The Mysterious Ways God Works

I have had an absolutely weird, surreal week.

As adults, my brother and I have little in common, other than our shared DNA.  To be honest, we are alike, but we are drastically different.  We have different interests.  We have very different personalities.  And for the last 8 years or so, we haven’t had much of a relationship, at all.

I am a firm believer that no matter what connection you have with someone, like being family, you do not have to keep them close in your life if they aren’t healthy for you.

For a long time, this was my brother.

Whether he realized it or not, something shifted in how he perceived me, and he started out just being cold or rude.  This came to a head at a family dinner, where my entire family, and his now ex-wife’s family were all in attendance.  He got drunk, and started yelling at me, and calling me stupid.

I was done.

My parents continued to urge me to try to work on things between us.  And I tried for a really long time.  I did.  I put all of the effort into it.

I got little to no response.  And it certainly didn’t get any better.

Holiday’s were awkward.

And I finally realized something huge.  I wasn’t the one that broke our relationship, so I couldn’t be the one to mend our relationship.

A year ago, he announced that he and his wife were getting a divorce.  So I once again tried.  I didn’t get much of a response.

But he did at least ask our parents about me sometimes.

I finally got over myself, and decided to go with my parents for a visit, something I had not done in 7 years.

And, though still awkward, things were getting marginally better.

He actually asked if I would be able to take a day off work to spend a long weekend with he and my parents in December for Christmas.  And because he was the one that actually asked, I did.

We have yet, even to this day, to discuss what has separated us.  But, for now, I’m letting that sit off to the side, and just try to be there for him.  Mentally, at this point, he isn’t capable of having those kinds of conversations yet.

But then, we’re getting to how God can just work in mysterious ways.  Ways that I don’t always agree with.  But I put a great deal of faith and trust in how God is making all of these things work, and I’m rolling with it.

So…get this.

He fell and broke his knee (patella).  Broke it badly enough that he needed surgery.

Initially, my dad planned to fly in to take care of him.  But he would need to fly back pronto, because they had appointments that needed to happen.  Being the fantastic daughter I am, I offered to fly to Florida to hang out with my mom while he went to take care of my brother.  He then told me he would rather I go to take care of my brother, and he stay where he is.

So, that’s a firm no on me going to Florida.

Drat.

I did tell my dad, however, that if needed I would go take care of my brother.

Fast forward a couple of hours, and we find out what day surgery is scheduled for.  Which makes it even worse for my parents schedule.  And my brother calls me.

We talk.  We talk about whether or not I would even be able to take time off work.  Which, thanks to a “family first” attitude with the school I work at, it was no problem.

So I agreed to go take my brother to have surgery, and hang out and take care of him for a few days.

I briefly thought that I had lost my mind.  Which, realistically, is possible.

But at the same time, he IS still my brother.  And I might not like him all the time, but I do still love him.

I didn’t really sleep well after agreeing to go.  And my nerves were so bad that I thought I really might vomit.

So I get that God works in mysterious ways and all, but THIS???  This is absurd.

Right?

But I went.

And it’s still rather awkward between he and I.  We literally had not spent ANY time alone, without our parents for some type of buffer, in many, MANY years.  But we managed.  We actually talked.  He finally got over trying to be a good host, and actually let me help him.  And we acquired some funny stories along the way.

Ok, one of them he totally doesn’t know about because I didn’t want him to worry.

You know how I told you that in some ways, we are alike?  Well, being a klutz is one of those things we have in common.  Last fall, he was making salsa, and sliced the palm of his hand open.  Last Monday, I sliced my palm open while un-packaging my new flatware.

We compared – though they are on opposite hands, they are identical scars.

The story gets better, don’t worry…

So…Thursday.  Surgery day.

He, obviously, cannot eat anything.  So I ordered take-out from the restaurant down the street.  I was walking across the parking lot to pick up my food, and I trip.  And I fall.  And I bust the cut open on my hand, and I knew I had done some damage to my knees.  I had so much adrenaline coursing through my body, I thought I was going to pass out.

I texted my dad, and told him.  But I also told him I wouldn’t be telling my brother about it.  I didn’t want to worry him any more than he already was.

Both knees are pretty torn up, road rash, bruises.  They’re pretty.  But fortunately, the damage ends there.

This literally was an HOUR before we had to leave for the hospital.

I slapped some bandaids on my knees, and away we went.

EVERYTHING IS FINE!

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but someone with a broken patella, in a full leg splint, needs some help getting in and out of a wheelchair.  And with some laser guided precision, every single time he had to get up or down, he smacked my knees.

