Monday, April 23, 2012

All My Gratitude

I'm just gonna come out and say it - my life recently has been filled with unanswered questions and anxiety about my personal future. Wondering if I am truly becoming who I ought to be and if I am really really sure of the path I'm taking. Feeling discontent with the place in which I've been planted. All these thoughts, and they are all entirely centered around ME.

I'm human, and I pride. I doubt, I scheme, I wander, I grudge...I sin. I sin hard.

But it's true, what my friend told me once. "You may go after somebody else... But I know who you'll come runnin' back to." He said this to me almost 2 years ago. It made me think of God! When I wander away from home, from the good Shepherd, He does come and bring me home like He says in John 10. But in a way, after all the following my heart and tasting sin for a season, the sweet taste in my mouth turns to scum in my belly - and I run back to Him. Always and every time. He feeds me a fills me with good things, fills my cup to running over. Victory after victory reveals glory due to Him and Him alone, and I am allowed to bask in the joy of the Lord. From glory to glory, changed into the same image of the Son of God, I never cease to be just who I was from the start - dirt. Dirt which God breathed the breath of life into. Dirt that will return to its original form when my last breath is taken. Dirt that will be buried and stay underground until the second coming of Christ...and my spirit will already be with Him in Heaven. My life is but a vapor on earth, a moment in time compared to all the time He has been through.

So now it's time for me to talk about HIM :] He is everything and all things good. He blesses the meek and lowly and is far from the proud. He does not bless the discontent or the unmerciful. He sends the rain and the sunshine, He fills the earth with food and is all the comfort that orphans and widows feel in their distress. He is living water for the thirsty, bread of life for the hungry, strength for the weak, power for the faint, mercy for the condemned, salvation for the sinner, love for the hated and the hater, sight for the blind, guide to the lost, Shepherd to the sheep, path for the wanderer, right for the wrong, light for the darkness, ransom for the prey, truth to kill every lie, prince of peace, He is love. I am so unworthy to even bow before Him and thank Him. I'm not fit to be seen by Jesus Christ. Yet I can come boldly before the throne of God and kneel before my Father. My Father. I can say this, "I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus". And I thank Him for it. I'm still amazed!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Grateful on Sunday

On Sunday morning I taught the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class about Abraham, and loved every minute of it. On Sunday I had a caramel frappuccino from Starbucks and loved every sip. On Sunday I met our milk man's wife in the Discount Tire parking lot, and loved being able to see her smile. On Sunday I drove to the lake where the old library was burned down over a year ago and sat by the lake, loving the warm sunshine on my skin. A man walking his dog passed by and commented while smiling, "You must be a real Texas lady! Needing some peaceful and quiet place to go sometimes." His accent was kinda northern... And yes, I am a real Texas lady! And I love it :) I love spending time alone with Jesus, and having ultra quiet moments where I can think about Him in the deepest ways, wondering about his love for me and all that he saved me from.
I've never got over that I am not under the bondage of sin anymore! I'm still amazed... Every day I fall on my knees while his grace still amazes me. And on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday, and all of the week, I have loved it. Loved being in his presence and that never ending! I still love it, and never want one day to pass by where I am not in awe of him, where I don't break inside and be changed in heart, seeing with a whole new perspective that only he can teach, each day... All is grace. It's true. All is grace.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

All My Gratitude

How long has it been? I could reach a thousand thanks tonight!

