Tag Archives: Bible

When the fog rolls in

This morning, as I was letting my chickens out, the fog was so thick that I could not see the beautiful mountains that I usually enjoy, yet I know that they are still there.  This made me think about spiritual discouragement, fear, anxiety, depression. These things can sneak in and block my view of all that God has blessed me with. The enemy uses these to try to steal my joy and to block my view of the Truth, yet I know that Jesus is still there.

See, even with the fog completely erasing my view this morning, I could close my eyes and envision what I know is there. I can stop and appreciate the peace that it gives me each day when I take it all in. Isn’t it so much easier to do this with the physical world? I know that the wind will come, the weather will change, the sun will be out once again, and my view will be restored. Of this, I have no doubt.  Why then is it so much harder to do this with spiritual blockages?

This is a reminder that it is so important to record the beautiful things in our lives so that we can go back and look upon them in times of struggle. When we can’t see God clearly before us, we need to pause and remember who He is. Nothing can move Jesus from my life; nothing can take me away from Him. I can rest in the knowledge that I am forever His and that He is always at work in my life. I have the free gift of salvation, and the Holy Spirit dwells inside of me. These are facts that can never change.

Today I pray that the Lord would apply these Truths to my heart. Lord, please blow away the anxiety, depression, and discouragement that creep in when struggles come. Shine through my doubts and fears. Holy Spirit, remind my soul that there is so much more than this very moment, You are always working in ways that will bring Glory to God. You are where I find my Truth. Let me seek that which I cannot see when the storms of life begin to rage. I stand firmly upon You, close my eyes, take a deep breath and wait for You to answer. For you are always there.

I want to encourage you to take time today to write out all the wonderful things in your life today and from the past, whatever beautiful things come to mind. Do this often and read back upon them when you are in a place of discouragement.

Wonders Beyond Words

Oh Lord, the work You are doing in this life is so powerful and needs to be shared, but the words I possess cannot even begin to express it all. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.  As I continue to turn this life over, I can see You work. It boils down to trust and obedience on my part. As I let go and stop trying to control, You work miracles. You are putting my brokenness back together and it is a beautiful mosaic. Pieces of me were shattered and You have the ability to take those shards that cut me so deep and make them into a work of art. Why did I hold onto them for so long? I would clutch them so hard that I would bleed. I would think to myself, why would Jesus want these pieces of me? Doesn’t He know how ugly they are? How much pain did they cause to anyone that would dare try to hold them? I would convince myself that it would be wrong to unload these things upon You. Oh, how wrong I was.

I bought into a lie that I shouldn’t “over spiritualize everything” in this life. It has struck me that all things are spiritual in nature as You have created ALL things. You created this all out of nothing and yet I was taught to believe that the spiritual and the physical are somehow separate. One cannot be without the other. We are all Yours; there are no exceptions. Every ounce of this universe is God-breathed, and I can bring it all to You. Oh and the wonders that come when I do.

Thank You for showing me how powerfully You can move in the smallest of spaces I give over to You. And yet these are only small glimpses of what is possible in You. Lord, please continue to break down these walls and work through me, I beg. I give You permission and am so thankful that You wait for me to do so. How much we would miss out on otherwise.  The stories we can share and the beautiful pieces of art we can show others and to let them know that they too can know the Great Artist. Those miracles happen every day. That His work is all around us. That His love is pure and good and healing. That complete healing and complete deliverance are possible. We only need to be willing.

“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” –  Philippians 2:13

 

An Amazing Year

I sit here and ponder the last year or so of this life. The path traveled was a windy and unexpected one. I left the field of hospice care and accepted a position offered to me that I clearly saw Your hand in. I knew for a fact that You meant for me to take that position, even though it meant leaving a field I had spent eight years in. It meant leaving a company I working with from the day they opened their doors here in CT. It meant walking away from the known and into the unknown. So I did, knowing that You had a plan and this was just a step towards something. I took that position, knowing that it would not be a position I would be in forever. It was scary, exciting and freeing in so many ways. The job was great, I was able to work from home and that allowed me to be there each morning to get my kids on the bus. It meant I no longer stressed on snow days, delays and when sickness hit. It allowed me to flex my time and get more involved in my church. It was great.

