Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When God Says No

Years ago someone told me that there are three ways that God will answer a prayer: Yes, No, or not now.

Many times we pray and God answers our prayers with a yes. When that happens, it's glory, hallelujah, amen! We do the happy dance and all is well with our soul. We sing praises up to him and rejoice!

But God doesn't always sees fit to answers our prayers with a yes. 

Often, God will simply say not now.

Sometimes, right now, is not in God's perfect timing. As God, he may foresee something that requires a delay in answering our prayer. He is not saying no to us, he is simply asking us to wait a while, and that sometime in the future, when He knows that the timing is right, then he will answer with a yes. Listening to God say not now requires faith on our part, because as humans, we tend to be impatient. Being still and waiting on God requires patience, which unfortunately, I don't possess much of.

It is not easy being asked to wait, especially by God. We have become a nation of instant gratification, and if we aren't careful, it will begin to infiltrate into our spiritual lives as well. However, I have personally experienced God answering me with a not now and then the following year, he followed up with a yes.
It may take time, but if God says Not now he is faithful in fulfilling in answering your prayer when the time is right, and on his terms.

Finally, God may answer our prayer with a definite no. 

I admit its hard praying about something to God and then he doesn't give you the answer that you were wanting. I even admit to have pouted or even cried upon such occasions, (true!) Oh, the disappointment I felt! 

Sometimes I would question if I had really heard God's answer right. Maybe if I asked him a different way then he would answer my prayer differently. Boy, I was so desperate for God to answer my prayer the way I wanted him to, (regardless of the ramifications) that I would go ahead and make plans as if he had, and then justify my actions in the process! Oops! I was trying to micromanage God into getting my own way. Who did I think I was anyway?

Oh, I have learned my lesson, but too many times I have learned them the hard way. When God says no, he means no. No questions asked. But it is not easy. Even though I know that he is a sovereign and just God, and a good, good father; just like a child, I feel disappointment when he says no to me.

I have to remind myself of Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God; who are called according to His purpose." And to trust him, completely.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Resolve...

Well, it's that time of year again- you know, the time of year when everybody makes New Year's resolutions and sets goals for things that they know they will never end up doing or accomplishing,

So why do we do it? I suppose perhaps because we feel pressured into doing so. We hear and read about everyone else's New Year's Resolutions and begin to feel a wee bit guilty if we don't set some resolutions ourselves. Maybe we are sincere in our desire to set theses goals or resolutions, however, our willpower to accomplish them never seem to match our initial desire to better ourselves. We want to turn over a new leaf, but...... For every resolution we make, we ultimately have a justifiable reason why we end up failing. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is usually weak indeed.

Right now a gazillion ideas are floating around in my head. Yeah, I want to lose the 40 lbs that I gained back last year- UGH! I want to walk more- UGH! I want to be more caring, thoughtful, kind, and generous- well, maybe that's doable! I want to write more on my blog and perhaps flesh out some of the ideas I have jotted down for short stories-again doable. Of course, if I think about it, everything I mentioned above is quite doable if I would just- DO IT! But there lies the problem. In my heart of hearts I know I am just not it a place physically to do some things, but on the other hand, there are some things I kind do despite my physical limitations.

So, here is the conclusion that I've come to. I RESOLVE to try and live 2015 with the Serenity Prayer as my mantra. First of all I need to learn to "accept the the things I cannot change "and stop  worrying and beating myself up about the things that I cannot change whatsoever. There are things that are NOT in my control and never will be, so why do I agonize and waste precious energy on those things that I cannot change?

Secondly, I need to have "the courage to change the things I can;" but the next line of the Serenity Prayer is the key to it all: "and the wisdom to know the difference."  Hmm-the wisdom to know the difference. Sometimes we know the difference, but don't want to admit it, because again, it makes us realize that there are some things that are not in our control. Ouch!! Oh to have the wisdom and clarity to know the difference of what is within our power to change and then to have the courage to do it! So what I really need for the new year is wisdom and courage. Combined, those are really the only two things I am asking for in 2015.

