Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hearing from God in the Zoo

Last night was my favorite night of the week. Bible study night!! I couldn't wait on the ladies to get here... My sweet man was even cooking our supper. Since he loves to cook outside.... it was hamburgers and hot dogs... and it was great!! We had looked forward to this for several weeks.

We all fixed our plates and sat down to get started. Sounds like everything is going great huh?? Well... about 20 minutes into the video... I decided to pause it and back it up. Only... I started the entire thing over. Then... I tried to fast forward to the right spot. When I thought that I might be close... I pushed "play" only to realize that I needed to fast forward again. Except... when I tried to fast forward again.... I restarted the whole thing for the second time. I decided to just go to the menu and start over. Only this time... we were on the wrong lesson. This happened for about 5 or 10 minutes. It was absolutely ridiculous. Talk about being "technology challenged"!! When I finally got it started over... on the correct lesson... one of our other ladies arrived... I laughed and told her that we held off the video just for her. Whew... surely things had to get better from there.

Wrong!! There we sit... all 8 of us. Two on the couch, three in the floor, two on the love-seat, and one in the queen of all chairs... the recliner. Along with two adult cats, 5 little hungry kittens following their weaning mother around like little ducks... two children laughing hysterically upstairs, (which I must admit... I loved hearing) and about that time.... here comes a weenie dog flying down the stairs, running through the living room with my husband and my daughter on its heels. Now keep in mind... Beth is trying to teach us something from God's Word. Our crazy dog loves one of the ladies in our group... and he was desperately searching for her... but the more my husband chased him... the more he ran. I felt like I was sitting in the zoo. Total chaos. You know... for a few little moments, I could hear the enemy saying in my ear, "you shouldn't even try to do a Bible study here".... "your family and house is like a zoo".... "these ladies are probably thinking that your family is a disaster".

I just looked at those ladies and said, "you know that I love you girls, right??" And I do. I am so blessed by that group of women. I love Tuesday nights... and start looking forward to them again by Wednesday morning.

You know... My God is faithful. He taught anyway. Right in the middle of all of the chaos and noise... He spoke to us about peace. How perfect, huh??? Peace that only comes from Him. It is His to give. According to John 14:27, Peace belongs to Jesus. Romans 8:6 tells us that the key to peace is the Holy Spirit. We must have the Holy Spirit to have real peace. We must have Jesus to have the Holy Spirit. So... there in the middle of my zoo... I had peace. God is not shocked by what goes on in my funny little zoo. He is not surprised that the enemy would try to use that zoo to distract us and discourage me. And I am not shocked that God would choose that very moment to teach us about a peace that defies circumstances.

Right now... there are many circumstances that challenge the peace in my heart. Finances, a wayward angry child, upcoming changes... the list goes on and on. God's desire for us is to have peace. This statement from our lesson stuck out to me... "to the degree that I submit to Christ's authority, is the exact degree that I will have peace". Think that through. If I want to have more peace... I have got to submit to Christ's authority in my life. The more I allow Him to rule... the more peace I will have.

Peace in the midst of the zoo. Peace in the midst of a storm. Peace in the midst of the tears. Peace in the midst of difficult circumstances. Peace... God's peace. I want it. I need it. It is available... anytime I choose to allow Christ to have authority in my heart.

I hope to be back soon with my Yes to God post for this week....
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yes To God Tuesday... or is it Thursday?

I feel like it has been ages since I have been on my blog... much less anyone else's. I have been doing something else... I am just not exactly sure what. I have also had a little bit of writer's block. I'm glad to be back.

This is part of a book study that Lelia from Write From the Heart is hosting. We are reading Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes. If you haven't read this book... it is great. You should run out and pick up a copy... after you read this post, of course.

Chapter 5 Ms. Spirituality

Now this chapter really spoke to me. I didn't want it to... but it did. Lisa started off with Ms. Spirituality's checklist. She has to make sure that she is all checked off.... Here is her list... with my check-marks....

Attends Church and Sunday School YEP!

Volunteers for non-profit and Christian organizations every chance she gets Do church "things" count?? Like Judgement House, Awana, and Decision Counselor?? If so, YEP!

Knows proper "Christanese" and uses it frequently YES! PRAISE THE LORD!

Collects money from others for the less fortunate opps.. I don't do this YET!

Listens to Christian Music, Radio, and only Christian TV YEP, YEP, and YEP if we had
Christian TV around here. That is if I watch TV at all.

Often wears Christian pin or T-shirt and has an emblem on her car YEP!

Attends at least one women's conference per year OF COURSE I DO!!

