Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Fruitless Quest

This past week was just odd.  That would be the best way for me to define it.  It wasn't a great week.  But it wasn't horrible.  Just odd. Greg worked the 3pm -11pm shift.  There are two shifts that I am not fond of and those are that shift and the 11pm -7am shift.  I just have a difficult time with those work hours because I am restless, my head starts to think, think, and over think some more.

Greg and I both were married and divorced and remarried (now to each other).  So there are a lot of things that can cause the fog to appear.  We both had to learn to trust in others and in each other.  In the beginning it was tough.  We both questioned each other in a lot of things.  And did some stupid stuff.  Only to laugh about it years later.  We had a lot of growing pains.  And we still do experience them on occasion.  But I truly believe it has been through the trials and tribulations that we have learned to trust in God.  And ultimately we learned to trust in each other and he is truly my best friend, my love and a treasure.

We married not just each other but each others children.  We vowed that we would be the best parents we could be to our new family.  We promised to love, honor, cherish and support all five of them.  And we vowed to do it as a team. God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, Greg and me. We were all so different. Each member of our family gave the others a run for their money.  Often we lived in a daily world of high emotions and righteous expectation.  But by God's amazing grace and lots of prayer we began to adjust.  God had some pretty spectacular things planned.  And in retrospect I am so glad for all the craziness we had to go through just to be here today.  The doubts, deception, deaths and ordeals.  We vowed to remain a unit through it all.

I never had the pleasure of meeting my Mother-in-law, Grace or my Father-in-law, Richard.  Greg lost both of his parents prior to us meeting.  We began to talk to each other shortly after the death of his Dad and my Grandfather.  I wasn't around to experience the pain of Greg's great loss.  And, to be honest, I couldn't quite understand what he went through.  My parents were both alive.  They were an everyday fixture in my world.  They lived with me and my three wild ones. But I knew that Greg had this great void.  He told me stories about his loving parents and how they loved each other.  We talked about their illnesses and how they lived their lives.  told me of their hopes of one day having a place in Wildwood, NJ to retire to and just enjoy each others company.  Sadly, they never had the opportunity. After Greg and I were married I began to notice that every year, beginning in November, he would change.  He took on this "bahhh humbug" persona that would last for a few months.  I found myself taking it personally.  He would sit and think and think and think.  There was this look in his eyes.  I would try to understand.  However, I just couldn't.  It took years and the death of my own Dad to begin to comprehend what my husband was feeling throughout those months of reminiscing about his loss.

I have had loss in my life; miscarriages, deaths, relationships, and other things.  But the death of my Dad was by far the biggest blow to my heart.  My Dad was so much more than just a parent to me.  He was my friend, my teacher, my go to guy when I needed advice.  He was the person who calmed me when my head would spin out of control.  There was one occasion when Greg and I were dating and my Dad was very sick and was in the hospital.  I didn't know, at the time, that Greg had asked my parents for my hand in marriage a few days prior to Dad's hospitalization.  So, every time I would go in to sit with my Dad everyone of my family members feared that Dad would say something and ruin the proposal.  But he didn't.  I sat with him one evening and asked him what he thought of Greg.  I shared my heart, my fears and apprehensions with my Dad during that conversation. And his response was, "Kathleen, Greg is a great man.  He loves you. And he loves your children.  If you let him go I will kick your ....." Greg waited over a month to propose.  He wanted to be sure that my Dad was in good health before he asked me to make the biggest decision of my life.

My Dad recovered and was able to be there for many more milestones with his nutty family.  And he and my Mom both walked me down the isle on my wedding day.  And as my heart was racing and my thought were running he was there to calm me and support me. All the while my Greg was standing there at the alter. And I know that his heart had a parent sized hole in it.  Yes, as I walked down with my parents he stood alone.  But later told me that he rejoiced in that moment because my parents officially became his parents that day.  Yep, he wanted the whole package.

