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Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Human Spirit

As I watched the rescue of the Chilean miners this past week on CNN, this verse of scripture came to mind:

“He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope” (Isaiah 42:3a ESV).

As a member of the human race we tend to be so inundated with all of the negativity that’s in the world today, and spend so much of our time witnessing tragedy on a large scale, we tend to forget the strength of the human spirit.

Some of the events I’ve witnessed in my life include the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in January of 1986, the attacks of September 11th, and the Asian tsunami in December of 2004. So to have the privilege of watching the world come together in a coordinated effort to rescue these 33 men was definitely a blessing that filled my heart with gratitude.

I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the families of those men to wonder if they were even alive. I also cannot imagine how much time those men spent wondering if anyone was going to be able to find them, let alone rescue them. And yet, I believe that perhaps this verse is what sustained them during that time:

“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit” (2 Corinthians 4:8 NLT).

Good food for thought this week!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I Will Trust You

It's really been a rough couple of days, and right now this song by Steven Curtis Chapman expresses exactly how I feel:

I Will Trust You

I don't even wanna breathe right now
All I wanna do is close my eyes
But I don't wanna open them again
Until I'm standing on the other side

I don't even wanna be right now
I don't wanna think another thought
And I don't wanna feel this pain I feel
And right now, pain is all I've got

It feels like it's all I've got, but I know it's not
No, I know You're all I've got
And I will trust You, I'll trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don't understand, even then I will say again
You are my God, and I will trust You

God, I'm longing for the day to come
When this cloudy glass I'm looking through
Is shattered in a million pieces
And finally I can just see You

God, You know I believe it's true
I know I will see You
But until the day I do

I will trust You, trust You
Trust You, God, I will
Even when I don't understand
Even then I will say again

You are my God, and I'll trust You
And with every breath I take
And for every day that breaks
I will trust You
I will trust You
And when nothing is making sense
Even then I will say again

God, I trust You
I will trust You
I know Your heart is good
I know Your love is strong
And I know Your plans for me
Are much better than my own

So I will trust You, trust You
I trust You, God, I do
Even when I can't see the end
And I will trust You
I will trust You, I will
Even when I don't understand
Even then I will say again

I will trust You, I will trust You, I will
I know Your heart is good,
Your love is strong,
Your plans for me are better than my own
Yeah, Your heart is good
Your love is strong
Your plans for me are better than my own
And I trust You
You are my God
And I will trust You


© Steven Curtis Chapman

Trusting Him to help me through this pain...


P.S. If you want to listen to "I Will Trust You," you can do so here!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Grace Undeserved

Today I experienced a measure of God’s undeserved grace that really shook me up – so much so that every time I think about it, it still freaks me out.

As I was driving to school today I ended up behind a really slow driver and decided to change lanes. Unfortunately, I did so without looking to see if anyone was already in that lane, so you can imagine my surprise when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a red car about two feet behind me. I was stunned, especially since changing lanes without looking isn’t something I normally do. I was also extremely grateful that I didn’t hit the guy; not so much because of the damage it would have done to my car but because of the fact that I didn’t injure him. And that’s when I realized that I had truly just experienced a moment of God’s undeserved grace … TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY UNDESERVED GRACE!

You see the truth of the matter is that I deserved to hit him. Now don’t misunderstand me. He didn’t deserve to be hit, but because of my carelessness I deserved whatever would have happened to me had I hit him. So I’m truly amazed by the fact that in that particular moment in time, God chose to rescue me, since I did absolutely nothing to deserve His grace. Not then, not ever.

“Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me …” (Ephesians 3:8a)

Thank you, Father, for loving me far more than I deserve or will ever possibly understand.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Great Book to Check Out!

Just finished reading Dave Sterrett's book, "Why Trust Jesus." I highly recommend it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Faithful

One of my absolute favorite musicians on the planet is Steven Curtis Chapman (SCC). His heart for God and his ability to portray real life through his music is beyond compare … at least in how it speaks to me.

Last Fall I spent quite a bit of time listening to his latest album, “Beauty Will Rise,” as I found it gave me a great deal of comfort for where I was in my life.

After receiving an email from someone yesterday in which I was given some bad news around my business, I realized that I was actually scared because I have no answers as to exactly what it is that God is doing in my life right now.

