Saturday, May 31, 2014

We Were Like Those Who Dreamed

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them"
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
~Psalm 126

I absolutely adore this psalm. I "discovered" it on Easter Sunday. I didn't participate in Easter dinner. Honestly, I didn't feel up for it. Instead I drove to Newport (or the beach, if you're not from RI) after church to just reflect on things and to pray. I found a spot to stare out at the ocean and opened my bible. I flipped around a little bit until I stopped and found this psalm which I read aloud.

My prayers, every thing I asked for, hoped for, dreamed for, cried for - felt as if God was affirming they were received with this psalm. I just love this! (Did I say that already? Forgive me! I really enjoy it.)

We were like those who dreamed... To receive blessings, answers to prayer, don't we just look like a bunch of dreamers? Awe-struck, peaceful, content, joyous? That's how we feel again when the Lord answers our prayers. Our mouths will be filled with laughter and our tongues with songs of joy. I believe this is not only when we receive our answers but also when we lift up our prayers. How joyous it is to know He hears our petitions and will respond? 

"In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests by made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for them." The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Emphasis my own). Others will also see our blessings. Others will delight in the good works of the Lord and will proclaim how good He is. I love to put the emphasis on this. The Lord has done great things for us. Because to me that speaks not just in the future when we receive our answers and blessings but also of this very present time. When we can look back and say he has been good and faithful to us.

Because of this assurance from the past we can be filled with joy in the present time. Not only because He answered our past prayers, but because we know He will answer our present prayers in the future. 

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive." -Matthew 21:22

This is what fills us with joy. This knowledge. Other translations say "And we are glad." Not only are we FILLED with joy but we can outwardly show it because we are glad! That brings it back to the point that others will see and believe!

Those who sow with tears shall reap with songs of joy... Blessings, friends! When we tearfully pray, we are sowing blessings that will reap joy for us. This was a big deal for me that day and continues to be to this day. Our tears are not wasted. They do not fall by the wayside

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." -Psalm 56:8 

God sees our suffering and promises to restore us with songs of joy. 

"Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare that I will restore double to you." -Zechariah 9:12

Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow... Another version says 'He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing.' That's more like me. Continually crying in prayer (seed for sowing). I like in this version that instead of "carrying" the seed to sow, it is "bearing" seed for sowing. Sometimes it feels like we are just enduring one pain after another. Bearing exemplifies just how heavy that seed is that we are carrying. 

But take heart!

Will return with songs of joy,carrying sheaves with them or as the NKJV states; 'Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.' All our prayers will come back to us. There is no doubt. One way or another. It may not look like what we prayed for but God promises it will be better than we could have imagined. We go out carrying our prayers and come back carrying our blessings. We reap what we sow and if we sow our prayers in earnest expectation then we can be glad to know we will receive answers to our prayers.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. -Ephesians 3:20

Photo Credit: Pinterest
This was my hope. On a Sunday where hope was resurrected almost 2000 years ago. I prayed He would do the same for me. He has. He will continue to do so. I pray that this has restored a hope inside of you, that it has rekindled your faith as it did for me. God is so good. Keep on praying, keep on hoping and believing. Meanwhile, there is joy in the waiting. God will answer your prayers soon and you will find yourself laughing and singing. Returning back to your old self with songs of joy.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Restoration Project - I Am Enough

A friend sent me a text message today. One that I'm sure the devil meant to stop me in my tracks. I've already struggled this morning, feeling in a funk. I don't know why I get in these moods. Something about the weather being just right, the day opening up itself to plans just so, and the chatter of others that throws me off. Everyone's seamlessly easy joy against myself grasping at straws to count the blessings in any mundane thing.

I know this is part of the reason why He is working on my heart. One of the things that I NEED to learn is that I am enough. In the past I have allowed the discredit of myself to be what I believe. It felt right after all. A broken relationship here, turned down for a job offer there, missing invitations, friends who are too busy, others who forget I needed their help or just never offered... I mean, seriously, I could go on forever. It all just made me feel like I was the problem. I wasn't enough. 

