Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the Power of Christ I'll Stand

It has been almost two years since I have written on this blog, and I want to share why. 

I have been away because God answered my prayers in a way I did not foresee. (Isn’t that how He normally works?) He also answered my prayers in a way that I did not want and in a way that blows my mind because He is so amazing.

I just read my last post, and couldn’t help but get emotional thinking of all that God has done in the last couple years.  I had written:

It is time for me to be still before God so that when He says, “Go,” I can say, “Here I am,” instead of, “I should be there.  Why did you put me here?”

There have been two instances since then when God has said “Go” and by His grace and strength, I was able to say Here I am.” The first instance happened a month after I wrote my last post, and to be honest, at the time I did not see it as a “here-I-am-send-me” moment. 

I need to take a step back and give a bit more back story.  I wrote my last blog post following a breakdown in my car in an HEB parking lot after seeing a mom pushing her baby in a shopping cart. Yup, that's all it took. I just started bawling, asking God why I couldn’t have kids now. Michael wanted to wait to start a family until we paid off our school loans, and that was going to take six or more years if nothing changed.  And things did change—my hours were cut at one of my part time jobs because my position didn't have a full-time equivalent. (Retirement issues were involved. I'll spare you the details.)

I prayed for God to give us money to pay off our loans.  I imagined that we would be one of those families that you hear of that find an anonymous check in their mailbox for just the right amount of money. I prayed that God would put such a burden on someone’s heart—then I could have what I wanted.  (Yes, I now realize that this was ridiculous.) Later that evening, Michael came home from Bible study announcing that he wanted to give more to others.  “NO!” I thought, “I just prayed that God would have people give us money, and now you want to give our money away. That does not fit in my plan.” I was mad at him and at God because I was not getting my way. I was not being submissive to my husband. This caused distance between us, which I believed was his fault.  (Now, as I type this I think “Wow, that is one ugly woman.  No wonder there was distance between us.  Who would want to be around that?”)

I wrote my last blog post after God had gotten my attention and shown me that I was the one in the wrong, not Michael.  I was the problem.  I was not being submissive.  And most of all, I was not trusting God. God had gotten my attention with the pages of a book called Crazy Love. He brought me to my knees.  He showed me my pride. He began to humble me at that moment, but at that moment I had no idea to what extent He would humble me.
At that point, I was no longer angry and I was working to trust God’s timing, but I still prayed that He would give us a way to pay off our debt sooner than later. 

A couple weeks later, my Bible study teacher said off hand, “We do not need to worry about money.  God controls the storehouses.” That truth struck me.  God could provide a way for us to pay off our loans, no problem. I finally rested in Him.

A couple weeks after that, I received an email from my boss asking if any of the part-time tutors (of which I was one) were interested in a full-time position. The college had decided to make a full-time equivalent to my part-time position.  If I got this job, it would be the answer to our prayer.

There was one glaring problem.  I have panic attacks. And this job opportunity scared me.

Some say that when they experience a panic attack they feel as if they are dying or going crazy. I agree. I had been struggling with panic attacks for the last four years. At the moment I opened that email about the job, God began to break me and bring me to a place where I had to solely depend on Him. I was terrified to apply for the job, but I knew it would be disobedient to tell God, "No, I won't accept this answer to my prayer."

So I bought a suit, (I had always wanted to buy one of those powerful yet feminine pants suits—not a Hilary Clinton pants suit but something with a Kate Middleton vibe.) I prepared answers to possible interview questions and created a list of questions to ask when my boss would inevitably ask if I had any questions.  I was ready, but I was so scared. I feared that I would have a panic attack during the interview. 

I did not. In fact, a week later I was offered the position. Still, I feared the new work environment, the new people, the new job tasks, and that all these things would trigger panic attacks. But I had to say yes, and I believed God would give me the strength I needed to walk in the path He had laid before me.

Through God given faith, I chose to believe God's truth instead of Satan's lies, even though it was often tempting to believe the lies. When my heart and mind would race and my hands would tremble and go numb and my stomach ache, my forehead sweat, my throat become dry and choked, when all the symptoms I experience when I have a panic attack would hit me, it was easy to believe that I couldn't take on the tasks of this new job. One of my first tasks I was given was to speak in front of 250 students to tell them about our college's tutoring program. In high school and early college, I had performed in front of crowds near a thousand, but the first panic attack I had experienced quickly drew me inward and I closed door after door to the outside until at my lowest point I was diagnosed as agoraphobic. Thus, you can imagine the fear I felt as I walked in front of those students and grasped the microphone with both hands in order to help control my shaking. But in Christ's strength, I did it.

