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Move, girl!

Hmmmmm……looks like they finally moved that thing. How many times did I ask for that very same thing to be done?

Wow! Really? I put that request in years ago, and now it’s finally important to someone?

This is how it begins. A blast into the past. Recounting all the hurdles I had to jump. Lamenting over things He had already gotten me through. Just not in the way I wanted. Then wondering why in the world that “assignment” was so hard for me?

In high school for two spring seasons, I decided to join the track team. Somehow, during that first season this short girl was encouraged to try the 100 meter hurdle race.

In high school I was also persistent. I didn’t give up easily, and even though I trained painfully to clear that bar, I missed it each race. Tumbling to my feet, onto the ground. Humiliated and defeated.

I needed a new assignment. A different race. I needed to move.

My perseverance and persistence has not faded since high school. Which means I still painfully work to clear hurdles from my path. In ministry. At work.

I get frustrated each time I don’t clear that bar. Upset each time I fall. Each time I hit a road block. Crying out for help in my suffering because surely if He called me here…well, I should not be set-up just to be knocked down. Humiliated. Defeated.

They went to Phrygia, and then on through the region of Galatia. Their plan was to turn west into Asia province, but the Holy Spirit blocked that route. So they went to Mysia and tried to go north to Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them go there either. Proceeding on through Mysia, they went down to the seaport Troas. That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over the Macedonia. All the pieces had come together. We knew for sure God had called us to preach the good news there. Acts 16:6-9, MSG

Move, girl! This isn’t the place for you. You belong in Philippi.

I had to move.

He had a different place for me. A different assignment. And, he set up some roadblocks where I was for a purpose. Just like he prevented Paul and Silas from preaching in Galatia and Bithynia.

He had to get me to Philippi.

And if I stayed comfortable where I was. If I stayed happy where I was. If I never fell over another hurdle, or had someone or something block my path-I never would have moved.

Move, girl!

So, I did.

Which means…who cares who moved those darn pictures? It was not my assignment. Who cares who blocked the way at work? I was never meant to stay where I was. It was no longer His place for me.

He gave me a new assignment. He sent me to a new place. To tumble over some different hurdles I am sure. But…when he says, “Move, girl!” He will also provide the way for me to clear them, too.

Move, girl!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2018 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Along for the Climb

The Climb 1

Tears of joy will stream down their faces, and I will lead them home with great care. They will walk beside quiet streams, and on smooth paths where they will not stumble. Jeremiah 31:9

In recent years I have become to enjoy the challenge of a good hike. It has become an aspiration among friends to tackle some of the local trails, and a tradition for my husband and I as we travel.

Usually, the task can generate a number of different emotions as one navigates the climb. A number of obstacles also await at times. Some climbs are fairly easy-a nice, quiet stroll with nature, and an effortless path that allows enjoyment of all that surround us.

Some climbs are harder. Climbs that leave you huffing and puffing. In pain. Struggling just to make it to the end. There may be too many hills to climb. Sticks and rocks to climb over. Streams to leap over. And, you probably stumble and fall a time or two.

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For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. Deuteronomy 2:7

Until you reach the end, and see all that surrounds you. The beauty of the land He has created. It is then you realize that the challenging journey was worth it.

Life is a bit like a hiking trail, and God? He is along for the climb.

Some days are painless. They can be navigated with minimal effort, and there are no bumps along the way. It is on these days when finding moments of quiet is easy, and chaos is replaced with calm and peace. Every star is perfectly aligned. Every moment is relaxed and tranquil.

Other days? Other days take immense effort just to get through. Everywhere you turn there are jagged rocks, steep hills, and fallen trees. Obstacles keeping you from your destination. It is too tough. You want to give up. Crumble under the weight of each mountain. Avoid the challenge altogether. Hoping that it just disappears.

In each of these moments, easy or hard, something beautiful waits on the other side.

And, in each of these moments, He is with you. Walking the path alongside you. Making the climb easier to handle, since He carries you and endures each obstacle with you.

Just as you see God in the skies painted blue and the hills on the horizon, you can see him in the people you meet on your climb along the way. In the quiet mornings before the kids wake. In the chaotic moments when you have broken up another fight among siblings. In the people sent to encourage you. In those placed in your life to watch you stumble.

Just as you see God in the valleys, and the flowing streams, He can be seen in the dark moments in the middle of your uphill journey. In the tears that tumble in the dark of night. The ones that are a result of hurt, shame, guilt, or frustration.

And, He can be seen in the hope and promise that something waits on the other side of this mountain. Of this bump in the road. This obstacle that once again looms in your life. The one that seems too challenging to climb. The one in which it seems nothing worthy or beautiful can be found.

The Climb 2

But, it’s there. Beauty. Peace. Waiting on the other side.

