Tuesday, March 31, 2009
On to the second chapter of an untroubled heart by Micca Campbell. Anything is red is from the book.
I have to say my heart was lifted at hearing Micca's account of Jimmy's journey. He was a believer who although he had faith in God, he battled the fear of death. While it is true that "Worry, fear, and anxiety were never meant to be part of our vocabulary" It is none the less a very real part of our lives here on earth. We all have it and all struggle with it in some fashion.
Unfortunately during our lives there will come times of crisis, times when the battle with fear will go beyond the normal realm. It may be caused by an illness, loss of a job, or in my case the drug addiction and following incarceration of my son.
For Jimmy, his battle was brought on by his illness of diabetes. As his body deteriorated the inevitable confrontation with the unknown of death was most undoubtedly facing him every day. Fear gripped him. How gracious is our Heavenly Father to provide for Jimmy a godly wife and a loving believer in Micca to come and speak truth and love to him. "As I shared with Jimmy, peace washed over his face as he received the message for himself" "Fear not, for God is with you" As I said in my last post "the word of God is more than just good advice, it is the very power of God Himself". It is by God's power that those words brought peace and comfort to Jimmy.
Whenever we, in the love of God reach out to share his word with someone we are in effect sharing the power of God. Giving them a bit of Him. Fear does not come from God, it is a very powerful tool of the enemy. One he uses effectively to keep us from our Father. The bible teaches us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
Whether we like it or not we are in a spiritual battle as we walk the earth. But fear not! For our God has given us the tools to fight. If you read on in Ephesians it speaks of the armor of God. Very powerful stuff there! God is ever present and when He sees his children struggling he is faithful to send help. For Jimmy this was in the way of his wife and even Micca. What lifted my heart the most about this story was how Jimmy's wife shared of Jimmy's experience with angels. "Jimmy, are you afraid? No, I'm not afraid, I'm just looking at the angels"
Wow! just as Jimmy was facing the reality of the fear he had battled with God sent his heavenly angels to greet him. I got goose bumps as I read that. Jimmy was a real person just like you and me. Angels are real, I've never seen one (that I know of) but I know they exist. How wonderful and encouraging to know that in his darkest hour angels led the way home.
Because Jimmy saw the angels, I have seen the angels. Friends, let me tell you I need to see the angels! I am engaged in a battle with fear that is beyond anything I have faced in my life. I am a bit weary but I will tell you I am winning! I have my armor on, God is with me, I will continue to persevere. As I share my story here and with those God has brought into my life I pray that as I am able to achieve victory through the power of God some day someone else will hear of my battle and "see the angels".
I also liked the section labeled "Walking on Water" Micca talks about the eleven disciples who stayed in the boat. She wonders "did they live with regret?" we don't know but we do know that they "did miss an amazing opportunity to walk on water with Christ". I think that prior to this year I have been one like the eleven. Too often I have let fear keep me from really stepping out for Christ.
Today I have stepped out of the boat out of sheer necessity. When the storm began raging all about me I had no choice but to go to Christ or wallow in despair. I chose to look for Him. A couple of times I have stumbled and began to sink but He has reached out and lifted me up. It has been a painful trial but it has indeed been amazing!
Each day I get up ready to face whatever new challenge there is in store, and let me tell you, having a loved one in jail presents all kinds of challenges you wouldn't even think of. I know myself, and in that I know I would NOT be able to get through my days without leaning firmly on Him. That is what is amazing!
There is so much more in this chapter, I will be re-reading it tonight and I look forward to hearing what everyone else gleaned from it. These were the things that really spoke to and lifted me.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Anything in red is from the book
I am so late with my post!! I am looking forward to hearing how everyone else was impacted by this chapter. It truly is a blessing to see God working in each of your lives, I am blessed to be part of this group.
As I read how she met and fell in love with Porter I was struck with the similarities in my own life. I was very young when I met my husband. (19) I also have memories of long rides on the back of Paul's motorcycle with the wind in my hair, arms firmly locked around his waist, we drove all over the island usually settling by a beautiful beach to talk for hours. We laughed and planned our life together. It was a blessed time.
