Sunday, December 31, 2017

Take Comfort and Fair Warning

I have read Proverbs 16:9, approximately 1.4 gabatrillion times (or something like that).  I remember posting it on my bedroom wall as a teenager, not entirely understanding what it meant.  But then, when do we entirely understand the meaning of any scripture?

This morning, i opened the Bible reading app on my phone, and the verse of the day was Proverbs 16:9, "the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

And then i burst out laughing.

If you've read my blog (back when i wrote it in more than twice a year), you know that the super hero and i have had lots of plans that haven't exactly come to fruition.

I imagine in my mind, a child of God who has prayed things like, "Lord please have your way in my life," and "please make me more like Jesus," in their walk of life, going to God for direction, and the Lord pointing His child down what appears to be a fairly enjoyable path, knowing full well (because God knows everything) that once His child has gotten thoroughly started down that path, a mountain is going to inexplicably plant itself top side down, directly in the way of what the child thought was the path he was to walk.

This might sound like i'm telling you that God is cruel and kind of a trickster, but that's not what i'm saying.  See, the Father knew about the mountain.  He knew about the mountain before the beginning of your life, before you were planted in your mother's womb.  And that ... that is a comfort to my soul.

A few minutes after i had burst into laughter over this literal proverbial warning, i was weeping in gratefulness to God that He is so good.  So good that he has been preparing me my whole life for the things that i will face, that He may or may not let me in on what's coming, and that i can take so much comfort in knowing that because He has plans for me for good, to prosper me, to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11), that i can happily and easily trust Him with whether and what i need to know about what is to come.  It's such a place of perfect peace in the midst of what might appear to others to be calamity, but isn't.

If God were to tell me ahead of time all the things that i will face, i might be tempted to choose another path to avoid the mountain, or the hill, or the fire, or the lion.  But if the Father points me down a path where i will face the lion, then it is because He knows that He has prepared me to face the lion, and that facing the lion will make me stronger and more ready for the next challenge i will necessarily face in order for Him to answer my prayer to make me more like Jesus.

See how that works?

If we could understand this scripture closer to the beginning of our walks with the Lord, it might come with flashing lights and sirens.....WARNING  WARNING WARNING:  PLUMMETING MOUNTAINS, ANGRY LIONS, AND FOREST FIRES AHEAD!!!!!

But in the exact same message, take comfort, follow peace, because the good Father is at work in you to will and to work according to His good pleasure (Phillippians 2:13), i.e., to have His way in your life, that thing you asked Him for.

His perfect love is incomparable and intricate and complete.

Take comfort and fair warning:  you will make your plans, and they will probably be interrupted and possibly obliterated, but the Lord knew, and He will guide your steps.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

not a mom, but maybe amazing

Before i say anything, i want to say that what i am about to say is not meant to be a slight or an insult toward anyone in the whole world.

Here goes...

Today is Mother's Day.

I have always loved Mother's Day because it is a great time for me to give special shout-outs to one of my absolute favorite people in the universe, my mom.

The impact that my mom has had on my life is profound.  But i'll get all gushy and snotty nosed if i go into that right now, so i'll forego for the time being.

In recent years, Mother's Day has taken on a throbbing pain sort of element for me, as i am advancing on my mid-forties and am childless, and as my husband's mother has gone from this life to the next.

But this is about me, not her.  Not right now anyway.

Really wonderful, nice, kind, people don't want you to feel left out about anything.  So when you're not actually a mom, and Mother's Day rolls around, and they want to be able to tell you, "Happy Mother's Day!" because it's a holiday, and you're female and all, and they want you to feel happy and not left out, they say things that are meant to comfort you and make you feel included.

Things like, "well, you have a mother's heart, and that's what counts." Or, "you're a mommy to your chickens..."  Etc.

But here's the thing...

First of all, i eat my chickens, so let's be careful about the parallels we draw to my relationship with my livestock.

And secondly, i am not a mom, but i have one.  I have a really really good one.  And the thing i know about a mom is that her job is day in and day out, forever.  For as long as i live.  I am on the downhill side of 41 years, and i know that if i need my mom any time day or night, she's there for me, still.  I'm her kid, and she's my mom.  She's also my friend, and i am hers.

But as for me, i have not given life to a child, given a home to a child, or earned by day to day trial and sleeplessness, and constant prayer, and concern, and research and worry and more prayer and so on, the honor of being called a mom to anyone.

And it's OK!  I'm not saying it's my favorite thing.  It's sad.  It's something i always thought i would be and am not.  It's something i have grieved bitterly.  I do not know why God did not choose, one of the thousands of times i begged for His intervention, to cause the miracle of conception and child birth to happen in my womb.

But i am still not a mom.  And giving out the mom trophy to all the females of reasonable age to possibly be a mom, is, to my heart, a way in which the honor rightfully bestowed upon all the beautiful, wonderful mothers, who have given life, or who have taken lives into their home and given them an upbringing and safety and care, is compromised.  And i don't want that.  I want them to be rightfully honored.

I read one of these feel-good memes on Facebook or somewhere today, on Mother's Day, and it said something about how being a mother is loving someone selflessly with all your heart.  But that's not true.  That's called being a good friend, possibly a really good friend, or a best friend, and it certainly goes a long way toward helping you to be a good mom, if you are a mom.  But it doesn't, on its own, qualify anyone to represent themselves as being a mother.

Being a fantastic caregiver to dogs and cats and chickens and ferrets, or what-have-you, also does not make you a mother.  Not really.  It probably means you're a really nice, caring, kind person who enjoys caring for animals, but it doesn't make you a mother.  And that's ok too.

