Thursday, April 30, 2009

"An Untroubled Heart," Chapter 5 and 6

All right, folks, I feel SO way behind here. I thought to myself when I started this book that I wouldn't let myself get caught posting two chapters at once. And that I would keep up, and post on Tuesdays... yeah, well, like Lelia said this week, life gets in the way, and it has been a crazy week or so.
If you want to see more posts about our Yes to God study, pop over to Lelia's site and enjoy!

Chapter 5: Family Matters

A lot in this chapter really hit me. I sat and read it and took notes as I went through, on the things that were popping out at me, and the questions it raised in my head.

I really had a lot of questions raised when I read this quote from Micca.
"Looking back on this frightful time, I can't help but wonder what Pat and I were building into our children - faith or fear? As Christians, we should be the last people to be afraid of anything."

I agree with this part...

"We claim what Paul asks us in Romans 8:31 - 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' - but act otherwise when the foundation of our home is shaken. Our children shouldn't see fear in us. We can't say with our mouths that we trust God and contradict that trust with our actions." (emphasis mine)

Ok... this is where I struggle. I agree that hypocrisy is an issue here... when we say that God being with us should give us no reason to fear anything, because He will never leave us or forsake us, but then act fearfully, and show that fear to our kids, it is self destructing. They are much more likely to follow our actions than our words.

Maybe our kids shouldn't see fear in us. But they do. I know my kids have. All the time, in me.

Case in point.
My son.
5 years old.

I am seeing a growing fear in him, it has been growing in him this past year. So slowly that I don't think I really realized it was happening. Ever since he was born I have struggled with depression (that, I knew) and anxiety (which I identified later). I am sorry, but babies and little kids are so tuned into parents emotions, and stress and tension and anxiety... because they are looking to their parents for a sense of well-being, that if you are fearful, they are going to pick up on it. I don't care how hard you try to hide it.

I know I have tried to hide it plenty. But it is still there. I am excited for instance for my son to go to full time kindergarten next year. But I am apprehensive, wondering if public school is the right choice for him. Once he gets into it, I think he will be ok, but well... I don't want him to close down the way I know I did when I was young. I also think, from the talks I have had with my mother in law, that Dave did the same thing.

I have seen this anxiety rising in him all year. He is great when at school. He still plays alongside other kids rather than with them, but seems comfortable with his surroundings, the teachers and other classmates. But when something new gets thrown into his schedule, he tends to melt down. Either emotional melt downs at home, or immediate reactions of fear.

I really realized the extent of it, or maybe God showed me just recently. I was sharing with Peter about a school field trip he is going to be going on to a local zoo. With his whole class and teachers on a school bus (I drive him to school cause it's so close right now). His immediate reaction?

Shrinking back.
Saying he didn't want to go.

Recently as we have been praying at night, he has mentioned having bad dreams. So I have prayed specifically in that area for him. Then when we are done praying I have re-assured him that God is with him and will never leave him alone. Peter's response? "Yes He will. He doesn't stay here with me. He never does. He always leaves me alone."

So, in his first years of life, did I sow fear or faith?

Yes, our children shouldn't see fear in us. But I think they are going to pick up on it, whether we want them to or not. Because we are fallible and we are going to be afraid, even when we don't want to be.

"By putting into practice what we learn from God's Word, we make knowledge a reality in our life. One step of trust leads to another until we find ourselves living carefree in His tender care. Sometimes it's necessary to repeat these steps when fear returns, pounding on our hearts. That's okay. Repeating the process is exercising faith, not fear."

That is how they see us walking in faith not fear. They are going to see us succumb to fear, but they are also going to need to see us overcoming that fear and trusting in God, instead.

Chapter 6: Learning to Trust Again

Learning to trust again has been a huge project for me. I have encountered so much betrayal and rejection. There were instances of it prior to my becoming a Christian. But the worst of it was after I became a Christian, the instances of betrayal and rejection came one on top of another and from other Christians.

"God cares for you greatly. We are His joy and delight."

"I've found that when I'm overcome with fear, I'm not really looking for answers but for the assurance that God is near, that He's in control, and that He cares about me and my circumstances. God does care."

Slowly I have learned to trust that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do. I have learned that He is trustworthy. Humans may fail me. No, they WILL fail me. I will feel betrayed again. I will probably be thrown down into a pit by someone again.

But I have learned that the things others have meant for evil, God will work for my good and His glory.

For so long I ignored and built up walls to protect myself. I only let a few people inside, and still felt a world of hurt. I hid the hurt. Behind a big brick wall.

I had a choice to make. We all have a choice to make.
"We can either die in our fear of rejection, or like Joseph we can trust again through forgiveness."

I have been able to bring that wall down over the past year or so. Counseling was a big help. But so was God's provision of a close family group from my church and a very good friend who was willing walk with me through the healing process. He also provided me with an outlet through my blog, and all my new friends here.

I can look back at the past couple of years, and at what I have experienced in my life. Though I would never wish this stuff on anyone. I can say that I can see how God is working it all for good in my life.

Yes, it hurts.
Yes, the healing hurts.
Yes, it IS worth it all.