God was melting away the frost of fear that paralyzes those it possesses.

I was facing the hardest trial I had experienced up to this point. Through the trial, I often sang these words:

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.

I know these words to be true. I know what it is to stand solely in Christ's strength because the mental battle has stripped away all of my own. And because of this, I know "the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of the inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:18,19). 

Michael would read Ephesians 1 to me so I could fall asleep at night. He would play a song He found for me, Blessings by Laura Story. He would text me a verse, Psalm 55:22, to encourage me on a day I needed encouragement: "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." He would patiently listen to my faint voice on the other end of the phone when I did have panic attacks at work.  God had given me in Michael an earthly rock who points me to my spiritual rock, Christ Jesus.  I wrote the verse Michael sent me on a note card along with other promises in Scripture, and pinned it to a wall of my cubicle.  The righteous feed on God's Word, and it was His Word that brought me through this trial still standing. 

Through all this, I know God as my Provider. When my hours were cut and we didn't see how we could pay off our debt, God was all the while working to provide a way.  He allowed my hours to be cut, so that He could create a full-time position for me. God can create opportunities out of nothing. (Can we expect any less from a God who created the universe out of nothing?) I can no longer doubt God in my tough circumstances, or at least I shouldn't! Through that job, we were able to pay off all of our debt in 6 months rather than 6 years! But I knew God had given me the job in order to do something more in my life. He provided a chance for me to overcome my anxiety and build my confidence in Him.

God matured my faith in so many ways through that job—namely He showed me I can live in Christ's strength when I have no strength of my own (a lesson I needed to learn in order to say yes to the next time He would say "go").  I also only had to work that job for a year and a half until God would lead me back home where I desired to be, as a stay-at-home mom.

This was not the path I had imagined for myself, but now I know God more and love Him more, so I am thankful for the trial. The blessing of trials is that you get to personally know God's promises. Your faith is tested, but you also get the chance to test God's promises and experience them as true. Our heavenly Father knows what we need, and He provides our daily bread, the provisions we need today for life and godliness (Matt. 6 and 2 Peter 1).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Pride of Discontentment

I have not been content lately.  And it is hard to write on a blog about contentment when you are not content.

But this trial is teaching me more about how I can be content in Christ alone.

I desire to start a family with Michael.  And in the past few months this desire has taken over my life and has been my number one focus. It became an idol.

This sin reached its climax when I became angry with God, asking Him why so many women get to have babies only to abort them and why so many parents get to have babies only to abuse them. I want to adopt those babies, and I wanted to know why I couldn’t do that now.  Why was He being so unfair to me? Why did He put this desire so strongly in my heart only to not fulfill it now?

I cried myself to sleep that night angry with God.

My husband said something to me that night, though, which after I calmed down in the next day or so made me realize that I was off track.  He said, “Why can’t we enjoy now?”

I had been so discontent when God has given me so many blessings.  I have salvation in Him! I have everything in Him!

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice! Philippians 4:4

All I want is to bring glory to God and I thought I should do that through having a family as soon as possible and that God should follow along so I could bring Him glory. How preposterous! How arrogant!

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Ecclesiastes 5:2
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:16

Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. Psalm 115:3

All the peoples on the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Daniel 4:35

I am so prideful that I thought I had the right to question God.  But God has no obligation to concern himself with my approval.  I am not the authority on right and wrong. He is.

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah 6:3

Isaiah “saw the Lord seated on a throne” and when He saw the Lord in all his splendor, he said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips; my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” 

I am no better than Isaiah.  In fact, I am sure I am much worse.

How can my life be anything but an outpouring of praise and obedience in response to a God who is so holy and just and yet has prepared a way for me to come boldly before his throne?

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

It is time for me to be still before God so that when He says, “Go,” I can say, “Here I am,” instead of, “I should be there.  Why did you put me here?”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This Is How we Know What Love Is


created in the image of God.




worthy in Christ.





co-heir with Christ.

Is this how we see the ones we love?  This is how God sees His children.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

Is this how we treat the ones we love? Is this how we treat the unlovable?

Love is expressed through much more than candles and hearts and sweets.  Love is expressed through much more than smiles and open doors and nice words.
Love is expressed through nails peirced through hands and feet streched out on a tree.

Do we express this kind of love?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Age of Distractions

Gmail, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Yahoo News, Hulu.  Ahhhh!

I'd get on the internet just to check my email and all of the sudden I was watching The Bachelor (I'm not proud.  I realize it's meaningless filth...but the previews are so dramatic.  And I am so weak.)

