Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My 20 year old granddaughter is pregnant and not married. My heart hurts for her. I pray for her. I cannot imagine how she will be able to do this alone.

Her 22 year old sister is also pregnant. Although she is married with a 2 year old, she struggles. Both she and her husband are in a program to overcome their addiction to alcohol.

Some days I look at them and shudder. Some days I think I don't want to live to see the pain this might bring.

But then there are other days when I see a glimpse of eternity and I know that I know that I know, God is at work in ways that I cannot possibly see, or understand, or even fathom. I am caught up in a divine plan, watching it unfold and waiting with breathless anticipation for Him to show up and show off.

When my oldest granddaughter called a few weeks ago to tell me she was pregnant, she said, "Are you mad, Nanny? I was afraid to tell you."

She said that because for months I'd been after her to get her pills refilled. In my human mind, having another baby, at this particular point in time, seemed like the worst possible thing for her.

But God has been teaching me much these last few months...much indeed!

And so when she told me she was pregnant, I simply said, "Honey, here's what I know....God is God and I am not. He knows what He is doing and I do not. If you stay sober, another child is a blessing. If you do not, it will be a tragedy. But I am trusting God, sweetheart, and He will not fail us."

When the Israelites saw the giants in the Promised Land, they came back and told everyone, "Yes, it is a great land, flowing with milk and honey, just as God said it would be. But there are enemies! Huge enemies! Numerous enemies! We will all die if we go in there!"

They were calculating on whether they would be victorious or not by looking only at their numbers, their stature, their abilities. And they made a huge miscalculation, when they failed to take God into consideration.

In fact, His response to them always makes me want to cry, “How long will these people despise Me? How long will they not trust in Me despite all the signs I have performed among them?” Numbers 14:11

Doubting God is despising God.

My eyes are on the Lord, not my grandchildren. My mind is fixed on His strengths, not my weaknesses or theirs. My heart is clinging to His faithfulness, not our faithlessness.

What do you need to trust Him for today? What is too big for you today? What is too hard for you today? What is making you want to scream out that you will die if you have to go through this today? What is making you doubt God is enough for you today?

Let me pray for you now, may I? Lord, today we come to You, knowing You have everything we need. Precious Father, our weaknesses overwhelm us. Our problems threaten to end our lives and those that we love, but we will stand in faith knowing that whether or not we ever see You move, You are at work. You are for us and not against us. You will strengthen us to endure. Our trials and temptations can make us perfect and complete lacking in nothing. Father, we can't do this, but we know You can and Father, this time we are going to let You! Amen

Monday, January 23, 2012

Real life hurts

“You and Papa really should come to dinner this Friday night”, she said just a week ago, “she needs you”.

The words, “she needs you”, suddenly had only one possible meaning to me.

“Is she pregnant,” I asked, not really wanting to hear the answer to my question. No, God, no, not this, I thought. The silence that followed told me everything I needed to know.

There it was, the truth. The truth I’ve heard far too many times in my life. An often ugly truth that seems to shout, “Your life is over. There is no hope. You’ve gone too far now.”

“You’re pregnant,” the nurse said, to me in 1971, when, as a 19 year old college student, I first heard those, heart stopping, life ending words for the first time. I hope I can still find the father, I thought. After all, I didn’t know him well.
I did find him and just 4 days later I married a man who was 11 years my senior and an almost complete stranger to me and a year later, we were divorced.

But my life didn’t end, it just had a very hard, strange and sad beginning with many more starts and stops until Jesus found me, in 1983, as I was writing out my suicide note and He offered me life instead of death.

“Mom”, my 17 year old said on my birthday in 1989, “I’ve got something to tell you, but I’ll wait till you get home. I don’t want to ruin your day.”

“You’re pregnant, aren’t you, baby”, I asked, choking back the tears, somehow knowing in the deepest recesses of my heart what the truth was, even before I asked.

The father of her child left and soon married another young woman. My daughter had her darling baby girl and soon married a man she barely knew, 11 years her senior. They divorced 9 years later.

And her life didn’t end either. Although she’s had many twists and turns and detours, she’s found a new beginning and what we thought was hopeless, wasn’t.

“Nanny, when can I come over this week? I have something I want to talk to you about in person,” this precious, then 18 year old, first born granddaughter asked in 2008, with a trembling voice she was trying desperately to conceal.

“Sweetheart, this can’t really wait, can it? You’re pregnant aren’t you,” I asked.
“Yes, Nanny,” came the dreaded words, “I am, but don’t be sad,” she said.

And although we thought she’d gone too far, she hadn’t and she hasn’t still, even though for months on end now, her life has been one huge- drama, one scary- roller -coaster -ride, one real-life-house- of-horrors.....sin is like that you know, taking you places you had rather not go. But we can’t really ever go too far when He is right beside us through it all. Nothing, after all, can separate us from the love of God.