I wasn't pretty enough. Smart enough. Nice enough. Religious enough. Caring enough. Skinny enough. Talented enough. Motivated enough. Funny enough. Generous enough.

Then it moves into other things. I don't have a lot of money. I don't have the perfect family. I don't have many good friends. My house is always a mess. I talk too much. I'm too sensitive. I'm not a great cook.

I have had very few people who have stood opposed to the claims I made against myself. When I was devastated and I spoke badly about myself and listed any of these above reasons as to why I was struggling, there weren't objections. Instead there were suggestions of things that I should do better or differently. A boss said something the other day that fits so perfectly here, "They are committing with their silence." If no one spoke up against me, I figured it must be true.

But that's not true of who we are. Whether other people agree or not, should not matter. God says we are enough. He wants us to know that - it's important that we do.

I never want to be overly confident. I think that's sometimes part of what holds me back. I despised the kids in school who were too cool. The people at work who snub their noses at me as they walk by as if it say they're better. There are spots in my life, I'm not sure I'll ever be confident. But when it comes to my core being, the person that I am deep down, I know that I am enough. No one is perfect. Every relationship will require work. Everybody goes through highs and lows and just because you are with someone in a low is not a reason to give up. I know these things now. I know I am worth fighting for, because I am enough. He has shown me over and over how I am pretty enough. Smart enough. Nice enough. Religious enough. Caring enough...etc... I know He'll continue to show me.

Beth Moore shared a quote she heard from a celebrity going through divorce. They said "I'm afraid I'm going to get to the end of my life and discover I really was not worth loving."

Oh man. This gets me every time I hear it. I can relate like crazy. But we need to remember, together, that we are enough. Beth Moore goes on to say, "What would it take to believe God's word?" That's all we need to do. Believe Him. If we receive Him into our hearts and believe that His word is true then we can be transformed into believing the truth that we are enough.

The text message I received from my friend was a picture of an ex's fiance and their new baby. The first guy who told me he didn't want a relationship. But not the last guy to have done it. Over and over I've heard the same lie. Over and over I believed that it's because I was lacking some awesome girlfriend quality that guys are looking for. Assuming it could be any or all of the inadequacies that I listed above. If I can't secure myself in who I am through Christ, then this could be devastating. It's only going to keep happening. I need to be able to prepare my old broken heart as well as the most recent. Though this text did catch me completely off guard, I am not going to let it take root with my emotions. I know it won't always be that easy. There's going to be things that I hear and see that will probably bring me to my knees, I can't even bare the thought of some of those things. But for now, I'll stay off Facebook and stay onto God.

In a recent twitter chat Sara answered a question from a fan who wanted advice on an aspiring music career. Her response was,
"Be yourself and believe it's enough."
This can be applied to all of us, no matter what we are trying to do. We don't need to change the person we are to fit into what others may be looking for. If someone or something warrants you changing your core being in a negative way then it's worth it to walk away, no matter how painful. We are all enough. We just have to believe it.

I told you all in a previous post that I love the book Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. This book is amazing for figuring out this journey of life, the highs and lows, and discovering who God is through it all. I very much recommend it, I've got the entire thing bookmarked with sweet little reminders so I can easily turn to them.
"Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible - terrible in it's determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved." When she remembered this, Much-Afraid thought with a little shiver in her heart, "He will never be content until he makes me what he is determined that I ought to be." 
God does not intend us to believe we are anything but perfect in His eyes. As Much-Afraid knew, God would not be content until we are who He has determined we should be.