For those of you who make not be familiar with the Serenity Prayer, I am writing it out for you. Take it and apply it to your life this year, and hopefully you too, will have the wisdom and courage to live it out in 2015.

The Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,
 accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
 not as I would have it.

Trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will. 
So that I might be reasonably happy in this life
 and supremely happy with you in the next.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Different Kind of Christmas

Last Christmas, I knew there would be changes in the coming year. My daughter and granddaughters had moved out of the house we shared to her fianc├ęs' house in Georgia. That resulted in my moving to a smaller condo. I had to sell many of my belongings and Christmas decorations at a moving sale, including my gorgeous, artificial Christmas tree. I let go of things right and left, not realizing the inevitable repercussions that would follow when Christmas time rolled around this year. Little did I realized how steeped I was in holiday traditions, until the thought of decorating a very small space perplexed me to the point that I began dreading Christmas altogether.

The first problems were that without the grandchildren being here and the probability of my not having any company during the holidays, gave way to a deep feeling of sadness which turned into my thinking, what was the point of even decorating at all? Then, having sold my Christmas tree due to lack of storage, I didn't even have a tree to decorate! What Christmas decorations I did have were packed in the back hall closet under boxes of other belongings. Too much effort! I thought, compounding my sadness even more. Meanwhile, I was seeing all my friend’s Christmas decorations spread out in numerous photo spreads on Face book and my sadness started escalating into an all out holiday depression.

I complained about my feelings of negativity to my pastor one day and he wisely confronted me on every excuse I came up with for NOT decorating my small space for Christmas. Finally, he gave a homework assignment: Go home and decorate and send him pictures when I was done. Now I had little excuses that I could come up with to argue with him, so I took his assignment to heart.
I went to a local thrift store and bought a single strand of Christmas multicolored lights, a small table top prelit tree, a Christmas rug for my front door, and some artificial poinsettias and greenery. I felt a little glimmer of excitement as I lugged my treasures home. Then I attacked the hall closet with vigor. No, I didn't unpack all my decorations, but I discovered a beautiful wreath, a tree skirt, stockings and some candles. I lit the candles and realized that I could play Christmas CD's on my DVD player. Wow-imagine that! I hung the stockings from the snack bar, and the strand of lights on my screened in porch. Then I covered my small patio table with the tree skirt and placed the small tree in the center. Viola! It was beginning to look and feel like Christmas. After I wrapped a few packages while listening to Christmas music, I began to feel the doldrums slightly start to lift.

Flash forward to Christmas day. A REALLY different sort of Christmas, if you will. I had the opportunity to spend the night on Christmas Eve at my daughter and new son in law’s beautiful home in Georgia with their four daughters. It was fun being there and being awakened at 5:30 am to unwrap presents! After the chaos had died down and the mess had been cleaned up, I took a short cat nap. Then came the realization that this was going to be a really different Christmas day for me. You see, I have always embraced the tradition of enjoying the proverbial Christmas ham or turkey dinner with ALL the trimmings- sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, dressing, cranberry sauce, rolls, and pecan pie. Of course there would also be TONS of Christmas sugar cookies hand rolled, hand cut and hand frosted. As it turned out, my daughter had envisioned something different; something quite different indeed.

Early afternoon, my son in-law asked me if I wanted to go out to the movies with him, my daughter, and granddaughters. “Sure” I replied, so an hour later we all piled into their SUV. I didn't pay too much attention while riding through the streets of Savannah until we pulled up in front of a Chinese restaurant. Sure enough, we were about to experience our own version of “A Christmas Story.” Remember the classic holiday movie where the family has to eat out on Christmas day because the dog ate their turkey and the only restaurant open was a Chinese Restaurant? Well, sort of the same thing except no turkey and no dog, LOL! After we waddled out of the all you could eat restaurant, we piled back into the van for yet another adventure. This time we headed to the movie theater to go see Night at the Museum 3. Unfortunately, we ended up arriving way over an hour before the movie started, so we ended up seeing Into the Woods, a Disney movies starring Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep. My youngest granddaughter Olivia and I loved the musical filled film, and also the popcorn and soda. We arrived back home where everyone scattered off to separate rooms of the house, and I relaxed on the couch where I enjoyed several Christmas movies on Netflix.

