Friday, September 25, 2009

forever grateful....

You and I are alike in so many ways.
Yet, there are so many ways in which we are so unique.
That's what makes our friendship so exciting.
We get each other.
Understand each other.
We learn from each other, growing together.

God has orchestrated our meeting from eternity past.
God has knit our lives and hearts together in ways we don't even grasp.

We have walked through some pretty dark valleys together.

We have walked along some crazily steep paths together.

We have stood on the amazing mountain tops, gasping at the possibilities together.

You have upheld me, prayed for me, cried with me, danced on the streets with me, worshiped with me.

You have shared your life and heart with me. Opened your home as a haven to me. Talked with me for hours on the phone to help me through a horrible day. Known it was me calling, when I was crying too hard to even say hi. Laughed with me till we could hardly breathe, so hard we were in tears.... Stayed up late with me (even when you never, hardly ever, stay up late at all).

Slowly, as God has been growing me, I have felt like I should give something back...
As if I should repay...
But how can you repay something that was given freely?

Do you repay the gift of love, the gift of grace?

Can I repay God for His love, His grace?
Not really, that was a free gift.

Like your love to me.
Free and unrestrained.

So, I can't repay, but I can respond in kind.

I will share my life and my heart with you. I will open my home as a haven to you. I will stay on the phone with you for hours if you need me to help you through a horrible day. I will know it is you calling, even if you are crying too hard to say hi. I will laugh with you till I can hardly breathe, so hard I am in tears. I will stay up late with you (even if you never, hardly ever, stay up late at all).

I will uphold you.... using God's mighty Word.
I will pray for you.... and have been.
I will cry with you.... already have today.
I will dance on the streets with you.... as we see God answer prayers - even when it isn't the way we expect or might want.
I will worship with you.... worship our mighty King, who knows, so much more than we ever could, what is the best for us.

I will walk with you. I will ask the hard questions. I will listen to the hard questions you might have. I too, do not have all the answers, but I know the One who does.

He is the God of compassion, the God of all comfort.
He is Jehovah - Rapha, the God who heals.
He is our provider, our helper, our protector, our shield and shelter.

He is the One who has moved mountains.

He moved incredible mountains in my life.
He still is.

He can move this one too, for you.

When you hurt, I hurt...
But even more than that....

He hurts too. Jesus weeps with us. He sees every tear that falls. He hears us when we call, even when it doesn't seem like it.

He answered my pleas from years ago... prayers I prayed for 10 years....

God has orchestrated our meeting from eternity past.
God has knit our lives and hearts together in ways we don't even grasp.

I am forever grateful that He answered my prayers.

That He answered them with you.

Win a free copy of Scot McKnight's book, "The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus." Interested? See L. L. Barkat's post, "Did I Really Pray That?"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No longer paralyzed....

I did it.

I took the plunge.

I am wavering on the edge no longer.

I made the decision, and then notified the people in the "need to know."
Now I can share here.

I have been in Wausau Lyric Choir the past 7 years. It has been an incredible experience for me. They sing sacred music, and are dedicated to making beautiful music together, that truly honors and glorifies God. The music we made together, the friendships I made there, the way God has spoken to me through the music, have sustained me, upheld me through some very difficult seasons in my life. (see this post as to how God used a song the Pilgrim's Hymn to help me and encouraging me)

I have been more than blessed to be a part of this incredible group.

I am extremely sad to be leaving.

I know that God has something for me, better than I could ever imagine.

But I am really crying and mourning the end of this season in my life. I hope to be back next fall, singing again... God willing.

But for now, I am thinking of the music we made together, and the wonderful feeling of the music and harmonies nearly transporting my heart and soul to the rafters of the church and beyond, last spring.

The joy of being able to sing to my Creator "Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart. Be all else but naught to me, save that thou art. Be though my best thought in the day and the night. Both waking and sleeping, thy Presence my light."

