Why I Am Thankful

November 16th 2011

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving in America.  November has become a month of thankfulness for many, a time when we reflect on those things we are thankful for.

I am thankful for so many amazing things in my life, but this week I am thankful for something very odd.  I am thankful for a 6 year medical battle that even months ago I didn’t think would end.  Odd, yes.  Yet when I reflect on what I learned I cannot be other then thankful, for I gained something more valuable then health in the midst of the trial.

I learned how faithful God id to me.  He gave me his comfort, strength, peace, shelter, and presence.  I am thankful that I have been the recipient of his grace and mercy.  I was able to see how God works on my behalf.  During these 6 years I was able to experience God’s promises in reality.  I learned that God’s character is unchanging and unwavering.  God walked me through the battle, never leaving me.  I am thankful for the battle because I was able to experience God in a way I would not otherwise have.

It may seem odd to be thankful for the battle that seems to have no end.  Yet without the battle I would not have experienced God’s goodness in the same way.  I would have missed out on seeing him work on my behalf, I would not have learned the joy that comes with trial.  Seeing God work for me in battle taught me to have joy because of who God is, what he has done for me, is doing for me, and will do for me.  I have learned to have joy regardless of my circumstance, because I know first hand how faithful God is.  I am thankful that I experienced a trial that taught me that, for I know that in all my circumstances God is unchanging, faithful, and good.

Not What I Wanted

August 22nd 2011

I never wanted to be sick. I never wanted to stay home. I never wanted to home school. I never wanted to live in the middle of nowhere. I got sick. I can’t work. I followed my husband to the middle of nowhere. I home school because it’s our only good option.

I have given up my career, I have given up my freedom, I have given up my friendships, I have stopped going to church’s I loved, I have to do things I know I am not good at. Everyday of my life is a struggle.

I don’t have one person in my life who can even possibly come close to understanding how difficult it is for me every day. How everything I do takes so much more effort then it should. How when I screw up simple things it hurts because it reminds me of why everything is so hard. It’s all so hard because my memory is screwed up, my concentration is bad, and I hurt all the time.

Hurt, I just hurt. Nothing makes it go away. I try every day to pretend it isn’t there, but it is. Some of the things I do are so painful, but I do them anyway because other people are counting on me, because I made commitments and I try very hard to honor those. I pretend because I refuse to allow my body to stop me from doing things.

There is nothing anyone can do to change some of these things, they are facts. What they can do is try to see my life through my eyes.  Watch me very closely in an attempt to see how what I am doing at that moment causes me pain. To see how my memory or concentration might make it difficult. Try to understand that the things I do I don’t do because they are easy but because I am committed to them. Even the things I choose to do, like play drums, hurt. Yet I do those things because I have to have things in my life that I choose to do out of joy, not obligation.

I understand more fully then most will what God means when he tells us to consider it all joy when we face trials. I cannot name one year in the last 8 that has not come with some kind of heart breaking trial. First my mom died, then I lost a baby, I ended up sick and out of my career, I had 3 brain surgeries, my house was flooded and chaos followed, my arms didn’t work for a week, and I had to start home schooling. All too many times I cried to God “why? why do you have to teach me in such difficult ways?” His answer has always been “so you will see more of me”.

I see more of Him, I see his nature. I understand what it is to have his comfort, his strength, his shelter, his arms to hold me up, his ears to hear my cries. I still wonder why God had to teach me all of this through such difficulty, instead of letting me learn it another way.

Then I remember that what I have been through has not been just to teach me, but to teach others as well. To teach my husband and son what it means to stand firm on God’s promises and watch him answer them. Do we have all our desires, do we get a yes to all we ask of God? No. But we can know this, His plan is greater then we can see, His intention for us is greater then we can imagine. He knows where he wants us, what he wants us doing, and when.

I can’t figure out why he has me in the middle of desert, homeschooling, not able to work, and in pain. I cannot figure out how all of this makes sense, but I will keep following him. I will keep trusting him. If I am going to do that I have to trust that he has put my husband and son into my life because he intends it for my good.

I might not be happy, but I will find joy because I know He is working where I cannot see. I know he is doing the same for my husband and son that he is doing for me, making me more like him. He might keep taking me through things I don’t like, making me do things I’m not good at, he may allow me to stay in pain, but in all of it I will try to keep looking for his hand to move.

I can see him moving. I see him moving in my husband, my son, and myself. I can see how he has molded each of us, changed us. I see him leading my husband, and I see how he has given him knowledge, wisdom, guidance, discernment. I will keep trusting that he has placed each of them in my life for my good. I may not always be happy, but I will keep following, even when I disagree. I will keep following, even when I can’t understand. I will keep following, because it gives me joy. My life is not what I thought it would be, but it is better because my life has allowed me to see God moving. My life means I got to be the recipient to answered promises. My life means I have had the privilege of watching him work in my husband and son.

I am glad my life is not what I wanted it to be. Even if it means I lost my career, I am in the middle of nowhere, doing what I never wanted to, and in pain. I am glad God gave me the life he wanted me to have.

What Is Your Passion?

October 13th 2010

When we have a passion for something it becomes part of who we are.  Combine having a passion with our spiritual gifts and it becomes essential to our growth and to the building up of the church.  When we can’t fully exercise that passion, it is like taking a part of who we are away.  All have them spiritual gifts, and we should all be using them in the body of Christ.  What is your passion?

