18"Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19"Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18,19 NAS Bible
This word came to me as I sat down in front of my keys.... thoughtful, and with a million different things zinging through my brain.
I have been bombarded with "things" the past few weeks. And bombarded is an accurate assessment.
Not all of them bad... but most of them challenging.
Seems to be the theme that has and continues to go on forever.
I don't mind challenges really... actually, I thrive on them.
I love overcoming them.
But these challenges have been a bit different. With no solutions in sight and totally and completely out of my control.
Where do I begin.....
During the holidays I was hit with the end of "that" seasons challenges....
And I prayed through every one and tried my best to just "get through them".
If you know what I mean.
I was sensing that this season this new year will be just that....new. And I didn't want to go into this next season carrying anymore weight of the last one if I didn't have to.
So... I dusted off my sandals with some situations.... and called it a day on others.
And let me tell you, it felt good, and it felt right.
So here I am, at the start of a new season, and new beginnings.
Our year has started off a bit rocky... but as my dear friend mentioned to me yesterday... it sometimes gets worse right before it gets better.
I think she may be on to something.
Her words hit deep... and they rang true.
I'm holding tighter than I thought to such a simple statement, but there was real truth in it.
So far this year I have already begun to learn....
We have dealt with illness in my middle child that has left huge question marks for us over the past few years and up to today... big and small... BUT in that I have appreciated caring for her and being able to show her how loved she is. A bonus any moment of the day and one we should never reserve for just when someone is down. Lesson one.
Time spent investing is important. My husband and I have yet to have a real date this year and I am feeling the impact of that. It is so important to be most intentional about your love relationships. The storms come in quick and fast and before you see them coming... it is so important to make sure that all of your rigging and sails are just as they should be. We are both committed to this one and we have both been challenged on making sure that discipline in the important things isn't something you just teach your kids. Lesson two.
Being persistent is good. Sometimes to get what you want.... and let me clarify here because I am a huge clarifier.... whether it be for something you have been seeking God out for, say purpose or living out your dreams... or whatever it is you are steadfastly praying for, like healing.... or continuing to pray for answers to those difficult or just plain mind boggling questions that you have...I think God honors persistence. And I need a new shot of it. I believe that persistence, if directed well and done right can be equalled to faith. Lesson three.
Trusting.... okay a big one for me. I trust no one... well... outside my little nucleus of my family and maybe a few close friends... and outside of that, only unless they have proven themselves, and even then I am always waiting for the shoe to drop. Terrible. I know. But my life lessons haven't taught me otherwise.
And just to prove me right... I had a "friend" who really wasn't, choose to decide for me on something that should have been a two way decision. I hope to never do that to anyone I profess to care about. I have been praying for anyone that I am not aware of that I may have hurt this way... unknowingly. Enough said. But sad and heartbreaking for me none the less.
A step father who has chosen that we are not worth loving anymore.... and family that would rather that I didn't exist, even though I was here first.
People that don't know me talking about my character as if they did... and standing in judgement as they accuse me of the very same sin.
So.... and I'm sure you know where this one is going... God is doing major heart stuff with me.
Betrayal is huge for me. I've lived it for so much of my life. And I am done wanting to deal with this lesson. But God has more to teach me.... so I am still in the midst of Lesson 4.
And the main reason I felt led to write today.
Integrity is huge for me.
It is the essence that holds everything that we say we are and stand for, and should solidify everything that we appear to be.
I have learned that a lot of people don't hold to my same belief system in this one, and how important it is for all of us to hold and maintain to.
Easy in's and easy out's.
That seems to be the mantra of our culture today.
If it makes me feel good... great! I'm in.
But if it makes me a little uncomfortable... not so great. And no matter if I said or did anything that would make you think I was in it for the long haul... I'm out.
To me... these things signify anti-integrity ism.
Someones word means nothing anymore.
Wishy washy seems to be the order of the day.
And in the circle's where it should never be a factor.... family... church... friendships and close relationships... it is becoming sadly more and more normal.
It has left me standing on unstable legs for the moment.
Overwhelmed with a sense of grief and crying out..... "Abba Father! Is there anyone out there who lives life for more meaning than self worth, or self comfort? Is there anyone out there who is more concerned about anyone else more than about themselves? And where am I in all of this? How have I grieved You... or even others in my own quest for self preservation?"
This place is uncertain... and I don't want to stay here.
The unknowns are great.... the potentials for disasters... huge. And yet.... hope has continued to rise.
It has been stifled these past weeks for sure... but as I peer closer I can see a thready breath escaping from the place it has been buried under.
I am gingerly trying to finger my way to it.... gently removing my own doubts, cynicism's, and fears.
