Thursday, December 4, 2014

The dreaded "O"


Obedience.

Even as I begin typing this post my heart cringes.

Why?

I don't want to be convicted. I don't want to be reminded of my selfish, self-absorbed ways. I'd rather not go there.

And yet...

That's where I'm going.

I need to. If I'm honest with myself, which means I have to slow down enough to actually take a peek inside this heart of mine, I'll see areas that well, aren't so pretty. In fact, they're downright ugly.

There's work to be done on this soul. So much that needs a good swift kick in the seat of the pants, sweep it off the porch, clean out the attic and dust the cobwebs outta my life sort of cleaning. Oh! And while we're at it, bleach my be good at this point.

On the outside I tend to go through the daily motions. Everything looks clean and tidy. But on the inside that's a whole different dirty, messed up area. One that needs the hand of grace to wipe it clean.

Thankfully God is good at cleaning up messes, giving fresh starts and new beginnings.
But once His hand touches my life, what then?

I'm on the right track, everything is back on the straight and narrow and then in walks Old Mrs. Bad Habits and the ugly cycle starts up again. I fall back into the trap of wanting my own way, doing things my way, calling the shots in my life without ever taking one second to find out, “Hey Lord, what do you want from my life?”

I'm convinced that the reason I don't take the time to talk to God about His goals and plans for my life is simple. It takes obedience on my part.

Ya know, that good old follow thru behavior. Setting aside my wants and actually seeking out God, having a heart to heart with Him and really listening and... oooh, here it comes...that “O” word, obeying.

Now here's something you don't know about me. This writing gig, I love it. I love to write. I've got journals left and right stacked in piles where I've filled them with all my hopes, dreams, frustrations and worries. My prayers, my tears, of joy and of sorrow, all captured on paper.

But...

That's not what God's been asking me to do.

He's the One asking me to step out in faith, follow His direction and put my heart out there in cyber world.

Gulp!

For years...yes, years, I've made every excuse under the sun and known to man about why I shouldn't.

And the bottom line is, I was, and am afraid. Scared to death.

Writing privately in a journal, I can guarantee no one ever sees it. But writing, posting everything online that's a completely different story.

So I dragged my feet. Whined about it endlessly and gave some rather good arguments about why I was NOT His girl to do this.

I'm not educated. I barely have any working knowledge of a computer. I don't really have much to say.”

The excuses were endless.

And yet God never stopped calling me to write and share.

Obedience is hard especially for a stubborn, fearful person like myself.

I wish I could say blogging is easy for me. It's not. I feel like when it comes to blogging I'm standing at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro wearing flip flops and shorts and God's asking me to climb that mountain.

But obedience, especially when it comes to God isn't about what we think we need or our skills or the end result, it really is a matter of trust.

Putting our faith on the line, stepping up to the plate, swallowing our pride, pushing aside all the negatives and grabbing hold of His hand and saying, “Ok God, I'm your girl, let's go!”

So that's where I'm at. My knees are shaking. I'm a bundle of whacked out nerves and I'm on the verge of tears. I haven't a clue why the good Lord is asking me to do this. But He is.

And just because He is asking me, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that our God is good, I'm holding onto His hand and stepping out in faith.

One step at a time.

One post.

One small act of obedience that will change my life and my walk with Him forever.


Blessings and best wishes,

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Monday, November 17, 2014

The Promised Land



When I started the Jonah bible study it struck me at how tied to his homeland Jonah was. Jonah saw Israel as his very own promised land. Israel, the promised land. A gift from God.

Israel was his comfort zone, a place of promise, hope, love and fulfillment. A security blanket if you will, away from the outlying countries and belief systems.

That is until God called upon Jonah to leave his beloved country and seek out a city known for its cruelty and pagan gods and who was a sworn enemy, Ninevah.

Leave? Go into enemy territory and share God's word to those who certainly took great joy in destroying the lives and well-being of those around them. And God wanted Jonah to share His convicting words.

