Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not My Way

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8

It's so easy to make plans for the future. To picture what I want, or where I want to be in 5 or 10 years. It's easy to see what I want my life to become. I can see all the choices I need to make to get that picture.

But God doesn't always let me have my picture.

Sometimes, his picture and my picture are drastically different. I don't always like the strokes His paintbrushes take. The colors may be too dark. The picture isn't pretty as it's being painted.

If I had it my way, there would be no sufferring. All the colors of my picture would be bright and beautiful.

But His ways aren't my ways. And I thank Him for that. Because those strokes that I thought were too long, too dark, too hard...those were the strokes that created the contrast to make the rest of the picture more beautiful. A picture more beautiful than anything than I could create on my own.

I think of the sun. In the daytime, it's bright, at night, it's gone. There is nothing special. But at sunset and sunrise, it casts beautiful colors across the sky. It's the most beautiful when the dark and light collide.

My plan for my life included working for a few years, and saving up some money. Then I was supposed to quit working, stay at home and start a family. We wouldn't be rich, but we could lead a comfortable life. My husband would go to work, and I'd have dinner ready for him and the kids when he got home.

God's plan included unemployment, brain injuries, being broke. He shattered my plans, and took away all hope I had for the future.

But now, my life is better than what I had pictured. We are learning to be content with what we have. We have a new appreciation for life, and a level of intimacy with God that I didn't know was possible.

And He has renewed my hope. Jeff is better now and we have the possiblity for a family again. It may not be the way I pictured it, but the possibility is there again.

I have a purpose to my life. I have always had purpose, but I didn't know what it was before. Through this journey God has taken me on, I have learned my purpose. God gave me a story to tell. He gave me a powerful testimony, and formed it into a book.

He gave me the ability to share my story in a very public way, sharing my hope with others.

I have a joy that is indescribable. It is an incredible feeling to not only have a purpose in life, but to know what it is, and be able to live it out everyday.

I may not be able to understand why God chooses to allow suffering in my life, but He does have a plan. He also knows me better than I know myself.

He knows what can make my life better than anything I can even imagine. He knows my desires better than I do. He can take me down paths that I never would have chosen for myself, but turn out to better than anything I would have known to ask for.

While I may sometimes wish I could plan out my life, wish I could understand God's ways, I'm so glad I don't. God is so much bigger than anything I can even begin to comprehend, and I am grateful that I can't fit Him in my little box.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sticking Together

When I look at statistics for Christian marriages lasting in the US, my heart breaks. It's no different than that of secular marriages. That simply shouldn't be the case. Of course those that call themselves Christians and those who live it is another story altogether...

Regardless, Christian marriages shouldn't be ending in divorce at the same rate as those who don't follow Christ. So why is it?

I think we become so focused on ourselves and what is not being done for us that we forget, or stop caring, about what we should be doing. Then when we decide we want to save the marriage we look horizontally instead of vertically. We try to fix things ourselves, try to please our spouse. Instead, we should turn to God, allowing Him to change us from the inside. In turn, it will change the way our spouse sees us, and God can change our spouse as well.

But that takes work, patience, and denial of our own wants. It goes against our human nature. But that's the point! Nothing is about us!

God created marriage and uses it as an example of our relationship with Him. We take it and try to make it about ourselves.

Marriage is hard, most couples at some point think they made a mistake, they married the wrong person. I know I felt that way early on in my marriage. But it doesn't matter anymore, you've already made the commitment.

I'm not saying all this because I have a perfect marriage. I'm saying this because marriage is worth fighting for. My husband and I have had our share of difficulties. Not to mention that he now has a brain injury. He went through an aggressive phase the doctors didn't think he would move past. I was facing living with an abusive spouse. And now, he's still not the same man I married.

I have wanted to walk away more than once, but I can't. No matter how bad things get, I remember the vows that I made to my husband, and more importantly to God. When times got tough, I turned to God. I told Him about my impossible situations. And He helped me get through them.

I am watching friends now go through their struggles and finding it easier to give up. I'll be honest, it is easier to give up. But God doesn't call us to do the easy thing. He calls us to do it His way. It will be harder, but the rewards are so much greater. But you have to be willing to give up your own desires.

I've grown up in a family of divorce. On one side of my family, every single person from my grandparents on down to my cousins have all been divorced at least once. I know what it does to the families, to the kids. It is not what God intended.

I'm not saying this in judgement. And I know there are a FEW exceptions. I'm saying it because it breaks my heart. There is another way, but either people don't see it, or decide that it's too hard. But just like living for Christ in everyday life, the hard times refine us, and eventually bring joy.

When we make marriage about ourselves, we detract from what it was created for...to make us more holy.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's that time of year. The time where I have to adjust to the routine again. During the school year I work a very busy schedule. Then on top of it, I had the brilliant idea to run another half-marathon, so I'm training for that. Plus all the other stuff I try to fit in between work and running.

This is the 4th week of school and the earliest I've been home during the week has been 7:30pm, and I leave at 6:45am. That's a loooong day... (it's a good thing my husband gets to be home more than I do or our dogs might get neglected)

This weekend was another busy, yet productive one. I was able to do a book signing at Hastings in New Braunfels. Then my husband and I went to donate blood. I learned the hard way that you shouldn't run 9 miles within 24 hours of donating blood...I didn't pass out, but I came close a few times.

Sunday was our church picnic and baptism Sunday, so that was fun. Then Sunday evening, I finally got to sit down on the couch for an hour and spend some time with my husband watching one of our favorite TV shows.

Then it was off to bed to start the week all over again.

I know around the end of October, I'll be readjusted to all this busyness (and the half-marathon will be over so I can cut back on running so much), but right now it's exhausting. These are times when I'm glad I don't have kids at home to take care of.

Right now, I just miss my husband, and I miss girl time with my friends.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ask and you shall receive...

I love when I am able to see the lessons that God teaches me. I love the finished product. I desire to be better, and that's what I want, to be a better person.

However, I often forget the work that it takes to get there. Currently, I want God to change my mind. I’ve realized that the way I think impacts the way I interact with people. Just by thinking a certain way, it affects the relationships around me.

So I prayed to ask God to change my thoughts to more positive thinking. Not just positive thinking, but not looking at the negative in people. Not thinking that I can do something better than someone else, or that the decision that I make is better.

I forgot that when I pray for something like that, God gives me opportunities to put it to practice.

So I’m finding myself in situations where I need a lot of patience. Where there are many ways to do a task, and I can see the “easiest” way (which of course translates to the best way). However, I don’t have the power to do it my way. Or I’m put in a situation where I have to respect and follow someone else’s decision, even though I disagree with it.

When that happens, I think that maybe I just shouldn’t pray for God to work on me. He’s done a lot of work already, and I can be happy with that. No one’s perfect, so why should I strive to be better?

But then I am reminded of the finished product. I’m reminded of the many times I’ve asked God to change something in me, and while the road may not have been easy, it changed me in ways I wasn’t capable of changing on my own. I know that the struggles are worth it.

So it’s time to stop resisting the way God chooses to teach me the lessons I ask for, and learn what I can. The quicker I learn the lesson, the quicker I reap the rewards.

What have you asked God to change in you recently?