Delight in Your Desert.

I liken my life in Alabama to being in a desert. I’ve met many, many wonderful people here. I’ve had some wonderful experiences and folks have been good to us. I’ve gotten to know, love and respect my sister and that surely would have never happened had I not lived here. I had the opportunity to know my Father before he died and to care for him in the years just before he passed.

I had the opportunity to do the right thing(s) regardless of how I’ve been treated all my life which allowed many deep wounds from my childhood to be dealt with and healed. I’ve learned through asking for the truth to be revealed and when it was it was as ugly as I feared it would be ~ but once exposed it can’t hurt me anymore. Truth is better (no matter how painful) than the lies of a lifetime.

I’ve seen God, face to face, and I know Him intimately through the circumstances and I’ve learned complete trust in Him. I’ve learned what it’s like to have only Him to cling to, rely on and His love for me is more than enough. MORE than enough. I’ve learned that the choices made in a desert experience are critical because they determine whether you live or die there…not literally perhaps but spiritually for sure. You can keep crawling, digging through, and stepping one tiny step at a time going on nothing but trust in God to see you through until you’re through it or you can give up and give in because it’s just too hard. You can pick a place and make a home in the wilderness and settle or you can choose to believe and be compelled to keep moving until you know you’re through it.

It’s not that I don’t like Alabama nor have I been discontent. I just don’t belong here. I had to be here to be restored & healed so I could be able to go from here. Those who don’t know me & our history won’t understand that. I’ve learned to be content whatever my circumstance and that in itself was worth the 26 years of the desert!

If you’re in a “dry place” I pray you have Jesus in your life & have a relationship with Him. Frankly I don’t know how anyone could survive…or would want to survive…without Him being with you through it. I so get why people do crazy things so much better & I have learned not to judge. Desert walking is extreme, in extreme circumstances. Desperate people do desperate things; thus the results we see in our world today.

I’m grateful for every single moment of these past 26 years. I’m grateful for the friends and my sisters (one of which is in heaven) who walked with me and loved me through. I’m grateful to God for being my Guide, my Teacher, my Redeemer, my Restorer, my Spring of Life, my Comfort, my Provider, and my Healer (to name a few) every second and every step.

Don’t give up if you’re in that place and try to see and believe it’s for your good because it surely is or you wouldn’t be there. God bless you.

Left to Live

For the longest time, I felt like I was being punished or made to suffer because pretty much everyone close to me has died. This includes two siblings, mother, father, best friends, my mentor, beloved pets…the list is long. I mean, why are they gone and I’m still here?!

My life, from the time I can remember has been, well, hard. It seems when I look back there are so many losses, so much sadness and lots of struggles. I don’t know many people that have lived through some of the things I’ve lived through. If I wrote about a lot of it I would have to market it as fiction.

Recently after the loss of a another childhood friend I was snatched with grief. I felt so bad for his close friends as well as myself. I’ve also watched as those around me suffered through their losses and hardships which breaks my heart. We’ve lost so many the past few years it seems. Some say that’s to be expected at our age. Maybe that’s true. Maybe we need to stay prepared for loss and death.

We could stay focused on the bad and sad, keeping ourselves primed for the worst. We could stay in a defensive mode always looking to guard ourselves as best we can from the trials and tribulations of life. If we did though, wouldn’t we miss out on the good?

I’ve lived long enough to know God always, always, always brings something good out of something bad. Perspective is everything. In the midst of what we think will finish us there’s always something to comfort us and help us see past the grief and pain.

While thinking about all of this it dawned on me. We’re left to LIVE. We have survived what we thought would kill us! He left us here to live. So what does that mean?

There’s a difference between surviving something and living through it. Surviving means (to me) taking one breath after another never seeing joy in anything. It means feeling no gratefulness, or anything else for that matter. It’s that place of going through the motions – no enjoyment, no heartfelt thankfulness, and worst of all, no praise to God. It’s the life of “walking dead”. No feelings about anything. Monotone misery.

LIVING on the other hand is the opposite. It’s learning to be grateful for getting to be alive one more day and being joyful for that blessing. Living is waking up knowing your day may be just like your yesterday and being glad about it. It’s finding the good in the bad even if you have to look hard to find it.

Living is being sad you lost someone but being thankful you had them in your life in the first place! Living is seeing someone else going through what you’ve already passed through and offering to help. It’s believing that God, in His infinite wisdom and providence, has allowed you to be here right now for “such a time as this”.

You’ve been left to LIVE. Will you?

