Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Having a hard day/week/year moment....

This has probably been the hardest year/month/week time in my life as a believer. I must have a twisted view of God because I feel like saying to God, "ok.... i cry uncle, I give... you won the arm wrestling contest (and I wasn't even trying to win)."

I don't mean to complain or whine (although as I've looked back on my past posts, it does seem as though I'm a bit of a whiner... sorry - that's where I am right now...) but that's why I called my blog, "Desparate for His Grace" because right now is a time of lamentations for me. The only difference is that I don't see the end in sight. At least right now I cannot say, "praise be to God, etc." I don't feel praise and I can't sing praise. I can only spout sadness and pain.

I am having a very difficult time holding my head up.... it does feel as though the water is rushing over me and I'm sinking, barely able to keep up. I keep waiting for that "grace that passes all understanding" to kick in. I keep waiting for the scripture to come alive for a verse just for me, to find that verse that speaks to my heart - and yet it's strangely silent around here.

I seem to weep all too often - for no apparent reason - although I do have some good reasons to justify why I shed those tears .... I know it does no good to feel sorry for myself. I know that God does not owe me anything. He does not owe me happiness or joy. He has given me everything for this life to live a godly life and I am complete in Christ. I know all this in my head and I've learned it all in bible college many years ago. But for some reason, after almost 37 years of being a believer in Christ, I seem to have forgotten how to "activate" these truths so that they become evident in my life again.

The truth of the matter is that I just don't see a way out of this dark tunnel. I seem to fall into this strange thought pattern of "well hang on for just a few more years and the kids will all be grown, out of the house, and you won't have to try so hard to be a good mom, a good Christian because they won't be around to see me regularly fall/fail/mess up." Isn't that crazy thinking???

But that's where I am ... I do see occasional small graces and favors that He seems to bestow on me here and there ... but honestly, it's not enough these days. I am taking these little crumbs and gobbling them up, hoping to be filled ... only find myself to be hungering for more ... more crumbs to help stop the aching pain inside.

I have almost stopped praying... I don't know what to say to Him. He knows my heart. Maybe He's not through "teaching" me something. I keep thinking maybe I've sinned or have forgotten to confess something (and I know I have sinned here and there; I'm not talking about a pervasive sinful pattern). Then I think maybe I haven't repented enough.

I have no joy or peace while I am going through this and I thought that was what was supposed to sustain me. Honestly, I am such a poor excuse for a believer right now. I'm certainly not the poster child of someone who has gone through a hard time and with the Lord's help has triumphed victoriously.

I am still in the pits. I cannot get out. I have no close friend to talk to about this or to help me and I feel so alone. I've been told by others that perhaps God is using this time to cause me to depend on Him too much and not on a friend. Maybe so - but that's not helping either because He too is silent.

I don't know what to do... I'm not in a self-destructive mode - so if anyone is reading this please know that I do not intend to do any harm to myself as that is the most selfish thing anyone can do.... I just don't know what to do, what to feel, how to be... how to think... how to pray... where to go.

I don't want to hear someone say, "fall into the arms of your dear savior as He knows what you're going through." Nope... don't think so.... because if what I'm experiencing is due to some sin in my life, then that means I deserve this pain/agony/aloneness and He cannot relate to that because He never sinned.

I just need anyone who reads this to pray for me... please as I am struggling so much right now and feel so very alone in this pain....

a weary pilgrim who's lost her way in the storm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Logan the SkyAngel Cowboy

Our pastor shared this in church on Sunday and I had to post it on my blog. It made me cry (actually every time I've watched it or shared it with someone else I've cried...) but this young man has some amazing insights for a 13 year old boy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Scarlet Letter

I read on the Drudgereport this week an article about a woman who's sins were being exposed by her church... I clicked on the article and was shocked to realize that this woman lives in my town and I've even visited that church before on a couple of occasions. This reminded me of the "Scarlet Letter" story except in this case, both parties were single. Here's the article: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,469928,00.html

It made me really sad and mad on several levels....

I am not sure how much of the details are true or were accurately reported… This 49 year old woman is being excommunicated from her church for being involved in a sexual relationship with a man who is not her husband. Several months before, this woman confided in her spiritual mentor and admitted her struggles with this relationship. The mentor was supposed to be there to help this friend with her problems with a relationship that was obviously not honoring to God. The woman had attempted to break up with this man on ten different occasions, but she still kept going back to him.

Then in October of this year the mentor decided to take this woman's confidential confession to the next level and tell some other ladies in their church. It seems as though the woman involved was willing to admit that she had a problem and had confided in someone in the church to help her deal with this issue. I don't know exactly how much time lapsed in between her sharing with her mentor and the time her mentor brought it before this smaller group of women in the church. Apparently, the church was now in step two of a three step process to deal with this issue of sin in this woman's life. In Matthew 18, there is an outline that Jesus refers to which many interpret as the way the church is supposed to administer "discipline." There does not appear to be a specific time frame in between each step. The verses read:

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

The article does not say that the woman "refused to listen" in step one of the process; however, it does appear that she was so deeply entrenched in this relationship and was truly battling with how to handle it. She did turn to someone she trusted to help her deal with this situation and was surprised and shocked to learn to see how her mentor handled her confidences.

