Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Exactly Why I'm Grateful

I'm grateful for misunderstandings, for offense, for sleepless nights, for lack of peace.  I'm thankful for transition, for lack, for family drama, for worry.  I'm grateful for every job that said no; for fear, for not knowing who I am.  I'm thankful for tears that stream quietly and violently - wondering what is going on and how long things will last.  I'm grateful for loss, for confusion, for lack of sight.  I'm thankful for near death experiences; for negative thinking and for not knowing where or what or why or how or when.

Why, you ask?

Because if I had never experienced offense, then I'd never know the depths and the true meaning of unconditional love.  If I'd never been misunderstood I wouldn't have known what confidence in Him felt like. If I had never known sleepless nights, I wouldn't appreciate what rest feels like.  If it wasn't for a lack of peace I wouldn't know the peace that surpasses all understanding.  If I didn't know lack then I wouldn't know God to be my Jehovah Jireh - the God who sees all.  If I never transitioned, then I'd never know what it feels like to walk on water and see the manifestation of God's Word prevail in my life.  If there was no family issues, then I wouldn't value what I have in family as much as I do today - and know and understand how He's a restorer of relationships.  If employers never said no, then when the "yes" came, I wouldn't know what that praise in my kitchen felt like when it finally came through.  If I didn't ever experience not knowing who I am, I would have never stirred up the gifts that were inside of me or been confident in God's voice to know that He has named me!  If I had never had God read my tears, I wouldn't know the laughter that's good for the soul and that the joy of the Lord is my strength.  If I never had loss in my life then I'd never know or understand what God was trying to add to me and my family.  And if I never saw near death experiences, and negative thinking - I wouldn't know Him to be a keeper and a healer!

And THIS is exactly why I'm grateful.  Because He restores.  He revives.  He resurrects.  He IS God.  And He IS Good.  And I'm more grateful today than I was just yesterday! He's put together all of these broken pieces - so intricately woven together according to the hairs numbered on my head, and the way He made me - fearlessly, and wonderfully - and it's the way He's made you.  Unique, chosen, set apart, peculiar, lively, abundant, bountiful, overflowing with His goodness, His riches, His kindness, His love.  And I promise you, if you've experienced any of the above, you know.  You know exactly why I'm grateful.  And you are too.

This is God's promise to you in Joel 2:
"The Lord says, "I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.  It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.  Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God who does these miracles for you.  Never again will my people be disgraced." (Joel 2: 24-25, NLT)

So no matter where you are in this process called life - be obedient; never lose sight of the fact that all things are working for your good; and remember to be grateful in all things. Train yourself to always have a praise on your lips, to always think positive.  Your outlook can change your outcome! Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dear God, I'm Mad At You

Have you ever been mad at God? I have, but truthfully didn't want to admit it.  I’m thinking to myself, this the God who loves me, who saved me, who delivered me, who healed me - - I could never be mad at HIM, right? So for a while, I just masked it; fought through it, never quite being real enough to really ever get through it.  And then I heard a Word that would change my life forever.

Have you ever had a breaking point? It’s like a series of events that culminates in an explosion of emotions that make you wonder and think to yourself, “How did I even get here?”  Well, that’s what started it for me and my husband.  Last Saturday, my husband and I had the argument of all arguments, and it was over something stupid.  It escalated and escalated, and the next thing I knew, I had jumped out of the car, and was walking down Market Street, not really sure where I was going or what I was doing, but I just knew that the pressure of life right now was too much.  And I knew that we didn't argue like this.  And I was mad at God about it.  Yes, God. 

As I’m walking, I’m crying out to Him - - why, why, why! Please help me understand!  My husband graciously circled the car, picked me up, tears streaming down my face, and there was silence until we got to the house.  As we pulled up, I apologized to him, saying I just don’t know why I feel this way, or why the pressure of life has me this way, or why we’re here, and I just know what God said – but that’s all I have is a Word.  I don’t have anything else right now, and my faith, my hope, my love, my peace, it’s all dwindling. 

My husband, Sam understood.  Truthfully he felt the same way. We prayed, embraced, still unsure of what’s to lie ahead, but had a calm assurance that this was a turning point.  And for those of you reading, don’t forsake your breaking point.  It has to happen for you to see your situation clearly.  It happens so you can truly rely on God.  Faith makes no sense.  It’s your breaking point that frees you of the misconception that you should “feel” a certain kind of way even when you don’t feel that way.  It’s your breaking point that causes you to see God clearly because you've finally decided to be honest about how you’re feeling. It’s your breaking point that can cause a turn in your life; causing you to really walk into your destiny. 

I woke up the next morning and I told Sam that God was doing something great.  And that in seven days, we would see a turn.  And a turn, did we ever see. 

I thought, of course, looking naturally that the turn would be something tangible, financial, but what He would do for us internally would be far greater.

We come to church that following Sunday, a week later, and hear a Word about being offended.  And this is one of the things Pastor Freeman stated: “Until you close the wound of your past you will bleed into your future.” Wow. It was if the breath had been taken out of me.  And similar to that of a movie, I froze in time, and my mind began to flash back to where it all started. My mom died suddenly in 2011, and that was the first time I experienced extreme anger towards God, having so many questions about why He took her at such a young age.  He kept saying to me, but I've given you more of Me, and I didn't want that. I wanted her.  And that’s the first time, that I was mad at God - - but here’s the interesting part.

