Tuesday, February 25, 2014

God's amazing Grace!!!

16yrs ago I accepted Christ as my Savior. I found the peace that comes with the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. I also embarked on a journey with Christ that has at times been very very lonely. Now I have not faced in those 16yrs the same trials that other brothers and sisters in Christ over seas have faced. I have not come close to being murdered for my faith and I have never been beaten for my faith either. I do not, nor will I ever probably be able to even imagine what those Brothers and Sisters have been through. I praise God for them and the strength that He gives to them, I pray for them that they will continue to have the joy and peace that comes only from knowing HIM.

I have, however, faced isolation for my faith. I was the Jesus Freak in high school and probably rightfully so. I have grown since high school in faith and in knowledge I am a more gracious and loving person now. But honestly High School sucked because of my faith and commitment to Christ and living for him. I don't regret it at all...Just saying, it was lonely, hard and I was thankful it was over when it was lol. Bottom line is I didn't fit in.

I didn't fit in at school, and I didn't even fit in at home. Those of you who know me at all from that time know my dad was not a kind man when it came to me going to church. He hated it, was very anti-church, anti-God, he had his reasons for it, dealing with hypocritical Christians in his school when he was growing up, and unfortunately just not meeting many Christians in his adult life either that treated him like he was a real person. It makes me sad that to this day my dad has probably only met a handful of Christians that didn't look at him like he was a peace of trash that would taint them with his stench if they talked to him. It just challenges me even more to live more fully for the Lord so that in hopes one day he would see the Love of Christ and not just sinful people that claim to love Christ but don't want to act on it. However I won't go into any more discussion on that as it is an entirely different subject. My teen years were hard and difficult but I wouldn't change them, those years are what God used to mold me and to shape my faith.

I could go into so many more details but I desire to keep this as brief as possible so I won't. I will say though that during the first 8yrs of my Christian life I felt an extreme sense of loneliness. I longed to have the same connection with my family the way that others had with theirs. I just couldn't, no matter how hard I tried, my relationship with Christ and the way I lived my life separated me from them. It was as I often described like I was on one side of the Grand Canyon and my family was on the other. And my spending time with them felt like I was using a bull horn to communicate with them. That loneliness eased when God brought me my husband and his family that too were believers I finally felt connected again to an earthly family. But my heart still always longed to have the same connection with members of my own immediate family. So I prayed and I prayed for God's redeeming grace to come to them. It didn't come but I took hope that one day that it just might so I kept praying.

I prayed for 16yrs before someone in my family came to have the peace from the forgiveness of sins that comes only from knowing Christ. 16yrs. And during much of that time I had no idea how God was working in their lives. On February 23rd, 2014 I had the privilege to witness my Grandfather and my Mother participating in believers baptism. In the 7days that I have even known of their faith in Christ I have seen not only them profess that faith but live it out. Today my Grandfather encouraged my heart in a way that only a follower of Christ could. He lifted me up in the midst of, what felt like, a disastrous trial, and he pointed my eyes back to Christ. the Lord used my grandfather in a way that I truly felt blessed and was reminded of God's promises and truth. And then when I thanked him he pointed the praise back to God and said it was all of God and none of Him.  My mother, for the first time in a long time, also encouraged my heart, lifted me up with her prayers, and too pointed me back to Christ. I shared with her that I no longer feel like it's just me in the one side of the Grand Canyon.

I don't share any of this to get sympathy for the hard lonely times of my life. I don't want sympathy, I share this and only the few details I have shared to show God's amazing Grace. His redeeming work. He alone has done something so significant and so profound and He alone deserves the glory and praise. I want to praise him. I want to shout out to the roof tops that if God can change the hearts of my grandfather and my mother, he can change any heart. God answers prayers in His time, he also answers them in way we don't see coming, nor do we even expect, and He often does so in a way that we may not even know of until it is already done. I have a bond with my grandfather and mother now that I have never had before and it's beautiful. It's nothing because I have done, it's all because of what God has done.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Afraid to pray?

The title of my post sounds crazy right? Afraid to pray? I mean why would anyone be afraid to come before their beloved Lord and savior and offer up a prayer. Prayer, real prayer, not just a prayer that is written down and you recite-though there are times when that is all the ounce of strength one emotionally has to do-is in fact one of the scariest things that I personally do.

Scary? Why? Because its the one time, sometimes multiple times, a day that I am truly my full self. I tend not to hide things from God. I figure that he already knows it anyways so I may as well just say it. I fully trust that if any of my "real" fleshly prayers cross the line that my God is fully capable of rebuking my heart and changing it. So prayer can be a scary thing for me to do sometimes. 1. Because there are times during my prayers where I realize how selfish of a human being that I really am which in all honesty I would often rather try to ignore and 2. Because God always seem to answer them.

