Tuesday, May 25, 2010
As I sat waiting for my husband to grab our food from the fast food counter my stomach grumbled.
I am always hungry.
Even as he set the food before me, I wondered how fast it would take for it to digest and be hungry again.
The thought frustrated me.
I have wondered how I got to this place of constant hunger, and always wishing for something more... something better.
It hasn't been like this my whole life.
I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted. When I wanted.
Good or bad.... it wasn't this constant thought or concern.
It wasn't life or death.
It was just food. And it was good.
Life was good.
Or so I thought.
I found out that I am allergic to virtually everything.
Okay.... maybe not everything. But it feels like it most days.
The reason for so many nagging ailments throughout my life.
Things I just lived with when I didn't know what was causing them.
Ignorance is bliss.
Because now I know.
And because I know, I can't go back.
Now that I have taken them away, my body doesn't like when I try to bring them back.
When I have gone out with others, they often ask, "What do you feel like?"
Hmmmm..... what I feel like is not what I can have.
What I think I want is not necessarily what I can take.
It is frustrating.
It is disconcerting.
And I have hated this season of my life so so much.
"Why God?.... Why?"
I have voiced it and thought it so many times.
So many times.
The restrictions. The not being able to really enjoy my food.
I love food.
I am Italian and Mexican, and I love to bake.... come on! Who wouldn't love it?
And to not eat 90% of the food that I grew up loving has been devastating.
More than anyone knows.
I have cried tears over it.
I feel dumb stating that.
But it's the truth.
I hate being told I can't do something.
But in that moment... in that restaurant, one of the few places I can eat anything at.... and as my husband and I tried to steal away for just a moment of time...
It came to me.
These words... and then these thoughts.....
I know what it is like to feel this.
I know how it feels to want.
I know what it feels like to be so annoyed that I can't partake with everyone else that cupcake that I had the joy of baking.
Or sit in a restaurant and labor over what to order... what to have... and what I might be able to actually enjoy eating and sticking in my mouth.
And I realize that this is all so much more than that.
Like so much else in my life.
Like everything else in my life.
This season is serving a purpose.
And I didn't realize it until that moment.
I have missed it this whole time.
In my moaning, complaining, and resenting.
In my hating when anyone comments on how much weight I've lost... or the gaunt look on my face.
When I have actually wished for plumper days.
The days when my face looked a little more filled out.
When I "looked" healthier.... when I wasn't always hungry.
When I didn't "want".
When I was sick and didn't know it. Not really.
I was just limping along and just making allowances for all of my handicaps.
They were just there. And I just made do.
I've actually thought at moments that I was much better off then.
I am smiling at the significance of that statement.
Have you caught it yet?
The stark reality of what all this implies? What it really and truly means?
Being in need but not knowing it? Being in a state of unhealthy but not realizing your sick?
We are made to be hungry. And we are not "well" on our own.
We are made to want. To need God's healing touch in every and all areas of our lives.
And so often we mistake our need, trying to fill them with things that can't actually fill us... heal us.
Nothing can satisfy, fill, or heal like the love of God for us.
Nothing can fill and satisfy like His presence and spirit when we stop everything and make the time to sit at His feet.
And nothing.... absolutely nothing can nourish, heal, and bring the breath of life into us like the Word of God.
Not the sweet words of a poem.
Not the meaningful words of our favorite songs.
Not the impactful words of a friend.
Or even, dare I say it, the words from the pulpit.
All those things can be good.
Some of them even better than that.... when coming from a heart seeking after God.
But they are not God.
They are not His Word.
And if we don't get in the habit of checking them. Lining them up, and measuring them against His standard, His Word.... we run the risk of danger.
And we will miss the reality of our situations and His answers to them.
Our view runs the risk of becoming distorted and hazy.
We end up unclear and unsure.
Sick and unaware of the true state that we are in.
Making "allowances" and hopping along on our crutches when the healing that we need is well within our reach.
What I have realized is that though God's Word is meant to feed us and replenish... it is not just for the occasional sitting here and there.... only for the moments when we are really starving and needy.
It is for every moment, every need, and every situation in our lives.
His Word, when we allow it to, should cause us to want more.
More of a hunger for Him.
For His truth.
His providing of every good thing that we could ever hope or want.
When we are truly feasting on what God has for us. When we take the time to settle into our seats, place our napkins on our laps, and pick up the tools He's given us to receive all that He has prepared....
We will never leave wanting.
We may leave hungry for more of Him. But never for more than He provides.
Because what He provides is far better.
Far more than we think we need.
He knows our hunger.
He understands our thirst.
And He sympathizes with our weaknesses.