My Great Enabler

I have a problem. I’m an addict. I used to drink a lot but I don’t any more. However my addiction-nature still lives. I don’t want alcohol…I want my way. I want things to be good and right. A lot of wrongs have occurred in our lives and on the other side of 50, there’s a deep “addiction” for happily ever after. I want easy. I want fair. I want not to hurt, struggle or suffer any more. See the problem? Let me help you..”I WANT” is the problem.

Psalm 37:8 slapped me in the face this morning. The Lord gave me a wake up call. “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; DO NOT FRET IT LEADS ONLY TO EVILDOING.”  (Emphasis mine)

Fretting is that stirring of emotion that makes us want. It makes us focus on how things aren’t rather than trusting God in how things are. Fret keeps me focused on ME.

Oswald Chambers is one of my favorite Authors. In “My Utmost for His Highest”, he says fretting signifies the evil in me because the ability NOT to fret isn’t based on my circumstances, it’s based on my relationship with God.

Fretting (worry) comes from the desire to have my own way. Ouch that hurt but I must confess, it’s true.

It’s easy to praise God when things are good. Let’s face it, attacks from the enemy are becoming more intense. The fight for faith is relentless. The only way not to fret is to stay close to Him and soak in as much of Him as we can and then act out (literally) what He’s given us. He enables us not to fret, otherwise we will definitely stay in a tiz all the time.

“Do not fret” indicates we have to decide. It’s up to us whether we do or not. To me, it’s a pure form of submission, a decision to put me behind, once again, what’s pleasing to Father. What’s pleasing to Father? Being thankful, praying about everything and being anxious for nothing: not fretting!

This is the ultimate evidence of our faith, as I see it. If I have Him in my life…if I have the relationship I say I do with Him and His Spirit is “big” (I spend time with Him, in His word) I will live it. We often have to decide to live a pleasing life for Him and it starts with our attitude and what we choose to spend time thinking about.

We make the free choice not to fret and He enables us to do just that. He’s the power source and He’ll do His part. Will we do ours?

Just Like That

This past Saturday, we were blessed by some friends to take my son on his first airplane ride. When the opportunity came I had no reservation whatsoever about saying yes. A second thought or doubt didn’t enter my mind. I knew the pilot and his reputation. He’s a career commercial pilot with a stellar reputation. His wife, who incidentally lost her father in a plane crash many years ago trusts him implicitly which speaks volumes (and is a whole nother story) and she’s my sisterfriend so that was good enough for me!

So we went. I ushered up prayers as I do every time we do anything or go anywhere because I’m well aware that ultimately it’s Father God who provides and protects us every single day.

I watched as our sweet pilot-friend took my (special needs) son all around the little plane showing him every detail (inside and out) carefully explaining to him, giving him a chance to ask any questions so he would be comfortable with his ultimate adventure. Even after being seated ready to fly, all systems go, he talked Matt through all the gauges, explaining every detail in laymans terms so he understood.

I smiled as I saw how careful this man was in his craft and with his craft. It was obvious he loves flying and just as much, he loved sharing what he does with others so they could be blessed as well. He was totally confident we would be safe and more importantly he didn’t allow us in the air until he was sure the plane and the people in it were ready to go.

The weather system that hit Oklahoma over the weekend was headed our way and I wondered about that. Driving to the airport I had my doubts that we would be able to take off. The clouds were moving in, the winds were picking up but mine aren’t trained pilot eyes. I realized I wasn’t trained to make the decision so I left that up to the capable and trained pilot.

We got up in the air and the flight was wonderful. Matt enjoyed everything about it with many “wows” and smiles and I was delighted. We all love seeing our children’s dreams come true and I’m no exception. I felt so blessed just being a part of the experience for so many reasons.

As He so often does, the Lord had a lesson for this girl while in the air; though the whole process actually.  While soaring amongst the clouds, with storm clouds pretty much all around us I felt a nudge in my Spirit, almost a tap on my shoulder. I rewound the whole process that got us in the air and Father spoke clearly to me these words: “Barbie, you went for this without reservation or second thought. You trusted this man with your cherished son with no questions asked. Even though what you saw with your eyes said no, you still went on and placed your trust in the pilot, the one with the knowledge and you went. I want you to trust ME just like that.”

I fought back tears as those words invaded me. “Just like that” God wants us to TRUST HIM. Just keep going forward even when things don’t appear favorable because we’re not the ones who know; He sees the whole thing from beginning to end and all the in between and when He provides an opportunity He wants us to trust Him “just like that”.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many opportunities & blessings I had missed by being fearful or basing decisions on what I saw. Wow. The “yes” is always left up to us to TRUST Him. Will you? After that plane ride I think I will. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Keep Looking and Keep Believing.

