God’s Waiting Room

“Wait your turn.”

“I’ll be waiting for you in the lobby.”

“Wait here. The doctor will see you in a few minutes.”

Does it seem like we spend a lot of our time waiting?

As a young mom I remember impatiently waiting for a baby to give me a smile that was a reaction to his mommy and not just gas. I would finally get that smile and I would begin waiting for that baby to sit up on his own. That would finally happen and I would begin waiting for that child to crawl, walk, sleep…the list could go on. It took me too many years to learn that I was so busy waiting for the next stage that I was missing out on the joys of the present one.

As the babies grew into bigger people, I have said that all the time I spent waiting for my kids must add up to at least five years of my life. Before any of the kids had a driver’s license, I was the chauffeur. If an activity was scheduled to end at 5:00, being the OCD mom that I was, I made sure to be there at least five minutes early just in case it ended sooner than scheduled. You would think after a couple years of this I would have learned that very seldom does anything end early. In fact, more often than not, it didn’t even end on time. I found myself waiting most of the time. Some activities were worse than others. For example, one of our sons participated in the theater program in high school. Rehearsals were every day after school and scheduled to end at 5:00 PM. I would arrive by 4:55 PM and take my place in the line of cars waiting to pick up a cast member. Waiting. There’s that word again. And waiting is exactly what I did. Five o’clock would come and go and still no son. My neck would be sore from staring at the door. When one cast member appeared, I watched more intently for the one who belonged to me. It seems he was always the last to leave! Theater practice never ended on time. I remember being so stressed on Wednesday afternoons. He was supposed to be done with rehearsal at 5:00. He had to be at church at 5:30 for worship band rehearsal before leading worship for middle school youth group which started at 6:00. Of course, a teenage boy has to eat dinner, especially after having spent the last ten hours at school. Sometimes I would pack a peanut butter sandwich, some cookies, and a bottle of water or Gatorade and he would quickly snarf it down on the five minute ride (depending on stoplights and speed) from the school to the church. Sometimes I would have to drop him off at church so he could start that rehearsal while I ran back to McDonalds to get a #2 cheeseburger meal to then take back to the church for him to eat.

Waiting at the school.

Waiting at McDonalds. (His cheeseburgers HAD to be plain so of course that took longer)

Waiting after youth group to bring him home after a long day.

Theatre, soccer, band, choir, marching band, voice lessons, basketball, track…you get the idea. I spent SO much time waiting for someone.

Our society is not good at waiting. We have microwaves that cook our food quickly so we don’t have to wait for a slow oven like my mom did. We have remote controls so we don’t have to wait the extra few seconds it would take to actually get up and change the television channel. We have remote start on our cars so we don’t have to shiver waiting for the heat to be hot. The car is all toasty and warm when we get into it. We don’t even have to wait and take the time to scrape our windows. We just press the remote start button and let the defroster do its work. (By the way, I do not have remote start on my vehicle but I have been known to whine about it) We have access to worlds of information at the touch of a finger or the click of a mouse. We don’t have to wait until the library is open in order to look up the information we need. We have fast food that is bagged and in our hands much faster than a home cooked meal would take. I don’t know about where you live, but it seems where I live there isn’t a driver on the road that actually stops when making a right on red. If a car is coming, they have to wait and the look on their face reveals the frustration rising in their bodies. A green light turning yellow, especially if it happens to be an arrow only turn at a busy intersection, is not respected by most drivers. In fact, it seems to be a challenge—how many cars can get through the light before the cars given the green the other direction start coming through? A children’s television show once said, “Red means stop, green means go, Yellow means WAIT—better go slow!” Yellow no longer means wait—it means floor it so we don’t have to sit here and WAIT for another cycle of lights.

Why is it so hard to wait? Is it because we are so busy that we feel we don’t have a second to spare? Is it because we are so accustomed in this instant gratification society that we no longer know how to wait? Does waiting accomplish anything good?

I’ve been thinking a lot about waiting lately because I have found myself in God’s waiting room. When God puts you in a position to wait, He is always aware of our thoughts and frustrations that come with the waiting. Thoughts like:

“Doesn’t God realize I do not have time for an illness right now?” or

“Come on, God. Surely you know that I am called to preach your Word. How do you expect me to do that if I have this big trial in my life?”

What if we looked at waiting from a different perspective? John Ortberg said, “Biblically, waiting is not just something we have to do until we get what we want. Waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer said, “Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.” It seems these men understand something about waiting that I need to learn.

I was (once again) reading Psalms this morning. Remember, I said I am in God’s waiting room. We’ve all experienced the waiting room scenario. You show up on time for an appointment only to hear those words, “Have a seat. The doctor will be with you shortly.” Next thing you know, “shortly” is 45 minutes after your scheduled appointment time…and you are still waiting. As I was reading through Psalm 27, I came across a verse highlighted in my Bible. It reads, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (v. 14) Next to that verse, I had written the words, “Waiting time is not wasting time.” I remember when I wrote those words. They were spoken by my former pastor and friend and he told them to me in the middle of a fiery marriage trial. (Sometime soon I’ll tell that full story here) You see, as humans we operate on time, and if time seems like it’s being wasted or is taking too long, we get frustrated. God, though, doesn’t operate on time. God puts us in situations and circumstances for the purpose of refining us. We are uncomfortable in the fire so we pray for the fire to be put out. When it isn’t, our mind may begin to wonder if God is really aware of what is happening. Of course He is aware…He is in control of all things, even my trial. David said to take heart and be strong and WAIT. Too often, I wait but not with strength or willing endurance. That is where I have found myself lately. I am not proud of this, but I am willing to be honest about it. When in that waiting room of wondering and doubt, what is most needed is encouragement from brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, when in that waiting room, I tend to isolate and become reclusive. I feel like such a burden to those around me, and I am convinced they see me that way too, so it is best for me to avoid interaction while I wait in misery. BUT, that is not what God’s Word tells me to do. I did a search on the word “wait” in the Bible. It didn’t take very long to see that waiting is something God not only wants me to do, but He wants me to do it willingly.

Waiting through depression…

Waiting through disease…

Waiting through a change of life’s seasons…

In God’s plan I guess we are called to wait much more than our society is comfortable doing. I know I would welcome the prayers of friends as I wait through some tough things in God’s waiting room right now. I know there have to be others in the same place. Let’s pray for each other—to wait patiently, to endure willingly, and to come out the other side of the trial stronger in our testimony for God.

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It is something that I have struggled with since I was a little child.

When it rears its head anywhere in my direction, its invisible grip on me is paralyzing.

It has caused me to miss out on events and other things that would probably have been good for me.

It is a constant lurker in every one of my days.

It fights to control my mind and my heart–and often wins.

It is FEAR.