A bible study I attended Sunday night posed the question, "What has to happen in our lives to change our hearts?" This is what you and I need to think about now. If you feel you are not enough, I am praying for you. I am praying that you will ask God to change your life, heart, and mind. Because you, sweet friend, are amazing. You are enough and you are more than enough in the arms of our Savior. Remember He loves to use to weak to lead the strong. There are so many amazing examples in the bible of people who were not qualified for God's calling, but He called them anyways. God wants to develop relationships with us, to grow and strengthen us. Turn to Him and trust that you are enough.
You have been made complete in Christ. Colossians 2:10

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Flesh is Weak

Photo credit: Pinterest
"The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." It's what I heard in response to a question I posed to myself today. You see, I came across a journal I started in 2011. In it I purposed to write only positive things in an effort to change my life, outlook, perspective, etc. In fact, I was documenting all the things I deemed good, any and everything. Most know that's where we begin to count our blessings and apparently I knew it too.

At the beginning of the journal I wrote that "doing this will also help me have a better relationship with God, myself, my spirituality, my relationships with others and so on."

STOP THE PRESSES. You mean, 3 years ago I was right where I am now? Hmph. (or Ugh!) I don't even remember trying to press in fully. Sure, I remember reading along with some of the online bible studies and reading a devotional sometimes in the morning or at night, but I don't remember wanting to feel closer to God.

I couldn't help but ask myself, why didn't anything become of that pursuit? The answer? The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (by the way, that journal only had 11 days worth of documentation before I gave up. Need I say more?).

Oh man, this is the answer to so many things, isn't it? Why didn't I stick to a running routine? Why can't I go a day without something sweet? How can I be so yearning to seek God, yet so tired to put in the effort. Because I'm weak. Because even though I really want these things, I get in my own way. I let my tiredness interfere with my studying. I let my cravings overcome my willpower. I let my busy schedule get in the way of my consistent journaling.

You guys, something has to give. I feel like I've been put in quite a peculiar spot. I've prayed for friends and the ability to spend time with others, and He blessed me more than I imagined. My planner fills up each week with coffee dates and dinners. I'm not complaining, I'm so thankful to have met such amazing people. Yet, despite the answers to my prayers, I can't let that negatively affect my relationship with The One I've come to love more than anyone.

How am I going to do it? It's easy, because He tells me how.

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." - Matthew 26:41

It's that simple. I need to be mindful that it's easy to fall into a pattern of social busyness that distracts my individual growth. I need to pray to be delivered from my weakness to fall into temptation. It's easy to say yes to lots of plans, in fact, in my last post I told you I had vowed to say yes to new opportunities. I think it's easy to confuse my desire to follow Him with any invitation to get together with friends. I'm not going to stop, that's not the answer - but I need to carve out some quiet time, also. Somewhere away from my phone, laptop, television, people... and just reconnect. Not just right now but consistently.

This long weekend is the perfect opportunity to reestablish my relationship. I don't want to look back in another 3 years to find the things I've counted as blessings I have lost because I didn't respond when I knew it was what I needed. They say God will do anything to bring you closer to Him. I can see that clearly just in this one example. All the "things" I counted as blessings back in March of 2011 have been removed or changed in some way.

I know a lot of that is due to the way I felt. I documented each day that I didn't cry. Yet, had I learned to rely and trust on God then, I am fully confident that things would have been different. We know that the disciples were asked to keep watch while Jesus went away quietly to pray, we know that their inability to overcome their fleshly desires caused them to unsuccessfully do so.

I am taking this as a humble reminder that it's easy to lose the way from the path when we are comfortable. I know it's exactly what Satan wants. I know it's exactly what he's succeeded with before. I will keep my eyes open and cognitive. I will remain in prayer with The One who wants to be the first in my life. After all, I didn't just come all this way for myself.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I Said Yes!

Back in January I made a promise to God. That anything I felt His prompting to do, I would say yes. I didn't want to miss any other good things He gave me. I felt as though I had a great thing pass me by and I didn't want another broken heart looking back again. I realize that there are times where I have let my anxiety get in the way. My emotions and feelings have run the ship of my life. That's a whole other story for another day though. Tonight I'm talking about saying yes to God's call. 