Like Micca and Porter, Paul and I didn't have much in the way of money when we first started out. We were fine with that, we had each other. We played board games, Parchesi, trivial pursuit, oh and the game show "name that tune" was one of our favorites I remember how we would watch it while we prepared dinner. Just two months shy of our second anniversary God blessed us with a baby boy. We were a family!
As I went back in my mind to those early care free days I shuddered to think of how I would have handled a tragedy such as she was forced to endure.
She writes "in my minds eye, I burst through the door to the throne room of grace, shook my fist in the face of God, and boldly questioned, "WHY - why did you do this to me? You could have saved him! You're God! Why did you give me that baby and take his father? Oh God I need to know why?
God is faithful and loves us with an everlasting love. He truly is our Heavenly Father, just as a loving earthly father would have done He rushed to Micca and as she writes "I didn't see Him with my eyes or touch Him with my hands, but I felt His presence consume me as if God poured Himself over my entire body. God is real and ever present, always waiting for us to turn to Him.
I always love to hear testimony of how God ministers through his word. Micca shared how a passage from Psalm 139 ministered to her. God's word is more than just good advice and wise stories of righteousness. It is the very power of God Himself!
Amazing how a book that was written over the course of 1500 years by over thirty different authors about so many many different subjects can today be so relevant, so powerful in the lives of man.
I have a stack of index cards with bible verses written on them. I wrote them down because there were just so many coming to me as I so desperately needed to hear from God.
Early this year my dream life, much like Micca's, became a living nightmare. Not through the loss of a loved one but through the drug use and addiction of my oldest son. That precious boy God blessed us with almost 23 years ago. In the course of a little less than a month I learned that he was addicted to heroin, he stole from us and his girlfriend to pay for his habit, he at first wanted help to go to rehab. He detoxed here with us while my husband and I took shifts watching him 24 hours a day for four days. Then he walked out of our home back to his drugs only to be arrested two weeks later trying to hold up a pharmacy with a fake bomb around his neck. The swat team was called and he was arrested. The story of his robbery attempt was broadcast on our local news station complete with his mug shot.
I can imagine that for most moms learning that your child is addicted to heroin probably rates pretty high on the "I could never handle that" chart. Truth be told I can't handle it at all. Like Micca I had my time of shouting Why?? How did this happen?? Why didn't you answer my prayers to break the hold drugs had on his life?? I prayed for years!!
In my flesh I am so weak. After I wailed and screamed at God I just wanted to run away, sleep, hide and at times just die. This problem is too big for me.
The good news is this problem is not just for me to carry, I am not alone. God has been with me every painful step of the way. He is weaving a story of mercy and grace among the pain and heartache that is amazing to behold. The index cards are His messages to me, he has used so many different people and avenues to send them.
Friends, blogs of women I have never met, T.V. preachers, and sometimes I just happened to open the bible to a particular page that had a specific verse underlined coincidence?? no. Oh and of course this amazing online book/bible study! His ways are so above our ways.
The timing of this book is also part of his sovereign plan. I see myself walking on the water with Jesus, like Peter I have had my days when I looked at the waves, some are just so big! The water is deep and full of fear, the enemy has been close by. At times I have been overwhelmed with sorrow, guilt and regret at things not done, not seen. Jesus has been faithful to call me to himself, to remind me of His power over the water. So my eyes are on him and I continue to put one foot in front of the other.
I am praying about starting a separate blog to record all that has happened. Several people have asked me this week if I have been doing that. I have shared bits and pieces here but have yet to tell the whole story. Partly because we are still in the midst of it. As I told a friend this morning we will wait and see what mighty things our mighty God will do. I know He will give me the strength and wisdom to share it when the time is right. For now I am doing my best to be faithful to seek Him in his word each day.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The last chapter of Jennifer Rothschild's "Self Talk, Soul Talk" has us shift our focus.
She first has us examine our hearts. I have to say I loved her honesty in the story about the lab tech who asked about Beth Moore.
She quotes Helen Keller "Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose"
She then prompts us to open the door of our thought closets to look inside. What consumes your thoughts? When you have an idle moment, where do your thoughts wander? When you talk to yourself, what are you usually saying? This is to help us determine what we consider a worthy purpose.