263. Pages

264. Only able to cling to God

265. Sleepless nights

266. Caring for the sick

267. Not being able to stop smiling and laughing!

268. Truly worshipping God

269. The Shepherd's voice (John 10:27)

270. Sweet tea

271. Teenage girls teasing

272. Texting Dad

273. Seeing God's plan unfolding in a life

274. Wishes coming true

275. Prayers answered every day

276. Taking as long as possible to say goodbye :)

277. Grace on black ice

278. Friends laughing crazy every night!

279. Chicken noodle soup. Mmm...

280. Reeses, reeses, and reeses...

281. Growing in grace together

282. Purging

283. The Father's deep love for us

284. Peace that passes all understanding

Monday, November 21, 2011

All My Gratitude

Thankfulness. Receiving willingly; opening up to let in....everything. Because life comes with good, bad, and plain ugly. Times when everything is so precious and perfect you just wish you could wrap yourself up in that moment and never ever ever be unwrapped. Times when it seems one thing after the next comes to attack you in battle after battle. Times when split seconds can ruin your entire life... never again to be made whole or reconciled.
Gratefulness. So close to heaven I can almost feel the pearly gates within my grasp. Thank You, God, for everything. For pain, for pressure, for temptations to help make me stronger, as well as for love and family and a place to sleep at night. But it's the fact - the knowing - that everything is in His hands, and He is in control: the wisdom of His words, "from the Father of lights". Every darkness, every difficulty comes with an opportunity to become closer to the One who can sustain me. A forcing of either my trust in him to deepen, or my anger towards Him to drive me far away. I find so much conviction in one thing that I'm thankful for!
God stills my mind - He's all around me. And I have found that the best way to get to know Him is to thank Him for everything - literally.
"God, thank You for letting my coffee spill on this white carpet today." Seriously!
"Thank You, Lord God, that my sister will not leave me alone right now while I'm trying to be alone and cry into my pillow."
"Thank You, Father, that my Dad has MS. I don't know why he has MS, but I know that You are a good God, and You will make what is now horrible and depressing at times, to someday be beautiful and joyful and whole. It will make sense someday - perfect, complete sense. For our good and Your glory."
"Thank You, Jesus, for this trial of me being in pain all the time."
"Thank You, God, for bringing me out of the fearful state I have been in all my life, trying to make myself strong by never crying and not letting anyone in."
"Lord, thank You for every person in my life who has hurt me and showed me that it is possible to love, even when someone is so poisoned by bitterness."

This is fullness. When He moves among us, all that He does. All of His mercy... all of His love. If the pen of a writer could write every day, even this world could never contain how I've been blessed. How much I've been given.

If I allow myself to get angry because of trials and being hurt, it helps no one. It doesn't justify me, or work in my life to make me strong, or show me how to help some one else, or make me a better person. It doesn't benefit me or shelter me. Anger can harm others, especially the one harboring it. Anger changes my natural affection and deceives me into believing that my angry heart is justified by all the hurt I've been through. I can love someone, and still hurt them on purpose in my anger. Having an intense desire to control how my life goes, and the lives of those around me... all to protect myself from being hurt yet once again. The fear of being hurt is now a god to me. An idol. I am a fearful, angry little pagan girl and I worship and yearn for the place of control. But no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to hold that in my hands. To see Christ's love and know that He made time for me, He lived for me and died for me, suffered for me and rose from the dead for me... He is coming back for me, and He prays for me, sweet Intercessor.

Besides, I can't control my life when anger controls my spirit. (Proverbs 25:28)
The battle of my life is already lost when I choose a bitter spirit over a better spirit. It is oppression, and there's a devil clawing into my skull with poison in each fingertip, altering the purity and simplicity that Christ wants to perfect in me. And in you. And there is a way out...

Thank God for everything. You don't know the mind of God. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways. But when all hope is gone and there's nothing left to do, and when there seems to be no way through, He is there. And He is enough.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:12-15

We can choose to be bitter or better. To survive, or thrive. I used to survive. But now... "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Philippians 4:4

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All My Gratitude

254. Far away, forever friends

255. Cold weather, finally after long, summer-heat months

256. Prayer time

257. True friends, that tell you when your'e wrong and yet continue to stand by you... and believe in you

258. November

259. The pain of knowing you almost lost something so much loved, and seeing how the grace of God sweetly and perfectly preserves and protects

260. Hands that can touch

261. Heart that can feel

262. Humility

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

All My Gratitude

236. What some may call a crutch, but what I call life - the Word of God.

237. If you knew Him like I know Him, you would know that He's alive!

238. Kombucha, fizzy and intense

239. Second, third and more chances

240. Family

241. Teamwork

242. A chance to serve God

243. Time... because I need time

244. No answers

245. When everything is hanging, and all I have to cling to is Jesus Christ.

246. Rest

247. Healing time

248. Tests... from God the Father

249. Letters

250. The will to fight for what is right and what should be

251. Atonement

252. A light through dark waters

253. 1 John 2:27 ♥

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where do I start? No telling. It's like a windmill with serrated edges that scoops little bits and pieces of me away, disarranges me into this cycle of nothingness. I used to pursue life with this determination to fulfill my purpose. Where did I lose it? Every morning, I would chase the sky, from the roof and from the ground. Waking up to darkness and climbing that growing oak tree to reach the brown shingles of the castle. Dad's house is the castle. So I would sit and wait for first rays of light to show through past the one morning star (that I never could find). Every morning, spend an hour on the rooftop watching the sunrise, dreaming into the new-every-day colors. Not one is ever the same, just like not one day is ever the same. Dewy grass, dream clouds, could almost float away with them in imagination.

All these thoughts were once again awakened by Mom.

"I like to enjoy the mornings."

I used to enjoy the mornings.

"Why did you stop?"

I guess when life got hard. But I didn't say that out loud.

"Do you know why I try to get you to come out here in the mornings with me?" she continues, pulling another weed. We just had a rain shower yesterday, a beautiful, blessed shower of blessing. The last six months have been like a famine in this South. So she continues, "Because pretty soon, winter will be here and you won't have the mornings to enjoy."