After working in this new place for six months, layoffs began and I knew that my position would be one of them. I began to apply to some jobs I found I qualified for, but I hated the thought of having to give up my work at the church and my flexibility around my family. Then I lost my job. I was let go during the second wave of layoffs and went on unemployment. The only other time I have ever been on unemployment was ten years ago. It was a shock and yet I heard You telling me that this was all part of Your plan. You told me to trust You and I did. Between the pay I received “in lieu of notice” and the unemployment, we never skipped a beat financially. You just kept on providing. I was blown away each time. I adjusted my budget and saw the negatives glowing red. It brought me anxiety and instead of panicking, I rested on Your promises and handed them over to You. Our finances are not our own, they are Yours and I knew You would ensure that we were taken care of. I was blown away, week by week. You met us in those places of uncertainty every time. I am so blessed to see You move in my life. I am still amazed as I write about it.

The layoff came just three days before my step-daughters were coming to stay for the summer. I was able to be present. I was able to do more around my house and that allowed my husband to do less as he worked a ton of over-time. The over-time that was not supposed to be, the over-time that You provided. The over-time that filled those red spaces in our budget. As we walked in faith, You filled the gaps. We walked knowing that You were there and that You were working, but not knowing how. It is so freeing to be in that place once you let go of the fear.

As I continued to try to pick up more side jobs and applied to other “real jobs”, I was never called in for an interview. This is a first for me! I have always worked and have never had trouble finding a job. I took this to be You telling me that I was to continue to do what I was doing at the church I loved and with the family I adored. I kept walking blindly, just knowing in my heart that this was all going to be great. I also had moments of complete anxiety and fear, those became fewer and fewer. You brought me to a place of immense peace. You reminded me that I have always desired for more and that You were bringing me to that place. You reminded me that what seems like less to the world is so much more to You.

As my professional world lessened, my husband’s expanded. As I had more time to give, I gave it to the church I adore. I was able to serve the people there and use the skills You have given me through time. I never really thought I was “good enough” to serve as a volunteer coordinator at any church, yet my heart has desired it for so long. Here I was, volunteer coordinator at Your church. Crazy. Seriously. I knew I wanted it, but there was always this part that whispered to me of how unqualified I was. There was this part of me that didn’t think I deserved it. I mean, I don’t. The thing is, none of that matters. I knew God was calling me to a different place and I followed and just kept giving Him all my worries and doubts. He is so kind and gentle, He would remind me of who He is and what He was calling me to in so many ways. He used His people to speak just the right words at just the right time and blew me away every time.

As we approached the end of the year, so came the end of my unemployment. I was unsuccessful in finding a job that would offer what I needed to continue my work at the church and allow me to be available for my kids in the same manner that I have been. So now I am working at Your church part-time as I was able to grow into this position You called me to. You gave me this space and told me what to do with it. It was frightening, completely different from anything I have ever done before, yet I just knew that it was exactly where You wanted me.

So now I start a new year as a part-time volunteer coordinator in Your church, I am still with my kids before and after school, I am tending to my home more than I was ever able to before. There has been this huge shift in my life, but everyone here is happy and things haven’t really changed all that much. It’s difficult to explain. Walking in faith is hard, it’s a struggle. There is no easy way to follow You blindly, oh but the rewards are great. The things You have brought me through have hit my core. You have truly transformed this soul in ways that I couldn’t even begin to explain. The peace, the joy, the healing and the light that You have brought in this life are amazing.