The large majority of my adult life has been characterized by motherhood. Four children in 8 years. I have joked about the mini mid life crisis I had when I turned 35.
I had the first of my four children when i was 21 and the last when i was 29. All through my twenties my life was consumed with babies and small children. I was either pregnant, just out of pregnancy or thinking about getting pregnant again.
I awoke one day and said to myself "where did my twenties go?" I promptly went out and got my belly button pierced and eventually got a tattoo. This made me feel much better.
I realize now that the reason I had missed my twenties slipping away is that I was consumed with caring for our children, building our family. A worthy purpose!
I recall being very happy for the better part of my twenties, (minus an extended cruise my navy husband had to take in which he missed the birth and first three months of our daughters life.) For life then was filled to the brim with children, ministry, and fellowship. God had blessed me with another navy wife who was a christian. We shared our parenting challenges, our hopes and dreams for our children our sorrow over our oft missing husbands. She looked out for me and I looked out for her.
Oh for that time in my life!
Now as I look into my thought closet I see ....
My son, heroin addict. Jail. An uncertain future. Penitentiary? Along side of that is the collateral damage. My family, my husband, daughter, the boys.
Certainly he is a worthy purpose. Interceding for him through prayer, encouraging him, visiting him. The problem comes when I focus on the pain all of this brings to me, my sorrow over his mistakes, my fear, worry, etc...
I remember telling Brett once, I can no longer allow your life to dictate MY happiness.
How do I do that?
I think here in this chapter is the answer. I must get the focus off of myself.
I don't think there will ever be a day that my child's pain will not bring a certain degree of suffering, but I do believe that if my eyes are firmly fixed on the Father there will be a hedge of protection and comfort that will extend through any hardship that may come.
Jennifer quotes Dag Hammarskjold "When we lift up God, we open the door of our inmost being to that warm, steady, beautiful radiance. Lift up the Lord, Honor Hid name, give Him praise, sing in concert with the angels, and a little bit of heaven rubs off on you."
If ever I needed a bit of heaven it is now.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Get out of bed
make the bed
Seek God in His word
talk to mom
Pray some more...
This is my life
the thing is....
many mornings, I don't want to get out of bed
I want to lie in my tears and go back to sleep
but not really....
what I really want is....
For Brett to come walking through the door saying hey momma what's up?
To find a sunny spot in my yard to plant a garden
To play with my crazy little Jack
To cook healthy for the two athletes I have that work so hard
To get involved in ministry
To share the gospel with the broken and the lost
I want my old life back......
It was easy
What I am learning though is...
That was then and this is now...
Easy isn't always best
Back then I didn't see Jesus like I see him now
I didn't yearn for the prompting of the Holy Spirit like I do now
I didn't seek God the Father in his word like I do now
I didn't desire to share this amazing Grace that I live in like I do now
Even though sometimes when I wake up I just want cry and go back to sleep
God gently nudges me out of bed so I can
make the bed
and hopefully some day soon by his power
I will have a new life,"new and improved"
I will be able to do more
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Momma, mommy, mom, Ma, Mother, or Muther (insert sarcastic indignation here)
Depending on the day the child is having I can be addressed many different ways. I remember my first. Sitting with him, staring down at those big brown eyes pulling him close, kissing his warm baby head, Oh the smell of a newborn baby
what will he be like when he grows up? How will his voice sound? Aching for the day I first hear "mommy"
Be careful what you wish for...
Soon enough I had a chorus of mommy's.
Three children followed the first and as the wife of a navy man deployed often it was always.......
Mommy he's touching me!!
Mommy make the boys leave my room!!
Mommy can we have ice cream?
Mommy she's looking out my window! (a favorite in the van)
Mommy make them be quiet!!
I am almost ashamed to admit that there were days when I just wanted to put in ear plugs and hide!
On those days I would take myself back to that moment on the sofa with the firstborn, before the chaos and remember .........
Two of the four are grown now and the other two are close behind.
I never hear the name "mommy" anymore.
