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A Line In The Sand/An Open (anonymous) Letter

 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
– Psalms 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
– Psalms 147:3

“…My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

God is “close to the brokenhearted”… That is a promise. “It’s not a feeling, it is a fact,” as a friend of mine put it.

How does one exercise faith? Having faith in God means believing that He is who He is, and that He has done what He has done. But what about when having faith means letting go and trusting God? I know, from both experience as well as observation that this step can often seem more difficult than initially accepting God to begin with.

In my experience, it has been similar to a line in the sand; On one side, I have my faith in God in the sense of saying, “I believe.” On the other side of the line is my faith on a whole different level where suddenly that line becomes a canyon. It requires so much more of me. It requires–well–a leap of faith. I have to not only work up the courage to know that I am making the right choice and know that when I land, God will be there to catch me, whether is be at the bottom of the canyon or at the other side of the line… I also have to be able to deny myself and my wants and my earthly needs, which can be a completely separate task in itself. But what did Jesus tell us? In Mark 8:34, he said…Line

“If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

The thing that often prevents us from doing that very thing is fear. Often that fear is that things won’t turn out the way that we want or “need” them to turn out. But…

“…God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7

That line in the sand can be complicated, and once you make that jump, odds are that you will land with another just ahead of you.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
– John 16:33

When facing another line in the sand, I am always reminded of the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9 (above) and 10

“That is why I take pleasure in my weakness, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Building Blocks for Life, Life in General

 

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Difficult Times

It seems like things have all been going down hill lately. Just random little things that have been building up in my life and have gotten me to feeling the lowest that I have felt in a long while.
My last three days have been filled with emotion and negativity, among so much more. I have allowed myself to be broken down by all of the things that the devil has been tempting me with. I have forgotten that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). I have been allowing the flesh to overcome the Spirit. I have been taken over by the things that Satan wants me to be concerned with and have somehow forgotten all of the many things that God has blessed me with, most importantly, His love.

It is so easy to allow this to happen. I know that I am not the only person that it happens to, and I know that circumstances are different for each person. I also know that God can and will get us through our difficult times.

My morning routine of checking Facebook was a blessing to me today. My “news feed” was filled, nearly every other post, a link or a graphic or a status reminding me of how amazing God is. Reminders of why I serve Him, and why He deserves it.

In the difficult times, it is hard to honestly reflect on the lives that God has given us. When we are down, all we choose to see are the things that are causing us pain and sadness. Upon taking the time to really look at my life, what I found is so much different from what Satan has been showing me for the past few days. I found that I have a God that loves me, whether I say exactly the right thing every time I talk to Him or not. I found that He isn’t going to get “annoyed” if I decide to talk to Him constantly throughout the day. Isn’t that more important that the feelings of the people here on earth with me?

I found that Satan is using my own insecurities to pull me away from God once again, and I found that in my fleshy weakness, I have allowed it to happen. I have found that I am far more blessed than so many other people in this world, I have far fewer afflictions than even a number of people who I personally know. Why should I continue to allow this sadness to take me over? I shouldn’t. I can’t and I won’t. God made me for more than feeling sorry for myself. He didn’t make me to be selfish, but in focusing on myself, that is exactly what has been happening as I’ve been forgetting about what is really important and about helping others who are truly having difficult times, rather than the “difficult times” that I am allowing to take priority in my own head.

I am so fortunate to have a Father who loves me, and who forgives me for my mistakes and will take me back with open arms, no matter how many times I fall short of His will. I’m thankful for the friends, family and acquaintances who post their love for God on Facebook to remind me of the things that I am allowing myself to forget at times. I am blessed with a family and friends who I can talk to about my “problems” and be reminded that in comparison to God, those problems don’t matter.
I have home, I have health, and I have yet to go hungry. How can I feel that I “deserve” something more? God has already blessed me far more than any sinner “deserves”.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2012 in Life in General

 

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My Growing Spirit

In the car with my husband tonight, as we drove home from visiting family, we shared the time to enjoy some music. The final song to play before pulling into our driveway was Jesus Freak by DC Talk. Deep into a sinus infection, growling every word that comes out of his mouth, even my husband couldn’t help to sing along at the top of his lungs with me. Feeling the words, I shared with my husband how amazed I still get when I’m really feeling God. I began to think about my faith, and my experience with religion and God since I was a child, as well as the difference in how I worship now, compared to what that meant to me growing up.

