Monday, January 23, 2012

Change IS a Good Thing...even if it Doesn't Feel Like It!

    Let me tell you...I am not big on change! Change the room around...okay, but change my routine in life and that doesn't feel so good! Have you ever been happily bumbling along in life and WHAM! something unexpected happens to you? I am sure we all have had a few of those times, maybe a job loss, or a baby on the way, or the death of a loved one. These things are unexpected and sometimes quite hard to get our heads around as well as our life back on track. I  have had a few "whoppers" myself and let's face it, they are just plain hard!
   I always have thought immediately, "Why Lord? Why did this have to come my way? I wasn't doing anything to bring it on. I was just minding my own business." I remember when I was 19 and getting a divorce. Yes, I have had one of those. I am not proud of it by any stretch of the means, but I would go through it again if it meant that I would learn the change and raw dependence on God that it brought me. 
         I remember coming home from the convenient store that I worked in (I had to move back in with my parents, which was SO hard!). I would come in and my little brother and sister as well as my parents were all sleeping because it was usually 1-2:00 in the morning. I smelled of cigarettes, lunch meat and Mr. Clean, even after  a shower, it faintly smelled! I would be so tired, but couldn't sleep. I would lay in my bed and just weep because it wasn't the way it was supposed to be. I was a Christian girl and God loved me, how could this happen?!? I remember listening to a song on my cassette walkman (a long time ago huh?!?) called "The Warrior is a Child", by Twila Paris and saying to God, "Why? Why me? Why do I have to come home reeking of smoke at night and be going through a divorce of all things! I am a Christian!".  I soberly could hear Him say, "Why NOT you? Who do you think that you are above anyone else?" Wow! That was cutting, but so true. I needed change!
       It was during this time that I began to understand that God loved me, but knew I would be able to grow from this hardship. He began to turn me inside out!! When I was in High School, I thought I was somebody special because I was a Christian. I was a hypocrite and therefore, I didn't have too many friends. You know how it goes! I was so heavenly minded that I was no earthly good! So when the Lord told me that I shouldn't think I was any more worthy than the next person to go through divorce, He got my attention! It broke me to the core and I was so ashamed to think I had thought more highly of myself than I should have. THIS CHANGE WAS NECESSARY FOR ME! Yes, it was humiliating at the time and hurt terribly to be torn down in my heart and in my mind, but the Lord was sweet, He began to restore me and change me! (Psalms 23:3), Gently, He began to lead me, through reading and listening to my Bible and listening for the Lord's prompting to humble my thoughts and repent of my sin of haughtiness and selfishness, He changed me. Praise the Lord!! I was not and am not the same anymore! I don't mean to sound arrogant, I am truly thankful I am not the same today as I was then.
      Yesterday the pastor spoke on change and how we need to embrace the changes even when they don't feel good. He said, "Change is fine when it is your idea, but not when it is God's usually!" I thought how true!!
       I probably won't ever like change, but it has never failed to show me how I can be a better person. I need to keep that in mind each day. Maybe you are someone who likes changes! If so, I am not trying to sound "catty", but God Bless you!! I wish I was better at it! You will have less struggles in life because of it, or maybe the Lord will find other ways to get to the heart of you and create what He desires for your life. Today, I hope this little bit of sharing my story is a help for you. I do not boast in any of it, I am still a work in progress, that will keep changing until I go home one day. I only want it to be used to help someone and point back to my heavenly Father who loved me...and immensely, undeniably and personally loves you too!!! (0: Have a sweet week, Lori

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just Say What You Need to Say!

