Category Archives: struggles

praying for blessings

blessings as tears .001

Seems life has been like riding a rollercoaster the last few months.
Up . . . Down . . . Twists . . . Turns . . . Upside-down . . . then, right side-up.
Catch my breath . . . then hold on for the ride.
I pray.  I continue to pray for
peace . . . comfort . . . healing . . . clarity . . . relationships . . . restoration . . . fear to leave . . . understanding . . . patience
  . . . protection . . . suffering to cease . . . 
I know God hears each word I’ve spoken . . . But today, my heart asks . . .But what tone does God hear in your voice?

Does He hear the same tones that I hear in the voices of others?
The tone in my own voice as I speak?
You know the ones that fuel all the negative emotions.
Of course, He does.
He hears the discontent . . . grumbling . . . complaining . . . whining . . . disappointment . . . self-righteousness . . . 
anger . . . muttering . . . indignation . . . displeasure . . . doubt . . . betrayal
I know He hears each word  and that He knows my every need . . .
and today, He reminded me that often times I let my fear take the joy away.
So today, I’m not white-knuckled or feeling my stomach in my throat, or letting out a blood curdling scream as I ride the rollercoaster.  This time, I am facing those fears that want to steal the joy away from me and seeing the trials as Mercy in disguise.
Blessings
by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise


living in the dusk

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Ephesians 5:6-14

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

One of my favorite things to do is to sit and watch a sunset.  Watching as the bright of day closes and darkness is waiting on the peripheral . . . waiting to snuff out the light.  Dusk, that moment in time of partial darkness between day and night. 

It’s a moment in time I want to briefly stop and appreciate His handiwork in the sky, but dusk is not a place I want to live in, but it seems to be a place I can wander in.  It’s not that place of Light, and it’s not that place of Dark.  

Dusk, where the shadows provide
                places to hide.
to escape.
                to avoid.
to divide.
                to decay.

Dusk is that place where the empty words of my enemy wants to woo me back into Darkness.

Words that want to come back to haunt me.

You are not loved.  You are not valued.
You are not worthy.  You are not pleasing.
You can’t do anything right.   Guilty.
 

Those are empty words, fruitless works of darkness.  E.M.P.T.Y.

I have to take those things of the darkness and expose them to the Light.  His Light.  Jesus changes who I am.

My life in the Light is full.

My life in the darkness is empty.

Living in the dusk is simply waiting for the darkness to come.  It will steal the Light away.

Are you living in dusk?

 

 


in her Momma’s arms

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I sit quietly in awe. Quietly watching this precious little one nestled snugly in her momma’s arms.  Their breathing is in harmonic motion, in and out . . . in and out . . .a quiet, a peaceful rhythm.

Her momma gently whispers words of love over her as she has her tucked safely close. In her mother’s arms she is safe, protected, nurtured.  Momma’s arms hold her close to her beating heart, that heart that was the familiar sound this little one heard day in and day out while her mother carried her for nine months.   And now out in this world, this world that is so filled with chaos, her momma continues to hold her close, to cover her with mother wings.  A stronghold of love.

I sit watching, pondering in awe. Pondering meditatively.

As I see my very own little girl embrace her own little girl, my heart is full.  My heart is full of love for this new little one who has been  remarkably and wonderfully made.  My heart is full of love for the one who was remarkably and wonderfully knitted together inside my own body.

But most of all, my heart is full of reminders of the One who covers me in His arms, who holds me close in the midst of the chaos.

I am reminded of the times my life has been crumbling to pieces around me, troubles were crashing into me right and left, life seem to be imploding.  I was alone, or at least that is what the enemy wanted me to believe.

Clinging to Psalm 46, He pulls me in to cover me with His Love, to be my stronghold against all that is clamoring to tear me apart.  He is always there to whisper His words of Love into my heart.  Pulling me close, the chaos turns into peace.

I can hear His heartbeat because He created me to be His.

God is my refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore I will not fear,
Though the earth should give way,
And though the mountains fall into the heart
of the sea.
Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
Psalm 46:1-3

So as things of this world are vying to pull me away, to create disharmony, when I have to hold it together, even when I don’t feel like it . . . it is here, here with my God, my Creator, that I find solace, my stronghold.  It is here, I can let it go.  I cling to His arms and hear His tender heart calling me close.  It’s here in the magnificent, or the insignificant, in the joyous moments, or the disappointing times, the uplifting, or the casting down, the contentment, or the perplexities and uncertainties that I rest secure. Resting secure in the harmonic motion of His peace and His grace.

