Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why Embracing the Box?

I was 24 years old when I married Mike. I had been living on my own since I was 18, I loved to travel and go to concerts, kind of a free bird. In the first few months after we were married, I began to have strange dreams. In one, I was running on what seemed like a concrete slab, very frightened. I came to an abrupt stop as the concrete gave way and I was looking down into an endless pit with nowhere to go. In another, I was standing in a room with no doors or windows. These kind of dreams continued for months always with the same theme....scared & stuck with no way out. It was pretty obvious that my dreams where subconsciously telling my feelings. How did I deal with them? With Gods help, I learned to embrace my marriage. Learned to give more than take. Learned to let go of me and let Him.

Four years ago when God and I were sitting on our backyard swing talking about the upcoming adoption of my granddaughter, He assured me that everything was going to be OK. This was His plan and He would take care her. At that time, I gave up the fight & surrendered to Him, but not without hanging on to my own ideas of what OK would look like. Since there was not much information on open adoption and the agency we were working with was having internal changes, our families were left to figure out how to blend together on our own. The one book I did find spanned the range of horror stories to pictures only to holiday/birthday contact to friends who actually babysat for their adopted grandchildren. Of course, I was convinced that God had planned for us to be the "ideal" adoption, where we would travel the world speaking together, saving unborn lives. At this time, unbeknown to me, I was teetering on depression. Interesting, how our brains are so intricately created that one little wire off and our thinking can become distorted. (that's another blog post)

Anyways, I was lovingly reminded of the truth. When Emily gave up rights to be a mother, she also gave up any rights for us to be grandparents. Through lots and lots of prayer warrior friends and correct medication, I understood that I had once again been placed in a box with no windows or doors, and that this time I had to surrender ALL my plans and embrace the miracle of being allowed visits and hugs and peaks into her life. Who knows? Maybe one day we will all stand up together & tell our God ordained story. His timing, not mine.

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him." Psalm 62:5

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Unlovable yet loved

It's been a rough summer. I've been dealing with a foot problems. Ben's in Afghanistan, Laurens in southern Indiana, Jess has been in Michigan and Emily's in Chicago, so I have seen very little of my children. Because of busy schedules, we have not had a granddaughter visit , nor have our ladies covenant group been together much. The consistent heat has been unbearable, especially when trying to can salsa and tomato soup in a kitchen with no air conditioner. I have been feeling very lonely and unloved. Finally, tonight, I'd had enough. It was not a pretty melt down. Maybe a bit of a comical picture seeing that it took me 3 different shoes with inserts, without inserts, change shoes w/inserts... to even be able to walk down the road. When I finally got the right combination, I let the tears spill. I wasn't mad at God or anybody for that matter. I really was just tired of trying to make everything work. I was tired of waiting. I needed a hug. I needed to spill my guts and thoughts. So, I walked and I cried and I talked and I cried. And with each tear, my mind started to clear and I started feeling better. I know that I am blessed to have great kids and a fine home with running water and electricity, even if it doesn't have central air. I know that I have great friends that will listen and cry right along side of me if I would call them. I realize that not too long ago there was no such thing as Open Adoption. So, I had to count my blessings one by one. I had to cast aside my pride, my self-centeredness and my lack of understanding.

This morning Pastor Gary mentioned that in the spiritual world, demons are especially good at deceiving gullible humans. Gullible, vulnerable, whatever and whenever, they can, they will inch there way in. He reminded us how important it is to keep our discernment antennas up. Mine had been bent and beaten with a bit of rust, maybe even pointed in the wrong direction, inward, not upward. Not for a long time, but long enough to be deceived. As I've come to understand life as a complex journey, periodically I need to be reminded that as I strive to be more like Jesus, I will never be like God, perfect in controlling my own destination. Whatever he decides to do with me and my minimal life on this earth, I will learn to be content. A breakdown every once in a while opens the brain cells to let a fresh, free God refill. Thank you Jesus for being a great listener who still loves me even when I appear unlovable.

"And the God of grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." I Peter 5:10

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Candy + GPS= A Great Adventure

As I left my daughters house in Kalamazoo, I glanced down at the handwritten directions lying on the passenger seat beside me. Left at Drake, check, right at Stadium (131), check, and as I came up on I94 heading to Chicago/Detroit I remember thinking that I didn't want to head back to Chicago so I kept driving straight on hwy 131. A couple of miles down the unfamiliar road, I looked down at the directions, whoops, I was suppose to take I94 to 69S. So instead of turning around, I pulled out my GPS, trusting that it would show me another way to get to Indiana. Now, I don't know about you, but I have been very hesitant in using a GPS, in fact, being a map woman, I wouldn't even have one except that it was a gift. You see, I'm a visual learner. I want to see how I am going to get from point A to point Z, and I hadn't figured out how to pull that particular map up on the GPS. Anyways, I decided to go on faith that it would direct me, somehow, someway to my Bluffton destination.