"We can focus on the worries, burdens, and fears of our limited experience and miss the joy that can be ours or, like Joseph, we can take the risk, venture out, and truly believe that God has a plan. Not just any kind of plan, but one that is so good we'll be able to look back and say it was worth it."

Taking the risk is hard. Hard to trust God, and hard to trust that He will really redeem things for you. It is hard to venture out. Very scary at times. It takes a lot of hard work, gritting the teeth and getting things done.

I can remember than my counselor asked me many times in session if I "wanted to go there." She was giving me the option to back out, and not push through right then. I remember answering her, "No, I don't want to go there. But I know that I need to." I came out of those sessions so exhausted. But God did some amazing things when I was willing to cooperate with Him.

His love has flooded through my barren places. He has filled and healed me in ways I never thought possible. My God has redeemed the years the locusts have eaten...

...and there is so much more to come!

As Cindy said, it is going to be a wild ride. Hang on to God. He has amazing plans for all of us.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Concerts and Dancing...

These are parts of an email I sent out earlier this week to friends for prayer.

"Please pray for me for the concerts this weekend. I am nervous… This just feels a lot different than singing up front in church or even doing special music up there. I also really want to glorify God in this. I want the audience (and choir members for that matter) to not see me, but to see God in me. God is the one really singing through me. He has given me the song in my heart, and I just want it to pour forth, without my interfering. I want God to be made known and glorified above all else.

This has been a hard year all around, and for me it is just icing on the cake that God has given me the opportunity to sing this solo. And did I mention that the solo is the hymn “Be Thou My Vision?” A different melody, but the same words. I have tried to keep Him my vision all year… and it is the prayer of my heart that He and He only will fill my vision for the rest of my days.

I open with the first verse:
“Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart, Be all else but naught to me save that thou art. Be thou my best thought in the day and the night, Both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.”
The words of the last verse that I sing…
“Be thou and thou only the first in my heart; O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.
O Sovereign of Heaven, Be my vision, O Ruler of all.”

Talk about appropriate! I can wholeheartedly say that I praise Him for this past year or two. The pain has been worth it all. I know there are still going to be struggles, and sufferings, and pain in ways that I can’t imagine right now. But God is sovereign. He is faithful. He will never leave me nor forsake me, and to Him I will cling."

Oh my friends, I don't know if I can make you understand the depth to which God answered prayers this weekend!

I gave God my voice, and asked Him to supply the breath and tone and words and confidence to get up there and sing.

He was the one who kept me going when I was scared to death and got that huge stab of fear as I realized it was time for me to walk out of the choir and stand in front of them to sing the solo.

It was God who helped me breathe when I needed to, so that I actually had air to sing. He was the one who helped me focus on Him and the music, rather than how it might sound or be received.

Saturday night, for the first concert, I had taken some of my anti-anxiety medication a bit earlier in the evening, to help me just make it through the concert without getting sick to my stomach. I think it helped take that edge off. Enough that the words of advice and encouragement friends spoke to me, actually got through to me.

Then Sunday morning...
God did something during the worship.

When I say He met me there at church. I mean He MET me there.

When we moved into our longer set of worship, the tone of the service had already been set, and I was already open and ready for Him to speak to me. I had prayed all the way up to church from my house. I had conversed with Him in my heart all morning.

As the music started, I recognized the song immediately. I have already posted it here (It's at the bottom of that post) "Made me Glad" by Hillsong. It has quickly become one of my favorites. Just proclaiming the truth about who He is, well, it lights a fire in me.

I am not overly demonstrative in how I worship... particularily in a corporate setting.

But this song... well, first it gave me goosebumps, then the tears started. I took off my glasses. And after that I quickly became oblivious to anyone around me. It was just me and God. It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down, or falling on my face before Him. I didn't really know which way it would have gone if I'd had the room.

I wept through the rest of the worship music.

More than anything else, it was about surrender. I had already, the night before turned the concert over to God. Through the reminder of a good friend (thank you Shelly) and the prayers of another friend who sings next to me in choir (thank you Harry). They ministered to my heart more than they will ever know.

But Sunday morning...
This was something completely different.

I felt like I was on my face before God, handing Him my heart, turning it inside out for Him, so that He could get into every last area of it. My whole life, everything, the day, the concert later on, the week...

I remember saying in my heart to Him,
"Jesus, take it, take me... take everything I have, all that I am. Do what you will with it, with me. Here, have it, I don't want it anymore. I just want You."

I specifically prayed that God would help me to sing that afternoon in the concert. And to help me to do it without my anti-anxiety meds. But also to not try to do it on my own strength, based on how well I did the night before. I asked Him to help me stand up there that afternoon, with a confidence, not in myself, but in Him.

Oh my friends, I haven't had such a sweet time of fellowship as I did that morning. Not in a very long time. Longer than I can even figure. I couldn't stop crying, and at the same time rejoicing at whatever He was doing in my heart.

I wish that I could lose myself in worship of my Lord and King, my Savior like that all the time. I know I probably can't or I would just explode or something! I hope I never get used to that intimacy with Him, because I don't want to take it for granted. At the same time, I so want to experience that depth with Him more often.

