting

"I began to learn to wait."

These words were spoken by Elisabeth Elliot in her book, Pasion and Purity. In this book, Elisabeth tells of the love story between she and her first husband, Jim Elliot. I first read this book when I was about 16 years old, and have read it countless times since then.

Wait- it means, to "remain, expecting something"... "attend as a servant"...... "a stay; a delay"

I have been waiting a long time. Nothing compared to an eternity, but for me: a long time. Waiting on what? For companionship, for supportive friends, for wisdom, for God's plan for me.

"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:5

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130: 5

"Blessed are all who wait for him!" Isaiah 30:18b

Waiting is HARD..... I am not (nor have I ever been) a patient person.... I like structure, a plan, a time line. I rarely get caught by surprise.

But waiting is something that I (and we all!) must do. However, as I wait, I must move forward. The Bible teaches that we must, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2) and that we should "make the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5b). We cannot sit around and wait, as one might do in a doctor's office.... we must be ACTIVE! We must also be hopeful knowing that "the one who calls you is faitful and he will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24).

Elisabeth Elliot waited. And God was faithful to her (and Jim's) obedience. There were times when she struggled with her thoughts and feelings, yet she WAITED. I need to wait also....... on whatever God has in store for me... on whoever God has in store for me...... in who God is.

Lord, help me to wait. You know how much I hate waiting. You know how impatient that I am. You know what is best for me. Help me to serve You during my wait. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy New Year?

I'm sure you are looking at the title and asking yourself if I have finally lost it.... but I was just thinking about how every new year (January 1), I make tons of resolutions and then NEVER stick to them! What are resolutions? They are goals... NEW things that we want to do!

God is a God of NEW.....

"He put a NEW song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God" Psalm 40:3

"Sing to the Lord a NEW song, for he has done marvelous things" Psalm 98:1

"Behold, I wil create NEW heavens and a NEW earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." Isaiah 65:17

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are NEW every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3: 22-23

"I will give them an undivided heart and put a NEW spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh." Ezekial 11:19

"Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a NEW heart and a NEW spirit." Ezekial 18:31

And that's just the old testament!

"A NEW command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34

"Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a NEW life." Romands 6:4b

"Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a NEW batch without yeast- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrifieced." I Corinthians 5:7

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW creation; the old has gone, the NEW has come!" 2Corinthians 5:17

God promises us a new heart, new spirit, new commands... He promises to make us NEW creations! We must remember that God blesses us with a NEW day each day.... what we chose to make of it is up to us......

I choose to live each NEW day to the fullest...... that I may glorify God and show others what He has done for me. So, if each day is NEW.... then I guess I can say..... "Happy NEW Year!" What goals are you going to set for yourself?

Lord, Help me to not waste my NEW.... the NEW day, the NEW life, the NEW love You have given me. Amen.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Don't You Just Grow Up?

Ephesians 4:11-16 "It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men intheir deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it work."

This passage was shared Wednesday night at church. The youth pastor was speaking about how summer can be a time of growth in Christ, or it can be a time of "slacking off". One of the things he said was, "people spend so long trying to find our purpose (God's purpose for us), when we need to focus on maturity (growing in Christ)". WOW! For years, I have seeked God's purpose for my life. In fact, it was the reason I began a blog.... to share my random thoughts and search for a purpose. However, finding a purpose shouldn't be my goal. My goal should be maturity. Maturity...... really? me?

The pastor spoke of how so many youth come to him saying that they just LOVE God..... Loving God is basic/entry level..... it's awesome to love God, it is a reaction to the cross. The important thing is to DO something about our love for Christ! What is it that we should do to show our love? "and find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10) Pray! Read the Bible! Spend time with other believers! Share our testimony and witness to others! Love those around us! Be a servant! Avoid temptation! Obedience to His commands! By showing our love, we become more mature in our faith.

