Tuesday, April 29, 2014

High Places

I can be consumed with worry and anxiety sometimes. Everything can be going fine, and suddenly a wave of insecurity will hit or I will not be able to see how something is going to work out and I start to panic. Being a planner, I like to have things under control and I like to know what is happening next. Which is exactly what I've been struggling with today. I get a thought in my head sometimes and its all I can think about. I fret and worry and try to figure out how its all going to pan out. And the subject of the worry can be real, it can be something true, or it can be something that may or may not ever happen.

What I have been worried over today is something that comes up periodically and I have the same reaction every time. What if.... And my mind goes into the worst case scenarios complete with imaginary conversations about what I will say if it does happen and the first steps I will take to move forward from it. I do pray, but my mind is working so fast I can't hear what God has to say and I certainly am unable to stop the flow of thoughts long enough to pay attention. WHY!? Why do I do that to myself over something that hasn't even happened?

So I came home today and prayed to the Lord to help me, to bring me some peace and to let me see how to handle the situation and I listened for where God wanted me to read and came to Habakkuk. I read the whole book, kind of wondering when God was going to speak because honestly it seemed a little inapplicable. I read through the last chapter, got up to see if the bus was coming, and the light came on. The last verses of the last chapter of the book were the exact words I needed to hear. A little background, Habakkuk had just heard of the mass destruction that was to come on the Israelite people. He was frightened, but he had resolve. See below:

16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

What Habakkuk was hearing was awful, more awful than any situation I have been in myself. Yet Habakkuk proclaims that he will find his strength in the Lord and he will still have joy. That is a promise I want to claim for myself, that I can walk in strength and joy even in rough times. But even that is not the biggest point that struck me. Notice the underlined section..."he will make me to walk upon mine high places"....I immediately thought of the high places as in the books of Kings, where God instructed kings in particular to take down the high places, which in that day were places of pagan worship. And the thought occurred to me that I was putting the worry, anxiety and fear, this thought as my high place. My mind was set on worry and I set the thoughts in my mind above the place where God could reach them. Not that He couldn't, I had just elevated them to a point where I couldn't focus on Him, I couldn't focus on truth. So when I read that verse it said to me that God not only could reach my anxiety, He would strengthen me so that I may not only overcome it, I will walk all over the top of it. Stomp it down. Tear it down just as the righteous kings in ancient Israel did to the high places of worship. I hope that speaks to you as much as it did to me. There is victory, peace, strength and joy even in our worst moments. I pasted one of the examples of high places from 2 Kings below just so you could see. (I also looked in Strongs and though there are several meanings for high places, the one in 2 Kings is the same as the one in Habakkuk). What are the high places in your life that you need to walk on, trample, and tear down? 

18 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.
Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.
He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's Speaking to Us

One of the most important things we can do is choose our friends wisely. I want to fill my life with people who are encouraging and who push me to follow God's will in my life. I am grateful for the people who have spoken encouragement and God's Word to me and have been an example for me. The best way that I can think of to repay them is to reciprocate and to find other people to invest in and encourage. Who are we listening to and what are we speaking into others' lives?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Short & Sweet

Had a thought this morning during my prayer time I thought I'd share:

Peace will not come until Christ is first. Ask Him concerning every step. Insecurity comes from walking on your own.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Women Relationships - 2

I saw this posted on facebook by a friend and thought it went well with the previous post.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Women Friendships

I read a devotional by Lisa Bevere about women in which the main idea was to question why we as a gender seem to rise against each other so much of the time. It has made me really look at my past and evaluate my attitude toward women and the experiences I have had. You can see her devotional at:


This thought started long before today. I think God began impressing on me the importance of having faithful women in my life several years ago when I first truly sought to make Jesus my life. I regrettably admit that I was one of those who was proud to have more guy friends than girl friends and for a long time toted the mantra that I just didn't get along with women. In reality this was just a cover up for the ineptitude I felt toward my inability to make solid relationships with women. Before I get into that though, I want to say I have had a handful of really close women friends and I want to make sure in writing this if they were to read it they know I am grateful for them and certainly do love them- from high school, college, early marriage, to now. But it does seem I have always struggled in this area of women friendships and I want to look at that struggle.