As a child, I had some of the fears that many children have. I was terrified of thunder, bees, spiders, darkness, and our basement. If any of those listed things entered even just a fraction of my day, internal panic would begin. Many children outgrow fears experienced in their early years. For me, this was not the case. In fact, those fears seemed to not only intensify but also multiply to additional fears. Darkness, already a source of fear, would bring additional thought that someone would certainly break into the home where I was living. My imagination would conjure up all sorts of dark scenarios at the least noise heard. I began sleeping with a fan running to help drown out the noises heard at night–a necessity still to this day.

If you’ve never experienced what psychology refers to as anxiety or panic attacks, you may struggle to understand why an adult would be so afraid of the dark or a basement. If you fall into that category, may I just admit that I am somewhat envious? Because I write honestly but tactfully, I see it as important for me to admit the struggle yet, for now, keep to myself what I believe to be the source of all the fear in my life. In fact, I’m not sure the source really matters. What matters, at least today, is what God is doing in me to address the deep-seated and paralyzing fear in my life. Make no mistake please–my fear is often completely paralyzing. At times, it is so real, it feels as though I am struggling for each breath and will most surely die before I can find the next one. This absolute terror and panic can hit anywhere, anytime, and without any warning. There have been times I have been driving and the fear hit. There have been times I have been quietly sitting and watching TV and the fear hit. Most often, though, it is in the darkness of night that fear finds me and puts its death grip on me. In those long and difficult nights, I try with all my might to break free from the death grip of fear.

A few years ago I found myself paying weekly visits to a Christian counselor. She was a wonderful listener who understood the root of my fear. We often discussed ways to help myself should the fear pay a visit at night time. One tool she recommended was a stack of index cards on which would be written Bible verses that would help. I went through the process of finding verses of comfort and wrote them on the 3×5 cards. The problem was, they didn’t really help. Fear was much more powerful than words on a card. I put them in my desk drawer for lack of something better to do with them. Before I gave up on that idea, though, I had read some of them enough to have them memorized. One of my favorites was Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid. ” I found myself repeating that verse many times in the dark hours of a long night when sleep was elusive and fear was very much present.

Since I’m writing much in the present tense, you can go ahead and assume that fear is still a battle I face. Some of my fears have changed. Thunder no longer terrifies me, although if a storm hits in the middle of the night, I do still feel that initial terror. I don’t like spiders or bees, but I wouldn’t say I’m afraid of them. The fear of darkness, though, is still very real in my life. I have also found terror gripping me at the thought of something happening to my husband or one of my kids. I fear driving at night–so much so that I will avoid any night time commitments. I am also finding that fear I setting in just being in a car at night. Our small group meets Friday nights and even though my husband always drives, I find myself wishing I had stayed in the safety of my home. These fears are not only terrifying, but I allow them to run scenarios through my head–scenarios that probably won’t happen. You don’t know how many times I have heard a siren and started to believe one of my kids was in an accident. The news headlines can trigger fear. As the Ebola virus threatens to spread, I find my mind giving into the fear of being in public places or coming in contact inadvertently with the virus. Even the thought of isolating myself at home for safety is shattered by the thought that the mail still needs to be brought in and who knows how many hands touched it!

This morning I was working on my Bible Study Fellowship homework. The year is studying the life of Moses. We just reached the part where Pharaoh let the Israelites leave Egypt. They have arrived at the Red Sea with the fickle Egyptian leaders hot on their trail, regretting the fact that they allowed them to leave. I know the story–Moses raises his staff and the sea parts. Heard it many times. Today, though, the following verses caught my eye: “…Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them.” (Ex. 14:13,19) Because my mind often thinks musically, the words from Chris Tomlin came to me:

“I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind,
The God of angel armies is always by my side.”

I decided to do some research. The words “do not fear” are said over 365 times in the Bible.

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Is. 41:13)

Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Lk. 12:32)

I could list many more–over 300 more. My heart and my mind scream “FEAR!”

God tells me to fear NOT.

I think I have some hard work to do.

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Snared Feet

Yesterday was a rough day.

I guess if I admit it, many days over the last month or so have been pretty rough. I’m sure everyone around me knows that. One of the things God has been trying to convict me of for a while is complaining. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty big job. Thankfully, He is a pretty big God.


I think I’ve stated before that I spend a lot of time in the book of Psalms. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a few favorite Psalms that I turn to again and again. It seems no matter the source of the pain, there are some Psalms that tend to just bring a measure of peace to my soul. Today I opened my Bible to that trusted book and began reading the worn pages there. I came to Psalm 25. This Psalm, especially, brings my soul to quietness and reflection. I’m convinced that part of the reason for that effect is because the first several verses were put into a song by a summer intern pastor of the church I attended as a junior high school student. Each summer our church loaded two buses and drove from western New York to a small town in Ohio for a week of summer camp. That is where I learned this Psalm put to song. I have read this passage countless times–enough to almost have it memorized. Today though, a certain verse jumped off the page at me. It reads:

My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Ps. 25:15)

I re-read those words a few times…release my feet from the snare…release my feet from the snare…

Have you ever watched a fly right after he flies into a spider web? The fly, desperate to be free from his predator, struggles to spread his wings and fly to safety. The problem, of course, is the web from the spider is sticky. That is how God created the spider in order to insure his survival. The web of the spider is designed to attract prey in order to provide him with food. The fly, of course, doesn’t see the web. If he did, he would certainly fly around or over or under it. The fly wouldn’t knowingly fly into the trap of his predator; it just happens. As the fly realizes he is suddenly unable to move his wings, he fights with all he has for his freedom. It is no use though. The more the fly tries to free himself, the more tangled he becomes in the web.

The last several weeks I have felt like a fly caught in the spider’s web. Sometimes I have been going about my business and BAM! Next thing I know I’m caught in a sticky mess. Other times, I’ve sensed a sticky web but figure that it’s just a web made of string. I figure getting out of s clutches can’t be all that hard. I may make a weak attempt to avoid it, but do not take its threat very seriously. (For me, this mainly comes in the form of putting myself in a place where I know my emotions will be affected, i.e. Facebook) Regardless of the circumstances that actually landed me in the web of my predator, getting out is usually my number one aim. The problem is, just like the fly caught in the spider’s web, the more I try to free myself, the more entangled I get. Soon, I find that even though I have exhausted every ounce of energy in my body, I am still stuck and, even worse, I give up and try to accept the fact that my predator has won. His web–his snare–has proven to be much more powerful than my strength and I hang my head in defeat and wait for the attack to be over.

Is the scenario above inevitable? It has played out so many times in my life that it would seem to be the case. The pattern is predictable: walking along the best I can, hit a snare, struggle to break free, exhaust all physical and emotional strength, give up, wait until my predator has his way with me, walk away in shame after being released, start over again by walking along the best I can…

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for ONLY HE will release my feet from the snare.”