The first of those 2 reasons seem to be a good thing..in the sense that whenever I pray and realize how selfish my human heart really is it brings me further more to the cross. It truly makes me grasp and cling to Jesus even more because in those moments of prayer when the spirit has rebuked me for a selfish attitude I realize how much I have to depend on Jesus all the more for there to be any good that comes out of me. It humbles me, it makes all the verses in the bible that talk about Christ amazing work on the cross mean all that much more to me. Those selfish "real" fleshy prayers change me for the better not because I was real but because I came before my God,  the all powerful, HOLY God, and in doing so opened myself to the Spirit working in my heart. My "real" fleshy prayers also allow me to, at times, experience real comfort by HIS spirit. I wouldn't change any of the "real" fleshy prayers I have had with my God, and Savior because when I look back and remember them and at times see how sinful my heart is I am always left amazed by HIS grace even more. Being vulnerable, even to a God that has proven his love for me by the sacrifice of his son on the cross, and the resurrection of his son, is still scary.

The 2nd of those 2reasons seems like it wouldn't be scary at all. I mean who doesn't love a God that answers their prayers? For me it's scary. I have prayed and asked God for things that he has given me an resounded "No" for and left me wrestling with my faith as a result. I have also prayed for things that God has answered with an resounding "YES" that have left me sometimes prideful that I happened "to get it right" that time. I have also prayed for things that God has answered with a "YES" that humble me because I realize how undeserving I am to have even been given a small role in His kingdom work. And then I have  prayed prayers where I am not quite sure at the moment why I am even praying for it, why its even on my mind at all, and chuck it up to my nerves, to have later discovered that the thing I prayed for specifically happened for or to someone that I love, those prayers humble me.. All of them humble me even my "self righteous pat on the back afterwards" prayers humble me because that specific prayers remind me of God's grace when I definitely don't deserve it. 

So if the ultimate end result seems to be that prayer brings me to a closer, more deeper relationship with God, as well as is used to sanctify me and change me more into the image of Christ, as well as is used to further God's kingdom work in the lives of others....why do I avoid it at times? Truthfully because I'm sinful.There is something about sin that even after we have come to know Christ as our savior that still tempts us. It's like the old ratty sweatshirt you have hanging in your closet that you refuse to throw away because of its familiarity and the odd, weird, false sense of security that it gives to you. Honestly, my fleshy self wants to hold onto it, my fleshy self likes to be deceived into thinking that I am perfect that there isn't any area I could possibly become more like Christ in. My fleshy self still tries to take me away from my God and doesn't desire him.

I'll give you a few examples of my fleshy self and show you just how imperfect I really am. Sometimes I don't pray for you because I think that the thing you want prayer for shouldn't be answered in a way that benefits you. I at times think that I know more than God and what you should learn before God pours His blessings on you.  Sometimes I don't pray because my heart is tired and weary of seeing God do big and mighty things in your life , using my prayers to help accomplish them, and in my life I struggle to see those same mighty workings. So in other words I don't pray for you because I'm jealous that God isn't doing the same stuff in my life. Sometimes I don't pray for you even when the spirit is prompting me because I just don't want to do it. I may be bitter or angry at you. I may feel like you don't deserve my prayers. That people is how selfish I really truly am.

Be encouraged though because of Christ in me even the times that I don't want to pray for you I usually do because of the Spirit's working and leading in my heart. I can't ignore it even if I want to. If i try to ignore the spirit, it's like a strong tummy ache that just doesn't go away or 1st trimester nausea that doesn't end until you reach another point of pregnancy, or for some, birth. Maybe that doesn't encourage you and I've just showed you how horrible rotten person I truly am. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, I don't want anyone to look at me and say "oh you're amazing, you're wonderful, you're so special." Because I really am not, it's Christ, its really all the good things you see about me is Christ and his amazing work in my life.

So why am i afraid to pray. I think it can be broken down in this way. I like the way I am, I really don't want to go through any more growing pains and feel as though I have experienced enough, I don't really want to see God do amazing things in the lives of others during times when I feel like crap and like I'm being ignored by him (so not true just a feeling). There is a part of me that would rather have the false security of a ragged old dirty sweater, than the true warmth a fully in tacked sweater can give. And prayer my friends is one of the avenues that God uses to give us that warm sweater (figuratively speaking of course) it changes us.

