Monthly Archives: September 2013

It’s all loss compared to this

Philippians3-8

The comparison game is so easy to play… whether we’re trying to feel better OR worse about ourselves.

We make a mental list of “their” church involvement, “their” schooling choices, “their” accomplishments, “their” parenting skills, “their” volunteer work, “their” talents and measure them against our own.

If our list glows in comparison, we relax a little. We must be doing something right.

Of course if “theirs” outshines ours, we feel we’d better step it up a bit.

Wanting to be used for God’s glory is great, but is our spirituality defined by what we do or by our list of credentials?

Join me at The Better Mom today where my list falls apart.

I count all things to be loss…

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Not by might, nor by power: An answered prayer

I “fought” on behalf of my special needs child for a few weeks.

I attended the meeting that was intended to resolve the issue.

And I walked away defeated.

I’d given it my all… presenting what I thought were strong arguments and valid points, yet I was presented with three unsatisfactory options:

  1. Yield.
  2. Muster up the energy to present my case to a superior again.
  3. Hire a lawyer.

It was up to me to make the next move.

So I procrastinated.

The next morning — my “deadline” — came and went. Jarod and I had been praying for weeks and I was still praying. But I was not seeing an answer, so how could I make the call they were waiting for?

And then the phone rang.

“God, I know it’s them. I have to answer, but I don’t know what to say!”

But He knew that.

They were calling to give me the answer; they’d concluded I was right.

It was done!

I puzzled over how things had changed. Later, I found out that others had stepped up to speak on my behalf.

God knew I was spent.

I’d felt it was all on my shoulders, but the truth was, it was in God’s hands all along.

He had it.

And once again when my strength and wisdom were gone, when I was weak and done, He showed me He could handle it.

bymySpirit

Lord Jesus, let this example of your faithfulness remind my friends and remind me to trust you for the next thing.

Freed in frustration

Stress. Pressure. Struggle. Trials.

Count them all joy? (James 1:2)

I pray against them. Don’t you?

When Jaden has seizures, I pray they will end.

When my bank account is empty, I pray it will be filled.

When my friend suffers, I pray for relief.

When the days ahead look dark, I pray for sunshine.

But this week God gave me just a glimpse of what He’s up to.

MyWays

I opened my kids’ history book in preparation to teach “The Principle of Christian Character” and found one answer to the “why?” we all ask:

“Character” literally means “to stamp and engrave through pressure.” This sums up nicely what God is doing in our lives. God’s plan is to make each person like Him. Romans 8:29 tells us that God has predestined that we are to be conformed into the image of Christ. He is building His character within us, or you might say, He is stamping and engraving upon us His image. In so doing, He often uses pressure.

(America’s Providential History by Dr. Mark A. Beliles & Stephen K. McDowell)

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Tullian Tchividjian provided a little more insight for me via Liberate on Moody radio. Let me summarize:

Our trials remove from us what we believe we need most — the very things we think we need to be happy, to survive.

But when God takes those things from us, and our peace and joy go along with them, we discover that they have been our idols.

If we can’t be happy without it, it’s an idol.

God is all about liberating us from our idols. He longs to prove to us that we will have all we need in Him, rather than…

Health, control, success, recognition, appreciation,

Marriage, children, possessions, financial security,

Just one peaceful day…

When I find any of those in jeopardy, my reaction is usually to bemoan my fate.

(And maybe think that God might be able to bring some good from it.)

But praise God for a glimpse of something more:

A realization that…

Free

Our frustrations, our pain, our battles are FULL of purpose!

  • They are stamping and engraving Christ’s character into our lives.
  • They are releasing us from the bondage of idols.
  • They free us to “count it all joy!”

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4

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**Is this a new angle for you too? Would you share any of your insights about being refined?

In over my head: choosing my focus

Some people have serious problems that we rarely hear about; others have less serious issues that are brought to our attention quite frequently.

I’ve spent time pondering this. (Yes. Really.)

I’ve wondered if the Eeyores among us really have more problems than the rest, or if it might have something to do with perspective.

My personal conclusion?

Some people really do have what seems to be an unfair amount of trials heaped upon them.

And I don’t understand that.

But…

Amatteroffocus

If you read my ebook (available for Kindle or Nook) last week, you know that panic and anxiety were a very unwelcome part of my life for a few years and that my focus during those years was crucial in my recovery.

Here I am now, on the other side of that journey, tempted to think I can let up a little with the focus thing.

But the truth is, the deep darkness of fear that threatened to suck the joy out of life has merely changed to a sea of new issues — distractions, stress, busyness, and sure, a few problems.

There is always something…

…something that wants to steal my focus away from God’s goodness, His life-giving Word, and the joy found in His presence.

God’s whisper about focus found it’s way to my heart once more as I finished a chapter of my memoir this weekend. This chapter fills you in on some of the details preceding my panic attacks:

We celebrated the first day of 2010 with a dive off the shore of Fort Liberty. Our friend and instructor, Nick, had discovered a steep underwater cliff laden with bright corals, sponges, seaweed, and tropical fish. It would be our first group dive; so far, Nick had tutored Jarod and me one-on-one, but now that we were becoming more advanced, he was confident the three of us could dive together.

We swam a couple hundred feet into the little bay before we began our descent. Careful to equalize our ears every few feet, we sank lower and lower into the blue. To our right was a jeweled wall — yellow, blue, and purple fish, pink and orange corals, and delicate sea crabs. Above, below, and in every other direction was the deep blue of the sea. Had I been watching our dive on an Imax screen, I would have leaned forward in awe.

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I was awed, but as Nick and my husband pushed forward and downward, my heart and mind rebelled. Detachment, uneasiness, and anxiety pressed harder than the weight of the water. I did my best to shake it off — to focus on the breathtaking beauty around me, to avoid being the wimpy one in the trio, but it was no use. I kicked ahead and tapped Jarod. I pointed my thumb up, feeling like a fool, yet desperate to rise to the land I knew.

Back on top of choppy waves, I apologized for messing up the dive. Jarod encouraged me to try again — I would be fine. But, I knew something weird was going on. I swam back to shore and let the guys finish the dive on their own.

As they dove down once more, I shuddered. I would never go back in.

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In a matter of hours, my panic began in earnest. If you read Take Courage, you know the diving wasn’t the problem; it was just one more proverbial straw that helped break my back.

But the darkness that I entered paralleled perfectly with that Fort Liberty dive:

My battle was one of the mind. The underwater cliff of Fort Liberty became my reality; I was surrounded by deep, dark blue — enough to overwhelm and defeat me. Only this time, swimming ashore was not an option. There would be no escape, no chickening out of the test. I had been provided with the appropriate gear; the Spirit of God would be my breathing apparatus. This wasn’t a test to the death — though it felt like it. But it was a test of my focus. I could look at the treasure cove on the one side — mining the truth and beauty of God’s Word, or I could feed my fear with the endless blue on every other side.

Today, I am still tempted to stare into the blue. Like I said, it’s not about fear and panic right now… it’s just about the negative. It’s so easy to be Eeyore. But it’s not harmless and certainly not cute — it’s wrong and deadly.

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But I’m reminded…

whatever the depth of all that blue around me, however trivial or heavy it may be,

there is treasure to be found off to the right.

It imparts joy.

It restores the soul.

It renews the mind.

And its beauty is best beheld by those in over their heads.

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