Now I'm not sure about you but I'm thinking that would've been near on impossible for me to comprehend. God, the almighty God, wanting Jonah to go and preach His word to a people so remarkably cruel their entire reputation breathed fear into everyone who heard of the city.

That had to be hard. Impossible to comprehend. And yet... God asked for Jonah's obedience in a situation that didn't make an ounce of sense to Jonah.

Have you ever been there? Been in a situation like Jonah?

I'm in one right now. And I'm not liking it anymore than Jonah did.

Now I'm not hopping a ship and sailing 2,000 miles in the opposite direction but unfortunately, if I'm being completely honest, I am in tiny little ways, not being obedient. I'm digging my heels in and basically saying, “Sorry Lord, I don't want to go.”

Gulp!

I hate to admit I'm convicted of my guilt.

You see, a decade earlier God blessed us with answers to prayers when after a lengthy time of unemployment, we moved from the northwest to a city closer to my family here in the south.

When I say I did the happy dance the moment we crossed the state line, it's an understatement. Literally I felt like a 1,000 pounds were released the moment I knew we were actually gone and in my mind, not ever coming back.

It didn't take long for us to settle into our new environment. We were thousands of miles away from heartache and hurt we were living on a continual basis when we lived up north. Peace settled into our lives and for the first time in years we felt we were able to really relax and breathe.

What an answer to prayer! God had given us the peace from painful family dynamics through distance. When we lived north, every part of our lives were some how intertwined in heartache, drama and stress.

Fast forward a decade later and we are now facing a return move back north. Our promised land has run its course and God is asking us to move back to the land of turmoil.

And as my daddy says, “This is where the rubber meets the road.” The time has come to face old demons, walk in faith and trust God.

Gulp!

Easier said than done at times. When I'm busy prepping the house for sale or I'm so busy at work I can't think about it, I'm okay. But in the still quiet early morning hours of my prayer time, fear washes over me like a tsunami and I can hardly breathe.

Distance was my friend. Through distance I was able to heal with God's help. I was able to take my weary, battle worn soul and allow it the opportunity to mend.

But now, God's asking me to walk in obedience and head back to my own personal Ninevah.

Lord I thought this was over. You enabled our family time to heal and separate ourselves from the heartache we felt all those years ago when living north but now, we are being called to Arise and Go!

Go north!

I'd be lying if I said I was confident this would go well. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared to death.

Bah! I'm shaking in my boots. Facing my own Ninevah and leaving the promised land of security and safety is overwhelming. I know deep down I don't have the strength to do this on my own. In fact, I know whole-heartedly that leaving my promised land and heading into enemy territory will be something that God will have to carry me through from beginning to end. I know there's not a single thing I can do in this situation that will lend itself to a positive outcome. I'm human. I stumble and fall. Those old painful bones I buried years ago, surface at times and they still hurt. My first instinct is to run, just like Jonah did. My second instinct is to argue with God and ask, “why?”

Why take us from our home that is peaceful and happy? Why take us back to a place that I don't want to go and have me face those who have wounded me deeply?

I don't know.

God does.

And yet, it's still hard. This is our home now. We have friends, family and a life here. It is peaceful and filled with great memories. Not so the case up north. Up north, memories are painful and ugly. They encroach on my need to live a peaceful life.

But complacency is not where God wants me to be. He wants me to be in His will. And being in God's will takes obedience and a yielding of my will to His.

Not easy. In fact, it is painfully difficult. I don't want to do it. But I will. I know I will. Because ultimately, my walk with Christ is more important than my feelings.

So even though my emotions tell me to run, my heart and soul, which lie with Christ, reassure me that God has me in the palm of His hand.

I am not alone. God is with me every step of the way. Just like He was with Jonah.

Trust and obedience sometimes are difficult. Especially when hurt is involved. But God loves us enough to never leave us where we're at. He wants to heal our hearts, mend broken fences and draw us closer to Him. And sometimes that road isn't easy. Sometimes it means leaving our Promised Land and heading right back to Ninevah with Him.