These days it's always just hey mom,
Hey mom, can Alex come over?
Hey mom, can we get fast food tonight?
Hey mom, where are my shoes?
Hey mom, can you pick me up from school?
except for that first born.....
He still calls me momma
My heart aches to hear it......
even from a jail cell
I love you too momma.....
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The title of this chapter is something I have been saying every day for quite awhile now.
Sadly there are many days that I just don't want to get out of bed. In the section of this chapter titled Turn your feelings into Action Jennifer writes " Steady, small actions will slowly reduce the big feeling that is paralyzing you. All feelings are real, but they aren't all based on reality, and they certainly aren't all productive!" She encourages us to do something, even if it seems small, inconsequential. It may seem silly but it works!
Get up, get dressed, make the bed. Tasks that used to be effortless can become monumental. If you just take it one step at a time pretty soon you will be moving through your day rather than sitting motionless paralyzed by emotion in the bed or on the couch.
I so loved what Jennifer said about affirming your true identity Don't let feelings define you; let who you are define your feelings. Powerful words for an emotional gal like me! I have always had a flair for the dramatic. "Oh Tina don't be so dramatic" My mothers words in purple here!
I cry easily, always have. I cry when I am happy, I cry when I am angry, I cry when I am sad. I think in many ways that quality has served me well. I am usually an even keeled person.
Emotions do not have time to sit around in my mind and heart, they come and they are processed and laughed, fumed, or often times cried out. This is fine for your every day normal highs and lows.
Unfortunately my days are far from normal. I am finding it somewhat difficult to manage the emotions that have come with my new kind of normal. So many unknowns, so many what ifs.
I must remember that I am who I am in Jesus Christ and I am not defined by the many feelings I am assailed with. Those feelings, those emotions are not stable, not reliable.
He is the same yesterday today and tomorrow and He has promised to never leave me. Now that is something I can hold on to.
So for me I will try my best to Speak Truth to My Soul.
I loved the quote by Walter Elliott
"Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races, one after another."
This is good because the thought of a long race is daunting but a short race, I can do that.
Today was a bad day for me, not much singing going on here. Tomorrow is a new day and I will get up, I will get out of bed, and I will press on. Maybe I will even try to sing a bit.
Friday, March 6, 2009
this is really late, better late than never I always say (spoken by a true procrastinator)
In chapter nine of Self Talk Soul Talk the author Jennifer Rothschild talks about the importance of rest for ourselves, physically and spiritually.
What wonderful confirmation this chapter has been for me!
Her words are in red. She writes "when we are physically and emotionally spent and worn, we become susceptible to the enemy's attack. We become easy targets, sitting ducks. Our enemy attacks us with despair, depression, illness, impatience and myriad other maladies. all results of a fatigued soul and body. Speaking rest to our souls is critical."
Boy don't I know it!! For the past seven weeks I have been in the midst of a storm the likes of which I have never seen and honestly hope to never see again.
I loved the teaching in Genesis that "Each of the six days of creation clearly had a beginning and an end; evening and morning. But the seventh day, the day God rested, was different. The Bible records no beginning and no end of that day" (Genesis 2:2-3)
In other words, God did not begin to rest, nor did He cease to rest. Ancient rabbinic scholars believed this was because the nature of God is eternal rest.
You see, rest isn't just what God did. Rest is who God is."
Many people I have spoken to in recent days have made comments to me like "I don't know how you are doing this" or "you are so strong". The truth is I am not doing this, and I am not strong at all (actually if truth be told I am rather wimpy). God is my strength and my rest.
Several months ago my husband and I applied for a home equity loan hoping to do some home improvement projects. We were denied, our home assessed too low due to the failing real estate market. We were disappointed. At the time I was working part time. Since then several life changing events have taken place that have shook the foundations of our family to the core. I made the decision to not return to work so I could spend more time here with the boys and before God in prayer. We were able to refinance our home mortgage and the money saved through that combined with a timely raise in my husbands salary has equalled the amount my part time job brought in.
Coincidence? I don't think so.
God in his sovereignty has made it possible for me to rest, plain and simple.
He is good!