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.

Self-Confidence

If you post nothing but positivity and perfection on social media, you make everyone else feel bad.  While everyone also believes that there is absolutely no way your life is that perfect.

You’re just faking it.

You shouldn’t brag about your accomplishments.

But you shouldn’t have low self-esteem.

Do this.

Don’t do that.

Act this way.

Don’t be absurd.

Why are you being like that?

Just be real.

Oh, but not that real.

Share your feelings.

But only if they’re positive.

But be real.

Admit your struggles.

But don’t talk bad about yourself.

Have self-confidence.

But be humble about it.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Because it certainly does to me.  There is such a fine line between self-confidence and self-deprecation that it’s truly a wonder if any of us have a small measure of mental health.

After a lifetime of never feeling like I was good enough, or smart enough, or just plain enough…I finally feel like I’m maybe, almost making a little bit of progress.  Not to say that this isn’t a daily struggle.  Because it is.

But…

I know that I do not need to settle for anything less that I deserve.  And when I say that, I mean…I’m smart, I’m capable, I’m strong, I’m stubborn, I’m funny, I’m kind, I’m a million different things.

And when I say that I shouldn’t settle for anything less than what I deserve, I will not settle for anything less than someone or something that sees who I truly am, and isn’t fearful of that.  I will not surround myself with people who choose to put me down instead of lift me up.

We often get so focused on what other people think of us, and how other people make us feel about ourselves that we lose sight of what is truly important.

God.

Not only who God is to us…Father, Creator, Friend, Strength…but also who we are to God…loved child.

We.  Are.  Loved.

Daily, we are surrounded by so much love, it can be overwhelming, it can seem false, but it is never unfailing.

Never.

Do you need to read that again?

Because God’s love for you never fails.

No matter what you’ve done.  No matter how unloving you have acted.  God’s love for you has never failed.

It seems incredible, doesn’t it?  That someone loves us without any type of condition laid upon us.

Yet, it’s the truth.

So…

How can that truth help us navigate the tricky path that I laid out above?

Let’s talk about the word humble.  The act of “being humble” does not mean self-deprecating.

To be self-deprecating means to put yourself down.  To say that you are less valuable that you actually are.

But to be humble means to have knowledge and confidence in who you are, and knowing that all you are, all you have, is because of God.

Does that solve a lot of problems?

Well, yes.

I will.  Maybe not instantly.  But it will definitely solve a lot of problems.  And it will help you build a more firm foundation to navigate the rest of the challenges that life throws your way.

So now that we have the easy answer out of the way…what does this really look like?  How do we begin to implement this in our lives?

It isn’t easy.

It isn’t fast.

But it is so worth it.

God didn’t create worthless pieces of junk.

So maybe one of the things that you need to do is take some time to really look at yourself, and who you are, and the things that you offer to the world around you.  Write out a list of all of the good things that you are if you need to.  Turn it into a poster and hang it on your wall if you need to.  Whatever you need to do to remind yourself of your value.

Read your Bible.  I cannot stress this enough.  You must spend time reading, studying and understanding God’s words to truly understand who He is.  I can sit here and type until my fingers bleed about who God is.  But until you actually get into a relationship with Him, you won’t really know Him.

Now…can the Bible be complex, and overwhelming?  Absolutely.  It can be terrifying.

But it’s ok to be afraid, and still move forward and do it.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Maybe take it slow if you need to.  Get help when you need it.  Ask questions.  Just, please, make sure you’re asking for help from people who have some understanding of the Bible.

Once you have taken those 2 steps, something will naturally happen.  You start to take a look at what you’re doing, who you’re surrounding yourself with, and you really start to take a look inward about whether you need to make any changes in your life.

And guess what?

Those negative voices that have surrounded you in the past, the voices that have tried to bring you down…once you stand up for yourself, and have confidence in yourself, those negative voices tend to weed themselves out.

Not always (unfortunately) so you may need to make some drastic changes to your social scene.

But you won’t be sorry for it.

My friend, you are loved.  You are amazing.  Now go have an amazing day!!!

New Year, New Fret

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t because historically, most resolutions fail.

In an epic way.

So I don’t make them.

I also believe that if I am going to try to improve myself, I don’t need the turn of a calendar page to make that decision.

But as the end of 2019 approached, I had an overwhelming sense of unease.  And I couldn’t really quite put my finger on it for a long time.

Until I did.

And then I wish I hadn’t.

The fear, the trepidation, the unease was because I was worried that 2020 still will not be the year that things happen for the better.  That I still won’t find that perfect guy God has all picked out for me.  That I won’t make some huge breakthrough on what it is God wants me to do with my life.  That I won’t feel like a success, yet again.