Greg was a huge support to me after my Dad passed away.  God had prepared my heart.  But my heart was broken in a way I never thought possible.  It's an indescribable pain.  And Greg knew exactly how it felt. A few days after his passing I thought that I was going to die from the pain.  My stomach hurt. I felt numb.  And my movements felt like I was in slow motion.  My husband held me that night as I cried harder than I have ever cried in my life. I remember asking God why?  Why did He allow the surgery to go great?  Only to take him home the following day.  I was confused and hurt.   It took a little while for me to realize that God had blessed us with one more day. And that is exactly what we had prayer for, one more day.

I often think back to seeing my Dad with salty tear stained cheeks a few days prior to his surgery.  And I wonder if Dad wrestled with God and the plan for his days ahead.  I say this because right before his surgery I knelt in front of him and said,"Daddy, we want to pray for you before they come to get you." As we all gathered around him he looked at each of us.  And instead of us praying for him he prayed for us.  He was good at the sneak attack prayers.  

Greg was such a huge support and still is.  As I struggled with getting life back to normal.  I had to come to terms with the fact the life would and could never be normal again.  And that to seek that normalcy would result in a "fruitless quest".  Life was different and continues to be different every day.  I am thankful that the Lord picked that time to take my Dad.  Yes, it still hurts when I think about how much I wish he could have been here to see his grandchildren get married, his great-grands multiplying, and how beautiful and strong his bride is.  I rejoice knowing that he is no longer in pain.  And I know that one day we will worship our God together.  I still have days that I question why God would have allowed the pain of this great loss.  But I know that He is a God of love and wants me to trust that He is doing what is best.

There are times, when my fear of losing another close family member, takes hold of my head.  And like I said at the beginning of this blog when I have too much time I think and think and overthink some more. Greg is out there climbing ladders, going on gas emergency calls and fatigued.  I worry myself sick. I think about my Mom alone in her apartment and I worry about her health and well being.  And the children.  Yes, I even have silly fear for each of them. The mind is a creative thing.  I could write a ton of suspense novels with the crazy thoughts that run through my head.  Good thing, for me, that the Lord whispers in my ear, "Put a lasso around those thoughts and give them to me."  And that is just what I do.  Or at least try to.  Ultimately, I know that He is a good God.  And that He will bless us even in the tribulations.

There are great lessons in the pain. Greg was certainly able to help guide me through the process of losing a parent.  And I am not sure how I would have done it without his prayers and support.  We both handle our grief a little differently. And God is big enough to handle our anger, disappointment, frustration and lack of trust.  We have learned to talk to each other and pray about how our loss makes us feel.  And have both grown to love and trust deeply in God.  The God that has a watchful eye on us, a comforting hand to hold us, and most importantly He has an understanding of our pain.  The cross.

I am blessed that El Roi is beside me, behind me and in front of me.  I praise Him for the people He blessed me with to support me.  And those that He has put in my path to support in times of need and pain.  I praise Him for that still small voice that pulls me closer.  And I love that there is a fresh fill of grace that awaits this sometimes fear filled woman.  And I love the reminders that He set's before me "In this world you will have trouble, But take heart (have no fear) I have overcome the world." ~John 16:33

Things to think about......

What kinds of people do you have the most difficulty seeing Jesus in? What kinds of people push your buttons?

Why do you think judgement and criticism are such natural responses to encountering other people?

What can you do when you really are too busy to stop and engage with another person?  Do you think we should always have to stop and engage with people while we're working to get things done?

Blessings, sharing, hospitality, helping....which of these sounds more appealing to you? Which is the biggest challenge?  What do you think this reveals about you?

What are so practical ways you can stretch, "see and be" without getting burned out or overwhelmed?

See you next week.  Hope you are being blessed by "the God who sees you."

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Time for a Perspective Change

This past Sunday, as I sat and listened to Pastor Ross' sermon, my mind began to drift.  He made a statement that just captivated my thoughts.  "Fear makes our perspective of God small." And he continued with, " The greatness of our fear is in direct correlation to the greatness we attribute to God".

With the sermon still fresh in my mind I found myself reading chapter five of, "The God Who Sees Me" with a bit of a perspective change.  I thought about a time in my life where I didn't feel or see God.  It was in 1989.

