Where Were You?

Job. Not one of the most encouraging books in the Bible. In fact, at times, it’s just plain ole depressing. But now, this book found in the Old Testament is one of my absolute favorites. Not because of its relate-able suffering, but because of the sovereignty of God revealed within its pages.

My sweet family is finally coming out of one of the hardest seasons of our lives and I can say that Job and I had a lot in common through it all. Although we did not suffer in the exact same ways, the pain, confusion, frustration and desperation we felt mirrored each other almost perfectly. For the first time in my life I felt abandoned by God. Hopeless.

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In two years time, I left a job I loved, lost my beloved grandparents, had surgery, had a physical condition that was bizarre and took several doctors and months to diagnose, fell into a deep depression and suffered with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks that left me completely at the mercy of my family and friends. Just like Job, I found myself asking God “Where are you?!” Begging Him to heal me, give me peace and change my circumstances. I felt abandoned by the One who I thought I could always count on.

I wish I could say He gave me some great miraculous encounter that changed everything in an instant, but that’s not my story. He didn’t do what I wanted Him to do. He didn’t heal like I wanted Him to heal. He didn’t provide like I wanted Him to provide. He did not relieve my symptoms like I wanted Him to relieve them. He didn’t even speak to me the way I was used to hearing His voice. I was ready to throw in the towel, quit Him and this whole Christian thing for good. However, even in this difficult adversity I learned a lesson that will not soon be forgotten about the goodness of God.

Back to my friend Job. The only thing that brought any semblance of peace was remembering what little control I had over my circumstances. I know not being in control actually has the opposite effect on most people, but for me, this truth brought peace. Peace because of the words in Job 38-41. (Click the link for the complete text.) In this passage I was reminded of the power of God. His sovereignty. That no matter what I was going through, the one who laid the Earth’s foundation is the one who DOES have control. The one who tells the lightening where to strike, who set the stars in the sky and calls them each by name (Psalm 147:4). In reading this I was blown away by the power of God, the sheer weight of His glory and strength. The creator of the universe and all within it, is in control. He hasn’t left me, or abandoned me. Just because that’s the way I felt, didn’t mean it was the truth. In fact, He used that passage in Job to speak to me in a new way. I think Job and I got the same message. We didn’t understand the things that we were going through, or the reasons for it all, but God did…and does. And not only does He understand, He’s also patient and compassionate.

My husband and I have never been closer and I have never been more sure of my family’s love for me. In all of the junk that we experienced, we’ve come out stronger, closer to each other and closer to God. Life has seasons. Some good, some great, some bad, and some miserable. That’s part of being in this world. But one thing I know now for sure is that God is sovereign, never forgets and never leaves us alone. God doesn’t work on our time table, or do the things we think are the most important, but He’s still good.

I’m thankful that this season is finally coming to a close, but I’m even more thankful for my new revelation of God. If you are going through a rough season, please be comforted by the fact that you control nothing, but He controls everything. May you have peace knowing that He hears you, sees you and isn’t through with you or your circumstances yet. Remember this, the One who told the sun to split the night open is the same One who hears your cries, and know how many hairs are on your head.

This song brought me so much comfort. I hope you’ll take time to listen and maybe be comforted too. Where Were You? by Ghost Ship

Seasons of Suffering

A new season of Fall is well underway. The first “cold” front has hit and it seems relief from the 100 degree Texas heat is finally in sight. Some are saddened by another summer coming to a close. School is back in session, and the long lazy summer nights and mornings of sleeping in are over. As for me, I’m in more in a celebratory mood. The summer of 2016 has proven to be an especially hard one and I’m ready to close the door and kiss it goodbye! fall

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been pretty sick for the past four months. I also lost my precious grandmother in July. Relief from my health issue still hasn’t come, and getting over the death of my Grossemama still hurts, but I wanted to share some things I’ve learned form God along the way.

I’ve been lost, hurt and confused more in this last season of my life than any other time. And I thought I’d been through some hard things. The death of a loved one will rattle you like never before. It forces you to think about God, and Heaven in different ways. And if you’re anything like me, I was left with so many questions about God’s goodness and faithfulness, even in death. It’s kind of hard not to when you yourself are dealing with a physical ailment and the answers you’ve received aren’t enough and aren’t bringing relief.

But God promises peace in all occasions. John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God’s promise here seemed like a big joke to me when I realized I was dealing with something an antibiotic wasn’t going to take away. Peace was far from me and I was drowning in depression, fear, anxiety and hopelessness. It wasn’t until recently I realized that I was pushing away the peace God was offering me by choosing to not believe the things He said when this first started to happen to me. God promised me that He was going to take care of me, that a full healing was going to come my way, that this was His plan for me to bring back life to my heart and to redeem things that have been lost. He said I had nothing to fear because He is trustworthy.

There’s that word. Something I’m not comfortable with and haven’t been in a while. Trust. Even though He’s proven Himself trustworthy before for so many other things in my life, this one I’ve wrestled with. It just seemed too good to be true…there has to be a catch somewhere right?