Rest in His arms, just like that precious little one in her Momma’s arms.  Rest no matter what the world throws your way. Find His peace in the chaos.


stay alert

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“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

It happens when I least expect it.

The room is filled with smiles and laughter as friends come together. Each one brings uniqueness to the mix. Lively chatter is flowing around. Yet, there’s something unsure looming in the air. And then it happens.

Or maybe it is a smaller gathering, just a few people around. Someone says something that strikes a chord, uses a similar tone, or a personality quirk continually surfaces. And then it happens.

Or maybe it’s in a personal conversation. A friend or a loved one is sharing a hurtful experience, asking for wise counsel. And then it happens.

What happened . . . ?

Minutes before, my heart was full of joy, and then I seem to be swallowed up by a torrent of hurt, painful reminders, a raging sea of confused emotions. Sometimes anger seems to well up and simmer inside me.  And when I see this happening in my life, I ask, how do these things happen to me?

So I pray.

On the surface, I’m sure these thoughts seem silly to others, and yes, at times, even ridiculous to me. I ask, am I allowing these outside coincidences to inflict such emotion in me?

And so I pray. I pray and I wait. I go to the One who knows my heart. I go to One who knows me better than I know myself.

In that place, I am reminded there is someone else who waits. Someone else lying in wait, hiding around the corner, prowling around looking for those places in my heart where there has been hurt and rejection. My great enemy, the devil, is waiting. Waiting for the chance to swoop in and hijack my emotions. He is looking for any opportunity to trip me up, to cause me to stumble, to fall back into the emotional wreck of the past.

The enemy scouts around like a roaring lion, prowling, looking for the perfect opportunity

  • To resurface hurts caused by another through the personality of someone who crosses my path.
  • To remind me of past mistakes.
  • To rub me wrong causing division or discontent.

holding back nothing to get into my mind and my heart.

So I pray to be alert, asking for supernatural protection of those places when I see those red flags, detection of the enemy.

Alert. I can only be alert when I daily pour myself into the Truth that I am loved and adored and pursued by The One who loves me. I must trust Him to be the cushion, to be the distance, to be His Perfect Love in my heart.

So when the enemy comes with rejection or hurts or disappointments {which I know are going to come}, my heart and my mind will be less vulnerable to the sea of offense.

 


do not fret

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Do not fret . . .  it only causes harm. 
Psalm 37:8

Don’t fret.  Who me? 

Maybe I’m sitting around in a group . . .  or talking face-to-face with a loved one or a friend . . . or sending a note by an email . . . or texting a reply . . . or commenting on a post . . .

It seems so easy for me to say, “Don’t worry . .  Just be patient . .  You’re going to get through this . .  Let’s pray about this . .  God’s got this . . .”  to someone else.  

Afterall, that’s what scriptures tell me – it’s what I’ve been taught from the early days of my childhood.  More importantly, it’s the Truth I’ve witnessed over and over again throughout my life.  So why?  Why, when I was led to read Psalm 37 did the phrase “do not fret” jump out at me?  It wasn’t because it was repeated several times throughout the Psalm.  No, it was much more than that.  It was that word . . . FRET.

There was something about that word . . . that word that I’ve heard my mother use from time to time and one I’ve used myself.  But when I looked it up – there it was speaking straight to me.  It was more than just the association with the word “worry.”

FRET: verb (used with object).

to torment; irritate, annoy, or vex: [You mustn’t fret yourself about that.]
You see for some reason, I thought “fret” was just a little bit of a more positive word for “worry.” Positive?

Torment? Irritate? Annoy?  Vex?
 None of those are extremely positive.  So easy to say, but hard to believe when the world is turned upside down and inside out, when things seems to be out of control and life goes awry.
So again, some time for some inner reflection.
[Why the word “fret”? ]  

Do not fret – it only causes harm.

[Because that’s what I tend to do. I fret. I thought I had that “worry” thing under control.]

Do not fret – it only causes harm.  

[Do I allow things, people, situations, to annoy me?  To irritate me? To vex me?]


Do not fret – it only causes harm.

[I’m reminded of health issues, of a time of depression, of hurt relationships, of a spiritual desert.]

When things in life are moving along without hitting  speed bumps or the pot holes – whether big or small – it’s easy not to fret, it’s easy to wait patiently . . . to abide in Him.  But if I can not “not fret” when the speed bumps come, when the pot holes are waiting in the road for me, or when uncertainty is hiding around every corner then I truly am not trusting and resting in the Lord.  And if it’s not working for me, then how can I say it’ll work for someone else?    I can’t. I can not do it myself. 

Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because His purpose was never to accomplish His own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God.                ~from My Utmost for His Highest

So when I fret, I’m telling God I don’t think He can handle my situation.  All my fretting and my worry is me planning without God.  And that will always cause me harm. 


forgiveness. resentment. excuses. obedience

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 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice.  And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
Ephesians 4:31-32

Why is it so hard to forgive others?

But I’m in the right, I didn’t do anything against him . . .

She owes me the apology. I’m not the one who started this . . .

Can you believe how they treated me?  I deserve better than this. . .

I find myself struggling with forgiving those who hurt me – be it intentional or unintentional.

And when that happens, it’s like a pot sitting on the front burner of the stove.  The heat builds up and whatever is in that pot begins to boil, bubbles over, and spews out.  My being upset, angry at someone does that same thing.  It builds into resentment.  A resentment that tastes bitter to my heart.

Hurt.  It’s hard to forgive when you’ve been deeply hurt, especially when it’s someone close to you.  And when we’ve been deeply hurt, resentment sets in. There’s that gnawing desire to have them pay for it somehow.  Because . . .

They had it coming.
They shot their mouths off one too many times,
or they broke my heart,
or they didn’t return my calls.
They yelled at me first, and stormed off in a huff.
They turned against me, rejected me. 

Resentment.  Holding that grudge can feel like a sense of power, a sense of strength.

That surge of adrenaline when we’re self-righteously looking down at someone else’s sin, the false power of the unforgiving lording it over the unforgiven.

My mind tells me if I forgive them, ‘they’re just going to hurt me again.  Some how, some way.
So I hold on tight to resentment. I carry that grudge.  Afterall it’s their behavior, their actions, their attitude, their words.

Excuses.  A plea offered up for a fault.  Do I ask God to do just that for me?  Do I ask God to excuse my wrongdoings?  Do I ask Him to just accept my excuses?  Or do I ask for forgiveness?

Forgiveness says, “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” – C.S. Lewis

So, when the hurt comes {and it will} . . .

I will look up at the Cross. Forgiving grace and mercy looks down at me with His shed blood. And I think of the words and actions that have hurt me, the BIG and the small.

I have choices to make.
Do I stuff the feelings down deep inside my heart, carrying them around only to let them fester resentment?
Do I take it out on others around me?
Do I wear a grudge, like it’s a piece of my clothing?
Do I shut down emotionally?
Do I . . .?

~ OR ~

Do I follow in obedience . . . and forgive?

Do I make every effort to kill that bitter taste of resentment in my heart? – Not excuse, but forgive.

Forgiveness – I lay down my right to be right.

Forgiveness – I look at the other person through the lens of grace.

Forgiveness – I lay down the olive branch and forgive {even if it’s just between God and me} instead of becoming the victim of my hurt.

Forgiveness – I don’t keep an account. I don’t keep score.

God is the Final Judge, not me.


truth

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 “Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains, or compromises.” – A.W. Tozer

Truth.  The dictionary defines truth as “the real facts about something : the things that are true.”

Biblically speaking, truth is “not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness.”  (Strong’s Greek)

Truth is, we all want someone who we can be vulnerable with . . .

someone we can show transparency, exposing our hurts, shortcomings, struggles . . .

someone we can be completely up-front and honest with.

We want that person to be lovingly understanding of us, show us integrity, be merciful. Yet, so many times in life and in our relationships, we find ourselves turning away from others because people let us down. So we run, or maybe we do a fast walk, or even a slow, sulk.  And then we drift apart . . . or perhaps completely turn away.  So instead, we turn further into ourselves, living in pretense.

But the real truth is . . . we can have that Someone.  

In Christ, I have the Truth.

You will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. – John 8:32

I don’t have to live in the trappings of pretense, of the believing the lies the enemy wants me to hear.  The Truth has set me free.

Truth. It does exist . . . it is real . . . it is straightforward.

Sometimes, the Truth has stopped me right in my tracks.  At other times, Truth is tapping me on the shoulder – redirecting my focus, my eyes.  Instead of looking inward, or avoiding the eye contact, Truth tells me to look upward.  Truth reminds me to look around and get myself back on the right road.

 And then there have been times, Truth has had to get me square by the shoulders and look me straight eye-to-eye, just like a parent with a child.   Gently, but firmly, steering me home.

Truth . . . God’s Truth does not consult, bargain or compromise.

