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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Great Sadness

Yesterday I finished reading the chapter titled, The Great Sadness, from the book The Shack by WM. Paul Young. And the tears flowed. There was so much overwhelming grief pouring out of my soul that I was confused about why I was even reading this book. But I know that reading this book was recommended not to make me sad but for me to grow. God does that sometimes too, doesn't he? Uses pain to help us grow.

As I was wiping away the tears and blowing my nose and feeling too many feelings my temptation was to stop reading the book. But what would that really do? Then I would have been left with my feelings and had no resolution. I realize this book is technically fiction but the sadness is very real. There are lots of people that face these kinds of situations all the time, everyday, and it breaks my heart. I hate the idea of someone hurting, especially a child. So now what?

Am I going to keep reading? Am I going to keep living when life feels really awful? Do I wake up each new day with more hope or more dread? Do I wake up and thank God that I'm awake?
This morning I was reading my @first5 devotion and it was on Job 34 and it moved me to tears again. This time I was able to keep them in my eyes and not sob uncontrollably but the feeling was ignited. The challenge in the devotion today, for me was about not expecting God to only bless me and to not think that if I'm in a trial or troubling time that he's punishing me. To shift my focus to think about how truly blessed I am everyday. No one is righteous, no one is blameless, and no one deserves the grace given through Jesus Christ. It is the most amazing gift in the entire universe! I don't want to take that for granted.

So today I'm going to pick up that book, The Shack, and I'm going to read the next chapter. I am going to face whatever lies next on those pages. And I'm going to remember that every day I can wake up each new day and face what's next. God has proven to me time and time again that he will get me through the challenge. It is not easy and it is not without tears or a little pain. But God always comes through. For it is with God that anything is possible. Without God, I don't even want to think about it.

What are you facing this morning, this afternoon, this evening that feels insurmountable? Are you trying to do this alone? Do you reach out to God before you reach out to a friend? I confess that I struggle with that a lot. I have a problem with not sending my prayers straight to God and wanting someone on earth to help me but they just don't know what He knows. Had I not been studying Job through this @first5 app I might not have ever picked up on the verse in the very beginning of Job that mention that God allowed this to happen because he knew Job's character. The people that are trying to help him in this book, the friends, the "wisdom" speakers, they don't know what God knows about this interaction with Satan in Heaven. Now that I'm reading it and thinking about that, it helps me understand Job a bit differently and also why I shouldn't run to other people first with my problems. Additionally, as I'm learning in the area of 12 steps and recovery, I think this is good reflection for giving healthy feedback. We need to be careful with what we say, we are not all knowing and we cannot fix someone with our words.

Dear God, thank you for your amazing grace! Thank you for being there to hear me when I'm not willing to even speak. Thank you for knowing the groans in my heart, the aches from my soul. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit that prays on my behalf when I have no words. Forgive me for when I am forgetful of Your amazing power and I go to others instead of You. Help me to remember that You have the plans, You have the blueprints for my life. You alone deserve my praise. In your deserving name, amen.

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Restore the Heart

The Heart of Te Fiti
You can tell I'm a mom when all I can talk, think, or sing about is a Disney movie. This is somewhat new. Moana is the 1st movie my kids have had much interest in. Frozen is a close 2nd but I don't really care for that one. I genuinely like Moana. It cracks me up that my son, who just turned 2, will start asking for Moana and he will sit there for awhile to watch it. I like the theme of the movie, which I interpret as restoring the heart.

When I think of the ugly parts of our world, for me, its anything or anyone that hurts children. Makes me sick inside. Causes a lot of wrestle, a call for me to study the Bible, ask God questions, pray, listen, wait, and grow in my faith. Hopefully I won't personally know anyone doing this type of harm to a child but the darkness of sin is present all around. I do encounter it and it is a struggle.

When the pain from sin seeps into my life, close enough to choke on it, the fight is on. What do I do when I feel flooded by darkness that only the enemy can bring? When it starts to take out the coconut trees and fish that feed us? Do I believe in the power of Jesus Christ? Do I wait for the darkness to take over? Or do I sail into the unknown and journey past the reef? Am I able to look to the true light of the world and trust Him to guide my way?