Prays for Missionary families.... Oh no... I have missed another one!!

If I (oops, I meant she) really needs to impress...

Attends midweek service and leads at least one church ministry YEP!

Journals or BLOGS... WHAT??? Even this???? YEP!

Gives money to the less fortunate Wonder if giving money to Life Today so that I can receive one of Beth Moore's resource counts??? If so, YEP!

Attends more than two women's conferences per year TRY TO!!!!

Well... after that little exercise... I had to stop and rest from the book a while and do some soul searching. I do many things on that list.... MANY things on that list... But the question is why do I do them??? Is it to make Lynn look better?? Probably more times than I would like to admit. If I do even one of them to make myself look better.... that is one too many.

I want my heart to be pure before the Lord. I want to do everything that I do for His glory... not mine. But it is so hard to kill this flesh that I live in.

As I continued on in the chapter, there were many things that Lisa said that stuck out to me...

"The point is not that Ms. Spirituality does these things, rather, why she does these things. Remember, it's all in the performance, not in the act itself."

That statement reminded me of what happened last Sunday. We have decision counselors at our church. They are available at the end of the service to provide needed counsel for anyone that responds to the invitation. That could either be for accepting Christ as their Savior, repentance, re-dedication, or anything else that God may has laid on their hearts during the service. Several weeks back, the church held a class for anyone interested in becoming one of these counselors... And you know that I signed up. There have been a few times that I have led someone to the Lord... but I figured that I could do it a lot better if I took a class on it. So after class, I came home... fixed myself a little Bible with underlined scripture, notes inside, and everything that I would need to be a decision counselor... and then I did nothing for the next couple weeks. This past Sunday we had such a powerful service... and I listened as the Pastor asked if anyone had prayed the prayer to receive Christ... one, two, three, four, five, six, maybe even more!! I knew that there would not be enough counselors down there.... so I reached in my bag and pulled out my "new" Bible with all the necessary stuff and went down front to wait to be called on..... And sure enough... The Pastor sent me a girl.

Well... I am horrified to tell you... that I have no idea what I said to her... no idea if she even got what I was telling her... and no idea what took place. I was so nervous. I was shaking. I was so worried about my performance that I couldn't even speak clearly. I am not sure that I even addressed her real need... which was to make sure that she had her eternity settled with the Father. Oh... I listened to her tell me that she remembered being saved as a child... I remember her telling me that she had not been living "right"... I remember spouting out a few verses about being saved... I remember rattling off a few more scriptures about assurance of salvation.... The whole time we could hear the Pastor announcing other decisions... I felt so rushed... I felt so much pressure... I thought that I would explode if church didn't end soon. Afterwards... I felt like a total failure. I was horrible at that. I couldn't believe that it was so hard. I was embarrassed that I had not done a better job. My "performance". Is that what that was??? I would have hoped not. But I can tell you that is all that I could think about for the rest of the day.... my performance.

Lisa then said,
"All of our good deeds and actions depend completely on the motive of our hearts."

I thought that my motives were pure. I am almost positive that they started out pure. But somewhere along the line... my performance became more important than her confession and her realization that she needed to surrender her life to Christ and allow Him to the the Ruler of her life. How did that happen???

Lisa said,

"There are many people sitting in church pews, attending visitation, teaching a Sunday School class, and volunteering for a mission project who are actually lacking spiritual depth in their relationship with Christ."

I think that was my problem. I will tell you the truth.... my quiet times over the last week or two just haven't been all they should be. I haven't felt intimate with my Heavenly Father for the last couple weeks. Now... I know that He is still in the same place... it is me that has moved. And I am working on that. But, I wasn't where I needed to be in my walk with Him to rest in his provision. I was worried about my performance... not looking for His power. I wonder if that is where Ms. Spirituality jumps in. You still know what is "right".... you are just not "right". Your body goes into automatic pilot... and you go through the motions. Your focus leaves the Father.... and you are just trying to keep doing what you know is "right". The problem is that if we don't come back into intimate fellowship with the Father... we may just become Ms. Spirituality all the time.

Then Lisa tells a story about a visitor in her Sunday School class. After class the women comes up and admits that she was concerned about bringing her husband to this class... because he is an alcoholic... but how excited she was when she started talking to the man sitting beside her and he shared that he was an alcoholic too. The visitor then said,
"Now I feel like someone here may be able to relate to him , after all."

Well... isn't that all of us??? We just want to know that we aren't alone in our struggles. We are just waiting on the next person to speak up and say that they are struggling so that we can spill our guts and know that we really do "fit in".

