Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moving Forward...

This week...week 3 in our online Bible study...I was introduced to an awesome verse of scripture and it pretty much transformed my week, and hopefully lead me to a place where I could help others transform theirs as well. This is the verse I'm talking about...

" bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, a planting of The Lord for the display of His splendor." Isaiah 61:3

I've been going through a situation in my life, that while it is far from the most difficult situation I've ever been in, it is still a toughie. If I would let it, this situation could have real power to get me down and drown me in self-doubts and insecurities. I'll be honest, for a little while, it was. But that was only because #1 I was letting it and #2 I wasn't having as much faith in God to take care of it as I should've. I know so much better. I've got years of God getting me through tough situations, and I had no reason to believe He wouldn't do the same now. However, I could really start feeling my faith wander and self-doubt grabbing its hold on my life, on my spirit. Then, as He always does, God allowed a few things to happen.

First, He allowed something to occur that gave me just a little shove of encouragement and confidence, which in turn, made a HUGE difference in the way I was perceiving things. Then, He brought the above verse into my life and into my heart and into my mind, which really gave me a shove of encouragement. The verse also got me thinking, as did the reading in our OBS study book that went along with the verse. Renee compares an oak to a pine. Then I started doing it myself. I thought about a pine tree. I imagined the way it would stand in a storm...flimsy, branches flying everywhere, gusts of wind and rain chipping off pieces of its wooden trunk a piece at a time causing it to become even weaker than it already was. Then I imagined an oak in the same storm, and got a completely different picture in my mind. An oak is strong, beautiful, sturdy, meant to last. It stands tall and firm in the middle of a storm. Then the last part of the scripture spoke to me:

"They will be called Oaks of Righteousness a planting of The Lord for the display of His splendor."

Then it was like I could hear God saying to me, 
"So which one are you going to be, Jenny? Are you going to stand weak like a pine only to be knocked down by self-doubt and insecurity, or are you going to stand tall and strong, and be my Oak of display of splendor?" 

 I knew my answer, and it immediately lifted my spirit. God is the answer in this situation, just like He is in all situations. He's not going to let me down. He's not going to leave me alone, stranded on an island of pain and self-doubt. He's going to lead me in being the strong oak that I know I can be and that I can encourage others to be, but only with Him as the everlasting leader.

"For the Lord will be your confidence, and keep your foot from being caught." Proverbs 3:26

And there's more where that came from! God bless and have an awesome weekend everyone!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Believe

Online Bible Studies are back and I am super stoked. Actually, right now I am super tired, but I'll get to that story in a bit. But first I want to take a look at the definition of a very power word-a word that can bring about excitement or fear, sometimes both. I'm talking about change.

CHANGE: to become different
to make (someone or something) different
to become something else

When it comes to change, I am generally a fan depending on what you are trying to change. If someone wants to change my furniture around that's ok. If there was a vote to change the order of events of church services I'd be ok with that too (not sure if I would have much company in that though). I'm generally pretty flexible. However, there are those times when change is not my friend and I will fight it until I can't fight anymore. When my husband wanted me to change insurance carriers from a woman I'd known for decades to a company I didn't know at all, I was not a happy camper. And why was that? Why are we so afraid of change? I mean the change I just referred to was going to be saving my family hundreds of dollars a year, so why would I fight that? Because it would force me to leave my comfort zone, which in this situation, was a family friend I had known probably since birth. This was a lady whose voice was always a comfort when someone in our family got into a wreck or had a car issue because we knew that she would fix it and fix it quickly. She made me feel comfortable. She made me feel safe. And most of all, she was what I had become used to for thirty years.
I was thankfully raised in a family of believers so I do not really know a life without God. But I do know what it is like to fight the changes that God wants me to make. I'm struggling with it right now. Worry. I'm not a huge worrier, but there are certain things in my life that I feel like I couldn't stop worrying about if I tried. My family is usually what I worry about the most...their safety, their health, their lives in general. When I have a family member going through something really difficult, I immediately try and think of a way to make it all better. That is the nurse and the mom in me. But I'm realizing that, more times than not, I can't make it better. I can't make the bad disappear. And it drives me crazy. Of course I pray about these situations always, but it is difficult for me to stop asking God to just take my family out of the painful situations and put them in happy ones again. If is difficult for me to change my nature from wanting to fix everything and make everyone better to just letting it go, accepting I can't fix it, and completely handing it over to God to fix. One of my biggest insecurities is feeling like a failure when I can't fix the people I love. But this is an area of my life in which I know change is a must, and it is what I am really trying to learn through this study. I want to gain an even stronger relationship and trust in God. Our inspirational verse this week reads:

"Then you will know that I am The Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed."
-Isaiah 49:23b NIV

And there it is. When I trust in The Lord with all my mind, all my heart, and all my soul, He won't disappoint me. This is His promise, and I believe in a God who does not and will not break His promises to His children. 

 "God is not a man;
    he will not lie.
God is not a human being;
    his decisions will not change.
If he says he will do something,
    then he will do it.
If he makes a promise,
    then he will do what he promised."
-Numbers 23: 19
 As a nurse, a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a friend, I have a lot of people around me who I love and who are always going through things...painful things, scary things, unfair things. Things that I would love to be able to lift each and every one of them out of...but here's the thing. I can't. But God can, and He will in His time. And now it is my time to let go and stop trying to do God's job for Him. My interference merely slows things down and gets in the way of His awesome plans which will trump mine every time. He's got this. Always has and always will.  

God bless all of you! Here are some pictures of change in my life over the years:

This is my cat, Callie.  She has definitely changed the lives of our family.  This quiet, skiddish cat turns into our guard dog when someone comes to our door that she doesn't know.   She is also quite  talkative with her high pitched squeaky meows.  She has definitely made an interesting addition to our family...that is for sure!

Even better than a cat is my family.  My husband and my daughter have forced me into change and flexibility over the years and I wouldn't trade any of it for gold!

And here we have our newest influence to change.  God gave our family a new gift this summer and we are so excited...even though we know that massive amounts of change are on the horizon when we finally get to welcome "the peanut" into our crazy world. 

So see, with change, be it a little or a lot, comes inevitable blessings from our Father.  He knows what is best for us and that is all He wants to give us.  I can't wait to see what change He blesses us with next!  God Bless!