Sunday, June 24, 2018

Set back

Ever feel like you are finally doing what God called you to do only to get knocked down and begin to question was I really obeying God or doing what I wanted to do all along? That has been me for the last month. Over the last couple of years I had really been struggling with my writing. I enjoyed writing but felt like I was repeating the same thing over and over - like I was some kind of broken record. My goal in writing was to encourage and inspire people with their faith walk.  I didn't want it to be something that people went to read and found out what the Goemaat clan was up to.  Well it was as if I had lost that - so I stopped writing. Then I was scrolling through Instagram one day and came along the post from Jennie Allen (founder of the IF Gathering). She writes:

My first blog was called:
Untangling God and Ponytails
(And had 10 followers)

My first Bible study (Stuck) was originally called:
God and your Emotions (and had clip art flowers on it)

Just start. Do it cheesy. Do it messy.
Just do what you are built to do and have fun growing up in it!

Praise God we don't have to be awesome - only obedient. Do what you love! And you will grow as you go. And not everything has to be branded perfectly - it just needs to be helpful.

I read that post and was SO encouraged and inspired that I decided I needed to start writing again. My favorite part of what she said was "you don't have to be awesome - only obedient." I LOVE that.  Not sure about any of you but I'm the type of person that if I can't do something well or great I'm just not going to do it! But that isn't what God requires or expects out of us.  He only expects us to be obedient. And as easy as that sounds I struggle with that. I often feel like I'm not equipped to do what God asks of me. Or I struggle with the unknowns of the future if I follow God's will for my life. However, after reading that post I decided I was going to start. I'm going to be obedient to God's calling for my life. That I would listen more to the whisper of God's voice. So I started writing. I found that God had laid SO many things on my heart to share with others. I was feeling like the spark inside me had not gone out and was now beginning to grow even bigger.  That was until about a month ago.

Something happened that distinguished that fire burning inside of me. It made me shut down and begin to question maybe I wasn't good enough and I didn't know what I was doing. That maybe I wasn't doing God's will for my life- that I had just been selfish and was following my own desires. How could I encourage others in their faith walk if I myself didn't have my own walk figured out. I was experiencing a hurt so bad I began to question my character and who I really was. And all of a sudden that confidence I had was gone and my insecurities were exposed for all to see. Why do I do that- let one thing if not ruin me at least set me back for a period of time. And at different times I've allowed that to set me back minutes, days, weeks and even years. And I find myself not perusing God's will and sitting back coasting through life like some kind of robot - doing the same thing every day.

Everything within me didn't want to stay in this kind of funk. I didn't like the person I was and desperately wanted to have that fire burning inside of me again. I just didn't know how to get back there.  In church we had been studying the holy spirit - not easy stuff.  But there were things in the sermons that Pastor Jon and Pastor Mike talked about that really made me think.

     1. We need to be undone and give the spirit everything - SURRENDER.  We need to get out of the way so that the spirit can live in us.  That was my first mistake - I was getting in the way of God to move in my life. I was not surrendering everything - I was holding on to things that needed to be let go of.  I needed God to be in control of my life - not me!

     2. In order for the spirit to move it will cost you something and obedience will cost you being you.  I do believe this is true.  I have said over and over again that TJ's journey changed me - I am not the same person I used to be.  And I honestly I'm ok with that.  The lessons I have learned haven't been easy, but I do believe they have made me more of who God had intended me to be all along. 
 
     3. When you are filled with the spirit the evil/darkness will cringe when they see you.  It dawned on me that when I was following God's will for my life the enemy couldn't stand it.  He was doing everything he could to make me feel like I was nothing, to give up and stop writing.  And he had succeeded.  I had let those harsh words resonate in my life and couldn't hear the Holy Spirit encouraging and lifting me up.  I was believing the lies of the enemy and not the truth of Jesus.

