Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some random thoughts this Christmas week...

Just wanted to "touch base" with all of you out there and wish you a wonderful Christmas.

Last time I posted I was headed to the doctor having had some blood tests. After being off medications for about a month, and trying to get to the cause of my ridiculous skin rash it seems like a sulfa based drug has been wreaking havoc with me. I'm off of that, and the rash is gone. Yay, but all this and a monster cold during the whole month of November, has left me feeling not too "Merry" in the Merry Christmas department.

I've received some wonderful comments and emails lately, thanks so much everyone. There are so many of us in the same religious "boat". Just today, someone who reads both my blogs, sent me a note about her life experiences. Church and family life shape us, and unfortunately negative experiences are so lasting. Even though we love and forgive those that have hurt us, it's still difficult to not let those hard things continue to effect our outlook on life.

I haven't been very good at returning emails and comments so please forgive me. It's not that I'm not interested or care, sometimes I just listen and process. I pray for each of you that comment, and for all of you who come by this blog. God directs so many of you here. Please know I appreciate you!

I'm not a big fan of television, but yesterday morning I had on NBC and was watching Hoda and Kathie Lee. (what a pair!) Poor Kathie has had a rough time of late too. She's had a couple of minor injuries, but the sad moment in her conversation came when music came up of her singing Christmas carols from a past album. She has a lovely voice, and I know loves the Lord. She listened for a moment and then said in a sad, "I'm over it" sort of voice. "Oh that was me when I could sing." Maybe not those exact words but that was the thought. Her words of passing on the "busy-ness" and self imposed expectations of Christmas were so telling. "Let's keep Christmas in our hearts each day, but just do Thanksgiving...twice." The older we get the more our hearts can hold the past. Sometimes we find ourselves in a place where "Christmas" isn't the same as in the past.

I know it's so easy to get worn out this time of year. (physically and mentally) I have it pretty easy. I've pared down. I guess what I'm trying to say is this. I know God loves our joy and adoration of the Christmas Season, and children in the house give us a chance to "present" Christmas in a special and magical way. Cooking and baking, attending parties, having a house full of friends and loved ones are all part of the enjoyment of Christmas. I'm trying to let God reveal Himself to me, and how to celebrate the birth of the Savior, individually.

This Christmas has been more low-key for me, and I'm focusing on the fact that the birth of Jesus, was in a "trying time" for the sweet young family. Tired and worn out, away from home, and stressed with the impending delivery, Mary and Joseph were out of their comfort zone, but let God direct them forward. Not really understanding all that they were about to be a part of or witness... The birth of the Savior, and God's Grand Plan in action.

Whatever you may be going through in life, may God's peace, comfort, joy, and strength surround you this Blessed Christmas.

love, in our precious Son of God,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Just "Do it"!

I remember many years ago when we were in a large church, our girls were young, still at home. We loved this church and it was the center of our lives; family, friends, and social activities included. We loved our pastor and the church; things were great. Then his sermons started becoming "weird". Each week they were judgmental and "fingerpointing". Full of condemnation and talk of God's punishment. Sunday morning in the sanctuary took on a dark, depressive and ominous vibe. It felt like the same sermon over and over, just in a new black package. "What's going on?" we all wondered, and in the meantime he started crumbling...

Fast forward 15 years...

Our older daughter started smoking when she went away to college. I know so many kids do. She started a habit she wasn't happy with, but enjoyed smoking. She knew God wanted her to stop but never actively pursued  the "doing it" part. She spoke to me about it several times and of course I encouraged her to stop. This was before my heart attacks and all of us knowing what kind of hereditary problems lay ahead. Week after week she'd mention it in her phone calls home. "What are you doing to stop?" I asked. "Nothing" she would say. Then one day she called me and said that each time she tried to pray or read her Bible that this stop smoking thing would come up again and she was tired of it. She wanted to speak to God about other matters, but there was a wall there in her prayer time, and she couldn't get past it.

God has been speaking to me for awhile about some of the vast number of medications that I've been taking. When you have cardiovascular disease then the doctors want to throw the whole medicine cabinet at you. Know what I'm saying? this and this, and oh yeah, better take this too. During the summer if you remember, I had to go on a lot more meds because of some sort of something that happened. Anyway, I found myself taking huge amounts of all kinds of stuff...hated it.

I've been better the last month or so and God has told me over and over, "Stop taking this". Then the fear factor set in. I wouldn't do it. I trusted God for my health, but still was hanging on. (These aren't the regular medications for my situation, but above and beyond with dosages that were scary.) Oh yeah, and have I mentioned that I have had some kind of full body rash going on that isn't contact dermatitis. yep, it was getting worse and worse.

OK, so then back in October we went to St. Louis for a long weekend. Well, guess what happened. I accidently left my medications at home. I made it fine, but then when I got home, started back on all the extras despite my knowing God was saying, "You don't need these anymore. Stop taking them." This is all that I was hearing. Each and every time I started to pray or read my Bible it was about these extra medications. I tried to dismiss it...didn't happen.

So then about 3 weeks ago I caught a cold and the rash stepped up into high gear. I got off  the extra medications because I knew I better start listening to what God was saying to me. Sometimes we forget that He sees the "big picture". He may be saying something needs to change because He sees down the road to what's coming. He wants what's best for us. He wants us to avoid something that might be coming if we don't listen. He gives us opportunity to let Him help us change. It's called "conviction". 

Why am I sharing all this? Because God has been insistent that I be transparent here in this blog. He wants me to share what's happening so that it might help someone else.

Is God speaking to you about something that needs to happen or change, and you've been dragging your feet? Has it gotten to the point that you feel the pressure of that decision constantly and either are afraid or reluctant? I'm telling you now that you will have to deal with it. Open up your heart and spirit and let God speak to you about what He's asking you to do. It may be a small thing, like giving up dessert, or maybe it's bigger, but whatever it is, let Him lead you into the change. He can do it, give Him control. He will walk you through whatever it is. He knows the future and the things He calls us to do are for a purpose.

The pastor in the first part of this post...? He was having an affair and God was asking him to stop and ask forgiveness. He didn't, and within a few horrible months the church was torn apart and He lost his ministry. His life went down in flames. We were not there to witness it, God had pulled us out.

My daughter finally gave God permission to help her stop smoking and she did. She and her husband no longer smoke. It wasn't particularly easy, but God gave them the grace and help they needed, to do it.

And  me? I had some blood tests taken last week, we'll see what's going on. I know that God knows. I'll keep you informed.

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

James 1:22-25New American Standard Bible (NASB)
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his[a]natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, [b]he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but[c]an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in [d]what he does.

       Love in Jesus,