My mom took me to church as early as I can remember. I remember falling asleep, lying on the pews at around five years old. I remember making shrinky dinks in the early age Bible class, learning the books of the Bible in song as an older child, being Baptized as a pre-teen, and despising what I was hearing as a teenager, just before my faith in God (or much of anything really) vanished. I remember rediscovering God around my pregnancy and wondering how I would answer questions when my daughter asked, when I didn’t actually know the answers myself. I remember sitting in the back of church, listening to the words, and really feeling their meaning for the first time. Most of all, I remember the many different things that I’ve been taught about God and about His word up until this point in my life.

I grew up, predominantly attending the Church of Christ, with the occasional visits to Baptist and other various churches. Once I was old enough to pay attention, I remember being forced to do so, even though the subjects being discussed meant very little to me, if I even understood what they were talking about at all. I knew the rules, and I knew how to ‘get through’ the sermon: stay awake, stay very still, very quiet and listen for scriptures to write down so it would look like I was really paying attention. You can see how much I was really learning at this point.

When I was eleven years old, I decided to get baptized. Why? Because baptism is essential…and as a bonus, I can do whatever I want after that, regardless of what the Bible says because then I’ve already been saved anyway! Right? Wrong! Not knowing that at the time though, it seemed like a flawless plan. After all, I believed in God and believed in Jesus and that was what they asked before I went under, so that was all that was needed.

The next change was a new church. I won’t go into detail on this, because that is a whole new can of worms that it’s just better if I don’t get into. To summarize things, I was taught that no matter what I do, I am going to hell. If I spoke to boys when I went to the post office, I was going to hell, because that is “unladylike” (at fifteen years old). If I celebrate Christmas, or Easter, I am going to hell for “worshiping” a tree and a bunny rabbit. That gives you a very abbreviated version of what was (really) being pounded into my head at a very impressionable age. What did I learn from this? Basically, it doesn’t matter how you live or what you do, so what’s the point? Still, up until this point, church meant being very still, very quiet and doing things “just right” to fit in.

It wasn’t until about a year ago that I learned that faith doesn’t always “fit in”. Feeling God, doesn’t look the same for everyone. When I feel God, when I am worshiping God and singing praises, it doesn’t move me to dance. I’m not the type to go up to the altar and get emotional in front of people. That doesn’t mean that I’m not feeling it, that just means that I’m feeling it differently than others. It’s very rare that I will do as little as put a hand up or do much of anything to show my feelings, and when I was first witnessing these things going on in an assembly, it used to be off-putting to me. In fact, that was the case as recently as two months ago. However, I started thinking about it, and honestly, started studying the Bible more and realized that the look doesn’t have to “fit”. It isn’t about “fitting”, it’s about serving and worshiping, loving, and living. It hit me that, the person dancing in the pew isn’t really doing anything wrong, just like I’m not doing anything wrong by standing still. Faith shows itself differently through different people. Some people can be so overwhelmed by the feeling that they have to drop everything until it passes. There isn’t anything wrong with that, just like there isn’t anything wrong with NOT being like that. The thing is, it doesn’t matter. It isn’t against the rules to move during a sermon. It isn’t wrong to show an emotion, or to have to cough even.