I learned several things this Christmas season. 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the grand scheme of things, even though this Christmas lacked some of the more traditional elements of holidays past, it still turned out to be fun and a lot less stressful to boot! 2. Learn to embrace the new and let go of the past. I admit that is still a hard one for me, but I am working on it. And finally #3.  Despite it being a really different kind of Christmas, the most important things were still there; family and good health and those are the things that really matter in the end.
So what about you? Did any of you experience a different kind of Christmas too? After talking to several of my friends I learned that they too had gone to see “Into The Woods” and one of them had even had Chinese on Christmas as well! Who would have thought? LOL!! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Silent Night

It is said that silence is golden. I am sure that what many frazzled moms today would really appreciate this holiday season, would be a few moments of peace and quiet. Pulled & fragmented by the stress of daily life, they long for even a snippet of silence- a precious commodity in today's frantic world.

Perhaps God in his infinite wisdom chose such a tender moment of silence and stillness to bring his precious son into the world. I am sure that the world was busy back then, but not like today's chaotic and hectic standard. Still, love came softly, slipping quietly into the midst of gentle, lowing sheep and cattle.

The midnight sky was lit with the radiance of a bright star, guiding the way to where the new born King lay in an humble manger surrounded by hay. Mary and Joseph were no doubt exhausted from the emotional and stressful journey  to Bethlehem. They had endured judgmental remarks from family and friends, but trusted in the promise that the angel had given Mary. Now, barely sheltered from the elements because there was no room for them any where else, they rested in the glorious arrival of their newborn baby.

And so, it was here; in the still, calm silence of the night the Savior of the world chose to come. It was here, on a silent, holy night that the King of Kings came down to give us the greatest gift of all. Bethlehem bustled with travelers and didn't even know what miraculous event had just transpired.

 And so it is today. Our lives are filled with busyness and festivities. Frantic with everything we need to get done before December 24th. travel plans made, tickets bought, packages to wrap, cookies to bake. Our lives are filled to overflowing that we find no time for a still, silent night. There is no room in the hearts of men and women for the Savior of the world.

But still he comes, and waits, and beckons us to be still and share a moment of silence with Him. Can you hear Him? Will you stop for a moment of silence for the King of Kings? This Christmas, may we all take a quiet moment and journey back to Bethlehem. May we be still and witness a silent night.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm Coming Out of My Box!

Great News!! Today I am coming out!!! ..................... Out of the box that is, LOL!!!

For many years, (by my own choice) I lived in a box; not My BOX, NOT GOD'S BOX, but EVERYBODY ELSES"S BOX. I was squeezed, pushed, shoved into it by other people's ideas, convictions, by the way THEY THOUGHT that I should live my life. I have lived that a great deal of my life THAT WAYl believe me, it doesn't work. You will be miserable and bitter. I wanted to make others happy, thinking that in turn by pleasing THEM that that, would make Me happy, so I contorted twisted, & conformed my life, convictions & ideas to theirs. When I would try to escape, they would literally shove me back into THEIR BOX. :( When I tried to cut a hole for a little sunlight, or for a breath fo fresh air, or to stretch my arms, they would SEAL the box with duct tape. I lost myself, my identeity, my joy, my peace, my song. I was a bird with a broken wing, confined to a cage with bars that I had allowed someone to trap me in. I was a bird who could not sing.

