Thursday, June 30, 2011

God Speaking

This past weekend was rough for me.  Lately, I haven’t felt so well.  I’m exhausted by the afternoon, even if I haven’t done much, and my body is battling some chronic pain.  I had  lots to accomplish in between Friday and Sunday; unfortunately, I overextended myself, and my body and mind just wanted to shut down. Also, some personal concerns over a loved one’s recent poor choices and even poorer attitude, plus waiting for the results to come back on blood work I'd had done last week to test for cancer, caused me to experience attack upon attack of fear, anxiety and depression. I was a mess on Sunday night as I mindlessly surfed around on the Internet, checking my emails, purusing other people’s overtly jovial Facebook updates (are other people really THAT happy and carefree all of the time?) and reading some of the blogs I follow. 

There’s one particular blog  I always enjoy landing on, because the writings are not only wise, thought provoking and hilarious, but so gut wrenchingly real and transparent.  The name of the blog is “Cupcakes, Sprinkles and Other Happy Things” (don't let the cutesy title fool you) and its author is Jenny Simmons, singer for the Christian band, Addison Road.  The title of her latest entry was ‘Road Trip,’ which showed pics of her little girl, Annie, sitting in her car seat, munching on some messy Oreos and cuddling a fluffy, pink stuffed monkey in her arms.  Between the adorable photos and funny captions Jenny wrote beneath them, I was soon smiling, then laughing out loud.  Oh, and I got such a kick out of the fact that the pink monkey being held in a love grip by little Annie was identical to the one that my husband won for me down the shore last year and which now resides in the place of honor on my side of the bed!  Too funny. After an entire weekend that seemed to consist of mostly moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth on my part, it was GOOD to be able to smile...and laugh...and smile and laugh some more.

So right then and there, I decided to leave a comment on Jenny's page, to let her know that something so simple and innocent as a few precious pictures and some well placed words had given me some much needed joy and laughter. I never expected it to go any farther than that...but it did.

On Monday night, I logged onto my computer to find that Jenny had written a reply and it wasn’t to say thank you for commenting on her page. If I may share her words:

"Good morning Pam. I have so been there. The anxiety that feels paralyzing. The phsyical pain of lingering illness. And the loneliness/frustration of wondering why everyone else in the world seems to have neither! I just wanted to encourage you this morning. Keep your head up. Keep smiling. Keep finding things to delight in.

I woke up thinking about you this morning... weird... because I don't even know you! But yesterday when I read your comment, I was sitting on the couch, and for some reason the TV was paused on a commercial. It said, "You have cancer. Cancer doesn't have you." And I thought how strange it was that those exact words were frozen up there when I read about your pain. So I woke up thinking about it this morning and felt led to remind you- You have pain. Pain doesn't have you. You have anxiety. Anxiety doesn't have you. You are 'had' by Someone much bigger."

'  Her words made me catch my breath.  And then start to cry.  Her reference to the cancer commercial completely blew me away.  In my original comment to her, I had made no mention of my past battle with cancer, or that the anxiety I’m struggling with came from fear of its possible recurrence.  I sat there at my kitchen table, shaking my head, just so overcome by all she'd said to me. How could she have known?  Clearly, this was a message of comfort and encouragement that the Lord had prepared for me, using Jenny to convey it so clearly and beautifully.

I was reminded yet again that there are no coincidences or chance circumstances with God.  Nor does He allow people to just randomly enter and exit our lives. There's a point and a purpose to everything God does. I was also reminded in a such a big way that God is so very REAL. Oh YES He is!  He’s not a flying-by-the-seat-of-My-Pants kind of God or some way-high-up-in-the-sky kind of God, distant and indifferent to what’s going on in our daily lives. He’s as close as our breath and closer than our skin. He loves us. He cares deeply about us. He knows exactly what we need and exactly when we need it. And so very often, He will use and speak through other people...sometimes people we don't even know bring us the message we need to hear.

There are days in which we can find ourselves in such a state of physical, emotional and mental pain that it takes a Herculean effort just to take a breath, get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other without continually bursting into tears along the way.  In times like these,  let's be alert....and be listening....because somehow, some way, God may be speaking to you and to me.