What has happened to me? This is ME we're talking about here! I used to chase dreams and get back up after a fall, rebel against the threat of life, be strong against the storms. Unstoppable. Unsinkable. So called was the Titanic. That's when life got hard. That's when the Multiple Sclerosis really hit Dad hard. It was like a little weed growing in the green and grassy field of my soul. Unnoticeable at first. I gave and gave, asking God to help me not to take. Ever. Tried to be strong for the family. It was a long thread, weaved for who knows how long, to this time right now. A weaving that was never meant to be. I got bitter while trying to love so much and be so strong. Lost my purpose of living trying to survive and sustain life in loved ones. Trying to find answers when someone needed help. Maybe sometimes we're not supposed to know answers, just to sit helpless and wondering at the goodness of God. Maybe sometimes we need to all cry and despair together. Maybe the source of purpose is in the house of mourning, where wisdom is found (Ecclesiastes 7:4). When we see and truly realize that life is precious, so precious, and will come to an end. Maybe that's when purpose can become clear, when we see how short a living can be, and what matters most. When we cry and feel pain cut so deep and see no way out. But I didn't cry. Maybe a couple times. Not enough. Didn't dwell on the wonderment of pain, the gift of the trial. That's where my own strength got in the way, and I didn't let God break my heart like the rest of my family. I wanted to still stand and not crumble under the weighty shifting of everything. Bitterness took root at the beginning, when I decided to stay strong and not let God be strong for me. It is good to cry, it is good to be helpless, for only then does His strength begin to work, when ours is gone. When we lose all sense and all fight that's left in us, and are forced to choose between Him and our old life. When we are caught with a decision, Hope or Despair? Faith or Fear? When there's nothing left to do, He is there. We can find ourselves in Him.

I have tried to fight for so long and keep my head above water. Dad is still here, he is alive, he is walking and talking. He's here. Sometimes I can't listen to him talk because it cuts so deep. His faith is great and strong, though his body is not anymore. Beautiful Trial. He tells us of God's love, and I know it's true. And then I get angry at the fact that this wonderful man, who never did anything to anybody, has to hurt like this. To see so great of faith while scoffers and unbelievers question whether we'll make it or not, whether our family will survive. God is good, but this test is so long. Life is so harsh sometimes. Trying to be strong for Mom and little sister, brothers who don't show any emotion, probably hiding it all inside like me. Trying to be the strong tower and rock of defense for us all. Determined that nothing will break through. Isn't that what God does? Am I trying to take God's place? Taking things into my own hands, trying to put this puzzle together. But all my life, trying to live fully and vibrantly and show the world what a Christians is. Asking God for help and plunging into His grace each day. Every day, new. But now I wonder what my purpose is, and surely there's something I'm missing. These trials, seeing my Dad in pain every day, seeing my Mom cry and wonder what God was doing, trying to numb it all for my brothers and sister when Mom and Dad would cry and pray together in their room... And then after all this fighting, feeling as though I have gained nothing. From trying so hard, giving every little ounce of myself toward my family through this time, trying to hold onto each other and pray for each other. And then when a blessing bigger than what I could expect hits me in the face, there are no tears of joy. Gratitude, yes. But not what it could be. I'm still thankful, but beneath illness of spirit. All I wanted from the beginning was joy and fulfillment, but maybe God saw... the valley was firstly needful. And I didn't let the valley refine me much. I didn't let the natural human doubts surface, just pushed them away. Denied them. Didn't let God take my faith and rub it raw. There was purpose in the valley, bu I didn't follow the path to get to it. Went through it, experienced the trial, the test. But now I see, finally. The weed that was planted first was temptation, and then that weed spread all over until my heart was a bitter mess, calloused over with runners, all connected to the one weed that, when conceived, brought forth sin.

"Don't lose your joy."

I hear it time and again.

But I think... maybe I already lost it. So deep down inside, barely perceptible, was the bitter root. Sometimes is surfaces out of the depths of my being and I am reminded that it's there. Living two lives is never balanced or healthy. Never giving. Never strong. And now I have to trust Him who has brought us here to turn my heart and help me every day for the rest of my life, because I cannot live by myself. That is where joy is found, in the poor spirit that crouches down and begs for God's help. Our strength is fleshy and sensual. His strength prevails, all-pure and powerful. Bitterness has met it's bitter end at the foot of the cross, where pride has to be nailed and faith has to be.

Enjoy the mornings. Go to bed on time, stop staying up and trying to gather strength from prayers that are seasoned with fear and bitterness. God is good. His plans and thoughts are peace. So when chaos comes, don't take shelter in the place you built for yourself. You may wake up alone, the only survivor, while others found life in their own death. While their strength has died and Christ lives even more through them, your strength still lives and continues its bitter struggle to forgive and forget. Keep looking for the morning star. Keep watching the sunrise. Let the pain come, but don't stop living. Don't hold still to shield your face from the storm. Walk though it and live through it, the wind, the rain, the fire. Be refined. Open your heart to be rearranged by the Master who first formed it in the womb, before you breathed air. Don't stop loving, be faithful. Don't forget where purpose can sometimes be found.