Tag Archives: faith

U2 on the Roof – God Cares about EVERYTHING

I had a really rough night last night. Really rough. I spent today feeling bruised and battered, like I had been run over by the emotional express train. In the evening, driving the kids around, I dialed up a string of U2 songs on YouTube and let ‘er rip in the car. Through the cracks in the conversation with my daughter, my mind kept grasping and pecking at the lyrics and riffs, trying to maneuver them into my soul and elevate my mood. But relief was eluding me. I kept thinking, Man, I really want to hear ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’.

I pulled into our church parking lot to drop the kids to youth group and while pulling back out, I thought, I bet God was just waiting for me to drop them off so I can hear the song uninterrupted. Three minutes and one song later, my radio wails with recorded police sirens and DJs frantically announcing an impromptu U2 video shoot on top a building in LA at 7th and Main. Voices of police officers threatening Bono they will shut down the shoot play over the pandemonium rising in the background as crowds pour into the streets. But their legendary opening riffs blow over the rooftop and into the streets below. It was March 27, 1987. The song they played that day… Where the Streets Have No Name. Best version of that song ever recorded.

Relief, blasting through my speakers and settling in my soul. The song is great, but my God is Good.

Gorging’s Gotta Go

I’m recently struggling with a problem I’ve not had in the past… FOOD! I just can’t quite seem to get enough of it. I’m gorging myself at meals, over-packing my lunch for work, eating those explosion-of-sugar kids’ birthday cakes that once I never would have dreamed of ingesting, thinking about which restaurant we’re going to after church… you get the idea. This is strange for me – this is not something that has haunted and taunted me before. I’ve been praying about it a lot, trying to break the habit, trying to force myself to stop and… nothing.

But today at church, I had a “Doh!” moment. A revelation that in hindsight, seems absurdly obvious. It’s amazing how the enemy can blind us to awareness and insight and how that can keep us trapped in cyclical behavior. Last January, after my church community ended their annual beginning-of-the-year-fast, I decided I wanted to keep it up through the year instead of doing it just once. So I joined hands with my sister and we’ve fasted and prayed together each Wednesday through the year. It’s turned out to be a profound experience for me in growing closer to God.

So why on earth was I struggling to understand why I’ve been having a FOOD problem? I’ve been FASTING which has helped me grow CLOSER to God! Where else would the enemy try to attack me? Well, he can attack, but he can’t win with Jesus on my side. Today at lunch after church, I stopped with a third of my meal still on the plate, comfortably full, not stuffed. Victory!

Is there something that has been nagging you or chronically derailing you? Is there something you feel as though you just can’t break free from? If so, I encourage you to look for ways that it’s related to something you have recently made a commitment to change in your life. When you make the connection, recognize it as a sign that you are moving forward and making progress and the darkness of this world is trying to shut it down. So press in and don’t give up! Identify it, call it out by name, and reject it in your life by Jesus’ saving hand. Then step forward into the victory that’s waiting for you!

A Hamster in my Hand

We have a hamster who, to be truthful, I did not want. Despite my objections and resistance to its invasion of our home, over time the little guy turned from rodent to pet in my heart. And because, of course, the agreement that the kids would take care of this hamster (Stan) has long since evaporated, I make sure on a daily basis that the little guy doesn’t starve to death. The result has been that I have earned the exclusive right of having him crawl into my hand and cozy up for a little scratch, tucking his bitty nose underneath my thumb, and sometimes even taking a little snooze. Over time, he learned that my hand is a safe hand; he learned to recognize and trust me.

What strikes me every time little Stan is in my hand, is that he has no possible concept of who and what I am. Even if his eyesight weren’t naturally dreadful, he could not possibly take in my full scale just by shear proportion. It would be like standing on an outcrop during an ascension of Mount Kilimanjaro and trying to take in the whole mountain. Stan can’t see me, he can’t possibly understand me with his definitively small brain, but he trusts me. He knows my smell, he knows my touch, and he knows I will keep him safe, warm, fed, and comfortable through life’s hamster challenges.