Let me explain a little more, ok?  Will you keep reading please?

Wanting to make women feel included and appreciated is a good thing.  But let me tell you something:  something important happened in my life when i started to grieve not being a mother.  I allowed myself to be open to whatever else God might have in mind for me.  Some of my biggest heroes of history never gave birth to a soul, but they still impact my life today.  They weren't mothers.  But they were AMAZING!

I want to be free to be amazing.  But as long as i am longing to be something i am not, or calling myself something i am not, instead of moving forward and learning to be what God wants me to be, i am cheating myself, and i am cheating the purpose of God,and i am cheating those whom He means for my life to benefit.

Maybe God will still use me to be someone's mother.  I don't know.  My job isn't to know.  My job is to be the clay.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Focus and Peace

I need to tell you a story.  It's important.  (and i should really be getting ready for work right now, so please excuse the typos.)

Anyone who knows me could probably tell you that i am a pretty positive person.  Some people might tell you that i am a sickeningly positive person.  The name Pollyanna comes to mind.  I'm very very optimistic as a general rule.

Interestingly, last week, and in recent weeks, i have spent a lot of energy encouraging a specific friend who has been going through some very tough circumstances, to "focus on the Lord," instead of those circumstances and to trust Him and believe Him instead of believing the very convincing negative messages that have been being forced into my friends attention.  I think that a couple of times, my friend really wanted to tell me to go mind my own business for a while and let people be angry and depressed if they want to be.  But i didn't.

Stay with me...i little more prep work here...

In recent months, my super hero and i have been working on some lifestyle changes that have included some financial stress.  And as i am prone to do, i have been very positive about it all.

Until Saturday.

On Saturday, as part of an ongoing effort to trim the edges of our budget where it can be done, i was having a conversation with a customer service representative for our wireless phone company.  Our cell phones are our home's only means of communication with the outside world.  We don't have a land line or cable or broadband, nothing.  We use our phones to connect our computers to the internet, the whole nine yards.  So our phones are very necessary ... and our phone bill is pretty bloated.  It's bloated mostly because of an installment plan that we agreed to a couple of years ago, so that we could have brand new, top of the line, smart phones without having to do the smart thing, and just buy them.

Anyway, i've already trimmed the fat off of that bill as much as i can, and all in all, we're getting a pretty good deal, have a great plan, and it's fine.

But this customer service person......she told me that she could give me unlimited data and lower my monthly bill by one hundred dollars!!!!!!

A hundred dollars sounded really good to me, and after questioning the agent for a long time, attempting to sniff out any hidden hijinks that might be going on behind the scenes, i agreed to the change.

You might not believe me now, but the important part of this story doesn't have anything to do with our phone bill.  All those details are just fluff.  The important part of the story is this:  i got SO HAPPY about that $100.  For whatever reason, i had gotten really focused on this financial fat trimming, and when this $100 break came up, i was absolutely on cloud nine.

And this was my downfall.

Yes, that's right.

See, focus is important.  And focus on circumstances is bad for you, even when it's focus on happy circumstances.  Because circumstances are just circumstances.

But truth...TRUTH lives on a different plane than our circumstances.

Here's how that became extremely plain to me in a matter of a few hours.

After experiencing this giant happiness boost over a phone bill, i ran some errands and came back to my house to work on some online freelance work i've been doing.  You know, on my computer, which i connect the internet to through my cell phone.  And when i attempted to make this connection, it wouldn't work.  IT WOULDN'T WORK!

I tried to stay calm as i again contacted my phone company to find out what was going on.  Long story short, that new plan i agreed to had a catch i hadn't considered, and after a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, the second customer service agent got our phone plan reversed back to the plan we had earlier that morning, the one that was fine.

But i wasn't fine.  I was completely undone.  And completely undone is not a state of being that i am accustomed to.  I am accustomed to rolling with the punches, taking things in stride, having peace in the midst of circumstances.

When i say i was undone, i mean it.  You can ask my super hero.  I spent HOURS in tears.  It wasn't hormones either.  It was all about my focus.

Because whether the things we see seem good or bad, focusing on what is temporal and of this world, will kill us.  The things of this world will all pass away, but what God says is forever.  (loose translation of Matthew 24:35.

Even if you don't believe in this stuff, believe what i'm telling you, ok?  It's true.

Sometime mid afternoon on Saturday, everything became crystal clear when the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about my focus.  After i had spent the previous week(s) telling my friend to focus on God instead of circumstances, i had learned the same lesson in my own life, but different.

Happy circumstances are great, but they cannot be where my joy comes from.

In that moment, when the Holy Spirit made things clear to me, and i chose to say with my mouth, "God wins," my way of reminding my heart and giving my prayer to God that He's in charge, and I know that His ways and His intentions and His outcomes are what i'm committed that moment, i felt instantaneous change.  I went from complete basket case depression (over $100...good grief), to peace.

The Bible calls that the peace that passes understanding that guards your hearts and minds...

If i didn't say it yet, this is the lesson:  focusing on circumstances, even positive circumstances, is death to your soul.  Your focus must be on the only being Who is all powerful and always loves you unconditionally.  His words are what matters.  Everything else is just stuff.  Stuff is nice sometimes, but it's nothing compared to the peace of God.

Well, that's it.  I hope i told the story well.  And i hope you get it.  It's almost Resurrection Day.  And if you know the real meaning of that day, this will mean all the more to you.

Love to all my peeps. ;)  Time to get ready for work.