Fighting distractions

I know better than anyone that the harder we try to hold on to Jesus and read our Bible and teach our children the right way to treat other people, the more and more the world is going to beat up on us, trying to get us distracted from spreading the gospel.  Satan uses every tool in his arsenal and pushes every button he can to get us to step off of the path we are walking with Jesus.  I have been told recently that Satan can’t hear our thoughts like God can, so we have to tell him out loud to leave us alone and that we are the children of God.  I thought it was an interesting thought and pondered it a few minutes and then filed it away.

In the month after that, I cannot tell you how many times I have said it to others who were going through trials.  But, I didn’t have proof that it would work until I tried it myself.  One morning that I felt especially great and was singing my worship songs (off-key mind you  🙂 )  All of a sudden, I felt this pressure on my temple that I haven’t felt before.  I have headaches almost every day, but this was a new kind of pain.  It felt like someone taking their finger and pressing it into my temple…hard.  When I found myself saying leave me alone and get out of my head…I was shocked when the pain stopped.  And I had no headache at all that day. I’m convinced that Satan uses sicknesses to distract us from God and what we should be focusing on.

 

Hanging Boxing Gloves

 

There are so many things the enemy can use as tools against us, and we don’t always recognize them as the enemy. Life has us so busy that we forget to fellowship with important people in our lives, much less seek someone who is not easily seen or heard. We are constantly striving for the next big tech release or keeping up with the Jones’ or the next promotion that we forget about the people next door or in the next desk that need us to notice them. We are very proud of the accomplishments and think that are of our own power, but the truth is that nothing happens without God’s approval first.

When I find my brain spinning and I feel out of control, I have to remember to pray and ask for wisdom. How do you fight the enemy and keep your eyes where they should be?

The People We Meet

I’m always amazed at how, little by little, the Holy Spirit enlightens my consciousness to truths about how God works.  Lately, it’s been weighing on my mind about how every person and place that we encounter are used by the Father to shape us into the people He wants us to be.  Each person that we cross paths with teaches us something (if we are paying attention) and hopefully we do the same for them.  When you do get to meet these extraordinary people, sometimes you learn lessons about yourself that they didn’t even know they were teaching you.

I have been introduced to a co-worker who, on the surface, had nothing in common with me and a 20 year age difference.  But, after working beside her every day for 2 years, I came to hold her opinion very high, because I knew she would tell me the truth and would lead me back to Jesus.  She has gone through horrendous things in her life – things I don’t ever think I could handle – and she came out on the other side with beauty and grace and a love for the Lord like no other.  She does anything she can for someone who isn’t even her family.  She considers me (and my children) one of her children or grandchildren and not only helped me with whatever she could, but also prays just as hard for us as she does for her own flesh and blood.  Even after I stopped working with her, her lessons stick close to my heart.  I am forever grateful for God bringing her into my life and I hope she is grateful for me to have come into hers.

God sends friends to us at the oddest times.  Right when we really need them, even when we didn’t feel like we could handle one more person needing something from you at that moment in time.  My daughter met a new little girl in her Sunday school class when she was 2 and came home talking about her for a solid week (they were best friends and were going to be forever – even after just meeting once!).  Keep in mind that this is during a whirlwind of craziness in my life when I was separating from my husband and had so many thoughts flying through my head that I couldn’t focus clearly on just one for a long time.  And then, my daughter’s new friend’s mother came and introduced herself and said that if her daughter had decided they were going to be best friends, that she and I should be friends, too.  I don’t remember that conversation, so I hope I wasn’t completely rude.  We are still friends to this day, so I must not have been too bad.  I’m not even sure she knows what a deep hole she yanked me out of over the next couple of years, but God definitely used her voice to talk to me and keep me on track.  I never had any interest in being as self-aware as I am today, but she definitely started that path for me because she so openly shared her short-comings with me.  I will forever be in her debt.

You really begin to realize how wonderful a person is when they can step up and help you when you are in a bad situation – and they do so without hesitation.  About a year ago, I was going through a difficult transition and a friend of mine agreed to take me (and my young child!) in until I could get back on my feet.  I would NEVER have imagined that someone would agree to that.  But, when you find the rare person that will agree, make sure you pay close attention – that is true friendship!  Now, for that person to be a single, male friend is just mind-blowing.  What bachelor would want a single mom and a baby hanging out all the time?  Not only did he do it with a smile on his face, but he played with the baby and let him help cook dinner and make sure I got time to myself to be able to take a shower.  These simple things meant so much alone, but even more on top of the sacrifice he was already making to open his home to us.  Even when it took me longer than I would have liked to get myself together, he never said a word.  I can only hope that I can show someone love like that and pay forward his kindness one day.