Like an arrow shot out of a high powered bow, those words hit and pierced my heart. The truth is, I can’t fight my way out of the predator’s web. In my own strength, I’m no match for the snare he lays. The Israelites thought that David, the shepherd boy, was toast as he stepped up to face the giant Goliath, and on his own, he certainly would have been. But, David knew he was not fighting the battle alone. He knew that someone much bigger and more powerful than Goliath was fighting with him, so David boldly stepped up when no one else dared to do so, and Israel was saved. To try on my own to break free from the sharp teeth of the traps set for me only causes more pain and results in my feeling defeated. It is only with the power of the One who saved me, the One who loves me, the One who promises to never leave or forsake me, that I can be set free from the snare of the enemy. This enemy presents in different forms. Some days it shows up in the form of depression and/or discouragement. Some days it shows up in the form of physical pain. Many days it shows up as both. Some days the weight of the snare and the exhaustion of attempting to break free combine and make me feel as though I am being crushed. It seems the last several weeks have held many such days.

As I meditated on the words of the Psalmist, my heart was broken, for you see, I knew I was guilty of something critical to the process of being released from the snare. The Psalmist started the verse with the declaration that “his eyes are ever on the Lord”. My eyes? More often than not, they are on the snare. Depression, pain, and negative emotions and feelings fill my vision. How can I possibly have my eyes on the Lord and on the snare at the same time? I can’t; it isn’t possible. One of the things I taught our kids as they were learning to drive is to keep your eyes and your mind focused on driving–the road, your speed, your mirrors. If you turn your eyes to your phone or the radio station controls, you are more likely to get in an accident. I need to follow my own advice in the emotional arena.

In my own power, I am toast against the snares of depression, negativity, pain, and discouragement. But, the promise that I don’t have to face the snare alone is real. I have the power of God available to me, and that power is greater than any power found in the world…including the power found in the snares that entangle my feet. I know there will be bad days. We live in a world that is full of trouble and pain and all kinds of snares. It is a choice, though, as to where I put my eyes. If I stare intently at the snare, surely I will just become more entangled, but, if I stare intently on the One who has the power over all things, then I can rest in the assurance that He does see and only He has the power to release my feet from the snares.


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Living the Mystery

I have not been able to write lately and it has frustrated me. My beautiful, loved, red Dell laptop, my companion for the last five years, finally used its ninth life last week. I knew the day would come when the little tricks that had been working would no longer work to allow my red Dell to continue its partnership with me. Losing a computer is like losing a part of one’s heart. So many memories contained on the hard drive of that computer–pictures, documents, videos, favorite places, all tucked neatly in one space to be accessed at the press of a key. I sincerely felt like a part of my heart died with it.

Ok. I have publicly displayed my grief over a temporary thing on earth. I know it is not the end of the world and that my life will continue. Somehow, I will adjust to the different feel of new keys under my fingertips. Until then, I have the use of an extra laptop we have in our house–one repaired under a warranty but replaced before the repair could happen. Its keys are not nearly as cooperative as those found on my red Dell and its cover is a plain black, but the charging port works, so at least I am able to type again, all be it slowly.

The “mystery” referred to in the title of this post has nothing to do with the loss of my laptop friend. I included that bit of information because I had someone e-mail me and ask if I was okay because I hadn’t written. Asking if I am okay is a loaded question and usually one people try to steer clear of with me. When living with chronic illness and chronic depression both while adjusting to a new season of life, one is seldom “okay”. I used to be really skilled at faking it…I could put on a smile and say all is fine and make small talk like every other person out there who does not want people to know that her world is far from perfect. I’m not so good at that anymore. I now find that most people who know me don’t ask me that question now. The majority of the human race doesn’t know what to do with a non-standard answer. The expected answer to “How are you?” is “I’m fine. How are you?” Yeah. That isn’t always easy to fake now.

Back to the “mystery” that inspired this post to begin with…I’m getting there. Really.

The past week or so has found me questioning some things about life. Specifically, I am referring to the Christian life. Please understand that these are my thoughts–not necessarily my truths. There is an important distinction there that needs to be clear. I can know something is true yet still have thoughts counteractive to that truth. A good example would be I know my husband loves me, yet there are specific times that I wonder if he does. Usually those times fall when I am beating myself up for some mistake I made or some words I said. My thoughts go to, “How could he still love me after I said that?” This past week, I found myself once again facing the doubt that I understand anything at all about God and the life He wants me to live. It really hit me Sunday after church, although it started a few days before that.

Very often as of late, I wonder what purpose I am supposed to be filling right now. I have raised my kids and while I am still a mom, the needs and demands that came with the role of full-time-mom-to-four-kids-in-five-years have definitely changed. My days used to be filled with laundry, cleaning, laundry, homeschooling, laundry, sports, laundry, cooking…did I mention laundry already? Now with a nearly empty nest, one married, one almost married and the married one expecting a baby, I no longer fill any of the roles listed above. That’s where I get stuck; I don’t know what role I am supposed to fill. One evening last week, after not being able to finish something we had committed to because of not feeling well, the feeling of uselessness hit hard. Not only do I not know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, often the activities I try to do end up frustrating as I am unable to do them because of my health. When Sunday rolled around, we went to church as usual. I often wake up not wanting to go but am glad I did once there. This week, I woke up not feeling well and was tempted to stay home but remembered that so often I am thankful I went. So, I went. And I wished I had stayed home. Our pastor talked about how a potter fashions clay from an impure lump of nothing to a vessel formed for a specific purpose. You know, I get all that, and I believe it; yet, as I left there, my mind was replaying the words “It’s so easy for him to stand up there and say because he knows his purpose” over and over again. I tried to discuss my thoughts with my husband who just didn’t understand where I was coming from (what is that saying? Men are from Mars…). That led to more tears, more frustration, and a very quiet lunch.

The crux of the issue, for me, is the fact that living the Christian life is often so mysterious. There isn’t always a clear cut path to take. Some people, though, don’t seem to have that problem. It’s like they have this thing all figured out and they’re busy doing the work God made them to do. I know several who have left careers in other fields because they believed God was “calling” them into ministry. And, it appears they were right. One of my sons felt God calling him into full time ministry when he was in high school. He went to college to prepare for that calling but has yet to actually find a job in full time ministry. I know of another person who felt that same call, prepared for it, found a job doing it, and then ran into so many obstacles he was sure he had heard God wrong. He went back to school to get a degree in another field. There could be many combinations of the above scenarios, but each one asks the same question in my mind: How can anyone be sure what God is wanting them to do? Are obstacles a sign that you heard God wrong? Or are they an attack from satan who is trying to stop you from living for God? Perhaps some obstacles are the former and some the latter. But, the bottom line is how am I supposed to know which is which?

