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Entries in Sovereignty (10)


Ch Ch Ch Changes

I think it was this week (but then who can remember), my co-laborer and fried friend Tracy posted this picture on her Facebook page. Honest to goodness the two of us have looked just like this (on the inside) a lot lately. Why?  The Lord has called us and placed us in an area of the Ministry that is developing.  What does that means exactly?

Ch Ch Ch Changes!  To live and operate in a world that constantly changes - means you need to remain adaptable and flexible.  Sure, that's the real world, but.c'mon now - this does not come natural.  Well, at least not for me!  Adapting and flexing usually means ... stop doing something one way and and start doing them another way.  That means more thinking (or rethinking), learning, figuring something out (a/k/a/ developing)! Thus the above picture. It reminds me of my 3 PM "fried brain feeling".

In my oldish age you would think I'd be used to change and ready to adapt and flex.  Not!  But, praise be to God - I'm learning! Ah, the learning curve.  Just about the time I think I've developed something - something else gets thrown into the mix and it's back to the drawing board, revisiting the idea or scratching it all together and starting from scratch.  Yes, the above picture gives you the inside look into the brain of someone on a long and sharp learning curve.

The Lord's had me (Tracy and a wonderful team of leaders) on a very long and sharp learning curve for a while now and surprisingly I'm learning a lot about change.  That sounds funny but  in the midst of change, the Lord can teach you how to adapt to change and get this... embrace change.  Yep, I said it!  You can learn to embrace change. God is teaching me how to maneuver change. How?  By paying close attention to the emotions that change evokes. Now, let me stop here and say I haven't perfected any of this....but I am learning!

What I've learned is change evokes all kinds of emotions! I'm learning in an even grander way that I really need to stop and pay close attention to my emotions and then discuss those emotions with the Lord so I can understand them and what to do with them so I don't miss my God moment (what God is doing in and through the change).  Lessons learned or being learned:

1.  Ch Ch Ch Changes frustrate me! When I get frustrated I have to watch my thinking and my mouth. I have to be intentional about stopping, taking a deep breath, assessing my emotions and then ask the Lord to help me to walk by the Spirit (respond) rather than walk by the flesh (react). I am learning to stop and ask the Lord to help me understand what He is doing.  You see I want to adapt to the Lord and be flexible before the Lord. When my frustration is shown or expressed, it is rarely pretty and it is certainly not motivating to those around me.  So, I am learning to remind myself that He is sovereign and the author of these Ch Ch Ch Changes in my life. When I can remember to do this, the frustration disappears and I am able to enjoy what God is doing in and through the change.  Yes, I actually said enjoy change.  Oh, glory!

2.  Ch Ch Ch Changes can be scary! Truth is, I don't know how to do half of what the Lord wants me to do.  I've had to learn more new skills in the last few years of my life than I ever expected.  And about things I didn't even know I wanted to know about.  When you spend most of your time realizing you have no idea what you are doing - fear is right there waiting to overtake you!  Sure, I have skills, abilities, experience - but I've learned they are not enough to get the job that God has me doing done.  I've learning to rely upon and trust in God in greater ways.  And you know what? He is ever more faithful and trustworthy,  He always supplies what is needed to accomplish His work. I'm learning that the very work He calls us to accomplish in His name and for His glory is the work that He uses to bring about the most change or transformation in us. Wow - very interesting.  I'm learning that when fear lurks I must be on guard. I must point myself and those around me to seek God for direction, strength...what's needed.  Otherwise, my insecurities kick in, wrong thinking kicks in and it only goes south from there and before you know it I've missed another God moment.

3.  Ch Ch Ch Changes are exhausting!  Boy, those long sharp learning curves can wear you out.  Who knew ones brain could actually get tired of thinking, rethinking and figuring things out.  When I am brain dead  I am no good to anyone and just need to go lock myself in a room somewhere and REST, recharge and refresh.  I am learning I am a danger to myself and others when I keep trying to run on empty. To really enjoy the learning curve you need to be able to concentrate and go at all out speed!  So, physical rest is essential!

4.  Ch Ch Ch Changes are God ordained!  I'm learning this one and this one is a biggy!  If it's true that changes are God ordained (and I believe this is true) then change is good.  So, even though change is not natural (humanly speaking) it is a part of God's plan for my life.  So, I am learning to embrace it, look forward to it and enjoy the Ch Ch Ch Changes!  Weee weee weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


I've a long way to go, baby!

In my last post, I made reference to the feminist movement of the 60's and 70's.  One of the old Virginia Slim's commercials used the slogan:  We've come a long way, baby!  A great reminder to us women (baby) that things weren't what they used to be!