By the time that I ended that chapter... I was so relieved to find Lisa's statement,
"Fortunately for all of us, spiritual perfection is not a requirement to faith in Jesus Christ."

and then,

"Though we seek it, our lack of spiritual perfection may be the best thing in the world for us since it reminds us that we are absolutely nothing without Christ."

Now looking back... I know exactly why my first experience being a decision counselor needed to be a failure... Sorry Shelly.... I am praying for you.... otherwise... I may have continued to try to do it in my strength. My performance can never measure up to God's power. I know now that unless my walk is where it needs to be... I will stay in my seat . Or, instead, I will probably just crawl up to the alter myself and seek God's forgiveness for not being ready when He desired to use me.

I knew at the beginning of this study that the church is full of people being fake. The song that Lisa quoted is one of my favorites. I had hoped that I wouldn't find myself so guilty of being in the charade... but there again... I needed to see my failures so that God's power can be displayed.

I can't wait to finish this study. Next week we will be reading and discussing chapters six and seven. Join us back then... If you are interested in seeing if Ms. Spirituality stepped on anyone else's toes, just click here.

Also... if you are wondering about the situation from two of my last three post... well... we are still in the throws of it. I have done as much as I possibly can to prevent any communication between the two of them... which means canceling texting on our phones. There are some moments (very few) when she is thankful for what I am trying to do... but most moments she is angry at me for "butting" in. Don't you just hate that as her mother, I have had to "butt" in. Oh well. Thanks so much for your prayers. Keep them coming. I do not believe this is over yet.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thank You to Ms. Joyful...

So busy... I haven't even posted (my first try at typing that said "pooted") my Yes to God post on Ms. Happiness. There is so much in there. And there is so much going on in my house right now. Just know that I need your prayers and God's wisdom. It has to do with the post below on Wisdom and Warnings. If you have ever heard Beth Moore talk about "flagging" you know what this means, "I am about Six Flags over Georgia right now". So many red flags are flying around me. I am trying to find help... but it is hard to find. I need an inside track at Verizon Wireless.. one that is not afraid to save my daughter... and possibly loose their job. Know anyone like that?? If so, let me know. I hope to be back soon with my post on Ms. Happiness. I am so glad that my joy is not dependent on my circumstances. Real joy is from an inside source. Thank You Lord.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A new blog on the block...

I am going to shamelessly advertise my friends new blog, Knowing the Plans. I have written about her before... here and here and even a little bit about her over here. She is quite an amazing women of faith. She is just getting started.... why not go over and give her a little encouragement. She blesses my heart... and I know she will bless yours too.

I've got a busy day ahead of me... I will be back probably tomorrow with my post on Ms. Happiness. I think that you may even know her.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Warnings and Wisdom

My daughter has a broken heart. It is absolutely killing me. The worst part of her broken heart is that I have seen it coming for a long time. I even warned her that things just didn't seem right about this so called "boyfriend". Please know that "boyfriend" is her term for him... not mine. There were many red flags for me... being the wise OLD woman that I am. Over and over I pointed out things that were not consistent in his stories. There is very little chance that the same person has experienced a skateboard accident that landed him in the Intensive Care Unit with amnesia for over a week, then an emergency appendectomy, then his parents threw him out only to have to move to another state to live with relatives... and the list just goes on and on. Everything seemed to pull her in emotionally. To make matters worse... she has never seen him with her own eyes. She met him through an acquaintance and has only text messaged with him. But, she fell.... hook, line, and sinker. Finally he sent her some pictures of himself... and he was such a beauty. Sounds too good to be true, huh??...

Well today, she clicked on his picture to enlarge it.... and it took her to a myspace page. Only... this person had a different name than her "boyfriend". There were pictures of this person in cap and gown... but her "boyfriend" was only suppose to be 16. Her heart broke into a million little pieces. He had lied to her. He wasn't the person that he was trying to convince her that he was. (sounds like the book I am reading) Now... before you start telling me about the dangers of the Internet and carrying on with people you don't really know.... I KNOW ALL THAT! I have warned her about that over and over too. I have done so much to prevent this... but to no avail.

And... this isn't even the point to this whole story.

I went into her room and found her on her bed, face in the pillow, crying. When I asked her what was wrong... she said, "I don't want to talk about it... you will say, I TOLD YOU SO!". Seeing her pain... I assured her that I would not say that. Finally, she started to tell me... through her tears... that he had lied to her. He wasn't who she thought he was... (Surprise!)

