Every had that feeling that someone was indirectly talking about you and yet they didn’t have a clue? They may mean well but sometimes in an attempt to help – they actually cause pain. If you don’t understand something – please ask – don’t assume.
Some people have the gift of encouragement and some people have room for improvement.
I have had people assume that our life is problem free. Really? We are fighting on the front lines of a spiritual war against an enemy who seeks to destroy and devour. We are standing up for truth, justice, and morality. We believe in the power of prayer and we point people to God. Still think that is going to be a problem free life?
What we do have is a relationship with all mighty God that sustains us, comforts us, fills us with hope and washes over us with peace. No problem is too great for our God.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am a wife, mother, pastor’s wife, worship pastor, Sunday school teacher, counselor, church bookkeeper and secretary, billing and insurance claims specialist at an eye clinic, and I am available to people. When I am home, I spend my evenings working until 10:00 – many times til 11:30, or you will find me crashed on the couch exhausted.
My husband is a pastor and a college teacher. He has turned into a great cook – partially out of necessity. Three days a week I do not have time or energy to cook.
We both struggle with overworking. It saddens me to see this trait has developed in our children. They also set aside time for fun – I pray this continues.
Early on in our ministry I learned a very valuable lesson. People may have great ideas but it is not up to me (or my husband) to carry out those great ideas. Having an idea is the easy part. Carrying out that idea requires commitment.
Being over committed is an area that I struggle with. I read a face book status today that reminded me of this — “The need is the call.” That kind of statement, taken to heart, can cause me to stretch myself too thin. Every where I look there are needs. Yet I know that God is not calling me to be the answer for each need and become so busy that I miss the opportunities that God has in store for today.
That said, there are times that I hear an idea and it resonates in my heart. I know that I want to be a key part of it. Last year we did a girls night in for all ages. It wasn’t my idea but I wanted to be involved in seeing it through. It was fantastic. It was energizing!
This week is our very busiest week at the eye clinic where I work. It comes at a very inconvenient time for me. Yet it is what it is.
It has brought to the forefront of my thinking that I have too many irons in the fire. That right there can burn up the joy and rest that God so wants to be evident in my daily life.
For a long time I tried to remove irons, but then other irons would just find their way back in the fire. I am real good at picking up things others lay down. So I have come up with a new plan. I am going to throw water on the fire at 9:00 every night. That may not sound like a big deal to you but it is huge to me and it is a little scary.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
til next time
It isn’t that I didn’t see it coming. Really I shouldn’t be surprised. Yet, I get tired of the same old mountain. This is one mountain that I would love to toss into the sea. Yet I don’t think that is what Matthew 17:20 is talking about.
This mountain could make Mount Everest appear small. Treacherous terrain appears to be everywhere. It is daunting and has almost a mocking quality that seems to be everywhere. Yet I am confident that getting to the top of this mountain is an attainable goal. Scripture says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
It takes more than determination and wanting it bad enough. I really get tired of hearing people say -- if you want it bad enough.... or – well you must not want it bad enough.….
It has very little to do with wanting it bad enough and much more to do with fighting the onslaught of rough terrain that threatens to send me back down the mountain side. There I will need to bandage my wounds and have to begin all over again.
When that happens the mountain seems to actually get bigger.
What mountain am I talking about? The mountain that looms in front of me every time I attempt to go on a diet or make a healthy lifestyle change.
As perimenopause is setting in, this mountain seems to have added a few twists and turns that I could truly do without. Losing weight wasn’t a picnic before but add to that a dropping metabolism and I find myself facing a mountain of sheer rock.
In the past I have said that just starting a diet means I will gain 5 pounds. My husband has witnessed this more than once or twice. I have tried writing down everything I eat. I have tried numerous diet plans. I have lost the same 20 pounds more times than I care to count. Each time the mountain seems to grow.