To finally stop focusing on me, and the struggles of the past years and allow God to do a major healing, in that concert alone, it was nothing short of a miracle. He opened me up to start daring to dream even more about what He could do with my abilities to write, speak and sing.

I don't know what that is yet, but maybe that is the reason behind having to get out of choir now. I need to make some room for what God has planned for me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'm afraid of the dark

It's dark.

I am standing at the edge, my toes curling over it, to keep myself steady.

There is nothing to hang on to.
Nothing to see, no glimmer of light.

It's noisy.

I never knew the darkness could be filled with such sound.

Yelling voices compete for my attention.
Tumultuous. Roaring confusion distracting me.

I am wavering.

I am on the brink.

He wants me to drop something and jump.

Drop what? There are so many things that I have in my arms, on my back.

What in the world am I supposed to do?

I can't see.
There is no glimmer of light.

Maybe if I let go of something dear to me, but not as dear as the others?
Would that satisfy?

I'm afraid not.

I'm afraid.

The noise, like waves, crash over me again with the fear.
Underneath there is the hiss.
Like the breath the ocean breathes before the waves crash in again.... that breath....
I hear just a hint of music.

It's Him.
It's His voice.

I know it so well.

But the cacophony of sounds around me...
The waves pounding over me....
Exhaustion is taking its toll...

And I am still teetering on the edge.

His voice...
Reminding me...

"I know the plans I have for you.
Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."

Dare I believe?

I know He wants me to jump.
Drop what I am holding and jump.

I can't see.
I don't have to see.

He knows what is ahead.
He is reaching out for my hands.

To grab His, I have to drop what I am holding onto so tightly.

I am still standing on that edge... paralyzed.

I'm afraid of the dark.


The following words are ones with which I closed an email to a to a dear sweet friend. They made me think of the above post. These words were the prompting of what I wrote from the storm in my heart.

"I am afraid to jump, and not ask how high or where to. I can’t see, and I am scared of the dark.

God give me courage. Even though I can’t see in this dark, help my heart know what it is you want me to do."


Oh God, to give me that courage. I need you. I need to hear your voice whispering to me. Please sing over me this night, that I might wake refreshed and ready for the new day, filled with your hope, even in the light of needing to let something go for this season. Satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love, that I may rejoice and be glad all my days. Please do that for all of us who are hurting, faced with tough decisions, or are going through storms or safe harbors, Lord.
Give us the courage to keep following you. We need to persevere so that when we have done your will, we will receive what you have promised. (Heb. 10:36) Help us to never give up, and never give in.
I love you, and I long to honor you, in all I do. You are my King, and you are my Lord, the Lord of my life... the One who breathes new life into my heart, turning it from broken glass into living flesh, healing it, and making it whole again.
Help me to remember what you showed me today... you are holding onto my hands just as hard as I am holding onto yours. You won't let go. You ask me to jump, and You won't let me fall. Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trust, dwell, enjoy, delight...

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 37:3-4

This was the bible verse I picked out as my scripture memory verse for September 1st. I have needed it.

School started on the first.
Awana starts for the kids on the 9th.
Next week starts my bible study.

We went to Milwaukee this past weekend for a "last blast" of fun with the kids. We got to enjoy some great weather. A trip to the Milwaukee zoo and to a beach along Lake Michigan rounded out the busy weekend. The kids had a blast and so did we, but I am still reeling from the busyness of it all.

Then as things seemed to start going wrong, yesterday I found myself back into old, bad habits. It never fails. I get going so well, I feel that there has been a break through somewhere in my life, or relationships, and then I fall so fast. Of course the enemy is right there to attack and try to cause us to stumble unless we are on the lookout. He wants to get in there and steal our joy.

I have been reminded today, from 2 sources to trust in the Lord, and to not lean on my own understanding.

Lo and behold, as I went back to my scripture verse, guess what? The very first line it says, Trust in the Lord and do good. Gee, you think God was on to something when He impressed on me to work on this verse?