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Monday, November 3, 2014

Ninevah, Promised Land & Obedience (3 Part series)

Arise and Go!

What would you do if God said those words to you? Would you go? Would you hesitate? Would you run the other way?

And what if "going" meant facing your "Ninevah"? What would you do then?

Ninevah, in Jonah's time was a city considered to be filled with barbaric, cruel people. A city so renown for it's brutality that it struck fear in everyone who heard it's name.

And yet, God told Jonah to arise and go to Ninevah and preach against it.

In effect God was telling Jonah, go face your worst fears.

That's right where I'm at. A few weeks prior to this study God began nudging my husband and I on the topic of returning to the Seattle area. For my husband this was wonderful. His family is there, he loves the city and has wanted to return since the moment we were moved to our current city, 10 years ago.

I, on the other hand, would rather run the other way. There's not a chance on earth that I welcome this opportunity.

Seattle itself isn't the problem. In fact, it's a beautiful city with lots to do. My problem is a "heart" problem.

You see, years ago when we lived up north family dynamics were so bad that I couldn't wait to leave the area, and as God would orchestrate it, at the height of the turmoil He moved us south for a job relocation. You never saw a happier gal on the planet than the day we moved.

To be physically removed from an ugly situation allowed for all the emotional scars to heal. Or so I thought. But truth be told, all of those ugly family dynamics were only partially covered up through time and distance. So all of the hurt feelings, all of the anxiety that comes from dealing with pain and heartache are resurfacing again with this call to return.

To say that I'm like Jonah and want to hop a ship and head the other way, is an understatement. I simply do not want to go. Period. I don't like confrontation. I don't like fights. And I don't like being around people who do. I'd just as soon keep my distance if at all possible, thank you very much.

However, the good Lord has His plans.

So about 3 weeks ago we received a call that started the ball rolling with this move north. To say that I'm dragging my feet and digging in is unfortunately an understatement. Sometimes I'm not immediately obedient to what God is calling me to do.

Now logically I know God's will, will not change. But emotionally, I sure wish He'd change His mind about all of this and leave us right here.

A girl can hope can't she?

Realistically I know that's not gonna happen. I've been a child of God long enough to know full well that if God's calling me to it, it's gonna happen. One way, or another.

The only change that's gonna happen here is in me. Physically it's happening with the move back. Emotionally, that's where the hard work is gonna take place.  On the inside I'm fighting this tooth and nail and grittin' my teeth the whole way.  I know until I actually step foot on Washington state soil, the good Lord will need to do a work in my heart simply because I don't want to go.

And it all boils down to fear.

I don't want to face all the pain again. I don't want to leave our home. It's safe. Thousands of miles separate me from those who would possibly hurt me again. And it scares me to death to think that the life we've created here, away from drama and pain will possibly turn upside down and heartache will pour in again.

As a peace seeking person, the thought of returning stops me dead in my tracks. I'm scared to death. Deep down I want to trust all that God says He will do. But frankly, I'm shaking in my boots. I have faith in God but not in myself.

And yet God is calling me to face my Ninevah.

It is time.


What about you? Has God ever called you to face a Ninevah? How did you respond?

Right now as I'm shaking in my boots, I'm delving into God's word, holding onto His promises and bit by bit, getting the house ready to sell.

The good news in all of this is that God never lets us go. We are never alone. And for that, I am forever grateful!

Deuteronomy 31:6 - " Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."


Until next time,

Blessings & best wishes,


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Sunday, October 5, 2014

A New Day Dawning


Today marks a first for my husband and I. The door to empty-nesting cracked open.

And it's amazing how God has allowed this opportunity. To be parents, is a blessing in and of itself. To actually watch your children grow, experience life and move on into their lives the way God designed them, is mind-blowing.

