Sunday, October 23, 2016

We've Got This

My chronic migraine is very unpredictable and takes on a different form with each migraine.  A lot of my migraines respond decently to my medicine and allow me to function, even if there is still a bit of pain.  But every now and then I have a break through monster migraine that is so painful and has so many other symptoms that it is impossible to function.  This week, I had another one of my monster migraines that knocked me off my feet.  I had done everything right - took my medicine within the time frame needed for it to work, but it didn't work.  So I took the steroid I'm supposed to take if my medicine doesn't work and that didn't work, at least not fast enough.  I had gone in to work fully expecting to feel better soon, but instead I got even sicker and two hours later I made it home just in time for the migraine to completely take over.  But, in the two hours I was at work, I was blessed beyond words and in ways that helped me cope through the worst of the migraine.

I am on staff at a church, which means that when we see someone needs prayer we stop what we are doing and pray for them.  Some of my coworkers realized that I was having a bad migraine during that two hour period I was there, and one by one they stopped by my desk and prayed for me.  Honestly, I was so overwhelmed by their caring prayers for me even though I wasn't able to show them how much it meant to me.  But that wasn't all that happened.  That particular morning was a busy morning at the church and we had the Ladies Bible Study meeting and several other people stopping by.  A few of them came by and prayed for me and the ladies meeting in the Bible study prayed for me during their time together.

I'm not one who likes to have a lot of attention and I often push away the attention, but I was too sick to worry about that.  In fact, I look at that day and I really needed those prayers.  I know a lot of people pray for me often, but on that day I got to experience their prayers in such a loving way.  I cannot fully express how the love I experienced through so many people was exactly what I needed.  God expresses His love in so many ways and on this day He used people - the church.  But isn't that the way we should be functioning?

God made us to need each other.  He made us to love each other.  We are often experiencing Him through our love and care for each other.
Galatians 6:2, 9-10 (NIV) says, "Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ...Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
I John 4:11-12 (NIV) says, "Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."
 We are told to carry each other's burdens and do good to one another because doing these things with and for each other is an expression of God's love in us.  And, I can personally testify that through the love of so many people, I experienced another expression of God's love to me.  It was like God used the church to say to me, "We've got this."

So, let us continue to look for opportunities to be an expression of God's love to the people around us.  After all, it is an expression of God's love working in us.

How can you show God's love to others?

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?

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.

Friday, May 27, 2016

You Are What You Think

The brain is an amazing organ.  I have always been fascinated with neurology and as a music therapist I often took the chance to go to seminars on the latest research on the brain and learning or on how music affects the brain.  It never ceases to amaze me how I would sit in a seminar 20 years ago and be told, "we use to believe....but now we know...." in regards to the brain and those same statements are still being made today.  It is such a complex organ.

A few days ago, I read this article by Fast Company that explained how our brain prunes less important information while we sleep and keeps the more important information streamlined and organized so when we wake up we can use it more efficiently.  It amazes me that our brain is designed to do that every time we sleep!  In fact, even a 10 minute nap will help streamline the information in our brain.  The article explained the importance of sleep in this process, but it finished with the fact that we can help our brain determine what is the important information to keep and what is the garbage to throw away.  This is done by what we choose to think about.  We tell our brain what to keep by what we spend time thinking about.  So, if you are spending a good portion of your day thinking about how upsetting it was to have that pile of work on your desk, guess what your brain is going to keep?

I guess this is why there are several verses in the Bible that remind us to think on good things.  In fact, sometimes the word "meditate" is even used.  As I have researched different ways to ease my chronic migraines, meditation has been a consistent topic that pops up in my research.  Obviously, what I choose to meditate on is vitally important!  Let's look at what the Bible has to say.

Psalm 119:15 (NIV) "I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways."

Philippians 4:8 (NLT) "And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."

What is something to meditate on to keep hardwired in your thoughts at all times?  Try Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

God has designed our brains beautifully so that we can change them to think more like Him.  Have you made the choice to think on godly things?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Broken Mailboxes

"Mom, someone drove into our mailbox."