I wouldn't have said, "I told you so"... for a million dollars. Her heart was broken and she needed compassion and grace... not my harsh "knew it all the time" attitude. So I spent as much time loving on her and comforting her as she would allow.

I started thinking....

I am so much smarter than she is, why wouldn't she listen to me???

Why does she automatically think she knows what is best for her... I am her mother after all???

And you know what happened next... God so sweetly said to my spirit,

"I feel the same way about you sometimes"
"I am so much wiser than you."
"I know what you need and what you don't need."
"Why don't you listen to me?"
"Why don't you heed my warnings?"

Why is it that I so often think that I know what is best for me. Taking the path of my choice and not heeding the warnings that God is sending my way?? Oh... He tries to warn me. But I pretend not to hear Him. He is the giver of Wisdom... yet many times I don't even ask for it.

Then... when things are a mess.... I realize that He knew best... But at the time... I just rushed head on into what I thought was best or at least into what I wanted. He knew I should have kept my mouth shut today while I was grouchy with my husband. He knew that I should have saved the money that I spent yesterday on something silly because I would have a flat tire today. He knew that these tough times that we are going through were going to lead to closer walk with Him. He also knew that they were going to leave me with a huge desire to KNOW Him more.

It really does pay to listen to the wise one. It will lead to less pain and less hurt. But it is a choice that we have to make. A choice that I will have to make.

I can't make my daughter listen to my advise. I can continue to love her. I can continue to try to guide her... but ultimately it will be her decision.

God WILL not MAKE me follow His guidance. Ultimately it will be my decision to do it.

After seeing my sweet one's tears and pain today... you would think that I would take my own advise and listen next time to the warnings of the wise one. I pray that I signature

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yes to God Tuesdays...

This post is part of the book study that Lelia is hosting on her blog. We are reading Behind Those Eyes What's really going on in the souls of women by Lisa Whittle. This book is about becoming the real you... not the one you pretend to be. You can join in at any time.

Chapter 3 Ms. Confidence

This is the lady that appears to have it all together and appears to be so strong... or at least that is what she wants us to think. Lisa says,

"For them, as it is for so many of us, it is not acceptable to show that we need someone when we are trying so hard for people to see us as self-sufficient, strong, independent, and fearless. So we choose to portray a confident woman with it all together in order to save ourselves the pain that might come with people seeing our vulnerabilities."

"it (portraying confidence) robs us of the joy that comes with exposing our souls to a trusted companion."

"Confidence is often so afraid of rejection- either because of past hurts or past experiences- that she prefers to stay in her confidence shell and not let the soft side of her emerge."

I have to be honest and real... I don't see myself in this role. I have used my time this week to seek God. I have asked Him to show me if I play this part... but so far... nothing. Maybe I have just blocked it out of my memory. Or worse yet, maybe I haven't been really listening to God. I am going to continue to seek his face on this. I don't want to miss on opportunity for God to remove something that is useless in my life.

I love the way that Lisa summed up this section,

"... women who are open and vulnerable and real and genuine and without pretense. Those are the things that truly take strength."

And....the poem of The Strong Women vs The Women of Strength was awesome. Especially this part...

"A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape... but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape."

I am sure that I should probably work out a little more than never... but it just isn't something that I like. I know my clothes would fit better if I would do it whether I like it or not... but I just haven't tackled that yet... even the word "tackle" makes me sweat.

When I think about Ms. Confidence, I think of how unapproachable she appears. No one can get close. And which one of us women don't want a "close" friendship?? I have actually had friends like this... It was so obvious that they were playing a "part", and I learned that no matter what I tried... I couldn't get in.... I say "had" because to be perfectly honest... we aren't really friends anymore. Now... do we speak and hug when we see each other?? Oh yea!! Are they on my list of people to call in a crisis?? Well.. of course not... they aren't any help.... they have never had a crisis. And even if they have had a crisis... they wouldn't dare share it with me... it would ruin my "perfect" perception of them. Or so they think. Actually my heart aches for them. I know that they have to be lonely on the inside... miserable... so worried that someone might "find them out". I want to just stand up on the top of my house and yell out, "being real is so freeing"!!!! It lets God's work and glory shine through.

I love the last part of this chapter... with truth about confidence... the properly placed confidence...

"And now... continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident" 1 John 2:28

"God says, that when we put our confidence in the right place (in Him), our lives will be blessed." Jer. 17:7

"Our confidence comes from knowing not only whose we are but also who He is."

Next week we will be reading Ms. Happiness. Well... actually, I will be reading that today. I want to know more about her. If you are interested in how God spoke to others through this chapter click here.

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