Driving home tonight after finishing my second bible study session, I thanked God I said yes in January to starting. No sooner than just making the promise to God, He had presented me with an opportunity to put 'my yes where my heart is.' A friend asked me to join her for the next session of bible study at her church. I didn't hesitate. I said yes right away, left to think about what I had gotten myself into after the fact. (Though, I have come to realize this is NOT the way I should be making decisions!) At the time I knew it was absolutely due to the fact that I had committed to God not to run away from the unknown. That was the beginning of God showing up in my life in answers to prayers, as a new dedicated believer, it's been such a surreal experience.

If I hadn’t said yes, I’d probably be still home feeling bad about myself. Even worse than that, I might have become content again with the way my life was. Yet, because I said yes, I have developed relationships that could have eventually dissolved. I met new friends and felt encouraged into fellowship with others outside the group and outside this church. I believe this is just the beginning of these friendships I have made.

I had been sad to have lost the person I considered my best friend. The person who lived through my emotional trials while I figured out how my past fit into my life. The person who I entrusted with things I had once sworn to take to the grave with me. Someone I allowed to see my broken pieces and who tried to offer me promises of a better day. The one who I could turn to and believed they would always be there no matter what. This was my person and my person was gone. 

Talking to God, I reflected on my thoughts that He is the one that has really been through all of this with me. Though I've always known this truth, I never fully comprehended until tonight. I never stopped to consider even in my loss that I still had one who had been here for every single part of it. Even now. God has actually lived through my physical pain with me. While a best friend is the most important person in someone's life besides their significant other, God is still greater. He can love me like no other, because He knows the pain I grew up with. He hasn't just heard my tearful stories, He was there, and He was crying when I was crying. He has literally seen me since the first time my father lashed out at me to the last time he put his hands on me. He knows the pain, shame, and fear I have experienced. He was there with me. 

I was crying the whole drive home from bible study tonight. Not sad tears or happy tears... but tears of relief. Tears of understanding. The tears that have come not because it hurts to hold on but because it feels so weightless to let go. Tears because I understand so much more than I did yesterday. Tears because every day I feel stronger than the day before.

I started thinking of Jesus dying on the cross for me. It dawned on me why I cringe more hearing about the scourging Jesus endured than the nailing of his hands and feet. In a way, I have felt that same torment. In that same thought, Jesus felt the lashes when I was beaten by my fathers belt. He felt each and every time it whipped across my backside. Harder and sharper and burning more than the one before. So much hurt that if that's all it was than it was a good day.

I realize not only does Jesus understand my pain because of His own beatings but because He saw the lashes I took. It's such a strange emotion for me. I understand Him and He understands me. Is this how God intends it to be? I know how it feels to be whipped until it hurts, even if I don’t know to the extent He felt it. I know what it’s like to have to pick up your cross and walk after the beating. To me it is relative to my father telling me to stop crying after he just dealt me a series of strong blows. Both feeling heavy and impossible. I know what it’s like to live with pain I didn't deserve just as Jesus died for the sins He didn't deserve.

Perhaps when Jesus cried, "My God, why have you forsaken me?," it wasn't because he felt betrayed by God. For one split moment, I believe, maybe he was speaking for me to my own earthly father. Driving home the fact that He has felt what I have felt. Not a day went by that I didn't think these words, maybe not in this same phrase, but still asked the question in my heart. 'Dad, why do you hurt me so much when I just want to love you?' Perhaps, maybe, just maybe, for that split second, Jesus was asking that question for all of us who have been so deeply hurt by someone. I know that I’m putting my own heart into this, but doesn't it seem to make sense? When you juxtapose our pain with His pain, the words that He says and the ways we have felt? I just find this to be a stunning direct correlation that I never noticed before tonight.

I wonder if Jesus cried not because He hurt from His own physical pain, not just because this world was sinful. But rather, cried knowing the pain that we would endure simply because we would be born into this world. That for no other reason than being born that we were born to suffer. I believe, He cried knowing that the sin would be so deep that it would hurt the innocent. He cried for us before we met our pain, knowing fully well what was coming for each one of us.