Is living the Christian life supposed to be confusing? Am I supposed to be always wondering what God’s plan is? The “Christian”answer to that is to trust God. I get that. But what does one do in the meantime? And, in trusting, how does one know if a series of events are actually from God, or from satan, or the fact that we live in a world with millions of other people and circumstances?

All of this is a battle that takes its toll spiritually. I find myself second guessing life much of the time. Like many other moms, I had planned to go back to work once my kids were adults. After all, my husband had unselfishly been the sole provider for those years and it was only right to contribute once the workload at home eased. Those plans went up in smoke with the worsening of my health. I have worked from home for the last eight years or so–very part time. I love my job, but I only have work about five months of the year. That doesn’t ease the financial burden from my husband very much. I have a degree but that degree is not recognized by the state in which I reside. To be certified here would mean more school–something we can’t afford, and even if we could, my health would not allow me to do the job anyway. Instead, I add to his burden with medical bills that could not have been anticipated just five years ago. So, is my illness an obstacle from satan to keep me from doing something for God, or is it God trying to tell me something else? Or is it just because we live in a world full of all kinds of evil–disease being one of them? The mystery rears its head in this form time and time again for me; I see others who just seem to get it and it makes me wonder if I am missing some important part of the puzzle of the Christian life.

If you can understand any of what I wrote here, and you happen to have some insight, I would be very appreciative if you would share that insight with me. It is so easy to get bogged down in the semantics of things, especially when one thinks as I do. The problem is that kind of thinking can potentially drive me to the edge of doubt–doubt that there is any purpose for me right now. And, if you have read much of my writing, you know that is NOT a good place for my thoughts to be.

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The last few days it seems that God is trying to tell me something. I can be somewhat of a blockhead when it comes to knowing if God is speaking to me or if what I am hearing is my own thoughts echoing inside my head. I’ve been known to be oblivious to something in my own life that others see immediately as God’s involvement.

What makes me think God is trying to tell me something?

The first issue I see taking place is a recurrent theme popping up all over my days. I check my E-Mail and there have been several involving suffering. I check my Facebook newsfeed and as I scroll down, I see several people have shared blogs or personal stories about suffering. I go to Bible study and the topic is suffering.

Hmmm. Could it be that God wants me to tell me something about this topic that has caused me much emotional turmoil throughout my life?

You see, I once believed in a God that used suffering as a strong arm against those He claimed to love. Suffering was sent by God to punish for wrongdoing. If you really stop and think about that, you may be able to see why for years I questioned God’s motives in my life. If things were going well, I believed I was being rewarded for doing something correctly. If things weren’t going so well, I believed I was being punished for something I had done, said, not done, or not said. As you can imagine, living like that can drive a person nearly insane, for God never really revealed what the good thing or what the forbidden thing was that (I believed) was causing the circumstances in my life.

I still succumb to that thinking too often, even though I now know a different God than the one I used to know. God didn’t change; God changed me. Through some amazing orchestrations, God led me to people who were patient enough to hear not only the skewed beliefs I held but also the anger at God that had festered inside of me for so many years and they were willing to talk those things through with me. Before that, I know of several who prayed for me and planted the seeds that would eventually sprout into salvation. Admittedly, those sprouts are still small and that fact is what bothers me, for I believe it is the suffering in my life that I have allowed to block the growth God wants to give me.

So back to God trying to get my attention with this subject of suffering.

If you ask anyone if they would wish for suffering in their life–financial difficulties, a disease, the loss of a loved one, the rebellion of a child–I am inclined to think that most would answer with an emphatic “No!” Who in their right mind would want anything bad to take place either in their own life or in the life of someone they love? Of course, we know that bad things do happen in everyone’s life. No one walks this earth and escapes some degree of suffering. That was never promised. In fact, we were forewarned of just the opposite. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. If Jesus, who suffered far more than anything we can ever imagine, and He did so for you and me, why would we, a mere human created by Him, expect that we should be able to walk through life scar free? We shouldn’t expect it and it won’t happen.

In reading through the blogs and E-Mails and listening to our pastor and other people educated on this topic, I am beginning to believe that God is wanting a paradigm shift in my thinking. I certainly don’t believe God wants me or any of His children to pray for suffering. That’s not the paradigm shift I’m thinking about. But, what I believe God is wanting of me is thankfulness in spite of, and maybe even, dare I say it, FOR the suffering He allows in my life. “Why would anyone ever thank God for something bad?” you may wonder. I admit, it does sound a little crazy. And yet, at the same time, it makes perfect sense. It was in the midst of marriage difficulties so taxing that divorce seemed imminent that I sought help from godly people who planted seeds of God’s Word in my heart. It was in the midst of a fiery trial that I thought for sure would take my life that I found myself seeking answers from godly people who had the patience to demonstrate the unconditional love I needed to see. And it has been in the midst of the darkness of depression and the pain and suffering of a chronic illness that I have found myself driven time and again to the Psalms. The Psalmist was real with God; he used no flowery language to cover up the fact that he was often in despair. I treasure those Psalms and have started to commit many of them to memory, for on days that are so tough that I am unable to even will myself to grab my Bible and read, those words stored in my heart are brought to mind by the Holy Spirit. They are an affirmation that even though I am in the deepest despair or tremendous pain or complete loneliness, I am not alone. It is the suffering that drives me to God and it is God who is always there. No human on earth can always be there for me. Only God can completely meet my needs for He created me and knows me the best.

That paradigm shift is painful. In all honesty, it is very painful. I wish I didn’t have days so dark I wish to die. I wish I didn’t have a chronic illness that is robbing me of basic abilities. I wish we had finances enough to cover all we need and desire to do. Yet, if I had all those wishes, if tonight I was granted all of them as truth, would I still desire God? Would I still be driven to Him in desperation and humbleness? I don’t think so. If I had all those things, either I might be tempted to think I don’t need God or I might be tempted to think I am all God needs. That just isn’t reality. Reality is suffering is real and painful and discouraging and beautiful. That last one doesn’t seem to fit but without the beauty of suffering, I may never know the extent of God’s provision.

A paradigm shift that will probably take me a lifetime to learn.

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Of Praise and Poetry

I have mentioned several times how much I love to write. I have stressed how much I need to write. Writing is therapeutic because it helps me process my thoughts which are often just tangled messes squirming around in my head. Often when I write I feel like a little child who discovers a knot in her shoelace. Instead of my little fingers untangling the knot so I can tie my shoes, I find the knot gets tighter and tighter until I am so frustrated I start to cry. Writing untangles the knotted thoughts in my head, and even though putting those thoughts into words sometimes leaves me with tears of frustration, at the end of all the typing, deleting, and re-typing, I find a satisfaction in knowing at least that part of the knot is untangled. Just like shoelaces, though, more knots appear, but it is far easier to untangle one at a time rather than a shoelace full of them.