    4. When God calls us to go do we hesitate?  This one left me feeling heartbroken. Unfortunately I do hesitate.  I find myself being cautious.  I try to seek out all the answers to my questions. I attempt to play out every possible scenario on how it will affect our life if we were to do what God has asked us to do.  I haven't always trusted God - I haven't had the faith to "get out of the boat."

    5. Am I listening to the Spirit? Am I paying attention?  Do I need to let go of something to follow the spirit?  What's holding me back from experiencing the spirit?  These are not easy questions to answer.  They take a lot of time to reflect on. However I decided that I needed to surround myself with people or things that would uplift me and encourage me on my faith walk and to try to avoid those things that which leave me feeling depleted or sucked dry. That's not an easy thing.

I had left church over the course of those weeks feeling so encouraged and inspired again.  It was just what I needed to hear for that spark to ignite again.  So I had a little setback but that's ok.  What God taught me during that time was valuable and what I need to hear.  So now I want to encourage you.  Are you listening to the spirit?  If not, why?  What is keeping you from living in the center of God's will?  What are some things that you need to let go of to follow the spirit?  Is it friendships? Social media?  Is it the sin in your life that you keep holding onto?  Do you hesitate when God calls you to go?  If so, why?

Let's get out of the way so the spirit can move in us!!  It will be the ride of a lifetime - one you will never regret!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mom's out there.  Mother's day - a day set aside to celebrate and honor our moms.  What are your expectations on Mother's day?  Some want extravagant gifts or breakfast in bed.  Others just want a day where they have to do nothing. And some just want the gift of your presence or time.  Each mother is special in our own unique way - which is great.

There are days us mother's can feel very unappreciated.  We do the dishes, fix the meals,scrub the floors, clean the bathrooms, pack lunches, run the kids from here to there.  Moms make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear, food to eat and tries to make sure the house is clean.  Let's not forget about the homework and projects that the kids need help with.  Many moms are the first one up in the morning and the last to go to bed.  Throughout the day we can wear many different hats - from maid to taxi driver. 

And then, we mothers compare ourselves to each other and begin to make ourselves feel like we aren't enough.  Ugly thoughts start to go through our minds to make us feel like we aren't a good mother.  I have fallen into that trap many times before.  When my kids were little we did not have a schedule, we often winged it from day to day - while other moms had strict schedules for their kids.  I was lucky if I could get one book in sometime throughout our week - when others took their kids to story time at the library.  I saw mother's who would do crafts with their kids daily - I cringed at the idea of the kids wanting to play with playdough.  I made the kids their own birthday cakes and invited over the family to celebrate - other mom's invited the whole class to go bowling for their kid's birthday.  I began to think that I was a failure as a mother and I wasn't enough.  I began to realize that when I stepped into the comparison trap I was only hurting myself.  We all mother differently and that doesn't mean that my way is wrong.  God made us the mothers of our kids for a reason.  He knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us the kids he did.  There are still days I feel like I'm going to mess them up and I'm not going to do everything right - and there is probably some truth in that.  However, I'm leaning on God to help me.  Our children are on loan from God - and I learned that lesson a little quicker than I wanted to.  So I'm choosing to make the most of my time with my boys.  Believe me when I say that it isn't all sunshine and rainbows at our house.  We still have our moments when it isn't so pretty, but I'm choosing to let some stuff go and focus on what is more important in life - TIME.  So yes if you were to drop by my house - it might not be the cleanest and we might have laundry scattered all over the house - and I'm ok with that. 

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a version of 1 Corinthians 13 for moms. Most of the time we hear that read at weddings and associate it to the love of our spouse or maybe even our neighbors.  However, Jim Fowler adapted it to mothers and I found it very fitting for today.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and that it brings you a little bit of encouragement today.  Happy Mother's Day!