I have been single for a few years now, but I am not still not accustomed to this whole dating process.  It makes me feel like I’m in hostile territory, always needing to be guarded and keeping my eyes WIDE open (how can you meet someone in that kind of environment?!).  So, I have been paying close attention to the people I meet to make sure that I don’t end up on this same dark and lonely road again.  I don’t want to gloss over things that I know will end up driving me up a wall in later years.  Things I know are deal-breakers, both for me and him, are things that have to be brought up and talked about early (in my opinion), so that things don’t get too far if you KNOW it isn’t going to work out in the long run.  When you are a single mother with 3 young kids, it’s so hard to find someone who is willing to take on the insane amount of responsibility that you deal with on a daily basis, especially when they also have a large amount of responsibility in their own lives.

I have been lucky enough to meet a single father who has his child the majority of the time and is the primary caregiver. Watching him struggle with being both the disciplinarian and the soft shoulder to cry on often points to my weakness of not being able to switch back and forth so easily. I notice that I am stuck in one mode most of the time, and that’s not a good thing for me or my kids. They need both every day. For some, it comes so easily and they never give it a second thought. For me, it’s not that simple.  I have always had a hard time getting my buttons “unstuck” once someone pushes me to the breaking point and my children are masters are doing just that. I still haven’t figured out how or why yet, just that they are.  But, seeing this person day in and day out with their teenage child makes you realize that it can be done.  I just need to translate that into my approach with my kids.  He has made me realize that even though you do not always get dealt a fair hand, you have to keep going.  One day, eventually, it will pay off.

We always seem to take for granted the people who sacrificed everything for us when we didn’t know what they were doing until years and years later.  For someone to stay in a marriage where things were pretty bad because they wanted to make sure their kids (and later, grand kids) had a secure home and future is spectacular. For her to wait out all those years and then finally make the decision to leave, only to find out about an unknown medical diagnosis and feel God calling her to stay and become a caretaker for the same person who said some nasty things to her had to have taken a tremendous amount of strength. That’s not something I’m sure I’m cut out for, but God knew she could handle it.  And did it with amazing grace and never a grumble or second thought.  I couldn’t tell you how many comparatively minor things happen in my life every day that I kick and scream about.  I wish I could just deal with the things that come along and find the silver lining, but I am always a work in progress.

Take a look around at the people in your life and see if you know why God placed you in each other’s paths.  It is enlightening to have a conversation like this with people, because sometimes you might find out some things about yourself that you didn’t realize when you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.

Do you have someone in your life that has taught you a great life lesson?  I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

Peace of mind…priceless. Or is it?

How much would you pay for an answer on whether or not a dream is really from God and His plan for your life or just from your desire to be more than what you are right now?

Is it considered a waste of money if you don’t do anything with it?   Or a learning experience?

What happens if it is exactly what I need to get me out of this whole I’ve dug for myself and MAKE SOMETHING OF MY LIFE?   Prove to myself and my kids that if you love something so so much and you take risks that it will be scary as hell,  but it will pay off if you never stop working for it?!

Obviously,  my dream is to write.   I’m certain God uses me to share messages He wants me to work on in more depth.   Everything I write about are things I am dealing with.   And when I look back at what I’ve written,  I know that it didn’t come from me.

I would love to hear about what your dreams are.   What steps have you taken to get where you are on your journey?   Are you living your dream?   Or are you like me and still close to the starting line?

And just like that…another year is over.

Whew.  What a whirlwind this year has been.  There are way too many things to process as I’m reflecting on the year or try to list even in the short version here.  Some of them seemed like blessings at the time and some of them only now are looking that way.  Still others (many others), God hasn’t revealed to me how they will be blessings just yet, but I have faith they will be one day.

I have been horrible about writing lately.  Not that I don’t have things I want to write about, but I think I’m focusing too much on the end result and having this wonderful, completed thought all tied up with a bow.  But, I forget that I always learn more during the process of writing and then God adds the finishing touches for me.  So, my resolution for the new year is just to write.  I am hoping to write more often, which probably means they won’t be as long, but we will see where God takes it by the end of the year.