But isn’t this just a reflection of us sitting in God’s hand?

Aren’t we in the exact same position in our ability to comprehend who and what God is?

hands holding the sun at dawn

Sing it with me: “He’s got the whole world in His hands…” This isn’t just a childhood song. It’s a fundamental truth. You are sitting in God’s hand, whether you recognize it or not. He is way too big for us to see. Way too complex for us to understand. Way too magnificent for us to behold with our five senses. But unlike the hamster, we use our decisively large brains to conclude, therefore, that he doesn’t exist.

And so we strive in our own effort.

And we falter without seeking His support.

And we toil through the days feeling an emptiness, and a burden for life’s outcome.

What if today, we decided to be more like Stan? What if we chose to believe there is a great Caregiver who loves us and will keep us safe, healthy, strong, comfortable, warm, peaceful, joyful, if only we allow Him? If only we believe? If only we take the time to understand Him outside our five senses; to learn to recognize His presence and how He wants to relate to us?

To acquire the discernment of what is God’s hand, and what is not, is life’s foremost goal. When we do, we develop clarity for separating out those things that do not keep us safe, healthy, strong, comfortable, warm, peaceful, joyful. With awareness of His presence, we learn to know His hand and trust that we are firmly in it. And that He will meet our needs for life’s challenges.

I invite you today, to allow your beautifully large and complex brain to expand beyond the boundaries of its five senses and open up a window of trust to the God you cannot fully see or understand. Remember, if Stan could control me, I would not be his caregiver. And if you could control God, by being able to fully document and describe Him, He would not be your Caregiver. Spend some time today, alone, tucking your nose under His thumb, and allowing Him to help you know and trust Him. He’s got you in His hand.

There is only one Judge: Jumping into the Brittany Maynard Conversation

I’ve not spent much energy engaging in the Brittany Maynard conversations, recognizing the cesspool of strife that would be stirred up by opposing positions on her decision. I didn’t find much value in slinging arrows in the crossfire. However, in the last 12 hours, I have been nudged twice to respond to the situation and I find I have a statement to share afterall.

Here is a link for the background on the story: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/terminally-ill-death-with-dignity-advocate-dies/ar-BBcEQgq?ocid=ansnewsap11

Honestly, I’m dumbfounded more by my fellow Christians on this topic than the agnostics or atheists. OK, to be honest, when I first read her story, my snap reaction was to judge her against the topic of suicide and murder in the bible, and write it off. But, it couldn’t stop there. God wanted me to think deeper about this. And here’s the revelation that came to me:

I’m not sure why any of us believes we have a right to condone or condemn her decision. Either position we take assumes the role of Judge, for which none of us has a right to occupy.

For those who do not believe in God, the question is simple, “By what authority do you have a right to judge her (for or against)?” From there, the conversation is not about Brittany or Dying with Dignity but becomes a spirituality and faith discussion.

For the Christians, the answer is clear. You have no authority to judge her. I challenge you to step past my initial snap reaction, to step out of God’s chair as Judge, and recognize that only He can decide whether what she did was righteous or not in His eyes. If she sought His direction and received His blessing, she made the right decision. If she did not, and acted upon her own desires, she made the wrong decision. Only she and He truly know which one it is.

I have observed people using all kinds of stories to support their position: my grandma died that way, the 9-11 jumpers, those who chose to live it out, etc. Using these stories is merely a means to justify your judgment and is not what we are called to do. We are called to share the word and pray that others will receive it.

Here are the things we know from the bible.

The taking of a life is a sin. Suicide is the taking of a life, your own.

We know the story of Job and intense physical pain (endured)

We know the story of Judas and intense emotional pain (suicide)

These stories, and many more, are God’s word. If you want to use a story to glean understanding, then use these (unless you happen to know God’s wisdom from the 9-11 attacks… which presumably none of us do). Their teaching is very clear, avoiding suffering is NOT our primary goal when faced with extreme challenges. However, that does not give us the right to use these stories to judge whether Brittany acted from a place of serving herself or God. They are a means to direct your own life and to teach others.

