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Shepard

I woke up early this morning and realized I was sleeping with the bible. Lights were blaring and there I was curled up around my maroon and pink slim version of God’s word. I smirked and though, well, I’ve woken up under worse circumstances. I like to read a little before going to sleep and last night I turned to Psalm 23.. I knew I needed it’s cool calm message. What struck me was the idea that God MAKES us lie down in green pastures. I drifted off to sleep thinking about what were my green pastures and what role God played in making me lie in them. A pasture is where we receive our sustenance, it’s where we are fed so that we can grow. My church is a pasture, and God forced me to lie in it. I was not eager to attend there or anywhere but it was clear through other circumstances that God wanted ME there. Oh what a place of refuge for my family it has become! Thank you Thank you God for this pasture!

 

My new job is another hand picked pasture. You can read in a previous note how that came to be, but I can tell you it is such a source of joy and growth.

 

My parents, my little family, my friends… pastures abound!

 

Today isn’t the easiest of days for me to face. I’ll keep the details to myself, but I wanted to share that God has made sure that the pastures abound in the middle of any pain and anxiety. I find myself looking forward to the time spent with friends WAY more than I’m dreading any distress. I am so in awe of these accommodations God has provided for me… I am giddy in anticipation… I fear no evil, for He is with me. He is LITERALLY preparing a table before me (at Apollo Beach.. nice!) and I had to share all this because my cup is so overflowing.

Wallowing in Scripture

      This week I struggled, I was so mad at myself for the resurgence of anger overcoming me and just seeping into every aspect of my life.  It didn’t help that my two-year-old was sick for most the week, aka GROUCHY.  I can do feverish, lethargic, sweet baby, sick kid, I struggle with the grouchy, mean, demanding, sick, kid.  One thing led to another and before you knew it I was right back to the place I never wanted to be again, so consumed with anger for my circumstances, so speechless at what had been done to me, so helpless at the direction life was quickly moving, demanding why and  feeling so utterly betrayed by the one man who for 13 years had meant the world to me. 

  “Why do I feel all this again?!” I demanded of God in prayer from my pit of self pity.

His answer was simple, “You’ve been here before then you know the way out.”

  You see God has provided for me a life line.  When a I slip into questioning and hurting and finally get so overwhelmed I remember Him and ask for help here is how He does it… through his Word.  It was a big Ah-ha moment for me when I realized a couple of months ago just how powerful memorizing scripture instead of dwelling on my anger could be.    So  here is my journey this week wallowing in scripture:

There were a couple of key verses that really struck me.  The first came when I was sending scripture to a family member who was facing big change in his life, I quoted: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ”  Jeremiah 29:11    I could relate to the discarded feeling my family member felt.. but I pondered the Lords plans for my life.. what does a hope and a future look like for me?  My faith in that right now is paper-thin.. but it’s there.

The next scripture I came across was: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  Hebrews 12:1-2
This was the first time I’ve ever paid attention to the beginning of that verse… surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses… Well, I can relate to that.. my story attracts looky loos.. most with honest and good intentions but at times I feel like the train wreck folks can’t turn away from.  These aren’t my close friends.. trust me, my friends have had more than their fair share of my ouch; they aren’t there to watch, they are the first responders getting dirty with me and my pain allowing me to cry on their shoulder, take me out, to just BE with me.  But I AM being watched, on Facebook, at School pick-up, and even at church some.  It’s not a bad thing, I certainly don’t think so and clearly neither does Paul as he writes in Hebrews essentially, “Look we’re being watched  so lets walk the path set before us with perseverance. ”  This might be a source of why I spent the better half of the week angry at myself for feeling angry again.

“Look God, I’m being WATCHED.. let’s get going with the healing already!!”

Here is the next scripture I was struck by.. this one like a brick.  We read the 13th chapter of Matthew this week, It was Jesus’s explanation for the parable of the Sower:

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I felt so much like the person whose seed fell among the thorns this week.. the worries  and pain of life were choking out the word.. I felt unfruitful, utterly. 

“See God I need to heal so I can be fruitful!!”

But quickly it occurred to me that I could be fruitful right where I am, still hurting and working through anger.. I didn’t have to wait, I shouldn’t wait, NOW was the time God was going to use me, people were watching and it’s was time I strapped on my “perseverance shoes.”  This hurting heart could coexist with a serving soul.. maybe even enhance it!