Then He came in like a superhero and said, “It is finished.” Why? Because that's what the superhero says to the villain to let him know his time is up. That his scheme is broken. His plans have failed. No longer do we have to suffer eternal consequences for our sin. Sin that we were born into because of Adam's fall. He was our Superhero sent to slay the enemy.

Jesus knew that we would suffer coming into this world, but He also knew it would be worth it. He knew the love that we can receive from God far trumps any pain that we may endure in this lifetime. That love alone is worth the fight. That love endures all things. Hopes all things. Believes all things. This love – it’s everything. And He knew it. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me.

Though I endure trials for a little while, there is great joy ahead that no one can take away. I don’t have joy because my earthly father has died, but because my Savior lives. My pain does not go away just because things changed but my joy comes because of His love. 

Tonight in the final video of our Beth Moore study she said something that really caught my attention. It fits so perfectly here;

"Joy is supposed to be non-circumstantial. Happy is circumstantial." 

Joy is happiness that does not change just because our situation changes. I love that. I believe the great joy ahead is the same joy that I had an overwhelming feeling of way back here

"So look up, look up… this is a song about the morning, after a long night."

It’s been a long night. Every day of my life leading up to this night. May 14, 2014 – it’s been a long, long, long night.

But this is a song about the morning. Though pain comes in the night, the joy comes in the morning. When I looked up to Jesus, the light came. 

I am home now and it’s still light out. There’s nothing coincidental about this. It's not just the earthly season change. This is my spiritual season change. This is my new beginning. This is the light that I’ve prayed for, the hope that I believed in. This is my home for now, my light for now, but there will come a day with a home greater than this and a light far brighter than this. 

Does that mean when the sun arises tomorrow that I don’t have some of the same pain? Not at all. But it does mean that I don't have to suffer because of my pain. I am loved by God and to be loved is the greatest feeling. Jesus died for me because He loved me so much. He cried because He felt my pain. He rejoices because I have found Him. I love my Lord.

I'm so happy that I said yes to many things since that first yes. I know there's a yes that I can't wait to say one day. What a beautiful dress rehearsal that I get to live every day of my life up until that day. I am loved by a King. He calls me His bride. I'm so glad I said yes to Him and I cannot wait to see what the rest of this beautiful life holds! 


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It is Well with My Soul

I've been quietly singing this hymn to myself today. What a wide spectrum of emotions I have felt. I wanted to share my heart so that you could know just what a perplexing state I'm in. I hope this can meet you in your place of uncertainty as well.

My uncle has petitioned for and today gained guardianship over my grandmother. That means, he gets to make all the decisions. I don't know if this is good or bad. I've been in such a state of confusion over it and concern for how this would play out. He gets to decide where she lives, her finances, and decisions on her health. Oh, yeah, and who gets to see her. This is not part of a normal guardianship request but something he threw in just so he can have complete control over everything.

Ever just pray that God responds with whatever He knows to be best? For me this has been one of those times. I have always wanted to remain neutral in this situation, yet I want what is best for my grandmother. So instead of a specific answer, I just prayed to God that He would respond, that He would take control and take the concern from me. I know going forward I will need to rely on this prayer process more as my uncle's authority begins to take over.

In the midst of all this today, I also had to face the death of my friend head on. I not only couldn't call her for her assistance with this (and this is totally something I would have been in close contact with her about) but I also had to step foot into the place where we would always meet, her work. Not once, but twice today. God give me strength.

I'm sure everyone thought I was upset about what was happening with my grandmother. I was really nervous but not 'upset,' per say. I knew he was going to get the guardianship. There's no one else to try to take over. But I couldn't help myself from looking past all the people and not see my friend standing there to greet the people in line. I felt like I was in a fog. People were talking and I couldn't make eye contact. All I could do is stare and wonder why it had to be her.