Life seemed good.  I was married to my first husband and had a sweet baby girl.  I realized that I was pregnant again.  And was thrilled.  I was feeling a bit run down.  But I contributed it to being in the early stages of pregnancy.  One day I went to work, as normal, and I felt this pain in my side.  I thought, "I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me." I grabbed a few files and headed to Dr Tom's office.  He took one look at me and said, "Kathleen, you look a little grey.  Is everything okay?"  I shared with him that I was pretty certain I was pregnant and that I was feeling a bit run down. And I told him about the pain I felt moment earlier.  He suggested that I go to the ER immediately.  And I said I would call my doctor.

I called the doctor and he said, "Come now."  So, I called my mom and she came to get me.  We got to the doctors and I realized something was wrong.  I was bleeding profusely.  We immediately drove to the hospital.  Chris, my husband at that time, met us there.  They rushed me back to the O.R. and as I laid there, once again, I felt the pain.  This time it was so intense that I nearly fell off the bed.  They rolled me into the room and the next thing I remember I woke up and I was wrapped in warm blankets.  I heard the nurses talking.  And I thought, "They can't be talking about me."  I asked them, "Is my baby okay?"  One of the nurses walked over and said, "The doctor will talk to you in a few minutes."  They began to roll me into the hall.  And I saw my mom, Chris, and my brother-in-law Mark and a few others.  They were all crying.  I kept asking, "Is my baby okay?" I found out that I had an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured and that I almost died.  I was also told that I most likely wouldn't be able to have any more children.  This broke me.

 After being released from the hospital I went and stayed at my parents house. I wasn't allowed to go up and down steps and their house was more accommodating.  I found myself depending on the percocet to relieve my physical and emotional pain.  How could a God of love do this to me?  I lost not just a baby but my faith during that time.  I felt alone and that no one understood my pain.  I relied on meds and just shut down.

After a few months I found myself living again. However, I was still so angry with God.  I allowed my fear of trusting in Him again get in the way of me seeking Him.  I searched for happiness in things and others.

My parents saw that I needed a timeout.  So, one weekend  they decided to take my daughter with them on a road trip. I was alone. And  I remember seeing my Dad's bible on the table.  I sat in his chair and cried.  I wasn't sure where to start.  But I knew I had to tell God how I felt.  And I did. I sobbed as I began to seek Him.  And demanded that He show His face.  I pounded my fists on the table until they hurt too much to continue.  My tantrum exhausted me. And I decided that I would trust in Him once again.  He didn't show His face that day.  But He did bless me a few months later.

In May of 1990 I found out that I was pregnant again.  God had answered my prayers.  Even though the doctor told me chances were not in my favor I was going to have a baby!  The pregnancy was difficult.  And I went into labor early.  I was medicated to stop the contractions and put on bed rest.  But, in the end I was blessed with another sweet baby girl. I learned in the years that followed, once the fog was lifted, that God was always there.  And that His ways are not my ways.  I could have died that day in 1989.  But He blessed me with a life time to cherish my firstborn and the two additional that I gave birth to.  And He continues to answer my pray for a lot of children.  I am now a "mom" to two inherited daughters and a grand mom to two angelic little girls. I have a son-in-law and another on the way.

There have been multiple times in my life that God has made His presence know.  And there were many times I found myself seeking Him through the foggy days in my life.  I can relate to King David when I read Psalm 63.  I find myself in the early hours of the morning seeking God.  It's when I am most hungry for His word and I'm still in a quiet place.  I sometimes find myself sitting up in bed and lifting my arms to heaven.  I just want to feel Him lift me as I call out His glorious name.  I know that it is Him who satisfies my every need.  And He desires for me to praise Him in the foggy moments too.  And I have to admit that sometimes my day get too busy about things that I get frustrated and the fog rolls in and His praises are not on my lips.  But then the evening comes and I go to bed and glorify Him for the day He gifted to me.  I know that I  walked all day in the shadow of His wings.

It's kind of crazy but when life is going good and things are in, what appears to be, a perfect line  I find that I don't seek God as vigorously as I do in the storms.  I often think that I take Him for granted. He is supposed to be the Lord of All.