Still didn’t tell him what happened.

It turns out, surgery went great.  They were able to just remove some of the shattered bone, so he doesn’t have hardware in his knee (lucky guy).  I impressed his Orthopedic Surgeon with my vast medical knowledge.  Not because I’m in healthcare, but because I’m klutzy, and I have a lot of experience.

It was a very long day in the hospital.  And he spent the night.

But he realized that my experience and knowledge of having broken bones, and sitting around while other people have surgery, can actually come in handy.

He was able to come home the following morning.  And things were still going well.

I left after a couple of days.  He can physically get around just fine, fine enough, at least.  And I helped get things situated for him while I was there.  He relied on me to help him.

And, let’s just say, the whole helping him having surgery led to a greater sibling bond (because you have to do some weird, helpful things) that neither of us was really prepared for.  And we’ll probably never discuss ever again.

But here’s my big take away…

God works in mysterious ways.  In ways that we cannot even begin to fathom.  He works for people who don’t even believe in Him (like my brother).

I knew that many, MANY people were praying for our situation.  And throughout the past week, I have felt that prayer go with me each and every step of the way.

Life rarely goes the way that we think it should.  And bad things happen all the time.  But God truly does have a plan for our lives.  Though it often takes far longer and down paths we never expected to take, God can bring us through anything.

Why? So That…

I had an interesting experience this week.

I interviewed for a job.

Not to change jobs, but more to add something to my already rather full plate.  But even though my plate is already quite full, when an opportunity comes up that has been on my mind for quite some time, I would be foolish not to go for it.

As I applied, I put it all in God’s hands.  Truth be told, from the moment that this particular position came to mind, I have left it in God’s hands.  Because, even though this would be a really cool thing, I know that if it isn’t in God’s plan for my life, then it will not happen.  And I will be ok with that.

To be honest, knowing that I’m doing my part to be willing, and leaving the rest up to God has given me a sense of ease and peace throughout the entire process.

So here’s the deal:

I suck at interviews.

Seriously.

Historically, I just have not been capable of presenting myself in the best way possible.  I get nervous, and even more awkward than normal.  And it’s just a flop.

I walk away feeling dejected, because deep down, I know that I just blew it.

So, to say that a great deal of prayer happened before this interview is an understatement.

My prayers basically went something like this:

God, give me the words.

And guess what?

He did!

But that’s not even close to the best part.  Because, I walked away from the interview knowing that I wasn’t the best candidate.  Not that I wouldn’t be amazing.  But I know that I am not the best candidate that they are interviewing.  I’m far from the most qualified.  I don’t have the experience.

There is a 99.99% chance that I will not be getting this job.

But I walked out of that interview with a huge amount of satisfaction about my part of the interview.

And we’re finally closing in on why this was such an amazing experience…I promise.

The person who interviewed me is someone I have known nearly my entire life.  She was one of my teachers growing up.  And I have worked with her, and for her now for almost 3 years.  But even with such a long history, she didn’t know me all that well.

She laughed at the fact that she asks everyone the same questions, to keep the playing field even.  She asked me to tell her about myself.  And as soon as I started talking about myself, and some of the things that I did after high school, her jaw hit the floor.  So in asking the question that she felt foolish asking, she found out a lot more about me.  In a really good way.  She didn’t realize that I had moved half way across the country.  Or why I made the decision to move back home.

She definitely didn’t realize that one of my most memorable moments growing up came during one of her classes.

But here is the really cool thing…

We talked about my motivation for applying for this job.

Which led to my motivation for doing many of the things that I do.

And that specific motivation has been on my mind a lot lately.

Why do I do the things that I do?

What is the outcome that I hope to get from doing the thing that I do?

To the point where I have written the following on my desk calendar at school:

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I did this so every single time I look at this, my own personal motivations come to mind.

Why?

Well it certainly isn’t money.  As I stated in my interview, if money were my greatest motivation, I would go down the street and work at McDonald’s because I would make more money.

Would a larger salary be nice?  Yes, yes it would.  To add a little more cushion to bank account.  So I wouldn’t have to rely on my parents for some help and support.  Yes, that would be fantastic.

But I do love my job.

So what is my motivation?  Besides the fact that this is where God has placed me for right now.

The “why” that I bring to work every day, the “why” that I take with me to youth group every week, is that I want to be able to give the kiddos that I work with something that I didn’t have growing up.

Yes, I had amazing parents.  I had youth group.  I had people that care about me.

