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.

ReRuns

I remember exactly what I was doing six years ago tonight. I was at Huntsville Hospital with my younger sister who was dying. On past anniversaries of her death of course I’ve remembered…but not like I am tonight. I remember laying my head on her pillow and singing “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. I can almost hear the voices of everyone with us in the room. I can recite the prayers and recall the people I met & the conversations we had. Why this year? I don’t want to remember all the details. I had a “trigger” today, a jolt back to that time in my life. I’ve tried all day long not to go “there” to no avail. I’m there and it’s sad & painful.

I’m also seeing what a profound season that was in my life in many ways. The lessons God taught me are numerous and, as a dear friend pointed out to me tonight, defined my faith in Him more than I realized until now.

I’ve had many experiences through which God has shown me who He is and taught me lessons but at no time in my life was He more real to me than He was when Joy died. This is a “footprints” moment. Through every moment of those three days she was in the hospital, her funeral and that first year I look back and see I was being carried. I’m here now so I obviously lived through it though I don’t know how…only one explanation: the carrying grace of God.

That’s when I learned that God isn’t obligated to explain Himself (unfortunately). All the times I’d heard of what He is capable of and His great love for us; His one-on-one personal attention to every detail of our lives came through those days. I saw it & experienced it through one of the worst things I had ever gone through. How crazy is that! I literally felt every cliche’ thing I had ever heard…and believed by the way…but there’s something about KNOWING all of it based on, well, knowing that changes you and your perspective. The knowledge of a personal God…my personal God makes it impossible to ever be the same.

Through her death, I learned the real meaning of Psalm 23:4. Walking through the “shadow of death” is just that: a shadow of death. It’s going through (with Him) what you think will surely kill you. Maybe it’s practice for the real thing. I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t WANT to live through such pain & loss and I’m sure God saw me through it; more than that He carried me. He tended to this grief-stricken pitiful child.

I remember the second I decided not to blame Him. Before that moment it could’ve gone either way. I’m an alcoholic (if you don’t know that already)~I’ve been sober 23 years thanks be to God. On this day six yrs ago I almost went back…I remember it so clearly. I almost decided not to trust Him,that this was my last straw…but I chose to hang onto Him rather than turn away. Why I don’t know, I just did.

Most of the time I try to look forward instead of back. I may take glances because I never want to forget where God brought me from but I don’t dwell in it. Tonight He’s taking me through every moment of that “shadow of death” and I think I know why. I think it’s meant for me to see how far He’s brought me through what He’s brought me through. Many things I had fogotten about that time, many things I chose to forget because it just hurt too much. Not tonight. I remember. This is a bonified rerun, just like watching a movie.

I clearly see that time in my life as forming who this woman of God is now. I’m who I am largely due to back then. I KNOW God now. I know what He did for me and I’ll never get over it, at least I hope I don’t. I’m quite tenacious where He’s concerned. He’s my favorite topic of conversation. Studying His Word & writing/sharing what He brings out of our time together is my “sweet spot” and all of that started with my sister’s death. I loved Him before; I was saved years before. I knew Jesus before…but not like I KNOW Him now. I’m no longer going to apologize for that.

Romans 8:28. ALL things. I know that to be true. Absolutely true. Even in death and loss and yes, especially through “the valley of the shadow of death”. 

So I said all that to say this: when you look back on any of your past, no matter how painful, look back purposefully. Make a point to take in where you were then and where you are now. Somehow miraculously regardless of how devastating it was you’ll see as I have that God has an amazing ability to bring something beautiful out of all the pain. If you don’t see it now, I’m praying you soon will.

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

I Can Be Wrong!

I had a song on my mind I wanted to hear and being sure of who sings it, I pulled out all my CDs of this artist and began searching for it. Not there. I was sure I had it so I looked through my CDs again, went through my Ipod and MP3 player and still couldn’t find the song by the artist I was sure performed it. While listening to my Ipod though, I found the song and low and behold it was by another artist! I was wrong! I spent at least an hour looking where I never would have found the song.

Oh my that spoke volumes to me. We spend a lot of time looking, pursuing things through which we’re sure we’ll find what we’re looking for. Sometimes we find the perfect answer or the perfect thing only to find it didn’t do for us what we were sure it would. You know, I’m sure you’ve done it too: the perfect person, perfect house, perfect job…and after we’ve found it we pursue something else.

I sometimes long for the time I’ve wasted in empty pursuits back. I want a do-over, or at least a chance to refocus and do things better; I want a better pursuit!

I just can’t trust myself and what I think…a lot. Often I find I’m wrong. For weeks now Proverbs 3:5-6 has come to me through messages from friends, sermons, emails, devotionals, you name it.  I’m sure my Daddy-God is trying to tell me not to rely on/bank on/depend on my own understanding of things and I’m seeing He’s so right. If I think on then act on what I perceive without prayerfully talking to Him for guidance my goodness, I’d be in some serious mess.

I’m learning now more than ever through this healing/restoration process to listen to Him more and me less. My feelings and emotions can’t be allowed to rule me. I must let Him rule me. That’s what His being “Lord of my life”, I’m learning, is really all about.

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?

Don’t Wait

Why are some people blessed with stable parents and families and some not? Why do some appear to have more than they need and others struggle for the basic necessities?

Why has my family been through what they’ve been thru? Why does the Lord allow mean people to get away with causing such pain and those they hurt be hurt? So many questions so few answers.

If I sit and wait to understand I may do so in vain. Unfortunately there’s no promise He will give us that. He does promise us, however, that he’ll be with us through whatever we go through and He’ll give us peace and comfort.

For some that’s simply not enough. For me it is. Don’t get me wrong I would love to know why! A lot of the events in my life make no sense. I do trust the One…the only One who sees the whole picture. He gets the blame for a lot that isn’t His fault. People make choices thatt affect everyone around them and when the consequences come as a result they blame God.

I’m not going to search for understanding. I’m going to go from here and believe I’m not alone and believe the resultant wounds from all of this He’s able to heal. I’m not going to swim in regret or sadness. I’m not going to let my heart be troubled. I’m taking Him up on His offer…peace that passes all understanding. There’s nothing that happened or has happened that He’s not aware of. I’m safe with Him.  Understanding is overrated; it won’t get me through it.  He will!