Today I happened to put on SCC’s album again and one of the songs he wrote really spoke to me. Perhaps it will speak to you, as well:

Faithful

I am broken, I am bleeding
I’m scared and I’m confused
But You are faithful, yes, You are faithful

I am weary in believing
God please help my unbelief
‘Cause You are faithful, yes, You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I’ll sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark

You are faithful, You are faithful
When You give and when You take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful

I am waiting for the rescue
That I know is sure to come
‘Cause You are faithful, yes, You are faithful
And I’ve dropped anchor in Your promises and I am holding on
“Cause You are faithful, God, You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I will sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark

You are faithful, You are faithful
When You give and when You take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful

When I cannot have the answer
That I’m wanting to demand
I’ll remember You are God
And everything is in Your hands
With Your hands You put the sun and moon and stars up in the sky
For the sake of love You hung Your own Son on the cross to die

And You are faithful,
Yes, You are faithful
When You give, when You take away even then
Great is Your faithfulness
Great is Your faithfulness
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You’re faithful


© Steven Curtis Chapman

I would like to tell you that after listening to this song, I was no longer scared, but that would be a lie. Yes, I do have more peace than I did last night. However, I am still very scared.

In the short (written) introduction to the song, Steven talks about one of the Bible verses that had been particularly important to him around God’s faithfulness. Here’s the verse he refers to:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:21-26 ESV)

This struggle with my business has been going on for more than a year now, and honestly, I am very tired and hanging on by a thread these days. However, I am grateful that my faith in Him is stronger this week, than it was last week, and I am hopeful that next week it will be stronger than it is this week.

So for now, as SCC wrote above, this is my prayer …

And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe
You are faithful



P.S. If you want to listen to "Faithful," you can do so here!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Goodness of God

Last weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about one of the issues I have with God at the moment, which has really made me question His goodness.

It started last November when I read this verse in Psalm 121:

“The Lord will keep you from all harm -- he will watch over your life.” (Psalm 121:7 NIV)

In light of some of the things that have happened in my life, the first thought that crossed my mind when I read that verse -- and which I shared with my pastor -- was “what a load of crap!” (Again, my goal here is to be completely transparent with you, so that was my honest reaction. Gratefully, my pastor is not judgmental!)

I can’t tell you how angry that verse made me! And while my pastor explained to me that I needed to put it into context (i.e. remember who the Psalms were written for, and what was taking place in the world at that point in time), it still really made me mad. It also made me really start questioning not only the goodness of God, but if “He” was “the God” I wanted to follow and the One in Whom I wanted to believe. As a result of all my questioning, I completely lost my ability to trust Him.

Can I be honest with you? Even though I’ve believed in God since childhood, during the past 10 months, as I’ve gotten a clearer picture of what has taken place in my life, I’m still not in a place where I’m ready to trust Him 100%. The good news is that none of this comes as a surprise to Him, as He knows my thoughts before I think them, and my words before I say them. ☺

I wish I could tell you that I don’t challenge God to “prove” Himself to me, but that would be a lie. Instead, for the last couple of weeks, I have literally asked Him to reveal Himself -- and His goodness -- to me every single day. And while He has faithfully done so, even now I still cannot yet worship Him as He deserves. However, I am hopeful that one day in the not-too-distant-future I will be able to do so once again!

Have a blessed weekend ...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Empty on the Inside

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, and with the desire to encourage others through my own experiences, I have to be honest with you: I’m really struggling with my faith right now – all the way around.

First of all, I’m struggling physically with a painful issue that I’ve been dealing with off and on for several years now, and which has really kicked into high gear recently. Unfortunately, it is something that cannot be cured by a physician, but instead, falls under the category of Paul’s prayer:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV)

However, if I’m honest with myself -- and with you -- I’m not finding His grace to be sufficient at all right now.

Secondly, as you may have read in my very first blog, back in June I finally discovered what the core struggle of my faith was really about. And while I cannot yet share the details of my struggle, another big challenge I’m having is trying to find my “delight in God.”

I recently read this quote in John Piper’s book, “When I Don’t Desire God”:

"We must delight in God. And only God can change our hearts so that we delight in God."

Unfortunately, I’m not finding any delight in God. Instead, I’m finding myself really being challenged by this quote from Randy Alcorn:

"The almighty God who created us is the same holy God who condemned us as sinners and the same loving God who went to extraordinary lengths that we might go to Heaven."

Ironically, before I ever read that statement, I wrote this in an email to someone earlier this year:

“God created us for Himself, but doesn't need us; Wants to be in relationship with us but won't force it; Wants us to worship Him and have faith in Him, yet will destroy us if we don't believe; Is perfect yet cannot be in relationship with us (even though He created us), without the need to create and send Christ to earth.”