One thing that most people do not know about me though is that I enjoy writing all kinds of genres. I discovered a love for storytelling as a teen and it was one of my most effective methods of capturing class attention when I taught school. I used to have notebooks full of short stories written in my junior high years. I have no idea where those ended up. My guess is in a load of garbage when my parents moved out of the house where I lived. I also enjoy writing poetry. I’m not much of a free verse kind of person. The OCD in me needs syllables and rhymes to line up. As a young person, I could look at something and come up with a poem about it in a few minutes. When my dad passed away and I had to say something at his funeral, I sat on the balcony of their apartment and composed a poem to read. Being an introvert, public speaking wasn’t my most favorite thing, yet reading a poem I had written was a much less daunting task. Many years since then, my mom has asked me to write poems to remember my dad for different occasions. Others have asked me to write poems for birthdays in their family or some other special event. I do find it more difficult to write poetry when put on the spot. I also need to be alone when I write poetry. I talk the lines out loud so I can hear how they sound when spoken. Needless to say, I do very little poetry writing in public places. People tend to look at you strange when you’re sitting at a table or on a park bench talking to yourself. :)

So where is this all going?

Last week I had a great amount of time in which to just think about some difficult things. I believed God was calling me to do something that I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do. That led to my thinking about God and who He really is to me. One of the things I absolutely love about our church is that it is a vertical church. This simply means that everything about it proclaims the name of God–not the name of people. It is the opposite of that statement that has caused me to be frustrated with the majority of music played on our local Christian radio station as well as the stories people call in to tell. So much of it is “me-centered”. A line from a song instantly comes to mind: “My heart and my soul, I give you control, Consume me from the inside out.” There’s a lot of “me” and “my” and “I” in that line. Don’t misunderstand–there is nothing wrong with petitioning God on one’s behalf. The issue for me is more of the fact that it seems the majority of songs are about what we want God to do in us instead of praising God for who He is. I love songs that describe the character of God, songs that ascribe to Him the glory He deserves. One of my favorites is “The Great I AM”. Some of the song goes like this:

“The mountains shake before you, the demons run and flee, at the mention of your Name, King of Majesty; There is no power in hell, or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I AM…”

I get chills just typing those words. When we sing that song at church, there is so much worship being ascribed to God–hands raised, voices lifted high as God is praised. He should be. He is the only One who deserves it.

As I started thinking about that, a poem began to form in my head. I grabbed my notebook and searched for a pencil (I need to write poetry in pencil, not pen; I know, OCD…) I started to write and an hour or so later, I had a poem that I hoped revealed just how praiseworthy God is. Although I seldom share the poems I write (some from the days of depression are honestly dark), I decided to go out on a limb and put this one on my blog. Perhaps it won’t mean the same thing to you for maybe you are in a different place than I am right now. Just maybe, though, someone needs to read these words today–to be reminded that God is the only One who deserves all our praise. Without God, nothing would be. He is in control of everything, yet He chooses to love me. That thought amazes me. Especially me–one who rejected Him for years, one who doubts more than I care to admit, one who gets discouraged, one who fears…you get the idea. Even through all those flaws, and many, many more, God loves me. And God loves you too. I hope you know that.

Worthy of Praise
The heavens declare your glory,
The mountains proclaim your story.
The sun and the stars reflect your light;
All creation displays your power and might.
The creatures of nature–a treat for our eyes,
Animals of earth, birds of the skies.
Nothing exists apart from your hand,
All could vanish at your simple command.

Who am I that You care for me?
My life is a vapor, a mist o’er the sea.
Here one day, the next no more
As waves disappear on the ocean shore.

Everything that has breath is at your command;
You uphold the world with your powerful hand.
You set kingdoms in place and cause others to fall;
Still your ear is atune to my cries when I call.
Your strength is made perfect when I am weak;
In joy and in sorrow it’s your face I seek.
Eternal life you have given to me
In the death that you suffered on Calvary’s tree.

Who am I that you care for me?
A wretched sinner in you now set free;
Apart from you I have no good thing
Forever my lips will sing praise to my King.

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Listening Power


I love words. There was a time in my life, like everyone else, that words meant nothing to me. I could see them in print in a book or a newspaper but had no clue how to unlock the mystery of what they were trying to say. Once I did learn that secret, though, I was driven to fill my mind with more and more of them. Reading, spelling and vocabulary were my best subjects in elementary school. To this day, I seldom have to look up how to spell a word. If I come across a word whose meaning is unfamiliar to me, and I am unable to figure it out by context clues, I do not hesitate to look up its meaning. After all, if an author believes a certain word in his or her writing is the exact one that is needed there, it must be important enough for me to know what it means. Scientists say we need to use a new word seven times in the correct context to make it a part of our regular vocabulary.

Words are all around us. After all, we live in the digital age. Most every form of communication exchanged in today’s world is in the form of the written word. You are reading this because I sat down at my computer to type it. Major companies conduct a tremendous amount of business through written communication such as E-Mail. I seldom hear the voice of my children. Text messaging is the way to go for this generation. Just last week, my mom, who is eighty-five and has no clue how to text, send E-Mail or use Facebook, met some old friends for lunch. They asked about our family and my mom, in turn, asked how their son, my best childhood friend, was doing. They filled her in on his life and then said something to the fact that they do not hear from him, he never returns phone calls, but if they text him, they get a reply. I’ve tried to explain this fact to her on more than one occasion. Every time she calls me–remember she doesn’t text–she asks how each one of my kids is doing. She is always surprised when I tell her that I know they are alive because they updated their Facebook status or sent me a text the other day. “Don’t they call you?” she asks. “No, Mom. This generation isn’t much for talking on the telephone.”  Even looking for a first job has changed. A few of my kids wouldn’t even consider a place that didn’t have an online application process. They didn’t want to have to go into a store and actually talk to someone to get an application!

The written word has killed the spoken word. So what? After all, one can accomplish so much more via E-Mail rather than taking the time to call several people. One mass message sent to a group and the job is taken care of. A text message is so much more efficient in that one can say only what needs to be said instead of running the risk of being tied up on the phone for hours talking about the weather and what grandma and grandpa are planning to do with the farm. Surely people know how busy life is and there is no time for chatting about something that isn’t of utmost importance at the moment. The problem is that this new reality has led to the loss of the skill of listening. I didn’t really think about it much. I am a modern mom and have jumped on the text messaging-Facebook-E-Mail wagon. I thought nothing of it. Until this week at least. This week, the following words jumped off the page of my Bible as I read:

“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)

I stopped reading and looked at those words again.