What I didn’t have was the self-confidence in myself.  Nor did I have a firm understanding of who God was.  Or who I was to God.

So that…

So what is my expected outcome?  What is my goal?  What purpose could I possibly have in doing the things that I do?

I want these kids to be able to stand firm in their faith.  I want them to turn to God when times get tough.  Not to turn their back on their faith when life gets real, and things get hard.

I made bad, really stupid mistakes growing up.  I made bad, really stupid mistakes as an adult, too.

I want better for the people around me.  So they don’t go through the same struggles that I went through.

Because I truly believe that even though used the free will that God gave me to not just turn my back on Him and run away.  I lashed out.  I swore up and down countless times that there couldn’t possibly be a God.

I was dumb.  I was selfish.

Even though I did a lot of things that God isn’t thrilled about, I believe that He can turn all of those mistakes around, and use all of them for something positive.

And it isn’t just that he can use all of those stupid mistakes.

He is using them.

 

I’m Not OK…

…but I will be.

This has basically been my theme for the past couple of days.

At the moment, I feel a great deal of stress, because there is just a lot on my plate right now.

Ok, and some of that stress is because I’m worrying about something that I just absolutely cannot do one thing to change the situation.  And though I am working to let go of the worry there, stuff is still happening.  A crisis point is coming.  And I know I will have to help pick up the pieces.

Do you ever get to the point when you just have a lot going on, and it seems like all of the stress and weight that you have been managing to carry, suddenly weighs twice as much?

I hit that point yesterday morning.

I feel like the burden that I’m carrying is all my own.  I have no one else to share this with.  Not really.

And with that stress, I went down the rabbit hole of feeling like I am terribly alone in the world.  I have wonderful parents.  And I have wonderful friends.

But then I also got to thinking about something else.  The last time I hugged someone was when I hugged my parents as I was leaving Florida.  On December 27.

Ok, I have students (one in particular) that want to hug me.  But, uh, no thank you.

I struggle, sometimes (often), with sharing some of these feelings with my friends.  Not that I’m ashamed of those feelings.  But I worry that their response will be one of pity.  That they would hug me, just because I’m feeling sorry for myself.  And not just, well, because.

Maybe the reason that happens shouldn’t matter.  But to me, it does.

Though, I don’t have any life altering insight at this point, I know one thing for certain.  No matter how difficult it is for me to wait, to experience the waiting, the impatience, the fear, the grief – all of it – no matter how difficult that is, I’m not giving up on God.

I may want to sometimes.

I may (definitely do) struggle with having a decent attitude while I’m waiting.

But I trust God to have a perfect plan for all of this.

I have hope that God will answer all of this in His own perfect timing.

And I have faith that all of this truly is for a purpose.

Until then, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I keep adding one more prayer on top of another.

It’s all I can do.

Thank You God!

Last night, I did some Christmas shopping.  In an actual brick and mortar store.

Already, not my favorite thing to do.

One of the stores was Walmart.

Double down on not my favorite thing to do.

But it was necessary, as this weekend will start the tour de Christmas celebrations with my family.

As I’m leaving Walmart, a car tried to merge into my lane, and almost took my front bumper off in the process.

And then, closer to home, a buck decided he needed to cross the road right in front of me.

And then a mile further down the road, a raccoon needed to cross the road right in front of me.

The last time I hit a raccoon, my front bumper split into two pieces, while the raccoon survived.

It was at this point that I desperately wished I had just stayed home.  I could have had on my sweatpants, and been curled up watching TV.  And I would have avoided all of those near misses.

But I said a little prayer thanking God for keeping me safe in each situation, despite the frustration I felt.  And God took that moment to tap me on the shoulder, reminding me that my drive home is basically a perfect metaphor for life.  As we navigate life, obstacles will continue to jump in our path.  Sometimes we manage to slam on the brakes in just enough time to avoid hitting the obstacle.  Sometimes we don’t.

But if we stay locked safely in our homes, avoiding all of the obstacles, we really aren’t living life, now are we?

So I took a deep breath, and I once again thanked God for keeping me safe, on the drive home, and in my day to day life.  And I thanked Him for opening my eyes to the realization He gave me.

I’m a Big Ol’ 5

On a scale of 1 to 5 – 1 being the least, 5 being the most – how much do you trust God?

The “church answer” is obviously…

I’m a 5!

In reality, me personally, I am a 5…

But…

Let me explain.

When asking the logical and pragmatic side of my brain, I absolutely, wholeheartedly trust God with every single aspect of my life.  It has taken a really, really, REALLY long time to get there.  But it’s the truth.