Seriously? You created us; condemned us, and then sent your Son to die for us? What’s up with that?!!

And yet, although I am not finding His grace sufficient, and am unable to find my delight in Him, He continues to be faithful to me through answered prayer.

Last week, in an effort to (hopefully) recreate the intimate relationship He and I have shared in the past, I asked God to show Himself to me through His creation because until a couple of years ago, it was the one way in which I was really able to celebrate His glory.

So, in answer to my prayer, over the past several days He has provided the most amazing cloud formations I’ve ever seen; some absolutely fabulous thunder storms; several rainbows; a double rainbow, and then this afternoon He sent this doe and her fawn to my backyard.




Yet even through all of this, I’m still finding myself unable to worship Him as He deserves to be worshiped.

Truth be told, I miss the close relationship we’ve shared. I miss being in awe of His creation. I miss having a heart of true worship. I miss the simplicity of taking Him at His word no matter what my human mind may tell me.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

But most importantly I miss being able to accept, without question, the fact that …

“Our God is in heaven. He does what he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3 NCV)

So for now, I find myself feeling incredibly empty on the inside. And while I know that we’re not supposed to trust our feelings, as the creative, emotional human being that He made me to be, those feelings are a very strong part of who I am and Whose I am.

Until next time …

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catching Up

As I continue to recover from the place of complete burnout, exhaustion and crankiness I've been in for the last few weeks, I wish I had some brilliant revelations to share with you, but I don't!

However, I did read this quote the other day (in a book by John Piper), in which he talks about the importance of asking others to pray for us. While I love what he says, I'm also saddened to say that it also represents my heart right now:

"We should to confess to them [others] our struggles, and we should ask them to pray that we would be 'healed' from our half-hearted love for Jesus."

So as I continue to struggle with my complete inability to understand what God is doing in my life right now -- except keep me off-balance -- I would ask you to pray for me, that I can love Him with my whole heart and truly trust that He is, indeed, in control!

Thanks ...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Humanity of Christ

One Sunday evening a group of people from my church, who recently took a trip to Israel, shared their experiences with the congregation and a couple of people spoke about their visit to the Garden of Gethsemane.

I’ve spent a great deal of time contemplating the humanity of Christ on that evening before his death, and recently noticed the parallels between Christ’s time alone in Gethsemane and a situation that a friend of mine may be facing in the very near future.

Now, let me be very clear on this: my friend’s situation is nowhere near the literal life and death situation that Christ faced. Instead, my friend’s challenge is around something they may be asked to do (for someone else) that will prove to be extremely emotionally difficult for them. In fact, my friend shared that they have basically been praying the same prayer that Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39 ESV)

And that’s the focus of today’s blog … The Humanity of Christ.

“… who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8 ESV)

That’s where the humanity of Christ amazes me: Christ willingly submitted Himself to be crucified on a cross: the most degrading kind of execution that could possibly be inflicted on someone at that time. Additionally, not only did He do it for those who were believers (and for those who would become believers), but He also did it for all those who laughed at Him and scorned Him to His face. Can you imagine?

And the part of Christ’s humanity that touches me the most is this: In His “humanness” He asked His friends to be with Him, and to support Him, on the night before his crucifixion because He was in a great deal of emotional pain:

“He said to them, ‘My heart is full of sorrow, to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.’” (Matthew 26:38 NCV)

Yes, in His humanity, even Christ was not immune to emotional pain. None of us are! And yet what did His friends do? They fell asleep!

The interesting thing about my friend’s situation is that ever since they shared it with me, the thought that keeps crossing my mind is “what a great gift” they may be given! Now while my friend may not see it that way, the reason I see it as a gift is because it will be the last opportunity they will have to do something for this other person. Yes it will be emotionally difficult for my friend, just as Christ’s time alone in the Garden was painful for Him …

“Being full of pain, Jesus prayed even harder. His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44 NCV)

However, because every experience that God allows to take place in our lives is for the purpose of accomplishing His will and bringing Him glory, I would like to encourage my friend to remember that this situation is not about them; it’s about Him … and ONLY HIM!