I want to gingerly hold it... and pray that it grows in the warmth of my faith that I'm choosing instead of believing what I am seeing with my eyes and even feeling with my heart.
I don't think that those around us really mean to be.... mean. But it happens.
And I hope to think that people that think that their inherently good, don't really realize that they have not acted in just that way. In fact, quite the opposite. I want to hope that they just don't know....
It's easier to give them grace that way.
But I have to admit that it's getting harder.
Are we who we say we are...?
Are we trying for the same things....?
Or are we too busy trying for ourselves only?
Are we concerned with how we are effecting others?
Or are we more concerned with how we are being effected?
Hard lines to bear... but ones that I feel I need to draw.
Simplicity is the order of my day.
I want to break things down and realize that nothing is more important than the bare essentials.
And yes, Integrity.
Doing the right thing... by God's standard, and striving to desire to do just that more than just glossing over with what I think is right.
I am feeling done with caring about the things that have kept me distracted.
Old wounds... and fresh hurts.
The things that crowd in and disrupt my joy... and try to steal my hope.
Fear and worry are not my friends... and I never want them to be.
I want to hold onto the things that God has always called us to hold onto.
I want to grasp onto them with both hands and grip tightly to Him. His words of encouragement and His promises.
I want to let go of the things that keep chaining themselves to me.
I want to walk freely this year.
With the only thing overwhelming me being the presence of God in every situation.
I want to lean into His mercy and allow His love for me and every minute aspect of my life, wash over me and fill me so that there is nothing left... and no room for the things that leave me drained and empty.
Where are you today....?
I am wondering.
Are you the one who has been betrayed?
Are you the one wishing that you could just.... walk away from it all and just leave it in the past?
Do you want to start new?
One of my favorite things to do is to stand on a hill... or on a mountain top and just close my eyes as the brisk air washes over my face... and just breath..... long deep breaths.
I never walk away from that the same.
I always walk away with the sense that I am not alone.
That God is there. That He does love me.
And because He does... that I am worth more than others may price and label me for.
I am prized and dearly loved.....
And so are you.
I believe that God wants to overwhelm us with His love.
More and more every day.
But we don't often let Him.
Too full of what we choose to fill ourselves with.
Too self motivated.
And too self important.
Too much.... and not enough.
Can we just take a moment.
Can we just speak with our hearts and intent to heal instead of wound.
How often I have been guilty of not doing that right. Good intentions... bad execution.
And can we resolve to not knowing it all... and surrender to the One who always has?
I want to walk with not only good intention.... but with the desire to desire more of God in every aspect of my life.
Not shutting Him out... inviting Him in, and in turn, extending invitations... even to those who have hurt me, and who I feel don't deserve the love I have to give.
Because I know that I don't deserve the love He bestows on me every single day.
Graciousness and purity in thought and deed.
Some big things to strive for.
I want God to overwhelm us... my family... my friends... with all that He has for us.
And I don't want me, anyone, or anything to stand in the way of that.
People are going to think the things they are going to think... right or wrong. Assumption or truth.
And the only thing we can hang onto and fall back on is this....
He is the only one really worth hanging onto. The only words worth banking on, because His Word is the only truth worth standing for.
When He corrects us... it is done right... and it is done infused with love.
He always wants the good for us... and isn't waiting to be entertained, like watching a picture show with popcorn in hand, to see us fail and mess up some how.
His goodness is always at the forefront of His intentions for our lives.
We may not understand His version of "good"... or even like it... I am feeling that often right now...
But I never want that to stop the strong urge that I am often compelled with, to get out of my seat and drop to my knees in abject surrender and adoration of Who my God is.
Powerful... painfully sweet.... and overwhelming... the way God's love is meant to feel.
His love overwhelming everything else that we may be facing.
Shutting the mouth of the lions and speaking peace in a way that only His heart and ours can understand.
In the only way that can cut through.... and bring more than we came with.
He wants to surprise us.... this year... maybe this month... or even today.
We won't ever be the same again. I feel it.
I pray that you are willing to stand with your arms open wide..... and that as we stand side by side, that we will begin to see what we don't dare even speak.... but He knows.
And in that.... I am overwhelmed.
.... until another tomorrow.
"You who sit down in the High God's presence, spend the night in Shaddai's shadow,
Say this: "God, you're my refuge.
I trust in you and I'm safe!"
That's right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you're perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I'll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!" Psalm 91 The Message Bible
22-25"So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching." Hebrews 10:22,23 The Message Bible
27Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD,
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God"?
28Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired
His understanding is inscrutable.
29He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:27-31 NAS Bible