I think it began early in life when I first tasted rejection. I was way too skinny, I had huge coke bottle glasses and curly frizzy hair and I can recall the first day of kindergarten going in excitedly and then just being crushed! Kids made fun of me and I struggled even at this young age to make friends and I can remember feeling that first sting of rejection which I have held on to for way too long.

Life moved on and I went through several stages. Looking back I usually had at least one really good girl friend through each stage so I am thankful God provided me with these friends, but it seems there was usually a time of separation. I would have one really close friend for several years and then a falling out or drifting away, then another close friend for several years, then a falling out or drifting away, etc. And each time there was a falling out it truly hurt my heart and I really didn't know what to do with it or how to fix it. That's when I decided I would rather not be involved with girl friends. I was so lost in this area and highly insecure. I realized it must be something with me because everyone else seemed to have plenty of friends but I couldn't figure out what it was, so to shield my heart I decided to not try with women friends.

Then faith happened. I walked past the mirror one day and literally did not recognize myself. I was not who I had planned to be and I was far from the person I wanted to be and the person God called me to be. God put an urgency in my heart right then to change and I have been changing ever since.

So fast forward to now, my thoughts are much different than they used to be on many things, but certainly toward women. I have a few really close girl friends that I am so thankful for and I am open to friendships with women. Unlike before I guard my heart differently. Yes, I guard my heart but I'm striving not to be so guarded myself. To explain - Before I was guarded in that I was closed off and closed minded about who my friends would be and the minute a hurt set in I was out, I would run from the friendship. Now, over several years, I've started to realize that true friends will hurt you sometimes but that doesn't mean the friendship is over and it doesn't mean you have to hold on to the feelings of rejection. This may seem like a simple concept but it is one I am just embracing. In addition, I've realized that its ok to go through rough patches or even just periods of drifting from friends, this also does not mean the end of the friendship. I've learned to patiently wait for the relationship to circle back around, to pray over it, and sometimes to set it free. In setting it free we are still there for our friend but we give them the freedom to move on without resentment. This is hard and is something I am really trying to work on. And I have realized that sometimes if we are patient and if we are willing to let go, it is just a cycle as people and their circumstances change and sometimes that relationship returns even stronger.

I guard my heart by remembering to give grace, teaching my heart to not take offense so easily and to not take everything so personally. I realize that true friendship requires forgiveness and grace from both sides, and prayer! I realize I have hurt others too and as I would hope they would be kind to forgive me, so I also want to be kind to forgive them and not hold something against them but give them the benefit of the doubt and give them grace. I've learned to look for friendship in different places and not set such unrealistic expectations, especially in this stage of life when we are all so busy. I've learned to take my hurts to God and ask Him for healing and restoration for myself and the friendship.

Another issue that I am starting to overcome (with God's help) is being who I am and secure in who God has made me to be. I will admit I still struggle with worrying about what others think, but I have committed to becoming someone who will be who I am and not try to fit the mold of someone else's expectations. I have found that it confuses the other person when we try to be who they want us to be instead of ourself. It may seem we are serving them by trying to do what they expect or want, but in reality we are hurting the relationship by not being truthful about who we are. Being true to who we are brings so much freedom and so much peace. And we should give our friends this freedom as well. They shouldn't have to be under our expectations or do things the way we think they should for us to support and encourage them. And God has given us all so much that we can bring by being ourself.

There are women all around us who are faith filled and praying women. We are all in this together and can be a collective strong voice for Christ and strong shoulder for each other. And we shouldn't discredit someone just because of their past or because we haven't talked to them about faith, or because we aren't sure they have faith. We never know what someones faith may truly be and we all change. There are precious women of faith all around us, we don't have to run this race alone, and it will benefit us all to support and encourage each other and be open to friendships with the women God has put in our paths.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Procrastinate Please!

The kids and I have had a busy week. My husband has been out of the country so I've been keeping up with everything on my own. We've had homework and tutoring and family visits from both sides, birthday parties and other obligations. Needless to say we've been busy.

