Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The A word

Anxiety.  I struggle with it.  A lot.  I can feel it crushing my chest, I can feel the paranoia invading my mind, the irrational thoughts that prevail.

I was having a talk with the recovering pastor this morning before he left for work.  He said these words:  Alyson, you have said that this past year has been freeing, but you aren't acting like it.   If you are free, you are free.

This coupled with Sundays message, which centered on Colossians 1:13-14:  God rescued us from dead end alleys and dark dungeons.  He has set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating. (MSG)

Then I read Isaiah 46:9-11:  Think about this.  Wrap your minds around it.  This is serious buiness rebels, take it to heart.  Remember your history, you long and rich history.  I am God, the only God you've ever had or ever will have---incomparable, irreplaceable--From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you that I'm in this for the long haul and I will do exactly what I set out to do." (MSG)

Then I hear the word of this song coming out of my daughters room:  I am redeemed, You set me free, so I'll take off these heavy chains, throw away everything, I'm not who I used to be, I am redeemed.

I walked back from my daughters school today in tears.  Overwhelmed at the love the Lord was showing me this morning.  Ashamed at the doubt I showed in Him when I allow these issues to seep into my daily life.  Desperate to get home to dive into the Word, to tell Him all about it, to give it over to Him.  I don't know how I will conquer this.  Maybe it's not mine to conquer.  I know that today I will choose to immediately stop what I am doing when I feel the dreaded worry, and let the Lord handle it.  And I know that tomorrow I will do the same.  Because this is not how He wants me to live.

Isaiah 46:13 - Now listen to me, You're a hard-headed bunch and hard to help.  I am ready to help you right now.  Deliverance is not a long-range plan.  Salvation isn't on hold.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Things I know 365 days later

1.  I know that I love the Lord despite how people behave towards me.

2.  I know that my kids got their dad back almost immediately.  Worth. It. All.

3.  I know that the job my husband has now is nothing short of the mighty power of God restoring him.

4.  I know while the grief may never leave, it gets easier.  Little by little the bitterness is receding, I don't wake up feeling wronged, or wondering what is being said or what someone thinks.

5.  I know that the Lord is faithful.  Never once did He let us feel lost or out of His grasp.  Never.

6.  I know that I have never felt such complete peace in an instant as we did on that day 365 days ago (well, on August 28th.  It's taken me a while to compose this post).

7.  I know that when you let the Lord fight your battles, it may not turn out the way you want or anticipate, but it will turn out the way that is best.

8.  I know that there are some friends that are there regardless.  Through thick and thin.  They don't ask questions, they don't judge.  They are priceless.

9.  I know that nothing is a surprise to God.  He knows what is coming, and He knows how to handle it.  He does not need our help or guidance.

10.  I know that I am jaded on the church.  I don't care about programs or committees or growth principles.  I care about Jesus and knowing Him more.  The

11.  I know that I am thankful for our new church family and the leadership.  I am thankful for the place to heal, be loved and worship...with no pressure.

12.  I know that our family is resilient.  I know that we love each other, serve each other and are for each other.

13.  I know that the delete button and unfriend button can be quite therapeutic.

14.  I know that what we experienced is not the church that Jesus died for.

15.  I know that I can't wait to see the Lord has for the upcoming years.  He is everything to me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lessons on the river

Yesterday I lost my head and agreed to go tube down the river.  Now, we haven't had any rain in approximately 5,673 days.  Needless to day, the river was low.  But on we went.  So we get our tubes (I opted for one with a bottom), grad a quick snack, then load up on the bus that takes us to about the middle of nowhere to enter and then float to the end.  We get in and begin to float.  Well relatively float.  We eventually get to water where we aren't scooting over rocks, and the unexpected happens.  I am enjoying myself.  Spinning with the little bit of current, listening to my kids laugh, looking at the rocks and trees along the way, enjoying the sunshine.  Then, some clouds moved over.  No biggie, it was a nice break from the sun.  Then rumbling.  I started to get concerned.  But on we float.  Clouds and rumbles.  Then we hit some spots where there would be no floating.  And my sweet husband gets out of his tube and pulls me along.  We reach "deeper" water and begin to float again.  Sweet bliss.  Then I notice raindrops hitting the water.  It comes.  Rain.  Now, we need the rain, however, I do not particularly like being in it.  Especially in a tube, on the river, no where to go.  But on we float.  What else were we to do?  By now we are about half way through, and we come to some more areas that cannot be floated through.  Joel was behind me with the kids, I was not moving, so I got out to walk to "deeper" water.  Somewhere between the slippery rocks, the awkward tube, and my complete lack of balance, I fall.  Not being one to give up easily on things, I pick myself up and move on.  At about 3/4 way through, we were walking more than floating, I was tired of paddling, and could not see the bridge that was the end.  I look back and Joel and announce "I am officially done having fun!  Where is that stupid bridge?"  The rain stopped and on we float.  FINALLY we see the bridge, but there is no current.  That bridge is not getting any closer.  Eventually we just start walking to the end.  What normally takes about an hour when the river is up took us 3.

But we had a great day together.  We laughed, splashed, paddled, looked at fish, clams, tree roots hanging off the edge.  We were together.  And I forgot so much about the rain and the rocky areas.  I got to thinking about how much life is like this tubing trip.  We start off excited, ready, enjoying life.  Then a little rain falls, we hit some rocky areas, we fall down, we struggle, and we shake our fist at God and say "We are officially not having fun!!!" as if all of life is supposed to be fun.  As if it is His job to be our cruise director.  Then somehow we make it through those times, we pick ourselves up and begin floating along again. We relax in our tube, listen to the laughter, look at the scenery.  And it seems all the more sweeter after the rainy, rocky times. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mail from God

So, the other day there is this manilla envelope in my mailbox.  I don't remember ordering anything, but it had my name on it, all official like from a company, so I tore into it.  Because who doesn't love getting mail?  Except maybe bills.  No fun.  Anyway, in the manilla envelope is a book by John MacArthur titled Anxious for Nothing  God's Cure for the Care of Your Soul.  Now, if you know me, you will know that I joke about having the spiritual gift of worry, and spent a good part of last year living in anxiety.  So to receive this book out of nowhere from an unknown source seemed almost laughable.  So I decide to read it.  After all, it was free, and on a topic that I struggle to let go of.  Maybe this was God's way of saying, Hey, I want to handle this for you. 

He is probably in heaven shaking His head, because after the way He has taken care of us and provided for us and sustained us the last 9 months, why do I even get anxious about tomorrow?  Worry and anxiety are my achilles heel.  The foothold so easily taken.  The grip so easily taken around my heart.  The fear that steals minutes, even hours of my day. 

The Lord is working so hard on this issue in my life.  The quote that stripped me to the core:  "Christians who worry believe God can redeem them, break the shackles of Satan, taken them from hell to heaven, put them into His kingdom and give them eternal life; but they just don't think He can get them through the next couple of days."


Then the next day after reading that, I was praying for a friend who was needing peace about a situation with her son, and the Lord gave me this verse to send to her: 

God, the one and only, I'll wait as long as He says. Everything I need comes from Him, so why not? He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle. My help and glory are in God-granite strength and safe harbor God-So trust absolutely, lay your lives on the line for Him. God is a safe place to be. Psalm 62:5-8, MSG

 Then today as I am praying through some worry, it came to me that maybe that verse was for us both.  He is solid rock, breathing room, impregnable, safe.

He is more than capable of getting me through the next couple of days, weeks, years. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Truth and Grace

I read a quote from Andy Stanley today.  "The TRUTH is that we are sinners, and the GRACE is that Christ does not condemn us.  We are at our best when we embrace both truth AND grace and don't let go of either."

It was a great "put me in my place" moment to realize that the deep, deep love He has for me extends also to those who are difficult to love.  He doesn't love me any more or any less than anyone else.  He calls sin, sin, and then paid for it.  And then extends grace and does not condemn us for the sin.  Here is where the tension is for me.  To live within the truth and grace.  To know that the truth is that I am no better or no worse than the one I have the most trouble loving or forgiving.  So often, I want to extend grace based upon circumstances or upon my feelings.  I want to extend forgiveness when I feel it is justified, or when I feel it is deserved.

But Christ calls us to extend grace as He has extended grace.  Freely, without question.  It is in that tension that I am supposed to live, to be like Christ, to know the truth and still give the grace.  I tend to lean heavy on the truth side, as if it justifies my hard feelings or actions.  Imagine if Christ did that.

I have grown so much these last few months.  I have seen Jesus be more to me than He ever has.  I am trying to be more for Him than I ever have.

