The darkness

These past few weeks have been particularly difficult for me. I have felt a heaviness all around me and have been quite crabby! God has been moving mightily in my life and I should be rejoicing all the day long. Don’t get me wrong, I continued to sing His praises and share with everyone the wonders He has been working in this life, but the feeling of joy was not there. I had glimmers of joy and happy about the things taking place but still felt that heavy darkness and could not figure out why.

Sure I have been stressed out while coordinating all things that need to be coordinated when you’re moving, sure I have a hectic schedule that is always full….but this should not be enough to dampen the happiness I had for the awesome things happening in my life!

Then it dawned on me, I have been attending a Bible study that is helping me to dive deep into scripture rather than just skimming it. I have been working with God on finding the root of my food issues. I have been writing this blog. I have been talking with a few ladies about spiritual struggles they have been dealing, offering support and perspective. I have been lifting up my anger and need to swear in hopes that God can take them away. I have been allowing Jesus to work through me in more ways than I ever realized.

So, this is the source of the heaviness, I have ben opening myself up and asking for healing and depth. This means that God will be stirring up those dark places I have buried deep inside. He is doing the very thing I beg for Him to do regularly. He reaches down into those places that I don’t want to face, the hurt, the pain, the festering wounds I push down deep. He flushes these places with His love and light, He begins the healing process.

This can be hard, the old feelings surface and I am thrown out of my comfort zone. It is uncomfortable and exhausting. Especially when I am unsure what is causing the discomfort to begin with. Knowing is half the battle and is helping me to go with the flow. It still hurts, is still difficult and still weighs heavy on me but now I can reach out and ask for help with the process as well. I am able to tell my family where I am and what I am going through and ask for their prayers rather than pushing them away and being miserable in my own little world.

Growing and healing old wounds is not always  beautiful but the outcome sure is. God is amazing and I can rest in the fact that he loves me and wants me to be healed. He wants the very best for me and my family and this makes the painful process that much easier.

1 Corinthians 2:9 English Standard Version (ESV)

9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Jesus is amazing and I love that He loves us all!

Unqualified

I don’t feel particularly qualified for anything really. This kept me from pursuing particular things in life when I was younger. I never pursued a college education after high school. I was no longer living with my mother by the age of 15 and found that working and supporting myself was more important. While there are times when I wish I completed a “higher education” purely for the fact that there are many positions I would love, and they require a degree. I also know that having a degree does not qualify you in and of itself. I have acquired many positions by proving myself and gaining the experience that makes me a valuable employee. I have always been open and honest. I admit when I stumble and am accountable for my mistakes. I am actually amazed that co-workers find me to be of value at times.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I have not felt particularly qualified for God’s work either. I know, I know, God qualifies the unqualified. I have heard this saying many times and have found a sense of comfort in it at times. I have heard it, I have not understood it or felt it.

Ephesians 3:7-10 New English Translation (NET)

7 I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in God who has created all things. 10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.

Less than least of all the saints, yup THAT I can understand. Who am I that God would give His grace so freely? Who I am that others would find comfort in my words? Who am I that I would think I am qualified to even speak of the great mysteries of this life? There must be people better suited for this I am sure. Go talk to a Pastor or a Priest or someone who has attended seminary at least, they must have better answers! They could at least quote scripture I am sure, or direct you to a verse that will help.

I am slowly beginning to understand what qualifies me to speak to those God puts in my path. Him. He is the qualifier and I never will be. God uses those that rely on Him completely. How else can I be an instrument, a tool for Him to use if I am not connected to Him? Only when I am able to lay it all down before Him and ask Him to work through me can I be effective in His work. Only when I stop putting myself in the picture and stop looking for the end results can I do what He wants to be done.

Only when I stop looking for the recognition and the give Him all the glory, can I be in a place that He can use me.

It has been seeping down into my heart how God uses those that you would never think worthy. This excites me! Mary and Joseph became outcasts, Jesus was born into a filthy manger, the shepherds were the scum of society and yet THESE are the circumstances that God choose to use. He did not go to those that “knew it all”.  He went to those that were approachable.

Today I want to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and into faith. Thank God that you are not worthy and ask Him to use you to spread His love, compassion and good news. Allow yourself to be empty of self and let Him fill you and flow out of you.

In Jesus’ name I pray that we stop trying to qualify ourselves and let our Lord work through us. Take ourselves out of the equation.

Bless the Lord oh my soul

I really to crave to bless the Lord will all my soul and to allow Him to shine through me to those around me. I want to be praying all the day long, asking for guidance and praising Him for all things in my life. I want to always be open to Him and have an unceasing flow of goodness pouring through me. Unfortunately I am human and do not always accomplish these things.