And, He is there. With you. For the challenging, daunting, and rewarding climb.

He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshed my soul. He guides me along the right path. Psalm 23:2-3

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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He Is There…Do You Believe It?

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“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is the message that was posted on the projects that our children worked on this weekend during VBS, and it’s the verse from Matthew 28:20 that was the focus of two short nights. As God prepared my heart each nightly service, I couldn’t help but ask myself this question:

Do I cling to this promise when I am afraid? When I am filled with doubt? When I face the many trials of life?

No. I don’t. I forget that He is always with me. I sometimes forget Him entirely and focus on me, myself, and I.

What? But, you are a Pastor? Right. I am, but I am also a sinner, saved by grace, and I still have my fair share of wrestling matches with the devil.

See, God blessed me with two inspiring weeks in which His presence was profound. God blessed me with a number of people who took much of the stress that comes with large events like VBS from me this year. He had given me the peace to finally let some things go.

But, the devil knew this. He knew I was beginning to be reminded of God’s power, and so he picked a few more wrestling matches with me.

Just like Joseph, who was pushed into a well by his jealous brothers, I was pushed into a well of fear and doubt. But, instead of responding like Joseph, humbling myself and believing that God would bring me out of this well, I placed my faith in my own strength, and out of control feelings.

When the devil began to attack me with his messages that I’m not good enough, I’ve got it all wrong. I am doing nothing right. I didn’t respond as Joseph did in that prison, remembering that God would deliver Him from hurt and pain, but wallowing in my own prison of pity.

When I’m disappointed…I forget God’s promise that His ways are higher.

When that dreaded new school year gets closer and closer…my need to control and plan for every setback overshadows His ability to bring our family peace.

When I’m lonely, tired, frustrated, defeated, or offended I forget that He is powerful enough to defeat all of these emotions.

He proved it with His son, and his death on a cross. Yet our lack of faith in Him diminishes this power, and places Jesus on that cross again.

When we think only of me, myself, and I…we nail Him to the cross.

When we can’t forgive others…we nail Him to the cross.

When we let the devil’s messages that we are too little, not good enough, and get nothing right get to us…we nail him to the cross.

God gave His son to remind us that He is there always. In our wells. In our prisons. In our exhaustion. He is always with us.

We have His son and God’s grace to remind us of this. We have an empty tomb to remind us of His power to renew us, and to give us power to win those wrestling matches with the devil.

So, believe it. Even when the devil tries to throw you off track. Even if he calls you back into that ring for another match.

Believe that He is with you always!

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2015 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Don’t Dismiss Our Struggles

Don't Dismiss

This post will be a little different then those prior to it. While I have spoken on several occasions how autism has affected our family, and written about our many struggles and triumphs, I have not always shared how the misunderstandings of others can often make us feel.

We have had many a success. Many a trial. Learned many a lesson. The overall incidences of autism are increasing, yet understanding and support is often still lacking. And, after 4 and a half years of jumping the hurdles of autism, it still surprises me that our struggles are often dismissed.

You probably don’t even realize you are doing it. I am sure you say these things in order to try to make us feel better. To bring a bit of “normal” into what often isn’t.

But, honestly….you unknowingly dismiss our struggles.

You dismiss them every time you say, “He doesn’t look like he has autism.” Well, that is good…..I guess. Maybe it is because autism doesn’t have a specific “look.” I don’t “look” like I struggle with arthritis, but I do. My daughter doesn’t “look” like she struggles with acid reflux, but she does. You don’t “look” like you have health concerns, but I bet you do. Just as I can’t look at you, or your children and see their struggles. Their feelings. Their hearts. You can’t look at a child and assume he doesn’t have autism. And, just as your child is different from your neighbor’s. Has different abilities. Different interests. Different habits. Every child with autism does, too. There is no “look.” There is no one way a child with autism should be. Because, he isn’t supposed to look like a kid with autism. He is supposed to look like the 6 year old little boy he is.

You dismiss our struggles when you say, “He doesn’t seem to have a problem with me. He always does so well with me.” I am glad he does, because this means we have taught him to respect his teachers and other adults. But when you say this, well…it dismisses our ability as parents. You also fail to recognize that the ability for him to hold it together in your space, in your classroom is the result of many therapy hours. Many trials and errors. Many attempts to control his environment at home. At church. At school. You dismiss the careful plans made to structure every activity, just so he will “always be good” for you.

You dismiss our struggles when you say, “It’s OK. Every kid/my kid does that, too.” Ok, so then you know what that ringing of the hands means right now, right? You know that in a few minutes he will be hitting himself in the face because that anxious ringing of the hands was not prevented, right? You know that he is now laying on the floor, kicking and screaming because the menu said hot dogs, and their must be hot dogs, right? You know what he means when he screams, right? You can tell me if they mean he is hungry. Mad. Sad. Thirsty. Lonely. And, you know they all sound the same, right? Good, because I can’t figure them out. But, I’ll overlook the fact that in your effort to normalize his behavior, you dismissed the fact that it is heartbreaking for us. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It makes us feel like failures. So, no….he is not like your kid, too.