I think about my students and how much they grow during the school year. They become more mature by following the rules, studying, showing self control, living up to their potential........ should it be any different for us Christians? These same disciplines help us to become more mature also. It's amazing to see what they can accomplish at the end of the year, when their third grade time is finished. How much more can we accomplish in our lives by focusing on maturing?

One of my students never took responsibilty for his own actions. Whenever he got in trouble, it was always "someone else's fault" or "they did it to and you didn't say anything to them". However, now, at the end of the year, he has learned to accept responsiblity for his own actions. Is he perfect? No. Does he still get in trouble occasionally? Yes. Has he matured? Absolutely. This student has learned that maturity is the willingness to accept responsiblity. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours (God's) be done" (Luke 22:42).

The pastor closed the message saying, "If we focus on maturity, our calling will find us". That is my new focus: Maturity..... I wanna GROW UP!!!!

Lord, Help me to remember that my growth should be my focus. Help me to please You through my words and actions. Help me to outgrow childish things that attract sin. Help me to accept responsibility when I fail You. Help me to trust You, knowing that You will reveal Yourself to me as I seek You and grow in You. Amen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Which Way? God's Way

Deuteronomy 2:3 "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north." This past weekend I attended a women's conference. This was one of the passages that was shared. So many times I have "circled" around the same issues: what is His plan for my life? will my prayers ever be answered? I need to stop circling and go NORTH! I need to go in a new direction, trusting that God will guide me and show me the way. I cannot continue to dwell on where I am (my current situation) and continue to do the same things over and over that have not produced results, I must go in a new way!

Over the past few weeks, I have begun to see some areas in my life where I have not totally obeyed God. This lack of obedience causes me to "circle".... to hope, pray, to want my life to be differently without taking the action needed. If all I ever do is circle, then I will never make any progress on my journey. I must change directions, I must do things differently, I must OBEY! In Luke 6:46-49, Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders. He says, "But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation." (verse 49a). I'm not a builder (I'm not even all that handy!) but I understand that if my house (life) is not built on a strong foundation (obedience) then when the elements (trials) come, my home will not stand firm. I wish I could say that I was obedient. I'm not.

One of the biggest areas I have realized I need to obey is in tithing. I give, but I don't tithe. God commands us to tithe. Malachi 3:8a, 10a, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. Bring the whole title into the storehouse" I have always used the excuse that I support good causes to avoid tithing. I have been afraid of not having my needs met...... I have been tight-fisted..... I have been too self-involved to tithe...... I have been greedy, wanting things for myself rather than obey.

I believe that tithing is one of the ways that I need to go north. I have to step out in faith and believe that if I am obedient to His word, then He will supply my needs. He even promises to do that..... Malachi 3: 10b "Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." I may have to give up non-necessities, but ultimately I know that God will provide for me.

I'm asking for prayer..... anyone who may read my random thoughts, my journey towards purpose........ pray that I have the courage to change directions, courage that I can GO NORTH! I'm also asking for accountability...... I can't just acknowledge what I need to do, I must OBEY! I John 3: 22b "because we obey his commands and do what pleases Him"

Lord, Forgive my disobedience. Forgive my self-centeredness. Help me to obey. Help me to trust that you will supply all my needs. Help me to have the courage to change directions, to stop circling around and around, accomplishing nothing. Help me to seek the new direction, the path where I need to be to learn from You, glorify You, OBEY You. Bless my spiritual growth that You will continue to show me other areas in which I am not obedient. Amen