As I sit and reflect on all of this it has struck me....
I prayed for this.
I asked Him a few years ago to make me more hungry for Him.
I asked to be hungry....
You might think it's a little crazy for me to think that God's answer is to allow me to be physically hungry all the time.
But is it?
Is it really that crazy?
Is God not a practical God?
Does He not interact with us on a very personal and practical way?
He knows who we are remember?
He knows how we work, how we think, and how we function.
And He will use and work with us the best and most available ways that we allow Him to.
Causing me to be hungry, to get to this point of desperation and disappointment in my life when I am in constant communication with Him on it.... constantly needing Him in the midst of my frustration.
Crying out and wanting.....
Well..... it doesn't seem so crazy to me.
He has been faithful.
To answer a prayer that I prayed.... that I wanted Him to answer.
Just because it doesn't seem ideal to me....
It is tangible.
And I am starting to truly understand what it means to hunger after Him.
To want Him more than I want anything else in my life.
I am now able to draw a correlation from deep physical hunger to deep spiritual need.
I don't like being hungry for food, and feeling deprived and burdened by it....
But I am seeing the danger of not being hungry for Him and for His Word.
And the danger of what can happen in my life if I allow myself to be satisfied with anything but Him.
I want to stay hungry for Him.
For all the days of my life.
Always wanting more.... more of Him and all that He wants to give.
Because with Him, there is always more.
I pray that you will be hungry....
And that you will let Him fill you the way that only He can.
.... until another tomorrow.
"I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:12,13
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ," Philippians 3:7,8
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Have you ever had a melt down?
I mean a real... just shut all the windows and doors, and don't talk to me kind of melt down?
The kind when nothing looks good, feels good, or for that matter that you could even think is good at that moment?
Obviously....... I have.
Just a few days ago.
I have been ashamed of myself ever since.
Not because it's not okay to have emotions... or feel them.
But to what I refer is different.
It is a losing of hope, feeling like you are alone.... and forgotten.
And I know. I know VERY well that I am not.
Alone or without hope.
But that day.... I did forget.
I let "circumstances" dictate my emotions.
I allowed one hit after another, and the lies that I know are lies, wound and fester.
Are we "allowed" to wallow?
Are we supposed to have a bad day when we know the truth?
When we know who we are, and Who we belong to?
My no good, very bad day has made me ponder this and more the past few days.
For the last few years I have been praying this prayer....
"Lord, help me not to be like the children of Israel in the old testament. Help me to not forget Your faithfulness. Your miracles. And who I am in You. I want to remain faithful to You. True."
And even then... even though this has been my heart for so long....
I still forgot.
The excuse of, "I'm just and only human....." has never flown with me.
I have always thought of it as a huge cop out.
A reason to be and act in a wrong way. To allow ourselves to be human.
And ultimately sinful.
I sound harsh don't I?
I have been accused of being undoubtedly hard on myself.
But in my fear of not wanting to fail. Not wanting to fail my Heavenly Father. I have always tried to hold myself to a higher standard.
When I have failed. And let me tell you, I have failed big time. In huge ways.
I beat myself up. Not literally of course. But in the worst way.
In the way that I allow the enemy access to my thought processes, and help him along a bit.
And because of this wrong thinking, I go so far as to believe the lie that He will want nothing to do with me anymore.
That I have been rendered useless.
All His promises no longer applicable to me.
All His plans, and hopes lost.
That He has once and for all thrown His hands in the air and said, "Forget it. I'm done with her."
Why do I, do we, forget that when His Word says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, that He means NOTHING.
Not my shame.
Not my fear.
Not my worst mistakes on the worst day.
Not my bad choices.
Not my sickness.
Not my mistaken misconceptions.
Not my dirtiness.
Nor my ugliness.
And certainly not my melt downs.
He keeps loving me.
Speaking to my heart.
Wanting relationship with me.... and never ever thinking me for one minute a failure.
On our worst day.
On my very worst day.
When I crawled into my bed, pulled the covers over my head and lay there numb, unable to even let the tears fall.....
He was close by.
When I felt like I couldn't do this one more minute.....
He was waiting for me to stop long enough... so He could speak the truth that He has spoken to my heart for my entire life.
As I attempted to sit up with my head hung low on my chest and my eyes heavy and closed....
His hands lay close by, just in case I wanted to reach for them.
But I didn't. Not at first.
I didn't feel for Him.
I didn't listen for His voice.
I didn't reach out.....
I was upset.
I was hurt.
I felt pressured, stressed, and heavy.
The weight of life bearing on my shoulders.
He never asked me to carry it.
Not a little or any of it.
He has only asked me to trust and believe Him.