And now, just days ago, I learned that her 19 year old sister is pregnant.

It doesn’t get any more real than this. It doesn’t hurt any worse than this, this carrying around burdens I carried myself eons ago.

I’m hurting. I’m reeling. I’m almost 60 years old. I’m tired. I’m tired of this same sin ripping apart the lives of the young, vulnerable women in my family, who are really only looking for love, but in all the wrong places and faces.

Let me be completely honest, there are days when I want to throw up my hands and say, "Girls, I'm done! Now you all just figure your lives out and get it all together, but I'm done with this mess. Let me know when you decide to live right and grow up!"

But a few days ago, in the middle of the mess, He showed me that He came to save the LOST, to heal the SICK and to feed the POOR and that for now, this is my ministry. It is my own dearly loved, flesh and blood who need me, and serving them is my privilege and my high calling right now and I need to quit being overwhelmed by it, and learn to embrace it and to walk in it.

That’s it. Just show these precious girls Jesus in all that I do and say, day by day.

Over 2 thousand years ago, another young, unmarried teenage girl was told, by the angel, that she was pregnant with the Son of God and that her relative, even in her old age, was also pregnant, “for nothing is impossible with God.”

Yes, Lord, nothing is impossible with You, may I remember that now, especially now.

Aren’t we all Mary’s in a way, asked only to give birth to Jesus, day by day, in some small way? Aren’t we, as believers, filled to the brim, in our hearts, with the Son of God and asked to carry Him and to give birth to Him in this dark world just a little each day? Aren’t we asked to feed the poor and isn’t it true that soul hunger is just as deadly as body hunger and isn’t Jesus really the only morsel of Bread that can truly satisfy a hungry heart?

And if we don’t give birth to Him, don’t let Him live His Life through us, don’t give Him away to the hungry, aren’t we aborting life, the only True Life there is? Isn’t that the Life we should really protect with all our might?

It is hard though isn’t it, this birthing of Jesus? The labor pains of trials leave stretch marks forever, as our tiny, self-centered hearts are stretched and strained past all human boundaries, but isn’t that the goal, to bust us out of our self-life, to give the Spirit life and breath outside of us, with no restraints whatsoever?

“Hail favored one, the Lord is with thee,” the angel said to Mary, but oh, my friend, the same is true for you and for me. We are favored! He rains down grace on us day in and day out and we can expect Him to supply all that we need in these trials, because, the Lord IS with us and nothing is impossible with Him. Nothing.

Mary humbly responded to the angel’s news by saying, “Behold the bond-slave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” Lord, may I respond in like manner to the news of yet another pregnancy.

Lord, I do not like where my granddaughter’s sin has led her, or her sister, or her mother, or me. But, how foolish I am if I only wallow in this and fret over this and complain about this. No, this is the perfect time to let You do what only You can do in them and in me. So Lord, do more than I ever asked for or imagined, will You? Be with us, favor us, Lord, like You did Mary. Let your divine, unmerited favor rain down on us in the person of Jesus. Let the sight of You, walking towards us in this storm, overwhelm us far more than the storm itself. Lord, may I respond to You, as Mary did, Lord, look at me, I’m poor and pitiful, but I AM your bond-servant, free to go, but choosing to stay with my Master, my All, my very Life. I let go of my plans and dreams now to cling to Yours. May I walk in complete trust in You. I will wait to see You work on our behalf IN this and if I die before I see it, I WILL praise You with my last breath, believing that whether I ever see it or not, You ARE good and You are good ALL the time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Trying to Gain More

Do you struggle with believing God, or am I the only one? Surely I am not. Eve, the first in a long line of sisters, doubted what God told her about eating the fruit and doubting God suddenly became the norm for us all.

Isn’t it odd (or is it?) that eating a forbidden food was the first sin? No wonder so many of us struggle with food issues!

For more years than I care to admit to, I have tried to lose weight. But, trying to lose has not worked for me. Trying harder has not worked for me. Trying and failing has certainly not worked for me.

So this year I will seek to gain, rather than to lose.

I will seek to gain more faith. Not more faith in me, for that too would be met with certain failure. Not more faith in a certain diet, although, yes, I am eating according to a plan, Weight Watchers, to be specific.

This year my plan is to believe Him more.

I feel His call deep down where I know, that I know, that I know, that it is He who speaks to me, “Debbie, when will you believe Me?” Now, Lord, now, I answer. Isn’t now all we really have anyway? Just for this second I will choose to believe the great I Am.

After all, He has never failed. His arm is not weak. His memory is not failing. His strength is not impotent. His eye is not dull. His plans are not forgotten. His love is not cold. His Word is not dead.

I am believing Him for my now, for my tomorrow and for my eternity. He has what I need. He is what I need.