Quick to listen.

Slow to speak.

Quick to listen.

Slow to speak.

Let’s focus on the listening part first. Do we really know how to listen? I have been in situations where I am talking to someone and that person is nodding their head in agreement with me, yet their eyes are on their cell phone or the giant TV screen playing the football game in the restaurant. I have also been the person guilty of the latter scenario. Perhaps there are no distractions–the cell phone is not out and the restaurant has no televisions. Even then, can we honestly say that we are fully engaged to what is being said?

What about slow to speak?  I know I am guilty of trying to formulate what I am going to say in response to the person before they even finish speaking. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget something they said that I desperately feel needs my response so I “mentally rehearse” my reply as I wait somewhat impatiently for them to stop talking. Worse yet, I interrupt so I don’t lose my train of thought. At the least it is rude; at its best, it is narcissistic.

James, however, couldn’t be any clearer in his instructions. We are to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We often reverse the order of the two and, admittedly, it is often when we are slow to listen and quick to speak that anger flares. Remember, James’ final instruction in verse 19 is “slow to become angry”. Perhaps if we really listened to someone, really heard their heart, and we held our tongues long enough for that person to truly communicate what’s going on inside them, we would be slower to become angry. I know in our marriage, arguments ensue and escalate quicker when words are flying from the mouths of both parties at the same time!

One day this summer I was watching the old television show Little House on the Prairie. (I know–call me sappy. I love that show though.) Mary and Laura were in the one room school house with the other children from Walnut Grove. The teacher, Miss Beadle I believe was her name, was standing in the front of the class giving them a dictation. She would say a sentence and the class would in turn write it on their slates. She would then go around and see if the students had listened carefully and had written down the correct words. She would correct where necessary, return to the front of the class, and give another sentence, this one a bit longer. The students needed to pay close attention to the teacher in order to catch not just the right words, but also the pauses and inflections so they would know where to punctuate with a comma or a period or perhaps a question mark. The students were being trained in the art of listening.

In the first century when James wrote his epistle, the literacy rate was at best ten percent, and most of those were men. People didn’t go to church with their Bibles and follow along as the pastor read. The Bible as we know it didn’t exist at that time. Instead, the letters would be read aloud to those gathered. When Paul wrote each of his epistles, he wrote them as letters. They were mailed to the churches and read aloud to the people. They had to listen carefully in order to understand the message being conveyed. Even as recently as the 1940’s, programs for entertainment in the home were listened to, not watched. Can you imagine a child of the 21st century being able to only listen to Dora the Explorer rather than watch it on TV??

We live in a very different era. The spoken word has been replaced by the written word. Where I live, in the last year, two new churches have opened and have sent out mail advertisements stating things like casual dress, upbeat music, and short sermons. You can get in and out of church in less than an hour. We passed one church a while back that advertised “Sunday Express”. It was a 30 minute church service. In other words, you need to do your duty for God but we know your lives are busy with the NFL and soccer games so we won’t make you stay here very long. I wonder what the early church would have thought of such an idea? Even today, in places like China and some countries in Africa, the ability to get to church gatherings is not easy, so when the people meet, sometimes they are together for several hours. I recently read of a church in Uganda where the pastor arrives early in the morning and as people come in, they join the worship already started. He waits several hours to start preaching though because some of his congregation has to walk many miles to get to church and he wants to be sure to wait until he feels all have arrived. Church there is an all day affair and it is welcomed and held dear by these people. In America, anything over an hour in most cases has people fidgeting in their seats or browsing Facebook on their IPad while the preacher is talking. (Just for the record–this does not describe my church. Our services are at least 90 minutes and sometimes longer if our pastor or worship pastor is really fired up :) )

As far as I know, schools no longer require dictation exercises as part of the curriculum. How could they when so much learning takes place via a computer or television screen? It’s a shame though. Children today aren’t being taught to listen. They see mom and dad looking at their cell phones or a television screen and when they try to say something, they are often shushed because something important is happening–like the Vikings scoring a touchdown is the biggest miracle in the world! Okay, maybe that could be considered one of the biggest miracles in the world, but you get the idea. The Bible is a timeless book because it is the actual words of God, and since God never changes, His instructions found therein do not change either. Therefore, James’ words still apply to us today. Be quick to listen slow to speak and slow to become angry. I wonder how many relationships would be saved if everyone got back to learning how to really listen to others?

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New Directions

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life. It’s strange how from the earliest moments I can recall–around age three–until just a few months ago, life always was moving. Childhood was busy being a kid in the 70’s. I went to school, played outside, rode my bike a lot, swam in the pool, rode any amusement park ride I was given the opportunity to, had a great imagination, watched a small amount of television, made friends, lost friends, read a countless number of books…my life was very similar to those around me at the time. Once I turned fifteen, I added working to my list of activities. I loved my job and worked as many hours as I could. The reason was simple…my dad owned a gas station, my brother worked there, he was a few years older, and he had a lot of friends who would come hang out there at night. Good looking friends. Friends who drove really nice cars. Heck, friends who drove! Did I mention that many of them were really cute? It didn’t take too long to add dating to my list of things that kept me busy. :) High school gave way to college which was followed by marriage (before college was even over) which was soon followed by motherhood (two weeks after finishing college). Motherhood was multiplied by four in a matter of five years. Four wonderful babies celebrated and one grieved in a period of five years. To say I was busy would be the biggest understatement of the decade! Then, and this only seems sudden in hindsight, my babies were grown. One married, one engaged, one moving into an apartment, one working full time…one by one, and all too quickly, I found myself with all this time on my hands that I had never had before.

Simultaneously, as my babies were moving out, my body began to let me down. Earth is not a utopia. There are diseases and ailments that have yet to be cured. As I wrestled with the news that I would be facing the challenge of living with a chronic illness, I wondered what the diagnosis would do to the dreams I used to have of life after full time motherhood. I’ve written in the past describing some of my dreams. Top on my list was owning a hobby farm where I could have animals and a barn. I thought about maybe exploring some career options. I have a degree in elementary education but the fact that it’s from New York state and I do not live there makes it almost worth nothing. Besides, the thought of teaching full time was out of the question now. With days that it takes every ounce of energy I have just to get out of bed, being in a classroom isn’t even a remote possibility. I dreamed of possibly baking for a living. I love to bake–cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies, breads–if it uses butter and sugar, I enjoy making it! Baking, though, takes energy as well. Besides, unless I have someone to bake for, it isn’t really worth doing it. Owning a bakery was once a dream. Now, it can be placed on the list of dreams that just can’t come true.

It doesn’t take much to feel like I have no purpose. And having no purpose makes it difficult sometimes to keep moving forward. I started to feel stuck. I still do actually, but perhaps there is some light showing in my dark tunnel. It is ever so faint and very far in the distance, but it is a small glimmer of hope in the midst of the utter darkness that has settled over me lately.