This morning it happened. Our sons both left for work. Work...you mean real jobs? Yeah, real, wage earning jobs, and one of them actually drove! When did that happen? Wasn't I just in the labor room, didn't I just spend an all-nighter with one of them as they struggled through teething? How and when did those boys of mine get big enough to drive and work?

Overnight. I swear I laid my head on the pillow last night and before I closed my eyes they were playing Thomas the Tank engine with their dad on the living room floor. Then boom! I wake up this morning and they have deep man voices, facial hair, cars and jobs. Wait...what?

Oh Lord, I am overwhelmed. And so deeply thankful. Time stands still for no one, least of all me. I stare hard at those sweet semi-adult sons of mine and am blown away with the millions of blessings God has bestowed us in allowing us the opportunity to spend life with these two.

As quietness settles in our home after they shut the door behind them I am awestruck with memories of my husband and I saying...”Just wait babe, one day these boys will be grown and we'll have time to ourselves again.”

This is that moment.

The house is quiet as I type this. My husband is busy in the yard and my babies...yes, they'll always be my babies, are at work together. (Big Brother hooked up his Baby Brother with a job at the local garden center – sweet boy!) And I realize, it has come. The door to empty-nesting is being opened.

Our lives are beginning to transition into a new stage. I'm not sure how I feel about it frankly. I'm happy, proud, a bit sad, thankful and feeling blessed. And yet still tentative. What is life supposed to look like now?

I don't know. I guess we'll take it one day, one step at a time and thank the good Lord every step of the way. For as His word reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~ James 1:17

And all I can say, in the quiet of my home and soul is, Thank you Lord.



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Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Friends

Last night I had the chance to step out of my own comfort zone and take dinner over to Lizzie, a gal who had recently broken her foot and was housebound.

I don't know Lizzie at all. Well other than on a surface level.I know her face but not her soul. She's one of our group bible study leaders and I'm rather new to the group.

And yet, I felt compelled to take a meal, and really get to know her.

To get to know someone means you are willing to step out, be transparent and talk to someone on a deeper level.

I was a bit nervous. Meeting new people is hard for me.
And yet, it was lovely.

Lizzie and I talked about life, family, work and our love of God. And with each moment we shared the more I think we realized that we really had more in common than either of us realized. And to be honest, had it not been for Lizzie's need for company, I'm not so certain that outside of our weekly bible study group we would have ever taken the time to really visit and girl-talk.

What was so completely amazing to me is that in our conversation I began to realize something. Women need women. God designed us for friendship. God is Himself a relational God. The good Lord is always drawing us near to Him in one way or another so I'm not so sure why I thought I could handle life alone.

Maybe it's because I've gotten myself in a rut. So busy being a working mom, taking care of the kids and my husband's needs that I completely disregarded my own needs for relationships with God and other women, but I have.

It's my own fault. I chose to put everyone else first even to the exclusion of myself.

Now loving and caring for my family isn't in and of itself isn't a bad thing. But what I did, which was to make them my entire life meant, I was giving to them and I suffered.

But last night, with just a pizza box, a side salad and a new friend I learned, that I've put myself in a box that's not designed for me. That's not how the good Lord designed me or you. He wants us to have friends so we can relate to one another and not feel isolated. So we can encourage and reach out to help one another when there's a bump in the road like a broken foot or like me, someone who needed a new friend.

I had a great time visiting with Lizzie. She's an amazing woman. Funny, smart, bright and her whole face lights up in joy when she laughs. 

Through those few short hours, we both realized that our life experiences somewhat mirror each other and while she's slightly ahead of me in life experience when it comes to raising kids, the age gap wasn't so great that she couldn't groan and roll her eyes with me when I said the word, teenagers.

Oh how we laughed!

God designed women for friendship.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I've struggled with friendships my entire life. I've never been good at it. I'm not so sure why except to say that maybe it's because deep down I don't feel like I measure up to the incredible women I meet on a day-to-day basis and that I feel I don't have anything to bring to the table. And sometimes I feel like that awkward, shy kid back in grade school who got overlooked when kids were choosing kickball teams.