And if this situation does come to fruition, it will provide my friend with an amazing opportunity to literally be used to bring glory to the One Who gives life to all, knowing that:

“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:11 NIV)

How cool is that? No matter how difficult the situation may be on my friend, God will give both the words to speak and the strength to serve, so that in the end He Himself will be glorified!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Lonely Place of Solitude

“That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:32-35 ESV)

During my time as a Hollywood agent, I worked with another agent who had an extremely gifted daughter. This young lady (now a young woman in college) was one of those kids who was good at everything she tried, and as a result was involved in activity, after activity, after activity. She sang in the choir, played in the orchestra, was on the soccer team, got straight A’s, and basically (in my opinion) had no childhood, at all.

Please note that with regard to that last statement, it’s just my opinion. She may have loved being so busy and active that both she and her parents were on the go from morning till night. Granted, I’m not a parent. But when I see something like that I often wonder how they do it!

How do you have a quality life when you’re constantly on the go? How do you have a quality relationship with your kids when they’re involved in everything under the sun? How do you have intimacy with your spouse when you’re running your kids everywhere? And, even more importantly, how do you have a quality relationship with God that’s more than just “ten minutes here and there," whenever it's convenient to fit Him into your life? Truth be told, I’m worn out just thinking about it! Of course, that may be because I’m still exhausted at the moment.

This morning I read a book entitled Out of Solitude by Henri Nouwen, and I want to share some of his writings that really resonated with me:

“I have the sense that the secret of Jesus’ ministry is hidden in that lonely place where he went to pray, early in the morning, long before dawn …

In the lonely place Jesus finds the courage to follow God’s will and not his own; to speak God’s words and not his own; to do God’s work and not his own …

It is in the lonely place, where Jesus enters into intimacy with the Father, that his ministry is born.”


One of the things I’ve learned is that “busyness” is often nothing more than a way to avoid pain. Whether it’s used to avoid the reality that I hate my job; I’m in an unhealthy relationship that needs to end or things in my life just aren’t working and I need to make some changes (been there, done that, on all three accounts!), it is far easier to keep myself busy than to face the things I need to deal with head-on!

And because there is so much pain in this world, and because God never promised us an easy road, it’s no wonder that we fill our lives with so much “stuff,” and so many activities, that we often don’t know whether we’re coming or going! (Again, I know whereof I speak ...)

Then, just when we think we’ve got it all under control, it all comes crashing down around us and we’re forced to pay attention! Or, we’re forced to take a break in order to spend time in solitude with the One Who knows us better than we know ourselves:

“You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body … All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” (Psalm 139:13,16 NCV)

My prayer for today is that I will find intimacy with Christ, as I rest in the loneliness of solitude. May it be yours, as well.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Time for Everything

When I was in college I went to Florida for Spring Break (no, not that kind of Spring Break!) to see my grandmother. The first night I was there I slept for 36 hours.

Years later, during my travels with Up With People, I slept for 24 hours one day, and did the same thing again a couple of times during my years as a Hollywood talent agent.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself (as an extremely creative person) is that I burn the candle at both ends and then collapse in the middle. And when that happens, I need to take time off to rest and recuperate.

Yesterday, after I broke down in tears due to complete exhaustion, I knew I’d hit the wall yet again. So today I made several decisions: (1) Cancel the 10-day business trip I was supposed to leave on tomorrow; (2) Take the rest of this week off, and (3) Spend today resting (which I did – sleeping and reading).

The interesting part of all of this is that I actually had no qualms about canceling my trip (which is not what I would have done in the past). And, even more importantly, God confirmed that I made the right decision this afternoon.

Just as Christ took time to be alone, rest and pray, I know it’s one of the best things I can do for myself right now. Tonight I read this Living Insight by Charles Swindoll and it says it all perfectly:

“We are to be diligent to enter into rest. That doesn’t mean we adopt a lazy, irresponsible lifestyle full of indolence and inactivity. No, this is first and foremost a mental rest, a quiet confidence in the living Lord. A refusal to churn, to fret, to strive.”

That said, it’s time for bed … Good Night!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jesus Wept

"Jesus Wept." (John 11:35)

So glad to know that Jesus wept because I am so far beyond the boundary of exhausted that it's about all I can do right now (i.e. cry)!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Intimate Revelations

Last week I read this quote in a book by Beverly LaHaye and Janice Crouse, which I absolutely love:

“The possibility for us to be in a relationship with the awesome Creator of the universe exists because He chose to reveal Himself to us in ways that we could understand.”

