Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In the mean time...

Now, if you were at my church on Sunday, you heard the same sermon, and probably had your own reaction to it as I did. I wanted to share my experience because I think God was really trying to drive it home in me. As I have shared before, I have been struggling with a lot lately. Sometimes life throws you curves, and they can be large or like in my case, many small bumps in the road. I feel like I have a crick in my neck from all of the bumps. This is why this sermon, and ultimately God spoke to me this Sunday. Now, God not only speaks to me on Sunday, but he does any day really. As I have explained before, I have a control problem. I like to control my life so that I feel safer in it. In reality, I cannot control anything, but in the midst of trying to "play it safe," I drive myself and everyone else crazy. Also, in times like these, I am not fully leaning on God or trusting in God to intercede for me and work in my life....all for the good. I prayed, as I do most Sundays that God would speak through the Pastor and that He would teach me what I need to know. The following is some of the notes I took from the sermon:

1. Live your life wherever you are. Man, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I need to quit trying to plan every little detail in my life. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." I need to live right where I am, literally in the house that I have that I sometimes feel is too small, on the budget that we have right now--trying to pay off all that we owe and save enough to make a sufficient security fund and save for future children, and in the busy circumstances that I call my life--running from here to there and everywhere. I need to live and be content right here, right now. God will work and move when it is time and it is not always the way I want Him to or the way I think He should, but He is good and He knows the plans He has for me. His plans are always better than mine. Biblical hope is the confident expectation that God will bring good from everything. It is never God who creates discontent in our life.

2. God is in charge of all of your timelines and lifelines. He has a plan for you. God's plan is purposeful. it is not disasterous. God knows what he's doing with you and your life. Nothing wrecks your life more than fear. Hearing these words were so healing for me. "All things work together for good to those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

3. Trust God's Plan in the future for your life. "What do we do in the mean time?" What do I do in the mean time? I live life right now and: 1) Talk to God-pray! 2) Seek God-search Him out. Strive after Him.
In the mean time means living life right know before things change for the better or before the promise is realized.

4. Give God all of your life and future. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Deuteronomy 6:5

I need to live my life "in the mean time." Nothing builds my faith more than waiting and suffering. I will hold on to the truths that: He will restore me, and He will rebuild my life. Even in the small things, when life gets rough and everything seems to be going wrong, we can remember, "I know the plans I have for you."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Breaking Free

