Sunday, April 24, 2011

Perspective Shift

     I feel overwhelmed with all the Lord is teaching me, but a good overwhelmed. I feel like He is just sitting with me and sharing all these truths and I am trying to soak it all up because I know that seasons like this don't last forever. As I have been walking through this season of learning faith and being asked some hard questions, my perspective on my life and life in general has really begun to shift. I have said before in one of my blogs that our perspective is not God's perspective and His ways are not our ways. With that, I really feel like He has been challenging me more and going deeper with me on what that really looks like in my life.
     I have shared before about my struggle with it taking a while to get pregnant and how that has shaken me up a bit. There is so much uncertainty when it comes to having kids, and I guess much of life is that way, but this has been a major area of struggle in my life. And the longer times goes on without getting pregnant the more and more I can feel fear and panic try to grip my heart. The days when hopelessness seems to get the best of me, I find myself asking why the strong desire to have kids and why have I ALWAYS wanted to be a mom if these longings are never going to be fulfilled? While praying through some of these questions this week I was reminded of the story in the Bible of Abraham and Sarah.
     Abraham and Sarah wanted children but they had none and they were past the child-bearing age. God spoke to Abraham in his old age and promised him a son, born from Sarah, and also said that his offspring will be as many as the stars in the sky. As time passed, they began to doubt God's promise. Sarah did not think they would have children so she told Abraham to sleep with her slave, Hagar, and have a child. Abraham did just that and had a son with Hagar named Ishmael. Sarah and Abraham waited for 25 years for God to give them a son and God did what He said He would do and gave them a child. 25 YEARS! Abraham was 100 years old when this happened! He had two sons now. But, didn't God say that his offspring would be as many as the stars in the sky? To anyone looking at Abraham's family, I am sure they thought, surely, God must have lied or forgotten what He promised you. How could this man have many offspring but only have two sons? But from Isaac started the lineage of the Israel nation, hence, making Abraham the father of many.
    So, that is a WAY abbreviated version of a really great story but I had to give some background for this blog to make any sense. This story spoke to me about perspective. There are so many times in our lives when we feel the Lord has spoken something to us or He has given us a desire to do or be something and then we take that and mold it into what we think it should or will look like. I don't think dreaming or making plans with those desires is wrong in any way, but I think the struggle for me is when I make those dreams something that I think has to happen. I assume because God gave me such a huge heart for children that I will have them, and lots of them,  when I think it is the right time.  I lose perspective, and when I lose perspective I close myself off to what the Lord may have in store for me. God told Abraham he would have many offspring and I am sure he may have thought that meant literally, lots of children, but it did not. But Abraham stayed open to the Lord. Things don't always happen they way we want or when we want it to happen, and there is no doubt that it is a painful process sometimes, but our ways are not the Lord's. That has been my challenge, praying for the Lord's perspective in my life, praying that I stay open to all His ways. Knowing that because he gave me a passion for children also means that, that passion can be fulfilled in a thousand different ways and I need to trust that the way He chooses to fulfill it in my life will bring me ultimate satisfaction. My prayer truly is that the Lord's will would be done in my life the way He sees fit, because when I choose my own perspective I close myself to all the glorious ways my Lord wants to fulfill my desires.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Be Anxious About Nothing

Lately I have been feeling so anxious and stressed.
Anxious about the future and anxious about dreams that are yet to happen.
Stressed about money and decisions my husband and I are making, or attempting to make. I can physically feel my anxiety during the day and I let it fester, ignoring it, wishing it away.
We have been going through Phillipians at Church and a couple Sundays ago we talked about Phillipians 4:6-7 which says,
      "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus".

That is a scripture I have memorized and repeat when I am feeling anxious, but I think I do it to make myself "feel" better, rather than saying it because I believe it as truth. I think the thing that caught my attention when we talked about this at church was the fact that this is not just a mere suggestion or a good thought. Paul did not say this to Chirstians in hopes that we might listen. When he said "do not be anxious about anything", that was a command from God through the mouth of Paul. I think that anxiousness and stress are such "permitable" sins in the Christian world. Doesn't everyone deal with that? Isn't being anxious just a part of living on this earth? For so long I have thought so. When my husband called me out and said I was living in sin because of all my anxiety I was in total disagreement with him. How can I not live with this? It is what I have always known, honestly, since I can remember. I  have not taken that verse as a command, but as a suggestion or a "good thought" of how life could be. But I have too often stopped there in the scripture. I have stopped at where it tells me not to be anxious and have missed the glorious promise written there. I have been so fixated on the part of the scripture that I can "control". If I try hard enough, I can not be anxious, I can trust God, right? Maybe if I am not anxious then good things will happen. Life will start to fall in place because I am doing what God asks me, but that is not so. And I am so thankful that, that is not truth. I am so thankful that God acting in my life does not have anything to do with me doing things "right". What I have learned to love about this verse is the second part.
"...but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will gaurd your heart and mind".
What a promise! I love that all I have to do is present my requests to the Lord, lay my everything at His feet, and His peace will gaurd my heart and mind. What a promise it is to rest in that He does not assure us that he will always give us what we ask for, but He does promise He will give us what we need in that moment; His peace. The peace the truly does transcend ALL of our understanding. When we think we have think we have been given more then we can handle and can't go on, He meets us with His peace. His unending, enduring, unmerited peace.

