Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Transitions: The Grace Period

As I told my old counselor and now friend… "I hate transition," as she laughed at me for my pure honesty, I have continued to think about how almost all of life is transition or change. I have had many transitions in my own life, but especially big ones in the last few years: marriage, several moves, graduating and career changes. At this point I am kind of done, but am I really? I have had a lot of time to think and reflect the last few months while I have been put on temporary hold at my job due to some state discrepancies. I have been learning so many things that will not fit in just this writing alone. One thing I have been wrestling with is the fact that I am pretty sick of change and difficult change at that. I just want to be in the whole smooth sailing, enjoying life stage. Yet, in the last few days I think I realized that I will never have that stage here, on earth anyway. There will never be a time, let’s say a month where nothing happens…no stress, anger, fights, misunderstandings, etc, don’t happen. It just is not possible. In fact, I do not remember a year that there was not some really big thing that I was working through. And most of those years looking back I could not tell you what it exactly was I was working through. So then I thought, is it just me? Am I drama queen that looks for this? Or one of those people that can’t be continually happy and must need something to be stressed out about? God, I hope not! I’m pretty sure after thinking about it more and reflecting on most of my friends’ lives and my family members, that all of us have these ups and downs; seasons that come into our lives. Mostly we hate them and wait for them to pass along, but if they are happening so often then aren’t we wishing our life away? I don’t know about you but the idea of always living in the state of "I can’t wait ‘til this is over," is just not okay with me.

I want to live and enjoy my life. After having lost my grandmother this summer, at a young age for a grandmother today, I definitely have thought about the fact that we need to enjoy each day we have. I know that is so cliché, but at the same time isn’t it true? If I spend most my days hoping for the next season to come, and I added all those days up at the end of my life comparative to the days I enjoy life no matter what, which column will be higher? Right now I can say with a guarantee that my "Is it over yet?" column would kill my "enjoying life" column. Now don’t misunderstand me I’m not saying we should become fake or start cutting work to live life to it’s fullest. So, what do we do while we wait? How should we live during this time of heartache, sadness, depression, change, anxiety or just pure impatience? As a believer I believe in prayer. But what happens when you don’t hear from God? No answer comes, not the "right answer" anyway or just more waiting perhaps. Should we "curse God and die" or get angry with Him, "Why won’t you just give me what I want, when I want it!" I wonder what He would say back? If I were Him, I’d probably say, "Are you kidding me with this?" or in my case "Again?!?" or my fav "Don’t you know, I’m God?" Fortunately for me, God has more character than me, especially patience. So what would he want us to do during this time? An article I read yesterday called Waiting on God’s Perfect Timing listed trusting God, resisting the temptation to control the situation yourself, and praying; prayer that is not the same wish-list, but with thanksgiving to God and with praise to him. Perhaps even for help to endure the pain you might be in currently.

So I’d like to build off of this really helpful, wise article. I would add obedience, a word everyone cringes over usually because it sounds like something our parents would have said when they were angry "Don‘t you disobey me." However, I think it is essential to relearn this word and it’s meaning, especially to inregard to your relationship with God. While you are waiting on something remember to praise God, not in the hopes that you will then secretly get what you want. I mean God does know our hearts and could completely see through that anyway, so why bother, right? Rather to believe regardless of your situation there are things to be thankful for. A good colleague invited me to write down something I was thankful for each day, even if it was as simple as the way the clouds look today. Also a way to be obedient is to follow his commandments and of course the two most important are Loving God and loving your neighbor. So there’s another serving; I am going to serve and love others as I wait. One of my mother’s favorite quote is by John Lennon who said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Isn’t that so true? Wonderful things happen during times of suffering. You have the capacity to see God and know He is there by your side more than maybe ever before. You learn and see things in the scriptures that you never saw before. You see others and their hardships differently as well. You may be the only other person in someone’s life that can really understand or empathize with them right now. Your current sensitive heart may see a family in need of food, clothing or rent money.