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Seek Joy, Not Happiness

OK.... I know that I have written a lot about the book "God Chicks" by Holly Wagner. Let me say that this book has changed my perspective in my responsibilities as a Christian! In the chapter, 'The Party Chick' Wagner tells us that "What will set us (Christians) apart from most of the world is being able to rejoice even in the midst of challenges." She goes on to encourage us to "search (seek) for joy. Joy isn't some flighty, fluffy emotion. It is far more powerful than being happy. It is the steel that runs through your body. It is your strength." WOW!!!!!!!! My focus is NOT to be happy.... it is to be JOYFUL! The Bible has a lot to say about being joyful--- "But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful." Psalm 68:3 "yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" Hab. 3:18 "Be joyful in hope, patient, in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12 "Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I Thess. 5:16-18 The things that are happening around me (good AND bad) should not affect my joy..... My joy comes from my relationship with God and the sacrifice He made because of His love for me. Even when I am upset about something, I can still have joy. Even when things are going wonderfully, I can have joy. One of the ways that I can be more joyful is by seeking the good in people/things.... the more I encourage joyfulness in my life, the more I will be joyful! Not only should I increase my own joyfulness, I should also encourage others to be joyful! Wagner says, "Our words are powerful tools that can bring hurt or healing. Let's be determined to be the chick whose words bring life (or joy)". How many times have we relied on others to encourage us? George M. Adams said, "There are low spots in our lives, but there are also high spots, and most of them have come through encouragement from someone else." In other words, when we are on top of the mountain (rather than down in the valley), it is because someone has helped us to get there. Just as others have lifted us up, we should lift up those who need encouragement. We have to be observent to the needs of others around us. We cannont be so self-centered that we miss the opportunities to help others. Wow..... how often have I ignored the needs of others because I was too focused on myself? How many times have I let others' words or actions steal my joy? Lord, help me to take focus off of myself. Help me to encourage others and help them to seek the joy that only comes from you. Help me to remember that my happiness is not what I should focus on. Help me to seek JOY. Amen

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Are You Nobody Too?

"I'm nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody too?" This poem by Emily Dickinson sums up how I feel. Invisible... Lonely... Left Out... Ignored.... All Alone. I know that these thoughts aren't true.... they are lies the devil tells me to try and damage my witness for Christ. However, I have no idea how to get rid of these thoughts! As soon as I begin to show growth in my relationship with Christ, I stumble and fall. I listen to the negative thoughts in my head and use it as an excuse on why I can retreat into my own shell. I can find LOTS of excuses on why I can't be outgoing and friendly..... "no one will miss me".... "I don't fit in there".... the list goes on and on. I am also too sensitive to other's comments (or lack thereof!) Self doubt is horrible, yet worse is doubting Christ. Christ created me to be a NEW creature... "all the old is gone and all things are made new". Why do I keep letting the OLD me creep up? Why do I let others cause me to be depressed? Why can I not be thankful for who I am through Christ? Why can't I know that he created me with a purpose that only I can fulfill? "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Phillipians 4:4,6-8 (NIV) Lord, help me to always rejoice in you! You have commanded me to pray and turn all worries over to you. You have shown me what things are worthy of thought. Help me to give all my concerns and worries to You. Remind me that I should keep my mind on You. Give me peace, knowing that You are my protector and guardian. Amen

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What About Your Now Moment?

What are you doing with your now moment? This is the main question of "The Party Chick" chapter of God Chicks by Holly Wagner. I have been reading this book as part of my Thursday night small group Bible study. Wagner says, "We are given the moment called now. And this moment will not come again. We are to live each moment." I am so guilty of always thinking forward, planning ahead, worrying about the future, etc. Rarely do I stop to think about my now moment: the place I am at right now. Usually, I am so busy trying to plan every last second, trying to take control of my life so there will be no surprises. Then, not only do I plan every second, I then worry about the plan and that it may not go the way I want (it's a sickness, I KNOW!!!) It is alright for me to look forward to something, but I cannot ignore my now moment as a result! Henry David Thoreau said, "You can't kill time without injuring eternity." As a Christian, it is my task to live every moment, using each moment to fulfill my mission (God's purpose for me). In the good now moments? Praise God! In the now moments where I have met goals or had victories? Celebrate! In my now moments of difficulties? Seek Joy! Lord, may I always be aware of my "now". Help me not to get so focused on the future (or the past) so that I may be useful to You. Amen

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Do I Look?