Oh to feel His heart touching mine!
To hear His voice speaking into my being!

That incredible intimacy, of being touched and blessed in a way that only God can do.

There is nothing at all that even comes close to that.

Sunday I went to the church where our concert was being held. I warmed up with the choir, I got ready, I prayed. I sat down and continued to pray, giving it all to God... even the knot in my stomach.

After the intermission, just before my song, I got another stab of anxiety like the previous night. But I took a big breath and reminded myself that "the Lord is my confidence, my strength, my portion" and I stepped out of the choir.

Again, God helped me to concentrate on the music, and on the words, and on putting my heart out there with those words... showing who He is.

I noticed a difference in me this weekend. One of the biggest things was that I was able to accept compliments with a "thank you" rather than dismissing them, or brushing them off, or saying "it was nothing." I never used to be able to accept compliments, because I felt that I wasn't good enough to be complimented on anything. I also am so critical of my performances, that I can pick apart every one and point out the mistakes. And on Sunday, though I made a mistake, I was able to let it go. Really let it go! (my counselor would be proud!) :)

It wasn't until I got to my parents house in Milwaukee on Sunday night that I realized the gift God has given me.

My husband got a short clip of my solo, the beginning of it, and posted it to You Tube here, and then sent it to my mom and dad, and myself. My mom opened it last night, and called me and dad into the office.

I listened to me singing on the computer. We re-played it. Then my dad asked if it bothered me to hear my own voice recorded like that.

I realized that it didn't. I mean it really didn't. I was comfortable with it.

God's gift to me this weekend, wasn't only the getting me through the solo, and meeting me in worship... but something much deeper.

God did another redemption.
He redeemed some years that the locusts had eaten.
He restored to me my music.

Yes, I have been using my musical gifts to serve at church and in choir.

Even so, I can't tell you how much I have doubted what I was doing. I can't tell you the times I have picked apart what I have done, dismissed it as not good enough, with the words of my student teaching supervisor ringing in my head... "your musical skills are not strong enough." Those words reinforced in me the lie that I will never be good enough, so I might as well not even try to use what I have been given, cause it will never be good enough.... God won't be able to use what I have to give, I will never measure up, and on they go....

Oh, that is gone!

Did you hear that?

It. Is. Gone.

God has given music back to me. He has healed a huge wound in me that I didn't even realize was so raw yet. He took me, weak and trembling, and set me on a stage in front of the choir and audience and helped me to sing the song in my heart. His song.

Then He showed me I don't have to be afraid to use what He has given me.

He has given me self confidence. I don't like that phrase, but it is what it is. Confidence, not in me and what I can do on my own, but confidence in Him. A complete trust that what He has given me I can use. It's this sense of security I can't quite explain. I feel grounded, and unashamed of what I can do, un-apologetic, unafraid. Because I am grounded in Him.

I feel like I can walk with my head high, and it isn't an act.

Does any of what I have written here make any sense?

I sure hope so, because I so want you to realize what God has done for me, and how huge it is...

Maybe you can't... at least not with me, but maybe He has done something big like that in your life... so in those terms you might understand a little bit.

I have been on a long journey these past few years. It is moments like these, weekends like these, that make me keep going. They show me just how much God is capable of. They show me hope. They remind me to keep my eyes fixed on Him and trust Him in all things at all times.

These are the "dancing in the streets" moments... Just like David did before the Ark of the Lord. Dancing with joyful abandon.

Cindy keeps reminding me to keep my dancing shoes handy.

Oh my friends, I am dancing today!

Please dance with me!

Know that our God is more than able to redeem anything, and everything... and He longs to heal you.

If He has healed me and continues to, He can heal you too... surrender to Him and let Him work.

On the road, not just walking, but dancing with Jesus,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Another Friday Fill in, finally!!!

Ok, so I haven't done one of these in a really long time, but I thought I would join back in the fun. Each time the last month I have thought of it, it has been way too late in the weekend or into early the next week. I keep saying I will come back, but here I am and it's been months! So, here is a light post for late at night (and technically Saturday, my time!)


Come read other Friday Fill in's and join in the fun yourself! we go!

1. Apparently there's some sort of rule that spring/summer gets to tease us for months.. i.e. one day of 70-80 degree weather, and the next day back in the 40's cloudy and rainy.

2. Today was, praise God (!!!) a warm and sunny day. (and man did I NEED it!!!)

3. 2009 has had its ups and downs so far, but God has been drawing me closer and closer into His embrace, and into a deeper longing for Him and His Word. I can't wait to see what He has for me next.

4. It's like God flipped a switch and that was it. I have found it easier to memorize scripture in the past 4-5 months than ever before in my life!

5. For too long I've been living wounded, depressed and fearful. No more. God is the Great Physician and His healing lasts forever! My God is my security, strength, joy and peace. Nothing can take that from me anymore!

6. I am not obsessed with reading and writing; I am not! (Though I am working on my 25th journal since Jan. of 1998, and can read a book in one sitting, if given the opportunity... and have been known to read books in a bookstore, and never buy them cause I have read them before I leave the store... ahem)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to listening to the rain and thunder as I fall asleep, tomorrow my plans include finishing cleaning (some) in the house, seeing my parents and singing in my choir concert and Sunday, I want to celebrate with the Lord and His people, and finish my final concert of the year singing strong and for my God!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

"An Untroubled Heart," Chapter 4

Well, I am posting late, and what with my last post, "Issues" I pretty much already wrote about this chapter.

If you want to see others thoughts, visit Lelia, our gracious host.

Chapter 4: The Pressure's On

I think the quote that really got to me in this chapter was the following.

"Anxious times should cause us to look beyond ourselves to God for His provision."

"It's hard because when the pressure is on, we're not truly convinced that God will supply for all our needs for the days ahead."

I am under pressure right now.
Health pressure.
Broken cars.
Singing a solo this coming weekend.
Needing to look for a job.
Needing to tell someone no to something that I already told them yes to.

All these things are bringing on stress. I just don't know how in the world, in my sight, all these things will resolve.

I can't know.

How can I? God holds all my days in His hands.

I read something today that talked about someone standing on God with his whole weight, trusting Him to hold his weight.

My heart was touched profoundly. I remember praying... through the tears.

How many times, Lord do I start to put my weight on You, on the Solid Rock, but hold onto something else to take part of my weight because I am afraid You will slip out from under me, or that I will find myself falling and You wouldn't catch me. Oh God, help me to stop hanging onto other things that don't matter. Help me to stop clinging to the things that don't matter, and instead stand on You, and put my full weight there, on You. You are my firm ground, my solid footing. Nothing else will hold me up, but You.

Dear Father, break the hold that other things have on me. Break my dependence on them so that I find myself able to let go of them and settle on You. Give me the strength and willingness and determination to stand on You and let you bear up my full weight. Help me to trust you to fully provide for my every need... and to be content, because I trust you. I will never be content in any circumstances, until I like Paul am completely convinced that You will supply all my needs in the days ahead.

Oh Jesus, help me to be thankful for what I have, whether I like it or not. Develop in me that deep contentment that Paul had. I long for that deep contentment in the midst of the pressure I am under.

I just want to be more of His. I want to spend some times of silence with Him. Where I can be alone and just settled in His presence. I find so much more peace there. And that peace and connection with Him is what I long for the most. It is something I hunger for, and I can't get it in the depth or length that I really want and need, at this stage in my life.

And when I can't unplug from my daily life and plug into God better, the pressure of my life over takes me. I find myself discontented, distrustful, and unwilling to lean on God with my full weight.

The other day, when I was visiting Cindy, she waited to do her daily devotion until I got there, and we did it together. The scripture reading was good, the thought prompter question was good, but the best part for me was the few minutes of silence at the beginning. We prayed and then were silent and settled into God's presence. All I can say is that it was profound. God is so good and faithful for meeting us where we are at.

I want more of that. I am greedy. I want more of God. I want more time alone with Him. Secluded. Some place where, if I am moved to tears, I can feel free to cry. Somewhere, if I need to, I can yell at God, talk out loud to Him, and just BE with Him.

I guess that is a good thing to be greedy for? I hope!

In the midst of stress, God gave me a breather on Friday. And He gave me a breather this morning. I had a time of good fellowship with Him this morning. I couldn't get to sleep last night, so I ended up not going to church this morning. Instead, I slept in, and then ended up spending some good time with Him, reading His word, praying, doing a devotional, and writing in my journal, and praying and crying more in His presence.

It was needed. It was good, and I was grateful to Him.

May He bring me more of those times with Him, to rejuvenate and refresh me in the midst of the pressure.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Hi all,

I just wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten about you all. I just have been having some "issues."

I wanted to post earlier this week, well all week really, on our Chapter 4 of our book study, "An Untroubled Heart." However, other things have taken priority.

I have been getting over a cold. Earlier this week, I really thought I was over it. Then I missed a night of sleep on Wednesday... just major insomnia, and got only about 4 hours of sleep. Thursday I felt ok, but tired, and Friday I woke up to a very plugged up head. I figured it was the cold re-occurring and that with some more rest I would be ok.

I went to visit Cindy during the morning, and then returned home. By 6pm I realized that this was not a regular cold. My sinuses were stinging, and every time I moved, dizziness and light-headedness prevailed. Unfortunately, by the time I realized it, and could have gotten anywhere, the walk-in clinics were all closed.

So, I went this morning. I was right in my thinking. I have a sinus infection. Praise God I am on some meds now, but really need to get this cleared up by next weekend so I can sing without getting dizzy! Right now, pretty much any movement is making me light headed.

Then we have this issue with our cars.

Yes, both of them.
At once.


Dave's car rusted through the radiator. And we have been having trouble finding the right match. He can do the work himself, we just have to track down the right part. His car is currently completely out of commission.

My car has decided that it is going to smell hot, every time I drive it. The engine heat indicator doesn't go up, but when I park it, I smell hot rubber from under the hood. Dave has looked the best he can, and is unable to see any wearing or rubbing on any of the belts visible. The problem is, my car has a variable automatic transmission. So, if the belts in the transmission are wearing or rubbing, we can't see it easily because we would have to take everything apart to get to it to even look.

