What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Psalm 18:20-24 Laying Down the Pieces of My Life

I don’t have a lot of time this week for writing my blog but I thought that this passage in Psalm 18 from The Message was worth noting. It says,
“God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”
I found comfort in these words. I like the idea of placing the pieces of my life before God. I don’t think I do that very well. I tend to worry about things and not turn them over to God. In the middle of the night I worry but don’t lay the pieces before God. I don’t sleep well as a result. If I was to lay the pieces before Him, I might sleep better. Maybe I wouldn’t need the sleeping medication prescribed to me.
However, sometimes when I try to lay everything before Him, I end up worrying even more. I don’t know how to lay down the pieces of my life in a way that brings the peace and comfort implied in this passage. I do know it’s hard work and involves work on my part (i.e. getting my act together). I seek the fresh start He can give me, I just don’t know how to obtain it.
That doesn’t mean I will give up trying. I don’t want to take God for granted. Everyday I need to review the ways He works and I try to do that by praising Him on a daily basis. I also try to look at the ways He’s rewriting my life, changing my world. And I try to remember to give Him thanks for those changes. That’s a part of my daily time in His Word and in prayer.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Surprised to be Loved: Psalm 18

Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of much. Sometimes I don’t feel worthy of being loved. But that’s not how God views me. He views me from a place of perfect love. Even when the rest of the world doesn’t appreciate me, even when the world tries to knock me down, God loves me.
Psalm 18 had so much good stuff in it that although I talked about part of it last week, there’s more to talk about. Verses 16 – 19 in The Message say,
“But me he caught – reached all the way
            from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
            the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
            but God stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide open field;
            I stood there saved – surprised to be loved!”
So no matter what kind of havoc the evil in this world try to create in my life, God has reached all the way from the sky and pulled me up. If there’s hate and chaos in the world, I am still safe and protected by God. If I feel like I’m drowning in an ocean or am unable to breathe air, God is still sticking with me and putting me in a position to survive.
But surviving isn’t enough. Lately I feel like all I’m doing is surviving. A few years ago I made a commitment to pursue thriving. I haven’t been doing very good at that lately. Any thriving that’s going on is by accident. I have not been making conscious decisions to do things that make me thrive. For instance, I have not been taking substitute teaching jobs, or getting together with a friend I used to see regularly. And I’m left feeling like I’m drowning.
I can remedy that. I can take the sub jobs and I can call my friend. But I can also recognize that God is pulling me up and placing me in wide open fields where I can breathe and feel fulfilled. I can turn to God and regain the sense of being saved. I can rekindle the sense of being loved by a mighty God. It takes a little work on my part, but God is doing most of the work. I just have to be attentive to His workings and allow myself to feel His love.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Psalm 18: God Gives Me People

There are a lot of good verses and passages in Psalm 18. I like the heading, which says,
“A David song, which he sang to God after being saved from all his enemies and from Saul.”
It sheds some light on why David was so thankful and loved God as much as he seems to in this Psalm. David starts this Psalm describing God as his protector:
“I love you, God –
            you make me strong.
God is bedrock under my feet,
            the castle in which I live,
            my rescuing knight.
My God—the high crag
            where I run for dear life,
            hiding behind the boulders,
            safe in the granite hideout.”
Keep in mind this was what David was saying about God after he was rescued from his enemies. David acknowledges that God is his protector like a castle or like a mountain. I don’t feel like God protects me in the same way that David did. I struggle to see protection or relief from my enemies in such tangible ways. David was able to see God work in the tangible ways. How I long for that.
But my enemies are not warriors or kings out to kill me. My enemies are more often my thoughts and emotions. Can God . . . does God . . . protect me from those enemies in tangible ways? I don’t know if He is providing for protection from those things by running interference for me or by bringing other people into my life to bolster me. That’s the way I think He is working.
For instance, I have my husband who is there for my support. There are professionals – counselors and doctors – who also are there for support. I think that’s how God protects me from my enemies. Through other people He places in my life to support me and give me guidance and direction. These people are as tangible as a castle or a mountain.
Maybe my protection from God isn’t so much different than it was for David. Maybe, He strategically places people in my life to give me protection, encouragement, and strength when I need it. Just like God placed the mountains and boulders there for David’s protection, He places strong people around me to help me in my journey. No matter if my foe is a thought or an emotion, there is a help for overcoming it. I just need to access that help by calling out to the people God has placed in my life.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Psalm 17: God's Word's Way

