Friday, February 27, 2009

God Answers in Some Strange Ways

I was supposed to be going into surgery today. I won't get into the details, just suffice it to say it was of a, ahem, female nature. I didn't really have peace about it, but I couldn't put my finger on why. After all, logically, it made sense, and all my plans were in place - people to watch the kids and someone to pick up the dog. But still I had this nagging feeling that it wasn't a good idea. But how do you tell your doctor, "Well, I agree with everything you are saying, but I have this feeling that God is telling me not to"? Makes you sound a bit weird, doesn't it?

So, I prayed. I asked God to make it VERY clear that I shouldn't have the surgery, to close the door. I woke up yesterday morning feeling sick. My stomach was off and I had a sore throat, but I wasn't THAT sick. So, I wondered - is this God's way of telling me not to go through with it? So, I prayed somemore, asking for a very firm closing of this particular door.

A little while later, the phone rang. The doctor was calling to say she wouldn't operate. My EKG came back abnormal.

Um, that wasn't quite the kind of answer I was looking for. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am slightly paranoid about my health. I have a pain in my head. Oh, it could be a headache, but then again, it could be an aneurism or maybe the early indications of a brain tumor. An ache in my back - well, that could be a symptom of a heart attack. I am a worrier. Maybe it's because I have this weird belief that if you worry about something, then it won't happen. Or maybe I am just a hypochondriac and read too much.

So, you can imagine how well I took this news. I found it slightly ironic that my three New Year's resolutions were 1) don't take things personally 2)be thankful and 3) don't worry. (sure I have all those other goals like eating better, exercising and managing my money better but these are the main three).

Now I have a choice - I can fret and worry about what the EKG results could mean or I can trust God that He was answering my original prayer request and giving me a chance to practice not worrying. I had a long discussion with God this morning about this. You can't really hide the fact that you are worried and a bit scared from God. So, I started by confessing that - my feelings but I didn't stop there. I asked for God's peace and for Him to shore up my faith and trust because, let's face it, on my own I am a mess. I felt God prompting me to remember the TRUTH, HIS TRUTH. To wield my weapon (Scripture) against my enemy of fear and worry.

I am His. He knows my days and has them numbered. He loves me and knows me inside and out - including the number of hairs on my head. He won't ever leave me. He will go with me through the fire and through the flood. He will shine His glory through me if I allow it. He has a plan and purpose for my life and His plans are to prosper me and not to hurt me, to give me hope and a future (Jer. 29:11). He is bigger than my fears. He gives peace that passes all earthly understanding. He always hears me. He is the rock where I can hide. He is the peace in the storm. He is my Saviour and Redeemer.

What truth is He trying to tell you today? I can promise you, remembering God's truth trumps my own frail human feelings anytime!
~Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gifts From Heaven

You know, this year I felt like the theme God gave me was being a conqueror through Christ, living victoriously. Strangely, I've never felt so defeated as I have in the last few months. Being the insecure person that I am, I felt the need of reassurance from God. I asked God to clearly show me if He wanted me to write.

I'm not sure why I have such a hard time believing this is what God called me to. Maybe because I love it so much. Growing up, books were my friends. They were my ticket to other places, new people, exciting adventures. I could lay on my bed or on the couch and travel the world. Books gave me so much, I wanted to write stories too, so I could make people feel the way I did when I read them. Doing what you love, it seems too good to be true. I'm not sure where I got this idea that God gives you talent and passion for something and then says you can't have it, but somehow, if I really enjoy something, I begin to doubt. I'm sure some psychologist could have a field day with that. lol

So, I shared what I read in my Esther study that described so well the way I felt. "Has a negative event or a near-eternal wait recently made you lose hope about somethign important to you? Do you have any natural reasons to think that wheatever your "once upon a time" might have been, it can never be now?" God was voicing my question back to me. I was touched by this, but what was the answer?

A few days later, I was cleaning. (my house was a wreck and desperately needed it). I was down on my hands and knees cleaning under the desk - something of a small miracle in itself - when I saw a corner of white sticking out from beneath the corner of the desk. I pulled it out. On the card was a verse I had written down a long time ago, so long I don't really remember doing it, but there it was, in my handwriting. On it was the verse Micah 7:7 "But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me." 0-kay.

Another couple days passed and I opened my devotional, My Utmost for His Highest. In it were the words, "Dreaming about a thing in order to do it properly is right; dreaming about it when we should be doing it is wrong.... Dreaming after God has spoken is an indcation that we do not trust Him." Whoa Nelly!

The question. The answer. The exhortation. I emailed a dear friend of mine and told her what had happened. "Do you think God is speaking to me?" I asked. She replied, "Yes, Gideon, I think you can say that God is speaking to you." So this Gideon is going to gather her fleece and go march around the walls. Victory is ours!!!
~Blessings, Bronte

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nothing But Dust

One of my very favorite verses is Psalms 103:14, "For He knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust." Once again, I was feeling stuck. Can you tell this is a recurring theme for me? It seemed everytime I tried to get writing or working on losing weight, something would come up and steal my time or knock me for a loop. I was praying about it the other day. Even though God has confirmed that me about writing, I was feeling really insecure and wondering if maybe it was my own wanting that I was hearing, rather than God. You know, the old hear what you want to hear thing.

I felt kind of sheepish doing it, but I asked God to confirm for me, "just one more time" that I was supposed to write. I even reminded Him of this verse, about my dirtball status. As usual, I asked God to be really obvious because, well, I need obvious.

Today I started a new Bible study by Beth Moore about Esther. What does Esther have to do with my writing or not writing you may ask? I really wasn't looking for God to confirm when I opened up my Bible study. But there, in one of the last paragraphs, it spoke right to me. "What is it that you feel like you just can't move forward? What thing is it that you feel your 'In the time of' story just can't happen for you? God is moving even if you can't see Him or feel Him."

I had to stop reading because tears blurred my vision. How is it that the God of the universe, the God that created the majestic mountians and the mighty oceans, the God who sprinkled the starts into the heavens, is patient and kind and loving enough to reassure an insecure little dustball like me? How is it possible that He would take the time to meet with me, to be intimately involved in my life? I'm not sure why or how, but He is! God is good. God is real in my life and in yours. He really cares about the details and has a plan for you and for me, a plan that was ordained before time began. The thing is, I don't want to miss it. I want to listen when He speaks and obey what He is telling me. I don't know about you, but when He writes the adventure that is my life's plan, I don't want to be missing from the pages. And I don't have to worry about being strong enough or good enough or just enough because in MY weakness HE is strong. After all, He knows that I am just dust.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Peace That You Can't Understand

It's been a while since I posted here, but I have a good excuse. Life sort of got in the way. First my oldest was ill, then my youngest, then me - Mom always seems to get it last. Then we had a little crisis. It started on Saturday morning when my youngest son Brody crawled into my bed. "Mommy, I'm cold," he complained as he burrowed against my back. Soon, he was crying in pain from his stomach. After about 45 minutes when his fever had climbed over 102, I called my family doctor. They told me to get him to the ER because they were afraid of appendicitis. It turned out to be an impacted bowel. Eight hours later, we headed home, not much better than when we had left. My husband who had spent several hours in the hospital with me, had to leave for a home basketball game (he is a varsity basketball coach). I tried to comfort my son that evening as we waited for the medicine to work and relieve him of his pain.

The next day, we were all tired and worn out, but I decided to strip the beds and wash all the linens anyway to give everyone a fresh bed. I also had a banquet to attend for awards my students were getting. It was really the last thing I wanted to do, but Brody was feeling better and I had a commitment, despite the piles of grading that I hadn't even gotten out of my briefcase. So, I did my hair and slapped on some makeup and went.

The next morning, Monday, dawned far too early. Brody, who had started to not feel so hot the night before, was staying home with my mother-in-law who had offered to watch him while I went to work that morning. As I was ready to walk out the door, the phone rang. My mother in law was sick with a stomach bug of some kind. Thankfully, my mother was able to come over at the last minute and also stayed long enough for me to swing by the store as our cupboards were quite bare. When I got home, the toilet was clogged. Just what you need when you have a child running to it every five minutes. Hubby came home and got that fixed for us. Then I did our laundry.

