Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sometimes I Wish

Thank you Kathy Brunner for your introduction. I loved your post and how dedicated you are to raising awareness of things we would rather not see. You have such depth and yes, fire!  I am honored to have been invited to participate in this "blog hop" with such amazing bloggers from around the world. I am also humbled, and after much reflection and meditation, the following came to me. This is different than what I usually write, but as always, this is from the soul. I hope it speaks to you.

Sometimes I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. You set impossible standards for yourself. I see in you the person you dreamed you would be. I see the things you never thought you could do, how many obstacles you have gotten past and how many times you have overcome.

Sometimes I wish you could stop and see that you've already realized your dream. Now you have a new dream and it is good to not stand still but I do want you to take a step back and revel in how far you have come. I want you to look back and see where you were. Remember the person you were and cherish the incredible person you are now.

Sometimes I wish you could see past the brave, confident woman I portray myself to be and know that I am not much different than you are. I learned to be a fighter, I didn't have a choice. I have a perfectly molded mask I wear when the need is there. Sometimes, I don't know when to take it off. That's when I wish I was more like you.

Sometimes I wish there wasn't a reason to learn all I did, as a lot of that learning came from a lot of pain. When I remember, I can feel the sharp edges of emotion like a perfect storm descending upon me from different directions. I don't believe in regrets or what if's- but sometimes I wish I could write my own story from the beginning; starting fresh with blank white pages.

Sometimes I wish all of these things, and then I realize, once more, that I am who I am meant to be, and so are you. The person who I am is a culmination of the experiences I have had, what I have learned from them and how God used it all to shape what is now a life full of meaning and purpose. Through it all, God left me with a soft heart, so I could know others' pain and support them through. I stand up for what I believe in and I fight for others who cannot fight for themselves. Yet I still have this soft heart, and when I pay a price for standing up and stepping out, it can hurt a lot. Sometimes I wish my heart didn't feel so heavy, but I praise God that it is full. I can say that I have really lived, I have known such deep pain, but I have also know incredible feelings of joy. I think back to C.S. Lewis' "Shadow Lands,"the story of his own life. C.S. Lewis played it safe for many years, until the American poet Joy Gresham stole his heart. The story is one of finding true happiness; the love of a lifetime, and also of suffering the devastating loss of that love. We risk pain every time we try, every time we step out. I love his quote that pain rouses a deaf world.

And so, I wish for all and for myself, that you are brave enough to step out, open enough to dance with the wind, wise enough to step slowly but deliberately, patient enough to take one step at a time and to always remember that it isn't the destination, but the journey that matters. My journey is like climbing a mountain. Walking with my Savior and helping others in their fights is an uphill climb. How amazing it is finding that beautiful place where one can rest and look out, to see a breathtaking view. In my weakness and humanity I wish so many things, but then, I look up, find I am a little closer to Heaven, and thank God for that mountain view.

And now we move on from me and "The Spirit In Me" in Southern Georgia, to Patricia in the U.K. Patricia is a gentle spirit who uses her struggles to reach out to others in a deep and profound way. I was delighted to read her 7 part blog and peruse the unique and inspirational style that is hers. I am sure you will enjoy reading Patricia's writing. To go to Pat's post (click here.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?

The fruits of love grow all around
But for me they come a tumblin' down.
Every day heartaches grow a little stronger,
I can't stand this pain much longer!
I walk in shadows,
Searching for light.
Cold and alone,
No comfort in sight.
Hoping and praying for someone to care,
Always moving and goin' nowhere.
~From "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin

The shock never goes away; when someone gives up; when they lose all hope. One last decision, sometimes in haste, sometimes a deliberate plan. When one cannot find comfort, when they can't see past the pain, and no one knows they are in pain. Some may have never experienced that kind of pain, blessed to never have experienced the kind of pain that never stops crying for an end. There is more than one way to lose someone. The first thing that comes to mind is suicide. Sometimes they disappear, and we don't hear from them again. Sometimes they go back to a place in time where they took all the escapes from the pain, such as overindulging in alcohol or drugs, or living a lifestyle that is one that does not define them, only their desire to drown the pain.

What does a broken heart look like? I don't know, do you? How many people do you pass by each day who are suffering in silence? Where it hurts the most there are no words, no reaching out, no cries that anyone can hear. Sometimes, Jesus wants to love his people through one of us. Are you open enough to let Him use you? Are you willing to love the ones He puts in your path, who may not be the ones you would choose to love?  When you look down at someone, could you be looking at the face of Christ? When you turn the other way, are you turning away from Jesus? These are very difficult questions to ask and more difficult to honestly answer.

It is much easier to leave these things to someone else, someone we feel may be more qualified to handle these situations. What an easy cop out! We all know what pain feels like. We tell others about trusting God to give us answers, to speak through us; where does that go when we back out of an uncomfortable situation? 

We are all broken people, and we all need God. We are His creation and we belong to Him. Without Him, we are incomplete. A smile, a handshake, letting people see Jesus in us, all can make an impact one cannot imagine. We expect ourselves to have answers, but just being there, just walking along side someone who is in a pain can give them the strength to go on. Sometimes God asks us to be the one to walk alongside someone for Him. 

God asks us to love Him with our whole hearts; He also tells us to love our neighbors not only as ourselves, but as He loves us. Especially in a world as it is today, God wants and needs us to do our part. How many of us pick what we want our part to be, and miss the part that God puts in front of us and wants us to do for Him?

Lord, help us all to be open to your mission and will for us today. Where there are our own desires, please remove them and replace them with yours. Give us the will, trust and faith to do your will, however difficult it may appear to be. In Jesus name, Amen.