Psalm 17:4 – 5: “I’m not trying to get my way
                                    in the world’s way.
                        I’m trying to get your way,
                                    Your Word’s way.
                        I’m staying on your trail;
                                    I’m putting one foot
                        In front of the other.
                                    I’m not giving up.”
I’m not giving up. I’m trying to follow His trail and do what the Word says. But sometimes I feel conflicted. What the Word says can be confusing. For instance, it says to be responsible for our finances, yet it also says to care for the afflicted. Sometimes I feel like I can’t do both at the same time. Yet I have to remember that God promised to meet all my needs. So, I can trust Him to meet my needs (and try not to get my wants confused with my needs).
If I’m not going to give up on following God then I need to be willing to step out in faith. Even when things don’t seem practical I need to evaluate whether it is God’s way or the way of the world. God’s way doesn’t always tell me what to do ahead of time. Sometimes God says to just put one foot in front of the other, not knowing what may come after that. The way of the world would be to have it all figured out ahead of time, to calculate the costs, and base every decision on whether it’s affordable or not.
I can’t live that way. I have to trust that God will work out the details. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t make wise decisions but the wisest of decisions still may have an element of the unknown in it. That’s where God has to come in and take over. If I only make decisions based on what I know for certain, I will most likely not make decisions at all – because there is very little certainty in this world.
So, as for me, I will not give up. I will continue to try and make decisions based on what God’s Word says. I will try to avoid making decisions based on what the world says. Sometimes this is very hard to do, but I will not give up on trying to do the next right thing, one foot ahead at a time.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I’ve been trying to come up with a couple of New Year’s Resolutions. Some things that will inspire me to live a better life this coming year than the year that just ended. I have not really come up with anything. I see the posts others have made to their Facebook pages or to their blogs and I think, “I should come up with some clever words to inspire myself and others to a better year.” But, I don’t have anything new that I want to accomplish this year.
I’m not big on making New Year Resolutions because I’m not confident I will keep them – especially not for a whole year. So, today, as I contemplate a new year, I think of what has worked in the past to bring joy, thankfulness, and gladness to my life. These are the things I want to continue to do in 2014. They are resolutions in the sense that I am resolving to do them. They are not new resolutions however, because I’ve been doing them all along, throughout my life.
Of first importance is meeting with God daily, or at least almost daily. Each day I spend a little time in the Word of God, in prayer, and in praising is a successful day. Even if nothing else gets done in a day, if I’ve done those three things, I’ve had a successful day. From past experience I know that my mindset and mood is better on days I meet with God. I am not saying that there still aren’t hard days with low moods. There are, but what would my mood be like if I hadn’t met with God? On those days I fail to read the Word or praise or pray, I feel like something was missing from my life. Just to feel like I’m on the right track is enough reason to meet with God daily.
Next in importance is keeping up on my connection with beloved friends and family. I do that regularly in several ways. First, I try to write a daily email to my best friend. Although she lives in Minnesota and we are separated by geographical distance, we can be in contact on a daily basis through the power of the internet. In the past, which seems so very long ago, it would take days to communicate with her via the U.S. Postal Service. With technology via email, we can have daily contact to encourage each other and hold each other accountable to doing the things that keep us close to God. I will continue to do that sharing from my times in the Word of God and sharing my prayers, hopes, and dreams.
I also need to maintain contact with other friends and family. Again the internet is a powerful tool for doing this. I can message people on Facebook and/or keep up on the happenings in others’ lives via their Facebook posts. I need that regular contact with friends around the world. Thinking about others and their needs and prayer requests keeps me focused on others instead of just on my own problems and hang ups. That is important for me as I try to keep perspective in a world that can be so depressing. And, I see God answering prayer as I pray for those friends and family. That brings me a peaceful encouragement that I’m not sure I can get any other way.
I also need to do the things that are necessary for my sobriety. This includes the face to face contact with others who share my resolve to stay sober and happy. So, this next year I will continue to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and Celebrate Recovery meetings. These meetings give me perspective. This also means continuing to see my therapist on a weekly basis. Sometimes I think it’s not doing any good, but then what would my life be like without the weekly reminder to keep working at the things that bring me stability in my life? I do need the reminders to keep doing the things that give me perspective on a messy life.
So, for 2014 I will keep doing the things that I’ve been striving to do throughout 2013. Maybe I will do some of them a little better than I did last year, maybe not. Having the goals to keep at them are important. Even as they are not new goals or resolutions, they are things that can bring about a changed life when 2014 is over.