… if anything this process seemed to have caused the woman to dig her heels in and rebel even further, going to the press and broadcasting the whole thing publicly, more public than the church was intending to take the situation. However, in some ways, it seems as though the church was more concerned with confronting the sin than they were in restoring the sinner…. but we don't know the whole story or all the details in the situation, nor should we need to. We can only surmise from what we read in the paper.

The article goes on to say that the woman left this church and resigned her membership before she received a letter from the elders stating that they were going to publicly confront her sin during a church service the first week in January if she did not repent. The woman said she had left the church and was now attending another church in the area.

It’s interesting… when this kind of church discipline was practiced in the 1st century… there were not several churches in one town…. and when someone was excommunicated, they didn’t have another church to go to… because the church was not only a place of worship; it was also a social gathering and a place where people had established close-knit relationships. There were more serious ramifications about being banned from the church — we don’t see that today because someone could just go from church to the next.

As I said in the beginning of this post, I have mixed emotions because I know that sin needs to be dealt with and that when we align ourselves as believers with a local body of Christ, we are exposing our lives to others with the intent that we are to spur one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24). Ideally, in the kind of church that is honoring to God, which endeavors to hold true to the holy scriptures, where believers are really engaged in meaningful, transparent and accountable relationships with each other, we may never have read this story in the paper--because it would have been resolved in a biblical way. As I said previously, I don't know the whole situation, and in some ways, I am inclined to be a bit cynical towards the woman who felt it necessary to broadcast her story wider than it was ever intended (now the "whole world" knows).

But as someone who has been burned in relationships and who has been really hurt by others 'in the church" who have unjustly harshly judged and condemned me, I can relate to this woman too - even though my circumstances are not the same as hers. There is a breakdown somewhere here. I know this church is intending to be biblical in their process and they probably mean well. But when you're dealing with imperfect human beings, on both sides of the situation, even the most well-meaning Christian people can believe they are "doing what's best" when they think they're helping someone for their own good.

The sad thing is this woman will mostly likely not be restored to a meaningful relationship with the Lord - I cannot say for sure, of course, but with all this media emphasis, I am concerned that she is going to become more embittered and settled in her ways and sin… and that she will not be able to hear the still small voice of the spirit speaking into her heart…. it just makes me sad.

I was talking with my children about this story today and one of them said, “But mom what about the of gluttony, of lying, of stealing, of other sins.. are they supposed to confront about those kinds of things…” One of them said, "Sin is sin in God’s eyes, mom… why are they making this sin bigger than any other?" She’s right… it’s just that we don’t often “confess” to a sin of gluttony, of impatience with our kids (what I struggle with too often!), of lying, of cheating on our tax returns, of speeding when driving, etc. Sin is sin - all sin breaks the heart of God. All of these sins sent Jesus to the cross to die.

Just my two cents…

Lord have mercy.... on us all...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mary's Song - by Luci Shaw

This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas poems by an incredible writer, Luci Shaw.

Mary's Song

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far to come.)
Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.
His breath (so light it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world. Charmed by doves' voices,
the whisper of straw, he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed who overflowed all skies,
all years. Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught
that I might be free, blind in my womb
to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

what else can be said except, wow....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Free Books Giveaway - Details Below!

I just learned about this really neat blog which has lots of interesting information, book reviews, excellent articles. The guy, Trevin Wax, is a pastor who writes about things close to my heart. He is also offering a special giveaway and you can read more about it (click link below).

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

All I want for Christmas..... is PEACE

Every year my children ask me what I want for Christmas... and it's usually always the same answer...

"I just want peace... not peace on earth, not peace in this country, just peace of mind, a peaceful home, peaceful attitudes [in my children]."

maybe it's too much to ask of them ... I supposed it would be easier to give them $5.00 each and have them pick up a candle or notepad for me from Walmart to put under the tree. Even though the peace I so dearly want seems to have no monetary value, it still comes with a hefty price tag, one that they are unwilling to pay.

Unselfish, considerate, loving, putting someone else's needs before your own, thoughtful, generous, kindness, compassionate
I have to confess that I struggle with modeling these qualities in my own life at times, and lately it seems that I'm not doing a very good job in front of my children. I often wonder what my children see when they look at me.... do they see:
  • a broken down mama who is worn out and weary, who cannot seem to handle the constant bickering and arguing, but who somehow never gives up on them or God [and who's so grateful that He hasn't gotten weary or given up in His dealings with me].
  • someone who fails them miserably way too often and yet who still tries to ask for their forgiveness when she sins against them.
  • someone who continually points them back to the Lord as the better example and who tries to deflect any attention to her [since the Lord is the only one who will not fail them and He is the perfect example... ]
  • someone who is weak and who cries way too easily (and often), but who also keeps trying to show love to them even when they are not very nice to her [i know i know... i need to grow a thicker skin and not let it get to me....]

