Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Seed of Doubt

My impending unemployment has stirred some very confusing emotions in me. I would expect fear or anxiety. Even depression. But I have a peace that I will find employment. No, instead, it has drummed up some left over places in my heart that I suspect was damaged by my divorce. Self doubt. Not self doubt in my abilities, really. Or my worth. But ever since the divorce one thing has plagued me...did I ever really hear and know the voice of God? Ever since my ex husbands revelation of his "true nature" I have wondered if I was just totally blind to this by my feelings for him or did he change? Did God really give me His blessing to join with Rob or did He try to warn me? Did I really hear from God about homeschooling? Especially since I didn't even really get to even start before the boys father abandoned us. Or was I always to remain in the public school classroom? Is that where He wants me now or should I be home more? Questions, questions, questions...and no clear direction. Yet. I have to trust that the same Father who has held me through many storms over the past 5 years, will not let me go now. No, I do not doubt HIM...I doubt my ability to hear and know His thoughts for me. His plan. I have a fear that every decision I've ever made was done so under the guise of God's approval. Maybe I haven't ever really listened at all... maybe I just plowed ahead based on my own feelings at the time... I keep reminding myself that the steps of a righteous man are ordered. That my choices were not the ones that got me where I am right now. However, one cannot help but pause and wonder if everything I have experienced was some sort of course correction due to my own ignorance, stubborness or disobedience. I trust HIM. I love HIM. I want nothing more in this life than to be known as HIS daughter. His servant. His bride. His friend. But am I really there or just fooling myself? I know Joseph was chosen and given promises by God that were in no way fulfilled in the way he would have expected or even wanted them to be. But how much of his ordeal was in God's plan, and how much was brought about by his own arrogance, or poor judgement (he did not have to flaunt his father's favor to his jealous brothers, after all)? I keep praying about my job situation - that God will lead me where He wants me to be, and that my spouse will be in agreement and it will be what is best for me, our family, and God's plan. But I am fearful of making the wrong decision if I'm given more than one option. I'm just not sure I know how to discern the direction of Jehovah anymore...if I ever did. Wow. Some wounds go deep into places you never thought they could.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Some lessons from remarriage...

God allows for divorce due to the hardening of hearts. However, He is very selective on whom can and under what circumstances may you remarry. I studied, sought counsel, and prayed and listened very carefully. Blending families is not an easy task. I believe were it not for the Lord approving of my remarriage, it would be an all but impossible one. It has been clear to me why so many second marriages fall by the wayside...mostly because of the kids.

Let me clarify, my marriage is strong and sure. God is in it. But the kids, who never asked for the divorces and certainly didn't ask for the remarriages have put many obstacles in the way that would cause the faint of heart to give up. At times it has been difficult to see from God's perspective of eternity and not just the frustration and pain of the moment.

In spite of it all, I still belive it was the right thing. Being right in the eyes of God does not mean being trouble free as Joseph, Job, Jesus, etc. all learned. My kids have a better mother and they have a father figure who can help guide them into mature, Christian manhood. I have a partner and companion that helps sharpen me and makes me a better woman. Steve's children, though they are less accepting of the arrangment, have an example of what a Godly marriage should be playing out in front of them, and have a father who is less stressed because he has a help-mate now. Even though bringing the families together has created some problems, I still firmly believe that we are all better for it and it is God's will.

All that are a few things I have learned for those of you heading down these waters. Take it or leave it.

#1 lower your expectations on the marriage - it is not a first, and it is not starting out as just the two of you. There will not be time for the honeymoon romance you had before - you are in the full throes of life, kids and all. Take the romance when you can and learn to appreciate it. And find ways to MAKE it happen even if it is just a few minutes each day. It doesn't have to be candelight dinners and movies. It may be just sitting on the couch cuddling, cooking dinner together and stealing a kiss between the frying pan and the sink.

#2 lower your expectations on the kids. They didn't ask for any of this and their frustration or feelings of powerlessness will most likely be aimed at you. It's nothing personal. Besides, teens are nasty even WITHOUT the divorce situation. It's just who they are. Some days, the best you may be able to hope for is just civility between everyone. Don't push the "family" idea on them, but do teach them that everyone has a place and is welcome and everyone is to be respectful of one another.

#3 lower your expectations on the time it will take. This is a journey, not a destination.

To sum up, lower your expectations. There is no such thing as the Brady Bunch. I am not saying any of this to be cynical, only real. If I've learned one thing in the past 4 years, it is that God walks WITH us through our trouble, He doesn't always deliver us OUT of it. And He does answer prayer, though it rarely happens in the way I expect it. He is infinitely more creative than I. He will not be put in a box. The hearts of kings were not changed by righteous lives of Shedrach, Meshach, Abednego or Daniel...they were changed after they saw how God walked through the fire or den of lions with them. Job still lost everything. Joseph stayed seperated from his family, still had to be a slave, and still served jail time. Jesus still had to endure the ridicule, torture, and the cross. Stephen was stoned. John, beheaded. Often, we are more glorious in our troubles, trials, and death than we are in life. And to live is Christ, to die is gain.