I love the work I do, professionally speaking, as I am able to work towards a greater good. we offer hope, life and dignity in the end of life stages. We have a team of professionals that come together to ensure that all the patient’s clinical, spiritual, psychosocial and bereavement needs are met. People tend to fear death and we are here when the time has come where you can no longer deny that death will come. I truly love that I am able to be involved in coordinating a plan of care that brings dignity and quality of life for our patients. I really do have an awesome job as the volunteer coordinator, I am able to bring in the added service of offering a person to come in to read, play music, talk about the patient’s favorite things, give some relief to the caregivers, create projects to pass on the patient’s legacy and so much more. So I should be satisfied right?

I confess that I am never really satisfied. Working in hospice is as close as I can get to being satisfied in my professional life, well the closest I have come! The people who work in hospice are special and I am free to speak with them on a spiritual level. We have a great team here and I am blessed to have each and every one of them in my life. The reality is that I have a craving to do more. I crave to have my work life full of spiritual concerns. I crave to be in a place where I am working to spread Jesus’ love and I totally do this both in my work day and out. I have had the pleasure of discussing issues with a co-worker who was struggling with her faith and the words that came out of my mouth surprised me. I marveled at how Jesus came through and was able to use me in this woman’s life. I have had the pleasure of inviting another woman to my church and she has been partaking in a bible study and that is awesome to see to!

So why am I always craving to do more? Is it natural to keep on craving because I have seen and felt Jesus do His work through me? Is it better for me to be in a place where I will come in to contact with a multitude of people so that I can be God’s instrument? I suppose God will let me know!

I have so much to be thankful for and so many blessings that God has bestowed upon me and my family. The very air I breathe continuously. The comforts He has afforded me. The love He has brought into my empty life. I pray for contentment. I pray that I can be in a place where I feel the joys of the life I have and that the discontent and frustrations be removed. At the same time, I am thankful for the cravings to do more in the sense that I probably would not have gotten involved in things that have touched lives in ways that I am not even aware of.

So I end this rambling and circle of thoughts I have here by saying that I am going to continue to thank God for all I have, thank Him for all the opportunities He has provided and to continue to crave to do more without allowing myself to become discontent with the place I am in. Craving to do more, in and of itself is a great thing. This pushes me to look for ways to continue to spread His love and to let people know what being a Christian really is.

Psalm 46:1-7

46 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. 6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Over the past few weeks I have been thinking quite a bit about how much I have gone through in my short time here on earth. I have experienced quite a lot of darkness, so much so that a few professionals told me that I had experienced more by the age of 15 than most people do in a lifetime. So yes, God has had a lot of baggage to work through with me in this life. These things have caused deep scars and a lot of the wounds were left to fester and would rear their heads on occasion, still do to a degree. Yet, the other day when I looked back at these things I found myself thinking that they really weren’t all that bad. At the time I was experiencing them, they sure were. The time that followed where I used them as an excuse for my actions, they sure were.

I have come to a point in my walk where they pale in comparison to the peace I feel in my heart. The peace the God has provided in this life gives me perspective. God is my refuge and even though I was not a believer during those dark times, I can look back and see that He was most assuredly by my side in those troubled waters. If He was not there protecting me, then I know for certain that I would not be here with you today to share these thoughts and experiences. Before I found Christ, or should I say before He finally caught my attention, I was not sure what to believe in. I would pray to an unknown force. I knew there was something far greater than I out there and I was always searching to find out what it was. God was faithful and a very present help in these times and I am so grateful for it.

Now that I have found my Lord and Savior I know that I shall not be moved because He dwells in the very center of this life. Let the nations move, let the storms rage, let this world fall. God IS in the midst of me and I know there are better days coming. I know that I will ascend into heaven with my God and look back to see that all I have gone through was just a blip in time and was nothing compared to the beauty I will experience in His presence.

Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t fret. I absolutely stress, become frustrated and cry out in pain still. I am human and this is part of being in this realm. This only means that regardless of what is going on in this life, I know I can turn to my never-changing God and rest in the fact that He will always be there for me. He will always be there to offer the peace and rest my soul craves. He shows me that despite the horrible things we experience in this life, we are His and He will bring us out of the darkness.

God is faithful.

This is all temporary.

Rest in His love.

No Good

I find it funny that while I have never had an overly egotistical view of myself, I have always thought of myself as a mostly “good person”. The older I get and the further along on my walk with the Lord I get, the more I realize that I am not a good person. In reality people are mostly not good. This is the complete opposite of what I thought most of my life.

I see that my natural inclinations are to judge others, lash out in anger and to think of my own circumstances before others. My natural inclination is to be selfish.