I am driving my car right now, though I know it probably isn't the wisest. But it is the only car working at the moment. If at some point I need to take my car in, and decide to do it this week, while Dave's is still down, we will possibly be able to borrow a car from Dave's grandmother, out at the farm. It might be the Lincoln continental, but at least its transportation.

So our house has been having issues.
All at once.

If you could pray for us, I would be extremely grateful.

In the process of all this, I am still trying to hear God's voice about working, and if so, what job, or where to go.

Did I mention I am having issues?

The pressure is on, and I am trying not to fear... this book has been a great one...
Hopefully I will be able to post a little bit on this chapter, or I will combine both 4 and 5 this coming week. If I ever have the time to read it!! I am cooking for about 15 people tonight and tomorrow, so I am busy with all of that too.

It's just after noon, and I am tired already. I have only been up for 4 hours!

It's going to be a long day, and a long weekend.

I appreciate your prayers and hope to write more soon.
Love you all,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Scripture Memory...

I am planning on posting on my book study later today, or tonight. But right now, I just wanted to share about my scripture memory, and how God seems to be continuing a theme.

From the very beginning of the year as I started memorizing scripture, God has been drawing my heart to different scripture passages, following a theme.

I started with Romans 12:1-2, being transformed by the renewing of my mind, which is what the scripture memory is all about, renewing my mind, by filling it with God's Word.

Then as I started to deal with anxiety, and quite a lot of it, since I had finished counseling recently, I found Philippians 4:4-7, where God talks about not being anxious about anything, but presenting our requests to Him, and His peace would guard my heart and mind. Then in 1 Peter 5:6-8, I was encouraged again to cast my anxieties on Him, because He cares for me... and had a warning to be alert because the enemy is looking around for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:9-11 continued the exhortation to stand firm in my faith... because after a little while of suffering God will restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast.

So, though the sufferings may be intense, I should not throw away my confidence but I need to persevere, so I will receive what He has promised. Hebrews 10:35-36; 39 reminded me of that, and that I am not one of those who shrinks back, but of those who believe and are saved.

Then as I needed to be reminded of the love of God, I looked towards Romans 8, where it talks about nothing being able to separate us from the love of God, but instead, I found myself in 1 John 3:1-2. There it talked about how great the love the Father lavished on me, because I am called a child of God... with the promise of being like Him when we see Him as He is. As another reminder of being a child of God, I was back in Romans 8:15-18. There it dealt with my fear, and also being a child of God. Not only have I not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but I have been given the spirit of adoption, and am His child, and an heir of God. And it also brought up again the sufferings in this world, but this time reminding me that they are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed.

Then last week, as I met with Cindy, somehow these verses came up in our conversation. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. This again speaks into the spirit we have received, not of bondage but because it is the Lord's Spirit I have been given, I have freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from the past. I am being transformed into His likeness, because I am reflecting the Lord's glory and I am hiding His word in my heart, and being transformed by the renewing of my mind.

See, God has led me on a journey through all these verses. It is so good to pull out my scripture memory notebook and see how God has molded all these verses together, to lead me through each and every situation I have been in. Each scripture verse has spoken to me in the couple of weeks that I have been memorizing them. Then each one has linked to the next one to keep reminding me of the truths that I know. I know them, but they just need to sink deeper into my heart.

Now, whenever I am attacked by the enemy, I have the ammunition and the scripture right at hand to stand firm. I know the truth, and I can use it to reassure myself of my identity in Christ, and to remind me of who I am to be reflecting in my life.

I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind. My freedom in Christ is being reinforced by the scripture Jesus is leading me to.

My God has shown again and again that He is answering the scripture that I made my prayer for this year.

"Oh Lord be gracious to me, I long for you. Be my strength every morning, my salvation in time of distress." Isaiah 33:2

He has increased the longing in my heart for Him. He has given me strength, and He has saved me in my distress. He indeed is gracious!

Have you seen any ways that God has drawn themes through your life recently? Has God shown you, or led you through scripture in ways that have really spoken to you? Will you share that encouragement with me?

May God bless you,

Friday, April 10, 2009


Yesterday, God blessed me with a wonderful visit with a dear friend. We were able to talk, and I was able to discuss with her some of the questions that I came across, that Micca wrote in her book "an untroubled heart."

Just the brainstorming we did on the questions helped me so much. We answered them and she encouraged me to go looking for scripture to back up what I know, so that when I am tempted to disbelieve or go the wrong way, I can look at those scriptures and remember the truth, it helped me so much.

We figured out it had been at least seven weeks since we had the chance to really sit down and talk, and have an extended time of uninterrupted sharing. (besides one quick lunch together when she was working.) I am praying that it won't be another 7 weeks before we do this again!

Cindy, my friend, is going through a Life Coach training series. She asked me if, once she has completed it, I would like walk through it with her. She said it might take us a bit longer than what they recommend, because I would be the first person to go through it with her. Almost right away I was able to tell her, "Yes." Not only will it give us time together, but will help me tackle some of the things that are making me get stuck here and now. She explained that Life Coaching is about helping me deal with things in the present time that are bothering me, or holding me back, or keeping me stuck. Counseling, on the other hand, predominantly ends up dealing with the past, finding out the roots to the lies I am believing, and help heal those things.

