Sunday, September 18, 2016

We Interrupt This Life To Bring You: Rest

In a few days I have an appointment to see my neurologist to give an update of how I am doing with my chronic migraine and the change we made with my medication.  The medication I've been on had been showing signs of working for me so we made a mutual decision to slowly increase it and check in after six weeks.  But now I am wondering where we will be with that course because instead of getting better, my condition has been pretty bad.  Just this week alone, I've had a string of five days of migraine.  While my preventative medicine helps lower the pain level and my emergency medicine also lowers the pain, I am still functioning with pain and all the other annoying symptoms that come with my migraine such as tingling hands, numbing face, nausea, and painful skin on my neck and shoulders.

The other day it caught up with me and I was physically and emotionally tired.  I was sick and tired of feeling drained and in pain and having the migraines dictate what I get to do.  I had been icing my head all evening and while it wasn't close to being my worst migraine, it was persistent and hurting a lot and had caused me to isolate myself in my room because my head couldn't handle the noise of the video game my husband and son were playing.  Soon it was time to go to bed and I lay in the dark in pain.  Oh, I was tired!  So tired, that the pain brought tears to my eyes and I realized how frustrated I felt, which brought more tears.  I think what I hate the most about the migraines is how they don't just mess up my plans but they effect my family.  More tears.

Here is the interesting thing God did with that.  Earlier that day, I read this post written by a pastor my husband used to work with at another church.  Actually, I read the post a couple of times because the prayer she wrote messed me up.  Tamar wrote how she began to pray this prayer over her life, "Lord, remove from me all false burdens placed on me by people, leaders, churches and even myself."  The reason this messed me up is because I realized how I had been burdened by false burdens of expectations from people and myself (in fact, mostly my perfectionist self) and it was time to bring some clarity to my life and just let God give me direction.  So I prayed that prayer over my life and added one little bit to the end, "...and let me be yoked to You so that I can follow Your direction for my life."  I was thinking of Matthew 11:30 (NIV) "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I woke up the next day still with my migraine but not so frustrated and able to do some things.  Later that evening I went to church and God wasn't done with the lesson for me and had some more things to tell me through my pastor's sermon.  You see, at the end of the sermon, what verse would God have him use?  Matthew 11:29 (NIV) "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."  The sermon was about giving our emotions to God and how in that verse the rest for your souls was rest for your emotions.  It was as if God was telling me He had heard my prayer and He saw my tears and He was promising me rest as long as I kept bringing it to Him.

Look, I'm not saying that God will make life easy.  But, I have a God who cares for and loves me.  And it was a beautiful reminder that I needed to keep coming to Him, because whenever I have come to Him in the past I have found whatever I have needed.  So I place my false burdens at His feet and ask Him to place His yoke upon me because that is where I will find clarity and rest.

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday, Faith n Friends, Fresh Market Friday, and Grace and Truth.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Always Learning...Always Teaching

Where I live, kiddos will be going back to school this week and I'm sure that most of them are not very excited about it.  It is crazy for me because I now have a child starting their second year in college, a senior in high school and a sophomore in high school.  It really seems like time has flown through these parenting years.  One thing that is certain for all three of my kiddos is that no matter how old they are, they will come out of this year of school having learned some things that they didn't know at the beginning of this year.  That is the whole point of school - to help you learn new things.  If you didn't need to learn new things you wouldn't be there (and my child in college wouldn't be paying so much to be there!).  But, what if God felt that way about our spiritual walk as well?

What if God expected us to continue to learn and grow every day as if we were in "spiritual school?"  I don't mean seminary; I just mean that we shouldn't be the same person today that we were a year ago because we are moving forward and growing.  We are learning and growing and letting God stretch us.  Here are a few verses to show what I mean:

Psalm 119:64 (NIV) "The earth is filled with Your love, LORD; teach me Your decrees."

Isaiah 48:17 (NIV) "This is what the LORD says - your Redeemer, the Holy One of Isreal: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you the way you should go.'"

