Thursday, July 31, 2008

Leap of Faith

Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.”
John 9:10-11

Jumping into puddles was SO easy when I was a child. It would thrill me, after each storm, to run through these little miracles God had left behind. The mud and the drops that splattered onto my legs never bothered me at all. Turns out I'm not a child anymore, and the truth is every spot irritates me to no end.

The mud on my legs has been quite evident lately. It's been no question to those of you who know me what I've been covered with. You know how my heart aches and what it is I've been longing for, and yet none of those things have come to pass. The puddles continue to pile up around me, and my heart longs for an escape from them all.

Instead of taking these "acts of God" head on, I've tiptoed around them. I've been so scared of getting dirty. I've been clinging to my clean clothes and worrying that the stains that may have found themselves splattered into my life would never come out.

The stains life leaves behind usually cannot be washed away. As they settle into the fabric of who we are, God has no intention of you doing His laundry. He simply uses each spot as a testament of who He is and how faithful we are. Will we spend load after load trying to rid ourselves of these blots, or will we simply trust that He is God and has a special purpose for each blemish?

With all of this in mind, I have quickly learned that each puddle is made for me. I can either run straight through it, wallow in the mud, or tiptoe around the water. There aren't many other options... Dirty may be the only way I can come out, but dirty is what I am, a simple sinner saved by God's grace. God's using the mud to clean me up. Romans 8:28 says that, "All things work together for good to them that love God..." ALL THINGS. Every single puddle. Each spot of mud. He uses them all.

Instead of spending my days avoiding the puddles that life brings me, I should take them head on, full force, and wait for the cleaning. I've realized that maybe God hasn't intended for me to have exactly what I want. All these things I've been stained with are preparing me for the future. Right now is not the future. What God had in store for my life was a brand new puddle, and it's going to take a lot of mud to get through.

I'm plunging straight into college. Not motherhood, not teaching, not housework... College.

I have applied to an Online Elementary Education Master's program from Western Kentucky University and if accepted, will begin classes on Monday, August 25th. Yes, it sounds strange. It's proably crossed your mind that I just washed my hands of teaching a little over three months ago... But God wasn't completely finished. He wanted me to go back, get my hands dirty, and love learning all over again... Here it is, one of the biggest puddles I've faced, and yet the only way around this one is a leap of faith...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Just As I Was Catching My Breath...

The wind was knocked out of me again...

I cannot explain this in a way that seems fitting, but my heart continues to break. Not for the usual things, but for something I don't even know that I really want. I have wanted to see God move, and just as I felt I had, I see the devil run right over it.

I feel as though I've forgotten that the devil has power. He does, and he is capable of crashing through all of your happiness if you're not guarding each moment and taking each breath carefully. He'll knock the breath right out of you and steal your joy.

It won't be as you picture him either. He do it through your very own friends, people you trust, and things you count on. You better be on guard. Be in season, always prayerful, for he is watching your every move. And he's ready to hit you where it hurts...

Move, Lord, in a big way. Take my breath away in whatever way you must, but Lord, keep him away from me and from the things that are YOURS in my life. Lord, I am calling out for You... Help me to breath again...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I Know You're There

In anticipation of what is to come, I sometimes get anxious and begin focusing on what lies ahead instead of what is here and now. I forget the words of my Father which say, "Be anxious for nothing but by prayer and supplication make your requests known unto God." I often hear myself saying, "Lord, give me this, if it's in Your will." I never once think to ask for anything. I just expect it of Him, like He owes me a favor.

That's the most pitiful part of how I've been thinking lately. He owes me something... I've felt as though He's taken enough from me, and if I started a list, it would go on for days. I haven't been able to grasp fully what it means when Job said, "The Lord giveth and taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord." I think because I've become so familiar with the giveth and taketh part that I am sick to go on any further in the verse.

If you do a job, you expect to receive pay for it. If you offer a gift, you want a "thank you" for it. If you give your time, you hope to receive recognition for doing so. I think that very same mind frame has gotten me into a lot of trouble in my relationship with Christ. I find myself thinking, "Lord, you asked me to quit my job, give me something else to do. Lord, you took my baby, give me another one now. Lord, our grandparents and father have passed, don't You owe me anything for that?!"

God doesn't owe me anything. Truthfully, He's already given me the gift of eternal life, what more do I need?! Well, I (think I) need more friends, another child, more time and opportunity, etc. Why should I receive anything else? What have I done for Him? God is not a "give and take" service; He is a Sovereign God who loves me unconditionally. He doesn't expect me to understand His reasoning, and He knows I am going to be doubtful after each thing is out of my hands. I believe that He does, however, expect and hopes for my faithfulness.

And I'm, for one, lacking in that area, in a BIG way. Let me explain myself a little, simply because I know it is shameful. I've waited five months for a child, I've waited 2 months for God to show me what it is I'm supposed to be doing, and I've gone 382 days without my Nana. I am angry that I have to go without. It feels as if He's taken the best from me, and I feel disappointed when there aren't two pink lines or when I don't have another job or because I miss my family. Do you hear me? I have gotten back to the point like I had in high school with the "It's All About Me" attitude. My faith is gone because I'm focused on what I don't have rather that trusting in what I've already been given.

God knows the plans He has for me (Jeremiah 29:11), but no where in scripture does He promise to give, give, and give some more. He doesn't intend for me to know what lies ahead, nor does He offer me the things I want so desperately because He knows that they will also become a means of doubting Him. God has perfect intentions in all He does, in all He gives, AND in all He takes away. It's a hard line to swallow, but I have to realize it's not about me. It's about His plan, His timing, and His sovereign will, and I just have to know that He's there. And He is...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Gifts of God

You ever get stuck? I mean, really stuck. Not in mud or gum or anything disgusting like that, but just emotionally stuck.

I had gotten to that point where my feelings just felt stuck. I couldn't figure out what my purpose was or why God had given me the push to quit my job. Then after that, for the past few months, I have wondered what to do with my time. I just was stuck doing the same thing over and over, and the same emotions came along with it. You know, those pitiful, frustrated and lonely, disappointed and discouraged, and angry feelings you get from time to time? Yeah, I had all of them on a day-to-day basis, and honestly, I was hoping and praying for someone to pull me out of the "mud."

I don't know exactly who's idea it was or how it came about, but I have always been told my handwriting was a pure gift from God. Strange gift, I know, but if it was mine for the taking, what was I supposed to do with it? You can't exactly get a job handwriting. That's when my husband suggested I should paint. Use my handwriting by painting. He sounded crazy, but I tried it anyway.

It was fabulous, the way all of my emotions seemed to leave me just by putting ink on a page but in this case, paint on a canvas. I felt as though I FINALLY was doing something with "my gift" and I had an awesome opportunity to share it with others. At first I just painted for us, as gifts for friends, etc., but I soon realized as people began commenting that this could be something God has gifted me to do.

So I began Gifts of God paintings today. After months of debating it, I have decided to walk the path, muddy or not, and be willing to get stuck doing something I love. Visit the site, do not feel obligated to buy anything, but if God leads you, let me offer my most sincere willingness to share the gift God has given me with you.

With love,