The answer to all of this, that I am still finding it difficult to accept is that no matter what this year brings, God will get me through.

Deep down, I know that I will be just fine, and that even if all of those things do not end up happening this year, God’s perfect plan for my life will still be playing out.

I know that.  Of course I know that.

But the longing for all of those things is still there.

So, of course, God has to tap me on the shoulder as I’m reading my Bible this morning.

“Ahem, *cough, cough* this is for you, my dear.”

I was reading Psalms 37.  And in Psalms 37, David, yet again, perfectly describes the anguish that we, as humans, often feel.  And then he directly follows it up with what we, as Christians should do.

“Hope in the Lord
and keep his way.”
Psalms 37:34

Basically, there is a huge amount of wisdom in Psalms 37.  How we shouldn’t look at what evil people (people doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason) who end up succeeding, temporarily, with envy.  Not to look at them and wish that we had their successes.  Because in the end, their successes will be revealed to be ultimate failures, as they don’t get to share in the eternal prize of Heaven.

It’s difficult to do.

Because we know that their success is a result of evil things.  Evil intent.  Evil purpose.  And often, those people don’t care who they run over to accomplish their goals.  But the results of some of those evil things look oh so tempting.

I get it.

But we must keep our eye on the true prize.  The prize that gets us eternity in Heaven with our Father.

And until then, keep relying on His strength, guidance, mercy, grace.

And hope in the Lord, and keep His ways.

This. Is. Ridiculous.

Have you ever prayed what you felt was an absolutely absurd, ridiculous prayer?

Even as you’re praying, you just feel dumb even praying the words.

I have done that a couple of times recently.

The holiday season is upon us.  And Hallmark movies are constantly being showed about everyone finding their one true love in just the nick of time.  And I love every single one of them.  I truly do.

Not because I believe that they’re true to life stories.  Or because I want a storybook ending.

But each and every one gives hope in situations where we can often feel hopeless.

Point of clarity: I am not blaming Hallmark, or their wonderful Christmas movies for what I’m about to tell you.

But it’s the holiday season.  A time where we all spend somewhere between too much and not enough time with our family members.  And it can be tough when you’re the single one in the family.

well im not married yet dear marilyn monroe GIF

I decided a while back that I was going to wait until God brought the perfect for me person into my life.

God’s taking a really long time about that.

Like, a REALLY long time.

A frustratingly long and ridiculous amount of time.

I’m being a brat about it.  Because, once again, I’m spending the holidays single.  No, that’s not it.  I’m being a brat because I’m trying to fit God’s plan into my plan.  I’m trying to pull back control on a situation that I already turned over to God.

And because I was trying to take charge, I almost made a stupid decision.  Ok, in my lifetime of stupid decisions, by far, not the worst of the stupid decisions.

I almost signed up for online dating.

Because I was lonely.

And because I’m frustrated.

And impatient.

And I feel like God isn’t moving in the ways that I want Him to move.

Because that’s not what God does.

And even though I know all of these things.  I still almost made a stupid decision.  So I prayed.  I prayed for God to help keep me from making a stupid decision.  And to remind myself that I’m really not the one in charge anyway.

I’m not saying that I’m 100% of the way there.  But at least I acknowledge that I almost did a stupid thing.

That’s progress, right?

The Magic 8 Ball of Prayer

Does Brad like me?

Ask again later.

Will I be rich and famous?

As I see it, yes.

Will I pass my American Lit test today?

Outlook not so good.

Recently, I was reading in Leviticus, specifically the section where God was telling Moses exactly what the priests (Aaron and his sons) should wear when coming into the temple.  And if ever there were an elaborate outfit, this definitely fit the bill.  And then I got to the part about the Urim and Thummim.  And when I read the note in my Bible about it, I definitely wanted some Urim and Thummim.

These two objects were to be worn in the breastplate the priests wore.  And though the actual origination or purpose isn’t specifically known, but it is believed that these pieces were to receive answers from God.  That somehow either one piece was a yes, the other a no, or some combination of the pieces gave the specific answers.

Either way, these were used to receive direct, clear answers from God.

Kind of like the old Magic 8 Balls we played with as kids.  Where we could ask it the deepest, most secret questions of our hearts, and we would get some kind of answer, plain as day.

In life, in prayer life specifically, we rarely get such a clear answer to our prayers.  Especially not the answers that we are looking for, or the ones that we feel we so desperately need.

Not to say that God doesn’t give us a clear response, but it often looks much more different that we would hope or expect.  And sometimes, we have to look very hard to see and understand those answers.  And I will be the very first to admit that this can be frustrating sometimes.

But God does answer our prayers.

Sometimes, we just need to pray through to see, feel, and hear those answers.