When I lived as a single mom with three children I felt He was more present. I knew that as His adopted and precious princess he would provide.  When we had little or no food He provided.  When I couldn't pay the bills He provided.  I learned to trust in Him and praise Him.  After all, He does take care of the birds, plants and animals.  Why wouldn't I trust that He would and could provide for us.  Yes, there were times I went hungry because I wanted the children to eat.  But in my hunger He fed me and comforted me through His word.  He really does want us to seek Him in all circumstances.  Even when we think we no longer "need" Him.

Life is good.  Yes, I am in a blessed time of my life.  I have a husband that loves me and sees me as beautiful.  (And by the way, in case you were wondering, I have been waking up every morning and saying before I look in the mirror, "you are created in His perfect image".  Talk about a perspective change. I am beginning to see Him in me a little more each day.) I have a family that is growing.  I have children that are seeking.  I have a church community that I am beginning to consider family. I have a job that provides me with coworkers that I adore.  But I feel like my vision of God is out of focus.  Perhaps it's because He has been calling me to do something and fear is holding me back.  I am in a position in my life where I could and really should do what He is directing me to do.  But, the fear of not being good enough paralyzes me.  It's called,  "paralysis by analysis".  I am honestly giving God a "maybe".  I know I need to fully trust in Him.  And write the book that He is calling me to write.  I know that I need to stop worrying about others and write as if I am writing to Him.  He is that author and perfecter of my life.  And I know that if I am in His perfect will I will be a success in His eyes.  So, I am going to ask each of you a favor.  Please pray for me over the next few weeks to have a God given confidence and seek Him in His plan.  And know that I will be doing the same for each you. I want to magnify God by removing all doubt fear.  I want to be fully confident in His perfect plan.  

Things to think about as you read chapter 6.  And if you don't have the book that's okay.  You can still think about these questions.

What discussions have you heard or attempts to explain how evil can persist in the presence of an all-loving, all knowing, all-powerful God?  What answers have been helpful to you? What questions still haunt you?

What has been the most traumatic experience of your life?  What experience do you fear most?

Visualize Jesus standing right next to you during a past time of pain or trauma.  What feelings does this bring up in you?

Why do you think some people feel closer to God,while others feel more distant, in times of trouble?

Looking forward to next week.

Be blessed and embrace the God that sees you.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

He Molds Us and Holds Us.

It's a beautiful Saturday morning here on the east coast.  The sun is shining.  I can hear the birds chirping their praises.  And there is the aroma of fresh brewed coffee coming from the kitchen.  I really enjoy the smell of coffee in the morning.  It sometimes sparks my senses and gives me, what some may call, the perception of clarity. Every Saturday my wonderful husband gets up and brews the coffee as I lay in bed and enjoy, for a moment, my quiet time with my Lord.  I can smell the coffee and I know that there will be a cup waiting for me.  Often, when my quiet time is extended, Greg will prepare a cup for me and bring it upstairs. He knows that I need my one on one with my Heavenly Father.  And he almost always gives me ample time to be still.  As the coffee arrives and we sip our morning cup together I invite my husband to join in on my conversation with the Lord.  We have a sweet devotional time and ask each other thought provoking questions.   Even after 15 years we are still learning about each other.

Greg is working this morning so I am sipping on my coffee and reflecting on how my relationship with El Roi has grown in the past four weeks.  How has my perception of myself changed because of His grace and love? This past week I really found myself trying hard to seek God in my reflection.  It's so hard to have that kind of a perspective change.  I had to constantly remind myself that I am made in His image.  And that He sees through my imperfections and loves me in His perfect way.  Every characteristic I dislike about me is still there.  I just have to stop looking at myself through my and see me as God sees me.  Stop focusing on the out and dig deep for what is inside.  "Outwardly we are wasting away but inwardly we are being renewed". I suggest that you stop right here for a moment and read 2 Corinthians 4.  Go ahead read it. Take the time to digest each and every word.  I will make it super easy just click on this link:   Pretty amazing stuff.  How did the God who sees you speak to your heart?