The answer in every situation is always the same, seek God first then follow His will for your life. Unless somebody knows with certainty whether Brittany did or did not do this through her journey, we cannot claim whether her act was righteous or not. So stop looking for the story that supports the definitive answer; stop taking either position to condone or condemn her. Just pray that from this, the world will turn to the true Judge and relinquish their perceived right to act in His place.

God Does Answer Prayer

I’ve been praying recently asking God to repair the damage that was done to my adopted son’s brain during the first year of his life due to the lack of a nurturing adult to care for his needs. Scientific studies have shown repeatedly that maladapted brain patterns develop in the absence of receiving comfort and human contact during that first year. All the efforts I have put into trying to rewire his brain have been largely useless, bringing me once again to the place that God so often does, to rely solely on Him.

Today, I opened a book I bought a week ago, Dannah Gresh’s “Six Ways to Keep the ‘Good’ in Your Boy”. Here is a quote from that book: “Research has shown that there are two periods in one’s life during which there is explosive proliferation of connection between brain cells – during the last few weeks before birth and just before puberty (8-12yrs old)”. My son is 9. He is in the prime age range to have his brain patterns altered before they are set for life. It then goes on to explain exactly how to accomplish that.

God does answer prayer. He is not going to miraculously heal my son but he did equip me to take advantage of a critical opportunity in my son’s life to repair the damage that was caused early on. He is faithful. He is good.

(ps – I highly recommend this book to any mother of a boy – phenomenal)

It doesn’t have to be that way

I’m absolutely heartbroken by the news of Robin William’s death. Not because I claim to have a personal relationship to him, or that we had some special bond, or even because I enjoyed him immeasurably as an actor. But because of my renewed awareness for the thousands, millions, of people who have not tapped into the source that provides peace beyond all circumstances. Jesus.

Jesus is the source that brings peace beyond all circumstances.

I don’t make this claim because I’ve had some easy foofy life that allows me to walk around with blinders on saying, “peace man”. I grew up with 8 siblings and one union workers’ income – not exactly the lap of luxury. I was a victim of sexual abuse. I had some pretty messed up world views as a teenager and young adult. I had a marriage that was frayed to a single thread, ready to snap for good. I sought, and acquired, all the wrong things trying to find happiness – partying, career, money, houses, cars, boats, vacations. But depression, fear, anxiety, inferiority, and unworthiness still subverted the peace in my life. It was only when I heard the gospel of Jesus and accepted Him into my life that my heart was filled with peace. A peace beyond circumstances – none of those situations have changed about my life – I still was poor, abused, and broken. But today I walk in peace every day, calling on Jesus when any one of those old emotions tries to drag me down again. He has never failed me.

Jesus is calling out, screaming out, to each of us every day. On billboards, in churches, through miraculous events large and small, in the longest running book in print in the history of the world – the bible, in opportunities to meet him – like this blog post, on bumper stickers, through friends, in dreams, even on t-shirts in Walmart now. But so many people, millions, turn away from Him. They can’t possibly believe it could be true. But what does not believing cost? Robin Williams. It costs a life where depression and fear and anxiety and unworthiness control us, sometimes to the point of no return.

Don’t let another day go by where you turn your back on His call. Find Jesus today, and find peace.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Take One More Step

Jesus knows exactly what it takes to get a response from this world. He knows that things have to hit rock bottom crisis mode to get someone to listen and respond to your needs. And He will use it to maneuver your life for His purpose and your benefit.

If you’ve not read my previous posts about my adopted son, you can check them here, http://bit.ly/17HYhoc http://bit.ly/1mIL86X In short, 3 months ago I found a homicidal note in his room about me. This was the final blow I could bear after years of being subject to the behavioral manifestations of a child with abandonment trauma, kidnap trauma, neglect trauma, and starvation trauma. This was rock bottom, crisis mode. We started researching residential programs and re-adoption options to move him out of the house. But amidst the confusion and disorientation and strife of living in crisis mode, I clung to a biblical truth that everyday fought for a minutia of my attention. That breaking up a family could not possibly be the Lord’s will. After living through the destruction that the breakup of a marriage causes, I knew somewhere in a lighted corner of my then very darkened world that breaking up a family in any way would be just as catastrophic. So although I could go no further, the Lord asked me to take one more step, and I did.