I am learning now, by God's grace, how to "BREAK FREE" of my box and cage that held me prisoner for so long. There is NOTHING that feels as good as FREEDOM IN GOD. NOW, I live in GOd's BOX; there is joy unspeakable, peace that passeth ALL understanding. There is safety and contentment. Don't let ANYONE hold you captive in THEIR BOX; especially when there is freedom wating for you. GOd'S BOX has NO WALLS, NO ROOF, and the air is wonderful. Welcome to GOD'S BOX!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Joy In The Midst Of Trials & Tribulations

Last year, I was contemplating a word for myself for the coming year, that would represent my heart. At first, I was sure that word was to be "Hope;" but when January the first came around, I felt God was telling me to change it to the word "Peace." Sure enough, as the new year started rolling in, I realized why I was compelled to change it to peace. From the get go, I was faced immediately with trials, tests and tribulations. I soon understood that I was going to need God's peace; the peace which passeth all understanding to get me through these tough times. If I could rest in God's peace & know that HE was in control, despite the circumstances, then I wouldn't have to "hope." I could rest in God's perfect peace. Amazingly, my devotional for the month of January, spoke clearly to me that I needed to seek God's peace, and to rest secure in it.

And so, February rolled in, and here we are almost at the end of the second month of the year. The trials and financial hardships are still here with me, however, I am trying to "Let go and Let God" help to have peace in the midst of all these circumstances. Was it a coincidence, that in December of 2012, I blogged about having peace in the midst of chaos? I think not. I believe that God in HIS perfect timing, was preparing me for the challenges that HE knew would be facing me in the coming year.

So where does my title fit into all of this, you might ask? A few weeks ago, I suddenly realized what was missing from my life was "Joy;" and so I began seriously to ask God to give me joy despite my trials and tribulations. No easy task I might add. I am a single woman in her late fifties, have constant, chronic back pain, I am facing major financial hardships, I have other family members who live with me, and the situations in my home have caused it to be a constant state of chaos and stress; duh, it's no wonder I haven't felt joy in quite a while.

First of all, I didn't ask for happiness. To me, happiness is based on internal emotions and feelings that are based on external factors & situations. Happiness comes and goes. It's up and down. It's dependence once again, is based on our emotions and outside factors. It fluctuates like a roller coaster; up one day and down the next. I needed joy, real joy that comes only from God, and is based on something much more substantial and consistent.

I am amazed in how God works in such personal ways in our lives, if we will only take the time to recognize HIS hand moving. Recently I posted on facebook, that I was grateful that "the joy of the Lord is my strength." That very same day, I went to a gathering of Christian women, and a woman that I didn't even know, sat next to me. At one point in our sharing, this woman mentioned to me that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Wow! it gave me "God Bumps." It was if God had tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "see, I hear your request." Then, last week, the praise & worship team I am on at church, sang a song with the phrase; "the joy of the Lord is my strength." Once more, God confirmed the words he had placed in my heart.

Last week, I read many scriptures about joy. Here are a few that were special to me.

James 1:2 -3 "My brethern, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations: Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience."

Psalms 30:5 "weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning."

Psalms 16:11 "In thy presence is fullness of joy: at thy right hand, there are pleasures forevermore."

Nehemiah 8:10 "the Joy of the Lord is your strength."

Psalms 51:12 "restore to me the joy of my salvation."

In closing, I would like to ask the question: "How can we have joy in the midst of trials and tribulations?"
The answer is simple: we, of our own strength and power can't; however, ONLY WITH GOD'S STRENGTH AND POWER IS THIS ATTAINABLE!

We need to remember that "with God, ALL things are possible" Mark 10:27

My prayer is that we all kind find that perfect joy in God; regardless of what trials and tribulations we are currently facing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Wilderness Experience

The past eight years have been very difficult for me. As a writer, I have found that it is often therapeutic to journal and write during times of great difficulty and dire circumstances. Yesterday, I found am excerpt form one of my journals from last year, and so I am combining it with an entry from yesterday to form today's post.
The wasteland, otherwise known as the wilderness, is a dark, scary depressing place to be. I know, because I speak from experience; I have spent eight long years there, so here is my story of my wilderness experience.

