Sunday, May 29, 2011

Renewed, refreshed and rejustified

Life sometimes gets in the way of life. Everyday holds a new adventure.  I wake up and start this unpredictable journey. There is great anticipation as each second begins to unfold.  There are days that I am filled with an abundance of joy.  I feel like my whole world is perfect. My husband is grinning from ear to ear. The kids love each other. The whole house is clean.  The sun is shining bright.  Everyone is happy. Including Me. And then there are those days that are filled with uncertainty.  And often the uncertainty brings with it pain and confusion which equals STRESS. 

I am learning that there is a hope that is so much bigger than my confusion, pain and stress.  And that is the hope I find in Christ.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

When I lean on the wisdom and knowledge of my Savior my foundation becomes unshakable.  And by studying His word and meditating on His promises I will be able to withstand the storms the come my way.  In Romans 5 we are told that God pours out His amazing love for us through the gift of the Holy Spirit  I often forget that I have been give such an awesome gift. But when I wake up I see the awesome power in allowing Him, the Holy Spirit, to penetrate my every move.  I have a strength that is unmovable, unstoppable, unshakable and often unexplainable.  

There are many occasions where the Lord is calling me to sit at His feet.  I have spent many hours listening and soaking in His most beautiful words.  God's most precious words have guided me through some of the most painful times in my life. And recently He has made it quite clear that I need to be at His feet once again.  His question that He put on my heart and most beautiful answer was found in the book of Romans. "Who shall separate you, Kathleen, from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: “For your sake you, Kathleen, will face death all day long; You are considered as a sheep to be slaughtered."   No, in all these things you are more than a conqueror through him who loved you.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you, Kathleen, from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:35-39.

Wow, nothing I do can keep Him from loving me.  I just need to be renewed, refreshed and rejustified.  And it is only through faith in Him that this will come into fruition. All of these trails, tribulations and glorious moments in my life are character building.  And without my faith I am certain that I would be crushed.  I know that God has amazing things planned for my life and my eternity. He gives me an everlasting hope.  The small amount of suffering and hardship I have experienced and will continue to experience is not without reward.  It results in my ability to understand the magnitude of the love and grace He has pour out for me.   "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:1-5

Friday, May 20, 2011

Starts with a D and ends in pression.

I am overwhelmed.

God has a perfect plan.  I am trying to hold tight to that promise.  But my palms are quite slippery. And the darkness is so loud.  My head has been spinning.  The only words I was able to hear were the constant insults being flung my direction.  I am a failure at many things. And these failures seemed to echo in my head and heart a lot these past few days.  I am not successful enough to have tons of  extra money in the bank.  My parenting skills are in need of an overhaul.  And as a person I pretty much lack the potential of being great.

Last weekend I commented about how I am very tired and my body aches a lot.  I have been in so much physical and mental pain.  To the point that it hurts to walk, sleep, and enjoy life.  My youngest daughter replied with, "Yes Mom, it starts with a "D" and ends in pression."  Wow, I think she might be on to something.  You think?!?  That is exactly the state in which my mind has recently taken up residence. Forward all my mail please.

I had been praying and trying very hard to hear the voice of my Lord and King.  But darkness had been making it difficult to hear and to move.  I was exhausted.  I felt like I was in quicksand.  And the deeper I sank the more difficult it was to breathe.  My heart was tight.  And bitterness began to paralyze my every move.  I called out, "God, where are you?  I know you are here.  I need you.  I need your touch.  I need to feel the warmth of your embrace.  It is dark.  A darkness I have never experienced.  Please, Lord shine your light on me."  I faintly heard his voice.  It was difficult to understand.  I knew that He was there.  I just couldn't seem to get focused. He is faithful.  And I knew that He was calling for me.  "Kathleen", He lovingly responded, "cast ALL your anxiety and sadness on me.  I love you and care for you.(1 Peter 5:7)" "But Lord, I am in a really bad place And I don't know how to get out."  Calmly He placed His hand on my hardened heart and whispered, " I have gone before you and I will be with you; I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.(Deuteronomy 31:8)  Now take my hand.  And allow my yolk to be upon you.(Matthew 11:29)".