I'm a list maker, a planner, a scheduler. Not that I've always got it all under control, far from. Many times I look at my to do lists and panic because there are so many things I'd like to get done and not enough time. It seems like I strive and strive in an effort to get to it all and many times fall short...or get it done at the expense of my sanity!

Yesterday was no exception. I got off work at 3 with my list of errands to run and the time I thought it would take on each one. Yes I did - I gave myself time frames so I could make sure I was staying on track because we had a lot of errands to do and limited time. My plan was to pick the boys up from school at 3:40, go get eggs from my friend's chicken coop (she is out of town), stop by the house and grab my son's shoes that needed to be returned, go to the greenhouse and get plants that I wanted to get planted before my husband gets home tomorrow, go to the sporting goods store to exchange the shoes and get my husband a birthday gift, grab dinner somewhere and then hit the grocery store. If all went as planned we would be home by 8-8:30.

But when I was on my way to get the boys I thought, "This is ridiculous! Yes, I'd love to get all of those things done but we're tired. We've had a long week with activities and homework and visitors and late or sleepless nights at times so let's just chill out and have some peace." I would have loved to get groceries so I wouldn't have errands to run in town later this weekend, but really they can wait. I decided to just do the things that would give us some fun things to do Saturday and cut the groceries. So we went and got chicken eggs, perused the shelves of the plant nursery and picked out flowers and a couple pepper and tomato plants, and then we went to the sporting goods store and returned my sons shoes and had a good time picking out a gift for my husband. Then we grabbed some burgers to go and headed home. We were here by 6:30 and we watch the 80s version of "The Paret Trap" and ate our burgers and relaxed, my little one in lap for the end of the movie.

The movie lasted until 10 and then the kids were off to bed. The evening was so much more peaceful and relaxed. We laughed and talked and watched the movie together. We still got several things done but did not push it to the point of stress and tiredness as would have happened if I would have dragged them through the grocery store at 7. 

Then, when the kids went to bed I still had a couple things I wanted to get done before my husband got home. I contemplated cleaning the house - mopping, dusting, etc. I also thought about making his favorite chocolate chip cookies to welcome him home. But again, I thought about how much more relaxed I was when I didn't frantically push us to mark everything off our list, so I decided to make the cookies and I'd mop in the morning. I wouldn't be able to get the flower beds done before he got home, but I would have all afternoon Saturday and Sunday. I got the cookies made, read my book for a while and then went to bed. So nice!!

Now I'm up this morning and it's cold and windy outside. I wouldn't be working in the flower beds this morning even if I had gotten the house done last night! So the kids and I slept late and are having a relaxed morning. I will vacuum and mop now and then we will probably run to the grocery store before we pick my husband up at the airport around lunchtime. 

The difference in our usual errand running days and this one has been amazing! We all had a good time, I was so much more patient with the kids, we got to browse and enjoy shopping instead of being focused on hurrying up and just getting in and out. I actually enjoyed it and so did they!

I hope I can continue to see that things will still get done and I can enjoy life, even the errands, and make it more fun and relaxed for me and my kids if I will quit trying to do things in such unreasonable time frames. We're busy and I bet you are too. I thought this might resonate with someone today. Life is too meaningful to live in a panic, constantly overloading our to do lists, ourselves, and our loved ones. I know sometimes chaos is inevitable and there may be things we simply cannot put off, and I am in no way promoting laziness! But, I do know that in this stage of my life I am more times than not in a rush to get more things done than will reasonably fit in the time I have. Some restructuring is definitely in order! I'd like to point out that the only thing I won't get done before my hubby gets back that I had planned to is the flower beds, and I couldn't work on them this morning anyway due to the weather, so had I pushed to get it all done my striving would have been for nothing! I'm so glad for the time I had with my kids yesterday and the peace I felt. I pray I continue on this path of less striving and more living!! It was fun and so worth it! 

Ecc 2:22-26 What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting,only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

Psalm 46:10

American Standard Version (ASV)
10 Be still, and know that I am God...