2 Timothy 1:13-14 (NIV) "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us."

God expects us to learn through Him and through others He puts in our lives continuously.  But it doesn't stop there; He wants us to share that with others as well.  He wants us to grow so we can then help others to grow.  He created a system to continue to grow, love, and teach itself through Him.  Here was Jesus' final command to us before He left this earth:

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV) 'Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"

Whatever God is showing you isn't meant just for you.  Perhaps there are elements that are personal, but the overall teaching can be shared with others.  We are meant to lift each other up in our own ways and we are all learning something that can be helpful to someone else.

What is God teaching you that can help someone else today?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Purpose In Any Place

I had the opportunity to listen to some amazing speakers over the last few days at the Global Leadership Summit.  As usual, I have to take time to think through all the information that I heard and soak it in.  Most of the the speakers were talking about growing leadership skills; however, there were some talks that God used to speak more to my heart.  One of the speakers was T.D. Jakes.  I have to admit that I missed some of what he said because I got hung up on some of his points and found myself thinking through what he had said.

T.D. Jakes reminded us that God made our bodies to give us pain to tell us when something is wrong so we would know to do something about it.  The author, Philip Yancey, touched on the same topic in his book, Where Is God When It Hurts.  In fact, Philip Yancey shows us the danger of what happens when the body loses the ability to tell us there is something wrong through pain.  T.D. Jakes was relating physical pain to the pain of injustices we see in our country right now.  And while he had really great points that he was making and I was agreeing with him, I also was feeling a tug in my spirit over my own physical pain that I have been going through for almost a daily basis over the last few years.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says,
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God knew before I ever did that I would have a roadblock of pain that would redirect me.  He knew that I would have to stop in my tracks and figure out what it all meant.  He knew what He had woven into my life because He had prepared it for me and created me in Christ Jesus to do good works in advance before I even walked this path.  So just because there is a path of pain doesn't mean it is a path of uselessness.  In fact, if God hasn't offered me the beautiful healing I have been asking for, then at least allow me do good works in the pain.  Oh God, reach someone else in this pain and give them hope!  That is why I continue to write.

Perhaps you are in a place where you are feeling useless or hopeless.  I want you to know that God knew you would be where you are today and wants you to know He is right there with you.  You are His handiwork.  He created you in Christ Jesus.  But there is just so much more than just being created!  He created you with a purpose.  Every moment of your life is purposed in Christ Jesus.  Every moment is an opportunity to do something that matters in the life of someone else.  God made you to love others through Christ.  What can you do today?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

But I Just Bought New Walking Shoes!

Prior to chronic migraine, I used to go to the gym every morning and do my cardio and weight-lifting routine.  You would never know that now, because after a few years of exercise being a trigger and one of the medicines causing weight gain all that gym time certainly doesn't show!  What I can do is walk and my wonderful husband walks with me at the slower pace that my head can handle.  This week I decided it was time for new shoes; my old shoes were causing needless pain in my feet and I had a 30% off coupon!   So, yesterday I got my new shoes and I couldn't wait to go for my walk today.

However, my head had its own plans.  For the last few days, my stomach has been sour and I've struggled falling asleep the last two nights.  I really don't have trouble falling asleep because one of my medications makes me fall asleep, so if I am suffering from insomnia it is potentially an early phase of a migraine (prodrome) as is the sour stomach.  I woke up this morning not feeling too great, but I had a breakfast date with my dear friend and I wanted to keep going.  I had my cup of coffee hoping that would help and as I was getting ready my hands started to tingle and feel numb, which is another part of my prodrome.

I enjoyed my breakfast with my friend as she shared wonderful things God is doing in her life and even a lesson that God used for me.  But, as I later shared with her my concerns about a big migraine coming, she grabbed my numb, tingling hands and prayed over me from across the table.  By the time I got home, my head was hurting and I was so tired.  Even after the medicine kicked in and took care of the head pain, my stomach still wasn't happy and I was tired and achy and that was when I realized I wasn't going to be using those new walking shoes today.