There are two branches to this hope. One I feel comfortable enough sharing. The other will only be vaguely hinted at until I am sure I want to walk the difficult road it is on.

I have had several people over the last several months tell me that they enjoy what I write. I actually find that amazing because I feel that what I write is often depressing. I began writing for my own therapy. Writing processes my thoughts and gets them out of my head. Once out, I am often able to step back and look at them in a different light. Usually that ends up being a good thing. Sometimes it has backfired on me. Not everything can be perfect I guess. Anyway, I enjoy writing. It is something that, once I start, I often find myself unable to stop. The words come much more quickly as I type than if I were to sit and talk with real people. In fact, I often try to not talk in front of real people…the fear of rejection or judgment is very intense when I do. I think anyone who knows me well would attest to the truth of this. In addition to being told that some enjoy reading what I write, I’ve also been told that perhaps I should think about writing as a job. Hmmm. I have actually thought about that. In fact, when I was in junior high school, my dad asked me if I had given any thought to what I might want to be when I grew up. At the time I told him I would love to write for magazines or newspapers or even write my own book series. Writing is not new to me. I have always enjoyed it, but it is only recently that I felt brave enough to share what I write and be vulnerable about the reality of my life.

That brings me to the second thing going through my mind–the reality of my life. I have been honest about my struggle with MS as well as my struggle with depression and addictions. I hid the latter of those things for a very long time. Again, how could anyone believe I loved Jesus if they knew I often was so depressed I wished I could die or that I once was addicted to alcohol? I did share those things, though. Overall, the response was positive. Of course there are always a few who think they have the right to tell me that if I really believed in the power of Jesus than I wouldn’t be depressed. I’ve even had some tell me that if I had more faith I would be healed of my MS. Those comments hurt. My personality is such that when someone I care about makes a statement to that effect, I began to wonder if perhaps I really don’t have enough faith…it becomes a vicious cycle of bad thinking that takes some work to get out of. I believe this is the reason I am so hesitant to really be open about some things. Today, though, something happened that has made me consider that perhaps I am wrong in this matter.

A long story short–I am going through a Bible study on my own through the book of James. I download the individual videos since I don’t have a group of women to watch them with me. Today’s lesson was all about two words, anguish and joy. They seem to be opposite concepts, but today I learned that is not always the case. The crux of the lesson was that God can take the very thing that caused intense anguish and turn that into a passion, a joy almost in sharing how God brought you through that time. There is something in my life that has caused tremendous anguish…anguish so difficult that I have literally felt at times that my heart would be ripped out of my body. It is something I am not quick to share with anyone and only a few know about it. Many people who think they know me might actually be shocked to find they really don’t know me at all. In fact, it is only in the last two years that I have realized how this anguish has shaped my thought patterns. I have also realized how many people I have hurt along the way because of this. At times, the shame of it all is just too much to handle. And yet, it seems God is trying to tell me that this very thing–this horrible part of me I desperately hide–is exactly what He wants to use to touch other people. I am admittedly struggling with that thought. I feel like Moses when God spoke to him from the burning bush. “Please God, use someone else. I can’t do this.”

I don’t know where this will all lead. I can’t even say for sure right now that I will survive the ride (figuratively) if God decides to take the rollercoaster of my life down this wickedly terrifying hill. I just know that my spirit is unsettled. I desperately want to see my anguish turned to joy…not just replaced with joy, but literally turned to joy. I’m just afraid the cost will be too high.

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God is Concerned

I may have mentioned previously that my husband and I joined a Bible study this fall. The organization is called Bible Study Fellowship (or BSF). We meet separately but it works out well because the women’s group starts at 6:50 and the men’s group starts at 7:00. They are roughly 3 miles apart. Since I am really not able to drive at night, he drops me off, heads over to his location, and then picks me up when finished. The study is about the life of Moses. I have really enjoyed the first few weeks and have had some revelations that have changed the way I think about some things.

This morning as I was going through the day’s lesson, I came across a phrase I hadn’t noticed in my previous readings about Moses’ call from God. It read, “The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.'” (Ex.3:7) At this point in the narrative, God is speaking to Moses through a burning bush. You see, Moses had fled Egypt about forty years prior to this encounter with God. He had killed an Egyptian and the pharaoh sought to kill him for his act. Moses ran in fear and ended up in a place called Midian. We don’t know much about Midian except that it was a large desert area. Through a chain of events, all ordained by a perfect God, Moses ends up staying in Midian and marrying the daughter of one of the country’s priests. He settled there and lived the life of a shepherd for approximately forty years. He was actually tending to his flock of sheep when he noticed that a bush was on fire, yet it was not burning up–it wasn’t being consumed by the fire. Intrigued by such a strange sight, Moses went to investigate. That’s when God’s voice spoke to Moses through the fire and told Moses that he should remove his sandals for the ground on which he stood was holy ground.

Okay, now you have some background.

Before Moses ran from Egypt, he believed that he would be the one to deliver the Israelites from their captivity. He was the perfect candidate. He had been adopted and raised by the pharaoh’s daughter. He had been educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptian culture. A Hebrew by birth, God had miraculously preserved his life and Moses thought for sure that his purpose was to be the hero for the captive Israelites. The problem at that time, though, was the Israelites did no see him as their deliverer and Moses was a bit rough around the edges. He was arrogant, prideful, and quick tempered. These are not the qualities desirable in leadership. God knew Moses had to have some heart work done before he was ready to shoulder the responsibilities of leading the Israelite nation out of captivity. We aren’t given details about the forty years Moses spent in Midian, but we can be sure that God didn’t waste one minute of those years. We can know this because we have the advantage of reading the entire story. We only need to finish the book of Exodus to see how God used Moses (and some helpers) to free His people. Moses, though, didn’t have that opportunity. He couldn’t see the ending. Likewise, the Israelites didn’t have that advantage either. For both parties, life went on day to day. Moses focused on shepherding and the Israelites groaned under the weight of their oppression. Finally, when God feels Moses is ready for the daunting task ahead, He grabs Moses’ attention with a burning bush. God tells Moses that He has heard the cry of His people and that He is concerned for them. In all the years they had spent in Egypt, God had not forgotten them. He knew what was going on, but He needed to do a mighty work in the heart and life of the man He chose to lead them out of Egypt.

As God was working in the life of Moses, the Israelites woke up day after day to the same miserable existence. Wake up, go work in ditches, go make bricks, go be driven so hard that you wonder if you’ll even survive, sleep, wake up and do it all again…day after day after day. Surely many died before they could see freedom. I wonder how many times the Israelites thought God had forgotten them? As men and women died from their working conditions, did they shake their fists at heaven? As babies were killed and thrown into the Nile, did the people give up on God? How could they know that God had not given up on them? The death of innocent babies and the grueling day to day slave labor they were forced to endure did not paint a picture of a loving God or a God who saw what was happening.