For me, the carbohydrate diet is a good fit. It is not truly a diet but more of a way of life for those people who are truly carb junkies. Yet even though it is a good fit, that doesn’t stop the numerous ways the mountain will try to sabotage my efforts.
So that brings me to today – day three of my carb diet. The first three days are indeed the hardest. My body is not happy. It happens to love carbs and is doing all it can to remind me of that.
Then there is the mountain. It has thrown all sorts of boulders at me in an effort to send me back down the mountain. While this is not a surprise, it is still something I could do without.
What will tomorrow bring? I don’t know but as we sang in first service today I know who holds tomorrow!!
til next time
Day 4 – Since I hadn’t posted this yet, I have a confession. I almost caved to the boulders that were being flung down the mountain. Last night I was overly tired, hungry and had faced some pretty difficult things. I just wanted a sandwich. Yes complete with soft yummy bread.
I have a great husband who caught me as I was smearing the mayo all over my bread. What did he do? He promptly tossed it in the trash and gave me a pep talk. Whew!! That was a close call.
Heading a little higher up that mountain.
ok that’s it for now
I wrote about reminders awhile back (click here to read it.)
Now this doesn’t mean I don’t have a good life. In fact, just the opposite is true. I have a great life – a full life.
Yet, I can get so focused on others that I forget to take time for me. While helping others does indeed make me happy, it is also important that I take time out for me too.
The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
My life is full. I am surrounded with all sorts of blessings from God. However, I can find myself so immersed in whatever I am doing that I forget to truly enjoy it.
Laziness is not now, nor has ever been, a trait of mine. In fact, I often think that my mother set the bar too high. She didn’t sit down to rest until all the work was done. Well, in my occupation the work is never done so I have had a hard time learning to find that rest. God is calling me daily to a life of balance. It begins with changing my focus. It is not about accomplishing the mission but enjoying the process.
Here is my other Hobby Lobby purchase.
As a Christian there is no better life. Yet I see Christians that are practically miserable. Lack of trust or disobedience are among the top things that can cause a Christian to be miserable. How that must grieve the Father’s heart. Jesus came that we would have life and life abundantly. (John 10:10)
When I reflect on my life, I am in awe of the way God reveals Himself to me. So often it is in the every day miracles. His fingerprints are all around me. How sad when I allow myself to be too busy to notice.
Sometimes I wonder if my zeal for life is evident. I can get so caught up in the task at hand that I am clearly in the zone. My daily list of things to get done before going to bed can set me in a driven state that can become void of enjoyment if I am not careful.
I love my life. I love the way God orchestrates little things and big things. I join my voice with Matthew West’s in singing “I don’t want to go through the motions.” Life is meant to be enjoyed!
til next time
Oh how I used to love snow days. Snow days meant the boys and I had the whole day ahead of us to do whatever we wanted. There were games, movies, bundling up so we could go play in the snow and then hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows.
Now snow days means I am one of the fortunate ones that can make it in to the clinic. Dr did close early on Thursday but while everyone else left at 1:00, I stayed on as there was lots still to be done. Funny how much you can get done when you shut the phones off and lock the door. LOL
Vacation days – now that just brings a smile to my lips. Although vacation in ministry requires planning and re-planning and then last-minute planning. It sometimes even means planning while you are hundreds of miles away because something has fallen through.
Sick days are no fun but sometimes what the body truly needs is rest.
Holidays are a special kind of day. Some people have to work on holidays while others have the day off. I am grateful that my job at the clinic closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this year.
I was talking with a friend yesterday about her plans for Christmas. She mentioned that she was looking forward to coming to church. As we were talking, we both agreed that our church family is indeed part of our family.
Later I was thinking about that day years ago when Curt talked with me about wanting to have a church service either in the evening on the 24th or in the morning of the 25th. It meant giving up the option of going home for Christmas.
That first Christmas in Iowa was hard. Have I mentioned that I am a momma’s girl?