Anyone who knows me knows how much hummingbirds mean to me. I think of them as tiny angels and maybe a hint of the Glory of God. How creative He is to make this magnificent tiny birds! He must have known the effect they would have on us. Who doesn’t enjoy watching them?

I look forward every year to seeing them. I have feeders right outside my office window so I can see them all the time. A friend of mine who’s visiting the beach in S. Alabama sent me a text yesterday telling me they had seen one and thought of me. In both of my books, I’ve written stories about them to share what God’s taught me. So with that prompt, I mixed up some nectar and put my feeders out expectantly waiting to see them. No hummers.

This morning to my delight, they came to feed. I was delighted to see them and have been mezmerized by them most of the morning.

It occurred to me the act of believing they would come encouraged me to fill up the feeders and put them out. Even though they didn’t appear the day I put them out, I didn’t fail to keep looking. I believed I would soon see them as friends living close by had already been blessed by their presence. All the encouragement I needed to believe was there; it was my choice to act on what I believed!  I could have chosen not to fill the feeders. I could have chosen not to believe they would come. After all, just because they were all around me didn’t necessarily mean they would come to my house. Knowing that, I still decided to believe.

Friends, that’s such a great analogy of our faith-walk. We must decide to act like we believe God will “show up” in our lives. Actually He’s in our lives continually we just have to choose to be focused enough on Him to see evidence of His presence.  If you’re troubled by something, have a need, etc., believe you’ll see Him in action. Put out “feeders” (pray, look) and believe. Keep believing. He may not come when you think He should. He may not manifest Himself in the manner you’re expecting but He will see to you. He promised (Philippians 4:19).

Keep looking and keep believing.  And WHEN (not if) you see Him and His handiwork in your life be sure to thank Him. Enjoy Him and all the blessings and promises that are yours from Him. And, enjoy the hummingbirds!

I Don’t Trust Me

Over and over for the past two weeks Proverbs 3:5 has come to me in many different ways.

So much that happens doesn’t make any sense. Such as: All that’s happened in my family. Why I’m alive and pretty much everyone dear to my heart isn’t. Why good people, “God people” suffer such horrible things…why life is so hard for us and mean people who intentionally inflict pain, lie and manipulate seem to breeze right through…the list is long.

In order for me to keep walking forward and not just fall in a pile and give up; if I’m to really trust God and believe His Word I can not lean on “my own understanding”. I must love the Lord with all my heart and that means I have to put me, my opinions and my feelings behind Him in my life. I have to lean on Him and not my own understanding. I must acknowledge Him: believe Him and that He’s  working in all this (good, bad, struggles and the ugly) for my good, He’s in control and He’s supremely over it all.

A tall order. I have to choose with every situation…the good ones and the hellish ones…to trust Him. Friends this is not a one time decision…it’s a constant one. Trust/acknowledge are verbs…action words. I have to trust Him, not me. Don’t let your feelings or emotions dictate your faith. We can be swayed. God can’t be.

Trust is much larger than faith, a step beyond. Believing and ACTING on belief are very far apart at times. Look. More often than not, things are way more intricate then they appear. There’s a physical thing going on but rest assured there’s also a spiritual thing going on. Don’t trust you…trust HIM!

Keeping The Faith

Have you ever noticed all the action words in the Bible? We have a responsibility in this faith walk. “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” just one example that’s snatched my attention of late and it’s huge! We’ve all suffered unfairness, hurt, and some have endured worse things than I can even comprehend. I hear about horrible things and wonder how they survived; I’m not sure I could.

I’m learning it’s not so much what life does to us but what we do with what’s happened. I believe we have a choice when bad things happen. We can allow it to consume us by constantly focusing on it or we can pray about it and every time it crosses our mind (and I mean EVERY TIME) we can purposefully take the thought and pain and tell God “I don’t get it. Yes it’s ugly and unfair but for some reason You allowed it and I trust You. I believe Your word that says ALL things work for the good for those who love You. Father that’s me, so help me fight the urge to retaliate, to be bitter or walk wounded. Heal me and let me see You through it”.

I believe that’s at least some of the working out of our salvation…ultimate trust that He knows what He’s doing and that if nothing else through whatever comes, I’ll have the privilege of growing closer to Him because I’m getting to know Him in a way I haven’t before.

What about you. Are you keeping your faith?