Like most people (women especially!) I'm concerned with how I look. I love to shop and spend time seeking out the cutest outfits, matching shoes, trendy accessories.... the total package! Even though I'll never be a skinny gal, I still want to look my best. I'm the type of girly girl that has to wear jewelry and perfume EVERYWHERE I go, even to the gym! I want to wear the latest fashions (just in a slightly larger size), have my nails/toes done, get my hair done, all the things to help me look my best. In short, I want to look the best that I possibly can! And, if people should happen to notice; well, that's just a bonus! However, I often am too focused on my outward appearance and what people think of me. The Bible says, "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'" I Samuel 16:7 (NIV) Wow! I should focus more on my inward self.... my kindness, my self-control, my patience (ouch, that's a tough one!), my gentleness.... all the fruits of the Spirit. I should focus on my relationship with God.... do I spend time with Him daily? Worshipping? Reading the Bible? Talking (Praying) to Him? Imagine the relationship I would have with Him if I spent as much time on these things instead of shopping, getting pampered, fixing my hair/makeup, etc. That's not to say that it is wrong to look your best, how we look can impact our witness! However, I will be judged more strongly on my actions than my appearance. Proverbs 31:30 tells us, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting (vain); but a woman who fears (reveres) the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Do my works for God deserve praise? Sadly, not always. All of the compliments I receive for my outward appearance mean nothing. The better question is not, "How Do I Look?" but rather, "How is my heart?" Lord, help me to be always mindful that you do not judge me by my looks, rather, you see my heart. You see the true me that no one else knows. You know my thoughts, feelings, and motives. Help me to always seek to please You in these ways. Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Invisible Woman

Did you ever wish for a super power? I used to love watching super hero cartoons when I was growning up.... Superman, Batman, The Justice League.... and like any child, I imagined "what if". Wouldn't it be cool to be able to fly, or have super strength? Well, I have a super power... I am the invisible woman! I have the ability to stand in a crowd of people and NEVER be noticed.... sometimes that's a blessing; other times? a curse. I have wondered many times, "Would people miss me if I was gone? Would people even realize I wasn't there?" Lies of the devil, I know, but still a consequence of feeling invisible. I have always been an overly cautious person.... never one to reach out and make friends easily. As a result, I tend to "blend in" to my surroundings, standing back, taking it all in. I can't complain too much... I have developed great "people watching" skills and have good intuition about other people. However, when I feel lonely or sad because I don't think people notice me, I have no one to blame except myself. In my nightly reading, I am reading "God Chicks" by Holly Wagner. In her book, she speaks to women about different things we should be (warrior chick, friend chick, etc.). In the chapter, 'Friend Chick' Wagner writes how our different personalities can impact our friendships. She focuses on Hippocrates's 4 different personality types. She writes that Hippocrates came up with the types so that we can understand why people react the way they do. Wagner says that we are a combination of the 4 types, but that we have a more dominant type. I (of course!) am the melancholy type. In reading the description, there is no way I could deny that. I am a deep thinker, creative and artistic, like things in order (can you say OCD?), but I also tend to be pessimistic and can become depressed when other people don't measure up to what is wanted or expected. That spoke to me. I am so quick to get irritated at friends when they don't do/say things that I want them to. Then I use my irritation as an excuse to not "get involved" or to try and distance myself from people. I've screwed up some friendships in the past because I would get irritated that people didn't live up to my unrealistic standards. I need to work on that. I can't always rely on other people to notice me, cater to me, do what I want..... I have to reach out to others and be their friend, notice them, cater to them. In "God Chicks", Wagner also talks about loyalty in friendships and how no relationship (friendship or otherwise) won't always be 50/50. She says, "In every relationship, there are times when one person is doing most of the giving." I cannot always be the one who does all the getting, I must also give. I can give my loyalty to my friends when they are having a tough time. I can give my loyalty and support to my friends when they are having good times. I can even give support to my friends when great things are happening to them that I want for my life! (That's the hardest one!) I have to take my eyes off myself and focus in on others. When I do that, I step out.... I no longer am invisible! "A friend loves at ALL times" Proverbs 17:17a

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lonely in a Crowd?