I have gone through the counseling and dealt with a lot of the things from my past, and received a lot of healing. I just haven't always been able to deal with the things in my present in the right ways. Just in my last post I was talking about how the pain of situations in my life was causing me to run from God, rather than to God.

As Cindy and I talked about yesterday, we find both of ourselves running in the same rut we always have, because it is habitual. For instance, certain things trigger anger in Cindy. For me, certain things like fear of rejection and unchanging situations cause me to running to something, anything, to help relieve that pain, even if just for a little while. They trigger depression, despair and anxiety.

She used the image of a dog to illustrate her point. In a fenced in yard, a dog will run up and down the fence line, over and over, creating a deep rut in the ground. That is what we have done over and over in our lives, from things that happened in our past, and from things that trigger automatic coping techniques, automatic responses. We instinctively do what we have been "trained" to do through the experiences in our lives.

She mentioned, and I agree, that we need to make a new groove. A groove of reacting, coping, and responding to situations with attitudes and thoughts that reflect Christ. The one things that Cindy said was that sometimes we will be doing something out of our flesh, but if we even start to recognize it, and even after we have done whatever it is, and end up praying after the fact, it is a step forward. It is a step forward because we may be coming from a place where we never thought about God, never recognized we were acting out of our flesh.

It will be good to go through Life Coaching with Cindy because together we will be able to work through different difficulties that have me stuck right now. It will be more hard work, and accountability, but so needed and strengthening.

I won't be starting the Life Coaching until probably this fall, after Cindy completes the two training sessions. I can't wait. I am excited to see what God will do through the coaching, and Cindy.

Yesterday's talking helped me get more in touch with my emotions and unlock them again. I have been able to get into the word more, and actually pray through some of the situations I find myself facing. It's another step forward.

As God has been teaching and growing Cindy, and as I have seen her taking any free moment to spend time with Him, and in His word, as I have seen her dedication to prayer; well it has been encouraging and inspiring to me. Her practices, and her ways of getting closer to God, have awakened a longing in me to get closer to God. They have prompted me to try to get to know God better. They have pushed me to set aside time with Him, to sacrifice some sleep, or my downtime without children, to be with Him.

Cindy has been doing a devotional called "Daily Office" by Peter Scazzero. She shared with me excerpts of the devotional, and scripture that came to mind as she prayed. It was so wonderful, and provoked some deep thoughts, through questions at the end of a couple of the studies she shared with me.

Here are a couple of them:

"What would it look like for you to respect yourself in light of your God given human limits?"

"How might it change your day today if you cease to look for human approval and sought only the approval of God?"

That last question in particular, made me really think, and then share deeply with Cindy. I look for the approval of those I care about, so many times. I was actually fighting anxiety in going to Cindy's house because I knew I wasn't being honest with myself and God in certain areas. I also knew that God wanted me to share those things with Cindy, to get them out in the open, into the light, so that I could have some accountability.

It was hard, but I stepped over the threshold into her home.
It was hard, but I shared with her my need for approval for others, rather than God.
It was hard, but I was able to share some of the things that I have been ashamed of sharing.

It was such a weight off of me once I did. And I think it drew us even closer together. It opened up doors, at least for me, for deeper sharing.

Yesterday was a sweet day of fellowship. Fellowship with God and fellowship with each other. God used the day to unlock my shut down emotions. God used the day to show me more scripture that described Him and His characteristics. God used the day to touch my heart in a special way, and to open my eyes and ears to really hear Him and receive His truth into my heart.

I thank God for how incredible He is. How amazing that He can and will use people such as us to speak into the lives of each other.

Our God is so good.

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." Psalm 145:8

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"An Untroubled Heart," Chapter 3

Well, here we are at another week for our book study. I have gotten a slow start this week. I was supposed to have posted on Tuesday. But I just couldn't. Before I go on, Lelia is our gracious host for our "Yes to God Tuesdays" book study. If you want to check out the other posts, head over to her site to link to them.

Chapter 3: Fashioned for faith - not fear

I had a hard time getting ready for this post, and writing because this chapter hit home, and spoke right into my situations from this past week or two.

A dear loved one who seems to be drifting away from the Lord.
Our financial situation.
My husband's desire for me to go back to work.
Even doing the music for our church's VBS this summer.

I also got hung up on some questions that Micca asked in the course of the chapter.

She said in this chapter,
"The Bible doesn't focus on who we are, but whose we are and our identity in Christ. The answer to conquering fear isn't found in you; it's found in God."

I started out last week Thursday in a bit more peace, though I was crying out to God for my loved one. It was painful to cry out. But God was in it. I woke up on Saturday morning feeling sick, and though I am now feeling better (mostly), I feel like my emotions have sort of "shut down." I don't know how else to describe it. I stopped praying.

I have been fighting these fears so much on my own strength, these past few days. Trying to talk myself through these things.