I hope you all enjoy reading my random thoughts as much as I love writing.  I hope you all come up with your own resolutions and then STICK TO THEM!  That’s always been my biggest issue.  I have little sticktoitiveness.  The last few years, I haven’t made resolutions as much as stopped bad habits.  Same will be true for next year, but I’m hoping to replace the bad with good.  And stop being so mean to myself.  It’s always easy for me to tell someone else to cut themselves some slack, but that’s one skill I haven’t learned when it comes to myself.

What things are you looking forward to changing this year?  Maybe you’re not really looking forward to making changes, but feel like you need to or should?  I feel that tug and reminders from God about the same topics over and over, so I know I’m going to be working through those issues this year…whether I want to or not.  🙂

I hope you had a fabulous Christmas season and celebrating Jesus’ birth.  Here’s to a safe and happy 2015.

God Bless,

Are you close to hitting rock bottom? Good things are coming!

Last week was a crazy tough one.  Work was particularly stressful and busy.  It seemed every person that could possibly take jabs at me took 3 or 4.  I had one of the worst headaches I’ve had in a really long time and it lasted ALL. WEEK. LONG.  I was really in a dark place emotionally (but now, looking back, I had prayed for it when I asked God to break my heart).  I was ready to run away and hide from everyone and every thing.  It seemed easier than handling everything that was going on.  But, that isn’t my story.  I’m not a runner, I’m a fighter.  I whether the storms with my Prince of Peace at my side.

After light finally started showing back down the long, dark tunnel in my mind, one of the most amazing lessons was set on my heart in a conversation with God.  I had been praying and praying for Him to break my calloused and hardened heart.  I didn’t realize how bitter I have been until He gave me a little insight into myself Monday night.  (As usual, Sunday morning’s sermon was timed perfectly.)  I find myself blaming someone for something that they did not do.  I have been carrying pain and bitterness and earthly rejection around in my heart for so long and had never dealt with it head-on.  I didn’t realize how it affected every conversation I’ve had with other people.  If a part of my heart is hardened and closed off, how can I enter into every conversation with an open heart like we are called to do?  How can I truly feel everyone else’s pain if I am secretly harboring my own?  How can I love the hard-to-love when I’ve now realized I’m one of the hard-to-love?

It’s funny how Satan gets in our heads and twists up our thoughts and does it for so long and so well that we don’t even question the lies.  We don’t think about our over-reactions in depth when they happen because we are so wrapped up in who hurt us or how to throw back another comment that stings a little more.  And how many of us (myself included!)  go back over what YOU did wrong in a disagreement?  Not many.  Aren’t we all telling everyone we know about what was done TO us?  That is what Satan wants from us.  He wants us to hang on to the hurt and lock it away deep in our hearts so it festers and gets deeper and deeper until we don’t really know where it started.  We don’t know how to even begin to turn it over to God and ask him to transform it back into something beautiful.

caterpillar to butterfly

Most of the time, I don’t even know where it started, so how do I forgive the person that wronged me so that I can ask for God’s strength to move on and focus on filling that space with beauty and grace?  That is one of the things that I am still working on, but I am getting there.  Every day, I’m trying to choose my reactions instead of just letting them happen.  And God is so good; He makes it much easier if I ask for help.  That’s one of the things I love the most about Him.  Even with the small things in my life, He is faithful and He will meet me in the middle of the road, holding out His hand.  I do not deserve such treatment, but it is such a blessing to know that I cannot mess up so badly that He will stop loving me.

Do you have something you need to ask for God’s help with?  Don’t ever think anything is too petty or childish; He already knows your thoughts and what you need.  He just wants to hear you ask for them.  What can you fill up your newly emptied spaces with?  Ideas for impacting those around you in the name of Christ?  What about impacting your family first and making sure they know where the change comes from?  Then, see who else around you needs help…and then reach out your hand.  We are the body of Christ.  We have to act like it and not just talk it.  If you are uncomfortable, that means you’re doing something right.

 

What does praying look like?

My heart has been tumbling this concept around for a while now.  What does it look like to pray?   If you don’t pray the “right way,” does that mean God doesn’t care about what you are praying for or for some reason ignores you?  “No, He says.”  Does it mean that when people who DO bow their heads are listened to with more love or concern?  “No. God hears everything we pray and the things we don’t even know how to put into words.”   But, I have heard people say that they hit their knees to pray.  After hearing that I feel like maybe I’m not doing it right.  If I’m not “showing reverence” for my Savior, does that mean I love him any less?  Definitely not.  So, do you have to kneel?  Do you have to bow your head?  Does God care how it looks as long as we are talking to Him?

I spend a good amount of my day driving and somewhere between most and all of that time are devoted to singing worship songs and praying before I get to work.  But, I also talk to God throughout the day, whether it be to pray for a friend who has asked for it, a situation that has just come mind, or just simply to ask Him to make clear to me what His will is in the situation I’m facing.  How could I possibly have my hands folded, head bowed and eyes closed every time I talk to God?  But, I feel like I’m not giving Him my all and He deserves nothing less than that.

Is this something that Satan is putting in my head to get me distracted?  I really would like to hear some thoughts on what you do or don’t feel you need to do, etc.  Are there any scripture references that I don’t know about?  Please share your thoughts with me.  Thanks!  🙂

God’s will for my life

One of the things God is working on in me right now is to figure out where I need to be in my walk with Him so I am ready to fulfill the reason He wants me to be here on Earth every day.  I know we are called to be disciples and to have a relationship with Jesus, but I feel like there is MORE that I should be doing with my time than getting up, going to work, going home, going to bed…lather, rinse and repeat…day in and day out.  Not that being a mother or a friend of Jesus or a disciple are minor things, but I have this restless feeling in my heart that I just can’t put my finger on.  Years ago, I thought it was related to a situation that I was in.  So now that situation has changed and it remains.  Then, I thought it was related to facing trials by myself, so I tried to change that and failed…and my restlessness is still here.  So, I think the only possible thing that can fill up that empty, gaping whole in my heart is bringing glory to God (or trying to the best of my flawed ability).

God has been sending me signs and repetition of them from every angle.  Bible study class, Sunday morning sermons, books that come through my inbox, songs, etc.  I know I’m stubborn so He is repeating them to make sure I am paying attention.

What exactly does God want me to do in this fallen world?  I’m not completely sure yet but I am fairly certain it will have to do with writing and other types of creativity.  I am working on pushing myself out of the boat (my comfort zone) and having faith in Jesus.  (This is another reference that God keeps sending my way.)

Have you figured out what makes you happy beyond belief?  How is that bringing glory to God?  Please share with me.

Surrender…the hardest thing I will be asked to do.

There is no doubt about it; I am a rebel.  I’m the person who always did the opposite of what someone told me to just for the heck of it.  I knew when I first started going to church that submitting to an authority figure was going to be the hardest thing I would ever be asked to do.  And it’s something that I have had to work on in stages.  First, it was learning more and more about my Savior.  Then it was being baptized.  After that, I started to study the Bible in more depth and joined some small study groups.  Now, I’m volunteering in the church almost every weekend.  The newest area that I have surrendered to my heavenly Father is my financial situation through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  One has to be truly devoted to God to be able to submit to Him and ask Him to use you to do His will, not yours.

But, my dreams?  My big huge pie-in-the-sky kind of dreams?  Certainly God didn’t want to hear what I dream about.  He has his own plans for us and I just have to wait for him to open doors when I am standing in the right place at the right time (which I know has happened before).  I was (read: am) afraid that His dreams for me are going to make me uncomfortable and probably face the number one thing that I avoid at all costs.  What if He wants me to be friends with that one person I just can’t bring myself to forgive for past trespasses?  What if He wants me to stand up in front of ridiculously huge audiences and speak to them when I’m terrified of speaking in front of my Bible Study class?  What if He wants me to start a new ministry or business and I have no education or understanding of how to even begin to go about it?  What if He wants me to do ALL of these things?!  I will do whatever my Father leads me to do because I want Him to be given praise, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to be praying for the strength to get through it every day.

I know for me, I am frightened by the thought of sitting around waiting on doors to be opened when I feel like I should be running to be closer to Jesus.  Does that mean I will never fall?  Absolutely not; I fall every day.  But, He offers His grace when we do and picks us back up even when we are at our lowest.  How can I NOT want to do whatever He needs me for?!  Who am I to tell God that I’m too busy to do what He needs done for building His kingdom?

Please share your thoughts with me!  What are the things you avoid at all costs?  What are your big huge, pie-in-the-sky dreams?  I will share mine with you on another day.  🙂