His Truth gives me comfort and hope.  It is my Freedom.


from groans to glory

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“The only love that won’t disappoint you is one that can’t change, that can’t be lost, that is not based on the ups and downs of life or of how well you live. It is something that not even death can take away from you. God’s love is the only thing like that.”

 ~ from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering  Tim Keller


my lighthouse

My Lighthouse

 

Lighthouses for anyone living, working, or traveling along a coast are a symbol of constancy.  

A lighthouse provides the light that points out dangers and hazards in darkness and times of storms.

A place of safe entry.

A marker of navigation along the journey.

In my life, the lighthouse is an image of God.  A symbol of His faithfulness and His constancy in the inconsistencies of my own life.

In the hazards and dangers, the trials and the temptations that are part of my life – He is my Lighthouse.

Everyday, He is my haven of safety.  When I am abiding in Him, I am safe.

As I walk on this journey, my Lighthouse marks my way, as a source of constancy that never hides from me.  He is the Light in the darkness of the world.

I am trusting in the promise that Jesus is the Light of the World  and the darkness will not overcome it.  No one, nothing can extinguish it.

So for the last month or so, the song “Lighthouse” by Rend Collective has been bombarding my mind and my heart – kind of like it’s been on repeat on my playlist!  The more I listen to the words, I have my Abba Father speaking to me with HIs loving arms wrapped around me.

He is reminding me that He will not walk out on me when I mess up, when I fail or when I doubt or question.

He is there in the silence – when it seems that there are no answers.

When the way seems clouded or a full-ranging storm, He is my Peace.

He is the fire that goes before me.  He leads me through, no matter if the skies are sunny or stormy.

  

“My Lighthouse” ~ by Rend Collective

In my wrestling and in my doubts
In my failures You won’t walk out
Your great love will lead me through
You are my peace in the troubled sea
You are my peace in the troubled sea

In the silence, You won’t let go
In my questions, Your truth will hold
Your great love will lead me through
You are my peace in the troubled sea
You are my peace in the troubled sea

My Lighthouse, My lighthouse
Shining in the darkness, I will follow You
My Lighthouse, My Lighthouse
I will trust the promise, You will carry me safe to shore
Safe to Shore
Safe to Shore
Safe to Shore

I won’t fear what tomorrow brings
With each morning I’ll rise and sing
My God’s love will lead me through
You are the peace in my troubled sea
You are the peace in my troubled sea

Fire before us, You’re the brightest
You will lead us safe to shore


those times in between

Waiting.  Watching and waiting. It’s that time of the year around here again.  Our bluebird houses were completely cleaned out in the early days of spring.  But with the unusual weather we’ve had, it seems that our waiting time for the houses to be filled with nests and eggs has been even longer than usual.  Walking the fence line last weekend to check on the progress, I thought about this season of waiting.

1st bluebirds 2014

1st bluebirds 2014

It seems in a number of areas of my life, that’s exactly where I am –

waiting . . .  watching . . .  waiting

Those times of waiting often seem to be the most difficult.  It’s that time that is either “going to make me or break me.” It’s those times when things aren’t clear, it’s like waking up to some of the foggy mornings we’ve had lately.

Confusion sets in.
Hopelessness sets in.
Doubt sets in.
A lack of understanding sets in.
Coping sets in.
Disillusionment sets in.
Cynicism sets in.
Unbelief sets in.

The time of waiting often seems to be unrelenting.  Those times in between are often difficult, when I begin to doubt. The days turn into weeks.  The weeks turn into months.  And the months even turn into years. Those times of waiting are the times in between . . . the times in between of being on the mountain tops.  While I love those times on the mountaintops, I have learned that it’s the times in between the mountain tops where I experience His greatest Joys.  

And so with the discovery of several nests with those beautiful blue eggs waiting to hatch, I ,too, am reminded that those times in between – in waiting and watching – there is Hope.

It might be waiting for the birth of our newest granddaughter, the return of a colleague to work, for a new home, for reconciliation in a relationship, the return of a prodigal, the end of a career and the beginning of a new season in life. Whatever the wait . . . I hold onto His Promise 

I know that You can do anything
and no plan of Yours can be thwarted.
Job 42:2

Because He is I AM.

He sees me in my waiting.  He shows me His faithfulness in looking back over all the many seasons of waiting in my life.  And although there are times of confusion, of not understanding the why, times of doubt and cynicism, of mistrust in the fog, I am confident that He is my Hope in the times in between.

So I continue to wait, to watch for His Hand in those times in between. 


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