(Before I go any further, I want to clarify that this was God’s promise to me in my unique situation. God has something He wants to say to you in your unique situations too, and His promises for you may look different. The only way to know what His promises are for you, is to ask Him for yourself.) 

Trust is a tricky thing with me. And for anyone else out there who has been hurt and had their trust broken, I’m sure it’s a touchy topic for you too. It wasn’t until a great conversation with my sweet husband that I gained the revelation I’ve been looking for. God gave me everything I needed when He first spoke into my situation. “Trust me”. There  is peace in trusting Him! It’s been there the whole time. I realized that I’m not in alignment with Him when I’m not believing what He told me in the first place.

So I decided to repent and ask God, change the way I think. I want to believe He is who He says He is and He’ll do what He says He’ll do. Another thing my husband said to me, “Everyone in this life will have seasons of suffering. But what sets Christians apart is the ability to have joy and peace in the middle of them. God hides joy and peace in every situation and it’s through a relationship with Him that we find them and gain His strength to keep going.”

A prayer for any of you who might find yourself in a season of suffering like I’m in. I pray that God reveals His joy, hope, peace and love to you in it. I pray that you hold on tightly to the promise He has
for you in your situation and that you believe He is who He says He is, and He will do what He said He’ll do. I pray you’ll grow closer to Him and get to know Him in new ways as you walk this out with Him. I pray that you will know and believe in your heart that He never leads you into places where He doesn’t have great things planned for you and new freedoms to claim.  And most of all, I pray you know He is good and you can have peace because He has overcome the world.

 

 

 

 

 

God of Today

Graduation is right around the corner. Pictures of so many kids I have seen grow up right before my eyes are flooding Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There’s a small ache in my heart because next year, my baby will be one of the many high school graduate pics flooding your news feeds and I can’t help but ask myself, “Where has the time gone”?

Time never apologizes for moving forward, whether you’re ready or not. It marches on and doesn’t wait for you to catch up. Lately I’ve felt like I’m waiting on pins and needles for something to happen. So much so, that ugly little parasite “anxiety” has started snooping around again. Maybe it’s all of the change that’s coming my way, or maybe not. In just a year, I’ll be one of those mommas posting pics of her baby in a cap and gown! Yikes!

There’s a nervousness lurking around. The kind where I feel like if anything out of the ordinary were to happen (good or bad), I’d throw up. I feel like I’m living on a ledge and I’ve been there a little too long now. That’s not peace, it’s uncertainty. It’s anxiety in pure form and totally exhausting. I don’t want to live there, so I’ve been praying.

This past season of my life, He’s been teaching me how to trust Him for the day. He’s trustworthy for all of my days; past, present and future. After all, He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8). But today He wants me to know Him as a present God. A God that has the future taken care of, and the past covered, and one who wants to meet with me now…today.

I tend to live in the past and the future, totally forgetting to live in the present. Let me explain. If I’m not worrying about tomorrow, I’m beating myself up for mistakes from yesterday. In doing so, I completely miss out on His goodness and faithfulness today. I struggle with believing He’s handled my past, and is handling my future. I can be sure of that though because His love and faithfulness covers ALL, and transcends ALL. Time included.

Because I struggle with trHourglassusting Him in those areas, I spend all of my time in the present fretting and not enjoying what He has for me today. Now it makes sense why time seems to go by so quickly. I’m not living in and enjoying it, I’m living somewhere else!

Today I am going to focus on Him in the here and now. I pray you will too.

I pray you enjoy every single precious minute He’s given you. I pray you receive that He is a God that transcends time. He’s trustworthy for your WHOLE life. I pray you will see His faithfulness in the past, trust His plans for you for the future and receive His provision, love and faithfulness for you today as you read this. I pray you enjoy a full life with Him. A full life that’s possible because He made a way for you before you ever knew you would need it, through His Son. I pray you find peace and rest in His plans for your future, peace and rest knowing He’s covered and redeemed your past. I pray you enjoy today, because He’s here with you…right now. 

Feelings Vs. Truth

As I sit here writing this, my body is trying to call the shots. The anxiety I used to battle several years ago, has annoyingly and tormentingly crept back into my life. The very real feelings of hopelessness, chest pains, feeling boxed in, like there’s no way out and fighting just to breathe have become something I deal with from time to time.

Before we go any further, I want you to know I am writing about my own personal battle of “Feelings Vs. Truth”. Yours may look similar or completely different than mine. Either way, this is my journey and I hope and pray you are encouraged by it and know that you are not alone.

Anxiety and it’s cousin depression are stupid little parasites that creep into your life when you’re already down and at your worst. They come in like little thieves, rob you of your joy and purpose and make you doubt what you once believed in.  They know when to rear their ugly little heads to torment you, and when to lay low so you think you’ve finally beat them. I hate them, wish I’d never met them, and admittedly get sucked into their downward spiral from time to time.

