Archive | March 2013

Playing on God’s Soccer Team

This week was rough for me.  Seems like most weeks the last several months have been rough and perhaps it has become my new “normal”.  I was struggling with not being good enough and I know that scripture says that I am but I don’t feel like it sometimes.  I can be so hard and judgmental on myself and yet full of grace for others.  Yesterday all I heard God saying was to Love “Myself”.

How do you do that?

He reminded me what love was.

It’s not a feeling, it’s an action or choice that we make

sometimes we have to make it several times a day with the same person.

For me that person is myself

To extend myself grace, forgiveness, patience as I fail over and over again and how about to never give up on myself.

I could go on but I do know what Love is and that is a whole other discussion that I may pick up another time.

So as I walked through a difficult day I tried to think of how I could love myself.  For me it meant laying out under the stars last night for a quiet uninterrupted moment with God.  To admire his craftsmanship in the sky and just let my spirit be one with God.  As I laid there I began to hear God speak to me in his soft whispers of the heart.

He told me to stop looking at everyone else,  He said your all on the same team and yet you all look at one another only to say to yourself that your not as good as them.

You ever catch yourself reading someone’s post or hearing someone else speak to find that the ugly green head of jealousy has creeps in to your heart.  I know I have,  in fact I usually go on with I wish I could write that well, or speak that good.  Heck you could throw anything in there.  We all have those things we wish we were better at and every time we see someone that we perceive as better than ourselves we find that green snake hiding within us.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like to see it and sometimes I even try to shove him out the door or in a closet and pretend he was never there in the first place,  I keep telling myself that there is no need to compare myself to others and that God made me just the way he wants me.  Its ok if I am not as good as so in so but really deep down I am still disappointed with who God made me to be and the talents he’s given me.

Realizing this, I had to take it to God and deal with this sneaky snake that’s been lurking in the corners of my heart. I know he is just waiting for the opportunity to strike me at the core when I least expect it.  I’m so tired of being bitten by him and I really want to do away with him once and for all.

When I asked God about it this is what he said to me

Monica,  You are all on the same team why can’t you see it like that?

If you were playing soccer and your teammate made a goal would you be jealous or would you rejoice because your team scored?

I would rejoice!

This is no different than that,  see I have created my children to compliment one another on the field of life just as you would pick your team mates to compliment each other in a game.

Some of you play forward and your going for the goal all the time and yes it looks more glamorous than defense.  But my defensive players are just as vital to the team.  Defensive players are in a position to make the great save to keep the enemy from scoring they are my prayer warriors and the people you run to when you need a shoulder to cry on.My offense are the ones everyone sees the most because they are out there going for the goal to reach the lost.

My midfielders probably have it the hardest.  See they are constantly running back and forth across the field directing the mission but never getting the big save or scoring the goal, but with out them there wouldn’t be a game. These people prepare hearts of others to receive the gift I have to offer.  They keep the communication open between the offense and defense. They are in the heart of the game even if they don’t get recognized.

But lets not stop there what about the coach and the “water boy”  every good team needs a good coach.  I have called some to be just that for my team.  They lead my players and lay out the plan with the mighty hand book of rules and guidelines I have given.  Their job is to train my players the ins and outs to the game.  They also encourage and correct when it is needed.  The water boy or girl is also a valuable part of the team and I think you may know where I am going with this one.  In order for a team to function at its best they need to be hydrated and served.  These people I have given the gift of serving.  They love to host and fill people’s physical needs.  Sure you could function with out them but not very well.

Lastly there is the team’s athletic trainer.  They are the ones that come into the field of play when someone is injured.  They check you out to make sure everything is working correctly before you return to play and if its not they direct you to receive healing.  They are gifted with the ability to spot an injury and provide treatment.  We all get knocked to the ground at some point in the game.  Some of us get back up right away and return to the game.  Some are shakin up and come out for a bit to rest and regain confidence.  Then there are those who are injured and must take time to heal before returning to the game.  Sitting on the sidelines is not always fun but to protect against further injury and being pulled out permanently the time must be given to heal.