Lastly, and the most important for myself anyway, changes and hardships will never leave you. American culture tells us that we should be living life constantly like it’s one huge happy party. As if everyone has the perfect job that pays well, keeps you interested always and is always a fun work environment. Or that everyone’s social life has to be chuck full of activities that are super fun, with super fun people and the laughs are never ending. Does anyone know this person? If you said yes, than your lying or deceived by them. This life does not exist. People are complex and have hardships, stressors, etc everyday. No person or life is perfect so why do we expect this for our own lives? Why do we wait for perfection? Why wait for smooth sailing if it is never coming? In some ways this may sound depressing, but the good news is your not alone. We are all going through something and how could we not in this imperfect world? In some ways this lowers our high expectations and anxieties that there should be more. Something in us, in our hearts longs for more, expects more. Why the heck is that, if all I’m saying is true? Then I realized it, I was not made for this fallen world with all it’s imperfections. God had more in mind for us and still does. If part of you feels unfulfilled…good…you should, because it’s not over. There is more living to do here on earth. More love to give others and more you need to grow in. More love that has to develop for Christ, and deeper relationship with Him here. But ultimately, there is so much more to experience in heaven, in the true presence of Our Redeemer. AND God gives us pieces of heaven, by being in relationship with Him right now. That's right there is a longing answered through Him. Why do I forget this so often?

So in closing I pray that God continues to grow you. I pray you can continue to live during this time you are in. That you would learn to love this season in your life right now and look forward to the next at the same time. That you would count all the reasons to be thankful to a God who loves you more than anything. And that you would remember to use this time, where He is Strong, and you are weak, to love others well. Amen.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

David and Peter

So today’s sermon at church was speaking about two stories that most Christians know pretty well. The story of David and Goliath as well as the story of when Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus. For those of you who do not David had to stand up to a huge Giant named Goliath and he was able to do it with a stone and with a huge amount of faith in God. Then the story of Peter stepping out onto the water to walk to Jesus took a great amount of faith as well, but when Peter lost his faith, he began to sink, however Jesus was able to still save him. Okay so why am I bringing these two stories up? Well, the sermon continued to speak about what our own personal giants are. What or Who is in your life that you fear or is keeping you away from something? Perhaps your thinking of a person that is always trying to put you down or get in your way? Or something you are waiting for to happen…. "if only I had this, then I’ll be okay." Whether it is a person, place or thing, it is your giant, perhaps it’s stopping you from living up to your potential or follow God’s calling for your life. So what’s your giant?

I have many Giants in my life, as I’m sure most of us do. However recently I have had one or two that are clumped together that are making life harder and scarier than usual. I have felt a great calling, I believe from God, to come back to the area in which I grew up, the Capital district in New York. Several times I felt it or heard it. I also tried to ignore it and sometimes I still want to, to be honest. I moved to Pennsylvania to go to school to follow God’s calling to become educated and equipped to be able to come back to New York and begin His work. So as graduation approached I prepared by packing all my belongings, saying my good-byes to my friends in Pennsylvania and drove 4 hours back home for good. Since I have moved home there have been ups and downs. Yet the down part, seems to be weighing heavier on my heart. I moved back here in complete fear. "How do I know how to help this area?" "I’m only 25?" "God how can I help people here and practically alone for that matter!" "What do I do first…second….third?" "I do not want to do this." Yes I do, no I don’t." Tears….tears…..and oh yeah more tears….. "Don’t you remember that I am not gifted in this area God? Don’t you remember who I am? And that I do not even like to speak in public?" "How can this work?" "Maybe I never should have moved back here?" "Maybe I made a mistake, or did not hear you correctly, Lord." You get the idea? Basically, for almost three months I have been completely fearful, anxious and heartbroken. Sure, there has been Light and Truth, but also a lot of pain, including the suffering and finally the death of my grandmother. Also the State leaving me to wait weeks upon weeks to know if I can even work as a fully legitimate counselor (which I am still waiting on). Needless to say I have had a great deal of stress, but let’s go back to that David guy, oh yeah and Peter.