Later on this afternoon I went back to this place to meet with some of her previous co-workers. They are putting together this great fundraiser for her children and I wanted to see if I could somehow help. Now not only was I standing at the counter where I'd meet her but I was talking about her as if she is gone. Because she is. Reality really sucks the air out of you sometimes. The meeting did not go exactly how I expected. I left feeling hopeful to be able to help somehow but overwhelmed and feeling that I shouldn't have volunteered myself.

I initially chose to help because the need was there. Because she was my friend. We were close. She taught me to drive. Helped me save for prom. She helped me get housing assistance when my mom died. Found me my first doctor who would take me inexpensively without insurance. Brought me into my first full time job. I mean, I've known her half of my life. She was that person. The one who helped me with the things people don't know how to help out with. She liked to boss me around and I liked to let her. It was so refreshing to have someone step in and take control and just tell me what to do. Especially coming from a background that lacked all of these things. She would be laughing to hear me admit this and I can hear her saying, "I told you!"

I emailed and offered to help with the event knowing that I didn't feel prompted to do so. I did pray about it but felt I couldn't get a straight answer. I chalked it up to the fact that I was still grieving. So despite not being prompted by God to move, I did so anyways. I know that I am comforted most when I am helping or giving to others. Yet, after I walked out this afternoon from meeting her friends she worked with, I felt slightly overwhelmed. I feel like I have offered to give too much of myself when I still feel unsure that I am emotionally ready to handle it. I did it because I thought it was so amazing that someone would put together such a great event in honor of my friend. There are bands playing, raffles, food, face painting - the whole nine yards. Just amazing. The money raised will benefit her children. It is such a good cause, why wouldn't I volunteer?

I left there and felt I needed to stop in and see if her husband was working. We have never been close in the way she and I were but I've known him just as long. I haven't spoke to him since the night of her wake. I stopped at his work knowing that if he was there God was going to need to tell me what to say. He was there and as I expected, he is still very much hurting. I said what I hope brought comfort and he shared some things that gave me a deeper insight to what he is living. I feel like my words were inadequate to offer any sort of hope or relief.

How do you look at your friend's husband and promise that it will get easier? We don't want easier. We want our life back but it will never be. How can I offer the light at the end of the tunnel when I have no idea what it will look like or when it will come? I know that only time can help and that stinks because time is just as painful as the loss itself. It's the same way with the situation in my family. I know that right now things aren't going to be better. They won't be for a while. I know right now I need to wait for time to settle the dirt that is being kicked up. It feels like right now everything is in unsettled water. So we have to focus on the days we know we will have an answer about this job or living situation. We focus on the appointments to get us through and the short term possibilities for further healing.

I told you that I've been singing the lyrics from "It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio Spafford. A friend shared this song with me one day when I was having a particularly tough time. This hymn has continued to be a blessing for me in moments such as this. I had researched the story behind the hymn in order to understand the weight of Spafford's words. This man lost his only son to Scarlet Fever and then lost his finances in the Great Chicago Fire. He had a trip to Europe with his wife and daughters planned but he had to stay behind to deal with business matters due to the fire. While they were out in the middle of the Atlantic ocean they were struck by another vessel and the boat sank. His four daughters died and only his wife survived. This man lost almost everything he loved. When Horatio (I'll refer to him by his first name because when we share pain like this don't we deserve to be on a first name basis?) was travelling to meet his wife in Europe and passed by where his daughters died, it is said that the Holy Spirit inspired him to write these words.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, 
When sorrows like sea billows roll; 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, 
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

I remember the very first time I heard this and was reading the lyrics I couldn't understand why he would say "When peace, like a river, attendeth my is well with my soul." My first reaction was, "no kidding?" But then I realized the third line in the verse which says "Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to is well with my soul." We can't just be content with life when things are going our way. We do not get to pick and choose when we think God is on our side. We must believe that He is always on our side and that no matter how gut wrenching the pain is, God will always be there for us. This life is temporary, but there's a place that comes after this that promises no more tears, sadness, sorrow, or heartache. 