I've struggled most of my life with occasional depression and feelings of worthlessness. I've been battling one of those "seasons of depression" recently and I can't seem to shake it. My life has not turned out the way I had always imagined. By this time of my life, I always thought that I would be married, have the 2.5 kids, nice picket fence, drive a mom van, have a wonderfully successful career...... somehow I also imagined myself skinny and stunningly beautiful (but that's another story!) As I've gotten older, I've found myself "shrinking away" from others, letting my FEAR of not being good enough get in the way of developing true relationships with others. Sadly, I've also shrunk away from my relationship with God. I became a Christian when I was in 8th grade. I remember my leaders and mentors while I was a teenager and college student. They helped me to grow as a Christian and helped me learn what to do to serve God. I was involved with a group of Christians who were my support system, encouraging me. At the same time, I encouraged them. I miss that fellowship with other believers. I've grown up now (at least age-wise) and have to accept the fact that the same fellowship and relationships that I had in college aren't necessarily going to be the same that I have now as an adult. I'm single, no kids.... I don't have the same responsibilities that my friends with children have. I have the freedom to do as I please, not having to necessarily think of anyone else. At the same time, that freedom is also a curse. People develop friendships with people they have things in common with...... young families befriend other young families, single parents befriend other single parents, married couples befriend other married couples, and so on..... I desperately want to find others in a similar situation as me, but let's be honest..... there aren't that many of us out there! I've recently been attending a new church and while I like it, it is still hard not to feel like there is a not a "place" for me there. (Not having a place to belong was one of the reasons I started attending a different church.) It has been so difficult to trust God in His plan for my life. For years, I have had the same prayer, yet it has not been answered. Psalm 27:4 tells me that "God will give me the desires of my heart".... my prayer has been that if my desires aren't His desires for me, that He would change those desires..... yet they remain a large part of me. Is that God's way of telling me to wait? Or am I refusing to change my desires? Is there an area in my life that I need to examine before I'm ready for His plan? I have found, in my experiences, that I have felt overwhelmingly lonely, even (especially in!) in a crowd of people. I have almost began having panic attacks when around others. I let FEAR defeat me. Why am I afraid? I have things to offer! I'm smart, funny (witty, even!), creative, an encourager, hard worker, good problem solver, insightful, and above all, I AM A CHILD OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What others think of me, what I think of myself, should not matter! I cannot allow the devil to beat me down by causing me to doubt myself, my relationship with God, and the work that I can do for the Kingdom! God's Word tells me, " Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27) My prayer is that I will have peace about finding where I fit in. Dear Lord, help me to become the person that you desire for me to be. Help me to overcome my fear so that I may be an example of You to those I know. Amen

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mary or Martha?

Tonight at church I was touched by the story of Mary and Martha, Lazarus's sisters. Do you remember them? Jesus was in their home, ministring to people when Mary left the kitchen to come sit at Jesus's feet while Martha remained in the kitchen. Martha got mad and complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping. In Luke 10:40 (NIV) it says that Martha was distracted. In verses 41-42, Jesus says, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Wow! That spoke volumes to me! I have had trouble staying focused all my life... easily distracted by the little things around me........ as an adult, my attention span has become that of a nine-year old child! I, like Martha, am distracted by the less-important things, losing my focus. Mary had the same responsibilities of her sister Martha (after all, they had a whole housefull of guests!) , yet she made the better choice. Mary realized that "the little things" were not important or as pressing compared with time at Jesus's feet. Most days I feel as though I'm running around with my hair on fire! There is SO MUCH to get done each day..... get up, get ready, feed the cat, drive to work, lesson plans, make copies, go home, cook, go to the gym, grade papers..... the list is endless! None of these are bad things, they are all things that need to be done........ yet not once did I mention spending time with Jesus. Too often, my time of Bible reading and quiet time is either put off until evening, or I just forget. I'm ashamed to admit that, but it's true. I'm too distracted with daily life. I'm too worried about the "many things" than to know the one thing that is needed.... renewing my relationship with Jesus. I've struggled in my relationship with God for years. After my time in Indiana, I came back home mad at God. I let my daily life distract me.... "I was too busy", "I really need Sunday to rest", all the excuses to keep from spending time with Him. I am trying to repair this relationship. I've come to realize that my life will never be different until I set my priorities straight. I must be involved in daily time alone with God. I must find a fellowship of believers whom I can encourage and be encouraged. Ultimately, I need to be a Mary. I need to chose the best thing (Jesus). So.... Margaret, don't be distracted!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and doggonit, People Like Me