Our God is merciful.  Yes He made His light to shine in our hearts so that He would be glorified.  We are His treasure. His work of art.  A beautiful and intricately molded jar of clay.  The world will attempt to break us by telling us we aren't good enough. But God says we are worthy.  The world may shout perplexing ideas our way.  But God says I am here and will never leave you in despair.  The world might throw stones and bruise us.  But God says I will put a hedge around your heart.  All that the world throws at us are opportunities to reveal God's grace.  Like I said last week, His grace overflows from the cracks and holes that the world inflicted.  The more the world batters and bruises us the brighter His light may shine. And there is an eternal glory that outnumbers the troubles of this world.  He molds us and holds us. We may not be able to see Him in a way that is understandable but through faith we must set our eyes, fix our eyes, glue our eyes on Him the eternal Lord of all.

A few years back, on December 31st, 2010,  I remember driving to Abington Memorial Hospital and there was this joy and anticipation in my heart.  I was singing along with my praise CD, "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart.  I want to see you ....." As I continued to sing there was a soft whisper.  I felt the Lord requesting me to be still.  I turned the music down as I came to a red light.  He whispered words to me that I didn't fully grasp until I walked out of the elevator and saw my mom and sister in the waiting area at the hospital.  You see God wanted to prepare my heart for the events that were about to take place over the next few hours.  I prayed for eyes to see and ears to hear.  And as a result I was able to see and hear Him in one of the darkest moments of my life.  And His grace flowed from the large hole that was created that day.  That epiphany moment that took place when I walked out of the elevator was when I realized the truth behind the whisper.  God whispered to me at the red light, "Be still.  I want you to remember that I was there with him at birth and I Am here now." I remember smiling and saying, "Thank you Jesus for being there with my Dad."  I had no idea that at that moment things were going in a different direction than the one I would have chosen.  My joy was squashed and my anticipation grew.  But I had this overwhelming sense of God's presence.  And as family members arrived to say their farewell to my earthly dad I remember seeking refuge in the palm of my Heavenly Father's hand.  You see He made His presence known.  God knew that I needed Him there with me.  I needed His grace, His mercy and His power.  I felt the power of the Holy Spirit in the most amazing way. As my crazy family sang songs to send dad off as he stepped out of this realm and into his eternal realm, I felt as if there was a silence and my feet were lifted.  It was as if I was in the middle of the biggest, warmest and most uplifting hug.  My life was altered.  And my faith grew.

Some may go through similar life altering moments and come out of it with a much different perspective.  Some may have asked, "God where were you?" And others may have had their faith shattered. It funny, as I sit and drink my coffee, that I am reminded of that "seeing is believing" concept.  I didn't see that coffee was made for me this morning.  But because I know my husband I knew that a hot cup was waiting for me.  I didn't have to see the coffee to believe it was in a cup waiting for me to wrap my cold hands around it.  I didn't need to see my husband making the coffee to believe he would do it.  Again, because I know my husband I believe in him and therefore I am able to trust that the coffee will be there.  That my friends is a "believing is seeing" illustration.  On the other side of the fence is my younger brother.  Thomas is one of those "seeing is believing" types. Yes, he is a doubting Thomas for sure.  So the concept of trusting in the "unseen" God is nearly impossible for him.  He needs tangible evidence that God truly does exist.  And for a long time I wondered why God didn't make Himself known to Thomas on that day in December of 2010. But now I know He did.  It's just that my brother needs to be willing to have a perspective change.  And I need to continue to allow God's grace to flow from the holes and cracks in me because I am certain that one day Thomas will have an epiphany moment and shift to the "believing is seeing" crowd.  Because I believe in God I was able feel the warmth of His embrace and I knew that He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us that day.  And I am sure that my brother felt something that day too.  He may not acknowledge that it was God holding us that moment.  But I believe that as God's grace continues to flow from the family and friends that surround him he will one day look back and remember how grace washed over us all that day.

I pray that God would reveal himself to so many of the people that surround me.  I see Him everywhere.  I see Him in the trees that reach their branches toward heaven.  I see Him in my husband and children.  My family and my friends.  I even see Him silly thing like coffee.  He is there to be my hope for whatever tomorrow holds.  He is there as my strength for whatever today holds.  He is there as the healer of my past transgressions.  He is everywhere!  I just need to open the eyes of my heart.

I pray that as we continue this journey of drawing closer to God, El Roi, that we take time to seek Him.  Let make a conscious effort to call upon Him every day.  Be Still and know He is there.