That news would have already been annoying in and of itself when my oldest son came home from taking my daughter to an oboe lesson yesterday, but the fact that my husband and other son had just replaced it a few weeks ago brought a crazy irony to that statement.  Crazy enough to make me laugh not roll my eyes or shout or get angry.  This is because we lived through the winter with the old mailbox just barely hanging on for dear life.  I mean, that thing was seriously rusted out on the backside with holes.  When it snowed, we would open the door to the mailbox and the mail would have snow on it.  But that was only if the door to the mailbox would decide to stay shut that particular day.  It often would just fall open on its own.  When the weather finally warmed up enough to replace it, the door to the mailbox fell completely off!  This poor mailbox was in such bad shape that when my husband and son finally replaced it with a snazzy, large, waterproof, rubbermaid mailbox, the lettercarrier left us this note:
We were feeling pretty good about our new mailbox.  We put nice big numbers on it for our address and reflective tape since we live on a county road.  But, here we are a few weeks into our new mailbox with the reflective numbers and tape and that really didn't matter because a car backed into it in the middle of the day and ripped off its door.  I'm telling you, the irony truly is amazing!

Life really is full of irony isn't it?  If we can't learn to laugh at it, we would be terribly bitter people.  I say this as my husband is at this very moment getting ready to go and buy another new mailbox.  (My kids asked me if our insurance would cover the expense and I didn't feel like giving them a lesson on deductibles and what is worth claiming.)  But seriously, life has its ups and downs.  I had a few really good weeks with my migraines and now I've had a few bad weeks.  My kids have learned in school that you can have a good semester and a really difficult semester.  We can have great times and setbacks.  That is life.

But, no matter what is going on in life, there is something that we can always rely on - God's love and faithfulness.  Psalm 36:5 (NLT) says:

"Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds."

God is always faithful and He loves us.  He loves us so much that He sent us His love through Jesus.  John 1:17 (NLT) says:

"For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ."

And this love was expressed through Jesus' death on the cross for our sins and His victory over death in Jesus' resurrection.  Jesus had no sin, He didn't need to die for us, but His unfailing love and faithfulness for us did it for us.  That is a hope we can always cling to no matter what life throws at us.  Because we have this promise in John 3:16 (NLT):

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

Never forget that great hope we have!  God is with you and He loves you so much.

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Background

This week, there have been a lot of things going on at work in the background irritating my already prone to pain head.  Fumes...lots of fumes!  Paint fumes, cleaning fumes, copy machine fumes, work-on-the-roof fumes.  Just one of those fumes alone was enough to set my head into distress but they were all going on at once.  And there was more!  Noise...banging from the men fixing the roof above.  Thankfully, the banging wasn't directly over my head but it was loud enough.  I already struggle with chronic migraines without these issues being a normal part of my life and this week going in to work felt like walking into a migraine incubator.

All of it got me thinking today about the fact that none of those things had anything to do with me directly, yet they created a chain-reaction of pain in me.  They were all in the background.  In fact, one of the things I did to cope was to listen to some of my favorite classical music in the background.  Background programs can slow down our computers.  A great background can make a picture look amazing.  In music, the background themes are what complete the composition and fill the sound.  The background seems insignificant, but it has an immense effect.

We have an enemy that would really like to diminish the work we are doing and one way to chip away at our work is to make us feel ineffective.  What better way to make us feel ineffective than to make us feel like a useless part of the background?  I know that struggle well!  I have most certainly been there and I have even entertained some of those thoughts this week.  How about you?  He has a sneaky way of getting those discouraging thoughts in.  Feeling insignificant or unimportant maybe?

I can guarantee that is not the truth that God has for you!  That is not what God has spoken over you.  Here is a reminder of how we all fit together according to 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NLT):

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.  There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.
 We can look at the work people do around us and think it is greater than what we are doing, but God doesn't look at it that way.  He just looks at it as different.  Different work done by different workers empowered by the same Spirit while serving the same God.  Really, when we think about it according to these verses it is God doing the work in us anyway.  It isn't us, it is Him.

I guess no matter how you look at it, we are all working in the background...God is the only one truly in the forefront.

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Healing Others See

Yesterday at work, I was completing a lot of tasks that had me looking down at my hands.  This had me grumbling because all I could see on my hands was the chipped nail polish on my finger nails.  I rarely ever paint my finger nails (maybe once every five or six years) because I hate chipped nail polish that much!  We ran out of nail polish remover and I had been suffering mild migraines for two evenings in a row and lacked the energy to go out to get more remover.  So, there I was looking down annoyed at my severely chipped nails, reminding me of my inconvenienced evenings and the fact that EVERYONE ELSE COULD SEE THEM!!!!  Really?  Instead of letting those nails remind me that I had gotten them painted because my husband and I were celebrating our 23rd anniversary last weekend and we had such a beautiful time together, I was worried about what others could see.