But, good intentions will not give me more faith. Daily I am consistently feeding my mind and heart with more of His Word, His Truth. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17 And I am praying to want Him more, to desire Him more, to need Him more. And I believe He not only hears my prayer, but will answer my prayer. “All things are possible to him who believes.” Mark 9:23

If your heart is desiring more of Him this year and if you've struggled and failed to overcome your food issue or your alcohol issue or your whatever it may be issue, then you might enjoy not only this book, "Made to Crave", but you might want to check out the free webcast tonight. Go to www.Madetocrave.org at 8 EST and tune in.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Blessed with more pain

Where have I been? Recovering from yet another surgery! My last post was July 8th. and the following day, I went to the doctor to ask about a continuing pain in my shoulder. After an MRI, I found myself meeting with a surgeon just one week later on July 16th who told me I had a VERY large tear in my rotator cuff and would need surgery. He happened to have a cancelation on Monday the 19th and so just 11 days after my last post I was in surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

Not again!!!!!!!! Not now!!!!!!!!! This wasn't supposed to happen!!!!!!!!

But it did.

It has been rough....very rough. Painful, frustrating, discouraging; downright depressing! Getting older is certainly not for sissies. And boy do I feel old. Between the pain in my shoulder and the pain from daily workouts and PT, crying has been an almost daily thing.

Many fears came with those tears. Fear of getting older. Fear of more health issues. Fear of chronic pain. Fear of being dependant on others. Fear of losing control.

God seemed silent and fear ran rampant in my heart.

One day I cried out saying, "Lord, I am 58 years old, I've walked with you for 27 years, I should have something to stand on here. My faith should be strong, but it isn't. The truth is Lord, I have nothing right now. I honestly don't know how to handle these continuing health issues. I honestly don't know how to handle old age. I honestly don't know how to handle chronic pain. I am coming to You as a little child. I am coming to You empty. I am asking for You to show me how to walk through this place of misery. I am Yours. I surrender. Teach me to glorify You in this."

I quit trying to figure why this was happening and simply and humbly asked for His help, for His wisdom, for His peace. It was in acknowleding my lack that I experienced His abundance.

Empty is where filling takes place. Pain emptied me of the false notion that I was somehow self-sufficienct. Paul says it so well, "Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God..." (2 Cor. 3:5)

I know only one thing....apart from Christ I have nothing. How do I get through this? With Jesus. How do I face the future? With Jesus. How do I glorify God in this? With Jesus.

I will not find hope in a healed arm. I will not find hope in more friends. I will not find hope in better health. My hope is in Him, who made the heavens and the earth.

"....and the life I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Hiself up for me." (Gal. 2:10)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hanging in there

Discouragments. Disappointments. Confusion. Frustration.

How do you handle them?

Going to the gym for me was a "God thing". Anyone with eyes can see I am not, nor have I ever been someone who worked out. But I felt called by God to work on my health. And I obeyed. More faithfully than at any other time in my life. To be honest, I could so see the new me. I could so hear me telling others how God had changed my life and my health. I could so feel the health benefits and longed for more.

And how'd that work for me?

For all of my faithful efforts I succeeded in displacing a certain body part which had to surgically be put back and from which I am still recovering. It also brought to light a 20 year old problem with my back that was finally diagnosed as degenerative disc disorder, which will require surgery in the next few years and which has been a source of a lot of pain and sleepless nights.

Frustrated? Mmmhmmm. Discouraged? For sure. Confused? You betcha! My goodness I did what I felt God led me to do and am actually worse off in a lot of respects.

So what will I do next? Quit came to mind...comes to mind...stays in my mind!

But God did not call me to quit. He called me to follow Him in faith. So by faith I will listen and obey. I will trust Him to complete me, knowing that my life in Him is far more than this physical body and that He desires to conform me to Christ, not just to a pair of size 10 jeans.

I ofen wonder, at age 58, and in less than great health, if I can still be used by God. I often wonder if, after all of my failures, He will still allow me to speak for Him, to minister to others, to write for Him. Frankly, as a human, I would say no, time to move on to younger, better equipped ones, more faithful ones than me.

But God.

I love that.....but God. My walk with Him is not about me. It is about Him and for the life of me, I will never understand why He chooses to use His weakest vessels to glorify Himself, but He does. So until He calls me home, I will obey. In sickness and in health, for better or worse, I will continue to believe God.

How do you handle discouragments, disappointments, confusion, and frustrations? Believing in God, in His Word, in His power.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Going Forwards, not Backwards

Several years ago a dear friend was traveling alone with her young son, from Colorado to Texas and planned to stop over one night for a visit with me. She called around 3:00 in the afternoon to say that she was about 3 hours away and couldn't wait to get to my house, as she was exhausted. I told her she'd arrive right in time for a great meal and we'd have a blast in no time at all.