I Corinthians 13 for Mothers (by Jim Fowler)
If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love,
I am a housekeeper, not a homemaker.
If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love,
my children learn cleanliness, not godliness.
If I scream at my children for every infraction, and fault them for every mess they make,
but have not love,
my children become people-pleasers, not obedient children.
Love leaves the dust in search of a child’s laugh.
Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window.
Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk.
Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys.
Love accepts the fact that I am the ever-present “mommy,”
the taxi-driver to every childhood event,
the counsellor when my children fail or are hurt.
Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, and runs with the child,
then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood.
Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection.
Now I glory in God’s perfection of my child.
All the projections I had for my house and my children
have faded away into insignificance,
And what remain are the memories of my kids.
Now there abides in my home scratches on most of the furniture, dishes with missing place settings,

and bedroom walls full of stickers, posters and markings,


But the greatest of all is the Love that permeates my relationships with my children.




Friday, May 11, 2018

Trusting in the Struggles

So, it's never been a secret that I have struggled with trusting God since TJ's death (He's still teaching me).  I   In fact I had a friend ask me when I was little if I was the kid that always asked the question "why?"  I honestly didn't know, so I asked my mom.  My mom told me that as a kid I was very trusting of everyone.  Whatever anyone told me I believed it as truth.  Which makes sense why I always thought what my big sister said was fact.  Quick story.....

In the 4th grade I remember the teacher asking if any of us knew why we had the hair in our noses?  Oh boy! I knew the answer to that.  I raised my hand high in the air.  I was hoping that I'd actually get picked this time, but no, the smart boy in the class got chosen AGAIN!  His response was to keep the dirt from coming in.  I was laughing - inside my head of course - I didn't want to get in trouble.  I couldn't believe that I knew the answer and the smart kid didn't.  You see my big sister had just told me a few nights before that the hair in our nose was to keep the boogers from falling out.  I couldn't wait for the teacher's to tell him he was wrong!  Well, the teacher quickly responded with - that's correct!  I thought WHAT???  But my sister said.... I couldn't believe that she....lied to me. 

So, I asked my mom if I was such a trusting soul when I was younger - what happened?  She told me that up until TJ's death life had been pretty good for me - that I really hadn't had any major events in my life that didn't turn out the way I had hoped.  Except for maybe my surgery in 2007 - but in the end turned out ok and a trial in my life that I would consider a blessing (that's a whole other post).  

The first two years after TJ died were really dark years for me.  I struggled with prayer, church and reading my Bible.  All those verses that used to bring me such comfort seemed to be mocking me.  They didn't bring me such comfort anymore - so I couldn't even open my Bible to read it.  And I thought why pray - God's going to do what he wants to do anyway.  It doesn't really matter what I have to say.  And church was even more of a struggle for several reasons.  I was struggling really bad in my faith walk - even to the point I thought is it even worth it? Mspiritual life that had once been a fire flaming was just embers trying to continue to burn.  Was it worth it to continue to believe? It was just so hard to understand.  How is this God's best for us?  However, I knew that if I completely walked away I would never see TJ ever again.  So, I guess my reasons were more selfish for pursuing my faith walk - but it was enough to keep going.  

I had shared all of that with a dear friend - one who has been struggling too with some of those same  questions.  She shared with me the devotions she had been reading that brought her some comfort and I wanted to share that devotion with any of you who might be struggling and wondering is believing and following Jesus really worth it?

John 6:66-69 says, "From this time many of his disciples turned away and no longer followed him.  Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, "Are you also going to leave?"  Simon Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God."  

The footnote in her Bible said Why did Jesus' words cause many of his followers to desert him?
          1) They may have realized that he wasn't going to be the conquering Messiah-King they expected
                      (when has Jesus not met our expectations or didn't do what we wanted him to do?)
          2) He refused to give in to their self-centered requests 
                       (we pray what we think is best for us)
          3) He emphasized faith not deeds                                                                                                                                           (can we trust His words? can we allow him to take us deeper in faith, can we somehow find the                                     courage to walk on the water in the storm when he says come)
          4) His teachings were difficult to understand, and some of his words were offensive. 
                   (Jesus offers eternal life but He requires acceptance of himself as Savior and Lord. This means His 
                        agenda must become his follower's agenda, and that is unacceptable to many would-be disciples)

As we grow in our faith, we may be tempted to turn away because Jesus' lessons are difficult.  Will your response be to give up, ignore certain teachings, or reject Christ?  INSTEAD ..... Ask God to show you what the teachings mean and how they apply to your life.  Then have the courage to act on God's truth.  