Fast forward to last Sunday. Sundays in December require more planning and more practicing. It is so worth it though. This year we had a drummer debut, a couple of duets, a vocal solo, a solo with piano and guitar, and of course I blogged on the song “a baby changes everything”.
Ministry has its ups and its downs. It has those moments that you just want to shout from the mountain top the amazing things that you are seeing God do. Then there are those times when you are on your face before God asking for Him to do what only He can do. I know, that I know, that I know that God heals and yet sometimes we walk through that valley and it is hard.
So Sunday wasn’t a snow day, vacation day, sick day or a holiday but it was the day that God reminded me again that He is with me as I go around this mountain again. (Thanks Ed for being that willing vessel and sharing that Word during worship.)
Then after church Allyssa and Brent gave me this necklace. In light of my last blog this truly was God inspired.
Whatever kind of day you are having remember that God is with you and if need be He will carry you.
Jesus the reason for the season!
til next time
The other day I was riding in the car with Curt and I expressed to him that I was tired. Nothing new about that statement. I have been feeling worn out a lot lately. It seems like I wake up with very little – if any energy.
Then I said something to him that even surprised me.
I said, “No, it isn’t tired. I am weary. I think this is what weary feels like.”
Before he could say anything a song came on the radio. In the silence this is what I heard.
“I am tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy from the work it takes to keep on breathing…………….”
Tenth Avenue North — Worn from their Struggle tour
“”I know that You can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left. Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and worn.”
I don’t understand it. I am very familiar with the scripture in Galatians (6:9) “And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” and in 2 Thessalonians (3:13) “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well-doing.” I have quoted both of these numerous times.
Yet I also know that God says in Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Very much in need of rest.
I don’t get weary. At least I didn’t used to get weary. Tired, sure but that is not the same as weary. This new realization seemed to have knocked the breath right out of me. As if that wasn’t enough then this part of the song came on.
“I’m worn even before the day begins. I’m worn, I’ve lost my will to fight. I’m worn so heaven come and flood my eyes. Let me see redemption win…….”
The writer of this song understands. What’s even more important is that God understands.
I am weary of the weight of my mom’s illness (dementia), my overall work load, pay checks being short, the intense spiritual battle that comes from pastoring a small town church, insurance rates rising, being short-staffed for months at work, the pressure to always be ‘bubbly’, perimenopausal symptoms, the diet/exercise health issue, and then there are the petty issues that never used to bother me.
However, none of that means God is unaware or doesn’t care.
“I know that You can give me rest. So I cry out with all I have left. Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and worn.”
Weary. I don’t like it. This is uncharted territory for me. Yet I know that God will see me through this. He will even use all of this for my good, some how some way. I am grateful that I gave up needing to know the why’s and how’s a long time ago. I just need to know (and I do know) that God will make a way. In the meantime He will carry me until I am once again able to walk beside Him.
He will see you through your valley also and when necessary He will carry you!
So if you happen to notice that I am just not my usual self please don’t mention it. It really does put pressure on me that I have found only tires me out more. Instead just give me a hug and speak an encouraging word. I will be sure to respond with an encouraging word for you too. Isn’t that what helping each other is really all about?
This too shall pass and I am confident that I will be the better for it. To God be the glory!!!
til next time
(I blog because it helps me to put on paper what is going on in my life. God uses that to help me more clearly see what is good and what needs to change. I am constantly amazed at the goodness of God!)
There is a song out by Plumb that just about knocked me off my feet when I heard it. It truly is my heart’s cry put to music.
Every once in a while I hear a song that just grips my heart. The Warrior is a Child by Twilla Paris is one of those songs. Praise You in the Storm by Casting Crowns is another one. Blessings by Laura Story also makes the list.
“Need You Now (How many times)” by Plumb
First, she starts off with the truth that no one is isolated from pain. No one!
“Everybody’s got a story to tell. And everybody’s got a wound to be healed. I want to believe there’s beauty here. Cuz Oh I get so tired of holding on. I can’t let go. I can’t move on. I want to believe there’s meaning here.”