Stepping through that darkness brought me into a light that only He could orchestrate. A homicidal note is a crisis situation that gets attention from the world, including a massive response from an otherwise untapped wealth of therapeutic resources available through our county health system. Following one phone call to the Department of Health and Services explaining this note, we have received an avalanche of support that I so desperately needed. A team of therapists comes to my home 2-3 times/week to give Tadi intensive therapy at my kitchen table while I cook dinner for the family. The Lord arranged it such that the team lead for this group is a woman with 4 children adopted from the Ukraine (Tadi x 4, nightmare!!!). She understands him through the depths of her own suffering. After 40 intensive in-home visits, they will then transfer us to outpatient therapy for some unspecified period of time (as long as we need it). The cost to me for these services is $0.00 and will continue to be $0.00. Services that even when employed, I would have been unable to pay for due to the intensive nature of them. Tadi’s progress toward healing has skyrocketed and my knowledge of his traumas has exploded. All of this because of a crisis situation that I chose to step through with faith in our Lord Jesus.

Jesus knows exactly what He’s doing. When you are in your darkest hour just remember that the Lord’s hand is at work. He knows exactly what it takes to get a response from this world and He will use it to maneuver your life. So when you’ve hit rock bottom and you can’t possibly go any further, remember in your darkest hour awaits your greatest glory. Take one more step.

The Littlest Creature

My daughters have a hamster. His name is Stan. Although this mama was vehemently opposed to the addition of this creature to our family, his friendly demeanor and supple coat found its way into my heart. So Stan has successfully elevated his status from rodent to pet in our family.

It would seem that Stan is vying for a new promotion amongst our ranks, bible teacher. He hit the scene with a surprise lesson the other morning… 5am to be exact… that God really does care about the littlest things in our lives. Stan found himself free of his homey habitat and shivering with fear behind a suitcase under our bed in the wee hours after his rooftop door was left open the previous night. The story of glory is in the adventure of his trek in which only a divine guiding hand could have maneuvered him through. There are at least three insurmountable obstacles he had to overcome on his journey:

1)      Avoiding a date with a 12ft drop from the second story hall to the family room below which sits immediately behind his cage.

2)      Eluding starvation by bypassing refuge in the nearest bedroom, my daughter’s, in which he would have become like ET enveloped in an outrageous pile of stuffed animals and undetectable for days until his stench led us to his whereabouts.

3)      Miraculously escaping the jowls of my 75lb golden retriever after having been buried inside them as he was dripping with saliva when we finally rescued him.

After safely tucking Stan back into his cage, I crawled back into bed thanking God I didn’t have to deliver a fatality story to the girls in the morning. I was immediately reminded of the scripture that says, look at the flowers of the field, they do not worry what they will wear, and look at the birds of the air, they do not worry what they will eat; the Lord provides for these and doesn’t He love you all the more?

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A25-34&version=NIV

God was basically saying to me, “See, I do care. I have you covered even when you’re not looking.”

Today, know that God does care about every part of your life. He has you covered. He will provide all that you need when you put your faith in Him. Every little creature on this earth, whether a flower or a hamster or a problem or a relationship, is under His care. When you meditate on this and relinquish control to His will, He will see you safely back home.

Claiming Victory for Tadi

This is the end of the silence. This is the end of the isolation. This is the end of the enemy’s reign in our lives to keep us trapped from victory. This is the end of fear. Today is the day I take hold of the multitude of prayers that have been sent up to the heavens in my son’s name and claim victory over his life in Jesus’ mighty name.

My son is suicidal.

My son is homicidal.

And this is over in Jesus name today.

My son is a beautiful boy who has been dealt a raw hand. In his 8 years of life he has born more trauma and suffering and hurt and pain than most of us will ever know in a lifetime. And today I don’t wait to the end until it’s over to tell you the story of the glory of God. Today I invite you into the fire of our lives to expose the presence behind the lie that my son is broken. Today I expose the weakness and untruth in the lie. Today I invite you in to partake in the glory of God in action, unfolding in a little boy’s life.

In my prayer this morning, the Lord gave me a sword and told me to fight. I said “Yes!”. Today I am wielding that sword and taking action to fight for my son’s life instead of sitting by waiting for death to overcome us – death of family and death of relationships and death of hope. I claim victory over it all right now in Jesus name.

Today is the day for Tadi. I invite you to stand with me.

Lemons to Lemonade

It occurred to me today that this old cliché has a pow of faith as its backbone. I’ve always thought of it as a “buck-up” sort of encouragement that allowed someone to overcome the emotional burden of an unpleasant situation but largely left an inescapable sense of defeatedness in not knowing how to actually do it. However, I realized there’s power in them words when you let the Holy Spirit be the sweetener that transforms your sour to delicious.

We all have some undesirable part of our personality or behavior that stems from a previous unpleasant event in our lives. Maybe an over-critical old boyfriend made you hyper-sensitive and too reactionary; maybe a neglectful father made you desperate and clingy. For me, I became hyper-observant as a result of the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. Here is a glimpse into my day living with this type of behavior. I hear the swirl of ice in my husband’s glass and immediately recognize he’s about to say something he’s uncomfortable with. I notice that a co-worker is in my (former) boss’s office at a time he is usually not there and directly understand he is quitting his job. I see the shift of a friend’s pinky finger and am instantaneously heart-broken that what was just said hurt her feelings. At the meeting of a new person, I am swiftly dissecting every lift of an eyebrow, bending of the lip, tilt of the head, shift in body, flex of the hand, bend of the knee, shuffle of a foot, so that I can seamlessly react to their response to my presence and adjust my behavior to assure their comfort around me.

Sound exhausting?

It is!

The amount of energy it takes to acquire, integrate, store, recall, and use this information pervasively throughout the day is astronomical. I go to bed at night emotionally drained and physically exhausted. It has been a huge burden to live with, particularly because I acquire a lot of information of inconsequential value. I don’t really need to know every time someone doesn’t like my shoes because I have an uncanny ability to see an instantaneous flick of the eye. I really don’t need to know every time someone is watching me from behind because I can sense the oppressive weight of their gaze. I really don’t need to know every time someone places judgment over me because I understand the difference in the edge of their lip being turned ever so slightly up or down.

Now take this behavior and drop it in a corporate setting where I would regularly engage with 100’s of people and be overrun with shifty, side-handed, corporate politics. Nightmare! Now that’s some lemons. How did I turn that to lemonade? The Lord a plan for me and I trusted Him to lead me there. He brought me into a blossoming of this otherwise highly intrusive behavior. He made me a writer.

What makes a compelling story? Being drawn into the characters. What does it take to be drawn into the characters? To experience their innermost thoughts and feelings through meticulous description of subtle behaviors that reveal the truth beneath the unspoken word. What does it take to be able to do this? An encyclopedia of knowledge on the subtlest of human behaviors to pull from. When I visualize a scene I am writing in my book, this disruptive hyper-observant behavior becomes my best friend. I close my eyes and observe every move of my character. I transcribe it to prose and when I read it back to myself, the scene comes to life.

I am spending my days enthusiastically writing for the Lord using a dysfunctional manifestation of a horrid childhood experience. There is nothing outside His control. You are experiencing some part of your persona that feels like an overwhelming burden resultant from an unfair or undeserved experience in your life. This is part of the Lord’s plan for you. Seek His guidance on how He intends you to use this for His glory. Allow Him to transform both your perception and your usage of this burden into a gift, your lemons to lemonade. He will not fail you.