There is NO middle ground with Jesus... we either accept or reject Jesus. The more the people heard Jesus' real message, the more they divided into two camps-  the honest seekers who wanted to understand more, and those who rejected Jesus because they didn't like what they had heard. 

After many of Jesus' followers had deserted him, he asked the 12 disciples if they were also going to leave.  Peter replied, "To whom would we go?"  In his straightforward way, Peter answered for all of us- there is no other way.  Though there are many philosophies and self-styled authorities, Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.  People look everywhere for eternal life and miss Christ, the only source.  STAY WITH HIM, especially if you are confused or feel alone. 

Beth Moore said " If you pray that God will move a mountain and he doesn't, assume Christ wants you to climb it instead and see him transfigured.

I LOVE that!  We all have mountains in our life.  And if you can't see that God is moving - start climbing, because I when you get to the top it will be so worth it.  I don't want to have "proof" to believe.  I'm choosing to believe even when I cannot see and that is hard.  But I'm going to keep digging  and pursuing because in the end - it's worth it!

Father God,
Please don't let me be the kind of person to whom You can say, "Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe"  (John 4:48)Help me to respond to Your Son according to Your Word:  "I believe and know that You are the Holy One of God"  (John 6:69). You told Thomas to stop doubting and to believe (John 20:27) - help me to do the same.  Lord, I cannot see your visible hands, but if I'm willing to really look, I can see the visible evidences of Your invisible hands.  Help me to stop being stubborn, refusing to believe, when I do this I'm saying bad things about Your way.  (Acts 19:9).  Help me to relentlessly pursue you no matter what the situation.  Give me the strength to keep going and to know that in the end it will be so worth it.            Amen



Sunday, May 6, 2018

Time

Time. We've all heard the old saying "time flies when your having fun!"   It's kind of crazy how much our lives revolve around time.  And how our perspective on time is different on all different kinds of occasions. When you are little Christmas morning can't come soon enough.  Kids are constantly counting down the time for things they are looking forward to.  In fact just the other day Charlie was counting down the time until his first baseball game started.  I remember when my boys were little I could never tell them what we were going to be doing or where we were going until 5 minutes before.  Otherwise if I made the mistake and told them too far in advance I was asked at least 100 times a day per kid "are we going now?"  The time just can't go by quick enough when we are anxiously awaiting for something exciting or special. Yet there are also times it seems like the wait is taking forever!  You know the kind - when you are waiting on your kids to get out of practice.  Or maybe the last hour of the work day on a Friday.  It's like you are constantly checking the clock thinking it should be time to go - nope, just five minutes later than the last time I checked!  But what about those times where times flies by so quickly - like your lunch break at work.  I swear that is the fastest 30 minutes of the whole entire day!  Or there are times when your schedule is so jam packed and you are so busy but you want to get just one more thing done and time has run out. The day is over and you couldn't get it all done.  Or you just can find the extra time to do one more thing.  Or maybe you have so much time to kill in between the thing you just finished and the thing you are headed to.  Those are the times I struggle with what to do with my time - read, do one more chore or errand - the choices are endless. What about the time when your kids are little - not sleeping through the night, still taking a bottle and needing 3 paseys (one in each hand and one in their mouth) to go to bed.  You think that time is never going to end and we anxiously await the next stage.  Or maybe you are at the stage where they are at their senior year and your thinking where has the time gone - have I taught them all they needed to know?  Our lives are constantly focused on time.  Kenny Chesney sings a song called Don't Blink.  And I find the words of the chorus to be SO true.