Every year during the Christmas season, I find myself becoming a bit more jaded - not because of all the commercialism, but more because of what I would see as "phony" families being portrayed on T.V. commercials, shows and movies. These images cause many of us to feel defeated, knowing we can never attain that level of perfection, that it will always be just out of our reach. These stories show people who cannot wait to get home for Christmas to be with their wonderful, loving families; how they will move heaven and earth to get their kids home for the holidays or to find a way to get to Grandma's house for dinner. I know that no family is perfect and perhaps I am showing my cynicism here - but it seems that I have no choice but to lower my standards, my expectations of what I would want Christmas to be for me, for our family since I know it will never be like a Hallmark card commercial.

In the end I know a lot of it depends upon me and my own attitude . . . but I confess I am really getting frazzled and tired of waiting, hoping that maybe this year might be different - that the bright star in the sky, the "little Lord Jesus" will dwell in each of our hearts [in my heart] in a meaningful way - that will reveal a true transformation in each of us [in me].

I realize I cannot passively sit around and wait for that transformation to begin in my children - as it may never happen. I can only focus on me and be willing to allow the Lord to bring about change in my life. That may be the catalyst for change in the rest of the family.

So in a few weeks when I put away my boxes of Christmas decorations, I know I may never have that special ornament of "peace" on my tree. But deep inside there is a still glimmer of hope--(there's always hope) and I sense a different kind of peace that I know in my heart only comes from Him.

Merry Christmas dear Jesus.... and may you form a small bit of peace in this fragile, worn-out heart and if you see fit, use it for your glory, Amen.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

To Whom Shall We Go?

My pastor spoke this morning on John 2 - about Jesus and the money-changers in the temple. How they were not true worshippers and did not know the true Jesus...that they did not follow Jesus for the right reason. He asked an interesting question, "why do you follow Jesus?" Is it because of what He can do for you? Is it because of the miracles....

I thought about the "hard sayings" that Jesus spoke about a few chapters later in the book of John. This was in Chapter 6:60 when several disciples made the decision to no longer walk with Him because they essentially could not handle the difficult things He was teaching them. Jesus asked His remaining disciples, "Will you leave too?" to which the disciples replied, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have to come to know that you are the Holy One of God." Those are some powerful words. That is the only reason to follow Him because He alone can speak the words that bring eternal life to the souls of men. To my soul. To me. Where else can I really go to find words that eternally satisfy?

I know there are times that I have looked for the short-cuts, where I have complained about the hard things that I was going through at the time, and I have purposely looked for the easy way out rather than to persevere. Thank you Lord that you have pursued me with an everlasting love and you have not given up on me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Looking into someone else's window

I saw this picture of a little girl looking into the window of a family (not her own) having a nice dinner and having a wonderful time together. I don't know the story behind it, but it very well could have been me. I often peer into other's windows (figuratively speaking mind you) and wish I had that kind of family or husband or sweet respectful children like those I see at church, at the store in line, in the doctor's office, etc. I will sometimes wistfully look at other families and wish I could have the same kind of peace and happiness they seem to have. I don't wish for the material things that others have as much as I long for the peace and loving atmosphere that I see in other families and which is often lacking in [me] my own family.

I know that all families have their "issues." What I may perceive as "something better" may not always be better. That's not to disparage those families; it just helps me to keep my rambling thoughts in perspective. I am also mindful that much of the peace depends upon me. Romans 12:18 says, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. [emphasis mine] and I understand that a lot of the peace that I desire does depend upon my attitude, my choices and actions.

I've heard it said that mothers are the barometer in the home; if a mom is in a tizzy about something; their children will often respond (or react) accordingly. If she engages her children in a warm and loving manner, more often than not, they will respond the same.

There's a quote in a book called "If" by missionary Amy Carmichael that says,
“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, than I know nothing of Calvary love, for a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.”
I remember that quote usually AFTER my words spill out in anger, frustration, bitterness. I am not always the best example to my husband or children, and I find myself having to apologize and asking for their forgiveness quite often. I know that this season of life has been permitted for reasons which I have not yet discovered. I know in my heart that I need to look to Him to meet my needs and to help me become more content. I also need to become more proactive and change the things I know I have control over.

Dear Lord, please change ME and help me not to be concerned about any changes in my husband or my children or anyone else. Only then will I be able to learn more about this true spirit of contentment that You have trying to teach me these past few years.