Monica  I want you to look at life like its a game and others as if they were your teammates.  When they do something you think is great don’t look at yourself and think I wish I could do that.  That is not your position and only you can do your position.  Instead cheer them on for they just made a great move for the team.  The same team you are on!  Their Victory is your victory so if you change your perception of life’s circumstances then you rid yourself of the ugly green snake that lingers inside.

So here I am reevaluating my thoughts on the issue and I realize the truth that God is speaking to me.  But I also realize something so much more.  I’ve been injured and have had to sit on the sidelines for quite a while it seems.  But now I can see that it is necessary and has a purpose.  He wants to put me back in the game but he is also concerned with my strength and ability to keep up with the game.   He does have big plans for me, he is just preparing me for them.

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To Know You

If to know you means

I must be broken

Then break me

For I long to know you more

It is in my brokenness that I see you

So I say “Bring it on”

I want to know you in the joy and in the pain

To know you in the good times and the bad

I want to know you inside and out like the palm of my hand

You are what I desire

You are what I need

Only you can Love me this way.

Sunrise In The Morning

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I was driving down the road yesterday and looking out my windshield all I could see were the dreary clouds that had been there all day long.  It had been a rather depressing day and I’m quite sure the weather here in NW Ohio did its share to contribute to my mood. 

I had spent most of the day talking to God about my situation and no matter how hard I tried to listen I just wasn’t hearing anything back.  Some people have told me that God is always speaking to us and its simply a matter of us stopping to listen.  I don’t know if that is true cause I sure was trying to hear what he was saying to me all afternoon and no matter how quiet I was or how still I was I just wasn’t hearing it.  By the time I got home from work and started running my kids every where they needed to go, I had pretty much given up on God responding to my inquiries about the storms in my life.  Normally it seems like God is constantly talking to me, but when I want to hear him the most he seems silent.  I was thinking that perhaps I simply don’t want to hear what he is saying so I discredit him by telling myself that its not God speaking its my own thought running around inside my head.  On this particular day though I could not even come up with a thought of my own.  I was simply pleading with God that I just don’t see how it is going to work or where I am supposed to go.  I felt lost and his silence was disheartening.  I kept telling myself over and over to just trust him, that’s all I can do right now and pretty much all I have to go on at this point.

So as I was driving my daughter to practice, I couldn’t help but notice how dreary the sky was looking.  I was so disappointed because one of my favorite times of day is watching the sunset, the other is watching the sunrise while I run down the trail. This night though  there was not going to be a sunset to see.  God heard me though and for the first time all day he spoke to me. 

My dear child just because you can’t see the sunset behind the stormy skies doesn’t mean you won’t bear witness to a beautiful sunrise in the morning.  You may only see the dreary clouds in your future right now but just like the sunrise you will soon see a beautiful sunrise in your life.  Continue to trust in me as you have and know that I do and always will have things under control,  Nothing that happens is with out my knowing.  I don’t cause it but I do use circumstances to reveal my greatness to the lost souls who bear witness to my wonders.

Wow! Ok. God I feel sheepishly small right now.  How impatient and demanding I was earlier today.  I don’t have to see the gorgeous sunset behind the clouds to know that it is there.  I know its there I just can’t see it.  I have to know in the same sense that my life will be beautiful again when I reach the other side of these stormy skies.   I also learned that it was  when I surrendered my worries to God and left them in his hands that my mind quieted.  It was then and when I least expected it that I heard God speak to me.  I’m still not sure he is always talking and that it is a matter of us just listening.  I do think though that he waits until we are truly done with our ranting, pleading and pity parties.  When we have surrendered ourselves to what he has to say then he will speak because he knows we are ready to listen and accept what he has to say. 

Isaiah42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do; For I will not forsake them.

 

 

 

My Miracle Car

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Have you ever had one of those days or months or even years where you wish you could go back and start over?  I’ve been having one of those years.  I would like to say it couldn’t possibly get worse but I know that it can and of course as soon as I type this, it will be an invitation for something to happen.  I could go on about all the things that have happened but I won’t.  I choose not to dwell on them anymore.  See even though a lot of “not so good” things have happened I have had the unique opportunity to see God on a deeper level.