"Don't blink 
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you wake up and you're twenty five
and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did turning into moms and dads  
Next thing you know your "better half" of fifty years is there in bed and you're praying god takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don't blink"

I don't know about the rest of you but this is how I feel. The other day at Church I went down to the basement and there were several young couples visiting while all their little kids were running around.  And I got to thinking that was me not so long ago - now I'm the "older" lady with older kids.  When did I become that woman?  Time can seriously get away from us.  I will be the first to admit that I didn't always enjoy the younger years of my boys.  Having four boys six and under was a little crazy at my house and I was always anxiously awaiting the next stage - just to make life easier.  You know where they can feed, bath and go to the bathroom all by themselves!!  Well I've finally arrived at that stage -and have been here awhile now.  And now I'll admit I desperately miss those years.  So those of you with littles - enjoy this time!!  I know that it is easier said then done but before you know it you will be helping your kid sign up for high school classes!!  Which when did that happen?

So why am I posting about time?  What's the big deal Tami?  Well last Sunday (April 29) marked the 6th anniversary of TJ going home to be with Jesus.  I can hardly believe that he has been gone for that long already.  Charlie said to me on Sunday, "Mom, I've lived longer without TJ than with him."  Man did that break my heart.  That day is still so vivid in my mind.  I remember it as if it were today.  I was lying in bed with him, holding his right hand with my left and laying my right hand over his chest.  His breaths were few and far between.  I remember counting how many seconds were between each breath.  Then he took his final breath and I could no longer feel his heartbeat.  And just like that he was gone and our family was forever changed.   

So much has happened in the last six years.  And I often wonder what our life would be like if he were still here.  How different might it be? How different would he be?  I only know the 10 year old TJ.  Would he still be kind or would he have that teenage attitude?  Would he still have a love for music?  And what about his silliness and the love of entertaining?  I often wonder if we would be going to jazz band events, plays and musicals?  And his love for Jesus, would it be so contagious that he would lead even more people to Christ?  We can only wonder.

 But lately I've been wondering what has he been up to - what is life like in Heaven?  Oh how I wish I could call him up and chat.  To hear his voice and see how he is doing.  Does he go to "breakfast" with Grandpa Don every morning?  Does he sing in the Heavenly chorus?  Does he ever stop dancing?  And his smile - does it ever fade?  Heaven is honestly unfathomable to me.  With the song and the recent movie "I Can Only Imagine" - I often image what was TJ's response when he first arrived at Heaven's gate six years ago. Was TJ speechless for the first time?  Did he dance?  The vision I have is TJ running as fast as he could into the arms of Jesus.  And Jesus embracing him, telling him "welcome home, my good and faithful servant."

Shouldn't that be the goal for all of us?  To hear those precious words spoken to us when we enter through Heaven's doors.  I know I do.  I have coasted for too long and I mess up daily, but I'm striving more every day to be more of who Jesus wants me to be. Life is too short - we need to make every day count.  Will I get it right every day - no - but that's where God's grace and forgiveness come in and I am so thankful for that.  So can't we all try to find some time out of our day to spend with the one who meets all our needs, never leaves us and has saved us - our Heavenly Father. 

So let me leave you with some encouraging words from my husband.  He posted this on Facebook on the anniversary of TJ's homecoming.  I pray that these words will inspire you:

"Six years ago this morning Thomas Jon went home. A place where there is no pain no sorrow. Today instead of being sad I am choosing to be thankful, Thankful for salvation. You see, Thomas was saved. He was not afraid to die because he knew where he was going after he took his last breath on this earth, that place is HEAVEN. But in order to have salvation you must ask Jesus Christ into your heart and for him to be your Lord and Savior. And so let me ask you this, have you done this? Are you leading by example so your kids can see what it means to live for Jesus? Are other things taking priority over your walk? There are no second chances after you take your last breath on this earth. And we all know that we don’t know when that Breathe will be. It might be when we’re 98 it might be when we’re 10. WE HAVE TO BE READY."