I sit here in amazement of You. The path You have brought me through still boggles my mind. To know that so much more is still unseen is impossible to comprehend. Your vast love and kindness must never be forgotten. The freedom You have provided me is incomprehensible, yet I know I only taste a small portion of it. I know I have struggles to go through still and that each brings me closer to You. Each trial offers true strength, true peace, and unspeakable love. The weight being lifted, the pain I hardly know knew was there. Even as I struggle physically, my Soul shines brightly. The enemy may slow me down from time to time, but You’re always there. You lift me up, You patiently wait and You never waver.

To know that You truly want me to be happy, that walking in the way You asked me to would seem so irresponsible to me, yet brought such miracles. How I blindly followed You and it brought me to a place that I cannot describe. My words fail, but my heart sings to You. My gratitude pours out of me. You’ve met me at every step and I know that You always will.

Thank You Lord

Dear Jesus 10/3/15

Dear loving, kind, gentle and patient Jesus,

I first want to thank You for Your kindness, You have been by my side through so much and just wait for me to see things your way. How patient You are! Not once have you rushed me, pressured me or lefts me in frustration of the stupid things I do. I can only hope that I can learn to give others a fraction of the grace and mercy You give us all. My heart is filled with joy, happiness and appreciation as I type this. The words I can use to describe the depths of my gratitude can’t even come close to the emotion I feel when I think of all You have done, are doing right now and all the plans You have for my future. I am Yours.

You have created me on purpose and with purpose, of this I can never lose sight. Oh how easy it is to look focus on this when the storms of life hit. How I must rely on my faith, buried deep in my heart, when I cannot see You clearly. It has taken time for me to learn and trust that I can simply close my eyes and follow Your lead in these times. I don’t have to get lost in the messes of this life, I don’t have to focus on all my shortcomings. In fact You tell me NOT to focus on all these things, look past them and look to Your loving face. Always near, always ready, always with purpose. I am never lost. You always know right where I am and why. When things are unclear I can rest easy on the fact that they are always crystal clear to You. The more I learn this, the more I can feel that peace that surpasses all understanding. The lighter I feel, the deeper I feel, the easier this walk becomes. Thank You.

Recently I was in a place where I couldn’t understand another person’s dislike for me. Why do they have to make those snide comments that feel like paper-cuts. They are shallow, small and they burn. I was angry at one point, but did not react so. I can thank You for that. You have changed this heart of mine and it surprised me how far we have come together. The transformation that has taken place in this life is amazing. All I can do at times is to sit in complete awe of who I have begun to be in You. Who am I that You would take such interests and to invest such power and transformation in?

As I meditated on my feelings and this person, You began to show me just how hardened their heart is and how far from You they are. Then an amazing thing happened! For the first time, I felt sadness for this person. I was moved to praying for them to find You as I have. My heart began to ache as I am sure Yours does too. A child of Yours that chooses to turn against You and to live in a place of darkness, oh how that must cause You pain. A life that You crafted to be a things of beauty and light. Will they turn to You before they find their life ending? Will they find that You have loved them all along and have been waiting for the day that they turn back to You? How my anger and frustration melted away and was replaced with sadness and hope. How my heart aches for them to get a glimpse of Your magnificence and for them to never be the same.

I too was lost and my heart was also hardened against You. All I can do is share my life, my heart and the amazing transformation that has taken place in me. I can be a testament to the power You are so willing to place in us. How You will never force us to come back to You and that You never forget us. No matter how far we have fallen, when we turn around You are right there, ready to catch us.

For these things I praise you Lord. Thank You.  

Out of My Element

It has been far too long since I last wrote. For that I apologize to myself, to the readers and to my Lord. My writing is a way to process, to share, to testify of His love, grace and kindness.

These past few months have been a whirlwind. For a very long time I have been praying for freedom and change in my work life. I have felt unsettled and a craving for more. The craving was for a deepening purpose in my professional life. I know that Jesus uses us right where we are and I know that He has used me to work in the lives of those I worked with. Of this I never doubted, yet there was always an underlying need to change.