Imma Pray for You

I had to pray for someone yesterday, someone that is not a very nice person.  Someone who created a current, horrific situation affecting people that I love.  And this same person has created horrific situations for other people that I love in the past.  This person is selfish, and mean. Long story short, unless this person has a profound change within their soul, she is going to hell.

And I HAD to pray for her yesterday.  Not because she asked me to pray for her.  But because I felt in my heart that she needs a profound change in her life, and we needed a miracle.  

I have no idea what has happened in her life for her to be such a mean and hateful person.  I know her parents. I know the area she grew up in. I know a great deal of her family. And nothing explains why she is the way she is…except Satan has got a hold of her.  

Satan…man…that guy is just bad news.   And when he gets his hooks into someone, really digs in deep, bad things will happen.

I have known for a long time, and personally experienced, Satan tries to throw things my way because I’m a Jesus girl.  Satan doesn’t like it when Jesus girls continue turning to God, no matter what hardships or war Satan tries to throw our way.  So sometimes the more we turn to God during a temper tantrum from the evil one, the worse the temper tantrum becomes.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Satan has tried throwing a temper tantrum, in human form.  And havoc ensued.

So how is it possible that I can pray for such a hateful person?  Well, the Bible told me to do it.

I look to these 2 verses for direction in how to pray for people you just don’t get along with.

“You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:43-45

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-”
1 Timothy 2:1

Paul isn’t telling us to just pray for our friends, and people that we love.  People that we get along with, and the ones that are nice to us. No, no, no.  Paul is telling us to pray for ALL people.  

So while I fully understand that when you pray for people who just haven’t been very nice to you, you may start off doing so through gritted teeth and a locked jaw.  I get it. Been there, done that, gotten the souvenir t-shirt.

I feel you.  

When Satan starts using people to attack you, persecute you, do evil and vile things, his goal is not to get you to pray more.  His goal is not to get you to turn your back on the evil, and pray. Pray for the person that Satan is attacking. Pray for the situation.  Turn everything over to God, and let Him be the one in charge. His goal is to win! He wants you to crumple. He wants you to turn your back on God and think that He has left you to suffer this tragedy all on your own!

I urge you…don’t bow down to Satan and the things that he wants to happen.  

But rather…what an awesome way to thumb your nose at Satan!?!  Tell him that you aren’t going to cave to the pressures he is putting you under.

Turn everything over to God, including the person Satan is using to attack you.

Not today, Satan.  NOT TODAY!!

Here I am, Lord…

…Send me.

So the conversation went like this…

Me: Ok, God, I’m willing to go.  I’m surrendering to your will, and your plan.  But I have a couple of questions.

God: You’re human.  And I’m familiar with you.  Proceed.

Me: How much is this going to hurt?

God: A lot.  But I don’t want you to focus on that.  My strength will get you through.

Me: Well ok then.

I’m on this journey, a journey where I’m focusing on my relationship with God.  And I am feeling it, all the way down to my soul.

A couple of days ago, I was reading my Bible, in the book of Acts.  Oh, you know what, you need, no you really NEED to read these verses.

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

-Acts 20: 22-24

I read that…and my reaction was…

Imma need a minute.

Paul’s conviction to follow what the Holy Spirit was telling him to do is so great, nothing could stop him!  Even his friends that were traveling with him tried to persuade him not to go to Jerusalem, because they knew what lay ahead for Paul.  But nothing, nothing could stop Paul from what God had called him to do.

I feel insignificant compared to Paul.

But at the same time, Paul was specifically called to this task.  Not me.

I am called to a different task.  One that I am still discovering every day.   I know that God has a plan for my life. To utilize me in a way that he has specifically designed me to accomplish.  Me alone. In fact, we are all put here for a purpose, a specific purpose. Each of us has our own, unique, and sometimes challenging plans from God.  We may work together for a time on some of these plans. Sometimes we will be heading down the path all alone. And the absolute terror of what lay ahead might seem overwhelming.

But there is a comfort.  Though there may be no human companionship along this path, God is always by our side.  

So yes, our path, our purpose, our calling from God may be terrifying.  It may be painful at times. But the challenges, the hardships, the pain, the sorrow, the negativity should never be our focus.  Because, as a Christian, those things are inevitable.  As Christians we are, unfortunately, not promised an easy life.  

That just sucks, sometimes.  

But that’s just how it is.  

So we are called to walk forth boldly, and with confidence and conviction.

I don’t know what the future holds for me.  But I have finally let go of my hold on the future, and the plans that I have made to let God fully lead me in what He wants me to do.  And I know that there will be pain and struggle ahead. But instead of being terrified, so completely terrified that I can’t take a step forward, I walk forward, boldly, with God’s strength holding me up.  Because there will be pain. But God will get me through.

Here I am Lord.  Send me.