Questions to think about:

Has there ever been a time in your life where you couldn't "see" God? What happened during that time?  What did you learn if anything?

What are some ways you seek God? And how do you know that you found Him?

What is the next thing you feel that God is calling you to do?  And how do you think you are answering Him?

Have you ever failed to obey God and then felt like your "vision" was blocked?

Think about a time in your life when God was moving and doing something in your life and you couldn't see where He was taking you.  But later, in retrospect, you saw how he was working things out for you.

See you next week.

God bless you

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Looking for the treasures in the midst of the filth

See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
 ~Isaiah 49:16

This past week felt like an uphill climb from the very beginning.  And as I prepared for this weeks trip up the hill I prayed that the Lord would give me enough gas to cover the mileage to get to where I needed to be; the top of the hill. I was pretty certain that when I arrived there things would plateau.  And here I am.  The top of the hill on my one day off this week.  And I am excited the share a piece of this day with you. I'd say God truly has bless me.

Greg has been at work all week so the house has been unusually quiet. I have been hanging with Piper, the dog, and Macy, the cat, every evening after work.  And trust me when I tell you it's easy to overthink and get lost in those over thought thoughts when you are home alone.  Over the past few years I have gained weight in places I am not comfortable with. When I look in the mirror all I see are the imperfections, rolls, wrinkles and strands of grey, my "crown of splendor". It seems pretty easy to rattle off the list of things I don't like about me when I put myself under my "microscope".   I magnify all that I dislike; the shape of my body, my teeth, my hair, my face, my fingernails, and even my duck feet. But when I look deeper I really am embarrassed about my past relationship with the Lord. There are parts of me that I wish God couldn't see and never had to see. These truths about me are a hard pill to swallow.  I have been a liar and I've had a unclean past.  And at the top of that list is that I cheated on my Heavenly Father.  My desires, at one point in my life, were for the things of this world.  I wanted the approval of people more than God's approval.  And didn't care about how my sins were effecting others and my relationship with my creator.  As I grew and learn more deeply about His love for me the more overwhelmed I began to feel.  I felt like a total disappointment.  You know that feeling when you hear a parent say, "I am disappointed in your actions.  This is NOT who I raised you to be." It can be a pretty gut wrenching and life altering moment.  However, God's love and grace are always overflowing.  I just needed to be open to receiving these precious gifts.  And I needed to learn to see myself the way He see me.

 Looking for the treasures in the midst of the filth isn't easy.  It's not as easy to answer the question;  "What do I like about me?".  In all reality this list wasn't nearly as fluid.  I had to dig deep and think.  I like my eyes, my ears, I love to read books that glorify God, I like that I am wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend. I like that I put everyone in front of myself and have a tendency of forgetting to count me in the number.  And if I had to pick one trait that I would love to have everyone recognize about me that would be that I am a Jesus Freak.  When I sit back and acknowledge that God, El Roi, sees me as perfect I am able to see the truth that He adores me and is a Kathleen Freak.  Yes, He is madly in love with me.  He would have to be in order to see me as He does.  Once I take hold of the truth that I am His perfect creation, and begin to look at myself through God's eyes, I can continue the uphill climb and discover who I am.  And who I am meant to be.

God is mindful of us.  He tenderly watches over us.  He knows every intricate detail and loves us nonetheless.  He sees our imperfections and makes them perfect.  Have you ever thought about your past and wondered how God has used those imperfect moments in your life to help better someone else in a difficult time?  I think of myself as a vessel.  I have a few cracks, holes and stains.  Some may look at me and think I am worthless and imperfect.  But God continues to pour His love and grace into me, a broken, full of holes, and stained vessel, daily.  Perhaps, at one point in my life His grace overflowed from the top.  But now?  No, now it flows from the cracks and the holes.  You see those stains make me more approachable.  I have seen how God has used my "microscope" moments and my unclean past, my hills and valleys, to help another vessel going through the refiners fire.  My cracks and holes allow for God's grace to flow from every angle.  He purposefully pours love and grace into me.  And faithfully reminds me that He will never leave me or forsake me.  I am engraved in the palm of His hand.