So as God continues to reveal Himself to me – in His own time and in His own way – I wanted to share with you some of the Bible verses that have been touching my heart lately, along with my thoughts as I’ve read them:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” (Matthew 10:29 NIV)

• God’s will – not mine

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NIV)

• Time alone with Him is the only answer

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10 NIV)

• Thank God or I’d really be in serious trouble

“Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!” (Psalm 66:20 ESV)

• Even during all the times when I reject Him or fail to love Him

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15 NIV)

• There’s definitely one area in my life that needs improvement

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)

• There is a place for my talents in this world, even though I sometimes doubt that fact

And one final Living Insight from Charles Swindoll, based on Psalm 8:

“Ask the Lord to help you catch a new vision of who He is … what He demands … and what He can accomplish in and through your life as you trust in Him.”

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thoughts to Ponder

Still reading Randy Alcorn's book, "If God is Good," and read these beautifully written sentences the other night:

"Any affirmation of God's love that fails to acknowledge the demands of his holiness distorts God's character and truth, undermines the gospel ... If in our eyes his holiness contradicts his love and his justice conflicts with his mercy, then that is our problem, not his."

AND HERE'S THE PART THAT'S REALLY MAKING ME THINK ...

"The almighty God who created us is the same holy God who condemned us as sinners and the same loving God who went to extraordinary lengths that we might go to Heaven."

I don't know about you, but for me the depth of this sentence is going to keep me thinking for a long time! And tonight I came across these verses in Psalm 77, which seem to fit perfectly with the idea above:

"You are the God who works wonders ... With power You redeemed Your people ..."
(Ps. 77:14-15)

The more I struggle to make things make sense, the more I realize that He is, indeed, a God who works the kind of wonders I will never understand this side of Heaven!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Light for Others

So grateful He's in control because I'm really tired of trying to do it all myself! Of course, you'd think I'd know better ... But then again, you'd think we'd all know better!

That said, here's what really struck me during my quiet time this morning:

"You are the light that gives light to the world ... Be a light for other people."
(Matthew 5:14,16 NCV)

Oh, how I long to be a light for others right now ...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Microwave Society

The other day during a conversation with one of the pastors at my church, he made the comment that we are a “microwave society,” meaning that we want everything quickly and easily. That is so true!

As I spent some time thinking about the depth of truth that lies in his comment, I will readily admit that based on all of the growing pains I’ve been going through over the last 10 months, I’m ready to be done! I want out of all the pain, anguish and sadness I've been experiencing because, quite simply, I'm exhausted! You see sitting in this place of pain, and allowing myself to actually feel it, takes an enormous amount of energy. More energy than I believe I have at the moment.

Of course, this is probably the perfect time to call upon the words of Matthew 11:28 (NIV): "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” but I keep wondering how I’m supposed to do that when I literally don’t feel like I have any time at all in which I can take a break and “rest!”

One of my favorite new authors is a gentleman named Henri Nouwen, and I just started reading his book, "The Inner Voice of Love."

Based on where I am at the moment, and after reading his introduction to the book, I knew it was something I wanted to dive into headfirst, as here is part of what he writes:

“This book is my secret journal. It was written during the most difficult period of my life, from December 1987 to June 1988. That was a time of extreme anguish, during which I wondered whether I would be able to hold onto my life. Everything came crashing down -- my self-esteem, my energy to live and work, my sense of being loved, my hope for healing, my trust in God ... everything. Here I was, a writer about the spiritual life, known as someone who loves God and gives hope to people, flat on the ground and in total darkness.

What had happened? I had come face to face with my own nothingness. It was as if all that had given my life meaning was pulled away and I could see nothing in front of me but a bottomless abyss.

The strange thing was that this happened shortly after I had found my true home. After many years of life in universities, where I never felt fully at home, I had become a member of L'Arche, a community of men and women with mental disabilities. I had been received with open arms, given all the attention and affection I could ever hope for, and offered a safe loving place to grow spiritually as well as emotionally. Everything seemed ideal. But precisely at that time I fell apart -- as if I needed a safe place to hit bottom!

All of this was triggered by the sudden interruption of a friendship ... But this deeply satisfying friendship became the road to my anguish, because soon I discovered that the enormous space that had been opened for me could not be filled by the one who had opened it ...

Intellectually I knew that no human friendship could fulfill the deepest longing of my heart. I knew that only God could give me what I desired. I knew that I had been set on a road where nobody could walk with me but Jesus. But all this knowledge didn't help me in my pain.”