What does it mean if something is well with our soul? Well, our soul is defined as the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life. To me, it is our innermost being. What we feel deep down in our core. It's where our values and worth reside. So for something to be well with our soul means that in our deepest parts of ourselves, do we believe that God is faithful? Do we believe that He is good and will work all things together for good? Do we believe that the suffering of this present day cannot be compared to the joy that is coming? 

It forces us to take a step out of our darkness long enough to see that things are slowly but surely falling into place. That life is not moving on without us, but developing forward for us. Today I choose to believe, for what it is worth, that our pain has a purpose. It may never make sense on this side of our journey but hopefully one day it will. If we can see and believe this is true, then we too can sing that it is well with our soul.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Restoration Project - Planting

In one of my recent journal entries I wrote "If God is collecting my tears, He's going to need a bigger jar." This pretty much sums up my past few weeks. I've cried some really ugly tears... but in the ugly mess of my brokenness there's been so much healing too. Right now it feels like a spiritual battle in my heart & mind. I am trying to let His truth become my truth and trying to cast out all the lies that began taking root a long time ago and have spread.

It reminds me of 'The Parable of the Weeds'; In this parable the enemy comes at night and sows weeds along with a man's good seed that he's planted. When he awakes he finds that weeds have been mixed in with his good harvest. I've had some pretty amazing things planted in my heart...but the thing is, it's mixed in with the weeds that have been there taking root. Some days I receive such a hope of promise and then the next morning I wake up feeling defeated because of a dream I had (or sometimes for no reason that I can recall at all). So where does it come from?

"The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. -Matthew 13:27-28

Yup, while I'm sleeping, when 'it's dark' or I'm not guarding my heart, the enemy comes and plants the weeds. I have had some thoughts come to me lately that I have NEVER considered and it's just so frustrating. I've been speaking God's word against them, I'm happy to say that in this moment I can't recall the specific examples and I am so thankful for that.

Once God's word is firmly planted in my heart I know I'll be able to rip out the weeds so much easier. I just need time to let His love grow in my heart. So this way I can tell the difference between lies and truth without a shadow of doubt. Some days are sunnier than others. But I think just like anything else that's planted, I need the rain as much as I need the sun. It's rained a lot lately, heavy tears have watered God's word for growing. Like the trees that bloom flowers before exploding into bright green trees, I know I'm on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough.

One of the things I wrote recently; "What hurts more than the death of the dream is the sacrifice I've made with my hope. I hung onto that hope and belief. I believed like a crazy person that I would see restoration in this situation. The vision that I believed was from God is now a fraud. Simply too much to bear."

Yet, I need to remember that my feelings are not always truth. That just because something feels too far gone doesn't mean it is. With God all things are possible. I'm in this season for a reason and I'm learning every day that I still have so much to learn. So I'm pressing into his word. I'm digging in to find the deeper meaning. Instead of skimming the top of many scriptures I am trying to dig in to a few. What I have found is that they've been so vital in my dependence on Him.

Last week I had a tough drive into work. I really don't think I should have been driving but by the grace of God, He got me there safely. When I pulled into the lot I sat there for a minute even though I was running late. I said to God that at least I can say I tried. At least I know that as soon as I saw a need for improvement I put in all the effort I could, in as many different ways as I could, to make things work. I realize at this point it's completely out of my hands. I'm okay with that because I did what I could do. Now it's up to what God can do. What a beautiful way to have to surrender. In the meantime, I will just keep praying. Just keep looking for healing that comes from no one else but God himself. Though, I can't say I felt instant relief, I feel I have reached the turning point. The part of this journey where I really learn to live by faith in Him alone.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God who is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." -2 Corinthians 9:6-8

I have sowed my prayers, tears, and His promises. I have given all that I felt I was called to give. I have done what I felt God placed it in my heart to do and say. Now I wait to see what will grow. I have decided to give all that remains, however I can and where I can, to God. I pray in this season that this promise is fulfilled for the first of many times to come. So that in all things and at all times, having all that I need, I will abound in every good work.

You know what? I think it's going to be a beautiful garden.