Why do I do that?  Why do I need to be concerned with what people see in me?  God has shown me time and time again that when people can see the work He is doing in me His glory is revealed.  So what holds me back from letting it all show?  Shame?  I know that shame is not from God, so the only source of that root is from either myself or the enemy.  Why would the enemy want to keep me from showing all of myself to people?

One of the things I have learned about dealing with chronic pain is the constant battle of the mind.  I have always been a very optimistic person; however, once chronic pain smacked me in the head I found myself battling a daily attitude battle.  I think this is because I get so physically tired from battling pain that I've often lost the energy it takes to tolerate some of the negative things that happen.  Just because I don't have it in me doesn't mean that God doesn't!  Putting myself in the Word daily helps that attitude.  But admitting that struggle to people also brings healing to that attitude as well.

Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT says, "Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones."

Instead of being focused on myself and what I can and cannot do and focus on God and His amazing holiness I will want to turn away from my sin.  I will want to turn away from my bad attitude.  Then I will find healing!  Here is another verse that gives us a promise linking the need for forgiveness and healing:

James 5:16 NLT says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."

So, we do need to be concerned with what people see in us, but in a different sense.  We need to be honest with a few close friends who will pray with us.  We need to share our struggles and our sins so we can be free of those burdens.  When we do that, God's glory is revealed to others so they can witness the healing of our burdens.  I do believe that this is also talking of physical healing, but there is a spiritual healing that takes place that is far greater than any physical healing.  And this spiritual healing speaks volumes to those that get to witness it because they see the change in you.

So, we need to turn away from ourselves and turn to God.  We do that by confessing our sins and focusing on God.

This post is linked with Tea and Word Tuesday and Thought Provoking Thursday.

Friday, April 29, 2016

God Does the Impossible; I Just Do

For those of you who know me, you know that for almost two years I have struggled with chronic migraines.  That means that I often have more migraine and headache days than migraine-free days in a month.  I was pretty much blindsided by them; I had been noticing my migraines were happening more often but one day a migraine hit and never went away until I made it in to a neurologist.  The change was so drastic, it felt like a switch had been flicked in me.  I was completely unprepared for how my life would change from that day on.

My energy has been drained from constantly battling and recovering from one migraine to the next while continuing to work.  I've watched my amazing husband pick up more responsibility around the house because I am often too drained in the evenings to do much else.  Even my kiddos have been so patient and loving, grabbing me ice packs for my head when they can see it is a particularly bad migraine.  And, I have just learned to function through certain levels of pain because I have so many people that are praying for me.  Honestly, those prayers are why I make it - it is not my strength, but God's!

But, these nasty migraines have stolen a lot from me.  They have stolen freedom to be reliable - who knows when the migraine that really knocks me off my feet is going to hit?  They have stolen the freedom to play flute whenever I want - playing flute often triggers a migraine.  They have stolen the freedom to write on this blog.

So, when I was hearing God's prompting to write again, it seemed like He was telling me to do the impossible.  You see, when I wrote before these migraines were chronic I had a regular, very early time each morning to do it which doesn't work with my current situation.  I had a plan of what topic I was writing about and where I was going - that is kind of foggy right now.  I had a head that didn't hurt and could think through things very clearly - I do not have that at the moment.  I am tired even without getting up early, I don't know when the pain will keep me from writing, and I just don't see how it is possible.

But that is where God gets to be God.  I've been wondering how I would write my first post after being absent for so long, and then I opened my email to see this verse from a friend:

"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."  Hebrews 13:20-21

Aah...it isn't about me or you or anyone else for that matter.  None of what we do for God is about us; it is all about Him.  He is the one who will equip us with everything good for doing His will - how wonderful that thought is to me!  We can let go of all the things we can't do and even the things we can do because He will give us what He sees that we need for the moment.  But He doesn't just stop there - He also works in us what is pleasing to Him.  The NLT uses the word, produce instead of work, helping us see that God is producing the things in us that please Him!  He doesn't expect us to just do this on our own; He does it in us - amazing!

Knowing that, I can trust that God will do the impossible in me so I can just do for Him.

This post is linked with Teaching What is Good and Sharing His Beauty.