I have decided to do the Beth Moore study, "Breaking Free," again.  The first time I did it, I was a junior in high school.  You would think that a junior in high school wouldn't have much to break free from, right?  Wrong!  In this study, Beth talks about the captives being set free.  In God's word, He talks a lot about setting the captives free.  The captives are not only the lost, but they are you and me, believers.  When I was a junior in high school going through this study, I was challenged to memorize the verses in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Let's see if I can write this from memory.  "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, but on the contrary, these weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish every argument.  We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  I think that is pretty much it, or at least how I have memorized it to be.  I have used this verse over the years, but increasingly less and less.  However, I need it again.  Satan has come back to attack me spiritually with something that I thought I dealt with almost ten years ago.  When going through this study the first time, I didn't know it but God was preparing me to deal with the divorce of my parents.  I started this study only a few months before they were to separate.  I had no idea, my parents had no idea, but God knew!  My naivety was what led me into doing this study in the first place.  I grew up, was saved at the young age of 5, and yes I really was saved then.  I thought it my duty as a good girl to do this study with the women at my church, First Baptist Van Buren, AR.  I waltzed in and took a seat by my best friend, Melissa.  Soon after I sat in that chair, I realized that God had brought me there.  God had just brought me out of the despair caused by the  death of my young uncle.  He had come from Texas to live with us because although he had dated much, he had never married.  He worked as a chemical engineer in Dallas Texas, and had no one to watch over him as he died.  So, my Dad and Uncle went to Texas, gathered up him and some of his belongings, and brought him back to Arkansas to live with us.  My brother's old room became his final resting place before he met Jesus just four months after his diagnosis of lung cancer.  Although I didn't show it, when I walked into that room full of women at my church, I was heavy and burdened.  In my short 17 years on this earth I had already dealt with my fair share of hurt.  I had lost my Pawpaw on my Mom's side to cancer, when I was six years old.  He and I were best friends and I was the closest to him as I was my own parents.  On the day that I lost him, my parents found out that my brother who was a twin to my sister, would not be born as a normal and healthy baby.  At that point, my Mom was about 26 weeks along.  My brother and sister were born a few months later.  They were premature, and my brother was immediately airlifted to Children's Hospital.  My Dad accompanied him on this ride and I don't remember seeing either of them again for months.  As a family, we lived like this for two years.  During this time, I found out that my Mom had Muscular Schlerosis, and may not live.  I also had to deal with almost total eye loss in one eye and partial in the other, due to a degenerative eye disease.  The day after my brother and sister turned two years old, I was headed to school with the neighbors so that my Mom could get to work on time after taking my sister to the babysitter's house.  My Dad always worked from home.  He is an engineer/attorney and has his own oil and gas business.  I remember Gabe's alarm going off that day and watching as my Dad scrambled around, shoes being flung across my brother's blue bedroom, as he tried to resuscitate my brother.  I was used to this because my brother's alarm went off a lot of the time, but that particular morning, as I walked to the Meadow's house up my driveway, I wondered and worried that my brother might not make it this time.  It was not long before I was called out of class.  I remember looking at my best friend, Grace Anne who I am still close with today, in the eyes.  I don't know if she knew what I was thinking, but I felt that she did.  I was met at the office by my Aunt who broke the news that my brother had passed away.  On the way to the hospital, I remember just losing it.  When I got there, I saw my brother's dead body being help by my Dad.  For the first time, I saw my Dad cry.  He shed some tears, but there was no sound.  Soon after my brother's death, I had corrective eye surgery.  I had to wear a patch on my left eye for weeks before it.  Thankfully, the surgery worked, but it was still excruciatingly painful.  Again, we as a family made several trips back and forth to Children's Hospital.  A few months later, I was staying in Vicksburg, Mississippi at my Mawmaw and Pawpaw's house on Spring break of my fourth grade year, when while sleeping on the couch that made out into a bed, I was awakened by a loud crash.  I looked up and my other Pawpaw, Pawpaw Gatling, my Dad's Dad, was being wheeled out of the house.  I had noticed that when I went to bed, my cousins were with me, but I woke up alone.  I saw my Pawpaw that night lifeless on that stretcher, and I can't seem to forget it.  It was hard on me, but I knew that my Pawpaw had accepted Christ just months before when my Mom, his daughter in law, whitnessed to him and he accepted.  After the funeral a few weeks passed, then on April 21, 1996, a night I will never forget happened.  An F-5 tornado hit our city and our home.  I truly believed that I might die that night, but as we were being sucked up the stairs, God had another plan.  He saved us from that storm so that we could live on this earth a little longer.  I'll be honest, after that point fear took such a stronghold in my life.  In the evening if we got a phone call late at night, I thought someone was calling to tell us of the death of a loved one.  Or, if there was a storm, I worried that we might die in it.  In the next few years, I dealt with the unfaithfulness of a parent, sickness of my mother, and fighting on all sides.  There was much abuse in my home, and many different kinds of it.  Then, my uncle came to live with us and he too died.  Finally, by God's grace I walked into this study.  How it has helped me through my college years to trust in Him.  I know that it had such an impact on my life, but I do not believe that I have dealt with many of my strongholds fully.  I plan on doing it this time through.  I know God is able to do immeausreably greater than what we ask or imagine.  I also know that things that I dealt with as a child and growing up were things that I cannot change.  I know that God has strengthened me through the many trials, but if I do not deal with fear and unbelief than I will not be able to fulfill all that God has called me to.  I share small pieces of my story with you so that you will know that God is bigger.  No matter what life throws at you, death throws at you, you can live in freedom.  I believed that I had dealt with my fear and that it was gone for good, sometimes the enemy has other plans.  That is okay because my God has bigger plans.  His plans will not fail.  So no matter what I have to give up, it won't even compare to what blessings I will gain throughout this process and in the future.  Living in captivity and in bondage is living with anything that hinders us from the fullness of what God wants for us.  What does that mean in your life?  What do you need to give up so that God can have His way with you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Words from a Stranger