Have you ever cried a tear that
You could not explain?
Have you ever met a stranger
Who already knew your name?
What if it's Him?
What if it's God speaking?

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us
Get our attention to prove He is enough
He'll do and He'll use
Whatever He wants to

To tell us "I love you." ~ Mandisa, 'God Speaking'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worship Song Sunday -- Even If Not, by Dave Pettigrew @Liquid Church

Dear ones,

Worship the LORD, Your God and allow Him access to your heart, mind and soul through this song. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Even If Not

There are a lot of really great Old Testament stories in the Bible that I just love.  Like the story of Joseph, whose brothers threw him down a hole in the hopes they’d be rid of him and his dreams, but who later wound up becoming Pharoah’s right hand man and saved his family from starvation.  Or the story of Esther, an orphan girl whose true beauty swept away a king and brought her up to queenly status, and whose godly wisdom and discernment helped to save her people from certain death.  And then, my personal favorite, the story of Job, the upright man who lost everything, yet gained a personal audience with his Creator.

I’ve heard these stories over and over during sermons, bible studies and in Sunday school, and I feel I know them well enough to rattle them off when necessary.  Maybe a little too well. The stories can become rote and sometimes, I fear I’ve missed the real lesson. Take the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (or Rack, Shack and Benny, for those of us who are closet Veggie Tales fans ).  In the Book of Daniel, these are the three young men who get thrown into the fiery furnace after refusing to bow down to worship the golden idol built by King  Nebuchadnezzar.  The king gets so irritated with them by their steadfast refusal of worship that at one point, he orders the furnace to be turned up seven times hotter than it already is.  The soldiers who throw the trio into the flames wind up burned and dead themselves, but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are observed by the king in the fire, walking around with someone else!  And after the king has them taken out, none of them are burned and they don’t even smell like smoke!  I’m enthralled by this story every time I hear or read it, and I always come away meditating on the lesson that God is with us even in the worst of circumstances.  And while that is true,  it’s really not the whole story. There is much more to it. Today, I was confronted...and the other, more difficult lesson that I seem to miss every time (perhaps by choice?).  

On my drive in to work, I was listening to a song by a guy named Dave Pettigrew.  It was co-written by the pastor of Dave’s church who found himself completely bowled over by his father’s diagnosis of lymphoma some years ago.  The song is called, “Even If Not,” and even though I’ve listened to it several times before, the lyrics of the chorus hit me today in quite a different way, causing me to ask myself some hard questions that drove home the deeper lesson.

I know my God will rescue me,
I know my God will come and save the day;
But even if not,
Even if not,
Even if not, I will worship You.

These words echo what the three young men tell the king: “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

Wow.  It can be easy to tell God that I love Him and I worship Him when everything in my life is just peachy keen and moving along swimmingly.  But what about when it isn’t? What about when the bloodwork comes back positive for cancer?  Or when the prayed for marriage relationship continues to fall apart?  What happens when the ‘perfect’ child turns into the prodigal child?  Can I join Daniel’s peers and Dave Pettigrew’s pastor in worshiping God when He DOESN’T step in and save the day?  Can I, in all honesty, sincerely sing along with this song and mean it?  I thought about an ugly situation I had found myself in recently with someone where my reaction was NOTHING like Shadrach’s, Meshach’s or Abednego’s, and I’m ashamed to say that my answer has to be, for now, a dismaying ‘no.’

But I’m thankful that my Father God is loving and compassionate, forgiving and merciful, patient and persistent.  I’ve no doubt that He will provide me with many opportunities to learn (and re-learn) and understand this lesson of worshiping Him even when His answers to my anguished prayers aren’t the ones I’m looking for. Even when I'm faced with an 'even if not' moment.

Thanking God and worshiping Him in the midst of the trials and difficulties that He allows shows our deep trust in Him, knowing these are the very things that strengthen us.  While God delights in giving us, His children, good and wonderful things, just as we delight in doing the same for our own children, He also knows that it’s during those ‘fiery furnace’ times that our true colors of faith will come blazing forth.