As I look back, I am beginning to see that it was more than a desire for change, it is always the Holy Spirit telling me that there is more. I am familiar with the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Many times He has pushed me to do things that were hard for me! I think I am just now beginning to understand the way He shows me that there are other things He has for me to do. All too often I have allowed my flesh to drown out His vision for me with anxiety, doubt and disbelief.

In these past few months our Lord has brought me to a place of uncertainty, complete change and humility. He is bringing me closer and closer to a place where I can rest in Him completely. He is stripping away my need for control, my insecurities and my constant need to know.

This is terrifying and freeing!

Losing self is not easy, is not comfortable and is not the type of loss our flesh tell us it is. True spiritual loss give room for us to gain so much more than we could ever imagine.

I know we hear people speak of how loss is gain all the time. I know that I thought I understood that….and I think that I did to a degree…now I understand it even more and it is beautiful.

Again, it’s never comfortable! The process gives us opportunity to persevere and rely on out precious Savior. This builds faith, lifts us higher to Jesus and brings a peace that surpasses all understanding.

As I go through the process of dying to self and being built up by the Spirit, I squirm and tell Him just how much I love and hate it all at once. We need to be honest with Jesus and tell Him exactly how we feel, what we fear and then we need to let it all go. Give it to Him and allow Him to work through us in the way He desired.

This is where we find our true freedom and peace.

Wives

16 Then he said to the woman,

“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you. – Genesis 3:16

In the very beginning, when sin first entered the world, we were told that we would desire to control our husbands. Some time back I came across this and was floored by the realization that I am not alone in this. All married women deal with this on some level. This is part of the curse passed onto our ancestors. This was such a relief to me.

I don’t think of this as an excuse, but as a deep seeded issue that God already knows about and already has a plan for. He is the one that told Eve that this would be true for all women, for all time. It is not just a Melissa thing. It’s a woman thing. Normalizing an issue has a way of easing the burden.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:22-23

This verse can strike a nerve in many a women, I get that, but push past your pride and hear what this verse is truly saying. Submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ. Let your husband lead and love you the way you were meant to. This is not a command to lay down and be a doormat, it’s an invitation to go beyond our pride and to give our husbands the room to grow and lead the way they are meant to.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to talk too much and act out of emotions when I shouldn’t. The best moments in my marriage are when I die to self, raise my husband up, and give him the space he needs to seek our Lord’s guidance. This is not a place of lesser power, it is a place of great responsibility and we can cause damage when we choose any other way. I know that I can attest to that. Oh, how many times my sharp tongue has torn at my poor husband.

1In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over 2 by observing your pure and reverent lives.

3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. 4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 5 This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands. 1 Peter 3:1-5

I am beginning to see more and more that when I am obedient in God’s Word and choose to be silent and respectful, even when my husband is not being loving, it makes a huge impact. There may be suspicion in the beginning on his part, waiting for the wretched woman in me to lash out, but he eventually is changed by my soft response.

I am far from perfect and I fail in this often. I do want to share that those times when I am able to give it all over to God and allow the Holy Spirit to move, I am blown away at the difference. I choose to submit, I choose to respect, I choose to not react to the outbursts towards me and it allows Jesus the space He needs for my husband to hear Him. If I am reactive and sharp, I drown out the Spirit and that is not something I ever want to do. I want to be a tool for Christ to use, not a distraction.

Lord, I am thankful for Your Word and I pray that You continue to strengthen me in my weakness, show me how to follow Your will and to pour Your Spirit into my marriage. I thank You for the amazing work You have already done in our five years together and am so excited to see where You will bring us. You are so good, there are no words. Thank You Jesus.

Day 11 – The Cross Matters

the cross matters

 

Last night the message at church was about staying focused on the cross and to not take it for granted. Have you ever found that you tend to take things for granted when they are readily right before you?

I can think of several things that I tend to take granted as an American. I take my clean water, easy access to an abundance of food, the steady income my husband and I have.

I know that these may seem cliche to some, but it’s a reality. I am fully aware of just how fortunate I am to have been born here in Connecticut. I may struggle from time to time, but my version of struggle is much different from that of others in this world. I believe this applies to my spiritual walk as well.