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Missed Opportunity

Ever have times in your life when someone shares something with you that inspires you to want to do the same? Or at least try?  That was me this week.  Monday night our church had it's IF table discussion.  It's not really a Bible study - but where woman join together to have fellowship and answer/discuss the conversation cards that are provided.  This month's questions were:
                     Who are the people God used in your life to point you to Him?
                     Who are the people who prayed for you?
                     Share a recent answer to prayer.
                     What do you find most challenging about prayer?
                     Share your "four by faith" - the four people you will be praying for to                                                            come to faith.
We had some great conversation.  Well when we got to the last question our conversation turned from just sharing our "four by faith" into being more bold in our own faith - all the time and everywhere no matter what.  One lady shared that she had offered to pray with a complete stranger.  How this was completely out of her character and comfort zone to do that, but she felt compelled to do it and how amazing the experience was.  I was so inspired and challenged by her and thought I want to do that.  I want to be that bold for Jesus.  I just need to look for opportunities to do that - or at least pay more attention and take advantage of the opportunities that come my way.
So fast forward to Wednesday.  I was having a conversation with a lady.  She was sharing with me some hard things that were happening in her life.  As she spoke I could feel God nudge me - "here you go Tami, here is your opportunity you were looking for."  I kept listening to her.  But the more I listened the louder God's voice became.  It was so loud I seriously thought the lady I was listening to was going to hear Him speaking to me also. I was sitting down at the time but had I been standing I am pretty sure that God's nudging would have pushed me over! I haven't had that kind of nudging in a long time.  Then I heard Him saying "offer to pray with her or at least tell her that you will be praying for her and her situation."  And then there it was..... she asked me - "what am I going to do?" I thought ok Lord, I'm going to do it - you gave me this opportunity - I hear your voice and you are nudging me so hard I'm about ready to fall out of my seat.  And then I opened my mouth and my response was, "I don't know!"  WHAT?!? No, no, no, no that's not what I meant to say. Those weren't the words that were to come out of my mouth.  WAIT. Can I get a redo? I felt horrible. Almost like the feeling when a kid has just disobeyed their parent. And that was exactly how I felt. I was disobiedent to what God was telling me to do. But why? Why didn't I offer to pray? Or at least tell her I would pray for her? What held me back from being so bold like we had just talked about two days before? Fear! It gets me in trouble EVREY time! Fear of how she would respond. Fear of stepping on her toes. Fear of rejection. I was a complete coward. I didn't think about how it would bless her. Or maybe even bring her some comfort knowing someone cares during her trying times. Instead I decided to ignore God's persistent nudging and forgo my opportunity he had generously given me. When the gal left me I ended up feeling completely defeated. I decided right then that since I had failed to be so bold in my faith I was going to make this gal one of my "four by faith." That even though I didn't offer to pray with her, I was going to pray for her anyway.  And maybe just maybe God would give me another opportunity to be more bold in my faith.
So how are you being bold in your faith? I would love to hear what you are doing. Are you offering to pray with others? Are you showing people who Jesus is by your words and/or actions? Do you stand out in a way that people want what you have - the love of Jesus in your heart? And if you aren't living your life bold in your faith, why not? What's holding you back? I'll be the first to say it isn't easy to live bold all day every day. But I'm trying and I don't want to have anymore missed opportunities!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Hello again....

It's been so long since I've written I'm not even sure if there is anyone out there that will read this! Well I'm back!  I've decided to dedicate more time to my writing.   

A month ago I started a new job - off the farm.  It wasn't an easy decision - one I struggled and fought with for months.  I had really loved being on the farm and working along side my husband.  After the last four years I finally got to a place where I felt like I was valuable on the farm.  I've learned alot over the last few years - not only about farming but about myself.  I'm not the same person.  I didn't know I was capable of doing half as much as I did.  It's amazing what you can learn when you are thrown into something.  I'm really not trying to toot my own horn - I'm thankful for a great husband who taught me so much.  Spring will be different this year, but we will get through it.

