28 April 2013

Believing God

Leaving my comfort zone is a curious thing.  One minute I stand in awe of the beauty of promise and possibility, brimming with the excitement of coming alive.  In the very next moment it takes all I've got not to turn and run.  Fast.  As far as I possibly can. 

When I signed up to attend In(RL) my thinking was, being cluelessly called to women's ministry, that it would be helpful to get to know some ladies who've gone ahead of me.  Rub shoulders a bit and maybe I could learn something from these women with more experience than I.  God had other ideas.

Instead I crashed head-on into my fears and insecurities.  Smacked me upside the head and sent me into a tailspin like I haven't experienced in years.  Now, before I go further let me say that on the off-chance that any of the sweet ladies who attended In(RL) with me happen to read this, this has nothing to do with you!  Everyone was warm and gracious and I'm so sorry I let my insecurities get the best of me.  Again.  Moving on.

I'm not going to get into all the nitty-gritty details of what made me this way.  Let's just say that I do not remember a time in my life where I felt good enough.  I have no traumatic experiences to pull out of my hat to explain my insecurities, no childhood abuse or devastating loss.  Yet I have an inferiority complex like nobody's business and I've been rocking that thing since kindergarten.  Yes, I remember feeling this way as early as kindergarten.  I don't remember too much before that.

I'm going to stop right there and say, God is doing amazing things in my life.  He has been present in ways I have never known before, even back when I spent a summer in missions and thought I could not feel closer to Him.  He has been lifting me out of the muck and mire and showering me clean with his love.  I am finally beginning to understand what it means to believe the Bible, to believe God.

But it's a process.  Yesterday reminded me of that.  I left the gathering shaken to the core from the full force of coming face to face with my fears.  I realized God did not send me there to learn about women's ministry but to learn about me.  We need to face our fears in order to kick them to the curb and more than likely they'll need to be kicked to the curb more than once. 

It's a beautiful thing to hear the voice of God saying I am not that girl.  There is freedom and joy and utter, absolute peace in feeling God's hand on my shoulder.  That is what makes it possible for me to face the fear and insecurity and fight another day.  It makes it possible for me to take that next step out of my comfort zone, and the next, and the next.  It makes it possible for me to believe what God says about me.  To believe God...what a beautiful thing.

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep you away.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
Isaiah 43:1-3

05 April 2013

Stumblin' Along

I was reading over a few of the blog posts I've written so far and something jumped out at me.  Apparently I like to use the word "stumbled" when referring to a Bible verse.  As in, "I stumbled across this today..."  That struck me as funny because, you see, I happen to be rather clumsy. 

At any given time I can usually find at least one bruise that I cannot remember where it came from and I'm currently sporting matching brush burns on my knees from tripping on the steps and landing hard in the foyer square on my knees.  Amazingly, no blood was involved but the can of Cherry Coke I hurled across the hard floor looked pretty battered. 

I believe God values our little, seemingly insignificant prayers and so I'm sure he was enjoying my gushes of thanks that the soda can was intact and not gushing itself all over my floor...and walls and front door and carpeted stairs.  You get the picture.  My knees (and big toe - go figure) hurt ALOT but nothing would have brought me to tears quicker than a busted soda can.  I may or may not have cried when I exploded a can of soda in the freezer a few years ago. 

Let me give you a word of advice.  If you ever decide to stick your favorite carbonated beverage in the freezer for a quickie cool down...don't forget it's there.  You will regret the decision and I guarantee you won't do that again.  Unless you like to live dangerously.  Then, for the love of all that is frozen, please set a timer to remind you it's in there. 

27 March 2013

But what can I do?

The sun is shining today.  Snowflake (the cat) is snoring softly on the back of the sofa.  The house is quiet and peaceful.  I have so much to be grateful for.

I had the chance to have lunch with my former boss and coworkers last week and my boss's daughter joined us.  She shared about her years living in a Los Angeles neighborhood where you did not leave the house after dark.  Unless there was a problem at a nearby university, you would not see a police officer.  She lived in an area under gang rule.  What got me were the children, so many of which believe they have no alternative for survival but to join the gangs.

I did not ask or do anything to deserve to be born here.  Neither did my son.  It is humbling to recognize all we have and know that we are no more important than any of those children, yet here we are, safe in this beautiful rural community. 

Yesterday I stumbled upon these verses found in the book of Isaiah 58:9-11.

"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail."

When I think about it all, the suffering and sorrow of the innocent children, it overwhelms me, but Mother Teresa had a little something to say about that:  "Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you."  What a great thought to remember. 

I may not be able to save neighborhoods from the cycle of poverty and violence but I can take the neighborhood children to bible school.  I can spend some of my grocery money on items for the local food bank.  I can sponsor a child through Compassion or World Vision.  There are countless little things I can do that seem to make no difference in the world but may make all the difference in the lives of an individual.  That is what we are called to do.  That and to stop and say Thank You for all of our blessings.

22 March 2013

The Promises of God

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
(Isaiah 43:18-19)

I'm not quite sure how I've been a Christian for most of my life, raised in the church, attending a Mennonite school for the first 8 years of my education, and somehow managed to be so oblivious to the sheer volume of loving promises found in the Bible. 

You could always find at least one of those little Bible Promise books scattered around my house.  My Mennonite education led to a respectable knowledge of Bible trivia.  I've never read through the entire Bible, but I do read the Bible.  And yet it all seems new. 

As I've searched for Him in the midst of my emotional healing he has been faithful.  I have been overwhelmed with his presence and he has been patient with me, showing me just as much of his glory as I can take.  Thanks to my handy yellow highlighter, my Bible is flashing more of God's comfort and tender love with each turn of the page. 

It is so exciting when something that I found years ago jumps out at the most opportune time.  That is the Holy Spirit's specialty, speaking just what we need when we need it.  The above verse is an example of that.  I am so terribly hard on myself (aren't most women?).  God has been making himself known to me in new and wonderful ways yet there are days when I am convinced I will never be good enough.  I forget that I never can be good enough, not without Christ.  He is doing wonderful things in my life and only when I keep my eyes focused on him will I be able to overcome. 

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!
(1 Corinthians 5:17)