Thursday, October 31, 2013

Redeem YOUR Storm!!!

I had the impression that those in their forties had it all together.  Those I saw when I was younger seemed so calm and calculated about life.  Now that I am in my forties myself, I have come to realize that this is SO far from the truth.  I am not at ALL together!  My life is messy.  My house is messy.  My intended schedule for the day is always messed up.  My attitude is not always the best.  My hair isn’t always in place… in fact MOST days it rebels against me with frizziness.  My life is not a pretty picture.

Regardless of what my life looks like on the outside, on the inside I am on a daily pursuit to become more like Jesus.  He is molding me and shaping me to become a better reflection of Him.  Some days the reflection is clear and you can see Him while other days the picture is blurry.  But I keep pressing forward in my pursuit to become “Jesus with skin on” for the world to see.

Recently I was sharing with a group of people about the storms of life and God spoke to me in a fresh way on the subject.  I shared how “storms” are those times in our lives where we face seemingly impossible or overwhelming circumstances.  Several things come to mind to note when thinking about storms.  Storms are unavoidable, unpredictable, and unforgettable.

Storms are unavoidable…  They come whether we want them to or not.  Do you know anywhere in the world where there are NO storms?  I don’t.  We can’t avoid them!  All the rain gear we can buy can’t keep the storms from coming!  Life’s storms are the same way.  They are unavoidable… they happen!

John 16:33 says…
“… In this world, you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

What do these life storms look like?  Financial hardship, chronic illness, miscarriage, addiction, unfaithfulness of a spouse, job loss, divorce, a rebellious child, family problems, the loss of a loved one, the list could go on…

When the storms of life hit us we can OVERCOME or BE OVERCOME… we can face them in FEAR or with FAITH.  The choice is up to us.  We can’t begin to dig a storm shelter in the middle of a tornado that is about to hit!  We have to prepare ahead of time for storms…   When it comes to the storms of life, we need to prepare NOW for what may be ahead so we can face them with faith.

Storms are unpredictable… They come when we least expect it and aren’t ready for them.  The sirens start going off as dinner is on the stove and where are those candles and flashlights?  Do we have batteries?  Uh, oh… we may be sitting in the dark for awhile.  Storms catch us off guard.  Life’s storms are the same way.  It is in these moments where we really need our friends and family to pray with us and for us.

Unpredictable storms can leave us shocked and unaware of HOW to respond.  Unexpected tragedies, natural disasters, car accidents, chronic illnesses that creep up quickly, and the like can surprise us and paralyze our ability to move forward.  We would hope when life catches us off guard that our first reaction would be to respond in faith, but fear is right there waiting to overtake our hearts. 

Don’t ever be afraid to ask people to lift you up in prayer when you feel your faith is WEAK.  That is what the family of God is all about.  We need to be investing spiritually for the storms ahead.  We have NO idea what will hit next so we need to be growing our faith stronger each day.  Pray, read, find a church to help you grow in your faith and go, and surround yourself with people who love God and YOU!

“Often in trials and storms we focus on the impossibility 
of our circumstances instead of the GREATNESS of our God.”

Storms are unforgettable…  Those who have lived through a tornado, hurricane, or massive storm will NEVER forget it!  It is life-changing!  The pictures stay with you.  The stories are forever etched in your mind.  For me facing life’s storms changed ME!  Trivial things didn’t matter as much.  I became more thankful for the little things and my priorities changed drastically. 

Sometimes we allow the storms we face in life to define us.  God’s desire is to help us reflect Him better as we face each storm in faith trusting Him.  

"It is in the messy moments of life that people are drawn to 
Christ in us the most."  

I decided after facing my seemingly insurmountable storm of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that I WOULD NOT allow my storms to be wasted time.  I want to redeem each storm and use them as a tool to reach others. 

Whatever I face… I want God to heal it, fix it, or change whatever necessary to get me where I need to be quickly.  My desire is to turn around and use that storm to inspire others for God.  My husband said recently on this subject… “Turn that terrible time into a terrific testimony.”  God wants to redeem your storms!  Cash them in to Him and in return He will give you an inspiring story to share with others of how in faith you made it through and they can too.

Storms will come… they are unavoidable. Some will be unpredictable and life altering, but if you prepare now by growing strong roots of faith you will make it through.  Many storms are unforgettable.  Those moments where you meet the storm head on in fear, enlist friends to pray, and God shows up increasing your faith are unforgettable!  Give each storm to God.  He can turn the bad around for good to inspire others to believe God in faith for THEIR storms.  Let God be your “storm shelter” as you take on the winds, rain, and all of the elements this life may throw at you.  He will see you through!

Living to leave a legacy,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fear NOT!

I have mixed feelings when it comes to fall.  I love celebrating the season with visiting the pumpkin patch, getting apple slushies & watching the leaves change colors.  I love making pumpkin baked goods and lighting fall candles.  I love watching my boys become obsessed with their favorite sport of the season… football.  They watch it on TV, they monitor their fantasy football leagues online, and they play it.  I LOVE fall!