And I do.
I really do.
But what I forgot to do that day when everything seemed to go bad... was rely on Him.
Lean into him when someone I love let me down.
When I didn't get the answers I wanted.
Reminded of the rejection of someone I thought would always be there in my life, and has chosen not to be.
When the hurt began to crowd out any good sense I may have had left that day.... and even a few days after that.
I chose to rely on myself instead.
To try and reason, make sense of, and figure out why so many bad things were going wrong that day.
And then choosing to beat myself up for it.
Tell myself all the things I know are not true.
Becoming angry and upset with the knowing that I was wrong.
Had chosen wrong.
Ultimately..... I know that He only lets me go on that way for so long.
He let me go on longer than usual.
I think He may have been waiting.
Waiting for me to get it.
And to understand what was going on.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12
This is Christian 101 for me.
I've been a Christian for most of my life.
I know this.
So why did I so easily forget it during a bad moment?
A moment that turned into moments throughout the day as I gave in to each and every one?
Why did I so quickly forget all that God has been doing in my life? And in the lives of people close to me and that I love?
"As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14
Even though I should have remembered.... He didn't forget.
Even thought I should have quickly identified who the real enemy was.... He was standing ready to equip me with what I would need to fight him.
Even when I wallowed in my self pity and misery.... He was lovingly gazing at me, waiting for me to understand that nothing was what it seemed to be at those moments.
This is why I have been ashamed of myself.
I thought that I had come farther than this.
I thought that I had grown up enough to know better. To not fall into that trap again.
I said and thought a lot of things that day that I should not have.
And He has held none of it against me. Even now as I sit here and write this for you.
Do you understand this kind of mercy?
This kind of love?
Because I am trying so desperately hard to grasp it for myself.
This situation has taught me that once again.... even in my unfaithful responses... He still remains faithful.
Even in my most unlovable state.... He loves me.
He doesn't turn His back for one minute.
He may get disappointed. Hurt. And maybe even upset with me.
But never ever ever does He stop loving me.
And NEVER will He give up on me.
And He won't ever give up on you either.
This is a promise that you can hold Him to.
His Word says it.
And it is the truth.
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." John 10:27-29
Once you belong to Him.
Once you surrender your life over to His capable and generous hands.
Nothing can separate you.
Nothing can take you from Him.
Not even the lies that you tell yourself.
He is your Father.
And He loves you.
Whether you want it or not.
He always has.
And He always will.
He always will.....
.... until another tomorrow.
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
Monday, May 10, 2010
Yesterday was Mothers Day.
This day has invoked many emotions in me throughout the years.
From joy... to anticipation.
Dread.... and sad to say it, anger and disappointment.
I wonder today, have these emotions been felt by others like me?
Of course they have, in the general sense... but in the way, or for the same reasons that I have?
I guess I would need to be less general.... and more specific about it.
I really don't want to focus on Mothers Day today at all.
It has just brought out emotions in me the last few days. Making me feel more like a woman than ever.
That even sounds funny to say it that way.
And may only be speaking to woman today. Maybe not.
Although if there are any men out there.... please take note.
Have you ever just felt.... well.... emotional?
Like every single feeler of emotion is on the outside instead of in?
Like you could cry at any given moment? And there doesn't even need to be a good reason?
There doesn't have to be anything wrong.
You just can't help feeling. You know?
Like the rush of the wind....
Or the crashing of the sea.
The rolling of emotion that just crests and falls.
There could be a myriad of reasons.....
Pressures in your life becoming too much.
The surge of these emotions just overwhelming every other sensory... sending you with them.
Like riding that wave.
And depending on the situation... it can either feel exhilarating.... or terrifying.
I have been on the longest emotional roller coaster over the last few years.
Up and down.... Building toward the crest and then dropping down the steepest hills.
I used to love roller coasters.
And then I became a mom.
It quickly awakened in me the knowledge that I am not invincible.
You could die on one of those things!
I am laughing at myself right this minute.
I am pretty fearless when it comes to things like that normally.
Especially when challenged.
But if it is for no other reason than to just hop on one of those man made contraptions for the shear purpose of just riding it.....
Well.... I've changed.
Last summer my son decided that he was ready to tackle the huge monster of the very thing that he was afraid of for so long.
I should have been proud.
I should have thought at that moment...."That's my kid."
But I didn't.
Because he was begging me to go with him.
And he knew what I know..... that I wouldn't say no.
Not because I never say no to him. But he knew that I was aware of his fear... and that I would stand with him while he conquered it.
And so I went......
And I screamed the entire time.
I have to admit that my cousin had not so gently challenged me on the side.
I never turn from a challenge.