As I've been listening to the book of Job, I reached a point and my first thought:  I've a long way to go, baby!  Why?  Job's response to the devastation of losing his sons, daughters, livestock and home.  Did you know that after he tore his robe and shaved his head (a sign of mourning), he fell to the ground and worshiped?  Rewind...he did what?   He fell to the ground and worshiped!  And, in his worship, he declared "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Okay, wait a minute. I want that. I want to know God like Job knew God so that no matter what devastation and loss comes my way my response is one of worship and one that blesses the name of God.

But wait a minute...as I listen on,  Job's devastation doesn't stop there.
     Next came sore boils.
     Then came friends to sit in silence with him as his physical pain was very great.
     They babbled on and on - convinced that Job needed to fess up and get right with God.

After about 10 chapters of listening to these so-called friends go on and on I found myself saying - enough already!  Ah, but then God speaks...

Oh my!  What God reveals about Himself in the midst of Job's pain, suffering and despair are some of the most incredible insights you'll ever find about God. I believe Job 38-41 are some of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  At the beginning of Chapter 41, Job says:

...I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge? Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes. Job 42:1-6
God showed up and revealed Himself to Job in such a way that he "saw" God.  In the midst of Job's physical and emotional pain, God spoke to Job and told him wonderful things he did not know.  The visual picture that God painted for Job allowed him to "see" God in a fresh and deeper way.  Look, see - God's power and might are seen in creation!  He is everywhere, he sees everything - He knows everything.  I love this one...
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who enclosed the sea with doors When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; When I made a cloud its garment And thick darkness its swaddling band, And I placed boundaries on it And set a bolt and doors, And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; And here shall your proud waves stop’?" Job 38:1-11
Alrighty then.  I'm good - how about you?  I've a long way to go...but God's compels me through His Word - keep going, come closer, look...see...worship!


Grow up!

Back in 2002, Jan Silvious came to my community and talked to us about being spiritual "big girls." In fact, she later wrote her book entitled: Big Girls Don't Whine. The book description says this:

"Do you ever behave like a little girl - pouting, neediness, or manipulation - when you're stressed? Silvious's wisdom-filled book will help you abandon childish ways and become the confident woman God intended! Learn how to resolve conflict peacefully, embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more ."
Jan is an awesome teacher and very wise woman. She's also a hoot! I remember laughing my head off as she painted the picture of a NOT so big girl who whines! I laughed my head off while recognizing my own behaviors. Jan has the ability to do that... Slap you up side the head with truth and make you laugh at the same time. But, I left there with a desire to no longer be a spiritually immature child but a woman determined to - grow up into all aspects of Him - Christ (Eph. 4:15). You know, no longer childish in my thinking and behavior, but mature!

Some time around or shortly after this conference, I began to see the above slogan on plaques, mugs, T-shirts and I loved it. After all, it was the perfect slogan for my new resolve to be grown up in my behavior and thinking...to be spiritually mature in my reactions and responses to my situations and circumstances.

As I look back, it seem the years that followed this new found resolve required a lot of putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it. A growing ministry with growing challenges. A loss of hormones brought on severe hot flashes which brought about sleep deprivation. A lack of hormones combined with a lack of sleep equals all sorts of other issues. Which by the way, I still deal with today. Mix in the normal ups, downs and arounds of life and putting on your big girl panties and dealing with it can be a real challenge.

In fact, several years ago I decided I really didn't like this slogan. In the midst of major ministry concerns, we were planning a large conference and so prayerful that it would turn our community of women upside down for Jesus. But, women weren't registering in the numbers we had hoped and since the conference was expensive there were major financial concerns. In the midst of all this, my parents decided to sell everything they owned and move from GA to PA to live with my husband and me. Because we lived in a 2 story townhouse, we would need to find a home with a first floor bedroom for my parents. And, we only had 2 weeks to do so. A week after my parents arrived and right in the middle of all the moving, we found out my mother had brain cancer - dying only 3 months later. In a matter of months, my father lost his home & possessions, the love of his life, his eyesight and independence. The months after my mothers death brought some health issues for my father and were an adjustment for us all. I had the responsibility of a ministry that was still growing, struggling and requiring much prayer, diligence, perseverance and now also the responsibility of caring for my father - who by the way is a dear man. It meant much less time spent with my husband who would have to go back and forth to NYC without me. Since we'd spent most of our married life apart, we had hoped to never have to spend a lot of time apart ever again. But, you put on your big girl panties and deal with it! Yeppers as they say here in PA - getting real tired of that slogan. Sometime during daddy's 40 radiation treatments, his demon possessed dog making every day in my own home intolerable, and ETC...is when I realized that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it was not humanly possible.

I wasn't sure I wanted to be a big girl about it all and some days I couldn't remember why it was I should be. It was just all too much and a part of me wanted to fall apart. Or at the very least go back to bed, curl up in a ball and leave someone else to deal with it all. What I learned during this time was that every day Jesus got me out of bed and He put my big girl panties on me and He gave me what I needed to deal with it. This is NOT something that can be done - day after day after day - out of resolve or in the flesh.