When I watch Moana, Te Ka, the lava monster lady, symbolizes all the people that I can hardly stomach. For me she embodies the sin, and the evil that was done to those people that turned them into the monsters they have become. I do think some people were just screwed up along the way. I don't excuse their behavior and the choices they made as a result, but it does help me process it when it seems like there is a reason. Some of the horrific things are simply too much for me to try and grasp the why but I do believe in free will.

There were things in my past that I know were handled wrong and I do everything in my power to fix myself and not pass on those traits. I knew this early on, and I started a long process, an ongoing process, to learn how to get emotionally healthy. So I see that I had a choice. The character in the movie, is just that, a character, in a movie, who is not real so I don't care if she made a choice, that is not the point.

Te Fiti had her heart stolen. Without her heart, the darkness was ignited. Throughout the whole movie you think the villain and the one that needs restored are 2 different characters. It is not until Moana faces all the obstacles and climbs up to the top of the mountain that she sees that Te Fiti is gone. Then she realizes that Te Ka is actually the one that needs this heart. She faces her head on, like nose to nose, and tenderly restores this little green stone that is her heart. As she walks to meet her, she sings a song, "I know who you are, who you really are".

When I was active in my habitual sin life, I felt so much pain, so much guilt, and shame. I was hiding inside myself and didn't know how to let go of the past, the hurt, mostly things done to me & my reactive sin. I was afraid and immature in my faith. Now I picture God saying to us, that he sees past the outer shell, that He knows who we truly are, who we are in Him. He knows anything that was done to us and he will handle that.

I'm doing the First5 app Bible study on Job and I remember learning about not worrying about what appears like wicked prospering. OK, but its hard to move forward when you may be physically, emotionally, or spiritually deformed as a result of things done to you. You have to overcome a reminder, a scar, and still function in a dark world that often doesn't even notice your pain.

In working the 12 steps, I am focusing on cleaning up my side of the street before focusing on fixing anyone else. I simply cannot understand the reasons for so much pain and heartache in the world other than it is not how God intended it to be. I am working on my relationship with God and making sure I get the speck out of my own eye. I'm praying to the Creator and asking for Him to help me keep my focus on what He wants. Step 1 is that I admit I am powerless over (enter anything here) and that my life has become unmanageable. Did you know that you can be addicted to food, social media, shopping, video games, among other things? It is not just about drugs and alcohol. Please don't judge anyone doing the steps because I personally think it would be amazing for anyone to work through them. I'm on Step 4. It's taking awhile but I wouldn't trade this for anything because it has connected me to God on a different level and helped me to have more compassion for someone struggling. We are all sinners. No one is better than another. Sin is sin, its equal.

Bottom line, it's a heart issue and I believe the Holy Spirit is capable of transforming and restoring a heart. It just might not be on my schedule or in my ability to understand. Please pray.

Dear God, Thank you for the Holy Spirit. Thank you for providing a way to restore our relationship with you through Jesus Christ. Lord, I lift up the mothers who have children who have grown up into a life of hurting people by committing crimes. I can't imagine what they might be feeling in the form of mom guilt, questioning you, or anger, and of course love for their child. Lord, I don't know why some of this stuff happens, if it is genetic, the way they grew up, or a combination, but I know it is not my job to figure out. I am praying for all the wounded people, on all sides. You equip us with different gifts and I pray for those that can minister to those in prisons and inner cities. Soften my heart and help me to remove the specks from my eyes. Help me to be humble and not self-righteous. My sin is no less than anyone else. You know the heart! I pray for anyone on the fence about trusting you with their hearts and their lives. Help us to reassure them that with you is actually the safest place, regardless of the storms of this world. No one is immune to the fallen nature of the world but with You Father, we have hope. Thank you for that hope. In Jesus Name, amen. 

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Thank you! God Bless!