What about you today?  When you lose your job or your home.....have your heart shattered by someone you love (AGAIN!)....find a lump in your body that shouldn’t be there....receive the late night phone call from the police about your son or daughter.....when there seems to be no end to the pain in your life....will you continue to believe that God still cares? Will you still choose to worship Him when confronted by an 'even if not' moment?  Will you join me in persevering to learn and live out this lesson?

Even if we’re thrown into the fire
Even if the flames burn even brighter
We will stand, covered in the ashes of despair
We will stand singing praises, even when it feels like You’re not there

And when our hearts grow faint Lord,
We’ll find the strength to say,

We know our God will rescue us
We know our God will come and save the day
But even if not, even if not, even if not,

We will worship You tonight, tonight ~ Even If Not, Dave Pettigrew

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Worship Song Sunday - Oh Great Love - Robbie Seay Band

I have a confession to make.

I'm a thief.

Yes, dear ones, I'm about to come clean.

I stole...someone else's....idea. Bwah ha ha!!!

C'mon, you didn't really think I was serious now, did you?

Some years ago, my sweet friend, Carol Mehl, used to do something on her blog called "Worship Song Sunday. Each Sunday, she'd post a worship song video from YouTube. I used to really look forward to the songs she chose, they were always so wonderful, many seeming to come along at a particular time I desperately needed to hear them and sing them out to God. Sometimes, she'd even ask us, her faithful blog readers, for our musical suggestions. And I was always more than happy to oblige.

I loved Carol's  idea so much, I decided to steal it and begin doing the same here on Sundays.

Well, so okay...maybe I didn't steal the idea. Let's just say I kind of borrowed it.

The song I chose for today is by the Robbie Seay Band and it's called, "O Great Love." I hope the words and music will help you to push away every distracting, worrisome and hurtful thought, lift the weight of your burdens from your shoulders and fill your heart with joy and love for your God and King as you sing to Him.

Be blessed!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

'Child Rest In Me'

Well, it's Saturday, and for many of us out there, it's the end of a long work week and for some, the end of a whirlwind school year.   I'm still exhausted from my crazy week, even after a long nap yesterday and a good night's sleep.  Weekends tend to be extremely busy times for me and this weekend proves to be no different, with cleaning, lots of errands and graduation parties looming on the horizon. In two separate posts from last week and yesterday, I spoke of finding rest in weariness, and included an excerpt from the devotional book, "Jesus Calling" about doing just that.

I'm all too aware of how easy it is to get all caught up in the busyness of the day. More and more things to do and events to attend get added to an already overly piled high plate. Throw in some worry and anxiety over various difficulties I'm having or over what I've failed to accomplish on my list and before I know it, it's the end of the day and I find myself completely stressed and drained. Worst of all, I realize I've continually pushed Jesus far to the side the whole time.  Did I notice Him patiently waiting for me?  Did I even speak to Him at all, except maybe for a brief time in the morning (and then, usually to quickly hand over the list I created for Him, asking for this, that or the other)?  Did I invite Him to come along with me on my many excursions?   Did I take time to stop and thank Him for anything, or to ask for His direction and guidance or to just be still and listen to His side of the conversation as I went about with my plans and errands? Sadly, too often my answer to these questions is a big, fat "No."

I came across an online poem by someone named Becky LaPrarie that touched my heart, one that I'd like to share with you all here. It's a very simplistic yet beautiful reminder to me and to you that Jesus longs for us to stop all of our striving and busyness, and take some time to relax....with Him!

May today be the start of something new for each of us....remembering to stop along the way to take a breath or two (or twenty) and find our rest in Jesus:


Child, I watch you as you wrestle with life’s
Ups and downs
Come unto Me and we can talk about them
As I rid you of all of your frowns

Put your burdens at the foot of the cross
And leave them there
For I am here to comfort you and to show
You how much for you that I care

I know things get rough but let Me say
I will help you always so
Just call on Me night or day

Nothing is going to happen that I can’t handle
You must by faith hold on
Until the last breath from your body is gone

I won’t forsake you nor leave you alone
I don’t expect you to make it on your own

Lay down in peace, dear one
For I will be here
When you awake
Your burdens and sins then from you will I take

When the storms rage outside
of your window be ye not afraid
For storms are also creations I have made