Oh it so doesn't work!

I have been doing everything in my own strength. I can't fight these fears on my own. I end up running from the pain and fear. If I were running to God it would be one thing.

"Where do you run to find comfort from your anxieties and peace for your fear?"

As I have been trying to do everything on my own, my confidence has withered away, just like Micca said it does.

Comfort and peace from my anxieties and fear... where have I been running? Away from God. I know it is wrong. I know where I should be going. I know the right answers. I know that I need to fall on my knees before Him when I am afraid. I know that His word will wash my heart and soul and will give me peace.

But I have allowed the enemy to plant fear in my life, and to twist things around on me. I have allowed the enemy to start to convince me that though I know those truths of who God is, and who I am in Him, that I don't really believe them. That those truths haven't gone from my head to my heart. I have allowed the enemy to take me out of the battle.

I have been running to anything that would help me forget the pain I have been feeling. It hurts to see my loved one not following God the way they have in the past. It hurts when I see our financial situation, and the bills we have to cover. I feel hopeless when I look at the bills and try to figure out how we are going to pay them down and keep them down. It hurts when I don't really want to go to work, but know that my husband wants me to, to help with the bills. I fear that I am going to go to work, and then not have an end date in sight, and end up continuing to work.

So I have been doing a lot of running.

And I have had a hard time answering Micca's question above, because I am having a hard time being honest with myself. When I can't be honest with myself, I can't be honest with God, and I can't be honest with those around me.

No wonder I have disconnected from God this week, and felt that fear and anxiety. I haven't been taking shelter under His wings, or hiding in Him.

I cast my cares on God last week Thursday in small group. I cried out to God. And then I took them back over the weekend.

I have been living in emotional shut down the past 4 days or so because I haven't cast my cares back on Jesus. I have been living in fear, so my emotions just shut down, rather than deal with them.

"To find safety and shelter, you and I must learn to live in the presence of God again."

I want that safety and shelter and sense of security. Then I will be able let my emotions go again, because I will know that God can handle them, and that He can heal them. I won't need to live in emotional shut down, because I will be safe. I will be in a safe place to let them go... in my Jesus' presence.

He is always with me. But I need to acknowledge that. I need to acknowledge His presence and purposefully place myself under His wings. It's a choice, and if I don't make it, the enemy has his way with me.

I wasn't created for fear. I can't live in fear. When I am in fear too long, my emotions shut down.

I was created to live in faith.

* When I put my faith in myself, my confidence crumbles.
* When I put my faith in others, they fail me.
* When I put my faith in things to numb fear, those things fade away, and the pain comes back.

When I put my faith anywhere, in anything, in any other person, than who God created me to, I fall flat on my face.

How many times do I need to experience that falling flat on my face before I learn my lesson?!

"Faith believes that God is real, and hope is the confidence that He'll do what He said He will do."

I need to spend more time in His word (something I have neglected the past few days or so) and time in prayer to get to know Him better. The better I know Him, the better I will be able to trust Him, and have faith that He will provide for all the situations I find myself facing. As I have had faith and trusted Him in difficult situations in this past few years, God has very obviously provided for me and helped me through them, and He has healed me in so many ways.

I need to actively pursue God and actively practice something that Micca said.

"When Satan tries to pull concerns down over your eyes of faith, simply declare God's sufficiency and watch Satan's fear tactics go up in smoke."

Today I choose to say that God is enough.

Today I choose to say that God is enough for the situations I find myself in with:

*A dear loved one who seems to be drifting away from the Lord.
*Our financial situation.
*My husband's desire for me to go back to work.
*Even doing the music for our church's VBS this summer.

God is enough. God is sufficient to supply all my needs.


God is still enough!

"In God's loving care, our spirit is renewed, and we know for certain there is no safer place on earth. The Lord picks us up out of our wrecked lives while we are still scared, and He comforts us. His rescue is certain and trustworthy."

I am going to refresh my memorization of Psalm 91. And I am going to start praying through it. Even when I am shaking and trembling. Even when I am not sure that I am believing what I am reading or praying through.

I choose to trust God with this day. I choose to trust God with these circumstances. I choose to trust that God will strengthen me through these things, and teach me through them, even if I don't see a change in the situations.

Step out with me in that faith that we were created for.
Step out with me today.
Step out and trust the God who will never change.

God bless all of you and thank you for standing in prayer with me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

prayer for me please...

I am going to keep this brief, because I just don't have much energy.

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night, and then when I did, had bad dreams... bad enough that at 3am my husband woke me up, because I was tossing and turning and crying... in my sleep.

I woke this morning to a bad headache, and...

the stomach flu.

I am supposed to lead worship team tomorrow at church. We didn't rehearse mid-week because our pianist had the flu that day, so we postponed rehearsal until tomorrow morning before the service.

I have calls in to a couple of people to see if they could lead for me, and fill in. But if I don't get any calls back, I will have to be there. I will just have to show up... and pray that God will give me strength.

Of course because I am not feeling good, my emotions are running high, my whole body feels weak, and I am exhausted, but can't sleep, hungry but am afraid to eat too much.