While I don’t know about you, I can relate to everything he shared about his own struggle. In fact, the one comment he made that really hit home with me was that his world came crashing down after he had found his "true home;" that he seemed to need “a safe place to hit bottom.” I can totally relate to that idea because that's exactly how I feel about living in Montana; like I've finally found the place where I belong -- a "safe haven" in which I can heal mentally, physically and emotionally.

Additionally, I can relate to the fact that he also experienced a "trigger" which sent him into his abyss (which is also what sent me into my own spiritual crisis), and that he knew the only thing that could fill the hole in his heart was Christ, which is exactly how I feel and something I mentioned to my pastor.

They say “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” and that’s exactly how I’m feeling these days as God is slowly starting to reveal Himself to me once again, and for that I am truly grateful!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Cry of My Heart

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and everyday have sorrow in my heart?"

(Psalm 13:1-2 NIV)

The superficial pain of LA was so much easier to deal with than the true pain I'm finding myself in now, and yet ...

"[But] I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me."

(Psalm 13:5-6 NIV)

Mourning the loss of my friend, George Steinbrenner, and sending my prayers out to his family, friends, colleagues and all members (both past and present) of his beloved New York Yankees.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Growing Pains

The first time I went to ballet class I discovered that my hips were uneven and that one leg was slightly longer than the other. I was four years old and my ballet career was already over!

Eight years later I was diagnosed with Osgood Schlatters disease, which sounds much worse than it actually is! Quite simply, it’s a very common cause of knee pain in children and young athletes. The condition occurs in active boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 18, and coincides with periods of growth spurts and a high level of sporting activity. At 5’9", I was too tall to be a ballerina, but my height was perfect to be a competitive swimmer, which I was for ten years.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing easy about growing up – physically or mentally – even when you’re an adult, because it seems like the older we get, the more "growing pains" we go through, whether we want to or not!

Here’s an example of what I mean: One of my biggest personal challenges is when the people in my life die. So far I’ve lost about 25 people, including 18 very close family members, as well as friends, my favorite boss who died while I was on vacation (thank God the studio waited to have her memorial service until I returned), and my voice teacher, who dropped dead of a heart attack after seeing a Broadway show in New York (he was like a father to me and I still miss him to this day). Needless to say, I do NOT handle death well!

As I was speaking with one of the ministers at my church about this the other day (in relation to a woman at our church who is currently sitting in “God’s Waiting Room,” as my grandmother used to call it!), we both agreed that while the glory that awaits those who are called Home is far better than anything we can possibly imagine, the pain that awaits us after they depart is something we all want to avoid simply because, in our selfishness, it’s so easy to make their death about us. (At least it can be for me!) Of course, that realization still doesn’t take away the mental, and sometimes physical, anguish I feel after a loved one has left my life.

So what does all of this talk of death have to do with “growing pains?” Here’s what I’ve discovered so far: it’s the things that are the hardest to experience that enable us to grow the most. And let me tell you, I feel like I’ve done more than my share of “growing” in the last 10 months and I’m about ready for it to be over!

One of the books a few people in my church are reading right now is Randy Alcorn’s book, “If God is Good.” Here’s one of the things I read tonight that really made me think:

“We often define love in superficial and trivial ways, setting us up to question God’s love in hard times … We cannot see the end God has in mind. If we could, we would likely see that the hardships God allows prevent even more debilitating hardships – the by-products of the diminished character that results from a life of ease.”

And, here’s where it really gets good …

“Our problem is not that we make too much of divine love, but too little. God does not love us on our preferred terms, but on his own. His infinite wisdom ensures us that he gives to us a higher love, not a lower one.”

Isn’t that awesome?!!

I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this sentence: “God does not love us on our preferred terms, but on his own.” Even more importantly, I need to find a way to remember it on a daily basis – especially when things aren’t going the way I think they should and I struggle to understand what God is doing in my life, or when I don’t like what He’s doing and try to take control of the situation myself (i.e. put myself back on the throne of my heart!).

As I was looking up the word “pain” in my Bible tonight, I came across this verse in First Peter:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12 ESV)

And here’s Charles Swindoll’s Living Insight (NIV) around this verse, which I really needed to read, as well:

“When we have responded as we should to life’s blows, enduring them rather than escaping them, we are given more maturity that stays with us and new measures of wisdom that we can draw on for the balance of our lives.”