I will guard you and keep you from all harm
I will guide you and make everything alright
For I will forever keep you in my sight
©Copyright 2005 Becky LaPrarie

Friday, June 17, 2011

Rest In Your Weariness (from a "Jesus Calling" devotional)

Below  is an excerpt from the "Jesus Calling" devotional book I use during my morning prayer times. Even though it's not this day's actual devotional,  I thought it quite relevant to share here.   This morning, I am beyond weary and on the path to completely exhausted.  The past several weeks have been so busy, busy, busy, with getting things in place for my daughter's 8th grade social and my son's vocational and high school graduations.  Last night culminated in over a decade of public school education for my son, and today, I am the proud mother of a high school graduate and a high school freshman. After my son's graduation ceremony, his school had a chaperoned, locked down, all night celebration at a local college, called 'Project Graduation.' After running all day, and physically and emotionally drained, I had the task of driving him out there at 11:00 PM and picking him up this morning at 6:00. I had about 4 hours of sleep and now it's on to work.

I'm sure many of you can relate, although your circumstances are different. At one time or another, we've all been in 'that place' of weariness.  Maybe today is just that kind of day for you. So as you read the devotional below, I want you to picture yourself sitting on the front porch of a cozy cabin in a wooded area of the mountains, overlooking a beautiful, peaceful lake in the early morning.  The sun is almost up and the temperature is slightly cool.  You're in a cushioned wicker chair, wrapped in a soft, light blanket.  And you’re so very tired. Birds have begun to sing softly, there's a slight aroma of honeysuckle and lilac in the air.  You smile, because Jesus is seated in the chair right next to you.  There is no one else around.  It’s just the two of you, so His entire focus is on you as He leans forward, looks directly into your eyes, and speaks tenderly to you:

"Come to Me for rest and refreshment.  The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary.  Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different.  Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be.  You will get through today one step, one moment at a time.  Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.

This sounds like an easy assignment, but it is not.  Your desire to live in My Presence goes against the grain of ‘the world, the flesh and the devil.’  Much of your weariness results from your constant battle against these opponents.  However, you are on the path of My choosing, so do not give up! Hope in Me, for you will again praise Me for the help of My Presence."  (Romans 8:28 {AMP}; Psalm 42:11 {NASB})

As you read and visualize yourself within this scenario, may you find Christ's comfort and healing, rest, peace and strength to bring you through the remainder of the day.

Are you looking for someone to be gentle
With your broken heart your shattered dreams
And are you searching for someone who'll be faithful
To you no matter what life brings?
Well I know the Maker of the storm the sunrise
He is both the lion and the lamb
He is strong enough to shake all earth and heaven
Yet meek enough to take me as I am.

He says come unto Me
All who are weary
And I will give you rest
Bring what hurts
Bring your scars
Bring the load that you carry
And I will give you rest ~ Nicole C. Mullen

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Got Faith?

Then He went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, "He is out of his mind." (Mark 3:20-21, ESV)

Recently, a friend and I were talking about how, when trials and hard times come, it can be so tempting to give up on our faith in Christ, and go back to our old ways of dealing with the stress. The enemy whispers in our ears that not only are we failures, but that God has failed us as well, and we begin to doubt His goodness, His faithfulness, His love and grace for us.  Although we've heard God’s Word to us, seen His majesty and power at work in our lives and experienced His love and favor, provision and protection, we still begin to doubt and it’s not a far fall from there to our giving up on Jesus and giving in to old ways and temptations. We stop believing that Jesus is Who He says He is....our Savior, our Redeemer, the Lover of our soul.  My friend told me that a mutual sister-in-Christ was feeling this way as she deals with a daunting and exhausting family issue involving her siblings and their ill, aging parents, and that lately, she's battled the temptation to go back to her former lifestyle of drinking and using drugs. My friend also confessed to wrestling with that same temptation herself lately as she struggles with her own difficult family situations. She said she’s felt that she isn't a ‘good Christian,’ because her faith and belief in Jesus just isn't strong enough.  If it was, then surely her life would be a smooth ride overflowing with blessings on a daily basis, minus all the potholes of trials and temptations, sorrows and sufferings she'd been experiencing. She shared that this is what she'd been taught and told by people over the years!