I would say my biggest giant is my own fear! Fear that I cannot do this or that I’ll make the wrong move and God will be angry. Fear that I’ll be less than what people expect or what I’ll expect of myself. Fear that I’ll harm others more than help them. But, I keep forgetting my stone, Truth! The Truth is that I should "fear not!" and not just because I need to lower my blood pressure, but because the Bible and God tells me so. God wants us to have more faith in Him and know what He is capable doing, mostly because He knows better and loves us so much. He wants me to know that I cannot do it, but He sure can and He’ll be helping me every step of the way. He wants me to not care so much about what I or others expect and look to Him for acceptance and most importantly grace. It’s time to humble myself and submit to Him, because He’d like to father me. Boy, I sure wish I would let Him father me, because lately I feel like a baby who needs to be held and maybe even with a stuff animal and a blanket. So, I need to bring that rock with me, everywhere. I need to stand up to New York state and fight. I need to seek Truth and know that there is a plan better than the one in my head or on my to-do list. I need to persevere, which God keeps speaking to me. Lastly I need to remember Peter. Peter was able to step out in faith. He took one step out of the boat and was able to stand on water, like Christ, because he believed, then he began to sink only when he began to doubt in Jesus and perhaps in what Peter can and cannot do, logic began to set in. He probably thought "wait I can’t do this, no one can, this is impossible"…BAM…began to sink! But let’s not forget the rest of the story, Peter asked for Jesus to help him, save him. So Jesus reminded him that he had little faith, but even so He helped him anyway. Peter made a mistake by not trusting, but Christ still helped him. I feel a lot like Peter, I’d say 90% of the time. I am always trying, but will eventually screw up and many times in huge ways. I was able to do some of what God asked, go to school and move back home. I got out of the boat, I had the faith to do that, but now I am sinking. I am having trouble believing in more than logic or past experience. Yet I know that God has not left me, in fact I have felt him more these months than possibly in years. And I feel myself brought to my knees now more than ever. I am trying to build a faith. A faith that can walk on water, beat a giant, and move a mountain. A faith that can bring social justice to this area, that can bring Christian Counseling and other resources of the community to lower income people and most importantly that can bring love to a community that is very broken, hurt and bleeding. A love that they may never of known, or perhaps have forgotten but can receive freely. Only these things have and can happen with faith and so I’ll bring my rock of "Truth" with me to continue the battle.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Current Obsessions

So I have two new obsessions right now. I don't usually obsess but I'm not gonna lie I love these two things right now.

First one a new all 90s radio station 105.7 Crush FM. It's from back home so I've been listening online. I love how fun the 90s music was but most of all I love how nostalgic it is for me. I can be taken back to a place or time instantly. Mostly good memories, some bad. Mostly I love it because it takes me back to being a kid and a more carefree time, dancing in my room and dreaming of being older....really I haven't changed that much because that still happens! ;)

Check it out....http://1057crushfm.com/

Second....Zumba!!! I bought the Zumba DVDs that you see on paid programing sometimes. https://www.zumbafitness.com/
They are the best! I love the music and how fun they are. I actually want to work out. I danced for about ten years and I miss it a lot so this is so up my alley. I can feel it working too, which is always nice. Totally recommend it especially if you are sick of the same old treadmill. So far no huge weight loss but my body usually takes a while, so I'll try to keep you updated.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A straight path

So many people ask Christians how they really know that there even is a God or that He cares about us the way Christians portray He does. I've thought of this a lot, especially in times of doubt....Yes even Christians doubt sometimes and that's okay people. But it's faith that brings me back to the my original beliefs that there is indeed a God and He loves us so much that he intercedes in our lives all the time. Today was one of those kinds of days. The kind of day that you just knew that you would need God and then he showed up in the most amazing way. No, He didn't speak directly to me or come to see me at my apartment.

I was driving into work in an ice storm. We had a couple of inches of snow and then freezing rain on top of that. I was praying for a good portion of the trip as I slowly drove in. Then when I turned off the highway onto the back roads, the part I was scared the most of, all of a sudden two big trucks come out of no where and pass me. It was a plow and a salt truck! Did I also mention on the radio someone was talking about facing your fears?!? It just felt so appropriate. No, Jesus wasn't driving the plow. But for that moment I felt so loved and cared for like those trucks were sent just for me. Maybe they were and maybe they weren't, but it sure felt like one of those Wow God moments. Those moments you just know He's there and not only is He there but he loves you so much and He'll always "make your paths straight" or clear!