My husband had a commitment for work that evening so it was just me and the kids. So, I wasn't too happy when I came down with a migraine and a sick stomach. I'm sure it was just stress but it certainly made serving dinner, helping with homework and dealing with a sick child a bit of an ordeal.

This morning I woke up feeling overwhelmed by my to do list. Not only was Wednesday going to be shot with a doctor's appointment for my son, but Thursday I had an appointment for myself for a small procedure in the office. Looming over me were stacks of grading, lesson plans that had yet to be planned, a list of worksheets and quizzes that needed to be created and run off, people I needed to interview for articles and articles that needed writing up, not to mention the state of my house - a wreck!

While I felt much better physically, I was considerably rumpled in my spirit.I could feel myself starting to unravel at the seams with a sense of panic at all that needed doing and my utter exhaustion at even the thought of actually doing it all!

I knew the only place to find peace- at the feet of my Father. I had about 15 minutes before I had to be at school, so I turned on my favorite song by Chris Tomlin I Will Rise. Tears ran down my face because I didn't feel like I would rise, but that I was sinking for the last time under the waves of my to do list. I read my daily reading in My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers and then opened my Bible. Since I wasn't going to have time to read a chapter in Deuteronomy, I turned to one of my favorite books, Psalms. Since it was the 10th, I decided to read Psalms 10. There, buried a the end of the chapter, was the manna I needed for that day.

"The Lord is King forever and ever; Nations have perished from His land. O Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, you will incline Your ear." Those words were what I needed to hear. It was like Jesus stood in the boat and said, "Peace, be still." The waves of turmoil smoothed into placid waters. God is so good; He always has just what we need from Him. I'd like to say that my papers were miraculously graded and my house cleaned itself, but that didn't happen. What did happen was the mountain of things that seemed poised to bury me, shrunk to quite a manageable molehill. I could say, with one of my favorite hymns, it is well with my soul. God's peace does pass all understanding, but it is there when we ask for it. "Ask and it shall be given to you, pressed down and running over." All I can say is Thank you Lord for a peace that is greater than circumstances.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What do you want on your gravestone?

You know, I will soon be 36 years old and that isn't all that far from 40! Yikes! In two years, it will be my 20 year class reunion. I was kind of feeling sorry for myself the other day - feeling like a failure. I mean, I hadn't written, nevermind published my book yet. My dreams of being a speaker for women haven't materialized either. Sure, I teach students, but many days, I feel like they may know LESS after class than they knew beforehand. Really, how many lives do you change with past participles anyway?

I've always had this burning desire to make a mark on my world, to somehow help people and be remembered after I am gone. And quite frankly, I dont' seem to be getting anywhere fast. I was praying about it and sort of complaining to God. (yes, I have a tendency to whine sometimes).

God reminded me of one of the people in the Hall of Faith. You know that passage in Hebrews 11 that lists all the people who showed great faith. Greats like Moses, Abraham, Noah and many others are in there with lists of things they did after their names. Great people like Rahab who believed and helped the spies. Her story reads like a Biblical version of the tv show 24. Now that's exciting. Or how about Moses? First, he was smuggled out of his house and floated down the Nile with the big crocs and the Princess of Egypt adopted him. He killed an Egyptian and went on the run. Then he led the children of Israel for 40 years AND he wrote the first five books of the Bible. It's obvious he made an indelible mark on history and the Christian faith. I could go on about almost everyone in that chapter, listing the great feats they did.

Buried within that passage though, in verse 5, Enoch is listed. It says, "It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying - he disappeared because God took him. For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who walked with God." Right after this verse comes one of the most well known verses on faith in the Bible, "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him." Enoch didn't do anything but walk with God. What if the only thing my gravestone said was Bronte - she walked with God? Would that be enough? That's what God asked me - is pleasing me with your faith enough? Am I enough of a reward for you?

Hmm, let me think - the God of the universe or earthly remembrance? I'm going to have to go with the God of the universe. What a humbling question and a sharp reminder of my priorities and motivations. I may never have a book published or be known beyond my own circle of friends and family, but if the God of the universe can look at me, at the end of my life and say, She walked with me and her faith pleased me - what else is there? What else can I ask for? When I get to heaven's shores, the music that will be sweetest to my ears is to hear my Father say, "Well done, you good and faithful servant."

~Blessings, Bronte