I’m a “feelings” kind of person. I  have BIG feelings. My mother used to tell me I was sensitive as I was growing up. Something I learned to hate about myself. As a kid, big reactions became a direct response to my big feelings. I was over the top, explosive and emotional. All of which were frowned upon. Add emotional experiences and instability to my upbringing, and you’ve got a recipe for some less than healthy coping skills.

Eventually, I decided it would be better to take those big feelings and stuff them down somewhere where they wouldn’t come up and cause a scene. It hurt too much. I started to deny my feelings instead of acknowledge them. I started to ignore them instead of hold them to God’s truth. I built walls around them to keep people from hurting them and hurting me. But depression and anxiety kept feeding and getting bigger, as I kept their buffet fully stocked. I became miserable.

Depression and anxiety are greedy. They aren’t content with the free ride I was giving them and they wanted more. But, their cover was blown with a simple prayer. “Lord Awaken My Heart…”

Last year my family and I participated in a church wide time of prayer and fasting. The prayer for our church was for God to awaken our hearts, revive the places where we’ve gone numb. (“Awaken My Heart” message.I was blown away as God began to reveal to me the exact moment in time when I chose to turn my feelings off. The problem is, feelings can’t be turned off. God didn’t design us that way. They can however be ignored, misplaced and/or elevated as idols in our lives. I have done all three.

But wait, there’s good news! God has a plan for our feelings! He wants them. He wants us to take them to Him where He can acknowledge them, tell us how to use them, and hold them up to His truth. When we submit our feelings to God, He brings truth and clarity.

Does this make the feelings go away? No, not always. I believed a lie that just because I prayed about my feelings, the good ones would be comforting and empowering and the bad or hurtful ones would disappear. God deals with things differently that I do, and differently than I’d like. Through these past few months of staying at home, I’ve learned that I can’t manipulate God with my feelings. I can’t say “I don’t FEEL you!” just to get Him to show up. While He cares about my feelings, they don’t always call the shots.

A few months ago, depression hit me hard. I laid in bed, begging God to pull me out of it. I begged Him to be able to FEEL His presence again like I have so many time before. Nothing…. I got nothing. The little depression demon began to whisper in my ear, “Where is He when you really need Him? This whole God, Jesus Christian thing is a joke…a big ole’ stretch to make yourself feel better when things seem out of control. Made up, nonsense. Where is He now?”.

I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep. In the morning, I woke up with a song in my head. “Soon” by Hillsong serenaded me from the moment I opened my eyes until I realized this is what He had for me today. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a hug, an embrace, but it was enough. Despite the song in my heart, for a long moment, I got caught up in the lies. My mind went to the darkest place it could go. A life without God. It broke me. I cried out to Him and told Him, “If I don’t have You, I have nothing. My whole life is based on You and who You say You are. I don’t want to live if I don’t have You.”

Then, somehow I knew I’d be alright. I can’t explain it. It took being at that bottom to realize how much He means to me.  No, the depression didn’t go away. I still felt lost and hopeless, but I had SOMETHING to hold onto. A song. I reached for my phone, pulled it up and let it wash over me. “Soon and very soon my King is coming” played over and over. Each time I let it sink in a little bit deeper. Eventually, I had enough to get out of bed. Even though He gave me this, I was still mad. It wasn’t enough. I felt like He was holding out on me. I told Him so. (If anything, I’ve learned that God doesn’t care if I’m angry. At Him or anything/one else. All He wants is for me to talk to Him about it.) He still didn’t give me what I wanted.

I had weeks with just a song and the support of my husband and Godly friends. They listened to me as I worked this thing out with God. I can tell you that now, I’m ok. I’m still waiting on that embrace I wanted so desperately, (even though I now know why He didn’t give it to me). I know depression and anxiety will eventually try their tricks on me again, but what God taught me in the process of the last battle, will get me through the next one. I’ll even go as far as to say that I am grateful for it. Grateful for the battle because it taught me more about Him, more about me and ultimately brought us closer together.

He showed me, feelings NEVER change the truth of any situation. His truth is solid fact, no matter what I may be feeling.

My feelings said “He’s not here”. His truth says “…Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. – Joshua 1:9

My feelings said “I’m going crazy. Depression is stealing my joy!” His truth says “I’ve given you a sound mind. The enemy wants to steal your joy. All he does is steal kill and destroy.” – 2 Timothy 1:7, – John 10:10

My feelings said “You left me, and abandoned me when I needed you most”. His truth says “Never will I leave you or forsake you. Just because you can’t feel me, doesn’t mean I’m not there.” – Hebrews 13:5

The truth is, no matter what I’m feeling, He remains. His truth trumps my feelings every time.  I will probably write about this again because I’m constantly learning in this area. I’m trusting in Him to lead me in a life where I am not ruled by my feelings. I want to be led by Him, not riding on my roller coaster of emotions! He is the constant…I am not. He is always there whether I feel Him or not. I am grateful for a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever.