Monday, December 17, 2012

Blessed Be

So many storms happening in my life right now that I have no words, so this is the best I've got at the moment ... 
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Time to Mourn

There is an appointed time for everything. 
And there is a time for every event under heaven –
A time to give birth and a time to die …
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Our nation sits in shock tonight, after witnessing the horrific murder of 20 sweet little souls in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, this morning.

Twenty children, ages five through nine, went off to grade school this morning with all the excitement and enthusiasm that grade school children have in anticipation of Christmas vacation. Among them was a little boy named Tain: the son of my friend, Sophfronia Scott. Also headed off to that same school this morning was a 20-year old young man with three guns and murder on his mind.

Tain was one of the lucky ones. His life was spared. However, 20 other children were not so lucky, including, quite possibly, the child of one of Sophfronia’s friends. Earlier today that parent had not yet heard their child’s fate.

So tonight the family and friends of those 20 sweet little souls sit in stunned silence, mourning as they try to comprehend that their children (grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews) will not be here to open Christmas presents in 10 days; will never be coming home again.

Instead, the bodies of those children, along with the six other adults who were killed, as well as the perpetrator of those murders, still lay on the floor of the school where they died this morning. Waiting for the crime scene to be processed. Waiting for the coroner to collect them. Waiting for their loved ones to identify them and claim them as their own.

“How can this be God’s plan for me?”
~ Soul Surfer

As I process this quote from the movie Soul Surfer, I will say that I never really thought about my life from that perspective: How could all of the trauma of my past be God’s plan for my life? And how could the murder of 20 innocent children be God’s plan for their lives? For the lives of their siblings? Parents? Grandparents? I wish I knew the answer to that question, but I am afraid that it is a question without answer.

Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to …

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.

So much easier said than done in a situation like this. Beyond easier said than done. For some, impossible.

As I listen to the Christmas carols that are playing on my CD player right now, I am absolutely void of feeling. Not because they are not beautiful. Not because they are not an expression of love for God or an expression of joy for the birth of Christ. Rather, I am numb because my heart breaks for all of the families whose lives were forever changed today by the evil act of one individual. An act that we will never understand …

At least not in this lifetime.

O Father in Heaven, Giver and Sustainer of all life, please be near those who hurt and mourn tonight. Comfort them. Strengthen them. Love them. Make Yourself known to them in a way they can comprehend, both now and forevermore.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord.
~ Job 1:21

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rescue Me

Thinking about tomorrow's pool workout and feeling sick to my stomach even now ...

O God, do not be far from me;
O my God, hasten to my help!
~ Psalm 71:10

Amen and amen,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Walking on Water

You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
~ Psalm 71:20

When I first started this blog, Pandora’s box had just exploded open in my life and I was struggling to get a foothold as everything I knew about my life and my faith in God was being turned upside down and inside out.  

Every day was a struggle just to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. To say I was in survival mode was an understatement. 

I could not eat. 

I could not sleep. 

Most days I could barely even breathe. 

So it is with a heavy heart that I find myself in distress once again, as I now deal with the physical realities (i.e. the physical aftermath) of my past.  

Three years ago, during a visit to my chiropractor here in Montana, I was told that my hips were completely locked up, so I began regular chiropractic treatments with the understanding that this doctor could unlock my hips and bring me back to physical health. Chiropractic care had always worked for me when I lived in Los Angeles, so I had no reason to think that it would not work this time, as well.  

Unfortunately, that has not been the case and my condition is now far worse than it was three years ago. Yet when the doctor and I met the other day, he explained to me that there was no medical evidence to support these hip and pelvic problems. Yesterday, however, I discovered that I based upon how locked up my pelvis and hips actually are, the fact that I can even walk right now is only due to God’s amazing grace!  

So as I was getting ready to workout in the pool yesterday morning, I had two revelations: (1) Three years later, the pool still terrifies me, and (2) I am slowly coming to the realization that perhaps working out in the pool is the one thing – if not the only thing – that is going to help me get some movement back into the lower half of my body. Yet, even with those revelations, getting ready to go swimming was both a mental and physical battle. In fact, even now (while writing this from the safety of my own living room), I get sick to my stomach every time I begin to think about any kind of pool workout. 

I hate the swimming pool. Not because I am afraid of the water, but rather because swimming brings to the surface memories of abuse and the baggage that goes along with those memories. Ironically, at the same time I actually love the pool because it is when I am alone in the water that I also feel the most free!  

Oh, Lord, I know that everything which takes place in our lives is for our good and Your glory, and is part of Your sovereign plan. Therefore …

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation … The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people.
~ Psalm 68:19,35

Father, even now, I pray that You will give me the strength and the power to simply get through this moment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I Object!

But our God is in the heavens;
He does whatever He pleases.
~ Psalm 115:3

I have a confession to make: I am not too happy with the current trial that God has allowed to re-enter my life right now! For one thing, I have already been down this road. Three years ago. It was what started my entire struggle with my faith and took me down some of the most painful roads of my life: literally and figuratively. I thought we were done with all of that. Now it appears that “I thought wrong!”

The other day I received a poster in the mail from my mom with this saying on it:

If God brings you to it,
He will see you through it.
Happy moments praise God.
Difficult moments seek God.
Quiet moments worship God.
Painful moments trust God.
Every moment thank God.
~ Anonymous

Regardless of all of those wonderful “words of wisdom,” I do not want to do this again. Truthfully, I do not even know how to do this again. Last time I went through this I had someone with whom to counsel. This time I feel like I am very much on my own … and I am scared.

Not scared to deal with it again, as I am already very clear on what took place! Rather I am scared that the exercises I am being given to help my body heal will not work, because nothing else has thus far. On top of that, the phantom shooting pains have returned. Some mild. Some not so mild. Some strong enough to make me writhe in pain. In any case, they are back: a not so subtle daily reminder of the past.

Of course, the truth of the matter is this: God does not need my permission to bring this trial back into my life. As Psalm 115 states above, He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. That is His prerogative. I do not have to like it. I do not even have to agree with it. But unless -- or until -- He chooses to take this trial away, I do have to deal with it and that is where my personal choice comes into play.

I can choose to go through it gracefully, praying that He is glorified through it all. Or, I can choose to go through it kicking and screaming every step of the way, focusing on myself. Either way, the choice is still mine to make.

So can I be honest with you? Right now, I really want to choose the kicking and screaming option!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Cry for Help

In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.
~ Psalm 18:6

With the approaching holidays, I have found myself spending a lot of time this past week crying out for God’s help. And while He knows the plans He has for my life, I certainly wish I understood them more clearly!

My grandmother was the oldest of 10 children and right now I have somewhere close to 150-175 relatives. However, my immediate family consists of just my self and my parents, and that is the hard part. I always imagined that I would be the mother of a large family of about 6-8 boys. Don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t tell you! And, since my biological clock has only ticked about a total of 5 days in my entire life, I just figured that my large family would happen via adoption or from marrying someone with a lot of kids (i.e. think “The Sound of Music,” which is one of my favorite movies!). As I write this, however, I am still single, with no marital prospects on the horizon!

When I was growing up, the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) were always a time of large family gatherings. Thanksgiving usually took place at my grandmother’s house. She would invite the 6 brothers and sisters (and their families) that lived in the area over for dinner, so there were often 15 to 20 of us squeezed around card tables in her living and dining room! And, like just about every other family in America, we also had a “kid’s table!” Then, before the food was served, my cousin Edith and I used to go around switching everyone’s nametags and it drove my grandmother nuts! It was loud, it was chaotic, the food was amazing and I loved every minute of it.

Christmas Day was usually the same. At noon, my parents and I would go over to my grandma’s house and have Christmas dinner with she and my grandpa. Then, later in the day, the rest of the family came over for (left-over) turkey sandwiches and dessert, after which the men would go play cards, the women would clean up, and the kids would compare Christmas gifts.

Sadly, all of that came to an end in 1988 when both of my grandfathers died – one from cancer (at Easter) and the other from suicide (the day before Thanksgiving), making that season a very difficult holiday for all of us. And for some reason this year, I am also finding myself in the same place of sadness and depression.

In my head I know that I have a LOT to be thankful for, and that even though my immediate family is very small we are truly blessed. I also know that “the reason for the season” has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, at the moment that knowledge still does not take away the pain and sadness I am struggling with right now, as I think about the fullness of joy of holidays past.

So as I head into this holiday season, I will continue to cry out to the One who knows the path He has chosen for my life; begging Him to take away my sadness and feelings of loneliness, and fill me with the joy of His Presence on a daily basis.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thought for Today ...

Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever. For Your lovingkindness toward me is great, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. (Psalm 86:11-13)

It is not until we truly come to the end of ourselves, that we can come to the foot of the cross and find deliverance from all things.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poor and Needy

"Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay" (Psalm 40:16).

Forgive me, Lord, for I cannot conceal the desires of my heart. Yet, I am not strong enough to vanquish them on my own.

You are my Help and Deliverer. Do not hide Yourself from me, Father, but instead deliver me right now ...

"Be pleased, O Lord, to save me; O Lord, come quickly to help me" (Psalm 40:13).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Star Light, Star Bright

First star I see tonight
I wish I may I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight.

I wish I understood what God had in mind when He created me!

As I sat in church on Sunday evening, watching several of our choirs perform this year’s Easter concert, I found myself not only struggling with some of the losses I have been dealing with lately, but also struggling not to let myself be pulled “under” again because honestly, it would be so easy for me to walk away from God right now and go it alone.

Eighteen months ago I lost my singing voice. As a former soprano, and trained opera singer, with a 3½ octave range, I cannot tell you how much it hurts to not be able to sing – especially since I have been singing since the age of 5. More recently I lost primary use of my left shoulder – which also means I have lost my ability to swim, something else that I love to do and that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Additionally, I also cannot remember the last time – if ever – that I actually felt any sense of true, deep-seated joy in my life.

Last week I started reading the book I am Second, which focuses on people who have given their lives to Christ so that He would become their Everything in life. Honestly, I thought I had done this, too, as that has been my constant prayer (i.e. become my ‘Everything’). However, unlike the “life-changing epiphanies” the interviewees in the book have experienced, I feel like I am still trying to find that deep, intimate relationship with Christ that I have known in the past.

For now, though, when it comes to my own life, I don’t even know why I’m on this planet.

Unlike the people in the book, I do not know what my purpose is in life. Instead, I am frustrated by the fact that the things I love to do, and which make me happy (singing, acting, swimming), have been taken away from me. I am tired of the politics I see in certain arenas, yet I also know that the things that bother me are never going to change. And, I am really hurt and confused by the fact that the wife of a friend of mine doesn’t seem to like me, but rather treats me with seeming disdain whenever she sees me. This is especially bothersome because she is someone I respect at great deal and I thought we were friends, as well.

After all of the “growing” I have done over the last three years, I know that everything I am struggling with right now has already been filtered through the hands of God. And, while I do not know if this is true or not, yesterday the thought occurred to me that maybe I’m meant to be nothing more than one of the “worker bees” in the kingdom of God: that my life is meant to be nothing more than one of constant struggle, and void of happiness and/or joy, because that is all I have known.

A couple of years ago, as I grappled with the depth of what has taken place in my life, I was grateful for the counsel I received from someone who God placed in my life and with whom I was able to let my guard down, in order to safely open up and be “known” in a way that I had never before experienced. However, at this point in time, that person’s support is no longer available.

So, I have become very good at “playing the part” and hiding my pain from others. On the outside, I look like someone who “has it altogether.” On the inside, however, pain and sadness remain my closest – and constant – companions once again.

Praying that God would grant me even the smallest amount of joy in my life ...