Just as we’ve heard that we cannot “out-give” God, I have no doubt that we cannot “out-love” Him, either. Therefore, as I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, while my life has been turned completely upside down and inside out, and every safety net I ever had in place has been destroyed over the last few weeks, I can honestly say that I’m extremely hopeful that this is only the beginning of a new and stronger relationship with the One Who loves me more than I will ever know or understand … or possibly love in return.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who’s On the Throne?

I have a confession to make: I have an ego! And, sadly, it’s far bigger than I ever realized. So much so that for the last two years I have pretty much not let God anywhere near the throne of my heart because my life has been all about ME!

The first time I realized I had an ego was back in 2002 when I woke up one morning and realized that I was utterly miserable in my job as a “Hollywood Agent.” However, the more I thought about giving up access to all of the actors, writers, directors, producers, studio executives and network executives with whom I spoke on a daily basis, the more I realized that no matter how unhappy I was, I wasn’t ready to walk away quite yet. I liked feeling important and I liked being seen as someone important in the industry (regardless of the fact that all of my friends were only “friends” because of what they thought I could do for them and for their career). And so I chose to remain on the throne of my life by staying in the job for two more years and as a result, I also chose to remain miserable!

Now for those of you who may be saying to yourself, “Well if I were her, I would never have made that choice,” I want you to think about the game of “Musical Chairs.” Did you ever play it as a kid? If so, then I’m sure you remember how it’s played, but for those of you who may not be familiar with the game, here’s how it works:

Chairs are placed in a circle and there is one less chair than there are players. So if there are ten players, then nine chairs are placed in a circle. Next, someone turns on some music and everyone walks in a circle around the chairs until the music is turned off. At that time, everyone scrambles to sit in a chair and the player who ends up without a chair is out of the game.

The game continues like this until there are only two players left and just one available chair. After that it’s a fight to the finish as both players race to be the last person standing (or “sitting” as the case may be), in order to be declared the winner.

Now let’s take this “two-person, one-chair” scenario and apply it to our relationship with Jesus Christ, only here’s the kicker in this equation: He will NOT run around a silly chair to battle us for the “privilege” of sitting on the throne of our heart. Instead, He stands in the background and waits for our invitation.

Remember this verse from Revelation 3:20? I like The Living Bible’s translation the best:

“Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in and fellowship with him and he with me.”

See, here’s the deal: God is NEVER going to try to force Himself into our lives. That’s not to say I wish He had done so a few times in my own life, as it certainly would have made things easier for me – especially when I chose to remain in my job. However, because we were created to be dependent upon Him, and not the other way around, we are the ones who need to get up from the throne of our own hearts and offer Him a seat. The good news is that as soon as we ask Him to sit down He will gladly do so. The bad news is that it’s usually not until we’ve gotten ourselves into some kind of trouble that we actually stop and do it. (At least that’s what happens in my own life!)

So trust me when I tell you that if you also struggle in this area, you’re not alone, as it is something I have to do on a daily – and sometimes hourly – basis. Particularly these days when everything in my life is topsy-turvy and the temptation to “go it alone,” in order to make (force!) things happen, is very great. Fortunately His Word reminds me that during those times when I think I can do a better job with my life than He can ...

“[He] is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.”
(Numbers 14:18 NIV)

Thank God!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Faith Unadorned

Did you know that the actor Cary Grant was actually born with the name Archibald Leach? When people asked him how he “became Cary Grant,” here was his response:

“I have spent the greater part of my life fluctuating between Archie Leach and Cary Grant, unsure of each, suspecting each … I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be, and, finally, I became that person. Or he became me.”

So as I struggle to regain my footing, that’s kind of how I feel about my faith right now: child-like, simple and unadorned. With that in mind, Charles Swindoll’s Living Insight probably best describes the work I trust He’s doing in my life right now:

“God is committed to the task of conforming you and me to the image of His Son. Not physically – He’s not making us look like Jesus looked physically – but inwardly: in character, in patience, in gentleness, in goodness, in grace, in truth, in discipline. He’s committed to conforming our lives to the inner character of His Son.”

P.S. The good news is that while I did wear my sunglasses several times today, they were actually worn for no other reason than to block out the sun! (-:

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Moment of Grace

So very grateful to have experienced a moment of His grace this afternoon, however I’m still wearing my sunglasses as I struggle to understand His plans. In my head I know that no matter how I may see things, He has a better view! In my heart, I’m trying very hard to take Him at His word:

"For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

False Expectations

It’s amazing to me how na├»ve we (I) can be at times, when it comes to our (my) expectations of God.