I trust God.

With everything.

But…

I am human.  With human emotions.  With human reactions to what happens in my life.  So there are definitely times where my emotional, irrational side takes charge.  So I have an emotional and irrational reaction to whatever is happening in my life.

I don’t understand why some of the things in my life are happening the way that they are.  Or why God isn’t following my plan for my life.  Or when I think I’m following the plan God has for my life, the rug suddenly gets yanked out from under my feet.  There are moments that I’m just not sure what God is thinking.

But…

Once my emotions have cooled off a little, my rational and logical side returns to control, and I trust God with whatever His plan is for my life.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is this: my path to such complete trust and reliance on God has not been easy.  I have been stubborn, and a jerk, and quite unlovable.  I did (and still do) things that I know aren’t what I should be doing.

But…

No matter what, God has always been there for me.  God has never stopped loving me.  God has never stopped caring about me.

Never.

Period.

No matter what bad things I have done in my life.  No matter how much I have struggled against God, He is still there, loving me.

And no matter what, God will get me through.

So when I tell you that I really am a 5 on the trusting God scale, I honestly mean it.  And I am trying, though not always succeeding, to remind myself when I’m going through a struggle season, that God has a purpose for whatever it is I’m going through.  And that I will continue to love and follow God, because He deserves my love and devotion.

Period.

How Long Am I Supposed to Wait?

Persist: continue firmly or obstinately in an opinion or a course of action in spite of difficulty, opposition, or failure.

Persevere, continue, carry on, go on, keep at it, keep on, keep going, keep it up, not give up, be persistent, be determined, see/follow something through, show determination, press on/ahead, plod on, plow on, stay with something, not take no for an answer

The Israelite’s wandered in the desert for 40 years.

Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for Isaac to be born.

Lazarus was dead for 4 days before Jesus healed him.  

David waited over 20 years before he became king.

Job waited months to be restored.

Jonah was in the belly of a whale for 3 days.

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Waiting is hard.

I will be the first one to admit that to you.  I am kind of a patient person.  But then again, I’m really not.  I can wait.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated (to say the least) while I’m waiting.

I know that I should wait on God.  But that doesn’t mean I like waiting on God.

The Bible gives us many incredible examples of folks who waited, and waited, and waited for God to answer their prayers.  The above stories are just a few of the more popular or familiar stories.  There are many, many, MANY more examples.

In all of these stories, we know how the story ends.  We know the conclusion.  We know how God redeemed everyone in these stories.  How he fulfilled the prayers.  Yes, we know that they waited for what probably seemed like an eternity.  But we also know how they turned out.

What we do not always get a clear, full picture of is what it was like for everyone while they waited.  If there is an exception, I would say it was Job.  But nonetheless, I’m sticking by my statement that the waiting period, the anguish and heartache and fear that everyone experienced during the waiting really isn’t truly laid out.

We know that they struggled.  We know that in their impatience for God to answer their prayers that they did some stupid things.  Abraham and Sarah got impatient, and tried to answer their prayers in their own way, by Abraham having a child with Sarah’s servant.  And the Israelite folks worshiped other idols, and tried to make their own way in a lot of different areas.  Job remained faithful in his claim, despite his friends urging to do otherwise, that he hadn’t committed any great sin.

There are lessons to be learned here.

Huge, important lessons.

First of all, waiting is hard.  Yes, absolutely, part of the lessons that we learn from all of the stories about waiting in the Bible is that waiting is hard.  It is difficult.  It is challenging.  It is a struggle.  I often feel like we don’t accurately understand from the writing in the Bible just how difficult the waiting is for the folks in the Bible.  If everyone accurately described the day to day struggles during their waiting period, the Bible would easily be 17 times longer than it already is.

Because of that, the magnanimity of the time of waiting truly isn’t felt.

As a result, there will be times during our own waiting periods that we will struggle.  And we will feel like there is no end to whatever suffering or struggle or difficulty or challenge that we are facing.

And sometimes, just sometimes, knowing that eventually there will be a conclusion to our waiting period isn’t all that much of a comfort.  Because in our human-ness, we don’t want our suffering to end someday.  We want it to end RIGHT NOW!!!

Second of all, don’t do stupid things while you’re in your waiting period.  This one should be a pretty clear lesson from the Bible.  In our impatience, we want to solve our issues on our own, because we feel like God is just taking way too much time.  So we then compound the bad-ness of the situation by trying to do things our own way.

Yes, we make things worse.