I have never really had a problem accepting my faults and I am fully aware that I don’t measure up, but lately, God has been convicting my heart in so many areas. I continue to be hard on myself and expect that I should be able to stop doing something whenever I decide to. Then God usually sends me a gentle reminder that when I am done wrestling whatever it is that I have been wrestling, He will be there, waiting patiently for me to lay it all down before Him.

He is always reaching out to me, telling me that He can do all things if I would just give them over to Him. Even as I am typing this very blog right now, I look over to my phone that has my daily scripture on it saying “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.

Will I ever learn? Will I ever get to the point where I will recognize the filth in me and just bring it before God right then and there? Am I going to continue to try to overcome all things myself? Who am I trying to impress when I do this? God? Myself? Who am I kidding?

I am not a naturally good person just trying to let the good shine through. I am a naturally selfish and filthy person who basks in God’s grace and begs for Him to change my very core. I plead for Him to take away the insecurities, the judging, the anger, the pain. Only He can do these things. I can’t do these things.

Have I rambled on enough in this post? I am having one of those days where I am feeling quiet and thoughtful. Pondering all the things that have been coming out of me these days that I hate. I hate them yet they are still part of me. All I can do is continue to pray and ask for change. God will make then changes that are needed in His time and not a moment before. I am also looking back to see all the things He has changed in me over the years and how amazing it is.

Today I would encourage you all to take a moment to think back to where you were, where you are and where you are heading. Thank God for all He has brought into and out of your life and remember to give Him all that you are and He will never let you down.

Oh hi there blog!

Are you still here? I seem to have been neglecting you!

What to write about today? I did not have anything particular in mind when I popped in here, just know that it has been a while so I needed to get back in here.

I can tell you that for the last week I have seen that God is amazing. We all know how amazing He is right? I mean right on down to the materialistic comforts He has provided. He has provided me ways to obtain a vehicle that had every feature I was thinking would be nice and now He has provided a new apartment for us to move into. This also has all the little things we thought would be nice to have. We were patient and waited and He has provided! Even when we thought the deal wasn’t going through and figured we would keep on looking. It happened and I truly know that God was at work here.

Sounds silly doesn’t it? God was worried about the apartment we get or the car we drive? Well it just goes back to the fact that God cares about ALL things and wants us to be in a place where He can shine through us. So, I will be looking for ways we can bless others when we are in the new place. I am sure this will work to His glory in some way, even if I don’t see it happening!

God is true, He is faithful and He loves each and every one of us. Eventually, all things work to glorify Him if we can learn to be faithful and patient during the process. Things fall through when we try to take them into our own hands rather than leaving them in His very capable ones.

Have a Blessed day and a wonderful weekend! Remember that God is all around us, always.

 

Inner Peace

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.Saint Francis de Sales

 

As Spring approaches we can become restless while waiting for the warmer days to come. It can be difficult to be in the present at times. Quite frankly, I think it is more difficult to be in the present moment most of the time! Today I would like to challenge you to slow down, despite all the chaos that surrounds you, and be present.

 

It is possible to accomplish all that needs to be accomplished today. You will complete the tasks at hand. Allow the Spirit within you to keep you grounded in peace and to shine through you as you go about your day. Remember to give thanks and to let the stress run through you rather than gripping onto it. Let it go, lay it down and continue on.

 

It is not an easy process and will not happen overnight, but I encourage you to continue. If you practice this each day, then little by little you will begin to see how natural it becomes.

God never ceases to amaze me

This morning I was trying to get my the next couple of verses in Ephesians but was unsuccessful. I tried a couple different bible sites that I use so that I could copy and paste, but the computer was not cooperating. I tried to type it up manually, again the computer was not cooperating. What the heck! I am pretty savvy and computers tend to work for me, what is going on? I decided it was time to take a break and go out to my car to grab something. On my way back I walked past a woman smoking on the side of the building and I was thinking how funny it is that I once was that person huddled on the side of a building in the cold, just to smoke a cigarette that was harming me.

This is when it hit me! Today I need to write about how amazing God is. I need to let you all know some of the amazing things I have been able to over come by relying on Jesus. Obviously smoking is one vice that I have overcome 🙂 I started smoking when I was young, too young, and quit successfully for a number of years before I started up again. I struggled to quite this last time. The nicotine had a string grip on this heart. Finding out I was pregnant was the reason I was finally able to quit. After having the baby, I was tempted to start again but prayed for Jesus to please take the addiction away. He did! I do not have the slightest urge to smoke again. This shows me that it was God that did the work…even when I successfully quit myself before, I always had that slight urge lingering around. Not any more!

