Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you worried? Rx below.

By Tammy M.

Belief. I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief. Words I say to God every day. Words taken from scripture Mark 9:24. I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was in the 7th grade. After studying and making the choice I asked my dad to baptize me in our swimming pool. That very day I had been saved, but it took me 20 years to make Him my Lord and Savior. What's the difference? By submitting myself under His Lordship I have been given a gift. A gift to trust Him to guide me where He wants me to go. For much of my late teenage life and early adulthood, I trusted no one, I was trying to check out of my life mentally and emotionally by using drugs and alcohol and searching for love in places where there is only darkness. God saw me through that time and called me to Him, gratefully I felt I had no other options left so I followed. Fast forward a couple of years, been living a Christian life, working in a church, doing all the 'right' things. But still not submitting all I am to Him, how do I know that? Because I allowed worry, anxiety, and need for control to be my lord, and I thought that was normal because it was everywhere I turned. Many people (not all) were worried themselves, worried about money and the lack of it, worried about health, worried about their kids, worried about their jobs...I fit right in. Did I really believe and have faith that God was in the details of my life? Did I just believe that He was to be worshipped on Sunday and then real life happened after that?

When I began in depth bible study a number of years ago my eyes opened a little to this lack of faith I was struggling with. I longed and still long for the faith of a champion of God. Although the hall of faith in Hebrews 11 show me people who had faith to be recognized by God, but many struggled to gain that faith through difficult circumstances and their faith was grown through those circumstances. God uses broken people, that is when His strength can be seen. Last week in bible study there was a quote, "God is drawn to weakness." Thanks be to God for that because I am weak, but God calls me to grow stronger in Him each day, to move from milk to meat, to move from a faith that is easily shaken to a faith that has been tested and can weather a storm that might have toppled it just last week. Growth.

The gift of trust and faith in God is the greatest earthly gift I can think of that I don't want to waste any longer here on earth. I think it is one of the traits that shine the light of Jesus through Christians. How does one get this faith? God grows faith, we just need to seek Him with all of our heart and He will increase it. The way I seek Him? Prayer, bible study, scripture...I take scriptures that stand against whatever I am struggling with and I quote them through the day. Keep them with me. Over and Over. There is the amazing example in scripture where the man cleans out his house of the 1 demon that is living there, but he leaves it empty, and the demon brings back friends who take up residence. What that means to me, I can push out the fear, worry or anxiety, but if I am not rewallpapering my mind with the promises and faithfulness of God and His scripture, then the fear and worry come back fourfold or debilitatingly more. God is with me, I am never foresaken. Does my life always look like I want it to? Hardly ever. Are there hardships? Absolutely. Those hardships are where the rubber meets the road, that is where I can shine for Jesus or whither like a lilly in a drought. Call on Him in the hardships and if you are willing He will give you peace and show you the way.

Our faith is refined by fire, the more fires we walk through the stronger our faith grows. Fire burns, but what it burns away is our pride, greed, selfishness, and what it leaves is a humbled servant of God ready to say "here I am Lord, I will go where you lead." To be content in our circumstances and trust God that we are part of His great plan are gifts that brings tears to my eyes. Thanks be to God.

I pray for the faith of Mary the mother of Jesus. When the angel Gabriel came to her and told her that through the Holy Spirit she would become pregnant with Jesus, she said "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

Whatever my lot in life, may it be to me as You have said Lord. And may I be an encourager to others along with way, with a smile filled with love for You, and a smile and love for others that shine peace and contentment that can only come from you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Considering Valentine's Day

originally on heartlight

My family experienced some minor medical drama the week between Christmas and New Year's while traveling out of state. On one of my many trips to the drug store, I had to stop dead in my tracks. I was perusing the Christmas decorations and wrapping paper on clearance. I turned around to look for more, and was faced with a shelf full of boxes of Valentine's cards that children will use to declare love for classmates. Before the confetti of the New Year's holiday is swept up, the shelves in stores are fully stocked with hearts, balloons, and all manner of Valentine props and paraphernalia.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's motherhood, maybe it's global warming, but I don't think of Valentine's Day the same way that I did as a young, single woman or newlywed. Valentine's Day is a fun, light-hearted opportunity to lavish love on those around you, but life has shown me that love rarely looks like the front of a Hallmark card.

Love is not running along a beach hand in hand. Love holds the flashlight in the middle of the night, make-up long gone and tempers flaring, holding your tongue while your sweetie attempts an emergency home repair. Love isn't demonstrated by dewy eyes across a candlelit meal, but rather by one more run to the doctor or pharmacy when you are exhausted beyond reasonable or rational thought.

Valentine's Day lends itself to romance. Romance is wonderful and exciting, but won't take you very far when the stomach bug hits, or your "Love Shack" floods, or one of your parents is critically ill and/or dies. Romance will not be found in any of those situations, but love is there larger than life. Love brings the cool wash cloth again and again for the stomach bug, and mops and covertly repairs damaged keepsakes during the flood, and cries and holds and works and loves with an ill family member.

Love is not rose petals and champagne, but aching backs and work gloves. Love at my house never dances in an evening gown or tuxedo, but love supplies the elbow grease, the patience, the encouragement, and the clean clothes to face each day and, Lord willin' a comforting place to come home to when the day seems to come out on top. Love is holding tight when no words will fix it, and tears the only language uttered.

Love is not a polished, glimmery state. Love is messy, inconvenient, and frustrating. Love is giving up the last ounce of energy, sleep, time, or chocolate for the well-being of another. Love isn't found in romantic restaurants or destinations, but in hospital waiting rooms, the lobby of funeral homes, and kneeling in prayer next to race-car or princess beds in the middle of the night. Love is less about flowers and cartoon hearts, and everything about the value of another soul on this planet. I guess that's a little harder to put on the side of a coffee mug.

I will play along this Valentine's Day, like all the others, and I certainly hope for you to feel cherished on that day. But, later in the year when the toilet overflows while the drama at school comes to a boiling point and work causes too many demands to keep everyone civil, love will be there with a plunger, Kleenex for the tears, and hugs, pats, and kisses for all the things the plunger and Kleenex won't fix. Consider that your own Valentine's Day -- but don't look for Hallmark to make a card for it anytime soon.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV).