Shelly's Spot

The Words That Tumble Onto The Page

Month: October 2016 (page 1 of 2)

Waiting on the Will of God

The Bible is full of stories about the will of God playing out in the lives of individuals, and almost every one of them takes years to come to fruition. The will of God is perfect, and He takes bad things and creates good from them, but His time frame can sometimes leave us frustrated, or confused, or convinced that this bad time is not going to be turned to good, but is just us adrift in our hardship.

Look at Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, taken to Egypt far from his father, alone and frightened, he surely must have wondered what the will of God was that would bring him to this place. Certainly the Lord could have saved him, but the Lord did. Throughout his story we can see the Lord directing from the wings, even through what seemed horrible hardship, the Lord had blessed Joseph and continued to guide his life. When famine came, when all would be lost, it was Joseph, in the right place at the right time, to not only save Egypt, but to save his own family when they came looking, starving and broken, for help. Joseph could see the truth of his plight, God had sent him ahead, given him the gifts that uniquely prepared him for what he would do, and had elevated him within the house of Pharaoh. Read Genesis 45 to see how what had been a dark act by his brothers was turned to blessing by God.

Look at Moses, doomed to die in infancy, but spared to live and be used as the instrument that would free the Israelites from slavery. How could the Lord use such a dark decree, killing all of the Israelite baby boys, to save the people? Because His will really is perfect and He can and will carry out His will through and even within the darkest times.

How long did Abraham wait for his first son to be born? How long did he wait for the promise made to be fulfilled? Once fulfilled, his trials weren’t over, Abraham was faced with a number of challenges, and he faced each one in faith, in trusting the will of God, the promise was fulfilled.

The time line of God is not our time line, often when we face hardships we are ready for God to show us the good that will come from it. Often we want the lesson to be learned immediately, the plan to be revealed instantly, the perfect will of God to come to fruition in the blink of an eye. We have faith, but it can falter, we have faith, but we are fragile. We are human and cannot imagine spending time in our hardships, we look to God and pray that He will fix things and forget that He is always fixing things, in His own way in His own time. The Lord never rests, He never takes a day off, and He is always working for the good, which means that when we are waiting for Him to answer our prayers, He already is. Waiting on the will of God can be a daunting experience, the will of God will not always line up with our own, the will of God may require more than our bending but might require our being broken, so that He can build us back up. The will of God can take a lifetime to work out, it can carry on well past the point of giving up, if we are relying on human strength and not on the strength of God.

The will of God is perfect, but we live in a broken world, and too often we become so much a part of this broken world that the only way to bring us back to God is to break us, to break down the barriers that our culture and society have put in the way, so that all we are left with is our prayers, cried out in the night, tears streaming down our cheeks. This leads to people often complaining about God, as if He should never allow us to suffer, if He loves us, if He truly wants us to be reconciled with Him and calls us His children then why would He allow us to suffer…but He gave us free will, it isn’t His will that causes the bad things in this world, it is because we live in a broken world. He is not punishing us, He is not dragging us through difficulty after difficulty to teach us a lesson, or to test us, He is lifting us up and over each difficult situation to bring us closer to Him. Sometimes we struggle, sometimes we resist, and so we end up clamoring half out of His grip, to do things our own way, and that is when we are stuck in the mire of a broken world. The hardships of this world are often made harder by our pride, by our willfulness, by our stubborn determination to not need help, even help from the One who created this world, who placed all life into motion, who knows the way through. Relying on the Lord will always help, but it will not always end the challenges you have to face. Relying on God is a great first step, but it is one step in many, it is the beginning of the walk, not the end.

The will of God is perfect, He wants us to follow His will, to seek His hand, to commit ourselves to being better than we were, and He continues to work constantly, but He has given us the freedom to choose, the freedom to exert our own will, and so we often struggle through. The world we live in is broken, but the love of God, the will of God, the plans of God are not broken, and He will use every bad thing for good.

Dear Lord, 

Please bless me with patience, please let me know the peace that flows from you, so that I don’t lose sight of Your Will for my life. Please keep me mindful that all things are used by You for good, and that even when I am stuck here in hardship, or in struggle, that You are working, on my behalf, that even when I feel I am standing still, You are not. Thank You Lord, for loving me, for strengthening me, for equipping me for the path ahead, for the task at hand, for the calling You place on my life, please let me never lose sight of You.  In the name of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ

Amen

Almost Halfway There

At just over 70 pounds I am almost halfway to the weight loss goal I set when I started this journey. Every new day brings with it a new commitment to losing weight and getting in shape. I watch what I eat, I work out, and now, this far in, my new habits are just that, habits. I do not miss the foods I gave up, nor do I dread working out each morning. I feel better than I have in years, and I have a very positive outlook. I am not tempted, not longing, not missing any of the things I have deemed off limits to myself. I am not following someone else’s plan, not following some diet thought up by some stranger and then put in book form to guide me through the jungle. I am figuring it out as I go along, reading and researching what interests me and applying my new knowledge to my circumstances in a way that fits, that works. I know what my weaknesses have been in the past, I know what foods will lead me down into the bad habits, into the world of being obese again. I am still overweight, I still have a long way to go, but I am different now, I am not dwelling on what I have left behind but instead looking forward to where I am going, to all the things I will be able to do once I am fit. I am not on a diet, I am not going back to the way it was, I am not counting down the days until I can have that one thing that I miss most, I don’t know what that one thing is anymore, I gave up so many things that I never plan on picking back up again, but I don’t miss them. I am heading into the holiday season, a season that traditionally is full of food and celebration, of indulging. I am entering into the season different this year, I have no plans of pausing the work I have started, I have no plans of giving in to the temptations that will cross my path, the foods that litter potluck tables and are hand made and hand delivered by well meaning people sharing good cheer. I am not depriving myself, I am healing myself. I am not punishing myself, for years of overeating and eating all the wrong things, I am rewarding myself for finally making the commitment to be healthier, to work on my nutrition goals with a goal in mind. I am not suffering, I am celebrating another day of sticking with it, of getting that much closer to the goal.

I do not feel sorry for myself, because I am not struggling, I am not tempted, I am not wanting, the trick now is to make sure the people who love me, who support me, who surround me, don’t lose sight of my goal either, don’t fall into the trap of sabotaging the good intentions out of a feeling of concern, certainly this one day, this one event, you can let go, you can eat just a little. I had an issue with food, I have left it behind, but I don’t plan on tempting fate to see if it is still there, no, that one little thing for me could be like a cigarette to an ex-smoker, could be like a drink to the alcoholic, could open a door I have no desire to ever go through again. So, thank you for the offer, but no thanks, I am fine eating what I eat, in the amount I eat, and leaving the table never stuffed, never feeling like I should not have taken that last bite, or ten. At just over 70 pounds lost, I have a long way to go, but I am getting there, thanks for understanding.

Getting Through

This is an interesting week for me, every year this week brings me to a point of reflection, a point of deep joy and sorrow. This is the anniversary of the week my daughter spent in hospice, a week of prayer, a week of tears, a week of saying good-bye and a week of letting go. It is not a depressing week, but it is an emotional time, an often quiet time, where I can remember and think and pray about the journey that brought me to that hospice room in 2010, the journey that taught me how to be a mother surely, but I believe it taught me so much more. It taught me how to be a wife, how to be a daughter, sister, friend, Christian. Thanks to the life I shared with my daughter, I am a better person than I would have been, and I am so thankful for having been given the chance to be her mother.

Here is something I know, everyone suffers…pain, fear, confusion, loneliness, doubt and the list continues, suffering does not make you different, how you respond to suffering is what defines you. Do you stand strong in your faith or do you waiver? Do you blame everyone else, or take your suffering out on the people you meet, or do you turn to the Lord and in faith allow Him to carry you through? Something else I know, my daughter wasn’t disabled as a punishment, not a punishment for me, certainly not a punishment for her, her disability was a fluke, caused because we live in a world that isn’t perfect. Her disability wasn’t a punishment, but rather her life was a blessing. When the Lord gave me the chance to be a mother to my beautiful daughter, He was giving me a chance to become more the person He designed and created me to be. The Lord knew me, better in fact than I knew myself. I wanted to be a mom, but He saw what I could do if I was given the chance to raise Jade, with all of the demands and special needs that came with her, He was using her disability to mold me, to build me, to strengthen me and to bring me to a place where I should have been going all along. Raising a child with profound disabilities brought me closer to God, through the hardships we shared along the way, I became a better person and a better Christian. The Lord answered my prayers, in a big way.

Before my pregnancy with Jade I miscarried, it was very early in the pregnancy, but I knew about it, I felt it. I had been so excited at the thought that I was going to be a mother, and when I miscarried I felt heartbroken, but more than that, I felt somehow I had not deserved to be a mom, somehow I had not done something or done something wrong and this was my punishment. I know better now, but at the time, and there weren’t a lot of places to go to talk it out, or to share the pain, so I held onto it and waited. When I was pregnant with Jade, I was so afraid that I would lose her too, that every day and every night I prayed that I could be her mother, that I could have this one. I specifically prayed that I did not care what challenges we would face, I did not care what was wrong, I just wanted to be her mother. When Jade was born, I was ready to be her mother, not because I knew how, but because I was so hungry for the chance. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord hears us, He hears our prayers, He hears our cries, He hears our conversations with others, with ourselves.” The Lord heard my tear filled prayers as I worried and struggled with the fear of losing another baby, He heard me and He answered my prayers. He did not just give me the baby I wanted, He gave me the child that would forever change my perspective, the child that would force me to grow as a person, Christian, and that would cause every relationship I would ever have to be a reflection of the experience of raising her.

The Lord saw me, not as I was but as I could be. The Lord knew my heart and so trusted me to do what I had said I would, to raise her and care for her, and to do it all in faith. I could not have survived, I could not have done what had to be done, but with the help of the Lord I made it through. Zechariah 4:6 says, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” The journey was long, but it was a wonderful journey, along the way we shared the road with so many people who were touched by Jade, who saw their faith in God not dashed by the struggle, but built up by the blessing. Through her life we could see the grace and mercy of Christ, through her life we could see prayer answered, not always the way we wanted it, but the will of God is always good, and He uses all things for good, and in the end, as I look back over her lifetime and reflect I see so much of the good.

This week is a reminder of the strength of the Holy Spirit, I made it through, I raised her, always surrounded and supported by the very people I would need at the time. I saw her as a blessing and was blessed two more times with children who did not have the challenges she had, children who joined us on the journey and have carried within them lessons and blessings from her life that will impact the world they live in. This week is a strange one for me, I am never far from a memory of her, a tear in my eye, a smile that can’t be contained, but this week, especially, I reflect on her, I become quiet and I spend time in my own head, in conversations with God and yes even with her. This week I prepare myself for another year without her to hold, without her to care for, she isn’t gone, she is always present in the people who loved her, she is always present in the life we live, she is always present in the heart that misses her and rejoices in her life.

This week I am reminded that I was blessed, that I was trusted and that I was given the strength through the Holy Spirit to do what I said I would, to do what I was called to do, and to make it through all the struggles, to come through the other side in faith, carried through with love and to know that all I had to do was accept the hand of Christ. When God calls us to service, He has already blessed us with the gifts to accomplish His will. If we follow His will, He will deal with the obstacles in front of us to fulfill His plan. At each step of the journey the Lord provided, He put the people in play that would help us, the people that would keep us moving forward, the people who would join us on the journey, some joined us briefly, some came along for a while and some were in it for the long haul, committing to the path with confidence and faith. I am not strong, I am strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I did not do this I was invited and allowed to go along, and I am so thankful for the years spent with her as her mother.

Dear Lord,

Time and time again You show us how You will always be there to help us when we struggle, time and time again You have equipped us with just the right things to make our journey successful, time and time again You have carried us through when times got too tough or the road too rough.

Lord thank You for the blessings, thank You for going ahead of us to clear the path, thank You for walking beside us and holding our hand to keep us going and thank You for coming behind us to keep us safe and on the right path. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, and thank You for answered prayers. Please keep my feet on the right path, please keep the light ahead bright enough to see even on the darkest nights, and please continue to bless me, even when I am overcome with doubt, fear or confusion.

In the name of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ –

Amen

Seventy Pounds

So, hitting 70 pounds is a huge deal, and yet I know I cannot stop or even pause, I am not quite half-way there, I still have a long way to go, and while now the habits are set and so it does not feel so much like work as it does like who I am, I know that the weight loss will not get easier or quicker from here on out. So, I rededicate myself, I imagine the next ten pounds, and the ten after that, but I focus on the next one, I will work everyday to lose one more pound, and then I will work to lose the next one.

I continue to do Zumba, with hand weights, to help my arms. I am also still logging all my food and drinks, I am happy that the weather is turning cooler and so I can walk up to the store for a couple of items instead of always driving, although, if I am getting a lot of things I still have to drive. I am still eating less than I once did, and what I eat is always considered for what it is giving me, not just to fill a need or to curb boredom. I am getting better at stopping just before I am full, instead of eating until I am full, so I am not feeling bloated or stuffed. I am heading into the holiday season, a season that in the past has been filled with goodies and large meals and stuffing myself, forget the turkey… but this year it will be different. I will eat less and still focus on the quality of my food. This year I will be more active, continuing to work out daily and to move in the right direction. This year I will not be baking a bunch of cookies and other goodies, but I am making my own body wash/shampoo and my own moisturizers and other personal items, and while I will not be giving away as many home made items as I have in the past, my kitchen still gets messed up with measuring spoons and cups, with mixing bowls and other things. I am looking forward to being able to move about, to get outside and enjoy the cooler weather, to feel better about myself. This is why I am doing this, so that I can live a different kind of life, one where I feel better, where I am healthy and active and moving, one where I can once again get out there

October

October is a strange month for me, not because of the costumes and people going door to door asking for candy, not because the weather is changing and my mind wanders to spending Holidays with the people I love, or because I can almost justify listening to Christmas music. October is strange for me because it is a month of memories, overwhelming memories some happy and some sad.

My husband and I began dating in October, he met my daughter and my family for the first time at the end of October, we had her birthday party early and he attended that and then he went along when I took her trick-or-treating. We had been friends, but our relationship became something more at the end of October, he became the man I had given up hope of finding as well as the father my daughter needed and deserved. October holds for me, some of the most amazing memories of hope and happiness.

In October of 2010 I had back surgery, early in the month, and a few weeks later I spent a week sitting in a hospice room watching my almost 22 year old daughter finally being called home. She had spent her whole life trapped in a body that did not work right, that she could never fully control and that seemed to always be working against her. In that last week of October, she became peaceful, she slipped gradually from my grasp, the work of her life had been completed and at long last our prayers of healing were being answered in the most profound way, she was going home, healed and whole and free from the challenges of this world.

In October 1993 my daughter got a dad and I got a husband, (well, we weren’t married until May of 1994)to share life with, we built a family together in the years that followed, and we shared every high and low that came along. In October of 2010, my husband lost his daughter, he was alone with her when she passed, slipping away in her sleep as they held hands. There was never a moment in all those years where he wasn’t her dad, where there was any doubt in his mind or anyone else’s that he was the right one for the job. He loved her, and cared for her, and he held her hand in that last moment and she was finally quiet and peaceful and she left this world to go home.

October is a strange month for me, I love the changing weather, the hint of what’s to come. I love the celebratory feeling of Halloween, and the promise of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I love the hopefulness and thankfulness that seems to fill up the minds of people everywhere. I have experienced the greatest joy and greatest sorrow in October, I have seen promises made and fulfilled, I have seen life and death, and I am always left humbled by both. October is a strange month for me, I guess it always will be, but it is a good month, it is a good season, and it is a good life.

A Personal Relationship

I am a Christian, a child of God, I have a close personal relationship with Christ. Often when I say that last one people begin to get uncomfortable, they are not sure what to say or how to respond. They might begin to roll their eyes, or look for an exit strategy, a means of escape from this religious nut in front of them, they might be wondering how the conversation got to this point. I have known people who call themselves Christian who would not say they have a close personal relationship with Christ, maybe they have never personalized it, maybe they have remained on the edges of their own faith journey, or perhaps they had a bad experience with religious people in the past and so while they like the idea of Jesus Christ they aren’t sold on what they believe will require so much of them.

My close personal relationship with Christ does not require a lot from me, all I have to do is accept His love, the gift of grace and salvation, the price He paid to be in a relationship with me. Some people resist the personal aspect of a relationship with Christ because it would mean accepting that they needed what He provides, forgiveness. For those people who are too proud or stubborn, accepting the forgiveness that Christ offers would mean admitting that they need it, that they are broken and in need of salvation. They would also have to admit that they can’t do it themselves, they are powerless in the face of their own sin. They would have to be thankful and wanting.

I am not sure when the vision of the cross became so much clearer to me, this journey that I am on is ever growing, ever changing my view of my own life. When I first came to Christ I was thankful for the gift of forgiveness and salvation, thankful that I did not have to do it on my own, but not quite fully aware of my own need for salvation, not fully aware of my own brokenness, certainly there are people more broken, more needing of forgiveness. I had to learn that the other people are not the point of this conversion, the transaction is both personal and universal. My focus can’t be on the other people around me who are in greater need, I can’t save anyone, all I can do is accept the gift and then share the good news. Initially I was thankful, but still clueless, I was not awed enough, I did not have perspective. Jesus died on the cross for me, personally, and for all mankind, universally. The price He paid however was not just paid on that cross, the price He paid was paid in all the days, weeks, months and years that led to that day.

Christ lived a human life, He was born, grew up, learned all the things that everyone else has to learn. Christ got dirty, felt worn out and tired, would have felt frustration, He lived a life among the people He came to save. For a few years He wandered the countryside, calling to Him those select few who would carry His message to the world. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, washed the feet of His followers. He taught them about God in a way that had never been done before. He was looked to for answers, for food, for guidance, for strength, for direction. He was jostled by large crowds, people who had come to see this curiosity. He walked through this world, not above the fray but in the middle of it. He prayed to God, and taught others to do the same.

Christ knew He was about to be betrayed, He knew what was about to happen. He prayed to God to save Him from the path that had been laid out before Him, but He also prayed for the will of God, not His own to be done. He was afraid, His very human response was one of doubt and fear, He knew what was coming and He still moved forward. When He was arrested, He could have fought back, He could have run away, He could have recanted, He could have confessed, He could have saved Himself, but then He would not have saved me.

When the soldiers were beating Him, He could have stopped it, He had the power and authority of the heavens, and yet, there He stood, being broken and beaten and treated in such a brutal manner and He never once reached out to stop it. Once He was arrested He never faltered, to be sure, but He had so much time before the arrest to stop the train and hop off, and He never did. He never turned away from His goal to save me, personally, and all mankind, universally. When He was hung on that cross, He would have experienced excruciating pain, He would have found it hard to breathe, hard to focus as the sweat and blood from His brow would have run into His eyes. His skin broken and painful, swelling would have set in, He would have been dehydrated, His feet tired and covered in a sticky bloody mud, from the walk to that hill.

He had been so busy healing the sick, saving the poor, mending what was broken, teaching the lessons His followers needed to hear and knowing that they still didn’t quite understand. He had spent His lifetime preparing for this moment, the moment when for a brief period He would feel the absence of God, when He would feel alone and abandoned. This is the personal moment, in that moment He could see all mankind to be sure, but He could also see me, all these years later. It was the undying, overwhelming love for each of us as individuals that brought Him to that place, and it was that love that held Him to the cross. He paid the price for all of us, but more than that, He paid the price for each of us.

It is that moment and all the moments that led up to it, that remind me that my relationship with Christ is personal, my relationship with Christ is deeper and richer than any other because it began before I was born, because it began in the dirt so many years ago, because it was forged in blood, sweat and tears. Christ went to the cross for me, so that I could come to the cross and see Him there and rest in His peace, and accept the gift of grace that was given to me. I am a Christian, a child of God, and I have a close personal relationship with Christ, because He called me, because He kept His eyes on me, I am able to keep my eyes on Him.

Dear Lord,

Thank You so much for the blessing of my salvation, thank You so much for never losing sight of me, thank You so much for the personal relationship we share, the bond forged through Your sacrifice. Thank You Lord, so much for loving me, forgiving me, saving me and waiting for me. Thank You Lord for creating me, for wanting to be in a relationship with me, for guiding me and molding me, for carrying me through the hard times, and walking beside me when the path is easy. Thank You Lord, for calling me Your child, please help me to stay mindful of how personal our relationship is. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Holy Savior –

Amen

Why Did I Do That?

I have come to the conclusion that every thing we do is motivated by something, nothing happens in a vacuum, so I have to wonder what motivates some of my actions. There are generally two types of motivations, need and desire. Everything we do will stem from one of these motivators. We need to breath, eat, drink, sleep and so on. We desire other things, that motivate our actions. How do we figure out what our motivation is if we don’t take responsibility for our actions? We have free will, but that does not mean we are free, we are bound by social expectations, personal ambitions, environmental circumstances, political conditions, religious values and cultural rules of behavior, these all come together to influence our actions, they influence our desires, our attitudes. So, why do I do what I do? Who do I want to be and who am I actually? It is far too easy to blame all of my failings on outside sources and influence, I would be a better ________, if not for these things that are outside of my control. How do I take control of my life? Well, as a Christian I have to recognize and accept that the goal is not to take control of my life, but to alter my motivations. To do what I should, I have to surrender myself to Christ, to adjust my motivations to be aligned with His, to mirror Christ in my choices, my life. This is not a one time deal, being a better Christian does not just happen because you said you would, being a better Christian takes a daily commitment to look at your actions and to recognize your motivations and then work on focusing your goals through the lens of Christ. Do I ever really get to the goal, odds are I will not get there in this lifetime, because my human motivators keep influencing me. Do I give up trying, no, because the Christian journey a lifelong journey, I will continue to work at it, I will continue to look at what I do and why I do it and try to align my desires with those of God, and I will succeed sometimes and I will fail sometimes. The first step to reaching a goal is to set it, the second step is to not give up when the struggle gets hard. I am a Christian, in a world where too many people do not know or recognize what that means. I am a broken vessel, trying to carry water to a thirsty world. I am human, I grow weak, I grow tired and I am prone to frustrations and failures, but I keep trying, I keep praying and I keep going.

Isaiah 40:30-31 is one of my favorite verses, maybe because I have been truly tired, maybe because I have wanted to sit down by the side of the road and rest, but I have also been lifted up and carried through, and so I have hope.

Isaiah 40:30-31 “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

In this verse I have a promise, in this verse I have hope, in this verse I have the strength to keep on going, and so I can set those goals, I can look at my motivators and adjust my path accordingly, and I can do what I have to, because I am never alone.

Dear Lord,

Thank you so much for lifting me up, for giving me the wings necessary to keep going, even when the going is tough. Thank you Lord for sending Your Son to save me, to be the bridge, to call me, to guide me. Please Lord, help me to be mindful of what motivates my actions, to keep me seeking Your will in my life, to keep me on the path. Please continue to bless me with Your gifts and guidance, please remind me to pray first and act second. In the name of Jesus Christ, Your wonderful Son, my Savior –

Amen

When Things Slow Down

A lot of working on weight loss is waiting, a lot of the process is not seeing a change for days, but sticking to the plan anyway. A body has to hit those plateaus and then start again, the trick is not to allow those plateaus to cause me to slide back, to get frustrated and pick up something I shouldn’t. This is true of any life changing activity a person begins. I am not unique in this journey, and I am not alone. I understand that my body needs to adjust to the changes, and that sometimes those adjustments will take longer and sometimes those adjustments will barely be a blip on the radar screen of life. Life is always a process of change, we are aging every minute, we are born, we grow up, we experience life, all of these are changes, and the whole of our lives is a journey of change and discovery. So, I am ready for the waiting, just as I am ready for doing what is necessary to bring about the changes I am working on. I will not stumble along the path, because I know that even when the terrain seems to be staying the same, I am not, I am always changing, I am always moving forward toward who I will be, I can’t stop the process I can just influence what I look like, who I am when I get there.

So, I passed the 65 pounds lost point, I am actually sitting at just over 66 and a half as I type this. The journey is a little slower now than when I started, but I am still moving in the right direction. I am still motivated to watch what I eat, to work out every day, to keep track of myself and to hold myself to the higher standard I plan on making a lifelong commitment. Every day I try to learn something new about fitness and nutrition, I read articles and work on being a better informed me. I have also begun thinking about what I put on my body as well as what I put in. I have begun making my own personal care products, full of only good ingredients that I can identify and pronounce. I feel better and, I think, look better, than I have in years. I am moving toward being a whole new person, with that in mind I am also refocusing myself on my faith journey, working on my faith writing. I know not everyone wants to read about my religious beliefs, or my relationship with Jesus, but I cannot separate one journey from the other. While I am writing about getting fit, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the part my faith plays in my willpower, I have prayed for strength and determination, and continue to pray and praise God for getting me this far and for keeping me on track. For me, the two are connected in real ways, if I want to serve God in this life, then I need to take care of this life, I need to treat myself better so that I am ready to be used by Him when He calls. I honor Him when I care for myself, when I eat better, work out and take care of the life He gave me. That is why He strengthens me in this journey, I believe He has something for me to do, maybe it is writing this down, maybe it is something that will come up later. So, that is where I am in my weight loss efforts, in my workout efforts and in my faith walk.

On Brokenness

John 12:23-26

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”

While Jesus did indeed die to bring about the changes this passage talks about, being reborn and spreading out even more seeds from the first, we are fortunate we do not have to die to create and plant more seeds. For the Christian this planting may just be a season of brokenness, a seed must be broken so that the outer casing will fall away and new life can begin. This passage also does not mean that we have to hate our lives here, but we can’t be so enamored by the things we have or desire here, that we lose sight of what our real home, our real lives will be. This place is temporary, whether you live to be one hundred, or whether you die young, this is not the final destination. When we become too comfortable here, we lose sight of the long term, the eternal, and begin to accept this place as more than it is.

Going through difficult times is the breaking down of the outer shell, it is the breaking down of whatever it is that is keeping you from living your true life, your true calling and spreading the seeds of faith to the world around you. I have always written, I wrote when I was young and I continued to write into my adult life. At some point my writing turned to my faith journey, and I was quite prolific in my writing of poetry, then the rug was pulled out from under me and I went through a season of brokenness. I didn’t fully understand it, until I began writing again.

In August of 2010 I blew a disk in my back, I was put on some pretty powerful meds and went through the necessary treatment before surgery was approved and I was able to have surgery to remove the bad ucky disk parts and begin my recovery. Most of the time I was on the meds is a blur, I remember being in constant pain, I remember vividly the shots in my back which did not help but to remind me that I was in excruciating pain. This was the first phase of what I now realize was a broken phase, my writing stopped, in large part because my brain was in a fog of meds and pain. A couple of weeks after my surgery, and my recovery was not going as quickly as I wanted, my daughter went into hospice for what would be the last week of her life. I spent the third week after back surgery sitting in a chair in hospice, watching my daughter slowly fade away from me, visiting with a parade of people who had been forever changed by their relationship with her. My daughter was born profoundly disabled in November of 1988 and passed away on October 31, 2010, five days shy of turning 22. It was a blessing to share those last days with her, but it was a deepening of brokenness. I feel very fortunate to have had such a solid faith at the time of her passing, while I was sad and overwhelmed with grief, I was also comforted by the love of our Savior and of all the people who had been placed in our lives as we journeyed together.

I went home with the knowledge that I would never again, this side of heaven, see her face or hear her laugh. I tried to continue my recovery from surgery, my left leg often just hanging out almost useless from the weeks of constantly firing nerves, now fried and trying to recover. I was approved for therapy, and so began the process of working through the issues that had developed while I had awaited surgery.

Around the end of 2010 into the beginning of 2011, my husband had a major bout of diverticulitis, he had suffered from flare ups in the past, but this one became the big one for him, as January turned to February and he still had no relief. He continued to suffer into March and we began the process of getting him approved and then scheduled for surgery. So, this is how we came to spend our anniversary in the hospital as he was having part of his colon removed and I was hoping to get my husband back from months of illness. I was almost ready, my brokenness was almost complete.

There were complications, and at one point I felt very unsure of whether my husband would actually recover from the ordeal, but he pulled through, and after far too long in the hospital we got to bring him home. I should mention that the hospital was a few hours away and my sons and I had gone home, as we waited for the day when we could bring my husband home. I had to learn to care for his surgery sight, which, due to complications was now a large angry open area on his abdomen that would take the next six months to heal. So began the next phase of this journey, as I learned how to take care of my husband, and worry about him as he went back to work, with a large bandage on his belly, and we slowly watched his wound heal. Then came the hernia, which would lead to another surgery for him, and more worry. No complications from the hernia repair was a blessing, a little bit of light in what had been a very dark year and a half.

We worked on recovering, as a family, as individuals. I was broken, I didn’t realize I was broken, I thought I was doing great and in fact I was doing remarkably well. I finally took the time to fully grieve my daughter, not just her passing but the life we never got to share because of her special needs. A grief I had kept bottled up for twenty-two years, as I went about the job of being her mother. I had regained the use of my leg, which took more time than I thought it should have. My sons were doing well, both growing up into such fine young men, and my husband was on the mend. I wasn’t writing. For the first time in so long, I didn’t have the urge to pick up a pen and write, there were no words playing in my head longing to be put on paper. I was broken, and I needed to be broken for awhile, so that I could once again grow and in turn spread more seeds.