I haven't done the greatest with this lately. I have worried and bothered about all sorts of things. My husband said that it was ok for me to do soem new things this year. He wants the kids to be in Awana.. which is great, but it is another thing to add it. I want to be in Wausau Lyric Choir, which I have been in since 2002. Dave said he was fine with that as long as I didn't complain when he picked up extra hours at work, if it interfered with some of my plans, etc.

I am adding in a bible study next week, in the mornings, which I can take Marina to, while Peter is in school. I am so looking forward to that......

Oh, and did I mention that I have applied for a job at our church and interviews will probably be starting at the end of the month?!

Hmmm. So I look at my schedule, and I start to worry.

Trust in the Lord.

This time of busyness, the time of my son being in school, things that I am doing, the ramped up activities, while none are bad, stress me out. But these things, and the house that I want to take care of, and my husband, whom I don't ever want to push to the background, is the land in which I live. I need to dwell in the land.

That means to me that I have to really settle down here and not wish for another time, or a way around the difficulties. I can enjoy this as safe pasture. God is with me here. It is safe. It is where He has placed me and He wants me to enjoy it.

Then I need to delight myself in the Lord. To really delight, to throw my head back and laugh for the sheer joy of His presence.

When was the last time we did that?

Trusting in Him
Doing good

These are the things that we should be doing. These are the things we should be pointing our souls to. These are the things that will give us peace and the joy that we truly long for.

It isn't easy. My temperament tends towards the melancholy. I tend to get too introspective and miss the joy around me. I tend to forget what it is to so delight in God that the very desires of my heart match up with His.

He will give me the desires of my heart. I need to ask and pray and trust Him. He only wants to give good things to His children. Even if I pray and I don't see any results, He is there, He listens, He cares and He delights over us.

I just need to be patient and wait.

That's the hardest part isn't it?

In the wait, He asks us to do these things...

Are those words part of your vocabulary?
They are starting to become mine.

More so as I memorize this scripture and really meditate on it.

"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Psalm 37:3-4

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

She obeys, He frees... She Speaks Part 8

I didn’t realize just how raw the story was, until I tried to figure out how to share it, how much to share, and how to fit it into just the intro of my talk.

Honestly, I was scared. It was one thing to share this specific story in writing, in general terms, on my blog, but it was completely different to do it in person, with more specifics…

So, there I was crying in the atrium of the hotel, trying to pray and surrender everything to God.

I finally was able to settle down and practice my talk, trying to time it and smooth things out. Just in time too, as I had to head upstairs to get together with everyone in my evaluation group.

I seem like I am skimming over so much. Everyone who spoke did so well. It was good for me to know that everyone was just as nervous as I was.

One amazing thing was how God really designed all of our talks. We all had different stories, different verses to talk on, different lives. But God designed each of our talks. We really all spoke about much of the same thing. How God has created us special, with our own unique talents and gifts and backgrounds. How much He loves every one of us.

God blessed my heart through each of my sisters there.

When I got up to give my talk, I was so scared. I was afraid to open up with the story....

(I know, I have been holding back what it was, because, well, though I have talked about it here on my blog as I was working through it in counseling... it's still hard to share)

......the story of how I was raped by a boyfriend in college......

I didn't go into detail. I couldn't. I didn't have much time to even fill out the story enough, or ease into it any.

It took all I had to follow God's prompting to share that story. It led so well into why I felt separated from God, and unable to receive His love, or believe that He could love me at all. The whole verses that I picked, that God gave me, were from Romans 8:35 and 37.

You know the part:
"Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall trouble or hardship, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, danger or sword? No, in all these things were are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

It's a reminder for me, even today, right now, this very morning as I write this. No matter my past sins, the ways I fall and stumble along, God still loves me. He still looks on me with compassion and mercy. He lavishes His grace on me. Nothing can separate me.