I told her there are people out there teaching and preaching, in church and on TV, a gospel of health, wealth, prosperity and favor that comes as a result of placing your faith in Jesus Christ, BUT their message is twisted.  True, faith-filled followers of Christ don’t skip down a garden path continually strewn with petals of blessings and favor; there will be many seasons of difficulties, setbacks, discouragement, pain and sorrow in our lives (Jesus DID say that in this world we would have trouble).  I've found it's often a struggle to maintain your faith in Him when dark days manifest themselves, even though you’ve witnessed and experienced amazing things He’s done in your life and in the lives of other followers around you.

For instance, there's a situation in my own life with a family member that seems hopeless. I see no positive changes, only negative, discouraging ones. I’m not handling it well at all and in fact, I know my thoughtless words, reactions and immature attitudes have only made things worse. I’ve been wondering when God's Divine intervention and perfect timing are going to kick in here, because I’m about ready to give up. I shared with my friend that I too have been tempted lately to revert to my old ways of drinking, just to ease the stress and pain I'm feeling daily. My faith walk with Jesus is looking more like a weak limp or a stumbling gait. But rather than just keep this as a women's venting session, I felt I needed to turn things around. I wanted to lift up my friend and encourage her...and myself while I was at it. But what could I say?

That's when the story in Mark 3 of Jesus’s family coming to bring Him home because they thought He’d lost His mind just popped into my head. I had no idea where THAT was going to take us, but it was as if the Holy Spirit began speaking through me.

I reminded my friend that even Jesus’s own family had 'faith issues,' and didn’t believe that He was Who He said He was. They'd seen and heard about His incredible healings and other miracles, and watched as people just dropped what they were doing immediately to follow Him. Yet in this passage, here was Jesus’s mother and brothers on their way to the house where He staying, wanting to bring Him back home because they thought He was crazy (Mark 3:20-21). And that’s when it hit me.  Could Jesus’s very own mother, Mary, have actually doubted Who her son was for a time? Had her faith in Him somehow been shaken?  Mary, who was visited by the angel Gabriel with a message that she was to be the mother of the Son of God; who watched as both local lowly shepherds and upper crust wise men from afar came to pay homage to the Holy Infant she cuddled in her arms. Mary, who was an eyewitness to both Simeon’s and Anna’s joyful proclamations that her Child was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Mary who, along with her husband, Joseph, after searching for 3 daysand finally finding an MIA 12 yr. old Jesus, listened as He told them that He was to be about His Father's business.  Had she forgotten about these things? Did she think it was all just a dream? Because here she is now, heading out with the family unit and thinking her Son is a lunatic.

Now, I grew up in the Catholic church, and heard countless sermons about how pure, holy and perfect Mary was.  Yet here in this gospel account that I’ve read over many times since coming into a relationship with Christ, it suddenly jumps out to me that Mary herself seemed to have stumbled into a pit of unbelief for a season. She struggled just as we struggle!  This different view and understanding of this Scripture was SUCH a revelation for my friend and I as we continued with our discussion. Who are we to think that we should be any better, stronger and more faith-filled than Mary? Or that we are failures as Christ followers because we have moments of weakened faith? Or that we should just give up on ourselves and on Jesus and go back to being who we used to be?!

Thankfully, God doesn’t cast us aside or give up on us when we struggle with doubt or unbelief. On the contrary, He loves us anyway, waiting patiently for us to come back to our senses, while continuing to move in our difficult circumstances and inviting us to run to, lean on, trust in, look for and worship Him in the midst of them. Because He knows the great plans that He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  God had great plans for Mary. We see later that once her doubt was removed and her faith was refreshed, she follows Jesus all the way to the cross, tearfully rooted at the foot of it that day, standing by her Son, while all but one of Jesus’s best buds, who earlier had pledged total devotion and allegiance to Him, were back at the upper room, cowering in fear and broken faith, no doubt in need of a change of undergarments.   And then, in the book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit descends upon the crowd in the upper room during Pentecost, Mary is right there to receive Him along with all of Jesus’s other disciples.  She's ready to move out, share the Gospel and continue to be used by God.  And so can we, despite our own wrestling matches with doubt and weak faith.  Because there will continue to be days when we stumble and fall in our walk of faith.  So remember Mary's story. We’re in good company, dear ones; we’re not alone.