Instead of being patient, and letting God’s plan play out how He intends it to be played out.  We screw things up, and try to force our own plans to happen, and we just make things worse.  So very, very much worse.

Friends, I know how difficult it is to wait on God’s timing.  But if one thing has been made clear to me lately is that we should never give up.

I truly believe that if God has put something on your heart, or put you in the middle of a challenging situation, He has planned a way out of it for you.  He already has all of the little details worked out.

We just need to trust in His plan, trust in the purpose for his plan.

We must persist.

Let’s unpack the passage from the notes in my Bible pictured above.

“To persist in prayer and not give up does not mean endless repetition or painfully long prayer sessions.”

There are times in the Bible where we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.”  I get that.  And there are certainly times where a prayer vigil is called for.  But I also believe that while we are called to pray without ceasing, that doesn’t mean that we stop doing everything else in life.  “Painfully long prayer sessions” doesn’t sound like something that glorifies God.  At all.

“Always praying means keeping our requests constantly before God as we live for him day by day, believing he will answer.”

Keeping our requests constantly before God can be a method of praising God.  We trust in His plan.  We honor His plan.  We have faith in his plan for our lives.

“When we live by faith, we are not to give up.”

Dory-white.jpg Years ago, we were introduced to Dory.  The awesome, and hysterical, yet forgetful character in Finding Nemo, who always reminds us to “just keep swimming.”  Over and over again, we are to persist, just keep going, because we trust in His plan.  We will not give up on His plan.  Because we have faith.

 

“God may delay in answering, but his delays always have good reasons.”

Unfortunately, for us, God doesn’t answer our prayers by following our timeline.  Yes, we wish he would sometimes.  But there is absolutely no instance where our time frame would supersede God’s timeline.  There may be times of coincidence, and it just so happens that God’s plan for our life, and His plan for our life are the same thing.  But I promise you, it was God’s plan for it to happen that caused whatever it is to happen.

“As we persist in prayer we grow in character, faith and hope.”

When we choose to live in faith, and trust in God’s plan, trust in God’s timing (even if we don’t always like it) we grow stronger.  We grow more faithful.  We life in hope.  And we can find joy in the waiting.  In fact, we should choose to live joyfully during the waiting time.  Even though it’s difficult to do sometimes.  When we choose to live in the joy of waiting, we find more joy along the way.

Dear friend, I feel the pain you may be feeling during the waiting times God gives to us.  I feel the struggle, the impatience.  The desperation in wanting this to end.  I get it.

It can suck.

But persist.  Don’t give up.  Keep moving forward.  Keep trusting God.  Because there is not one instant that God’s plan for our life won’t turn out to be the absolute best thing for us.

I could promise you that fact.

But even better, God promises us that fact.

Dream vs. Reality

I have hugely wild, huge and ambitious dreams of what I want to accomplish in my life.  And some days, I feel as though I’m failing miserably.

But, am I really failing miserably?

Many of these dreams are things that I truly feel God has put in my heart to do.  And I pray every single day for God’s guidance in my life on what I’m supposed to do.  And day after day after day after day, here I am, just trudging along.

I feel as though I’m not making any progress on those dreams.  And in the things I am doing to work towards some of those dreams, well some of those things I feel aren’t making any progress.

Currently, I have a job that I don’t honestly feel reaches my full potential.  I am a Teacher’s Aide.  I’m the low man on the totem pole.  Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that my job is important.  And I do feel like I am making a difference in the lives of the students I work with.  I know that I do different, more complex things than many other people with my job title.  And I honestly do feel like this is where God has called me to be right now.  Yet there are times that I want more.  For a couple of reasons.

I am looked down upon by some of my colleagues.  Not that any of them would every blatantly say that.  But it’s in the little things that I experience that tells me they value my worth less than other certified teachers.  For example, yesterday, one of the other teachers went all the way around me to ask for a key to my room, so she could use my room when she needed.  She didn’t ask if that was ok with me.  She went all the way around me.  And then, when she did have the opportunity to discuss it with me, well, she didn’t.

But, beyond that, I feel like God has put things on my heart to want more out of life.  More than what I’m currently doing.

I’m just not so sure of what that is.

But…

Perhaps all of these things are preparing me for something else.

If I turn to the Bible, what does it tell me to do?  Be humble.  Be a servant.  Love God.  Love people.

Humble.

This one is tough.  Because I have always struggled with my self-worth.  But if I have low self-esteem, am I really just being humble?  Well…no.

Low self-esteem basically means I feel I have absolutely no value in the world.  I am worthless.