The first direction said to drive 6 miles to Michigan Ave, then turn left. Any Michigan Ave I had ever traveled had been a highly traveled city street. It turned out that this Michigan Ave was a hilly 2 lane country road. And so the turns and twists began and with each one, I drove further and further into deep Michigan country, having to trust the GPS more and more. As I was driving I heard Gods small voice remind me of how much this "off the beatin path" journey was alot like my life.

You see, first, when I wasn't paying attention, I missed my road. Similarly, when I don't crack my bible map open every day and really pay attention to what God's trying to tell me, I can miss my path, my blessing or an opportunity to show His love for the day.

The bumpy, hilly roads reminded me of life in general. Although I had the GPS to guide me, realistically I had to trust the unseen. When life comes to an abrupt stop, when it doesn't seem to me like Gods taking me in the right direction, do I really trust God or do I just say I trust God?

Along the curvy way, there were all kinds of buildings and homes, well manicured as well as dilapidated ones, one had a piece of plywood as a front door, in another home someone had taken a church window and reconstructed it on the 2nd floor. Many needed paint. I thought about how God places all sorts of people in my life. Do I just pass them by or do I really stop to get to know them, and when they do let me into their lives, am I prepared to see the inside as well as the outside and not judge them, loving them for them for the individuals God created them to be?

I passed many graveyards and prayed for my friend Karen who's son had recently died in a car accident and was now with Jesus. How's my prayer passion for my friends and family? As I slowed down for construction zones, I thought of the times in my life that God seemed distant, confusing. At those times He reminds me that there have been and will be times in my life when I need repair and when that happens, I need slow down and be still, so that I can hear what He has to say. Not heeding the signs in the past have caused accidents with injuries and long recovery times.

In a small town, I stopped at a house to check out a plant sale. That caused the GPS to "recalculate". How many times has God had to recalculate my journey because I had something different in mind. I wouldn't blame Him if He had the same frustrating tone as my GPS lady.

There were a few times that I could use my cruise control, ahhh, but not for long. Resting times, before the next trial. Then, just when I'm wondering where the next road will take me, I see a glimpse of an interstate 69 sign. Yea!!! I should not have been surprised that the GPS would eventually lead me to my final destination. I only needed to trust its programming, hum, sound familiar?

Why is it so hard to trust God's plan? 1)We can't visually see the outcome of the journey. 2)There are many curves, T's, distractions, flat tires & recalculations in our lives that are unexpected and confusing. 3)People, yes, even our friends/family try to persuade us into taking the worldly path causing us to question. 4) We are programed with finite brains, not able to understand the whys-needing to trust the why nots.

GPS= Gods Picturesque Story... GODs story, not ours. . He will lead us blindly through the back roads with not only twists and turns, but unexpected beauty and solace to our final destination in heaven. Embrace your box. Don't miss out on the ride of your life!

"Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world."
Hebrews 11


Thursday, February 17, 2011

God never gives you more than you can handle?

I have heard this phrase used many times over the years and usually find myself cringing. Why? First of all by implying that God "gives" trials in our lives suggests that we are Gods robots and that He programs our lives instead of giving us free will. On the other hand, God does "allow" trials so that we learn to totally trust Him. John 16:33 says "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

The other thing that confuses me is "more than you can handle". This phrase implies that because God creates some people with more strength than others, these poor souls would consequently be given more pain and suffering than a weaker brother or sister. I can't believe that the God who loves us beyond our understanding would pick and choose the amount of pain we are allotted based on our ability to withstand pain.

I have seen deep pain, such as a loss of a child, spouse or parent, divorce, finances or health. In each case, a severely broken heart will never be completely mended because it is more than their earthy body/mind can handle by themselves. If you would ask these people how they deal with their pain, they would tell you that God has been there holding them and comforting them, giving them strength. I have also seen bitterness and anger take hold of lives in situations when God has been blamed for causing their troubles. These people live very sad, unprofitable lives.

In the summer or 2008 my stress/heart pain was so strong that it had caused a short in my brain circuit causing unclear thinking, obsession and uncontrollable weeping. As hard as I tryed, begging, fasting, pleading with God to take it away and make me whole again, healing did not happen until I finally listened to friends/family and sought help from a doctor. (Thanks Kel for reminding me that God created doctors and meds) Did God cause my pain? I don't believe so. Did He allow it? Yes He did. Because He knew that by going through this pain I would have to trust Him more, dig more deeply into His word, become more like Him.