Anyone else remember this? Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley.... Saturday Night Live! Like many people, I have struggled with feelings of self-worth. When I look in the mirror, I am quick to point out the flaws that I see.... those gray hairs, the extra pounds, the million chins! Too often I listen to that negative voice in my head that says, "you aren't good enough", "no one will like you," no one will even notice you"! Very rarely can I tell you GOOD things about myself... I'm creative, determined, I'm a good teacher, I'm funny............ even now I really struggle to think about positive things about myself! We constantly compare ourselves to other people.... I want that person's hairstyle, love their fashion sense, wish I was as outgoing as they are.... or we want things that others have... I want a car like that! Why can't I be skinny like her? The list could go on and on! We place our worth in THINGS (or lack thereof!) rather than in our Savior! The Bible tells us that He "chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters!) through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ." Ephesians 1: 4-9 (NIV) God desires us to place our worth through HIM.... we were created by him.... US.... sinful beings were chosen by GOD, to be redeemed by GOD, to praise GOD and serve Him! He reveals His will to us according to HIS good pleasure! My worth has NOTHING to do with me.... my haves/have nots, my intelligence, my personality.... my worth has EVERYTHING to do with the One who FORGAVE me.... so, I guess the quote would better be..... "I'm NOT Good Enough, I'm NOT Smart Enough, but, Doggonit... My SAVIOR CHOSE ME ANYWAY!!!!! :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

What was I thinking? Why can't I think that way again?