Another mighty work I would like to tell you about is the work He has done in me in regards to a deep-rooted issue. To make a long story short let me tell you that my father was there when I was quite young but I stopped having contact with him when I was around 5 years old or so. I have memories of visiting him and his wife, playing games, going to fairs, things of this nature. They were all good memories. As I got older and my relationship with my mother deteriorated, I chose to seek out my father. I looked him up and called him to tell him I wanted to live with him. Well, I never did go live with him but over the span of my lifetime I reached out in different ways…and I admit that some of those letters and phone calls were full of anger, desperation and sometimes a drunken ramble…sigh…I am not proud of the some of the ways I chose to approach him. I came from a place of pain, I blamed him for all the horrible things I had to face. If only he was a good enough father to step up and be there! Rescue me from the life I was leading! How could you leave me with my mother knowing how she was?? The worst part was that his wife didn’t want me anywhere near her family, they had 3 children of their own and none of them were to know I existed. So they got the father I never had, they had the security of his love and I was the child thrown away. My father even told me once that it was too hard to talk to me because I look and sound so much like my mother. HE chose to have a child with her and I have to suffer because I look and sound like her??

I think you get the picture.

These are the things I have struggled with all my life. Moments of anger, anxiety, desperation and heartbreak plague my past. On occasion I would come face to face with him and his “happy little family” and would have severe anxiety attacks or I would just avoid whichever event it was because I couldn’t handle the anticipatory stress over it. Then yesterday, while I was at my cousin’s baby shower, BAM, my father is in the back of the room. Instantly my chest tightened as I saw him bringing my grandmother, aunt and his wife into the room. Now, why it never even crossed my mind that they would be there, I have no clue. On top of this, I ended up sitting next to his wife at the table. I had to sit next to the woman I blamed for keeping me from my father all these years. At first I thought about moving, but I never ever see my Grandma Mary and I have to admit that a little part of me was thinking that there was no way I was changing my seat for her! 🙂

Now I have been praying for years for God to heal the part of me that still craves a relationship with my father, to take away the pain and desperation I feel so often and well I am here today to tell you that He has! Sure, there was a sense of akwardness during those 4 hours sitting there, but there was also a sense of peace with me. God came by my side and there was no animosity. I cannot tell you how she felt about it, but we were able to have small talk with the entire table, she even filled my coffee cup rather than filling everyone else’s and not mine lol. All in all it was not as bad as it could have been if I didn’t have the Holy Spirit working within me. The old Melissa would have definitely moved and probably would have tried to drink the stress away. Not this Melissa, she has the all mighty God by her side!

I was emotionally drained and totally did all I could to avoid my father when he dropped the ladies off and again when he picked them up. However, I did not allow it to disturb the peace I have within me, the peace that Jesus brings. I chose to give it up to God and to ask Him to get me through it and He did! This was a HUGE chain that He broke. I feel so free in this. Amazed that He did this work in me and I wasn’t even aware of it. This is not to say that I am not still effected by this at all, but not anywhere near as much as I have been in the past. I mean I cannot express to you just how huge this is!

I have always envisioned a deep well of pain and anger in the very core of my being. I have tried visualization excercise where I would try to fill this void but everything I tried stuffing in there would just get sucked right in. Only when I have learned to lay it all down and to turn to Jesus and just ask for healing did this void begin to close. God has filled this hole with His Holy spirit and has brought healing to those places I never thought could be healed.

God is amazing and I will never cease to be amazed by Him. I have a long way to go and many more places for Him to heal, but this little experience has truly blown my mind.

God is faithful!

Ephesians 1:1-3

Let me start off by telling you that I have a friend who is a fantastic writer and she has a blog as well. She has been studying the book of James and blogging about it. I have never been tempted to blog in that fashion…..until last night. God has laid it on my heart to get into the book of Ephesians…he laid it on my heart quite some time ago really and I have been slow on the uptake. This is my relationship with God. He tells me to go and I say ok, that sounds great, I will do that…..later.

::Sigh::
Why wait until later?? When has God ever pointed me in the wrong direction?? Never! So, here I am. I am diving into the book of Ephesians and I am going to bring you all along with me! Now, as always, I am not promising anything spectacular here…just me, opening up and offering some insight to my walk with Jesus. Choosing to be an open book and vulnerable in hopes that it will help others along the way. Hoping it will help us all be a little more open with those around us, to be willing to let each other in, to speak of our struggles as well as our triumphs!
So, on to the book of Ephesians!
Ephesians 1: 1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all greeted one another in this manner? Maybe wished the grace and peace for each other in this manner each time we were saying hello? I pray that one day I will be able to shake someone’s hand and feel it deep in my heart as I wish them grace and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that I feel this for every human being I come into contact with. Quite a feat for me as I tend to get lost in self often. I am easily distracted by my own little world and have to make an effort to wish these things for those around me on a regular basis. So, I will continue to look to God for this transformation as only He can help me be a little bit more like Him.