Not always good... but sometimes it works in my favor.
I remember being shot out of the gate.
And when I say shot.... I mean shot out.
It stole my breath and I thought... "Please God. Don't let me die on this thing!!!!"
I really did.
And then I was taken on this ride of climbing, falling, racing around corners, and ripping through curves.
I thought it would never end.
It is so silly really.
And then again.... is it?
These things really do invoke fear in some people.
Terrifying, mind numbing fear.
I really wasn't that afraid of it.
I just don't believe in taking a risk that could prove completely foolish.
I love daring things.
I love adventure.
But I hate things associated with stupidity.... or taking a risk that you could possibly die from.
Just won't do it.
But today... as I sit here.
With all these jumbling emotions rolling around much like that roller coaster, I am reminded of a few things about me. About women in general.
If there was any good solid reason at all that my son's life... or that of someone I loves life being staked on me riding that roller coaster.... I would never blink an eye.
I would never even have to think for one minute on whether or not to get on it.
And I know for a fact that I would not think what I thought while racing around on it last summer.
In fact, I know that I would get on it purposely.
With dogged determination.
I would pull down the safety bar... look at the ride operator right in the eye, and say, "Let's do this."
And I would be praying the whole time.
Not with fear... but with strength and power behind it.
Why then is life any different?
Why do I waffle so much and so often?
Why don't I walk around with the same strong determination like I would if life depended on it.
Because it does.
And I know it.
I know it as a wife. As a mom. As a daughter, and as a friend.
I don't want to be controlled by my emotion.
I don't want to function "in" them.
But it is part of who I am as a women.
Without the ability like most men to just "shut if off".
Oh, how I wish I could.
I guess today I am just rambling.... I don't really have a direction.
I feel like I am just speaking to myself.
I have mountains still to climb.
Hills steep enough to bring any one person pause.
But I don't want to climb and descend with the same fearful thought of, "Oh God. I can't do this!"
I want my cry and shout to be, "God... I need you in this. And I know with You... I will do it... whatever needs to be done."
I want to come into the station with my wind blown hair, and legs still a little shaky, with the hugest grin on my face.
With a resounding... "We did it! I did it!"
I don't know what roller coaster you are riding today...
But you're not alone.
And you can do it.
WE can do it.
All of us.
Like my pastor eluded to yesterday... which by the way was one of the most inspiring, honoring, and humbling mothers day messages I have ever heard...
Never underestimate the power of who a woman is, or what she is capable of.
The power of God in her.
The part of God's character that shines and shows itself through her.
(I am loosely paraphrasing on what my take away was)
It stuck with me all day.
It is still clinging to me today.
Because you see... it isn't about us doing it on our own.
Women power and all that.
It is about us living with the higher purpose of serving, loving, being submitted to, and honoring God with our lives.
With everything in our being.
And it is then that those monster roller coasters don't seem so big.
When we stare at them and know that we can do it.
Face what we hate.
And do what we know what we couldn't do if we didn't go with Him.
Will you take the ride with me?
Climb in... and buckle up?
And if you hear me screaming at the top of my lungs....
I hope that what you hear makes you want to shout it out with me...
"We CAN do ALL things through Christ that gives us strength.... We are doing it!"
Praise God today.
Right in the middle of your roller coaster.
You might just get a chance to glance over next to you... and notice that He has been sitting right there the whole time.
God bless you today....
... until another tomorrow.
"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." Romans 8:37
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:13
Thursday, May 6, 2010
"Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:7,8
As I drove home from church last night I heard this verse rush through my head.....
Deep calling to deep.
That simple sentence is so profound to me right now.
As I stood in church with my eyes shut tight, letting the worship music wash over me I let myself release.... I began to unclench my fists that I had been keeping tightly held together.
I let myself be overwhelmed.
I let Him overcome me.
I let the deep things in me cry out to the One who's deep love for me always humbles and awes me.
I felt the tears before I knew that they were falling.
As I stood there I began to sway and move with the swell of the music that speaks to the deepest parts of my soul.
These last few days... weeks... months... have been so much.
But I know. I always know that it is in these moments of profound unrest that I have the opportunity to seek Him out.
To reach out to Him.... run to Him... with the tears falling down my face, dirt smudged, and stumbling.....
His arms are always waiting.
They are always waiting.... for me.
My oldest child is home again.
She has been gone for a while now.
Serving God. Seeking Him for the things that He has placed deep in her own heart.
And we let her go.... we had to let her go. She ultimately doesn't belong to us.
And even though she is home right now...we still are. We are still learning to let her go.
The hardest thing a parent will ever be asked to do....
