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?

Friday, June 10, 2016

For Its Time

When my family originally moved to this area, a group of ladies at our new church kindly invited me to be a part of their weekly meetings.  I soon felt connected into the church because of them and the friendships I made with them.  Even though my work schedule no longer allows me to be a part of their weekly group meetings, they continue to invite me to their annual outing to a local farm that hosts fancy girly luncheons.  It is always a special treat to take the day off work to go and catch up with them and have and a delicious lunch made with ingredients often grown right on their farm.  Each table is decorated with flowers that are in season that particular week and cut that morning.  I took a picture of the arrangement that was at our table.

Of course, the picture just doesn't do it justice!  You can see that not every part of this bouquet is full of amazing color but everything fits together so nicely.  As we were told about the flowers in the arrangement, we were reminded how each week brings different flowers into season which is why the arrangements look different from week to week.  Each flower has their own moment to bloom and look amazing and that is when they cut them for the arrangements.  My CSA is the same way.  Each week, is different with what fruit and vegetables are available to pick up and we have such a wonderful variety throughout the growing season!  Some parts of the season have lesser variety than others because that is the way it is when growing produce.

The Bible uses the idea of seasons to help us understand what God is doing in us as well.  Ecclesiastes 3:1,11 (NLT) says,
"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven...Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end."
Our human eyes cannot see the whole bouquet God is putting together, but every season has beauty in God's hands.  In the scope of eternity, even the things that just don't seem to fit right now will fit later when we give it over to God.  Here is what I know: I cannot always trust my vision because it is so limited by my humanness and pain, but I can trust God's eternal vision.  What I know from His working in my past is that He can take things that make no sense whatsoever and turn them into the most magnificent beauty.

Can you trust that in His time He can take whatever season you are in and make it into something He can use?

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Peace In Pain

"Sharon, do you trust me?"

Those familiar words were spoken in my heart as pain gripped my head through an intense migraine attack.  One of my coping mechanisms during my migraines is to not focus on the pain and to pray for other people.  I was praying for my kiddos but the pain was just too intense and all I could whisper was "God help me," an all-too familiar mantra that the really bad migraines tend to pull out of me.  But I mean it in the real sense; I really am asking God to help me.  I also believe that even though all I can do in that moment is exhale a whisper, it is a prayer that is shaking the rafters in Heaven.  I believe that because I know that God is my only true source of help and I know that He loves me.

As anxiety started to build in me when the pain and other awful accompanying symptoms of the out of control migraine took control, God's voice spoke over it all, "Sharon, do you trust me?" My Lord gave me a dose of peace - one that He would need to give me again and again throughout the migraine. Then my wonderful husband prayed over me and began to read the Bible to me.  You see, God doesn't just speak to my heart, He uses other people to speak to me too.

You may ask why I don't pray for healing.  Oh, I do!  And if you only knew the number of people in my life praying for healing for me, maybe that question would never be asked.  Trust me, that cry for help during the migraine is a cry for healing.  I know God can heal me and I want Him to heal me.  But healing hasn't come and I trust Him.  He has asked me to trust Him.  I have also seen Him do so many amazing things in and through me through this difficult journey of chronic migraines and I still cling to the hope that I will be healed some day.  But I have also been able to testify that it is not my strength but His on many days when people ask me "how do I...?"  Because that is true - I have no physical strength left.

But here is the wonderful take away of our God.  He made sure He wanted me to remember the things He told me in my heart while He was taking away the anxiety that night.  The next morning my wonderful mother-in-law emailed me a verse she prayed over me before she knew what I had been going through that spoke basically what He said to me that night.

Psalm 18:30 (NIV) "As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him."

Our God is with us through our difficult journeys.  He may not give us the ending we ask for, but His way is perfect and we can trust Him.  We can trust what He tells us - He makes no mistakes in His word.  We can know that when we call out to Him, He will be our shield.  That is beautiful and wonderful to me and that is what gave me peace that night.

This post is linked with Faith Filled FridayFaith n Friend, Fresh Market Friday, Grace and Truth, and Let Us Grow.