Well, yesterday I finally took Him up on the offer.  I humbly took His hand and decided to let Him gently pull me out of the quicksand James 4:10. God tells us in  Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.   For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."    God promises that if we allow Him to carry us; He will make our burdens lighter.

Today I can breathe a little better.  There is still darkness all around me.  And my ears are still a little clogged with sand.  But, I know that there will come a day that I will have no longer be surprised by these painful trials. But I will rejoice and be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13).  I know that the God of hope will fill me with joy and peace as I learn to trust in Him.  Every day there may be a new darkness that falls on my heart.  But I know that my God loves me and is totally capable of lighting up my life.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." 2 Corinthians 4: 8-18

God has a plan.  And I am overwhelmed!

"We have seen and heard the wonders of your hands. How you loved us first. Carried us to the promised land. Who is like you God? None that we know. We are overwhelmed, we are overwhelmed by You. Lord you came to our rescue.  Now we live to worship you.  You have seen and heard our desperate cries for mercy.  You became a curse so we could live in victory"~Jimmy Robeson

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Bubble Bath in Amazing Grace

I am not sure how many remember the advertisement for Calgon.  There is a woman who is being overwhelmed with the craziness of everyday life.  The dog tracks mud on the clean kitchen floor.  Kids running around making a mess.  She has dishes to clean, laundry to fold and floors to sweep.  And she shout out, "Calgon, take me away!" And the next scene is of her relaxed in a tub full of bubbles.

I often find myself feeling this same kind of "calgon" moment.  A.W. Tozer once wrote: " We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasure on earth and in eternity.  Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible.  It wears us out by multiplying distractions and beats us down by destroying our solitude, where otherwise we might drink and renew our strength before going out to face the world again."

There are so many distractions throughout my day.  And I only wish I could identify and deactivate them before I get too overwhelmed. Last week I found my emotions were all over the place.  I think, for the first time since my Dad passed, I experienced depression.  It was very difficult to find joy in my heart.  And even more difficult to surrender my emotions.  I would pray in the morning that God would fill me with His grace.  And that His voice would echo in my head and heart.  But, my cup seemed so empty.  Nothing.  I couldn't hear his voice.  nor could I feel His presence.  My cup did not run over.  How could it?  I had turned it upside down.  I wasn't capable of letting anything in.  I let every negative emotion pour over me.  I had some really destructive pity parties.  I threw a few temper tantrums.  And allowed the sadness to build a very high, think and bitter wall.

The icing on my pity party cake was Mother's Day.  I wanted to be celebrated. Earlier in the week I envisioned a day that  was all about serving me.  "After all I am always putting myself on the back burner", I pitifully said to myself.  My kids are going to roll out the "red carpet" and bow to me all day.  They will serve me coffee.  And clean my entire house. They will honor and respect me   There will be flowers and cards. And they will prepare a great meal.  Or we could even order out.  I wouldn't have to lift a finger.  Oh this is going to be a glorious day!!

Wow.  I set myself up for total disappointment.  I got up in the morning.  Got ready for church.  And prepared a veggie tray for the mother's day/ baby's dedication brunch at my nieces.  And proceeded to prepped a few things for my inherited daughter's birthday dinner that we were hosting that evening.  I went upstairs to grab my beloved bible and saw that my husband had placed a card, from him, on my dresser.  And, I got a "happy mother's day"  from my oldest biological. I opened up my "facebook" account to find a beautiful letter from my oldest inherited daughter.   We went to church and then to the brunch.  My niece and her husband did an amazing job.  And it was such a beautiful day.  I came home and washed, sliced, diced, cooked and baked.  Kids arrived home at 5pm.  We ate sang Happy Birthday and chilled.  The Birthday girl and I exchanged gifts.  The words she wrote in the card for me I will hold in my heart. And, right before heading up the steps for bed, my oldest and youngest biologicals handed me a silly card.

What a day.  I went to bed and cried.  I was disappointed. And I am a brat.  As I laid there praying  I realized that I was truly blessed. There wasn't any special treatment,  no "red carpet", no flowers, and my house still as it was the day before. I wanted so much to be showered with gifts and praises that I was too blind to see the blessings in that beautiful day.  My depression and self absorption had robbed me of all joy and blessings.
Matthew 6: 19-21  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also."

