Thursday, May 26, 2016

what hurdles lay ahead of you?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:2-5, NIV).

"Pure joy..." What did I just read? Pure joy when we face trials? I don't know about you, but I tend to panic, to shake with worry, to tremble....yet we are told to do just the opposite!

I have seen much lately...too much. Maybe because of this, I know, because I have trod that path, what others are also dealing and can empathize.

I know of a gal whose mother is having health issues. This gal comes to work bearing a heavy burden. She tries to smile, but deep inside, she is hurting. All I can do is to offer her hugs and encouraging words and sometimes....all I can do is to listen. I cannot "fix" her problems...and maybe that is OK...sometimes we all need to shoulder that burden alone. It isn't fair, I know...but when one looks back, we can see how bearing that load has made us stronger! It prepares us for what lies ahead.

As the above Scripture continues, it says to "ask God...and it will be given." Yes indeed. Ask God! Go to God! It really is Ok and not a sign of weakness to go somewhere private and share your feelings with Him. Cry if you must! Feeling hurt? Tell Him! Feeling alone? Tell Him! Feeling out of control? By all means, TELL HIM! Do you think He doesn't care? My friend, He cares! Just as Jesus felt the agony in the Garden and prayed, "let this cup pass from Me, yet not as My will....but THY will be done!" so should we! It is NOT a weakness to cry out in our need. It is not necessary, as some saints of old did, to wear sackcloth and flog oneself on a daily basis! Our lives are complicated enough that it seems as if we are already flogged. Why add to that?

In a fairy tale world, it would be wonderful if we all could live "happily ever after!" But that is not the case. It seems that just as we clear one hurdle, up ahead is another one. But ask God to get you over that one also. Focus only on just that one hurdle you see. It is not beneficial to worry about the others, just get over what you can handle. And should you feel as if you are flying...could it be that God has lifted you up and is carrying you?

You are "in it to win it!" You are not alone. I promise.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

what is your "what if?" that is holding you back?

"Don't ever discount what God can do through you. You may have the job as a janitor, but God still can use you to help someone clean up their life."

I don't know about you, but the past month has been more stress-filled than I can recall. It has been said that there are seven life events in our lives that brings on stress: the birth of a child, the death of a family member, a job loss, job relocation, moving, marriage and divorce. (Not too sure where sitting in a traffic jam falls in that statistic, but I digress!) Since March I have seen two, with all of the complications and add ons that accompany it. My joy in life was drained. Every third moment I just wanted to turn around and cry, except that I kept telling myself, "you can't cry! Not NOW! You have to be brave! You're at work, what would people think? You're at the store, you're ______ (fill in the blank). And so, the stress kept building up within me.

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am to the sound of a lone robin, singing its little heart out. That robin sings all the time. Why? I don't know, maybe its just being a robin. Maybe it's singing the praises of being alive. Or maybe it is happy to be a part of a new day. I knew that until that bird quieted down, I wasn't going to get any more sleep, so I woke up and stepped outside...and was glad I did. There in the western sky, was a setting full moon in all of its glory. It was peaceful....quiet....and in that moment, I said a prayer to God for being with me through all of the crud. (I wish I could have been that bird and sang, too but that may have gotten me into trouble at 5 am!) I have been doing a lot of garden work lately, that and lawn mowing...and many other sundry tasks and noticed that it was during those tasks that I could literally purge myself of the thoughts I had within me, thoughts of anger....of loss....of pain. In the illumination of that full moon, I asked God for strength....for forgiveness....for relief from the arrows that had been hurled at me for so long.

  "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  
 2 Corinthians 12:9-11New International Version (NIV)

The Apostle Paul was a pretty remarkable person. I appreciate his honesty in his writings. For me, it is a journal of a zeal that would not die, not even during his imprisonment when most others would have just given up. He kept going. As he writes, his strength was not just his own, Jesus was his motivation. Jesus is also our motivation. When you feel as though you no longer have the energy to take another step, Jesus is there, He is carrying you. Many times we become so embroiled in our own pain that we don't realize this. And even when we do, we don't want for Him to set us down and continue on ourselves. We become fearful of the unknown. Of the "what if's." How many of you are in a toxic situation, needing to make a change? Yet we cry out, " me!" God is there.....perhaps it is you who is not grabbing hold of the rope He has set out for you! Again, the "what if's" that plague us can rob us of many wonderful opportunities for change....and so we sit in our own muck and cry. What if I quit this toxic job...what else is out there? What if I break up this relationship? Who else will love me? What if I tell off my landlord because of his unreasonable demands? Will he find an excuse to evict me? And so on.

I am a lunch lady, which means that as I do a lot of the sundry work that preparing meals can bring, I also do a lot of ruminating. As I wash those many dishes, I have time to converse with God. And as I accept yet another tray left by the students that I serve, I offer my smiles, my compliments....and a silent prayer for those whose day is just not going well. Even in my pain...or maybe because of it, I am more aware of others in their struggles as well. It isn't easy being a teenager these days....those kids need all of the encouragement they can get. If, for me to be in that place where I am needed, then so be it, I will, like Paul, show just how grateful I am by offering words of support to those who need it most. 

Together, just as Jesus who carries you and I...we can then go out and carry another to help them get to where they need to be in their own lives, maybe help them as they deal with all of the "what if's?" You just never know....your words...your actions may be all the help they need to be a source of encouragement for yet another lost soul. This is how Life is meant to be, don't you agree?