When you begin that ought with God, it does something to your heart.  It puts your heart in a case, a guard that causes you to view everyone that you love differently.  It’s not that you don’t love them, but you become a skeptic.  And I could honestly reflect and say that I didn't see the good in people anymore, but started to see the bad in people.  I started to doubt my authority figures, my husband, my father, my friends - - it was hard for me to see the good first, for fear that God would allow someone to be something they are not; for fear that I would be hurt; for fear that God would disappoint me again.

But let me tell you something - - God never desires to disappoint you.  He only wants you to put Him first in your life.  He never desires for your heart to hurt - - but wants you to give your heart to Him and not to people.  And anything and everything that He removes from your life is for your good and He has the power to restore it 100 fold.  He wants to give you your peace back! And a hard heart can’t receive peace.

All of this was leaping in my Spirit as I heard the Word this Sunday and I knew I had to go to the altar and repent.  So I went. My husband went too.  And we cried before Him, and we received.  I no longer feel the weight of a weighed down heart.  I no longer feel skeptical of those around me who love me.  I've received my healing. And so can you. Think back to the first time you were offended by God - - and then think about what series of events happened after that.  What relationships became difficult for you because of this offense? Reflect. Renew. And then choose to live again.  Your best days are ahead of you!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Mess With A Dress

Transition can be your greatest triumph; your greatest testimony, and yet your greatest fear; greatest test.  I was reflecting on how awesome a responsibility it must have been for the apostles and disciples.  I was telling my husband that I wished they documented and wrote about their day-to-day livelihood.  How hard was it to travel by foot at a word’s notice to go and minister to a church miles and miles away in a different city?  How difficult was it when the work wasn’t always rewarding; when the people didn’t always “seem” to listen or understand? 

Masterful woven treasures of the heart are combined with the unmovable love of God and the need, the want, the longing to be stable; comfortable – in one place all the time.  The fear of humiliation – what will this look like?  Who will not like me, not agree with me for what I’m doing in the name of the Lord? What friends will I lose along the way – or who will misunderstand me for the season that I’m in?

All questions that come along with transition.  All questions that enter my mind every day.  So happy to be in love with the process of life; yet torn because I want the best for me; the best for my family despite what I know and trust and believe God to be to me.

Religion has taught us that there are rules and regulations to following the Bible – that we are bound to them; that our works save us; that if you follow this set of things “not” to do, then you’ll be alright.  It teaches us that we can be what I’d like to call “a mess with a dress”.  And what I mean by this, is if we wear the right thing, say the right thing, do the right thing, then that makes us “right” with God.  And I am by no means stating that there aren’t repercussions for our actions and that you definitely reap what you sow, but seriously. I had to be honest with myself.  The reason why transition is so hard for me, for any believer – is because of religion.  It’s because somewhere along the way, someone told us that Jesus looked a certain way, sounded a certain way – and that when certain people make radical moves for the kingdom of God – that it just can’t be God because we didn’t come through a certain “portal”, for lack of a better word. 

Well, this “mess with a dress” (i.e. ME) had to realize first that the more rules I followed the more of a mess I became.  Why?  Because the more rules you follow that don’t line up with the Word of God, the further and further you get from knowing and understanding who God is, who He wants you to be, and what’s really going on in your heart.  It’s like the rules act as some unnatural guard to that which you don’t even know or fully understand in the first place. 

Yes, it’s hard, even grueling…evaluation is not always easy.  But I had to go back to what I felt like normal Christians did and how they operated – and then compare that to a God who is radical, above our natural minds, bends every notion of normal, and loves unlovable people. 

And then I had to put myself in the unlovable category.  Because that’s another thing that the “mess with a dress” will do.  It will have you thinking that just because you’ve been saved for some amount of time, and just because you have gifts, and just because He uses you, and just because He’s given you the strength to move mountains, and to perform miracles signs and wonders through you – that you’re doing something.  When we do nothing ever.  Ever. Ever. Ever.  I’ll repeat it until it’s truly what’s in my heart. 

And this leaves the “mess with a dress” no choice, but to embrace the love of God.  Love has no rules – it’s open and embracing and free. It’s freedom multiplied. And nothing can separate us from that.  Not even the “mess with a dress”. Not all of the sin in the world – because He already came and died for it.  Can’t work for it. Can’t buy it.  Can’t reach up and grab it. Can’t even fully understand it.   But you can receive it.  Once this happened for me, it was like the weight of “works” was completely lifted.  It was like the biggest hug I’ve ever encountered on my worst day that never ended.  It was like the feeling you get when you close your eyes and feel the sun rays beaming warmth into your skin.  And then I exhaled for the first time in a long time spiritually.  And in embracing His love, in embracing Him – I embraced the ME that’s really me.  Minus labels; minus pre-conceptions; minus all the wrong I’ve done; minus judgment….just me. Minus clothing; minus long hair; minus a title; minus a certain group of people….just me.  And what freedom, what joy, what love radiates from the girl who used to be "a mess with a dress" and now is just a mess covered by His grace and His love.  Big difference. We decide.