Being humble means I recognize that I can do great things, but not because I am super awesome and amazing.  No, no.  I can do these great things because God has given me these gifts, talents, abilities, strengths, etc.  Knowing that someone far greater than I is in charge, and the one that really has those talents and abilities.  That is being humble.

Servant.

Jesus tells many parables about how the last shall be first and the first shall be last.  How we should strive to serve others.  To help others when we can.

Have you watched the show New Amsterdam?  If you haven’t, as soon as you’re finished reading this, go watch all of the episodes.  My DVR is full of TV shows and movies that I rarely have time to watch because I’m too busy doing other things in life.  But this show, this is one I love to watch.  The main character is the head of a public hospital in New York City, and his entire world is filled by one question.  “How can I help?”

Each show revolves around some new challenge that must be faced, and no matter what is going on in his own personal world, the offer to help others is always forefront in his life.

I know that the show is fiction (though based loosely in reality).  But even fiction can help us grow as humans.

How can I help?

This phrase changed my life.

When I go to school, my main role is to help others.  Other teachers.  Administration.  Students.  How can I help you?  What can I help you do to be successful?  Even on the farm, I take the same approach.

I get a little salty about some of the things I end up doing.  Because I do want to do more.  And sometimes I feel like I am not only being held back from doing greater things, I feel like I’m being pushed down.

One of my bucket list items is to help during harvest by running the combine all by myself.

I have barely been able to convince my dad to let me cut the last little strip of beans, while he watches over every single move I make.

But what my role typically ends up being is the gopher.  Meaning…I do all of the little jobs, that, though vitally important to the operation of the farm, really kind of stink in doing sometimes.  I take a wagon out to the field.  I make a trip looking for engine oil because there’s an oil leak.  I make parts runs.  I go put drops in my grandma’s ears because she has a Dr. appointment in a couple of days.

I get the minuscule tasks that really don’t seem all that important.  And it’s easier for my mom to be the one to run the combine because she’s been doing it for years and years and years.  Not that I can’t learn how to do it.  Not that I’m incapable of doing it.  I just don’t know how.

I do know that value is found in those small little tasks.  As I said, they are vitally important.  Because, if I hadn’t gone to retrieve the oil, we would have been shut down for hours.

So I get it.  Those tasks are important.

But I still want more.

But maybe putting in my time, learning the value in those smaller jobs, whether on the farm, or at school, maybe one of these days, they will all lead to bigger and better things.  Maybe these things are preparing me for something much bigger.

Or maybe I won’t get to experience all of those great things myself.  But my role in life as the servant doing these things is part of a much larger plan for something else.

Only God knows.

I know that no matter how salty I get about things, this is where I am supposed to be right now.

Love God.

This one shouldn’t be difficult.  And in the overall, big picture of my life, it isn’t.  But, like any relationship, we have our moments.

Some days, I really don’t understand why I am in the places that God has me in.

But I trust in God’s big plan for my life.

Love People.

Other people make this a challenge sometimes.  Sometimes, I may not be all that easy to love myself.  But the best marketing plan any Christian can do is to love other people.  No matter what.  No matter who they are.  No matter what they have done.  You love other people.

So…here I am.  Trudging along in another day.  I’m not where I want to be in so many areas of my life right now.  But I trust with my whole heart that I am where God needs me to be.

I Went Wrong

I went wrong.

I fully admit that I went wrong.

But I definitely went wrong.

I grew up going to church.  Every Sunday. Every Wednesday.  I was in church. I was one of the (rare) non-Catholic, non-Lutheran “Church Kids” in town.  

Every summer I spent a week at church camp.

I was a good kid.

And I still went wrong.

I have known this for many years.  I have known that I willingly stepped away from God.  Claimed for many years that I didn’t even believe that God existed.  

But I never dared to ask myself why.

Why did I go wrong?

It’s a dangerous question.  And a painful question.  

Painful, because, I know without question, without any hesitation, that I was at fault.

I finally asked myself the question.  Sitting in church, listening to a sermon, the main topic of which currently escapes me.  But sitting there, I knew that I needed to answer that question. And I finally came up with two separate, yet connected, answers.

I was insecure of my identity in God.  And I was insecure in the identity of God.

First, my identity in God.  Who am I? Who does God want me to be?  Who does God need me to be? Growing up insecure in who I was made me feel unloved.  And it led me to look for love in places that I was absolutely never going to find it.  I know that now. But it led me down a path where I still hoped and dreamed I would find all of the things that I wanted in life.  But instead, that path took me further and further away from the things I wanted and needed.