As I brushed the hair back from her head just a few days ago... days that feel like years at this moment.... I just inhaled deeply..... I squeezed my eyes shut and let my mom tears fall...
And they haven't stopped falling...
I haven't let her see them.
She has turned to me at moments that we have been deep in conversation and said, "Mom. Don't cry..."
If she only knew.
Whenever I have had a stolen moment to myself I do it....
They are my comfort.
They are my solace.
Every tear is the love that has been stored up since the moment I felt her fluttering in the center of my very being.
They are my fight that I have been fighting for her since I knew that God has called her from the sweet and tender age of two years old.
And as I swept my fingers through her hair that night, I couldn't help but let them fall.
I wanted them to take away her fight that she is fighting right now.
I wanted them to sooth and calm her confusing emotions.
I wanted them to heal the hurts... the pain... the sickness that has made her come home to us too soon.
And in that moment God showed me a picture that took my breath... and dissolved any resolve that I thought that I was holding onto. There was more to my tears... more to the picture that He showed me.
She didn't know it....
We had just finished talking before I shut out the light and sat back down on her bed.
She didn't know that the words that she had just spoken had wounded me to my core.
She didn't know.
I knew that what she said was just one of those things that you speak and you don't think about what it is that you are saying... or how it has just impacted the hearing of the one that you have just spoken them to.
It wasn't a big deal.
It shouldn't have been.
But it was.
Because in that moment God showed me the meaning of why those words impacted me so much... why they hurt when I knew that they shouldn't.
It was like spying an ice burg just peeking from the top of icy waters.
The crest not showing what lies just underneath.
The power of what is really under that small icy mountain.
I saw myself.... standing in front of my daughter.
I was beaten and bruised. Beaten....
I could feel the pain of each wound.
And then I saw it... the enemy of us both.
And then the action that made me flinch.... the slap to my face became almost physical.... I had to stop myself from flinching in the natural... as I saw my face wrench to the side with the impact as it hit me...as my knees buckled... I saw my daughter fall to the ground behind me.
I felt myself look back up... right in the face of the one trying so hard to break my fighting spirit....
And I saw myself drag myself back up... standing as straight and tall as I could... determined... resolved.
"I will not bend... you will not break us."
I could feel myself say it.
The power of those words holding such conviction that they are still echoing in my heart.
I will not bend.
I will never give up hope.
And I will continue to stand and hope in the One who is worthy of all my fight.
All my hope.
In that moment I knew.
This picture revealed to me what I have always known... have always felt.
All those nights that I woke up out of a sound sleep to touch the foreheads of my children.
Every time I bent over them and whispered prayers of love... of hope... of hurt over what they were hurting over...
I was placing myself in front of them.
I was standing to take the blows.
My daughter is grown now.
She is learning how.
But for now... for whatever reason I have the honor of doing it... God has allowed me to once again stand in front of her.
Not to take the defeat.
Not even to take the beating.
But because He knows.
He knows me.
I will stand and protect what is mine until the fight is over.
Until it is won.
And He knows that I know that I can not do it alone.
That I am depending on Him.
Fully and completely.
Hoping in Him. Trusting in Him.
Loving Him... and loving those that He has given to me as a gift.
A love like this is undefinable.
And it can not be understood until you are the one who chooses to love this way.
I was given my children for a reason.
And a long time ago I chose to give them back to the One who gave them to me in the first place.
I have had to continue this practice to this day.
And they belong to Him.
And so it is for that that I stand and fight.
When they can't... don't know how... or even know what it is that they are up against.
And even when they do... I will still fight with them.
Side by side.
And when they are married and have children of their own I will continue to stand with them.
I will continue to saturate the halls of heaven with my petitions... my pleas... my requests... my hope and my love.
I know the One to whom I serve.
I am continually learning more and more about Who He really is.
His character... His heart... and His unbending love.
The love of a Father.
A love that doesn't even compare to the love that I feel as a mom.
Unless you are a mom... that statement is profound.
He has stood since the beginning of time... since the time that life began...
He will always stand.
He stands for me.
For my daughter.
For all of the treasures of my heart.
It is because of this that I will stand.
I will believe Him when He says that He is going to heal my daughter.
When He has said that He is going to heal me.
My entire family.
I believe Him.
And I choose to trust Him.
With everything I have.
And everything that I am.
Because I know... I know that at the end of this season that I will stand with my daughter, my entire family.
Don't you just love that word?
And it is what I am claiming over every single situation, trial, hurt, sickness, and wound that exists at this moment.
In our lives and over it.
In and over.
So I stand....
....until another tomorrow.
"Come, let us return to the LORD
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2"He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him." Hosea 6:1,2