I also am very sad, because I was supposed to go with my family to a nearby town to go bowling, and then my mother-in-law was to take the kids so that I could go out to dinner with my husband for our anniversary (it's on Monday, but we wanted to do it tonight). Well, now, our dinner is canceled. And I had to send the family off without me. At least it is quiet here, but lonely too.

Please pray that I would feel better, and fast. And that I will get a good night's sleep tonight.
Thank you so much,
Love you all,

Friday, April 3, 2009

crying out...

The most recent scripture verses I am memorizing for the scripture memory challenge.... well lets just say that I picked a challenging one to try to get memorized.

"For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
Romans 8:15-18

The verse that really prompted me to memorize this was vs. 18, the last sentence above.

How do I wrap my mind around the statement that Paul makes, that the sufferings that are part of our life right now really can't be compared with what is coming... the glory that will be revealed in us?

I can see that some now with some of the things I have gone through in the past. I am starting to see how God is using them for my good and His glory. I can see that God is using those things to show Himself powerful in my weaknesses.

It is the present things that I am having trouble with. The present circumstances I find myself against. That granite rock that I can't move or get through on my own. I was going to say the present things I am against don't cause suffering, but I think they do. A different kind than what I have gone through in ways.

Confusion, lack of clarity in what God wants me to do. Choices that seem mutually exclusive. I can't do one thing and still do the other. I can't submit in obedience in one area, in a God honoring way, and still do what I feel God is calling me to do... and it is so much more complicated than I am stating here. (maybe see this short post for more clarity)

I guess I have to pray through this chunk of scripture as I memorize it. I am going to pray that God will root it more deeply into my life and heart, so that it really becomes part of my belief system. That I can really say those words from the heart.

It is so easy to be pulled back into the bondage of fear. I have been set free from that. God has delivered me. I am adopted by Him and am His child. He is my Daddy God, my Father that is always with me no matter how I feel. He has lavished His love upon me and called me His child and that is what I am!

The part of that first verse that I experienced last night was the Spirit of adoption "by whom we cry out 'Abba, Father.'

I had the experience in our small group of crying out.

Ok, so I was literally crying :) But I mean more than that.

Someone very close to me seems to be disconnecting from God, and all those around them. They seem to be backing away from the church... (read that, the body of Christ, not the specific church they go to). Even me, with whom they used to be much more deeply connected and we could talk. Really talk, and not just about surface things... that type of connection has been limited.

My heart is aching. For them, for those around them who used to be closer and don't know why there is this distance. This dear person is in a very stressful job, and that can be having its effect. But the drift away from God has been happening for a while... much longer ago than when the stress of this job started.

Oh how I want to see them come back to that deep love of Christ that I thought used to be there. Maybe I was mistaken, but I don't think so.

Many things in the past few years have put stress on them and their relationship with God. I am sure there has been questioning there. There has been on my part too. But in my questioning, I have waited (sometimes not so patiently) for the answers. I don't know if they ever felt that they received answers.

Last night in small group, I shared my concerns about this person, and requesting prayer for them.

As we moved to prayer, I think we all felt and experienced the sweet fellowship of the Spirit, and connection with God. I started to pray for this person, literally crying, but also crying out to my Daddy God for healing for this person.

For restoration.

Of faith.
Of love.
Of hope.
Of a soft and willing heart.

For renewal and revival.

I know that it is going to be a rough ride for this person. I don't know what it will take for God to get them to come to the end of themselves. I acknowledged that to God. And then I paused. Could I ask it?

It was extremely hard for me to express it, but I did.

I begged God to do whatever it takes to bring them to their knees in front of Him. I essentially "gave God permission" if that makes sense to work in their life in a radical way. I loosed God on them, and bound the enemy from interfering.

My heart aches and cries out for them.
My heart quakes and trembles at what it might take.

What it might take to get them to experience the sweet freedom in Christ they are meant to know.

Oh to see this dear one be able to truly worship God, yearn for Him, yearn for His word, for fellowship with His body!

To see them come alive in God's presence!

Not to stand stiff with arms crossed and stony faced during worship. Distracted and putting time in during the sermon. Fleeing from the building as soon as the service is dismissed.

To see them realize the Spirit of adoption they have received, and fight with all their might the spirit that wants to hold them in bondage to fear... to keep them ineffective and unhappy and stuck.

This dear one was never demonstrative. A private person. But I know the difference of who they are now to where they were 8-9 years ago. No matter what they may say, they are changed.

I love them so much. Not more than God does. He wants them to come back to Him even more than I do.

Please pray with me.

Oh Daddy God, please, please draw them back to you. Bring your child home. Woo your child back to you, to your heart. Bring them the healing they need so desperately. That they don't even realize they need. Do what it takes. Anything and everything. As painful as it might be. Anything it takes, God to bring them to their knees in surrender to you, to acknowledge that all their knowledge and strength are not enough to do what only you can do. It could be a wild ride, Lord, but I am ready to take it if that's what is necessary. Use me if you need to... but please reach them and free them from the bondage and strongholds that blind them to you. Bring your light and life to them in a powerful, life changing way, as only you can. Amen.