Scriptures to ponder:

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:3

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

~John 13:35

To view "The Face Of Christ" click here

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Story I Love To Tell

A young woman spends several months preparing to let go of her long-suffering sister…
Her sister takes a turn for the better and is released after over a year of hospitalization.

A woman estranged from her two brothers for ten years after the death of their mother . . .
Her brother calls her twice in one week and they have been reconnecting.

Another woman harbors hurt and mistrust towards a loved one…
She and her loved one are now in counseling and confronting, confessing and releasing what has stood between them.

It is so wonderful when God’s love and healing power moves in our lives in such obvious ways.  In all of these situations mentioned above God has changed what seemed to be almost hopeless circumstances. The three woman mentioned above are all part of a new Christ-centered support group. I have been blessed to witness how God is transforming the lives of our support group members while we meet and pray, shared the Word, and provide encouragement and support to each other.

I am so blessed to be a part of a group that is seeking God in the deepest, most sincere way. Each member has an incredible story to tell, and it is amazing to see them caring and supporting each other despite having so much to live with and deal with individually. God has done incredible things in their lives, providing testimonies that declare to the world "look at what God has done!" Their lives are far from perfect, and they have still face immense struggles, but I am seeing scripture come alive in these people.

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

When we personally have a chronic or devastating illness, or we have a loved one with such an illness, trials are a common occurrence and they can sometimes last through long periods of time. Recovery does come, many times in the form of spiritual recovery.  Complete physical recovery will often only come when our loved one or we is made complete in his presence in Heaven.  Accepting this is a hard pill to swallow, as it was for Paul, when he asked God three times to remove his thorn.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10

I have learned so much from our group members. I see the Holy Spirit in each of them as I have watched them praise despite their personal storms, witness to others facing storms, and always be transparent about their struggles. We walk in grace together,helping each other  through the valleys and sharing the view from the mountaintops.

Thank you Lord for giving each of us that view! Thank you for always being with us, no matter what is happening and for always bringing us through! Thank you for teaching us that Your grace is sufficient in our weakness!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The End of Me

It was a cold, lonely place. It was so dark, I couldn't see ahead of me. This was supposed to be recovery? How could this be recovering? I didn't remember ever feeling worse than this. I kept thinking about how trapped I felt inside my mind and my body. There had to be something better than this, but how could it possibly be here? It seemed like a never ending circle of dark thoughts and feelings that I had no control of. It felt like the end for me, and it was.

I went through some pretty traumatic things in my life, and there was so much I carried around inside of me. What came from that was self-loathing, fear and an isolation that was present even when I was around people. It's hard to believe now that I was feeling so desperate and hopeless. There was nothing left, nothing but God. The God who I felt had let me down. Where was He when I needed Him most? How could he let the things happen to me that he did?

So in my hopelessness,I talked to God, I yelled at God and I cried to God. Little did I know that was my new beginning. I had a long way to go. A lifetime of hurt, anger, disappointment and betrayal to work through. Surprisingly it didn't take a lifetime to work through. When I came to the end of myself, I came to the beginning of me. It was amazing! I was able to stand with a new strength, and walk like I hadn't before. I didn't realize it at the time, but instead of giving up, I gave in, to my Lord and Savior. This was true surrender. What did I gain? On the outside, my life gradually changed. On the inside, I learned to cope instead of survive. I learned how to let God and people in, and let them love me. I wasn't able to forgive, but I was able to let God forgive through me. That was the biggest and final chain that was broken. When I forgave, it was the biggest gift I could give myself.

This journey has been amazing. I never thought my life could be this way. There are plenty of challenges and difficulties that life brings, but Jesus is always there. He always helps me through. I am able to be someone I never thought I could be because I let Him change me. I see things through different eyes. I am able to do things I never thought I could do all because of this new beginning.

It's when you're at the end
You find a new beginning
It's when you hold God's hand
That he will lead the way
It's hard when you can't see
Don't you know faith is blind
Let yourself fall into his arms
And leave yourself behind

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Phillipians 4:6-9

This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. There have been so many times when I have said to myself,"I can't wait to experience that kind of peace someday." What I have come to realize is that I already have experienced it. In my mind, it's like being in the eye of the storm: a place of calm with chaos all around. Some of us look forward to better times, being healthier, or being okay in the secular sense of what okay means. God has given me peace,and I would venture to say that He has given it to many of you as well. I cannot count how many times I have had several serious things go wrong at the same time. Any one of these things could push someone over the edge, but through God’s strength I have been able to find peace. Even in the midst of uncertainty, worry, fear and heartache,I can see how many times in my past that this passage has been realized in my life.

This peace may not last very long; the earthly world doesn't allow that. Those days, hours, or even moments when I feel fine, and have that feeling of almost floating along, is the peace that my Savior promised me. It's kind of funny when I think about it now, because God really does always answer my prayers. When I ask him to guide me, He does and often to somewhere I would not have chosen on my own. When I ask Him to intervene, He always does and sometimes in ways I don’t like. When I pray according to His will, that is exactly what I receive from him. In the long run I know that He lets me go through the valleys to make me grow and help me become the person He wants me to be.

I can only imagine what it will be like to have eternal peace someday. In those times when the chaos around me doesn't matter, I think He is providing me a glimpse of what is in store for me. When I only focus on what is pure, lovely and true, that feeling lasts longer. Nothing else and no one else can take me to that place of peace. I hope and pray that you have that peace as well. I want you to know my God, one who so loves me and who is merciful, faithful and true. I wish you the depth of love and understanding that only He can give, and the peace that surpasses all understanding.