He knows what pain feels like. He was turned into the police by a friend, made fun of, spit on, whipped with a leather belt, had railroad spikes pounded into his hands and feet and ultimately gave His life for me and you.

Thank you Jesus for carrying me when I could not walk without your help.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hellen Keller-A wise women

"Self pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world." Helen Keller

I spent most of this past weekend with Mikes family. His brother was home for a few days visit, so when that happens, we usually plan our visiting around yummy meals. For some odd reason, this weekend, my emotions were a bit tender already, so, after watching three little girls and three little boys, all under the age of 6 running and playing and hugging grandmas, I couldn't wait to get to a silent home to sink into a pity party.

Last Sunday I was talking with a friend of mine who has a 2yr old grandson that she has never seen. We talked about how hard it is not to be able to be a significant part of our grandchildren lives and how difficult it is to be happy for our friends who are becoming grandparents, and understandably, beaming about it with pictures and stats. It's just not a natural feeling for a women to be refused grandmotherhood.

In another friends family there was a fall out among siblings a few years ago, and in the process, my friends are not allowed to see their grandchildren of two of their sons. They live in the same community, claim to be Christians, yet they won't allow visits. Mind boggling.

There is a sweet married lady friend who longed for children and never had any. She has also suffered from pain, physical and mental. I have a couple of great christian women in my life that have never been married. They would love to have a companion to spend their lives with.?????????

And in each of our cases, self pity, is our enemy. If we allow it to be obsessive in our lives, Satan wins. We become immobile. What do you suppose would have happened to Helen Keller if she would have succumbed to endless self-pity? She certainly had a cause to be depressed and bedridden, but instead she chose to embrace the box God had put her into for the help of others. What a great example of perseverance. So, as I was wallowing in my tears last night and asking what good all this pain is doing. God gently and sweetly reminded me for the umpteenth time that this life is not about me, but instead, to use what I have experienced, the adoption, depression, confusion, disappointment and most of all the miracles that I have seen to help find peace for those wounded soldiers, to lay it all at His feet and to TRUST Him in all circumstances.

I'm sure self-pity will rear it's nasty head again, but hopefully I will remember to be wise.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My coat of many colors

Not long ago I was getting ready to attend the funeral of my dear Aunt Margaret. She was 87 yrs old and had been in a nursing home for almost 10 yrs as an Alzheimer's patient. I had gone to church in the morning, then home for a quick nap and off to the funeral. Since it was a very cold morning, I had grabbed my brown faux fur coat to keep warm. Even though my first thought was that it was a bit flashy (outside of the box)for a funeral, it's a fun coat and very toasty for standing by the grave site.
When the service ended we grabbed our coats to walk behind the church to the grave site burial service. Even though I tried to stay inconspicuous, people would ooh and pet me. Later, I started wondering if that was what Joseph felt when he wore the coat his father had given him. It was fun. It was a gift. Just like mine. Did his brothers gawk and pet him? Even though he didn't wear it to cause jealousy, it did. Were we both guilty of wanting attention? One of my biggest worries in life is that somehow I would cause someone else to stumble and ultimately walk away from God. I know it's just a coat but really, if I would have listened more closely to that still small voice God had planted in my heart, I would have worn a different one. So, I've hung the coat in the closet, to be brought out on appropriate occasions only and I hope to listen more carefully when making choices, purchases or comments that could cause my brother or sister to stumble.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks, or the church of God-even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the the example of Christ." 1Cor. 10:31-33

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Verse

New Years day is one of my favorite days of the year. It's like all the gunk of the past year is dissolved and I look forward to a fresh start with new opportunities and challenges. Many years ago I asked God to give me a bible verse to meditate on, memorize. That first year prompted Jer. 29:11 "For I know the plan I have for you," declares the Lord," plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." It was early in our marriage and I needed to know God was going to guide me along the way. Since that time many verses have helped keep perspective and peace in my life.

Here are a few of my favorites still hanging on my fridge:

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27Working around teens can be bind boggling at times. This verse helped me to see them all as Gods creations, designed by his hands, in his image. Wow, changed my life!

"Bur Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt." Genesis 19:26At first glance this verse seems odd, but I tend to wallow around in the past. I have had to learn to let go and move on. How can we expand God kingdom being a salt block?

"Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague." Mark 5:34After 2 1/2 years of mental pain, concentrating on this promise from God brought me back to trusting again. Thank you, Jesus.

What verse will God lay on my heart this year?