 I hear you say you're alone
I hear you saying that you'll never make it
I've got to tell you you're wrong
'Cause I have been down this path you're taking
You never know what faith is
'Til you don't understand
Sometimes it takes a silence
To finally hear His plan

Oh, listen to the sound of hope that's rising
Up over your horizon
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
And listen to the sound of a new beginning
Oh, this is where the old is ending
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound ~ Building 429

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jesus Calling Devotional

From the moment I opened my eyes yesterday morning, it was nothing but chaos. I stayed up WAY too late the night before, working on a project.  I woke up late and failed to have my time alone with the Lord.  There was a lot on my plate, and people just seemed to keep heaping more and more onto it.  I was pretty much running around like the proverbial chicken without a head.  Among other things, I was trying to coordinate rides to a Mercy Me concert that a group of friends and I were going to attend later in the evening, as well as trying to find a ride for my son, who had a friend's party to attend the same time as the concert, but 30 miles away in the opposite direction.  There was a panic attack just waiting in the wings for me, and I found myself being snippy with everyone.  I'd considered sticking my head in the oven, but thankfully, my son was using it to bake something at the time.

Later in the afternoon, while talking with one of my friends who was coming to the concert, she thanked me for telling her about a devotional book by Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling," and that she had gone out and bought it recently.  She told me a particular entry had been so pertinent for her that morning and asked me if I had read it. I sheepishly admitted I hadn't, and confessed that I had totally blown off my time with the Lord in the past few days. My friend very kindly told me to 'Breathe, Pam," and proceeded to read the devotional to me over the phone.  Once we got off the phone, I decided to grab my own copy of "Jesus Calling" and read it over again myself.  Because after the morning I'd had, it was certainly right-on-the-money for me as well, and I needed its message to infuse me.  

Yes, I believe I could have saved myself lots of anxiety and frustration had I taken the time to sit and be still before the Lord in the morning. I would have heard Jesus calling and saying this to me:

"Rest in Me, My child.  Give you mind a break from planning and trying to anticipate what will happen.  Pray continually, asking My Spirit to take charge of the details of this day. Remember that you are on a journey with Me.  When you try to peer into the future and plan for every possibility, you ignore your constant Companion,  Who sustains you moment by moment.  As you gaze anxiously into the distance, you don't even feel the strong grip of My hand holding yours.  How foolish you are, My child!

Remembrance of Me is a daily discipline.  Never lose sight of My Presence with you.  This will keep you resting in Me all day, every day."   (Scripture references: 1 Thessalonians 5:17; Psalm 62:5

Thank You, Jesus.  I can breathe now.

I've held my breath for all my life
But I am breaking free tonight
And I'm coming up to breathe ~ Mercy Me


“What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?” ~ Laura Story

I woke up this morning with this song in my head.  Which I’m grateful to God for, since I went to sleep with feelings of ugly anger and bitter resentment in my heart. 

The other night on Facebook, I felt bombarded by all the posts from people whose teens had received or were receiving senior awards - while feeling hurt and resentful that my son did not.  Last week, everywhere I looked I saw pictures posted of the teens who attended their Senior Prom and tortured myself by reading all the wonderful comments from friends and, of course, the proud parents - while feeling sad and bitter because my son did not attend his.  And then later, I read that a friend’s teen and school mate of my son’s received a scholarship to a local college my son plans on attending this fall - and felt angry and envious because my son received nothing.  Add to this the fact that someone close to my son  whom we both admire and consider a friend is about to disappoint him (he’s already disappointed me with his news) and I was NOT a happy camper! 

I threw myself an incredibly huge pity party before I retired for the evening.  I knew it was wrong to feel that way, wallowing in my own ilk and self-pity and acting like such a whiner baby.   After all, am I not the one who is constantly telling one of my dear friends who is struggling and feeling like she and her family have been given the short end of the stick for some time now in the blessings department to NOT compare herself and her life to other people’s?  Am I not the one reminding her that looking at life through eyes clouded by entitlement and envy, bitterness and resentment is unhealthy and an enemy tactic that causes spiritual blindness?

