The Monsters In the Closet

     When I was in elementary school, I had a tragic reoccurring nightmare every year on the night before the Stanford Achievement Test.  I would wake up in cold sweats — screaming for help because the little man with the hat from my Monopoly game had come to life and was chasing me in my dreams.  Haunting thoughts like these seem almost laughable now as an adult looking back.  Yet, even as a grown up, irrational fears still plague me.  My mature mind knows that there are no monsters in my closet, but my heart will often beat fast as imaginary ghoulish ideas dance about in my head.

My greatest fears stem from circumstances that I cannot control — Will my loved one see the Light and yield his stubborn, wild will to God before it’s too late?  For thirty-two years I have prayed and waited.  Waiting as I yield to the Spirit and rest in the knowledge of God’s power leads to strength, but anxious worry only leads me to a restless state of discontent and ineffectiveness.

This morning on the way to work, I was reminded again of God’s omnipotence, and peace flooded my soul as my heart listened to a beautiful song on my car’s radio:

“God of My Everything” (As Sung by Bebo Norman)

Oh, God of heaven come and hem me in
Gather the pieces that are broken
Show me the wonder of You again
Oh, God of heaven

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything

In all creation You call my name
In all the beauty that this world displays
Still I’m the one for whom Your heart aches
In all creation

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything
God of my everything

And when the mountains shake
You are my God, You never change
And when the earth gives way
You are still God, You never change

God of my hope, God of my need
God of my pain that no one else will ever see
God of my healing, God of my strength
God who has always and will forever reign
God of my everything

God of my everything
God of my everything
God of my everything

The key to conquering my fear is to rest in the capable hands of my Mighty Abba Father:

“Stay alert! I am God, the God of everything living. Is there anything I can’t do?” (Jeremiah 32:27, MSG)

What imaginary monsters are lurking in your head that you need to yield to the God of Everything?  Feel free to share a verse in the comment section below that has helped you conquer that “stinkin’ thinking.”

For more on my thoughts regarding fear and faith, take a look here.

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Homecoming

During my 17 years as a high school teacher, I participated in many Homecoming celebrations.  My students dressed up in crazy outfits (pajama day was my favorite) and waged epic field day battles in tug of war.  Frankly, I found the whole experience to be exhausting, and relief always flooded my soul when it was over.  The hours of preparation and the crazy student behavior wore me out, but my students always talk about that being their favorite part of high school.  Sometimes, what causes me grief is the best choice to honor those I love and serve.

Recently, I experienced a different kind of Homecoming, an eternal welcome home.  My husband and his siblings spent a great amount of time preparing for this event as their dear mom’s health declined ever so slowly.  It was tiring, rewarding, and emotional.  Their selflessness — it’s the legacy she left them.  Each of them wears it so effortlessly.

Our sweet Miss BJ’s 82nd birthday would have been this past week.  Three months after her passing, we gathered to celebrate her life in her absence.  This year has held many secret treasures for my family that were wrapped up in suffering.  I have learned once again that it so essential to be fully present with those that you love.  Each crazy moment of life is a gift, not to be squandered.

Moms are home keepers.  I certainly learned this from my mom in law’s life as she lived out what is recorded in Titus 2:5 (MSG): “By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”   I miss her gentle spirit and her smile.

As I move into this new year, may my home and my heart be a welcoming place for those I love.  May laughter fill its rooms and faith be its foundation.   May I be grateful for each moment.

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Excuses

As a former high school language arts teacher, I heard a plethora of excuses from students over the years:  “Teacher, I did my paper, but then our electricity went out, and I couldn’t print it.  May I e-mail it to you tonight?”  “M’am, we had to take my little sister to the emergency room yesterday, so I’ll have that paper in tomorrow.”  “Doc, my mom took me to the library, but I couldn’t find any books on my approved research paper topic.”  Dealing with students wisely was a daily challenge.  I asked God to give me discernment, but I must admit that I was a terrible failure on many days.  You see, if the same student came in with a new excuse every week, it really got hard to respond graciously.

Lately, the Master Teacher has been dealing with me, His negligent pupil, on the subject of excuses.  I have been such a procrastinator — this post has been spinning around in my head for weeks, but I kept making excuses as to why I didn’t have time to write it.  I realize that I am always giving God excuses.  “Lord, I am too tired to read my Bible this morning.”  “Father, I would give to that missionary, but I just don’t have enough money in my budget.”  “God, I don’t have any time to help that person this week.”   Why is God so patient with me when I am such a sluggard?

A few weeks back, I came across a story in Luke 14 during my devotions.  Later that week, I read a devotional on the same passage.  Don’t you love it when God repeats Himself to get your attention?  I realize that just like the men in the story, God invites me to participate in what He is doing.  One man said He had to inspect a field (v.18) — Am I selfishly letting my possessions and greediness keep me away from doing what God has for me?  The second excuse maker, a farmer, had a field to plow with some new oxen (v.19) — Am I letting my work and other responsibilities take over my life so that I am missing out on God’s plan for me?  The last gentleman indicated he couldn’t accept the invitation because of his wife — What personal relationships are holding me back from God?

Proverbs 13:4 (NIV) states:  “The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” Verse 19 in the same chapter reads:  “A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.”  What am I waiting for?

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A Safe Dwelling

Sometimes, I struggle with irrational fears – What if my husband gets in a car accident on the way home today? Is my stomachache a tumor? Was that creaky noise in the living room a serial rapist?….

 

Recently, I had the privilege of being a guest blogger for Granola Bar Devotional, a wonderful devotional blog.

I hope you will read the rest of my thoughts on “A Safe Dwelling” by jumping over here.

Enjoy!!!


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Brain Fart

The older I get, the less I remember.  Yesterday, I received an e-mail from an old college friend on Facebook.  She asked if I recalled who she was.  Thankfully, this time I did.  However, more and more, I find myself struggling to remember.  I have been teaching for over 20 years, so there are a lot of names and faces in my memory.  The class of 98 was having its reunion this past  year, and the reunion organizer asked if I knew where Danny Diaz was.  I had to laugh.  I have taught soooo many kids named Danny Diaz.  It’s sort of comical, really.  Will the real Danny Diaz stand up please….

Thankfully, my Abba Father does not have a bad memory.  He chooses to forget and forgive my sin because Jesus went to the cross for me, but He knows my name — the details of my life are not fuzzy in His mind’s eye.  He counts my tears in a bottle.  The very hairs on my head are numbered. He has hemmed me in behind and before and has laid His hand upon me.

Yet, there are days when I get weary and forget His faithfulness — nothing seems to be happening.  My prayer list is getting longer, and I am dealing with the same set of unchanged circumstances after knocking on heaven’s door diligently.  Has God forgotten?  Maybe He is too busy with that Haiti thing to worry about my stuff?

This past weekend, my pastor pointed us to Nehemiah.  He was busy trying to build something for God, but the enemy kept coming against him.  Nehemiah had to build with one hand and fight with the other.   This one verse in Chapter 4 stuck out to me:  “Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.”

I am going to try to get my brain in gear so that I don’t forget His power, His faithfulness, His purpose.  I am working on putting this passage from Hebrews 6 to memory:

God is not unjust.  He will not forget your work

and the love you have shown Him

as you have helped His people and continue to help them.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end,

in order to make your hope sure.

We do not want you to become lazy,

but to imitate those who through faith and patience

inherit what has been promised.

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