Thankfully there is more to me than just my sinful side and the Holy Spirit is at work in my heart and life. I am thankful that God doesn't even let ourselves keep him from fulfilling his ultimate plan for our life. He doesn't let ourselves, keep him from spreading his glory. So tonight I am doing the scary work of praying for you. But be encouraged I'm not praying that God won't give you something (unless it's something that would really really be bad for you). Nor am I hoping to rub the genie the right way to get him to answer my prayer with a yes for you. but I'm truly, with the Spirit guiding my prayer praying that God will glorify himself in your life.

For my dear friends who have lost job security, I'm praying that God will glorify himself in your life, that he will give you a new job, that he will show you His mighty provision once more, that he will honestly truly AMAZE you and leave you flabbergasted by his love. For my dear friends planting churches nationally and internationally, I am praying that God will give you strength to persevere through the hurdles, encouragement to stand when you want to fall, hope that this work is not in vain but that He will be glorified through it all.For my friends in the midst of adoption processes and or raising an adopted child. I am praying that God will give you a strength and peace that will get you through sleepless nights, arguments, questions of doubt as well as I am praying that God will surround you with encouragement, love and support from others. For my dear friends like myself that at times feel like God is ignoring your cries while answering others, that are tired of being told "No" and are waiting for the "yes." that are weary, weak, and pray prayers that they read out of a book, bible, or journal. I am praying that the God of all comfort will comfort you through others that he has given the same comfort to. I am praying that you will continue to fight the good fight, that you won't give into your sinful side, that you will not grow callous to the "tummy aches", and "1st trimester nausea" that eats at you until you come to the Lord in prayer.  I am praying for all of us that we won't be content with the person we are today that we will always be seeking to become more like Christ and opened to the change that He is working in us.

I am afraid to pray but I am afraid more that if I don't pray I will surely miss out on a vital aspect of growing closer to my Lord.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Thoughts on turning 30...I feel old.

I am turning 30 tomorrow morning at 8:28. I don't know how I really feel about that just yet.

I can remember when I turned 10. I was so excited to finally be double digits. When I was turning 13 I was just happy to finally be considered a teenager and on my way to becoming a responsible young adult in my father's eyes. When I turned 18 I was finally considered an adult which i felt like I had been for several years already because of my childhood upbringing...that's not necessarily a bad thing but I didn't feel profoundly different. Then I turned 20 and I finally felt like I was considered a "real" college student and not just a "pretending to be one" teenager anymore. When I turned 25 I was already married, and pregnant with my first child so I felt "ahead" of others my age.  But now, now I'm turning 30. I have two kids, I have been married for 6years. I have lived in a total of  7 states in my lifetime. I have had a total of 8differnt jobs, and I have officially received my college diploma. Now that I am turning 30...I just feel old...lol.

Seriously, I feel old. I have been through trials and tribulations in my short 30yrs of life that some people don't go through until they are in there 40's. I have lived in times of poverty (no seriously legitimately consider to be in poverty by the government) to times of extreme wealth -to times of someplace in the middle of the two. I have watched many people die in my short 30yrs of life, I have watched those that I love struggle through suicide attempts,  and I have also seen the miracle that is love and that is life. I have learned things "beyond" my years as so many people have said to me and yet I still have things that I have yet to learn because of my short years.  I seriously feel old.

There have been some days when the feeling of "old" has been so overwhelming that I have cried through tears because if I have seen so much in such a short amount of time a part of me is afraid of what is still yet to come and whether or not my tired, old, weary spirit will be able to handle it. There are days already where I long for Jesus more than I do anything else in this world here on earth. Which in and of itself is not a bad thing but is the reason why I long for him a good thing?

I am turning 30...............30.............30

I thought I was confused when I was 10, I thought I was confused when I was 13, I thought I was confused when I was 18, 20,  and then when I first gave birth......but man oh man none of those ages compare with turning 30. I am not where I thought I would be but I certainly have been blessed with more than I ever thought I would have. I feel like the richest person in the world some days because I can't believe the Love that God has showered into my life...and I cling to it so dearly because I know that all of it life can easily take away...all of it but HIS love.

I long for Jesus more and I long to make a difference for Jesus more but yet feel as though I am stuck in a waiting period.  A waiting period designed to teach me more than all that i have already learned. I am turning 30 not 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, or 90....just 3...0....30. I can't be so naive as to think that I have learned everything that God has planned for me to learn...I am only turning 30...I pray that when I turn 40 I won't feel as old as I feel now. I pray that the next 10yrs of life for me (if God has planned them) will teach me how to "live more" vibrantly and fully for HIM.  I am turning 30 when I was 14 i didn't think I would make it to this age. I have been blessed...truly, wonderfully, blessed. I am turning 30. If I thought my 20's were a wild crazy ride I am sure my 30's will probably get a little more crazier and wonderful.

I am turning 30.