Last week I suggested that you write the name of someone on the palm of your hand.  I thought about a few people that I willingly wanted to put their names on my hand.  But when I grabbed the indelible marker another name came to mind.  So,out of obedience, I wrote this persons name on my hand.  And throughout the day I thought of this person every time I looked at my hand.  There were also few people that got a glimpse of the name I had on my hand.  And this again made me aware of this person. I found myself praying for this person, who's name was written on the palm of my hand, multiple time.  They were on my mind and heart all day.  And here is the funny thing.  I haven't thought about this person for a while.  And I honestly didn't pray for this person on a regular basis.  I have to say that I am praising God for putting this person on my heart and in my hand.  Eventually, as the day progressed the name began to fade (I did rewrite the name once.  I wash my hands too much).  And by the time I got home from work there was only a small trace of the name remaining.  And it made me think about Isaiah 49:16, "See, I have engraved you in the palm of My hand"  Did you hear that?  You are ENGRAVED in His hand.  Yes, your are permanently engraved in His perfect and adoring hand.  I love my husband, children and family so much.  But they are not engraved in my hand.  You see God really is a Kathleen Freak!  He thinks about me and is not embarrassed to have me engraved in His hand.  He carries me and when I need Him to hold me tight He folds His fingers around me, "your walls are ever before me".

So, I have to say that I may not have everyone's name engraved on my hand, but I have a better understanding of how God, El Roi, sees me and adores me. I may not be perfect.  My past has clearly helped to mold this vessel.  My sins have nicked me.  And I cracks and holes from the hurt and pain that I have caused and other have inflicted.  And I am forever stained by worldly rejection. But it is because of God's love and grace that this vessel is not now, nor will it ever be, shattered. He is the God of our past, present and future. He see us where we are and will be.  Remember this, "For I know the plans I have for you." He has big things planned.  And He can and will use every circumstance to work that plan out.   We need to embrace our self proclaimed imperfections and rejoice because He, the perfect God, understands us on a deeper level.  He made us in His image.  Yes the unseen God, the one who sees us, wants us to know that He made us in His image. I know that I need to think about that the next time I look in the mirror. I pray that instead of pulling myself apart that I keep my focus on God. After all He sees me as someone worth engraving on the palm of His hand. He knows me from the inside out. And I am enough for Him, broken and beautiful.

I pray that as you and I go through this upcoming week that we take a moment to look in the mirror and see the beauty that God sees.

Questions to ponder for next week:

What would you say is the most important epiphany of your life?

Have you ever experienced the miracle of a perspective change? To what extent did this shift your perspective of a gift from God? In what ways was your intentional choice involved?

What are some areas of your life you tend to be blind and in need of healing?

What are some basic beliefs you use to filter your experiences and help you see?  Do you think the idea of "believing is seeing" is dangerous or misused?

Where in your life do you tend to go to encounter God?

In what ways could a shifted perspective on God change your prayer life? The way you do your job? Your relationship with others?

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wink wink

I just want to start off by saying I love God's faithfulness.  I was initially unsure if I was going to be able to truly relate to Hagar after reading chapter one.  But as I sat and took time to reflect on why she rejoiced in the things that God told her; you know like, "Your son is going to be a jerk and cause strife. And he is going to have numerous offspring",  I started to see the bigger picture. Yes, she had a son and he was a mule of a man.  But that isn't where Hagar found her blessing.  No, you see she heard El Roi and His promises of a future. God gave her a vision and Hagar saw her "God wink" moment. She was going to one day be a grandma!  Yes, her strife causing mule of a son was going to be the instrument of God's promise to give her a daughter-in-law and a multitude of grand, great and great-great grand babies to lavishly love.  She fully and joyfully trusted that God would keep His eyes on her and the mule (Ishmael) And that He would continue to protect her and her offspring with His grace and love.