She called about an hour and half later in tears! After talking to me, she'd turned the wrong way out of the gas station, and actually traveled back the way she'd just come! She was devastated. Exhaustion, hunger and disappointment was hitting her hard. Her mistake cost her dearly and she finally arrived at my house about 6 hours after her first phone call, not the 3 hours she'd originally anticipated.

I've been really struggling with my journey to become complete in Christ. Part of that journey right now, is centered on losing weight, but I cannot reiterate enough that this journey is SO much more about gaining more of Christ, than it is about losing weight. And the weight is coming off WAY too slow to suit me! I'm still hovering around the 20 pound mark. I've been at this for 4 months and frankly expected more weight loss by now. One good bit of news to report, however, is that I've lost over 4 inches in my rear end!! Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Hooray!

Just to lay out my heart to you, I was really wanting to quit my efforts, especially my work outs. Going to the gym was becoming increasingly more difficult. Especially since the workouts are exacerbating several physical issues I have which are causing me a lot of pain. Recenlty one morning, I was crying out to the Lord...... Lord, I am struggling! This is so hard. What happened to my enthusiasm, my resolve, my goals? What can I do to get back on board? How can I continue on without quitting? You've got to speak to me, Lord."

And He did.

That morning I read this in my quiet time, "But this is what I commanded them saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it might be well with you.' Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walking in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their own evil hearts and went backwards and not forwards." Jeremiah 7:23-24

Are you as tired of going backwards as I am? Just like my sweet friend who was devastated when she realized she'd gone the wrong way, I too have been devastated at having gone the wrong way in this weight battle, more times than I can count. Perhaps for you it is too much spending, or too much exercise, or too much alcohol, or too much anger, or too much control. What do you constantly struggle with, always going backwards, not forwards?

For me, I'm learning, although very slowly, that going forwards is a matter of listening to and obeying His voice. Simple as that.

This week, I was in a lot of pain and had not exercised in 10 days, due to an out of town trip. I woke up knowing God wanted me to swim. I argued, but then those words came back to me...."if you obey My voice...it will go well with you." I stopped arguing with God, got dressed and went swimming. Truth? It was hard, but it was worth it. Big gain of energy, but my biggest gain was peace, knowing I was going forward with my God, heading in the right direction.

I'm determined to keep going forward, not backward. I'm determined to hear His voice...and obey it. I'm determined to enjoy the "it will go well with you" part of His promise, because the truth is that my way, the backwards way, does NOT work well for me!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Are you broken?

My mother in law had the most beautiful antique chair. Finely chiseled wood revealed that some long dead artisan carefully crafted this chair for an intended purpose. He obviously loved that chair, and so do I.

There is just one problem....one of the arms is broken, literally hanging on to the body of the chair by a thread. But the break is not obvious if you carefully prop the arm up and it only becomes evident when someone tries to sit on it. It has actually become a "show chair" in our home, tucked away in the corner where it can be seen and admired, but not really used.

And so it was with me last week.

I found myself literally hanging on by a thread spiritually. The brokenness in me clearly revealed I was not properly connected to my Lord. Had I only been propped up, not realizing there was a break deep within? Somewhere in the fray of trying to help my Haitian friends, I moved from faith in Him, to faith in me.

Big mistake!

Working in my own strength I began to reason how I could or could not do things. Exercise? Gone, after all I needed sleep and couldn't afford to get up early. Eating right? Gone, throwing restraint completely out one full day. Stopping to seek God's direction on pressing matters at hand? Gone, there just wasn't time, I had to act NOW!

I had moved away from complete dependence on Him. I had moved away from my only "fully funded" place, where He supplies everything I need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) I had moved away from faith, the only place where I can please Him. ( Hebrews 11:6)

I had stopped hearing the voice of the Shepherd, Who leads me into places of power and strength resulting in fruitfulness. And I had started hearing the voice of the thief who drives me into places of frenzied activity and weakness, resulting in barrenness. I had entered the place where apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)

God loved me and carefully created me to abide in Christ by faith in His Word and to serve my intended purpose. But if a part of me is broken, "not in my proper place", not connected to Christ, then I cannot serve His purpose and I become nothing more than a "show Christian", not at all useful to the Master.

I finally returned to the place of abiding in Him, by believing in Him. The place where I was meant to dwell, remain and to live. The place of fruitfulness where I prove I am His disciple and where I can glorify Him. (John 15:8) The place were all that is wrong in me is properly aligned with all that is right in Him. I returned to the place where I am properly connected to the body of Christ, once again useful to the Master, serving my intended purpose. Not just a decorative object, sitting in a corner, taking up space, like my antique chair. But a useful tool, a functional tool in His hands, connected to the Source of all power.

Are you broken? Are you disconnected? Are you hanging on by a thread spiritually? How do you stay connected to Him? Share your heart with me.