I believe that God is in control and therefore nothing happens without a purpose. That said, sometimes we all need to be reminded that we do believe there is beauty and meaning in our lives. God has a plan and it is good. (Jeremiah 29:11)
I was familiar with the chorus before I ever heard her sing it. “How many times have you heard me cry out ‘God, please take this’?”
“God, please take this.” I don’t know how many times I have said just that. What freedom there is in those four words. Yet sometimes we shoulder the burden for way too long before we remember to ask God to take it.
I don’t have to have all the answers. I don’t have to have it all figured out. Good thing too because so much of life doesn’t fit into a tidy little bundle of reason. Ah, but I can cry out to God to please take this and the weight can be lifted from my shoulders. He gives me a peace that passes all my understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
“How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing. Oh I need You! God, I need You now.”
God has used various ways to remind me to breathe. My favorite recently was the Dove chocolate wrapper that said “Take a deep breath”. God gives us strength to keep going, to breathe, to get through the next moment!
“Standing on a road I didn’t plan. Wondering how I got to where I am. I’m trying to hear that still small voice. I’m trying to hear above the noise.”
Peri-menopause is a road I didn’t plan. I had heard stories, lots of stories but somehow I just thought I would sail right through with little problem. I remember thinking ‘how bad can it possibly be?’ Well, I am trying to hear that still small voice. I am most definitely holding on to God. I need Him NOW!
“Trying to hear above the noise.” The first time I heard that line I practically cried. You might think that is silly but it’s been over a year now since the ringing started in my ears. Some moments I have to try very hard to hear above the noise.
“Oh I walk, Oh I walk through the shadows and I, I am so afraid. Please stay, please stay right beside me every single step I take.”
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;…” My battle with my mom’s dementia has made me so grateful that God is right beside me in every single step I take.
How many times have you heard me cry out?? How many times have you given me strength?
Everybody’s got a story to tell. Everybody’s got a wound to heal. Whatever you are going through, whatever challenge you are facing — cry out to God and let Him take it and give you in return – His strength.
til next time
You think your parents are old. My father was 56 and my mother was 38 when I was born. Yet, I was not an oops baby. That’s right, they decided at that age to have one more baby! (Lots of my cousins have children older than me.)
I was 17 when I graduated from high school. Less than two weeks later my father died. One month later my grandma died. That was a lot to process for a 17-year-old. I had questions for God that no one seemed to be able to answer. God Himself seemed very quiet.
I found myself on the fence with my Christianity. Later I would learn that sitting on the fence was really like sitting one foot inside the devil’s camp. Doing my own thing just made it easier to say no to God and that made it easier to justify my decisions.
What a slippery slope that becomes when Christians make excuses (or try to justify behavior) so they feel better.
That fall I moved into an apartment, an hour away, with my best friend. I was on my way to fulfilling my plan of becoming a CPA.
I would soon learn that best friends don’t make great roommates.
One day I came back to the apartment and she had moved out. I had lost my roommate and my best friend. So in less than six months I had lost my father, my grandmother and my best friend.
I had lots of unanswered questions.
I finished up the semester, moved home, enrolled in a college closer to home, got engaged to a ‘good’ guy and continued on my course of being a CPA.
Finally, God got my attention in a huge way. No more sitting on the fence, I had to make a decision. It was my “Jonah” experience. I wasn’t in the belly of a fish but I might as well have been. Either God was who He said He was and could be trusted with all of me or He wasn’t. Either God was going to get all of me or none of me. I couldn’t imagine a life without God but God made it clear that He was not going to rubber stamp approval on my plan.
Deep down I hungered for that intimacy I once had with God. I had tasted and seen that God was good. (Psalm 34:8) I knew that He had a plan for me. (Jeremiah 29:11) Yet, I still had those unanswered questions.
I stopped running and sent off my application to Bible college. It was a turning point in my life. I gave up all my dreams for His plans for me even though I didn’t have a clue what those plans were.