So I asked my husband to block Hulu. This is how one overcomes I thought.  And that is part of it.  Running from temptation is wise. But I still get drawn into what fashion crime so-and-so committed, or what new diet shake will make me look 18 again, or the new good thing Martha is up to. And  I look up and somebody has messed with my clock because 20 minutes have gone by and I haven't had my quiet time and Miss Scruffy is starring up at me with her little back legs crossed. 

I can't block the whole internet! 

Miss Scruffy is as bad as I am.

So what's the plan? 

Well, I'm not sure.

But I do know that preaching the gospel to myself puts this life back in perspective. 

I don't even deserve life, but Jesus gave me eternal life.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

That loving God is my Master, and I am willingly His slave. So what am I doing? What grounds do I have to waste my Master's time?

In my ladies Bible study at Church, we have been studying 1 John.  We've talked a lot about how this is the age of distractions.  We as Christian women desire to walk down God's path, but Satan wants to devour us with distractions that draw us to dead ends and away from our Bibles and from giving our time to others. I've been looking through my Bible study notes, because it is in this study that God really convicted me of my laziness and idolatry of entertainment and the mind numbing computer screen. (I said it. Oh, it sounds so terrible out loud!)

I thought I'd share some of my notes:

1 John 4:13  By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

If my body is a tent for the Holy Spirit, who am I to live for myself or to be lazy?

I have to set my will aside.

1 John 5:4-5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world ; and this is the victory that has overcome the world -our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God ?

You have overcome the world in Christ Jesus.  Do you live like it?

When we get caught up in worldliness, we forget our purpose (to bring glory to God).

Don't get bogged down on useless matters.

Hate distractions; focus on the eternal.  Focus on Christ.

Be intentional!

And our teacher asked us What do you live for?

Honestly, I really don't care about some celebrity's new pinkie toe ring, and the Real Simple website won't bring me contentment. The media brings me neither joy nor fulfilment.  The media is not my God, and especially not my Lord.

So that's how you overcome the distractions! You "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1).

"Dear children, keep yourselves from idols."  These are the last words of John's first epistle. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Resting and Growing

I've been on a sabbatical of sorts I guess.  At first I stopped writing here because I became very busy with work and the holidays.  I've still been busy with work lately, but I have a new writing job for a family ministry, and it has required me to do much Bible study on the definition, importance, and purpose of family.  I am so enjoying this time of soaking up God's truths.  God's Word brings me joy because it draws me nearer to my Lord who is my joy. I'm looking forward to sharing with you what I have been learning.

God has also been giving me greater courage in Him in these last few months.  That is what being continually in the Word does to a person--it grows us in sanctification and makes us more like Christ.  We are filled with the Spirit, steered by the Spirit, when we are in God's Word.  It is true!

I found myself in a kind of funk, a depression, in the middle of last year, as you may have observed from  some of my posts.  The worst part was that God was not using me as He had before.  I guess know I was ignoring His leadings or just saying no to Him out of fear. But by immersing myself in God's promises and truths, God has brought me out of that pit. Since December, I have been offered a job writing for an emerging family ministry and I have had multiple opportunities to share Christ with my coworkers. I had been letting fear control me instead of the Lord, and because of that I gave up many opportunities to share my faith. I also had this strange idea that I couldn't share my faith with my coworkers because I waited too long and it wouldn't make sense to all of the sudden start talking about God more.  I can tell you now that is a huge lie.  Also, I find that most people are open to talking about spiritual matters.  Most people don't agree with the Gospel though, so talking about Christianity is confrontational. 

I am not a confrontational person.

I used to shake when I would talk about controversial topics with people I knew disagreed with me, but as I plow forward more and more with my love for Christ urging me on, my shakes are starting to disappear.

I still deal with my mind going blank, though.  Do you  deal with this?  Today a coworker asked me what I was reading.  I was reading "The 'Family' Quarrel" by Joe Dallas, which I found from Christian Research Institute. I knew she was a feminist who loves confrontation, a nice lady, but with an opposite worldview from mine. My mind froze and I had to struggle to explain the Biblical concept of the family, which I have been intently studying.  I knew she wouldn't understand since she didn't understand the gospel, but I didn't share the gospel with her.  Why didn't I share the gospel with her?! I felt so frustrated and guilty. 

Does this happen to you? Can you relate? How have you matured in this area?

In conclusion, I find I am growing in Christ, but I am not perfect yet.  This is a major theme of my life on earth.

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