Even though He doesn't require deeds  I am guilty of neglecting to roll out the "red carpet" for my God every day.    He waits for me to surrender it all to Him.  To praise Him, and glorify Him in all that I do.  And I fail on a daily basis.  He wants to fill my heart with His love and mercy. But, I still keep looking for the world to fill my heart with warm fuzzy things. And in turn I am frequently disappointed.  And I become a victim of my emotions.  I created this crazy "calgon' moment all on my own.  The world requires me to do, run, make, and busy myself.  All God requires of me is to come, be still and sit at His feet.  It's time to turn the glass over and get filled. He wants me to have faith in His daily provision.  Matthew 6:25 " take no thought for your life"

To have the ability to rest in God's bubble bath of amazing grace would be, well, AMAZING.  This world is not going to be my permanent residence. I look forward to each day that He gives me.  And I pray that He will continue to fill me with new grace each new day.  And as I get caught up in the craziness of this world I am thankful He is waiting for me to shout, "God, take me away!"

Matthew 6:33-34 " but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gift of Grace

God's love is unconditional.  He sent Jesus as the greatest gift of grace.  And it is by this grace that I have been saved.  Nothing I can do is greater than this amazing gift.  No actions that I take make me more worthy of this grace. God knows my heart.  He knows that there are times that I am extremely prideful.  I do thing often with the expectation of receiving a thank you.  Or at least some gesture of gratitude.  I know that my action are often selfish.  I am so thankful for the love God has lavished on me.  After reading a few verses on God's grace for me.  I see how much He knows my heart.  He knew me even before I came into existence.  I  know that I should glorify God in all that I do.  But I fail a lot.  I am a sinner saved by grace! "For it is by GRACE you have been SAVED, through FAITH - and this is not from yourselves, it it the GIFT of GOD - not by works, so that no one can boast."  Ephesians 2: 8-9.

This past week was very emotional for me.  I found that I was easily angered.  Very irritable and cried over silly stuff.  Early on in the week I came home from work and lost my mind.  I was feeling pulled in a thousand directions.  And all I wanted to do was come home to a clean house with a house full of smiling happy people.  Yes, I have a bad habit of great expectations.  Instead I came home to a messy house (Kids all had off from school, work, etc....) and my outburst caused chaos to errupt.  I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  I felt so alone and so sad.  I work so hard all day and I came home and felt so disrespected.
I woke up the next morning.  I was still carrying a little sadness with me from the night before.  I began to pray.  And thought a lot about what it meant for me to begin to travel lightly.  How can I surrender it and surrender it ALL? Jesus laid down His life so that I could have a glorious eternity.  And I am being such a brat. It isn't about me.  Scripture tells us that we are to put off our old self, which is corrupted by deceitful desires. So that we could be made new in the attitude of our minds. And then we will put on a new self, one that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. God loves me for me! If I surrender my selfish needs and speak from my heart I will begin to travel lighter.  God's grace is amazing.  and when I walk with His grace upon me life is brighter.  My heart begins to soften. And I can begin to hear Him more clearly.

This weekend I attended a seminar.  The theme was John 3:16.  "For God SO love the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."  When I first heard about the seminar I wasn't going to attend. I thought I had heard this verse so many times.  I didn't need to hear it again.  Can you say "BRAT!"  God knew that my heart wasn't as soft as it needed to be for Him to penetrate and saturate my life.  So He continued to push me until I wrote the check and signed up for the weekend.  I still thought that I might be backing out of it.  My husband had tickets to the Phillies game and wouldn't have a car.  He sold the tickets.  I thought about being home with my husband because he had to work the whole weekend.  But God made it clear.  I had to go.  He had a message that my heart need to hear.  I needed to know that God SO loves me.  His heart for me is so full of grace.  He looks at me and His heart jumps for joy.  He watches over me.  And longs for me to be completely His.  He sees me as pure beauty.  There is no flaw.  I am His perfect princess.  I am blessed and highly favored.