Disappointed, I lay on the couch watching the Olympic athletes using their shoes to do really awesome stuff and at one point the camera even zoomed in on one tying their shoes as if to taunt me.  I have no Olympic dreams; I just wanted to use my new shoes today and not feel sick.  But as my pity party continued, my beautiful friend's story from the morning came back to me because she emailed it to me with a verse.  God is so good at making sure we hear what He wants us to hear!  Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) says:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
 The point of my friend's story was how God was teaching her to surrender everything to Him.  We had laughed at ourselves this morning how God is always showing us something new to surrender in our faith walk.  But, I wasn't expecting a literal surrender of my new shoes today.  But I guess, I need to say, so what?  So what if I bought new shoes.  Does it really matter that I don't get to walk today?  It is just a walk!  I am taking a break today...tomorrow is a new day.

But really, this has me thinking.  What thought or idea or way am I thinking is better than God's?  What do I need to surrender to God's way of thinking?  You see, if I don't surrender to God's way I could end up sitting on the sidelines wondering how I got there.  God's way is better even if it doesn't make sense to me; I just have to trust Him.

How do you need to surrender to God's way of thinking?

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Inconsequential? Hardly!

Anyone who has had to do any kind of work with a copy machine understands that we are at the mercy of the copy machine.  The machine never quite lives up to the hype it is sold under and then when we are under a tight deadline, that is when it decides to have a major meltdown.  A few weeks ago, our copy machine kept jamming to the point where it was bringing the office staff to tears and we knew it was time to call the repair guy.  When he showed up to fix the machine he disassembled a few parts and finally pulled out the insolent culprit:


That's right, that teeny, piece of paper is what was bringing the entire office to a complete halt and to its knees that afternoon.  Here is another picture to bring it in to perspective on how small that offensive paper was:


Seriously!  That puny piece of paper was stuck in the paper hole punch mechanism of the machine and causing all kinds of problems.  But, when I saw that tiny paper and the large pieces of paper it was jamming and crunching, it reminded me of how small things can cause big problems.

James gives us very strong warnings of how the tongue is so small but can cause us so many problems.  James 3:5-6 (NIV) says:
" Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
Ouch!  I actually didn't want to write this post because I was being convicted about my own tongue!  In this chapter James goes on to tell us that what comes out of our mouths shouldn't be in conflict.  We can't praise God one minute and then spew garbage the next.  We need to be living out our faith continually - including what is coming from that little inconsequential muscle, the tongue.

Just as that little paper caused a complete meltdown of our copy machine, our tongue can cause a meltdown in our spiritual walk or in our relationships.  Gossip, harsh words, whatever it may be can cause all kinds of problems.  I know God is showing me my own issue!

We need our tongues - so we don't want to ask God to silence them.  But we can ask God to help us tame our tongues.  We don't have to let it be "set on fire by hell," but rather we can have its course set by the Holy Spirit.  I know that is what I am repenting and praying over myself today.  How about you?

Friday, July 1, 2016

That We May Have Faith

There are times when we need to share God's amazing work in our lives in order to build up each others' faith.  I believe God does things for us because He loves us and knows what we need, but He also wants us to share it with others so we can praise Him and so others can see the good works He does.  Twice this week, we have had doctors tell us that they will only accept what the insurance will pay them and not bill us the rest (which would have been a considerably large bill).  Not just one doctor, but two!  I was astonished this morning when my husband came home from his appointment and said for the second time, "They are only going to take what the insurance will pay."

The back story to that is when we were originally told what our bill would be for that particular appointment, we were both overwhelmed.  That same day, a good friend of mine texted me this verse:
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
 She had no idea of our overwhelming bill, so I texted her back and let her know that we were praying for God's provision in that situation and she said that she would continue to pray and couldn't wait to hear of how God was going to provide.  I didn't hesitate to let her know this morning when I got the news!

God provides.  We don't always know how He will provide, but He provides.  It may be that He provides the very need we have or He provides the resources we need to get what we need.  But He provides our needs.  My husband and I have been married for 23 years and we have seen His provision over and over again.  He has provided living room furniture, a dining room table, bedroom furniture for us and our children, clothing for our children, cars, places to live, food, and so much more.  But don't think He stops at material needs!  He has also provided emotional strength for things that I didn't think I could get through.  He has provided help on days when I needed it.  He has provided healing, both physically and spiritually.  And most of all He provides forgiveness.

Our God loves us and provides what we need; sometimes we just need to ask.  Have you asked God for help with your needs lately?