Second, the identity of God.  Though I thought I knew who God was, in reality, I didn’t.  I thought that having a relationship with God would give me sunshine and puppy dogs and roses and life would be happy forever and ever more.  

Wow, how wrong could I be??? 

Yes, God is absolutely loving, caring, generous, gracious, merciful, and a whole lot of other adjectives.  He is absolutely all of those things. But that doesn’t mean that we will never struggle. That we will never experience hardship.  That we get a pass from all of the bad things that can and do happen in this world. It doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I thought it should work that way.  

But it doesn’t.

So when life got really hard, instead of turning to God, I turned away from God.  Because how could a God that claimed to love me let me go through all of this???  How dare God not give me everything that I wanted?  

It took a long time for me to get over myself.  It took many, MANY humbling experiences. Time, and time, and time again, I have been stubborn, and completely unworthy of God’s love.  

And guess what?  

God still loves me.  He does.  

I have given him a million reasons not to love me, yet he still does.  He still loves me.

How awesome is that?

And guess what?

Life still isn’t sunshine and puppy dogs and roses.  

I still struggle.

Bad things still happen.

But now, instead of turning away from God, I turn to God.  Because I know that I absolutely cannot get through this life without Him.  

Yes, I went wrong.  I went VERY wrong.  

And God didn’t take me back.  Because, that would mean that there was a time that God left me.  So no, God didn’t take me back.

He reminded me that He’s had me all along, whether I acknowledged that or not.

Gluttony

Gluttony: habitual greed or excess in eating.

If you have ever struggled with any type of addiction, I feel you.  If you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, I really feel you.  

But here’s my take.  You can think I’m wrong.  But at least hear me out.

An addiction or struggle with food is the hardest.  It is the most difficult. The most difficult to overcome, the most difficult to move past.  

Why?

You do not physically need alcohol, nicotine, or whatever other chemical you can be addicted to.  

You physically NEED food to survive.  And if you don’t eat, well that’s a completely different kind of addiction, revolving around food.

Do I think breaking an addiction to any of these things is easy?  Absolutely not. Not even close. But with most substances, you can, and do, survive without that substance.

With food, however, you are constantly bombarded with the need to be exposed to your addictive substance.  So yeah, that’s tough.

But I am willing to choose a new perspective on this.  I need to take a new perspective on this. Here goes nothing…

I have long known that gluttony is a subject that the Bible talks about.  It’s one of the 7 deadly sins. And even though I know that the Bible has guidance on this particular subject, I still struggle with it.  I mean, we all struggle with different sins. It’s just that this happens to be one of mine.  

In my opinion, my religion, my relationship with God, I believe the Bible is the truth.  Not only the truth, but the guide book for my life. There isn’t a topic we can deal with that the Bible doesn’t have some guidance on.  It’s just whether we choose to follow what the Bible says.

And sometimes, even though we know what the Bible says about something, we refuse to follow that guidance.  

It happens.  

We are human.

I’m not saying our humanness, and our lack of perfection is an excuse.  

I’m just saying it happens.  And I understand.

For me, I never been purposeful about tying my attempt to lose weight to God’s guidance and direction.  

Instead of tying the two things together, I went about my pursuit of following God, and my pursuit to lose weight on two separate tracks.  

In my belief, my religion, the Bible is our rule book for how God wants us to live our lives.  And, with any set of rules, there are consequences if you don’t follow those rules.

So instead of just counting calories, and exercising to lose weight.  Think about it in the big picture of God’s guidance and direction.

Even if you read the Bible, sometimes, when you look for specific topics, it can hit home hard when it concerns what God wants us to do.  It can hit really hard when it points out to stuff that you have done wrong. So when you look at what the Bible really says about gluttony…well…all I can say is OUCH!!!!

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

My body.  Is God’s temple.  And if I destroy that temple.  God is going to destroy me.

How, you might ask, is eating going to destroy your body, when you need food to survive?  Because just eating isn’t what we’re talking about. Gluttony, the definition written above says, is not just greed but habitual greed or habitual excess in eating.

Habit: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Involuntary greed and excess in eating.  

Yes, that will destroy God’s temple.

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
Philippians 3:19

God has told us time and time again to love Him, and not have any other gods before him.  When we make gluttony our God, we disrespect God.

But put on the Lord Jesus Chris, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Romans 13:14

When we go beyond the bounds of normal human consumption of food, there is really, truly only one reason we are doing that.  We might think that there are other reasons we indulge to the extreme. But really, we are only doing it for gratification. Ok, yes, I understand that the food tastes good.  But you do not physically need an excess amount of food to survive.

