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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Be Still And Know That I Am God

Today I posted on facebook that I was grateful for this scripture:

Psalms 46:10
"Be still and know that I am God."

I wanted to share the story behind the post, but somehow I could not; so, I am sharing it here. Who knows, maybe God has different plan than mine! LOL!

Yesterday God showed me HIS presence in a miraculous way. I had been praying for a copy of the book "Jesus Calling" for several months. I am currently on a very limited budget and hoped that I could possibly find it at our local Goodwill. Last week, a friend of mine read a passage from that book to me when I was feeling so sick, worn out, and physically, emotionally and mentally drained. Although I did mention it to my friend that I would love to have my own copy of the book, God in HIS amazing awesomeness, had a much greater and bigger plan for me.

Yesterday I had blogged about how my word for this year was peace: the peace of God which passeth ALL understanding. I also mentioned hope and faith in my blog. I am sharing all this so that you can see how God has already been preparing my heart to fully trust in HIM to give me peace in ALL things, even the secret desires of my heart.

My niece (who lives in the state of Washington) had texted me that she was sending me a package in the mail and to be looking for it.  Since we are both avid crafters, I was anticipating something to be creative with. LOL! Every day it seemed like she would ask if it had arrived yet. "Nope" I would text her, not yet.

On Monday, my niece had back surgery, and yesterday afternoon, on her way home from the hospital, she texted me to tell me how she was feeling. Knowing she would ask me again if I had gotten "her package" in the mail, I went ahead and texted her that I had not. Ironically however, I told her that I had I received a package in the mail from "an angel," and told her that someone had sent me the book, "Jesus Calling." "Silly girl" she texted me, "THAT WAS THE GIFT!"

Wow! God in HIS amazing goodness, had put it on my niece's heart to mail me a "LEATHER BOUND" edition of the book I was praying for. She didn't even know I was praying for it! Even MORE amazing is that she mailed it from the west coast all the way to the east coast where I live.

When I opened up my precious gift and turned to the first page of January; the scripture for the month was MY favorite scripture:

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

I know that as I am emptying myself of everything, and being still and listening to the voice of God; and being quiet enough to hear "Jesus Calling," HE will speak to me, and show me HIS plans for my life. It was no coincidence that I had already blogged yesterday about Faith, Hope & Peace. HE knows my name, HE hears my cries, HE sees each tear that falls and hears me when I call. 

Let me encourage you today to trust God through what ever circumstances or situations you may be facing. Pray for HIS PEACE to keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Faith, Hope and Peace

Recently I've been posting about certain things: fear, faith, peace and more. Towards the end of last year, I was thinking about choosing a word to meditate on, and study through this new year. For the longest time I thought God was directing me toward the word "Hope." Then, on New Year's Day, after much prayer and discernment, I felt led to change my word for 2013 to "Peace." I posted on facebook that if I had God's peace in my heart and life this year, then I wouldn't have to hope for anything else. Even if I encountered trials (which I did almost immediately, in addition to the trials I am already currently facing) or chaos, difficulty, strife, or any other situation that tries and tests my faith in God, if I have HIS PEACE, I will be able to say that "all is well with my soul." I will be able to find peace and true contentment in Him, in God alone. Wow!

I KNOW this was God speaking to me about this this. I am single. I am in financial hardship, I am not able to work because of health issues, the list could go on and on, but last night I was reminded (and God has amazing ways of getting our attention) of a scripture that ministered to me, and so I am sharing it with you, so that it may encourage you as well.

 Romans 8:38-39

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

The second scripture God gave me is this:

Philippians 4:7

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

And THEN, the very next scripture gives us the tools we need to find that peace in God.

Philippians 4:8-9

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
"Those things, which ye have both learned and received, and heard, and seen in me do: and the God of peace shall be with you."

Now that doesn't mean we are going to have an easy ride; each and every day we need to use the tools the scripture has given us, so that we can fight the enemy, and not allow him to take away our peace, because trust me, the enemy will do his best to trip us up any chance he gets. So with that being said, I turned to these next scriptures for more insight on how to prepare myself each day, because in reality, we are in a constant spiritual battle and we need to follow these words of wisdom:

Ephesians 6:11-17

"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of peace.
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints:"

As I read through all these scriptures today, I can feel God's spirit and presence in my life. I don't have to have "hope," because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. My faith in God sustains me, my PEACE in God brings me contentment, in spite of being single, in spite of the unknown future that tomorrow holds, in spite of hardship, finances, sickness, struggles, trials, difficulties and more. God holds me in the palm of HIS hand, and in HIS hand there is peace.