Truth be told we’re entitled to NOTHING, and yet we still believe that if we “do something for God,” He will do something for us … As if sending His Son to pay the penalty for our sin wasn’t enough!

Case in point: As I mentioned in my first blog, I’ve been living in a spiritual desert for the last 10 months. However, in reality, I actually started “taking matters into my own hands” (i.e. taking control of my own life!) about 5 years ago, and have been especially good -- or bad(!) -- at it over the last two years.

So now that I’m clear on the battle I’m fighting and have begun the reconciliation process with Him, today I found myself thinking: “I thought things would be different then they are!”

What I mean by that statement is that now that I’m trying very hard to let God run my life (instead of me trying to do it), I thought things would start to get easier; not harder. And yet, I’m continually finding the rug being pulled out from underneath my feet!

“I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me? I am worn out from sobbing. Every night tears drench my bed; my pillow is wet from weeping.” (Psalm 6:3,6 NLT)

As I said earlier, while I know in my head that He literally owes me nothing, my heart hasn’t quite caught on to that fact, and instead I’m still finding myself in need of those sunglasses!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Mile in Job's Shoes

Someone once told me that if there are 100 steps between God and I, He'll go the first 99, but He'll wait for me to take the last step.

I thought I had, but as I experienced the rug being pulled out from underneath me yet one more time this afternoon, perhaps I had not. And while the purpose of this blog is to encourage and inspire, and although I'm trusting the fact that Jesus is taking this journey with me, I don't even want to speculate on how much further down I can go because I'm just not sure I can handle it right now! Instead, I feel a lot like Job at the moment, when God kept allowing Satan to take things away from him, while Job kept believing in the goodness of God.

Remember this verse:

"The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord."
(Job. 1:21 HCS)

While the Lord has most definitely "given" in my life, I feel like I'm now in the place where He's definitely "taking away," and the only prayer I can offer is from Mark 9:24

"I do believe! Help my unbelief."

P.S. Remember the sunglasses I mentioned in my first blog? Well, they're definitely coming in handy this afternoon ...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nowhere to Run

Have you ever tried to run away from God? While not proud of that fact, I must confess that I have. Or at least that’s what I thought!

Don’t get me wrong; I did push God aside. Actually, it was more like I “showed Him the door!” The good news, however, is that He never left. I just didn’t realize it until tonight.

As I was sitting in church this evening I found myself thinking about how far I thought(!) I had run from God, when all of a sudden I got this very clear picture of sitting on a rock in the desert (where I’ve been for the last 10 months) and Christ sitting on a rock across from me. That’s when I realized "the joke was on me,” as these verses from Psalm 139 came to mind:

Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute – You’re already there waiting! (Psalm 139: 7-10 / The Message)

Although I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve read these words, this was the first time when I really, truly realized that no matter where we go, God is literally right there beside us. And while this thought can be a source of great comfort in times of trial, it can also be a source of great pain during those times when we choose to walk down the path of sin.

Therefore, if you think you can run away from God I would seriously encourage you to guess again! For while you may think He's nowhere to be found, the truth of the matter is that He's standing right there beside you waiting for you to come home.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coming Out of the Desert

For the past 10 months I have found myself living in a spiritual desert unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Truth be told, it has actually been more "crisis" than "desert" and I have cried thousands of tears along the way. (Thank God for sunglasses that hide puffy eyes!)

However, God in His sovereignty provided for my every need during this time (even when I couldn't/wouldn't see it) and I will always be extremely grateful to one of the ministers at my church who has graciously traveled alongside me throughout this trial, and who has answered question, after question, after question with kindness and compassion (and without judgment), as I have struggled to find my footing through all of this.

Two weeks ago, I finally discovered the core of my struggle, and I am now fully aware of the depth of the battle that lies ahead, and in all honesty, it is proving to be one of the most difficult roads I have ever traveled. However, I am so grateful to be able to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And while the foundation upon which I had built my life has been completely destroyed and all of my "security blankets" have been stripped away (be careful what you ask Him to do!), I am taking Him at His Word:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

So, as I begin to walk this dusty road of reconciliation with the One who has said "I will never leave you or forsake you," (Hebrews 13:5), I pray that you, too, will find hope and encouragement from these musings, for you are not alone in your pain.

No matter what you may think or how you may feel, you can trust that right now, Jesus is standing beside you with open arms, waiting to dry your tears. All you need to do is ask ...