You dismiss us when you remind us how it “could be so much worse.” Yes, we know. We realize many can’t have kids. Some have lost kids. Some kids are sick. Some struggle a lot more than ours does. But, when you say this you dismiss our compassion. Our ability to be empathetic. Our faith and trust in God. We know we are blessed.

We also know that compassion, empathy, and worse situations aside, our struggles are still real. The tears that pour in the bathroom during a long screaming fit. They are real. The frustration when the words don’t come, and we are left again spending half the afternoon figuring out a number of grunts and groans. That is real. The exhaustion we feel after planning every detail of every event, of every day, and the meltdown occurs anyway. It is real. And, yes….it could be worse. But, this….this is still hard.

We appreciate it. We do. We know you don’t know what to say. That you are only trying to help in whatever way you feel you can. But, please….if you love us. Don’t say these things. Because you dismiss our struggles.

And, in doing so, you dismiss that little boy’s, too.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Autism and Faith

 

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Sometimes There Is Nothing Left To Do But Laugh

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 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:2

“Whose idea was this?” This is what I ask my husband as our son sits and screams on the bathroom floor.

“Whose idea was what?”

“Parenthood. Which one of us thought that was a great idea?”

We know, we know. We did. God did. God thought we were equipped for this journey, and he blessed us with these headstrong and challenging kids.

But, honestly…we were not standing in line screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!” for one of these battles. Truthfully, I always thought God knew I was not strong or patient enough to handle some of these things parenthood brings, let alone what autism brings with it.

And, finally…I’m not always strong or patient. There are times I really don’t know how to handle it at all.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Proverbs 31:25

I have found the dignity and strength many times to conquer the tantrums, take on the flailing arms, flying Legos, and ear-piercing screams of one little boy, but as he kicked and screamed in the tub. As he slapped me with his rag. Dumped water in my lap, and screamed louder, I lost all dignity. I had no strength left. I had no clue what else to do.

So, I just looked at the little monster in the tub, and laughed. Loud. Uncontrollably. Yes, that’s right. While, I should have had the situation under control, I decided instead to laugh at it.

To laugh at it, because I know there is more of this in my future.

Even in laughter, the heart may ache; and the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13

Oh, the grief. The pain. The heartache. Most definitely returns.

See, that question-“Whose idea was this?” Although maybe a bit twisted, a tad inappropriate, the question is actually an important one. What we are really asking is this-Are we in this together? Are you with me on this one? We agree on this, right?

Because, we know all too well that while we play a tug of war with our boy, we also do the same with each other. The doting and cuddling momma, and the disciplinarian dad don’t always agree.

We are also well aware of the grim statistics of those who parent children with special needs. The statistics that say we will not make it. That we will remain broken. At war with each other. In a constant tug between pain and heartache.

So, with God’s help we choose instead to look at each other, joke about what we can’t change, and laugh. Together.

We choose to laugh despite the heartache, struggle, and challenges we know we will face again. Laugh at the future we also know is uncertain.

To laugh at this crazy thing called parenthood, just to keep our strength and dignity. Just to stay sane.

Because, although we didn’t pick this one, and we actually didn’t plan on parenthood a third time so soon, we can rejoice in the fact that we are the parents God intended us to be.

Up for a challenge definitely not chosen. With no fancy parenting formula but simple laughter.

Laughing at the times we have now, and those to come…because, really? Sometimes, there just isn’t much else left to do!

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in On Parenting

 

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Lord, I Am Just Worn!

I’m tired and worn. My heart is heavy. -Tenth Avenue North

I have shared before how much I may seem to thrive off this crazy ability to manage an insanely busy schedule. This is something many believe I can make look easy. Juggling the hats labeled mom, taxi driver, student, assistant, pastor, mentor, wife, and counselor, I often get asked the question, “How in the world do you manage it all?”

Let me assure you….I don’t.

Sometimes the need to manage it all drives me plum crazy. Until all the hats begin to manage me.

I get tired. I get worn. I get irritated. I get angry. And, I scream. At God.

And I know that you can give me rest. So I cry out with all that I have left.

That cry came just the other day as I was getting ready for an appointment. I had the pleasure of spending a much needed weekend away with my husband. A time away with no plans, no crazy demands, and rest. And, since God seems to have my sarcastic sense of humor, I have since paid for this time of rest upon my return.

On this particular morning, as I prepared to take my son who had broken his wrist for yet another round of X-rays, I discovered I had once again (yes, that’s right-again!) lost his insurance card. In a frantic search for this missing piece of vital information…I lost it.