I remind myself of all that You've done, and the life I have because of Your Son...Love came down and rescued me..... Kari Jobe

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Introducing Deltoid Dustin

So last week, my friend and I were at the Y working out during Homeschool P.E.  It was a Thursday, and we were doing our normal whine through the boring dreadmill or fake it till we made it on the evilliptical, then we went over to the Life Fitness machines.  In our Y, these machines are the ones that are calibrated so that once you are a number on one of them, you are the same number on them all.  I have no idea why I felt like you needed to know that.  I digress.  We were discussing the awkward squat machine and adapted it to a less awkward squat.  Enter Deltoid Dustin (that may or may not be his real name) (he is a personal trainer).  He is this young fella,  extremely nice, respectful, angelic face, great teeth, arms of steel.  He comes over to observes that we are incorrectly using the machine.  We lament over how awkward it is, yada, yada, yada, all the while looking at the clock and being thankful that this conversation is ticking the minutes away.  Then he says, "Why don't you go use the squat machine in the free weight section?

We look at each other, blink, and look at him.  That section of the Wellness Center is ominous.  Big guys are over there grunting and shooshing.  Not to mention that there is an invisible wall that once you pass through, there is the smell of sweat.  Big guy sweat.  But against all logic, we follow him over, and try the squat machine, find that he does know what he is talking about because we really like it, and vow to use it from now on.

Then it happens.  "Hey", he says, "next week I'll run you all through a circuit training."  I perk up, "I love circuits!!" My friend looks at me like I have lost my mind.  I continue: "That was my favorite thing to do when I was in Boot Camp class!!"  He grins with those sparkling teeth and says, "Great!"

Fast forward to today.  This morning I see him when he comes in the Y.  He looks at me and says "Are you ready for me to kick your butt today?"  Ummm, I don't think that was ever in the conversation.  But the competitive me says, "Yeah, right.  I can take it."  When will I ever learn?  Brandy and I enter the Wellness Center this afternoon, and there is the twinkling smile. I remind him that I could possibly be old enough to be his mother.  From that point on, he proceeds to run us through what he called circuits, we called them painful.  I am positive that he stopped the movement on the clock, because that hour felt like 3. 

Not to mention we were in the ominous Free Weight section.  For an hour we burpeed, mountain climbed, squatted, stair stepped, arm rowed, lunged, supermanned, push upped (pushed ups?) and some other forms of exercise with weights that this body had never fathomed to use, all with the grunting and shooshing big guys.  Sweet mercy, were my arms burning.  But it felt great!  Although Brandy may never speak to me again.  And Deltoid Dustin may or may not have said that we were great entertainment for his afternoon in the Wellness Center.  And I informed him that what happens in the Wellness Center stays in the Wellness Center.  Unless I decide to blog about it :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How I know our kids are our kids

Since I invited you to my pity party yesterday, I will share something a little lighter today.  We have 2 kids, Noah who is 11 and Emma who is 8.  Noah is the spitting image of his dad.  Emma is the spitting image of me.  While their features are gender matched, their personalities are cross matched.  Noah is mine.  He is content to be at home, with a book.  He is more introverted and quiet.  He has a specific order for things, and he likes them that way.  Emma is Joel.  She is a party waiting to happen.  She is ready to go at a moments notice, even if she doesn't know where.  She is definitely more extroverted and spunky.  She is more free-spirited - let's just have fun and let the chips fall where they may.  Here is another example.  When I go to bed, the sheets and blankets have to be straight, with the sheet folded back over the quilt, so the quilt doesn't touch my face.  When Joel goes to bed, he just gets in, wrinkled up sheets, blankets can be askew.  He can be asleep before I even get in the bed.  So, ponder this interaction last night.  We were tucking the kids in, Joel was in Noah's room, and the sheets and blankets were all neat and orderly.  Joel pulled them back for Noah to get in.  Noah said "Dad!!  You messed them up!!  Now I have to fix them all over again!!"  Then he goes to Emma's room, where she is already in bed, with the sheet hanging out, all wrinkled and askew, and her comforter in a big lump of waddedness on top.  Joel came out laughing, acknowledging the fact that these are indeed our children. 

I think it is amazing how the Lord knits all of this together.  In His kindness and goodness, and also sense of humor, he takes 2 strangers, brings them together and then creates these tiny humans that, without any coaxing, take on the likenesses and characteristics of their parents.  Simply amazing.