I often take my salvation for granted. I have eternal life in Jesus and am so thankful. Do I really have any idea how lucky I am? Do I really see the others that do not have this in their life? Do I actively seek to save those around me? I think I need to step it up.

There are believers dying for their faith as we speak. I am free to walk the streets of this country, letting all know that I am a follower of Jesus. I may be judges, I may be shunned, some may even hate me for it, but I will not lose my life. This is huge and I need to exercise that freedom daily.

I don’t think that we should pressure people to believe what we believe, but i do think that we need to share our stories and let people know that they too have access to God. All too many think that they need to have another go before Jesus on their behalf, this is not the case. Jesus is right there waiting for you to turn to Him. Jesus is by your side, protecting you, waiting for you, praying that you will allow Him into your heart. This matters. The cross matters.

We cannot possible comprehend the magnitude of the work accomplished on that cross. We have glimpses and vague ideas really. To think of the burden our Jesus took upon Himself so that we would be saved. That He willingly took on sin, was separated from the Father, conquered the grave, all for us.

I know that I would sacrifice my very life for any one of my children if it would allow them to live. I know in my heart that I would, I believe most parents would. Yet, I know that I still don’t even come close to understanding the sacrifice Jesus made so that we may live.

Don’t get so comfortable with your own salvation that you forget just how huge it is. Don’t allow yourself to become so complacent that you forget about those around you that are destined to an eternity separated from God. Use your freedom, bask in His Glory and share your stories. Let Jesus be known.

Day 10 – Steadfast

Seeking counsel and fellowship are important. Seeking God’s face is most important of all.

God is good and that is all that matters.

The walk is long, hard and backbreaking at times. The great thing is that we are never alone.

I lean on You most of all. A war is waging all around me and only You can protect me. All too often we walk around blind to the damage, pain and brokenness that surrounds us on all sides. Jesus is beginning to open my eyes to it and for that I am thankful.

I live in a place that is hardened against Jesus and I must remember that He has put me here for a reason. When God brought me into existence, He did so with a purpose. It is so easy to lose sight of that and just go through the motions.

I don’t want to take this life for granted. I don’t want to fall. I don’t want to curl up and fade away. These are the whispers of the enemy. He tells me that I am no good, that all I want to do is not worth it. The darkness creeps in and tries to render me useless. I will not succumb.

The burden is heavy at times, but all I have to do is remember that Jesus us by my side sharing it.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I am learning to be ok with being weary and heavy-laden at times. It is alright to acknowledge it so long as I bring it before Christ. In all I have been challenged with, I have seen that it is deepening my understanding and strengthening my faith. I can feel Jesus lifting the burdens off of me and showing me the way to walk.

I am not perfect in the struggle. My emotions have been all over the place as my heart has been tested. I have lashed out and I am not proud of that. The great thing is that I am seeing where it is coming from, I am learning to pull it back and open it up before the throne. I am using this time as a place to be still before the Almighty and to ask Him to heal the places that are ripping apart inside.

Every moment is an opportunity and a lesson. God moves in all things. God uses everything for His greater good if I allow Him to.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. – Romans 8:28

This verse reminds me that I have a responsibility in all things. We live in a broken world and in the center of a spiritual war. Bad things will happen. Spiritual attacks will push us to the edge. It’s ok to struggle, it’s ok to fall apart, and it’s ok to not have the answers. I must always remember to turn back and bring it before Jesus so that He can turn it all around. He will bring all things to a place of goodness and love, it’s up to us to allow Him the room He needs to do this work. He will not force Himself into our lives, we must invite Him in.

Day 9 – Beginning and End

Part of a song we have been singing in worship has been on my heart.

You, you are my first, You are my last, You are my future and my past…..

…You are the beginning and the end

I find myself humming and singing these words without even realizing it half the time. This morning it resonated deep within. Jesus, You are the beginning and the end of all things. You were here before the creation of the world and You will continue to be after it is not more. These are facts that I can rest on. This brings me comfort.