I don’t have the strength to get through this, alone I am puny, throbbing, angry, and without direction.  I have been given WAY more than I can handle, but I can do all things in Christ who give me strength. Philippians 4:13  God knows the plans for me.. remember his Hope and a Future?  Well the next verse in Jeremiah often get’s left off so I’ll repeat Jeremiah 29:11 and include 12.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

To answer the question I asked God at the beginning of the week, why do I have to hurt again or be angry again?  The answer is because it draws me closer to him in the end.  The more I embrace the reality that is His plan for me the more I call on Him, depend on Him and pray to Him.  I don’t have much to offer others who watch this train wreck other than a love story of eternal consequences.  I will run with perseverance the path marked out for us, I will embrace God’s plan for my life even though I don’t understand it, I will be the good soil, even in my weaknesses knowing that God can use me right where I am, not because of who I am but because of who HE is.

Is all the pain gone? have I shrugged off all my anger?  Not at all, which means I have ample excuse to pray, and listen to my Maker as I work towrds my goal of forgiveness.  Hallelujah for being right where I need to be.

Friends

Still reading.. We are just finishing up our first week in the New Testament.  Ahhh… Today’s reading was Mark 2, the story about the paraplegic. I don’t really know what it is like to be a paraplegic, I can only imagine how hard it might be.  I have an acquaintance who paints using his teeth because he can not use his hands to hold a paint brush.  He is a great example of how to make the best of life’s circumstances, but I’m not going to make light of his disability nor disregard it.  He doesn’t let it define him, but it is a part of him… And it is this aspect I can relate to.  I have now been divorced for 3 months, and it’s been some of the hardest months of my life emotionally.. and yet… I am surviving, healing and moving on. Divorce does not define me… but it is a part of who I am.  I am learning to be ok with that. 

    What I felt like I could relate to the most, and it struck me like a sledge-hammer this morning spawning joyful tears of thanksgiving, what just how much I can relate to the having friends like the paraplegic’s friends.  The kind who are by your side and willing to help you even when the path seems to be blocked.  The kind that would drag you to the roof top of a home, pry away the shingles of the roof and lower you down so your broken body could rest at the feet of Jesus.  My friends have put up with my tears, my anger, my feelings of hopelessness, my deep sadness and led me again and again to the feet of Jesus.  My friends have many faces, my pastor, his wife, sons and daughter- in-laws, my bible study girlfriends,  friends here, friends from long ago, friends I only know through a computer screen bonded by the miracle of adoption, my neighbors, my mother, father, brother, my mother-in-law, and my entire ex-husband’s family.  With love that knew few bonds they tended to me, read scripture to me, and sometimes simply sat by me when no words could heal the pain.  God gave me hand-picked friends with hearts so tender and so kind.  They drug me up onto roof tops to lower me down at the feet of Jesus because they loved me and believed in HIM.

   What Jesus has said to me is much like what he has said to the paraplegic. “[daughter] I forgive your sins.” With my friend’s help, I have embraced the reality that the path to healing, to be able to walk again, THAT path is through forgiveness.  Just as I am forgiven I too MUST forgive.. and with that forgiveness comes freedom.  Like the man who could not walk, when I forgive I suddenly feel as though I can walk again for the first time. 

     I am not defined by my divorce but it is a part of who I am… I am thankful, because through this I get to be an example of how God’s love and forgiveness heals like no other.

“Get up. Pick up your stretcher and go home.” And the man did it—got up, grabbed his stretcher, and walked out, with everyone there watching him. They rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then praised God, saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this!”

Sitting out a few

Ok confession time.. Grad school has eaten away a lot of the time I had to blog.. additionally I simply do not like the Prophets. It hurts me to read. A lot of it has to do with what I’m dealing with emotionally. So, Sorry Jeremiah and Ezekiel, I’ll come back and read you at a later date when I’ve had some more healing time.. I look forward to Daniel and Esther!!

It’s been over two weeks since I posted here.  My goal was to read the bible in a year.  I’m still on track  and doing that, just not blogging about it at the moment.  The prophecies are hard and I can’t quite feel much for them.  Yes we get it, they were BAD people.. WHY was this much literature dedicated to explaining that?

This is hard, reading the Bible like this, I needed to do it so I could fill in the gaps, so I could say yes I’ve read the whole bible not just the same verses over and over.  But man this format is rough and dry and it doesn’t leave much explanation.  I believe in a benevolent God but the God I’m reading about is not coming across as benevolent.  Could someone explain to me how they reconcile the God of forgiveness with the God of revenge?  I don’t mean to question but it’s not sitting right with me.  It’s the same God, He doesn’t change.  So what changes between the Babylonian Conquest of Israel and Judah and the time of Jesus?

Day 148

Day 145

Day 145 1 Chronicles 23-25

In The Begining.

Tomorrow I will start reading God’s road map, may in enrich my life and lead me closer to my creator.