In my own life, I am tempted to shake my fist at heaven or to resign my heart to the fact that God must have forgotten me. Like the Israelites in Egypt, I can’t see the ending of the story–my story. Part of me, as I read about the struggles of God’s people in Egypt, wants to scream at the pages of my Bible, “Don’t give up! Moses is coming–he just needs God to get him ready!” Like the Israelites in Egypt, I only see the mundane day to day labor of living in a world of sin. I often entertain the thought that God has forgotten me or that I am of no use to God.

But then that phrase–“God was concerned for them”.

Since I am one of His children, those he calls “precious in His sight”, God is concerned about me too. He hasn’t forgotten me. He sees my pain, my fears, my sadness, my doubts, my loneliness. He hears my cries for help. And just as God sent Moses to be the deliverer for the Israelite people, my deliverer will come as well. I don’t know when or how much longer I will have to wait, but God has promised. “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help.” (Ps. 70:12)

Hang on, Becky. Your deliverer is coming. Don’t give up. Just keep hanging on.

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End Times

I woke up this morning not feeling very well. I struggled to drag myself out of bed. This is actually a common occurrence for me, but this morning I was blindsided by an additional factor thrown in the mix–one I hadn’t really dealt with much in the past. This morning, in addition to the absolute exhaustion, the uncomfortable pain, and the room spinning dizziness, I also found that guilt had come knocking and my head had opened the door and allowed it right in. You see, I knew my husband had left for work long before my eyes opened for the day. I knew he left before the sun was even out as he made the long commute to where he needed to be this week. I knew he did this without complaint and as quietly as he could so as to not disturb me. His morning started very early and I know all the animals were waiting to be fed as soon as they heard his footsteps. He faces the same onslaught every morning–two cats under his feet, impatiently wanting their food and a dog whining downstairs who wants to be let up. put outside and fed. He does all this, showers, gets ready for work, makes his cup of coffee, and grabs his work bag to head out the door all before 5:30 or 6:00 AM. Oh, and most every morning, he makes the time to do the few dishes in the sink from the night before. The guilt this morning took me somewhat by surprise, but it was valid in my mind. How could I sleep until 8:00 and make him do all those things when he is the one working to provide each day? In all honesty, I felt quite lazy, worthless, and unworthy of his love and care for me.

As you can probably tell, it wasn’t the greatest start to my day. As I went through my own morning routine, the whole time wondering to myself why I even bothered to get out of bed at all, I came to the point in my morning where I sat at the table with my Bible and my BSF lesson for the week. My mind was not really focusing–part distraction and part MS brain fog. I read through the notes given at last night’s meeting, highlighting those sentences that spoke to my heart. I finished the first day questions and debated what would be next on my “nonexistent but much needed” to-do list. I grabbed my laptop and powered it up. Resisting the urge to go on Facebook and waste time there, I instead remembered that I hadn’t been to my friend’s blog in some time. I typed in the web address and started reading. What was there, as usual, hit my heart like a dagger.

My friend’s name is Dennis. He writes passionately about the times we live in and how they fit in with the prophecies of the Bible. Dennis firmly believes, as I do, that we are living in what Jesus calls the “end times”. Jesus gave us signs to watch for so we would know when the hour of His coming would be close. No one knows for sure when His return will be, but we can look around and watch and, if we are in tune with God’s Word, we should be able to tell when things are happening that point to the imminent return of Jesus. The first few entries I read had me glued to my computer screen. I will not re-write them here, but I encourage you, if you are interested in why the world seems to be going to hell right now, to go check out his blog. You will find him at http://www.thetrumpetblows.blogspot.com.

As I pondered the condition of our world and the suffering that is taking place around the globe due to issues such as Ebola, enterovirus, ISIS, Syria, abortion and a host of other subjects touched on in the first page of Dennis’ blog, I began to scold myself for complaining about the things in my life that I find annoying. Yes, getting out of bed in the morning is often difficult for me; however, I live in a country where I am privileged enough to sleep in a nice bed with sheets and pillows, all contained within a structure that I call home which has windows and locked doors and heat and air conditioning and electric and all the other things I take for granted. I grabbed my Bible and Bible study notes without fear of someone seeing me with the Scriptures and reporting me to authorities. I didn’t have to sneak downstairs below ground to pray. My friend’s blog was not blocked by the government because it contained spiritual material. My freedoms, at least for now, are secure.

That led me to another thought.

How much longer will this be the case? Jesus said in this world we will have trouble. Jesus was persecuted. His disciples in the first century were persecuted. Christians throughout history have been persecuted. Even today, Christians are being killed for their faith in many areas of our globe. How much longer until this kind of persecution comes to America? Reading Dennis’ article about fearing Muslims made it apparent that it is not far off. (Please take the time to go and read his article. He is not saying that we SHOULD fear Muslims–he is quoting what Muslim extremists have said about themselves)

I know there are people who disregard end times writings. They believe we should not be focusing on the gloom and doom of what is to come. I actually agree that this should not be our focus. I don’t, however, believe we can disregard these things as unimportant. The book of Jude says that we are to “snatch others from the fire and save them”. If you were driving down a street and saw a house on fire, wouldn’t you want to make sure no one was inside and in danger? Wouldn’t you want to be certain that no children were hiding under the bed, scared to come out because of the flames? Wouldn’t you call the fire department and maybe even bang on the doors and windows to make sure no one was stuck inside? Most human beings would do that for anyone–even more so if the house belongs to a family they know and love. To ignore the “flames” that are starting to rise around us–and will grow larger as the day of the Lord draws closer–is unloving. It shows that we only care about ourselves. Is it always easy to go against what society says? No. To say that homosexuality is a sin is not politically correct anymore. The fact that it isn’t politically correct, though, doesn’t negate the fact that it is true. People may call you intolerant. They are so blinded by their own sin that they do not see that they themselves are the intolerant ones, for they only practice tolerance when they are in agreement with the issue. We cannot be tolerant of sin–we can be tolerant of people. And there is a difference. Jesus was a friend of sinners, but He called out their sin.

I feel like my thoughts are all over the place today. Being a perfectionist, it is important to me that my thoughts are cohesive and coherent when written. This post doesn’t feel that way to me. In fact, in the course of writing this, I have debated several times just deleting it. I won’t though. I will hit publish and put it out there, mainly because one of the reasons I write is to help myself process my own thoughts. There are many thoughts swirling through my mind today. If getting even a few out helps to clear up the fog, then it is worth it to me to do so.

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