A little over a year ago my youngest son and I began working on a creative project together, creating a new world where we are setting adventure stories and plan on creating a role-playing game that people will be able to explore. My youngest son and I began to bounce ideas off one another, and the seed that had been waiting began to grow and bloom. I am writing again, I am sharing my stories, my faith and my dreams again. I am working on publishing my Christian poetry, I am again writing devotionals, I am changing, living anew, refreshed and hopeful, and I know I am spreading seeds that will, in time, grow and spread.

I was broken, but I never lost faith. I was broken, but I never lost sight of my Savior. I was broken, but I never quit living, knowing that one day I would come through the struggles on the other side and grow and flourish. Now, I can see that I was broken, but when I was going through it, I didn’t see it as being broken, I saw it as growing, as learning, as part of the journey. I could have curled up and given up, I did curl up at times, but I never gave up.

I have been broken, more than once in my lifetime, but this one was probably the biggest to date, I look forward to what will come from the new life. I am writing again, more variety and more creatively than I have ever done before. My faith is stronger, because I know how I made it through, and I see the hand that guided me through the darkness. I was broken, but I am a new plant, living and growing and spreading out, I may not know where I am going or where this is leading, but I know I am not alone, and for that I am thankful.

Dear Lord,

As we journey through life, please help us to remember that it is often through times of brokenness that our faith is strengthened, that it is through trials that we are built up. Thank You for letting me know that I am Your child, redeemed, saved and protected, so that even when times are tough, even when the path is dark with shadow, that I will journey forth with confidence, not in myself but in Your love and goodness. That You carrying me through my broken times, so that I can be reborn and go out and plant more seeds of faith and promise in Your name.

Amen

Making Sense Of What Makes No Sense

Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray Him. Jesus knew what the prophecy said, but He also knew the heart of each person, and certainly one of the disciples, someone who had traveled with and lived with Jesus and the other disciples, someone who had sat down to listen to the lessons, someone who had seen first hand the many miracles Jesus performed. It doesn’t confuse me that Jesus would call Judas to follow Him, after all Jesus knew how the story of His life was going to play out, what confuses me is how, after all of that, Judas was still able to betray Jesus. I know that his heart had been hardened, that he was never a true believer or follower, I have read about how he was skimming money from the till, I know all that, but I still don’t understand all that.

When Judas led those who would arrest Christ into the garden, when he walked up to his friend to condemn him with a kiss, Christ knew what was happening, and still He said to Judas, “Friend, do what you came to do.” (Matthew 26:50). Jesus called him friend, he didn’t try to run away or stop what was happening, Christ fulfilled prophecy, just as Judas did. I can understand that Judas was fulfilling prophecy and that someone had to, what I can’t comprehend is how anyone who had seen what he had seen, who had lived with Christ and listened to the private lessons He had taught the disciples, how that person could betray Him. Lucky for me, I don’t have to comprehend it. Even Peter denied knowing Christ three times during that night, and after He was crucified, all of the disciples were frightened and unsure of what to do next. How quickly and easily men fall away from their faith, when troubles enter into their lives. Faith is easy when the road is easy, it is when things are difficult and messy though, when faith is tested that it is strengthened.

Today, our lives might not be fulfilling prophecy, but do our actions, our plans sometimes bring about the same response from Christ, does He look at what we are doing and simply say, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Mixed with free will is the risk that I will put my own will before the will of God. How often do I disappoint my savior with my behavior? How often has the Lord said those words to me, “Friend, do what you came to do.” As a Christian, a disciple, can I follow better if I listen for that response and adjust my plans according to His will for my life? This ability to fall away is why we need salvation in the first place, this is why we need the Holy Spirit to come and live within us. To strengthen our faith, to help guide us back when we stray, and to remind us of the will of God when our own desires begin to take over. Does this mean we cannot have dreams of our own? No, of course not, the Lord wants us to have dreams, He wants us to experience joy and happiness, He wants to bless us with so many gifts, but He also wants us to get there by following the path He has laid out for us.

Dear Lord, 

Please give me a heart that seeks You first, a mind that stays focused on Your will, a dream that does not conflict with being a child of God, saved and redeemed. Please allow me to listen, to hear You when you first begin to say to me, “Do what you came to do,”  please give me the strength to evaluate my own plans with an open mind and a heart led by the Holy Spirit, please bring me through in faith, and continued devotion to You, in gratitude for my salvation and the price You paid to bring me closer to You. In the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Savior –

Amen

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