I've also been doing alot of reading and studying.  It's funny to look back at your life and see where you were at and what your faith walk looked like.  The things that I used to think were so important are really not or even trivial.  I've learned that there will ALWAYS be dirty dishes, dirty laundry and a dirty house.  However, my boys will not always be in this house.  My boys are now 14, 12 and 10.  I've learned to treasure my time with them.  Now don't get me wrong - we don't always wear dirty clothes and live in filth.  But I've learned that those things don't always take priority over the time I could hang with my boys.  We've started giving gifts of time to the boys for their birthdays and Christmas.  The time we have shared has been special and priceless.  We may not have the fanciest car, clothes, or house, and I'm completely ok with that.  Being content with what we have has given me such a peace I can't describe unless you've experienced yourself.  There is no more "keeping up with the Jones" in my heart.  I'm making room for more important things.

I'm teaching Sunday School and JAM (Jesus and Me - a youth group for kids in 3rd-5th grades) again.  And it has been fun.  It has really been helping me in my faith walk.  The five weeks leading up to Easter our Sunday School class (CREW) had studied the book of James.  I had done this study previously with our adult small group.  It was good to go over again and learn new things.  One of the biggest things that stood out to me was in James 1:2-3 "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."  Do you know how many times I have read those verses and thought SERIOUSLY???  You've got to be kidding me.  I'm supposed to experience JOY?  Well in this study we did Francis Chan explained it like this.  He said that when a silversmith is making silver it goes through a process of heating up and all the impurities rise to the surface.  Then he scrapes all those impurities off and then starts the process all over again and does it over again and again. Until he finally knows that the silver is pure. And how does he know this? It is when he can look down and see his own reflection.  WOW!!  So we are the silver and the Lord is the silversmith.  Our trials is the fire - "heating us up" to get rid of all those impurities (sin) that we have.  Shaping our character into who he wants us to be.  Our ultimate goal is that when Jesus looks down at us he sees his own reflection.  I will never look at the verse the same nor my trials.  That is my goal.  I want Jesus to be able to look down at me someday and see his own reflection.  But not only Jesus, but people.  I want them to know and see that I have Jesus in my heart.  Jeremy Camp has a song called Christ in Me.  Here are the words to the song:

In this obsession withThe things this world says make us happyCan't see the slaves we are In all the searching all the graspingLike we deserve much more Than all these blessing we're holdingSo now I'm running free Into an ocean of mercy unending

So come and empty me So that it's you I breatheI want my life to be Only Christ in me So I will fix my eyes'Cause you're my source of life I need the world to seeThat it's Christ in meThat it's Christ in me

Done with what holds me down The things I once was chasing afterThrow off these heavy chains That I have let become my masterSo now I'm running free Into an ocean of mercy unending

Shouldn't that be the goal in all of our lives?  Are we too busy chasing after all of the things this world has to offer that we are completely missing out on all of the blessings God has for us?  I don't want that anymore.  I used to be that way - thinking that if I only had ____, I'd be happy.  Or if ____ would just happen.  Or if my kids would ____.  I was completely missing the point.  I've often said and I honestly can't say that it is fact - but I feel like I was so completely off the path God had set for me that he had to do something drastic to get me back.  That probably isn't even biblical - but it is how I feel. There was a period of my life when I was very angry with God. I still don't have the answers to all my questions.  But that isn't what faith is.  God isn't a vending machine God.  We don't send up a prayer and God gives us everything we want.  Life isn't about what we get but what we give and loving Jesus more every day.  Shouldn't that be our goal in life?  I know that is what I'm striving for.  Right now I'm doing a book/Bible study on trusting God.  It has been very challenging yet good for me.  I still struggle with some things - life isn't just all sunshine and roses - and I don't have it all figured out but at least now I have the right perspective in mind.  And I know with the help of Jesus we can get through anything.

Friday, November 17, 2017

It's Been Awhile!

I can't believe that it has been over two years since I've written anything.  Stay tuned as I hope to be writing more.