So tonight I'll be getting a little personal, but that is okay.  I already feel humbled today with what happened, a little more humbling can't hurt.  And, it's probably good for me!  In my other posts, I have talked about dealing a lot lately with fear, anxiety, worry...and the like.  One of the things that I have been obsessing over for a good while now is my weight.  Yes, I know I am not obese, but I am definitely bigger than I have ever been...20 lbs to be exact.  I had surgery last year, and in the months leading up to it I had to take medicine.  This began in 2009.  This medicine really piled the pounds on, and fast.  Another side effect of the medicine was that I had an extra hefty appetite.  This is never good, but I had to give an excuse as to why the pounds came on...it's my nature.  This being said, I have tried and failed at several diet attempts, exercise attempts...you name it!  However, nothing really took hold.  I was failing in my endeavors because I had lost my will-power, or so I thought.  Now, not to throw anybody under the bus, but this is how it happened.  The week of Thanksgiving, I went to out of town to see my Maw Maw and other family Members for the holiday.  One of the days, while my sweet husband was golfing, I was with some immediate family members.  As we pulled up to Taco Casa, a family favorite, I thought about what I might order.  I told one of my family members that I wanted a cheese dip with chips.  I had no longer gotten the words out, when this family member started in.  Soon, this family member had the help of another family member.  They were really going at me.  Telling me all that I had eaten since we had been on the trip, explaining to me that I would be getting fat as soon as I ate what I had ordered...and on and on.  I, uncharacteristically broke out in tears.  Usually it is my style to hold it in and get really mad, then later blow up on someone :)  Anyway, the first family member, the instigator...this person got in my face and said sarcastically several times, "why are you crying!"  I have an exclamation point at the end because it was not a question if you know what I'm saying.  I cried and cried, and couldn't stop crying.  It really was not like me.  Nonetheless, it happened and the next morning I had caused myself so much agony that I got a migraine headache.  Really, I am not trying to blame anyone because it was totally my fault for giving someone's words that much credit.  I shared that story to share with you what I experienced today.  There have been several other instances of me worrying about appearance, weight, social status, etc.  I'll just have you know that I thought I had this one covered.  I mean, until the past few years, I never struggled with worrying about appearances...well maybe I have always been a little concerned, but lately this struggle has taken the cake.  After Thanksgiving, I decided to get my butt in gear and get to the gym.  I finally got it in gear the last week of December.  I joined and have been faithful in going to Born Again Crossfit in Johnson, AR.  Now, I can't brag on this place enough...Christian music, Bible verses, encouraging people.  It is truly unbelievable.  I have been loving it.  The owner Jonathan, is a fellow believer, hence the name "Crossfit Born Again."  You see, I have only been acquainted with Jonathon for not even 3 weeks at this point.  I speak and am cordial, but not about anything personal.  I go in to do my workout and to receive his daily words of encouragement like, "hurry up, you can do it!"  Today, when I walked in I began with, I am sorry I was not here Friday or yesterday, bet you thought I wasn't coming back."  All he said was, "no I knew you'd be back."  I was thinking at that point that he must have some faith in me.  After the warm up, he told me he wanted to tell me something, that he needed to tell me something.  He told me that God had woken him up in the middle of the night last night and spoke to him about me.  He said he felt weird at first about telling me, but that God wanted him to tell me what God had told him.  At this point, I am not going to lie, I was a little nervous.  So then he started in.  He told me that God wanted me to focus on my heart, not my outward appearance or beauty.  He specifically said to me, "it doesn't matter what your family says, what anyone says about you physcially, what you need to do or look like, but God looks at the heart.  He went on to say, you may look really good by the world's standards now, but what about when you are 50?  What then?"  Then he started in about how all that I have is from God.  My education, my stuff, any material possession I had was from the Lord.  Then he said, "Molly, I don't know what you are dealing with...it is none of my business, but you need to stop worrying about the material.  It cannot go with you to heaven.  Worry about the eternal.  Stop worrying about social status."  At this point, I was just trying not to cry.  I succeeded at that, and thanked him.  I really appreciated his honesty.  Man, how those words hit home.  I really believed and still believe that those words are from God because they were so personal.  I know that what he said was true.  I was in awe of how much God cared for me by allowing another human, even a stranger to speak God's words into my life.  What a blessing.  I'm not going to lie, I felt a little ashamed that God had told me these things through another human at first, but then I felt glad.  I was convicted on so many levels, but I was also comforted.  I took a lot away from what he said to me.  I am so thankful that my family's words on that day do not have to mean what I took them to mean.  God specifically told me today that they are of no importance.  Praise God for that!  Man, what a blessed girl I am and so unworthy.  Yes, even though I am unworthy, God loves me enough to not only correct me, but to comfort me!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The right thing at the right time