Looking back I see how small my dreams really were. God has huge plans for His kids and it is never an even trade. God gives so much more than He asks us to lay down!
That first year of Bible college was amazing. I was like a sponge being saturated with the love of God. An interesting thing started to happen. I found answer after answer to my questions just by reading the Word of God. God isn’t ever truly silent. He has page after page after page of communication. All we have to do is pick up the Bible and read it.
God graciously dealt with me about the issue of my engagement. That was the last thing for me to lay down. I tried hard to justify that relationship. Did I really mean it when I said not my will but Yours Lord? Was I going to settle for something less than God’s will?
Love is a strong driving force. It finally came down to who I loved more. God heals a broken heart and I got to experience that first hand.
After graduation I found myself wondering what was next. Through a chain of events I ended up managing the college deli during the day. It was great. I love people and had plenty of opportunity to be used by God.
Months later I would meet the guy who would sweep me off my feet.
We met at the end of January, got engaged in May and married in August. He says it had to happen fast so that I wouldn’t have time to change my mind. Having broken off two engagements I was just a little jumpy about serious relationships. I had to know that I know that I know that this was indeed the one. I refused to settle for anything less than God’s best!
God does make His will clear to us, if we wait on Him. I truly married my very best friend. The good, the bad, the great, the very difficult — we have had it all and I am sure there are plenty of hills and valleys in our future but a three-fold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
then came children (to be continued)
Here we are at 25 years!
til next time
I enjoy the Mutts cartoon in the Sunday paper. My favorite one is Mooch’s diary. All it says is: Life is good. Yesh! I have that cartoon posted on my printer at work. What a great reminder.
Recently the Mutts cartoon had a bunch of red roses with Mooch saying Everything’s coming up roses. That cartoon now resides on my 2nd printer at work. Another great reminder.
The Bible is filled with reminders. (2 Peter 1:1-15, 2 Tim 2:1-14, 1 Corinthians 4:17, Romans 15:15 to name just a few that I have looked at recently)
Certainly there are all sorts of things that go on each day that attempt to rob me of my joy and peace. Yet, I choose whether or not that happens. You see no one or nothing can steal my joy or my peace. It is not based on external circumstances but on an internal relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ.
After all, I believe God is indeed in control of my life and very much aware of everything that is going on. Therefore the situations that come across my path happen for a reason. I recognize that I may never know that reason this side of heaven. Yet I trust in the One who holds my life – that He is working things out for my good. (Romans 8:28) What absolute peace there is in knowing that God is in control and I can leave every situation with Him and walk in peace.
I’d love to say that I always walk in peace. I can say that I have grown and am growing in learning how to stay at peace. I have learned that when I allow things to bother me, it isn’t long and peace is gone. When I refuse to allow things to bother me, peace stays. So you would think that would be a no brainer, right?
Yet sometimes I just get tired of the battle. What battle? The battle between staying positive or letting negativity creep in. The battle between faith and worry. The battle between God-pleasing or people pleasing. The battle between giving someone what they deserve or extending grace and mercy to them. Yes, sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I even get an attitude. Sometimes life is coming at me so fast and furious that I forget that I have crucified my flesh until there it is affecting my peace.
However, all the time God is with me and wooing me to come unto Him. His Word is filled with reminders of what to do when we find ourselves overwhelmed.
So I need reminders. I have found that at work I need more reminders. My office is filled with scripture cards and uplifting pictures. They are reminders that I have a choice. Choose life! Abundant life!
Everything’s coming up roses!
I choose to see the beauty even when my heart is breaking.
I choose to walk in love even when it is rejected by a long time friend.
I choose to speak kindness even when I am being verbally attacked.
I choose to offer grace to those who trample all over my feelings.
I choose to refuse to be offended and become a bitter old lady. (Psalm 119:165)
In my weakness Christ is strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
What do you choose?
til next time