It’s unfortunate that Christians have been put into this mold, and held to these expectations. It has given a large group of people a bad name. I know many people who refuse to classify their religion because they grew up as “Christian”, but aren’t the typical Christian stereotype and don’t want to be looked down on for it. I’ve been one of those people. So why does it matter how your faith manifests itself? If you are feeling the Spirit, do what it leads you to do! Faith in God is always going to be looked down on by tons of people, but it shouldn’t be being looked down on in Gods own house. I can tell anybody, after being on both ends of this spectrum, don’t  bind yourself-don’t hold back the feeling, that would be like holding back the spirit, and it is a truly awesome thing to feel.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Life in General

 

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Needs Met (…and then some)

My husband and I have been through a lot financially in the three (nearly four) short years that we have been together. While I’d like to say that I think about it daily, and am always consciously grateful…to say that, would just be a lie. However this is not the first time, and will not be the last time that I have shared this, or examples like this one. Today my family got a new washer and dryer. Now, it’s not as simple as we had them but wanted new ones; this is actually the first washer and dryer that we have owned as a couple because up until now, there was no way that we could afford one. I will not be shy in saying that even now, things are tight, but I simply can’t ignore the fact that things have been so much worse for us.

When my husband and I married, he had a full-time job and was a disabled veteran. I started working two days after our wedding, until my pregnancy forced me to stop. We lived in a 1 room apartment, (not 1 bedroom, but 1 room) with a bed that folded into the closet to give us a living room. By the time our daughter was born, we had upgraded to a 1 bedroom apartment, and shared a room with a crib and hardly had enough room to walk through it. By our two-year anniversary, my husbands medical problems had forced him to quit his job to focus on his conditions and get multiple surgeries that were required to be able to function well enough to hold a job. We were both unemployed for two years–simultaneously.

During the period of time when neither of us were working, we were raising a child and just trying to get by. To say that things were rough would be an understatement, but looking back I (along with many others who were aware of the situation) am proud that we were living as well as we were. We weren’t able to afford the luxuries that so many people can’t live without like tv, or internet. We weren’t able to buy new clothes or shoes to replace ones that were worn through. We were relying on family to fix our cars when they had problems, to pay phone bills in case of emergencies, and to allow us to visit their homes weekly to do about seven loads of laundry at a time.

Throughout those two years, we had very little. Our main priority was to make sure that our daughter always had what she needed (clothes, food, diapers) and if there was extra money, we would buy her toys more often than not. While we didn’t have much, we had all that we needed: We had God.

We had an auto-insurance policy only weeks from expiring with NO probability of us being able to renew it. God provided. We were out of food and I found out one day at work that a friend had told the church that we were attending about our living/financial situation, and through the church, God provided. We had to replace our car, yet had no money for even a trade, God provided. The car that we got had high licensing fee, God provided. It needed all new tires, through friends (who insist they were not involved), God provided.

That is just a few examples of the material blessings that we received in that two years. The timing and “coincidence” of that, can not be explained in any other way than Gods love. You could not convince me that everything just happened to work out the way it did in ANY other way than through God. I have shared those details (more specifically) with family and friends when they were feeling down, not bragging (because I have nothing to brag about), but to share the power of God.

God has blessed my family in so many ways (not only materially)  over the years. Anybody who has had financial problems-and hasn’t everybody?-knows how down and depressed that situation can make you. I can’t imagine how we would have gotten through it all without God, without knowing God, and without knowing that God was and is with us all the time. Through those hard times, my faith was strengthened. Trusting in God, and knowing that He would provide for my family was all that I needed to do, and I wasn’t disappointed. There is a verse that I had to repeatedly remind myself of during those times:

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” -Matthew 6:31-32

Those verses proved to be so true.

Things have changed so much for my family since then. My husbands health is much better, and he was finally able to be released to go back to work. He began his new job as a cook on March 2, 2o12 and is already being trained to be an assistant manager. He loves his job, and is so happy to be able to provide for his family. We have been able to move into a two bedroom home, and to get some of the afore-mentioned luxuries. The one thing that hasn’t changed is God. He is still with us each and every day, and we know that. We are careful to never forget all that He has done for us, and all that He has brought us through. I am hoping to come up with some ways that I will be able to help others and give back and share the love that God has for me. We are excited to see what else God has in store for us and for our family and future.

“For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. . .”  -Psalm 37:28

 

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