Lately, I have been struggling with worry.  Okay, I've always struggled with worry, but lately it's been worse.  I try to stuff it down deeper and deeper.  That works a while, until finally it comes rearing its ugly head yet again.  Attack by the enemy?  I think so.  So, I know that God says "do not fear" in His word, but sometimes I still do.  It is simple for me, if I am not being tempted to worry, then I am asleep.  Satan knows that I struggle with worry and fear.  I always have, and maybe, always will.  This does not mean that I have to give into it.  Lately, I have been worried about my future....when and where will I teach?  When will I be able to have children of my own?  Etc. And on, and on.  The other night I was listening to KLRC, a local radio station, and I heard Proverbs 19:21.  "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."  Isn't this true?  What a blessing it was for me to hear these words.  The Lord's plans will prevail, no matter what!  I can plan and plan, worry and not trust.  These are all foolish behaviors because no matter what, the Lord's plans will prevail.  That really is comforting because I like to take control of situations.  When these situations do not turn out the way I would like, I get discouraged.  However, if God's plans do not fail, then I have nothing to fear.  I can rest in His plan and perfect will for my life.  When reading my devotion this morning, I came across something that spoke so loudly to me.  It said, "God will do the right thing at the right time."  Doesn't He always?  His plan is supreme over ours.  No need to worry, but only to trust His promise to act on our behalf.  "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful."  Hebrews 10:23.  Instead of worrying, I'll think on these things--Philippians 4:13.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not feeling it and yet, still thankful

This year the days and weeks leading up to Christmas have not really felt like Christmas at all.  We've done all the things that you do at Christmas to make the season feel "merry and bright," but this year I'm just not feeling it.  I put up the Christmas tree early this year, a week before Thanksgiving.  The Christmas cards were addressed and mailed on Decmeber 1st.  All of the presents have been wrapped for weeks...ok, all except for a few.  My Christmas cd has been on in my car since before Thanksgiving.  We even went to Branson to celebrate our anniversary and my birthday last weekend.  We saw the lights at Silver Dollar City, and got relaxing massages.  When I think about Christmas, I think of happy times.  I have fond  memories of Christmas when I was a kid decorating the tree with ornaments that had been in our family for as long as I can remember, sitting around eating yummy food, catching up with my cousins and other family members, listening to Christmas music, seeing Santa Claus and trying to be extra helpful around the house, being apart of my church's annual Christmas pageant, dancing in the Nutcracker with the local ballet company, the smell of cinamon and a real tree, drinking apple cider, my birthday on the 17th, and opening gifts.  As a kid, I'm not gonna lie, gifts were a big part of the excitement.  Believing in Santa Claus made Christmas feel magical.  Christmas is associated with so many feelings.  In order to try to recreate certain feelings of happiness, I have been guilty of trying to create circumstances that I think will make me feel happy at Christmas and other times of the year.  Everyone likes to feel happy and satisfied, but at what cost.  It seems like every year, I spend more and do more to create a feeling of bliss.  I find myself not only being less happy, but being less satisfied and confused.  I have to remind myself that Christmas is not about me.  Although it is a time in which we should rejoice in the birth of Christ, but also his sacrifice that he made throughout his life and on the cross.  Sacrific  e is a strong word.  Are we not to follow in His footsteps...trying to be more like him daily?  I'm not saying we should die an epic death on the cross to prove our committment to Him, but we should still die daily.  After feeling a lot of emotions, I began to reflect on my life.  Also, I began to search God's word.  You always hear that it is important not to let your emotions control you.  Seriously, show me how!  I am a woman and feel strong emotions daily.  Sometimes they lead me to do the right thing, while other times, they lead me to do the wrong thing.  Okay, more times than not, my emotions lie to me and I end up sinning.  Some things that I need to ponder more deeply:  Is it ok if I'm not always feeling happy?  If so, how can I really be ok with that?  How do I learn to make the little things really count in life and get my joy from these things instead of material things or perfect circumstances?  I don't want God to have to turn it all upside down for me to understand this point.  It seems that I learn it, and forget it after a while, time after time.  How is it that I always forget how miserable I am trying to do it on my own.  Maybe its pride, or just stupidity.  It is at least one of them.  We all know that life does not always give us the perfect circumstances; we cannot always afford what we want, family members become ill, and people will hurt our feelings.  I have many happy memories growing up.  I also have many sad memories of people that I miss dearly.  There were many sad times growing up, so you would think that I'd be used to it and OVER IT!  I have a lot more learning and growing to do with the Lord and His word, and a lot of things to learn about taking my focus off of me and my happiness.  God did not promise us happiness, but He did give us joy and a mouth to praise HIm.  Today, I will choose to give Him the glory, no matter how I'm feeling.  I really hope that you do the same.  Hard times may follow, but you will be blessed.

Lord, if you need to tatoo this on my forehead then I will understand:

Matthew 6:25-27  “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

Blessings and a Merry Christmas,