So I will press forward and not look behind. I will cast my eyes Heavenward for the example of how to live and thrive here to get a better reward. I will do my best to remember that these temporary troubles are nothing compared with the surpassing Glory that awaits me. Yes, God cares about the battles. But He is more concerned with the war. His perspective is eternal and mine is so very limited.

I have lowered my expectations of myself and those around me. And in that have found the confidence to raise my expectation of the One who can deliver. And trust Him for it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Issue #2: Fear

Isaiah 41:10 - "So do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be terrified. I am your God. I will make you strong and help you. My powerful right hand will take good care of you. I always do what is right."NIRV

2 Timothy 1:7 - "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." KJV

Spalm 56:3-4 - "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust, I will not fear what flesh can do unto me." KJV

Psalm 118:6 - "The Lord is on my side. I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (many like this one in the Psalms...)

Hebrews 13:6 - "The Loris is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

All I can add to this is: the more I learn to trust Him, the less fear I have.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sunday School

We are starting a new study in Sunday School we are calling Issues of The Mind. It reminds me of a couple of books I read years ago. One: The Three Battlegrounds (I believe by Frangipane) and the other is The Battle for the Mind (I can't remember the author). It has reminded me that every battle we face as Christians begins in the mind. Period. Satan plants thoughts. The thoughts themselves are not sin - but if we dwell on them, allow them to take on flesh and blood, and act on them - that is where sin comes in. And unfortunately, our culture has become one that equates the mind your heart. If you think it, that must be who you truly are and therefore you are obligated to act on it. We make emotional decisions - and our emotions and whims change on a dime. One minute we have too much. Next not enough. One minute I am happy. Next I am of all men most miserable. One minute, this person is wonderful. The next minute I want someone else. It's really childish and immature - especially when adults do it. But we teach it to our kids and it continues to spiral downward. The Word says "The human heart is deceitful above all things. Who can know it?" Too many of us live according to our very deceitful hearts and we've been warned not to do that. Walk by FAITH. NOT by sight. Our happiness is not God's primary concern. The well-being of our souls are. And it can be well with our souls when all around us is disaster.

Our class listed several issues that we all wrestle with and decided to search the Truth for the way to fight against these issues in our minds. After all, we cannot fight spiritual battle in fleshly ways. So I am going to share with you some of the issues and scriptures. Perhaps they will help you. If you have other scriptures to add, I'd love to hear them from you. After all, there is a reason Christ sent his disciples out in twos...we are not designed to do this alone. We need each other.

Issue 1 - Bad/Evil thoughts:
Ps.139:23-24 "Search me, O God and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

2Cor.10:3-5 "For thought we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

Phil. 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; fir there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Rom. 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Psalm 19:14 "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."

Don't let the enemy win.

It's all the teacher's fault

I would like to remind all my fellow fiscal conservatives: I am NOT the reason for educational funding crisis. It is the people you elected. I am also not the reason for the recession. That was Wall Street making bad choices. I am a professional striving for excellence and I work hard for you and your children. I am not a babysitter, nor am I a part time, seasonal worker. I am proud to be a teacher. Please stop blaming me and my fellow teachers for the problems caused by bankers and politicians. We are not your enemies. Oh, and PS - could you also be a little more realistic than asking for a cadillac education on a pinto budget? I am not a magician. If you are going to pay me babysitting wages, why do you demand more than babysitting? This is why unions started in the first place... Thank you. That is all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Father Forgive Them - Max Lucado

Week of April 15 "Father, Forgive Them" by Max Lucado The dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. From the onlookers, “Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!” From the religious leaders, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.” From the soldiers, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” Bitter words. Acidic with sarcasm. Hateful. Irreverent. Wasn’t it enough that he was being crucified? Wasn’t it enough that he was being shamed as a criminal? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short? For some, apparently so... Of all the scenes around the cross, this one angers me the most. What kind of people, I ask myself, would mock a dying man? Who would be so base as to pour the salt of scorn upon open wounds? How low and perverted to sneer at one who is laced with pain… The words thrown that day were meant to wound. And there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt… If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else’s words, you’ll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration. Meditate on these words from 1 Peter 2:23 (NIV): “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Did you see what Jesus did not do? He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!” “Come on up here and say that to my face!” “Just wait until after the resurrection, buddy!” No, these statements were not found on Christ’s lips. Did you see what Jesus did do? He “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Or said more simply, he left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunters and sent out no posse. He, to the astounding contrary, spoke on their defense. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”? (Luke 23:34 NIV)… “they don’t know what they are doing.” And when you think about it, they didn’t. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. But they didn’t know what they were doing. Yes, the dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. The verbal stones were meant to sting. How Jesus, with a body wracked with pain, eyes blinded by his own blood, and lungs yearning for air, could speak on behalf of some heartless thugs is beyond my comprehension. Never, never have I seen such love. If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, Jesus did. But he didn’t take it. Instead he died for them. How could he do it? I don’t know. But I do know that all of a sudden my wounds seem very painless. My grudges and hard feelings are suddenly childish. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t see Christ’s love as much in the people he tolerated as in the pain he endured. Amazing Grace.