Nothing, not even the nakedness I felt from the rape could ever separate me from God's love... even when I felt dirty, and lived with the lies that I wasn't worth anything more than being used by others.

After sharing, I finally felt such a relief.

Not just that I had shared my talk, but that I had followed God's prompting to share some of the hardest, most painful parts of my story, trusting Him to use it as He will.

I may have the opportunity to share my story, and/or a talk soon. Like in February as I am on a committee to plan a women's retreat for our church. We probably are going to use 3 people from our church family as the speakers, as we don't have a very big budget. It seems that all three of the speakers are on the committee right now. Funny how God works like that.

It may be harder to share my story, and any message God puts on my heart, with people who I will see all the time in church. However, God has put a burden on my heart for the women in our congregation that I see every Sunday. I wonder how many of them are living with secret depression, or secret shame and hurt and guilt... with burdens that they aren't supposed to be carrying... at least not alone, without others to help them.

All I know is I walked out of the speaker evaluation group with a new lightness in me.

The only way I can describe it is as if I finally got "permission" to really share my heart, and God's heart for women in pain and bondage. I had a release of sorts. From fear, from hesitancy, from resistance.

I walked into the dinner that night, in preparation for hearing Jennifer Rothschild speak in person. I had recently read through her "Self Talk, Soul Talk" book, and was doing her bible study, "Me, Myself and Lies." Both were incredible and I was greatly looking forward to what she had to say.

I didn't expect what she said, and how she shared her heart, to touch mine as much as it did. I couldn't explain it even now, though I will try...

God used her to speak right into my heart and life right where I was at....

(to be continued)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I wanna write... but...

... life has taken over.

I long to sit down and write out all the thoughts I have had. All the things I have felt God telling me. The struggles and successes. I have wanted to write more about She Speaks, finish sharing what God did for me Saturday night, and on Sunday. There are a couple of key things there.


I have been trying to get a little boy and his mom ready for Kindergarten.

My son, Peter, has started Kindergarten this week. He was in 4k last year, it was only a few days a week, and a small school, so it didn't bother me much.

This year is different. We have had to get up much earlier, get going sooner, get him to school, to a bigger school, and I have walked him down to his room the first two days, but to get both of us used to it, today I left him at the doors, and let him walk to the room himself.

He was OK with it, and didn't fight it at all. He gave me a hug when we got inside the doors, and then headed down the hall, I walked out through the first set of doors, and looked back. As he headed down the hall, he looked back and gave me a wave and smile and he was off.

I cried all the way home.

The other days were fine.
I mean I was a bit sad.
But I was more excited for him.

Today hit me.

I have no idea what this year will hold for him. I have no idea how he will take to school. I know he is a bright little boy, and learns things quickly. He picks up on so much, so fast and is so observant.

I am praying for God's guidance and protection for him. For Christian friends for him. For good teachers... for a deeper yearning for God, so that his faith really becomes HIS.

Please pray for us as we make transitions here. This mommy is used to late nights, being able to be up till all hours, for the whole summer, and this switch to needing to get up and out the door early, and then be functional for the rest of the day..... this is for the birds!!!!! :)

Pray that I would be able to continue to take the time to listen to God. I want to seek Him, to have Him show me how to have healthy patterns of rest and work in my life, and to help my kids have that too. I want God to show me how to better take care of myself through good food, and adequate rest/sleep.

Pray that my hubby and I will stay united, that we will love each other more with each passing day, that God will be the center of our relationship always. Pray that the busyness in our lives won't take over and we won't let ourselves "drift" apart as the busy years really come at us now.

I guess the best and only thing I could ask for is prayer for all of us. My heart is sore tonight from seeing my boy off and on his way. I am more tired now than I ever thought I could be, and it is very easy to let my guard down, and the enemy can sneak in subtly, or not so subtly!

Thank you for your love and prayers, and your willingness to keep up with me, wait on me, and have patience with my interrupted stories.