Life hasn't gotten easier. In fact, just today my husband and I agreed it's harder! Our home's been up for sale for over 6 months and has only been shown 3 times. Tom and I are separated. Thank God he's been provided a warm and inviting apartment at the ministry in which to live but separated from his help mate. It's just not good for man to be alone! His days are long and his responsibilities new. I am beginning to hear the loneliness and discouragement in his voice. We have everything we own up for sale but with the economy the way it is - no one is buying. I'm still struggling to let go of a ministry that God birthed within me and is still a huge part of me. While I have roles and responsibilities at my new job and within a ministry that I love, I'm not sure where I fit yet. I have so much to learn. Plus, I'm here and they are down there. By the time Tom and I touch base with each other in the evenings, we are both brain dead. It's really difficult not being able to share our lives with one another. I show up at my church and people wonder why I'm still around. My days are long and daddy spends a lot of time by himself waiting for his life to be turned upside down with yet another move. And, devil dog is still intolerable. But, God...

For the last couple of weeks though, I've been thinking about that slogan that I don't like. And you know what? I get it in a whole new way and that is VERY exciting. I WANT to put on my big girl panties. Sure, it's for the same reasons as before after hearing Jan Silvious speak...no longer childish in my thinking and behavior but spiritually mature. I want to grow up in all aspects to Him - Christ. As Jan says, I want "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace, and more." But, my motivation is totally different. But it's more than that too. Today, right now, in the midst of all uncertainty and the betwixt and between - I WANT to "embrace responsibility, endure life's storms with grace and more" because I want others to know and see that putting on my big girl panties and dealing with it proves that Jesus is:
...And so much more

I want others to KNOW that Jesus is the reason I WANT to put on my big girl panties and deal with anything. It's not out of some duty or sense of obligation. No, it's because I've experienced the truths from the Word of God about Who He is and what He says about Himself to be absolute truth! It is because I KNOW that during the most difficult times in my life He is the ONE who wakes me up, gets me out of bed, puts my big girl panties on me and gives me the ability to embrace life no matter what AND with grace plus more. Jesus IS my reason for living and He alone is worth living for...

If you've never heard the CD by Anne Graham Lotz and Fernando Ortega you'll find it in the back of Anne's book called "Just Give Me Jesus." It's been on my heart all week and I dug it out and listened to it. I tried to post it on my Facebook but couldn't. It's probably just as well as I'm sure that's illegal - even for purposes of encouragement! You'll love it and your spirits will lift as you hear Anne call out the names and character of Jesus. JESUS - JUST GIVE ME JESUS - and God has! Amen?


God is enough

I haven't seen my husband in about a month now. He is coming home the first weekend of March - halleljuah! But, it could be another month after that and after that...only God knows. We've got pretty much everything we own up for sale, but nobody's really buying. It helps to know that Tom loves what he's doing and for me to know that what he is doing is important. I keep reminding myself that during World War II men went off to war and the women did what they had to do. They were willing to sacrifice for the good of the nation. I'm convinced that my husband has gone to fight the spiritual battle that rages and I must be willing to sacrifice for the good of others. There are days when I must also fight - in different ways. The emotions that come with being separated from my husband, stuck in this house with my daddy's demon possessed dog, trying to do & learn a job via the phone and internet, the looming loss of "things" and ministry... The emotions of life have the potential of taking you down to the pit if you don't take up the Word of Truth and use it to do battle. Today, I attended - for the very LAST time a Truth for Women month of prayer gathering. It could have been painful, but we focused on God's Sovereignty and I was strengthened, encouraged and reminded of what Job said....The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21). While I have NEVER suffered physically or suffered such great loss as Job, I am so very, very grateful that I can know God the way that Job knew God. I do know God because I know God's Word. While getting my work done this afternoon, I've been pondering all these things in my heart. While checking email, someone sent me to the new GodTube now known as Tangle sight and I found the below on the front page. Perfect truth for girding up ones loins. God IS enough. May God be glorified. (Below is by John Piper.)


He "hung the moon"

If you refer to someone as having "hung the moon" it means you think they are extremely wonderful, amazing or good! Well, my Father God hung the moon and this week that moon has been glorious. BIG, round, bright and just hanging there. That reality always takes my breath away. When the moon is full like this, I love stopping and thinking about the fact that I live on a planet that hangs in the middle of a vast universe and I'm standing there looking at this huge moon that also hangs in the middle of a vast universe. God causes this! This truth boasts of His might and His power. I stand in awe of my Father God for He literally and figuratively "hung the moon." Yes, He is extremely wonderful, amazing and good and I look to Him fixing my gaze upon Him. He is mine and I am His. What a wonder...

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25