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

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Faithfulness Reminded

     Today I was reminded of God's faithfulness.
     It has been a tough season for me lately. If you have read any of my other blogs, you have read the various things that have made this season a hard one. This season is not made up of any extreme hardships or losses but a season of fighting. Fighting for truth. Fighting to find what is good and true. Fighting to know a God that rejoices in me. And fighting to know if I can stand firm on the truth I do know. Asking the Lord somedays if He even sees me and if He really sees me then how in the world can he love this mess of a girl?
     I've been searching for identity. I knew who I was before marriage, but who am I now that I am married, now that I am no longer a teenager and now a wife. Am I just a wife? Am I going to be in my husband's shadow always? What happened to all the gifts I thought the Lord had given me? Did they disappear or did He take them away? Will I ever use them again? So many questions and no answers to calm the fears, just faith. Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance of what we do not see (Heb.11:1), right? Faith has been my sight. Faith that God sees, hears, and knows the thoughts, heart and actions of this girl. Do you hear and not respond? Do you see and not care? I am asking. I am fighting with the air, are you there?
     Today He fought back. Today He answered. Today He spoke life into a tired heart. He had heard me and had not turned His back to me.
     "My daughter, you are valuable beyond belief. You are set apart. You are worthy. I have called you out of death and into life, wonderful life to show others, to teach others. Rise up. Not in your own strength, but in the strength that is perfected in your weaknesses. The weaknesses I know and love. I have made you in my glorious image and you are fearfully and wonderfully  made. Your ways are not my ways, or your time my time, or you thoughts my thoughts. I see, I hear, I know and I"
     Today I was reminded of God's faithfulness.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

      Fearfully and wonderfully made? This is something I have heard my whole life, but have struggled to believe. I have struggled through my life with self-image issues. At times honestly hating myself; hating my personality, my looks, my body, my relationships. These are the lies that have bombarded me and that I continue to fight everyday. It a grueling fight and a true re-wiring of my way of thinking and what I believe about myself and my Lord. Somedays I want lay down in surrender because I am tired; tired of feeling like this and tired of fighting so hard just to "know" my worth. These lies have come from rejection and abadonment that I am sure, one time or another, all of us have felt or been through. It comes from the constant images thrown in my face, telling me what is beautiful and what I need to do to become that and the reality that I will never be that. I compare, it feels like, all day and everyday. It is so silly sometimes...comparing looks, blogs, cooking, marriages, families, careers and the list goes on and one. Trust me, I am never in a shortage of things to be comparing! I was talking to a friend of mine the other day that struggles with this same thing and we were discussing what active things we can do to "re-wire" our minds. How to train our minds to dwell on the things of the Lord and not this world. Now, I know that without the transformation of my mind through the Holy Spirit I will be right back where I started and quickly, but I do believe there are active things I can do to fight back when I begin to feel overwhelmed with those lies. I believe that one of those ways is the Word of God. Fighting those lies with the truth God has spoken over me in scripture. So, my friend gave me a stack of scriptures and a prayer to read through everyday to begin to allow truth to take root in my heart. One of the scriptures that stood out to me was Psalm 139:14 which says,
   "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well. "
That is a scripture that I have heard growing up and I am sure I have spoken it over people as encouragement, but I have missed half of the verse all this time. I know the part that says I am fearfully and wonderfully made, but what I missed was the part that says, "your works are wonderful, I know that full well". This was such an "ah-ha" moment for me this week. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, a creation, a work of the Lord, and His works are wonderful. I have read this scripture over and over and said it half -heartedly so many times to make my self feel "better"; to put a band-aid over the gaping wound of hurt and insecurity that is there. I have made this a quick fix, a pat-on-the-back, instead of a truth that I know "full well". I have put down time and time again what the Lord has called wonderful. I have told the creator that His creation is ugly. I have let the world convince me that my Lord got it all wrong with me. But I have been missing something. A vital part to living a life fully in the love of my Lord. The truth that my God makes no mistakes. The wonderful truth is that I am, right now and always have been, the perfect me He had in mind since the beginning of time; fearfully and wonderfully made!