When I was in college, I was a summer missionary. Three summers. My last summer (before my senior year) I was sent to Minnesota for the summer. That was the summer of 1995. For whatever reason (that I can't remember now) I kept a journal of sorts. Last night during my Bible reading I came across the journal and began to read some of my thinking. In many ways, I'm in awe of how deep my thinking was, yet I still struggled with the same thing: finding God's will for my life! Can't help but feel a little sad that I have regressed in my relationship with God. That's now how it's supposed to be! Here are a few of my excerpts......."May 29, I'm scared because I don't have the same eagerness and anticipation as everyone else. Is this really God's will or is it just something to do?" Was I doubting my going? My calling? Or was it just nerves? Today, I think that it was the nerves and anticipation of a summer of new discovery! As I was reading I found a letter I had written to myself near the end of my partner and I's time at a particular church. Looking over the letter I weep wondering "where did I go wrong?" I think about how sure I was as a 21 year-old about what I thought God wanted me to do. Was I wrong? Or have I been disobedient and not followed what I thought was God's plan was for me? Here is parts of the letter: July 10, 1995 "Tonight I just got back from eating supper at the Copeland's house. Phil and Kris were missionaries in West Africa. After speaking with them I feel like Jonah--- running from God and His calling. When I was 17, I went on a ten day mission trip to Belize to work with a church doing Bible club. I remember thinking, 'I could handle doing this for the rest of my life.' Little did I know that God might call me to foreign missions. The next year I went to St. Anne's Bay, Jamaica on a 10 day mission trip. It was during this time when I really began to struggle with God's calling. I talked with Wayne, an adult who had met up with our church group and was one of our leaders. He shared with me 4 steps to finding God's will.... 1. personal quiet time (prayer and Bible study), 2. godly counsel, 3. Bible, and 4. wisdom of parents" During that same summer, I talked with one of the pastors we were working with about foreign missions. Long story short, I wasn't sure if that was the right thing for me because I was scared of being alone. I gave God a condition: I would have to have a companion (husband). Ultimately, I applied for (and received a position) as a 2-year home missionary after graduation. My letter concluded, "I'm scared because I do not know how to be strong. I don't want to be alone on the mission field. I know that God will grant me companionship, but it may not necesssarily be a husband. God will not allow me to be alone- for He is always with me and will never leave me nor forsake me." I did go as a home missionary after college. I spent one-and-a-half years as a missionary in Indiana and was miserable the whole time. I often wonder if it was because I was only half-following God's will......... I can't go back and "re-do" my life (although sometimes I think it would be nice to be able too!) but I can start now to seek God's will for the next stages of my life. I truly believe God lead me to elementary education.... Heaven knows I have a lot to learn and do better, but I care for my students and want to be a leader for them. But that's not enough... God has another calling for me, a calling to help others and spread the gospel to others. I usually have a few books at a time that I am reading.... some "for fun", others educational, and then some about Christian living... right now I am reading "God Chicks" by Holly Wagner and Stormie Omartian's "Praying God's Will for Your Life".... one of the things that Omartian speaks aobut in her book, she speaks of how God's will is continuous.... basically from the womb to the tomb...Isaiah 58:11 says, "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." My soul has been in drought for a long time... hopefully I am taking the steps to be watered! :) I have to continue to read my Bible, fellowship with other believers and seek godly counsel..... maybe one day I can get back to the "maturity" of the 20/21-year old me

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Place in This World

I've always loved Michael W. Smith's song "Place in this World" (I know.... I was a teen in the late 80's/early 90's). But my love of this song goes beyond just growing up. I have always struggled to find my "place".... my path.... God's will for my life. This blog is my search for God's will in my life..... my thoughts, prayers, and random insights that I may have! I'm 37 (about to be 38) years old...... you would think I would know my place by now..... I don't. I question every aspect of my life.... am I in the right career? am I at the right school? am I attending the right church? should I move to a different house? will I ever get married? have kids? find friends? My mind works OVERTIME with all my questioning! I was given up by my birth mother and adopted into a wonderful Christian family. However, I have always felt abandoned. Even though in my head I know that this was the right thing for me (a.k.a. God's will), my heart wonders "why?" I know that I have used this as an excuse to keep an "arm's length" away from people.... to avoid becoming hurt. My own insecurities have distracted me from finding God's purpose for me. I have avoided meeting the needs of others because I was so focused on myself. I believe that God has a purpose and a plan for my life. In fact, He tells me that He does! Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV) tells me, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your hear." Imagine that! God has a future pre-set for me! But I will only discover it when I seek HIM. Why is that so hard? It's so easy to seek God when things are wrong.... or to ask for things, but I need to remember that I must CONTINUALLY seek Him and come to Him and WAIT for His answer (I hate waiting!). I think of all the times that I did not have the patience to wait on His plan and did my own thing.... what disasters those turned out to be! For years I have prayed Psalm 37:4 (NIV) "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." However, MY desires aren't always what I need! I've prayed that God would change my desires to His desires for me, yet secretly (but not secret to Him) always wanting what I wanted. Does that make sense? Ultimately, I must be OBEDIENT to Him in ALL areas of my life! I must give Him TOTAL CONTROL of my life. As the pastor said in church this morning, I must KNOW Jesus so that I can follow Him. I must speak (pray) with Him enough and LISTEN enough so that I know His voice. So, for anyone out there.... my prayer is this: Trust (have FAITH in!) the Lord with ALL my heart and lean not on MY own (puny) understanding: in ALL my ways acknowledge (submit to) Him and He will make my path straight (direct me in the way I should go). Proverbs 3:5-6