Being in the wasteland or wilderness, is challenging to say the least. The ground is dry, parched, desolate. There is no greenery in sight, no flowers, no color, no water to quench your thirst. It is dreary and depressing; a land of despair with seemingly no way out. It is unbearably hot & humid, the air is stagnant. When one is forced to live for a season in the wilderness, life as we know it has disappeared; dried up completely as the vast dusty landscape around us. While there, we continually walk in circles; getting nowhere. They say that insanity is doing the same thing over again and again, expecting a different result. This applies to our experience in the wilderness as well.

The wolves nip constantly at our heels, enticing us to just give up and quit; just lie down and die. In the shadows of our minds, we vaguely remember the abundance of rain; the taste of cool, fresh water upon our lips. But there is none to be had. Our lips, our hearts, our minds are parched and dried up. We turn our faces upward, tears streaming down our faces. Our soul remember, and long for peace, hope, faith and joy; we long for rest from this seemingly hellish place. Our soul longs for hope, for an end to this nightmare, this draught that is consuming us emotionally, mentally, physically & spiritually as well. We desire freshness, and newness; creativity, flowing freely from our hearts. We feel withered, dried up, used up, drained, and spent of anything wonderful. We become as dry as a twig; ready to snap at a moment's notice.

A sense of overwhelming hopelessness invades our very soul, and we are crushed by the extreme feeling of being alone and abandoned in this desolate place. We become fatigued, irritable; discontent, pain, fear & despair become our constant companions. It is such a lonely place of brokenness and absolute misery. While in the wilderness, our problems seem to magnify and intensify; financial hardships, relationships, crisis's all become compounded to the point that we allow depression to set in, thus making everything seem hopeless and impossible. The very worst thing that the wilderness does, is that it causes us to take our eyes off of God, the very one that can change all this. It is like we are looking through a two way mirror; we can see what's on the other side, and yet we feel that we are helplessly trapped, with no way out.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 says; "To everything there is a season." This applies to our wilderness experience as well. If we allow it to, the wilderness can become a place of growth, as unlikely as that might seem. God can use this experience as a time of sifting us, of purifying us, and of refining us as well. But it is OUR CHOICE. Refining is not an easy process; it is very painful. It is a time of burning away, or painfully stripping away all the chaff, and anything that hinders our walk with God.

Because we cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel, we are like a blind man walking with a cane; tap, tap, tap. To make it through the wilderness, requires total and complete surrender to God; our will, our lives, and our future. It requires letting go of fear, letting go of control, letting go of the need to fix others, and letting go of the need to fix our current or future situations. the hardest part of finding our way out of the wilderness is the most difficult of all; it requires brokenness. When we allow ourselves to be broken open, and be completely emptied of ourselves, of material things, of compulsive behaviors, of habits and hang ups, THEN and ONLY THEN, can God replace those things with the things that bring us true peace.

It is then that we will get to a place where our focus shifts; narrowing it to one single point, and that is of God. It is only when we get to this critical, pivotal place of COMPLETE SURRENDER, and letting go and giving EVERYTHING to GOD, and allowing HIM to be our true focus; the veil is finally lifted, and the light shines clearly on the path that will lead us out of the wilderness of despair.

This becomes a place of being reborn: we learn to trust God and others again. We learn to love ourselves again. It is a growing process; and only until we are  finally ready to make the necessary changes needed to grow, & allow ourselves to be broken, we will continue to wander in the wilderness. I am SO READY to leave this place and move on. I believe that I have learned my lessons, and even though I may stumble and trip up from time to time, I am ready to totally trust God, and put my faith and hope in HIM. And now, God has given me the peace and rest I have so desperately sought.

Psalms 91:1 says: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

That is my prayer today: to dwell in the secret place, and to rest in the palm of HIS hand.