Ahh, yes...I’m quite good at dispensing sage advice to others, but not so good at following it myself.   So, I went to sleep with anger, bitterness, envy, resentment, hurt, self-pity and entitlement as my bed partners.  It’s a wonder that I was able to get any sleep at all with that crowd

But...thank You Lord!....this morning,  I woke up with Laura Story’s song “Blessings” playing on a loop through my head:

What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

So...who am I to look down on another’s joy, envying those whom God has chosen to bless in a particular way because I believe I deserve those very same blessings in my own life, for me and for my family?  Who am I to get angry at God for not giving me MY piece of the pie?   I’m doing the very same thing I preach at my friend NOT to do. 

And I think of my other friend whose teen received the scholarship – do I also want the trials with which this friend has been inundated recently?  Do I envy her loss of marriage and spouse’s love and trust? Loss of her vehicle? Loss of support from her church? Loss of her home, loss of her job?   I should be THRILLED for this gift that God has blessed my friend and her child with, a gift that is so very needed right now.  I shouldn’t be acting like a spoiled rotten brat of a child, whining because she missed the ice cream truck while her friends are all happily and contentedly sitting together on the curb, licking their ice cream cones or Popsicles.

When I take time to think on it, I can see that God has certainly given me my share of blessings, and brought my son from a mighty long way to where he is now. Frankly, years ago when our family was first given our son’s diagnosis of a chromosomal disorder AND an autism spectrum disorder, I never thought we’d wind up as far as we’ve come.  God has blessed us with great education opportunities for him and some amazing and wonderfully kind, caring and compassionate teachers along the way.   And I look back on how God has certainly brought ME from a mighty long way to where I am now.  He’s brought me through loss, rejection, betrayal, violence and illness, among other things. I have no reason to be envious and ungrateful.  I have no reason to be angry and bitter. I have no reason to whine and complain.

I think now of the apostle Paul’s words in the book of Philippians; in chapter two, verse, 14,  he advises us not to grumble or complain.  I like the Amplified Bible’s translation:

“Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining against God and questioning and doubting among yourselves.” 

This is so we will remain pure & uncontaminated, faultless and without guilt, enabling us to reflect Jesus Christ and His character to those in this world who don’t know Him and who have been tainted by all its filth.  But I also take it as being content with the life we’ve been given by God, gratefully accepting all He’s planned for us, taking the good with the bad, rather than wallowing in discontent while foolishly and arrogantly railing against Him Who loves us unfailingly and unconditionally.  And later, in his letter to the Philippians, Paul also speaks of being content in every circumstance.  Again, the Amplified Bible says it best for me in chapter four, verses 11 -13:

“...for I have learned how to be  content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.  I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.  I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency.”

And Job, when niggled by his grief stricken wife to shelve his integrity, call it quits with God, curse Him and die, had this to say then as a reminder to us now:  "Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?" (Job 2:10, HCSB) 

These concerns I’m allowing to get the best of me are truly trivial in the grand scheme of things.  While I continue to struggle with comparing myself to people who seem to be more blessed and highly favored than I am on any given day, it would do well for me to also take time to remember there are those who have it much, much worse in life than I, struggling just to make it through another day, all in one piece.  Lord, I need You to help me to let these things go!!

How do I know what’s around the corner, waiting for me and my family? How can I be sure of what God’s got in store for us next?  Whether it’s blessings, trials or mediocrity, I don’t know and I can’t be sure.  All I do know and am certain of is that God has a plan for my life, for my husband’s, my son’s, my daughter’s lives.  It’s all about accepting that it’s His will, not mine, and moving forward from there, joyfully and gratefully. 

So what if maybe, through trials, unanswered prayers, desires withheld and changed up circumstances....what if MAYBE God has something different and better in mind for us – a lesson to be learned, a strengthening to be given, a transformation to take place -- via a road less traveled that is unfamiliar and unwanted by us, but familiar to God and necessary for us to walk down with Him?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise? ~ Blessings, by Laura Story

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