    There is a popular John Mayer song called "Say What You Need To Say". I know it isn't a Christian song, but it is true just the same. If you have something that needs to be said to someone, maybe you need to say it! 
   I am a talker, always have been, probably always will be, unless I feel sick or tired, then I am quiet! I can't help talking, it just bubbles out of my heart and then my mouth! Problem is, not everybody wants to hear me talk or cares what I have to say.....I can almost hear the "Amens!" to that one!! Hee-hee!
    There are things in life that need to be said, like "I love you" and "I am sorry". These are sometimes very hard to say. Maybe someone isn't very "loveable", or you know that your friend won't say they are sorry back.  That is okay, it really is! Your heart needs to say these things for Y-O-U! It needs to be said to them, but if you can dig down deep in yourself and do it for someone else, you will benefit the most! I have been there. After many years apart from my Dad, the "I love you", and the "I am sorry", was so healing for me. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I could say that, but I let God lead me. I put my trust in Him to help me. My flesh felt stupid, but my heart knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to say that to him, I needed to drop all the baggage that I carried. You see, we build up perceived notions in our heads and hearts that pile and pile until they are mountains and seemingly impossible to climb. Usually they are not nearly as rough as we think they are though. Dad and I have a good relationship now, I have grown up and he has grown also. We see the value in "saying what we needed to say".
       Sometimes, we need to jump out there and ask someone if we can help, if we can pray for them, if they need to talk. Then we need to take the time to listen. Listening can be a gift to a hurting friend or spouse. It can open a heart that has been shut by pain. It can show that they are worth enough of your time to be heard and it can show something as simple as love for that person. When my kids come to talk to us about a problem or a funny experience, we stop and give them our attention, knowing that it will teach them to listen to others. We occasionally are busy and miss a few parts of the situation, but we always try to listen to them because they are important to us.
       I haven't always been so good at listening, I would rather talk. I hear God's voice in my ear though as I get older saying, "Listen Lori".  I am learning alot by listening! I always wondered why some folks were so quiet! Maybe it is because they are better listeners. To the quiet ones out there though, we don't know where we stand with you and would like to get to know you better!  I will continue to be a talker. Do I always say what I need to say? No, sometimes I cower at what someone might think or just don't do it, but I try to.
       Finally,  I am going to say one more thing.  I don't want to be a "preachy" kind of girl, but I do want you to see a most beautiful thing here! Is there anything you need to talk to God about? Anything that you can't see a way to fix on your own? Anyone that has been in your life and you would like that relationship restored? God is bigger than anything we can EVER come across to trip our lives up. The simple act of just confessing with your lips that you sin and have hardness in your heart brings God up on his feet and He reaches out to pull you into His arms! You just need to say what you need to say to Him, ask His forgiveness and ask for His help to fix it! Can that really be all that scary? He has helped me with so many many things in this life that I cannot question His very existence!
      Just "Say What You Need to Say" can move mountains and heal hearts! Have a sweet week everyone! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Prayer?!? Sounds Boring huh? NOPE!!

  You have a need and someone tells you they will pray for you. You get a phone call from a friend with a broken heart, you tell them you will pray for them. Sounds very simple and small huh?! 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, "Be joyful always; pray continually". Prayer is quite powerful even though it sounds so meek and helpless.  I have been praying since I was a small child. Our parents taught us that God wanted to hear from us , so, I remember when as little girls, before my parents would put us to bed at night in our blue and white polka dot nightgowns we had to kneel by our bed and pray,"Now I lay me down to sleep..." We blessed everything from our family to the little neighbor lady down the street (little did we know until several years later, that she was praying for the salvation of our family every day!), our dog named Rags and our 2 parakeets. It was sweet and cute but what it really did was teach us to pray early. It taught us to take our concerns to the Lord and put our young trust in Him. My parents didn't know what they were instilling then, but it has been something that has grown in me from year to year and is a daily, sometimes hourly, part of what I am learning to be today. Do I always remember to pray first before something BIG, not always. Would I always want the answer to be favorable, well sure! I am human, but I am also spirit and I know God hears and I know He listens.
      We want all of our prayers to be answered with a resounding "YES!" immediately or at least in the next day or so. God is the BEST parent though! Sometimes the answer is "NO!" and sometimes, it is just not an answer at all for the time being. If you have kids, you know what I mean about God parenting us. We have to sadly say "No" sometimes to our kids when we know what is best for them and it is always a delight to say "Yes" when we know it is a good request.  God is such a wonderful parent and knows our every need or desire. He knows what is best and when we pray about something, he knows the answers better than we do, He loves us so much! I have had many requests to the Lord over the years and here are a couple of memorable and life changing ones:
     I prayed for the chance to be a Mama for 6 years  and heard nothing. After 6 years, I said "Okay God, if you don't want that for me, just show me what to do next!" He gave me the words in my heart "Isaiah 12" ...then came Jordan, Lindsay and Heather! He wasn't saying "No" for all those years, it was just "not right now!" His timing is PERFECT!

     When my Mother died, I came home and found her, she was babysitting my little ones that day. I remember standing in the doorway of our living room while the EMT's were working on her and I prayed, "Lord! Please don't take her away from me now!" (We hadn't had a very close relationship while I was growing up and in the last year of her life it finally blossomed!) I felt a calm wash over me and a peace knowing the answer was indeed "No", she had to go home to the Lord. At the time it was so hard to comprehend. I couldn't help but trust God though, I knew He was there and had heard my prayer, He just knew what was best. Now, I look back and I love the relationship I have been able to forge with God when I thought I needed her.

    I could go on and on about many times that prayer has played a part in pivotal moments of my life, but I hope you can think of some yourself! 
    I got a call from a dear friend of mine today. She was calling because another sweet friend of ours asked her  to call 2 more of us and pray for her. She has been away from the Lord for a long time. Life has been pretty hard on her. She loves the Lord, but has drifted so far away. I have drifted many times and you may have too, so I feel for her heart tonight. My friend and I prayed for this lady and asked God to draw her close tonight and meet her where she is at. He will do that, I know He will, prayer is so strong and never boring!  Ephesians 6:18, "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints" ~God Bless You, Lori