I also don’t believe you need to only eat lettuce.  God made Mexican food. And I do love me some Mexican food.  If you have read anything else, you know my love for tacos, and chips and salsa, goes deep.  And I honestly don’t believe enjoying a normal amount of Mexican food (or any other food you love) goes against God.

Excess.  Excess goes against God.  

So what does God say we should do about this?

Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

There is that dirty little “S” word that no one likes to talk about in the Bible.  Submit. And submission itself is a topic that I have been thinking about, and studying, and reading lately.  But honestly, that is a completely different post, that will likely come soon.

Submit: accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.  

A synonym for submit?  Obedience.

Obey God.  Follow his guidance and direction.  Tie the behavior your are struggling with to what God is telling us to do.  

In my own life, this is absolutely something that I have been feeling on my heart.  A deeper need to follow what God wants me to do. And I truly feel that God is revealing bits and pieces of His plan for my life.  Just a little at a time. And I also feel like God is pointing out areas in my life where I could use some improvement. But instead of feeling overwhelmed, and getting down on myself, I feel support and guidance and love through this process.  I pray that this continues. And knowing God, I know it will.

I Took a Break

I took a break.  From writing, obviously.  

Just at the culmination of the end of my journey with banishing my scale.  

Personally, I needed to work through some things, and deal with some behavior on my own before writing about it.  Nothing bad. But just some things that I need to address.

Plus, it’s the end of the school year, and I happened to contract the plague a few weeks ago that took far too long to recover from. (But hey, I lost 8 pounds!!) (And I’ve only gained 4 of it back!!)

So…first of all…the whole banishing my scale and just being happy with eating healthier was a giant bust.  I failed. Miserably.

Let me explain.

I did, in fact, manage to keep my scale banished until Easter.  On Easter, I broke that bad boy out, and weighed myself, and I was HORRIFIED at the number.  

I gained weight.  And not like a pound.  I gained almost 10 pounds.

I’m certain the jar of peanut butter AND the jar of icing I ate had absolutely nothing to do with that weight gain.  Nope, not a thing.

So I have un-banished my scale.  And have committed to actually eating healthier.  But also, giving myself a break and enjoying a Mexican food feast, mostly guilt free.  

But that isn’t even the biggest thing that I have been addressing.  I was getting down on myself for the wrong thing. Imagine that.

I had a habit.  A bad one. One that I kicked.  But then promptly replaced with food.  So I eat healthy meals. But honestly, the thing that was killing me was the nighttime snacking.  I won’t even be hungry. But there I am, standing in the kitchen, stuffing mass quantities of food in my face.  Yup, that happened.

But once I actually recognized that I had really just replaced that old bad habit with a new bad habit, I feel like I can address such a thing.  And I haven’t had any late night snack attacks since I came to this realization. So…that’s awesome.

But here’s the big thing.  The really big thing that I have been thinking and praying and talking to a few close friends, and of course, the parents.

A few weeks ago, I was in class with a small group of students.  And they brought up some of the stupidity that their generation just can’t seem to get away from.  So during this conversation, told my students that if they didn’t like the way society was going, they need to get involved.  

BE THE CHANGE.

They can make a difference.  

And in that moment, God tapped me on the shoulder.  I didn’t really want to listen at the time, but God definitely tapped me on the shoulder.  

How could I possibly tell my students that they need to be the change, when I was sitting here, not being the change myself???

And when I asked if my role in that change could just, you know, be telling other people to be the change.

Yeah, that didn’t go over so well.  

Shortly after that, I have another revolutionary weekend.  One of the things that has stopped me from going back to school is that I feel too old to do so.  I’m turning 38 this year. And I would need to go to school for at least a couple of years to do what I want.  Meaning I would be at least 40. And I really don’t want to be $30K in debt at the ripe old age of 40. So clearly, I am too old to go back to school.  But then, when it comes to other topics…meaning I’m not too old to get married. I’m not too old to still have children. I’m not too old to do those things.  

I can’t be both too old, and not that old at the same time.

It doesn’t work like that.  

So I gave it all over to God.  

I am consistently giving it all over to God.  Consistently, and constantly reminding myself that I have given it over to God.  And I trust that at the right moment, He is going to open all of the right doors, close all of the wrongs ones, and guide me to what He has in store for me.  

I am slightly terrified, because, you know, I’m human.  But I’m also excited about it. So let’s see where God is taking me on this crazy journey called life!!