Those feelings still resonate with me. Each time I go to a women's bible study or just simply go to the gym to workout I feel this weirdness that somehow I just don't measure up.

Ridiculous right?

I agree.

You'd think at this stage of the game that those feelings wouldn't exist. But they do and they're hard. And if you're like me, those feelings tend to isolate us from the very thing that God designed us to be and have. Relationships.

There's not a single man on the planet that can ever understand how a woman feels when she suffers brokenness that comes from a divorce. Or the loss of a child. Or the heartbreak of an empty, loveless marriage. Except another woman who's walked that mile before us.

So today I want to encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone like I did and make a new friend. Go with an open mind, an open heart and trust that the good Lord will meet you in those awkward moments and bless the time you share with one another. I trust you will be sweetly surprised.

Love and best wishes,



Amy

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lead Me Lord

I recently read the following from a fellow blogger, “Instead of holding it all together, let yourself be held by the One who loves you, - Isaiah 40:11”

The moment I read those words, they seeped into my soul, resonating the promises that I need to be held by God for, at this moment, I am battle weary.

Lord, I need these words of promise tonight.”

My dad who suffers excruciating pain from osteo & rheumatoid arthritis told me that when he's sleeping it is the only time he doesn't suffer any pain. That's how I feel right now. I have this pain that is constantly weighing on me. It's not a physical pain, it's a heart and soul pain. A battle that has waged on for nearly 9 years. And I'm tired. I'm drained to the point of exhaustion and I desperately need a break. I want, like my dad to simply close my eyes, and rest. To take a much needed break from this dark cloud that has loomed in my life.

And to make matters worse, the only solution to this that I can see, is to simply give up my stance and wave my white flag in surrender. Accepting defeat in a battle that I've fought long and hard on.

That's the hard part. Realizing that maybe all that I've fought for was for nothing.. That's where I'm at. Defeated. Sad. Angry. All of it. All that I've poured my heart and soul into is evaporating right before my eyes. And I'm broken.

Sometimes life is like that.
It's not always handed to us in pretty little package all tied up in bows. Sometimes it downright hard. And I mean, hard core, rip your heart out of your chest, give you a migraine kind of hard.

And I hate it.

What bugs me even more is that I have no idea what to do next, where to go, what to say or even what to think. All I know is that I've lost the battle in this situation and now I'm bone dead, soul weary tired.

I need rest and a good cry.

I'm like that.

When life gets too hard, when I feel defeated and angry for being beaten up and torn down, tears help release the pain. It is then that I feel the healing power of God's promises.

He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” ~ Isaiah 40:11

I need to be carried. I need to be held close to God's heart and I need Him to lead me. I am weary. I am brokenhearted. And I need Him now more than ever.

He's there. Arms outstretched. Pulling me (and you) into His embrace of rest. Comfort. Peace. 

God is with us.

So that's my prayer tonight. That the good Lord, in all of His love and mercy would gather us into His arms, keep us close to His heart and gently lead us in all times, now and forever,

Amen



I am praying for you tonight.

In Jesus,


Amy 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Welcome to Window of Faith!

I am so glad you are here!
Friends and family who enter our home know that I’m rushing to hug their neck, sending a prayer of thanks heavenward to God for their safe travels, then I’m dragging my company off to the kitchen so we can share a bite to eat while we sit and visit.
Some of my fondest memories have always included a combination of faith, family, friendships and of course, food. I find there’s something about sharing a meal that causes people to smile more, laugh more and simply relax. At the end of the day, it is my hope that everyone leaves feeling happy, satisfied and encouraged.
So this is my prayer for Window of Faith- to be a place where God reigns and friendships flourish - and of course, if we can add a little food in the mix, all the better!
So please, pull up a chair, grab a glass of your favorite iced drink and let’s get acquainted and talk about what God is doing in our lives!
With blessings and love,
Amy