More than that, You are the beginning and the end of all things in my life. When I face a trial, I bring it to You first. I lay it before You and ask for Your guidance and protection. Generally, I get lost in the middle somewhere. I being to lose focus of where I am going, I struggle to not allow the anxiety to swallow me up, I cling to You. At the end of it all I know that You were there all along, that You are still there and I give You all the glory. At the end I am falling on my knees in thanksgiving and praise.

You are the first and the last. You surround me. Nothing can get in the way of You, Lord.

Many think that making Jesus your everything diminishes the other relationships in your life, this is not the case. Jesus magnifies and deepens everything, especially relationships.

My life was a shallow one compared to how I live today. Jesus has a way of peeling away layers that you didn’t even know were there. He is faithful, He is transforming and He is beautiful. When You invite Him in, You gain access to all that He is and there are no words to describe the power in that.

Christianity gets a bad wrap and for some good reasons. I would say that you cannot judge all the followers of Jesus based on those that chose to abuse His name. This applies to all cultures and races. I know that I once attacked the Christian faith and am so glad that Jesus loved me through it all. I am so happy that I gave Him a chance, that I walked into that church all those years ago. I am so thankful that I swallowed my pride and embraced His forgiveness.

I am still me and that will never change. I am flawed, I am a wreck and I have a long road ahead of me, but I have a peace that I have never experienced before. Jesus brings such contentment, such love and compassion that it is impossible not to pass that along to the people in your life. As you deepen your walk with our mighty Creator, you automatically deepen your relationship with the world around you. As Jesus transforms your heart, you no longer are capable of indifference and selfishness to the degree you once were. The key is allowing Him in to bring about that transformation. Only you can get in the way.

 

Day 8 – Friends

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. – Proverbs 18:1

Recent events have shown me that isolation, when feeling uncertain, achieves nothing.

I know for sure that I cannot be left to mull over the things that are bothering me. That is a recipe for disaster, it gives our enemy space to whisper lies and distract me. I need to bring it before the Lord, I need to seek council. God uses His people so I look to my Christian family for advice. I will ask them for prayer and then I bring their words before the Lord and ask Him to show me truth.

Isolation kills community, kills communion and breeds paranoia.  When I choose to cut myself off I am no longer able to hear words of wisdom. In am choosing to sit in the darkness.

Seeking other’s advice is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It’s harder to put my pride aside and to allow myself to be vulnerable before another. Sometimes it’s physically difficult to do so.

Why should I worry about what others might think of me? Should they choose to judge me, well that’s their problem to deal with. I am a child of God, only Jesus can pass judgment and He taken my judgment upon Himself.

I only need to keep my eyes on Jesus and follow where He leads, speak to those He tells me to speak to and rely on Him in troubled times. Isolation is not an option.

Merely being in the presence of others does not guarantee that you’re not in isolation. I have walk through crowds and sat with friends while isolating myself and cutting myself off. Connecting takes effort and we must watch that we don’t shut others out.

Some days are easier than others. Some people are easier than others.

Choose to share your burdens as we are called to. Let people in, Jesus will keep you safe. Lay down your pride, push past the struggle, release the urge to build those walls. We are all part of a body, we must care for each other and function together. This cannot be done if we start isolating ourselves.

Your brothers and sisters love you dearly. Let your family care for you as you would care for them. Don’t take that blessing away from them. Let Christ work through them. Be in prayer and acknowledge where you are.

Choose life, choose community, choose healing and choose love. Don’t walk away from those that would help carry your burdens. Don’t cut off those that know you better than you know yourself at times.  Let us all push past the shame, the guilt, the pain, and choose to be vulnerable.

Love one another as Christ loves the church. Acknowledge that we need each other and that it doesn’t make us weak. See the strength in community and cherish it. In joy, in sorrow, I choose Christ and the family that I have found through Him.