Now imagine if the ability to exercise that passion was taken away from you or if circumstances change to make it harder for you to fully exercise that passion.  How would you respond?  Hurt, frustrated, discouraged.  That is how I feel right now.  My passion in the church is youth ministry, teaching youth.  When I was first a believer someone I knew recognized something in me I didn’t yet know was there.  I started working with Jr. Highers with an amazing group of people and fell in love with youth ministry.  I was able to exercise my gifts and loved it.  Through the last 18 years I have, with little exception, worked in youth ministry.  The times I didn’t were frustrating to me because I was not exercising my gifts doing what I had a passion for.  When I am exercising those gifts doing what the Lord has given me a passion for, I experience the most growth in my life, and the most joy in my relationship with the Lord.  When something stands in the way of that it becomes frustrating, then it hurts.  My challenge is to not allow that to effect my relationship with the Lord.  Circumstances constantly change, and the Lord desires for us to exercise our gifts regardless of those circumstances.

So here is my question for you.  What is your passion and how are using your gifts to fulfill that in the body of Christ?  Have you discovered that ministry that has become a part of who you are?  Do you feel as if a part of you is missing when you are not fully exercising your gifts in that ministry?  If you have found that never allow a circumstance to change your passion and take that part of you away.  If you have not found how you can use your gifts and discovered a ministry you have passion for, look for it.  Ask the Lord to lead you to it, for when you find it your joy will overflow and you will be blessed in your relationship with the Lord.  As for me, though I am frustrated and discouraged, I will use my gifts in youth ministry regardless of the changing circumstances, because if I don’t I will letting a part of me get taken away.

Today will be the first official day of my vacation!  I am heading off to go on a cruise with my step mom and step sister to Alaska.  Alaska has been on my list of places to see for years and when we talked about going on a cruise together this was the obvious choice.  Originally it was suppose to include my sister and my brothers wife, but for various reasons neither one of them could come with us.  So today I go to Salt Lake to spend the next ocuple of nights, then Saturday I fly out to Seattle.

On Thursday night while I am in Salt Lake I will attend a dance recital in which 4 of my nieces will play roles.  My husbands oldest niece, who is 16, has been asking for some time for us to see her dance, and I am excited that I finally get to do that.  Seeing another person do what they love is always a joy because their excitement and joy is contagious.  It is never possible to see someone get so much joy out of something and not smile.

So it is with God when He has given us a passion for something and we act on that passion.  He is pleased and joyful when we are doing what He has asked of us.  Not only that, it gives Him honor because we have given proper place in our life to what He has asked of us.  When do what God has asked of us others also see us take part in what we have a passion for and that allows them to take part in the joy we have, for that kind of joy is contagious.

So Thursday night I will have the opportunity to share in the joy that my niece gets when she is doing something God has given her a passion for.  That kind of joy can’t be replaced, for the best source of joy is in the Lord and knowing He is pleased with us.  When we have a passion for something the Lord has asked us to do, and we act on that, the joy we receive is often more then we expected, for we cannot comprehend the extend of the Lord’s pleasure in our obedience.  So I will continue to do what the Lord asks of me so that I can not only experience that joy, but share it with others.  This week while I am gone I will love well, and take advantage of the opportunities the Lord gives me to experience that kind of joy.

Generosity is a curious thing.  It automatically stirs in people the thoughts of money, the idea that they must give it.  Generosity is more then money, it is more then a behavior, it is an attitude.  It is a driving spirit that says “this isn’t mine so therefore I do not decide what is done with it.”  Generosity goes beyond belongings to emotions and attitudes, it is more then money.  It is tells a person that what they have they share, including all that God has given them.

Generosity drives a person to give what they have to another.  So if a person has extra time, they use to benefit another person.  If they have extra money, they use it to the benefit of another person.  If they have love they share it with another person, if they have joy it overflows onto others.  Generosity drives a generous person to give what they have to another person because they operate on the belief that it does not belong to them.  Who then does it belong to?  The Lord.  The Lord is the one who gives us our resources, He also gives us love joy peace patience kindness goodness gentleness and self control.  Since all of these belong to the Lord, we should all be generous with them, giving them to others.

So here is a question for you.  How generous are you with your Love?  With your kindness?  Your patience?  Is Generosity something that you can ask the Lord to build more of in you?

Hardware removal

December 5th 2008

Last week I was in the hospital for one day having “hardware removal”.  Sounds strange until you know my medical history, including the fact that I have titanium pins and screws in my head.  One of these pins and two screws were removed because they were coming loose.  This was causing pain of course, and they were removed with the hope that the pain across the right side of my head would go away.  I won’t know the outcome of this until the staples are removed.

It is interesting, when we are in pain, what we are willing to go through to have it go away. At times the means of getting rid of the initial pain are worse then the inital pain itself.  Going in the operating room, and walking around with staples in my head is not easy task, however in the end it should be worth it if the pain caused by the loose screw goes away!

With God there have been times in my life when He was trying to strip something from my life because it didn’t reflect Him that seemed terribly painful at the time, but in the end turned out to be well worth the result!  These can be superficial things, emotional attachments, all sorts of things.  One thing that he had to take from me to bring me to where I am today was the pride I held in the accomplishments in my career.  My job was a trophy to me.  The job itself was not the issue, it was the status I placed on it, the position I gave it in my life.  God tells us to put nothing before Him.  I was doing that.  I was finding my joy in something other then Him.  I could not do that on a long term basis and continue running the race He laid out for me without crumbling.

Having God place me on His anvil and strip that pride from my heart was painful.  I did not want to admit it, to show God that I was wrong, to admit that though I knew I was suppose to put Him first I was not always doing that.  In the end when I finally did, something amazing happened.  I began to find a joy that could only come from having a solid relationship with Chirst that was consistent, and from having put Him first always.  It is not an easy task to have Chirst mold us on His Anvil sometimes.  The Anvil has been painful at times, especially when God has reached into the depths of who I have identified myself as.  However, the results have always been well worth it!