What I struggle with is Halloween.  I am all about my neighborhood coming to my door so I can meet them all in ONE night.  BUT, I am not about the blood, gore, horror movies, and haunted houses.  I am not about filling my life or the lives of my family with FEAR.

I feel my job as a parent is to protect my boys’ hearts and minds until they are old enough to do it on their own.  A part of protecting them is preventing negative or harmful seeds from being planted into their hearts and lives. One seed I guard against is FEAR.  Halloween seems to be a holiday somewhat centered on the concept of fear.  It is Satan’s sneaky attempt to make FEAR fun!  What we do not realize is that the seeds planted during this season can damage the hearts of our kids for years to come.

When I was little I viewed the movie “Carrie” while hiding behind a chair at a family event.  The images I saw on that night stuck with me.  Scenes from the movie haunted me replaying in my mind well into my high school years.  The impact was a life filled with fear.  It consumed me and trickled into every area of my life.  Needless to say… I am not happy about the current remake of this movie. 

Fear was a daily struggle for me.  At times it was paralyzing.  Every decision I made was filtered through a fear-filled lens.  It was only with God’s help that I was able to truly be free.  I do not wish this struggle on anyone.  If you are a parent, do not be fooled by the sly attempts the devil creates to make fear appealing.  It is deadly to the spiritual life of your child.  Be on guard!

We celebrate fall not fear in my home.  So bring on the pumpkin pie, apple cider, and hay bales.  Happy fall my friend!

Living to leave a legacy,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Celebrate the Wins!

My life is a series of ups and downs.  I am sure it is not unlike others.  My roller coaster just looks a little different.  The twists and turns, ups and downs, low dips and high climbs just have different names to describe them. One such name is Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disease. 

My thorn in the flesh, constant frustration, and energy drainer is this disease.  For you it could be an unstable marriage, a wayward child, a debilitated family member you have to care for, financial hardship, abusive relationships, an addiction, the list could go on…

For me each day is different and unpredictable.  I give myself to God one day at a time and trust Him with the outcome.  Many people ask how I am doing health-wise, am I getting better? etc…and that is a tough question.  Am I better compared to what?  When I was bedridden for three months?  When I had a year long flare-up that made all of my symptoms come back like a hurricane?  When I had pain for four months until they figured out it was my gallbladder and removed it?  And so on and so on and so on…

Without God, this life could become overwhelming.  I could dwell on what I can’t do or what I have missed out on, but instead I choose to focus on the “Daily Wins.”  What have I been able to do today that I couldn’t do before?  What can I be thankful for today?  When I focus more on celebrating the “wins,” it keeps my eyes off of the worries of this world and it places them on the Prince of Peace.  Jesus is in control and I trust Him!

I love how Matthew 6:33-34 describes what we should do with worry.  Worry comes if we don’t put our trust in God.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (NIV)

This past year has been a whirlwind… This month marks a year that I completed special IV treatments at IU Medical Hospital.  It was an attempt by my neurologist to throw this disease into remission.  I went one day a week for four weeks of treatments.  It was a somewhat risky treatment, but I felt like I needed to do it. 

The infusion center where I went was full of cancer patients.  It was sad to see them all around me.  They were walking weakly, skin & bones, hair thinning, but still fighting to live.  In those moments you see how valuable life really is.  Every day I am alive I know it is for a reason.  I want my life to “count” for something.  I want to be a tool in the hands of God to touch and impact lives for Him.

When I think about my daily struggles… side-effects of medication, fatigue, lack of energy, etc… they are frustrating, but pale in comparison to the joy I receive in the gift of another day. I am living on purpose with a purpose to shine brightly for God.  He has given me this life to live so I want to live it being intentional for Him.

This past year has been another roller coaster of symptoms screaming out for attention, BUT the disease has not flared up.  In other times it would have… it should have, but it hasn’t!  I am thankful for that.  I believe I have been moving into remission even in the midst of other health conditions surfacing as a result of on-going medication.  Side-effects, but things I can live with. 

God is good and is a daily reminder to me of why I am still alive and kicking.  He continues to place people in my life to reach out and love for Him.  My messy life seems to in some way inspire others.  I am glad.  I want only good to come from this, otherwise I feel my time has been wasted being sick all of these years.

Today I celebrate the wins!  I count my blessings and I am thankful.  I am thankful for another day to be alive on planet earth. I am thankful for family and friends.  I am thankful for each person I cross paths with… Each opportunity I have to share wisdom and life lessons to help others experience God in a real way pushes me forward.

I did something new this year.  I decided to collect my thanks and put them on paper.  I even enlisted my family to do the same.  We have a jar that we are using to collect all of the moments this year that we are thankful for.  God has blessed us in amazing ways and I don’t ever want to forget it.  On New Years Eve we will empty out the jar and read each one aloud to vocalize a year of thanks to God.  I expect there will not be a dry eye in the room.  Thank you God… for the celebration of “daily wins” and a year of being truly thankful…  I am not the same.

Living to leave a legacy,