Thinking about the past few months; can you recall a moment when God blessed you with a "God wink", moment?  You know a little reminder that El Roi has a watchful eye on you.  For me it has been 1 Corinthians 13.  It seems like that verse keeps popping up everywhere.  Not only in Chapter 2 of, "The God Who Sees You", but on the radio, the group that my husband and I meet with on Thursday evenings, two other books that I started browsing through, and this morning God blessed me with it again. Greg and I got up and prepared our hearts for a beautiful rainy Saturday by doing our devotional together.  We were instructed to grab a pen and some paper.  Once we gathered our materials we sat together and began reading the devo titled, "The Love SAT".  And I immediately started to smile.  God certainly has a great sense of humor. 1 Corinthians 13 was the heart of the reflection.  At the end of this devo we were given an assignment to paraphrase this scripture in terms that apply to our marriage and/or life.  And we had a great time doing it.  It made us connect and see that what God had joined together, through our marriage, truly is a beautiful thing.  Because without love we are nothing.  I highly recommend you try doing this.  

In 1 Corinthians 13 verse 12 we are told that we are fully known by God.  That's right...we are fully known. When you let that sink in does it sound scary?  Or are you okay with that? What are some ways we could become more aware of God's presence and grow to know Him more fully? God is so complex that it would be quite impossible to describe Him in one word.  And this is why He has been given so many titles.  He is the Light of the world. From the beginning He was light.  And this is God's very essence.  He knows every detail about His creation.  He sees each seed sprouting.  He forms each raindrop.  He intricately places every feather on the birds of the air.  He sees it all because in Him there is no darkness. And He graciously provides this light for us to see the world around us.  He wants for us to have a well lit path so we don't stumble in the darkness.  And because we often find ourselves in dark places God blessed us with the brightest light of all; His son, Jesus.  The same God that formed the rain and placed the feathers on each bird fully knows me.  I can honestly say that there are moments that I tend to forget this truth.  I sometimes feel that because I cannot physically see or touch God that He cannot see or touch me.  What would it be like to let someone see us completely that didn't love us completely.  Scary and highly unlikely.  But God, the light of the world, sees us through the eyes of love.  His patient, kind, forgiving, unconditional love!  And His glory and grace shines all around me.  So there is no need to hide from such an extravagantly loving God

 It is difficult to understand how an unseen God lavishes grace on us.  And why and how He does what He does for us.  He doesn't think the way we think, and He doesn't do things the way we would do them. I find myself prayerfully telling God how to do things.  It usually sounds something like this,"Heavenly Father I praise you for this day.  Please draw my children closer to you.  Make them see you the way I see you.  Give them hearts to follow you. Bless the day ahead of me and keep us safe from harm"  And there have been time where I have shouted out, "LORD,  make every light green so I can get there fast and on time!"  I am pretty sure I am not the only one praying this because I find that I am hitting the red lights and the other driver, crossing my path, is getting all the green lights (God must have answered them  Yes, I may often feel like God is answering others before me but in reality that's not true.  We need to step back and look at the big picture. The funny thing is I pray these commands and at the same time I am also praying for His perfect will.  I forget that His plan is not our plan.  He absolutely hears each one of our prayers or commands. And He is fully capable to answer them all.  After all He is God, the living Word, the Provider, Healer, Lover, Shepherd, King, Rock, Counselor, Bride-groom, Protector, and the list goes on.  We just need to allow Him to be our El Shaddai (All Sufficient One)

I pray that we all continue to open our hearts, minds and eyes to see the God who sees us.  I encourage you all to read your bible.  After all this is God's love letter to us.  And, depending on the weather, take a walk. Look at the trees and how they are lifting their branches as if the are reaching for heaven.  Or if it's a Willow tree how it appears to be bowing in reverence and prayer. And the sky, "the heavens declare the glory of God". I pray that you are able to see God in the little moments as well as the big.  Because El Roi, the unseen God, desires us to see Him.  And wants us to be ourselves with Him.  So, take the time to prayerfully seek Him.

And here are some things to reflect on as you read or don't read Chapter 3:

List five things you like about yourself and five things you don't like about you.  What is the trait you'd most like to have recognized or appreciated? Is there a part of you that you wish God couldn't see?

Is there a time in your life that you believe that you were a disappointment to God or missed His calling? And why do you believe this?

What are some mistaken ideas you have had in the past about the way God sees you?  What changed your mind or view?

Take a permanent marker and write the name of someone you love on the palm of your hand. (it come off with rubbing alcohol).  What did you take away from this experiment?

Think about a time that it was clear that God put you in a certain place at a certain time for a reason.  What was your reaction?

See you all next week