As I looked up towards the heavens, I screamed. God! Give.Me.A.Break! I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t handle all these things you keep throwing at me! Enough! Got it?

I.Can’t.Do.It.Anymore!

I’m tired. I’m worn. Life just won’t let up.

“Your son may need surgery.” This in the midst of some ongoing critiscm. This before some even sadder news for my family.

So, I find myself once again for the second time in two days looking up and yelling. I’m tired here! I need a break! Can’t you see I am worn out? I am tired of dealing with these things, Lord.

Until God reminds me of something.

As I tell a friend about how my spirit is struggling to deal with it all, her answer reminds me of why He is allowing these things to be thrown at me.

“You’re getting an opportunity to write a “trust check” to God. Now you get to spend some of that trust.”

Um, could I spend it on a spa vacation, please? Well, no. Because as good as that would feel for a few days, those struggles would still be thrown at me. Until I finally start to realize my “trust payment” comes in the midst of all these messes.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

And, I was certainly asking for rest as I frantically searched for that insurance card. While laying on the couch suffering from a migraine. After hearing bad news. After being the target of yet one more critical remark.

Worn. Tired. Desperate. The only time I seem to plead and come to Him lately. Not daily, or on those days when things are actually good.

Trials are going to come. They are just waiting around the corner, and sometimes they come one after the other. But, God doesn’t want us to only reach for Him when we are in the middle of trials. When we are worn down. Tore up. Broken. He wants us to do this all the time.

When we go to Him, he lets us know our struggles will soon end.

When we go to Him, he mends all the places that are torn, tattered, and just plain worn out.

He gives us rest on our good days, and peace on our bad.

Even when we are worn.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Craving More of God

 

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This Is Just The Rehearsal, Honey!

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

I don’t handle inconvenience well. Or, let me rephrase that…I don’t handle daily nuisances well. And, of course-God knows this. I mean, he is all-knowing. He knows my every thought. He knows my actions before I act. He already knows exactly how I will respond to every situation that is thrown my way.

Usually it is not with the finesse, grace, and mercy in which I should respond.

And, this morning was no exception. See, I had big plans for my day off. Plans that involved that one selfish luxury I take glory in each month-a much needed haircut. Well, that is until my daughter started getting sick. Until my son lay on the porch kicking and screaming because he WAS NOT going to school without his sister. And, until after five minutes of wrestling, shin shots, and slaps in the face, I finally just got fed up, picked up the five year old from the ground, cleaned up the sick little girl, and gave up on doing one thing remotely “selfish” for the day.

Sounds like I may have handled this with a little bit of grace and finesse, but nope. Not.at.all. Truth is, as soon as my daughter made mere mention of the thought of needing to get sick, my thoughts and actions went into tailspin crazy! I yelled at my oldest to just get up already. I yelled at my youngest, because for once I just wanted him to pick this day to truly be “not autistic enough,” and to ride the bus alone. I cried because I knew that once again, the day would be filled with constant running back and forth to school due to said “bus” situation. And, darn it! All I wanted was a simple hair cut!

Grace? Finesse? Mercy? No. Not this morning. Anything but those.

Then I remembered a passage from the book by Wendy Blight, Living So That, one I am currently reading through Proverbs 31 Ministries on-line bible study. Just last night I had highlighted this message:

“How we handle adversity is an accurate barometer of where we are spiritually. When our barometer gives a low reading, it may be because we do not have an accurate understanding of God, or because we do not have a strong foundation in His Word. And sometimes the way God chooses to increase our barometer reading is through trials. Trials are often the only things that will drive us to our knees.”

Well, that’s a little convicting.

Because, where was I today spiritually? I think my spiritual barometer had stopped working-completely. And not once had I sought His guidance.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3

And, he expects this faith and endurance in even the smallest and insignificant of trials. When the kids are sick. Again. When one child has kicked you in the shin. Again. When your plans are ruined. Again.

How I handle these small trials are a test and a glimpse into how I will handle the toughest of trials, which are sure to come. Will I turn to Him in the tough times if I can’t even seek Him in these trivial ones? Or, will I continuously lean on my own strength?

Goodness knows, each time I do, I most certainly fail!

Because this trivial stuff-this is just the rehearsal, honey!

So, instead of complaining about what went wrong today, I can seek His guidance in order to get through the rough patches.

Instead of sulking in a corner, crying into my coffee, I can open my Bible and soak myself in His Word. His promises.

Instead of cursing the moments that are made up of fights, chaos, and screaming, sick children…I can remember to embrace the moments like the one below. The ones God gives in the midst of “rough” days to remind us of His goodness!

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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in How Is Your Faith, Proverbs 31 OBS

 

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