I love how just when I think I’ve reached a plateau or mile stone God thrusts me to the next level.  This doesn’t mean I never cry or get upset about my circumstances.  I believe we all have our moments of weakness where we know God is ultimately in control but we are still on the floor throwing a temper tantrum like a two year old.  I’m not always happy about it and  I don’t always understand and yes I do wish he would do it my way sometimes.  I usually try to console myself with Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans for prosperity and not for evil.  Plans for a future and hope.  When you look for me you will find me.  This verse in particular always has a way of pulling the steam out of this engine.  When I’m finally done arguing my point with God and my heart grows quiet I can hear his voice.  He doesn’t always tell me why he does something but he always consoles my heartache.

I have also learned that it is important to have friends who know me well enough to encourage and lift me up.  I used to go through life by myself so to speak.  When things went wrong I would take them to the foot of the cross and leave them with the Lord.  That was great and I learned a lot about God. I learned how to really hear his voice and how to have peace through some pretty difficult trials.  What it didn’t teach me though was that God is down here on earth with me.  I don’t have to wait to get to heaven to “be” with God and experience his glory.  I didn’t fully understand that when I would leave people out of my life and try to handle it on my own I was pushing God out of my life.  Think of it this way.  If God lives in me then he lives in you, so if I don’t let you and you don’t let me in during difficult times, then we are not allowing God to meet us where we are here on earth.  I don’t know about you but I know I want to experience God down here on earth to the fullest.  What does that mean to me?  Well when my daughter has a car accident and totals my only van,  I ask others for help rather than struggling through on my own.  Sure I could get by on my own hitching rides, not going places and even purchasing a really cheap (but probably not very good) car.  What  I discovered though through telling people and sharing my struggles with them was that God could meet my needs way better than he could when I kept to myself.

There were several little miracles that occurred to make this big miracle happen.  I thought I would share them with you so you can see how God has worked in my life and hopefully you will be able to see him more clearly in your own life.

On Jan 31, 2013 my daughter was in a car accident on her way to pick me up from work.  We only had one car and it made more sense for her to drop me off at work before going to school then it did for me to drop her off at 6am for school.  She had only had her license for 2 months and had never driven on snow or icy roads.  That morning I knew there was a chance of a little snow but it was nothing big.  For tow days I had heard God telling me she was going to have an accident on this particular day.  I consoled myself with the fact that she needed to learn and she wasn’t going to get experience if I kept her off the road every time it was a little icy.  There were no school closings any where in our region so I knew it would be a little ridiculous for me to keep her off the road.  I told myself that I probably wasn’t hearing God and that I was just a worrying Mother.  That morning she made it school safely and I breathed a bit easier.  There was something inside of me though that kept telling me it wasn’t over and before the day was out I got that phone call every parent dreads where your kid is on the other end in hysterics crying.  She couldn’t tell me what happened because she was crying so hard but I knew exactly what happened.
The first miracle was that someone was with me and I was able to leave right away in their car.  I retraced the path she would take to get to me and she was only few miles away.  When I arrived at the scene my heart sank at the sight of my van and I knew it was totaled.  The second miracle was that my daughter was not injured, not even a bruise.  When I asked her later about the air bag deploying and if it hurt. She told me all she felt was something brush against her arm.  If you have ever had the displeasure of being struck with an air bag you know that they can hurt,  of course not as bad as you would if you didn’t have one, but none the less they hurt.  The third miracle that day was that enterprise closed at 6pm.  The accident happened at 4:30 so by the time we were done with police reports and talking to  the insurance company I walked in the door there at 5:55 only to be told that they didn’t have the reservation from the insurance company yet.  I could put up $300 to get the car that night or wait till the next day.  I couldn’t wait and I didn’t have $300.  I couldn’t call anyone to help either because enterprise was closing in 3 minutes and wouldn’t take a credit card over the phone.  I stood there not really sure what I was going to do and prayed.  I was waiting for God’s answer to my dilemma when the reservation popped up on their computer at 5:59 .  Relieved my daughter and I climbed into our temporary car.  I knew my daughter was very upset and understood that I was not in a position to replace my van.  I could only imagine how she felt and I didn’t want her to carry this burden so I began to slowly list all the things in my life that I was thankful for.  I did this all the way home and told her this wasn’t her problem to fix.  She may have had the accident but its not her job to pick up the pieces.   I couldn’t even pick up the pieces,  this wasn’t something we could fix.  To be honest I was a little lost myself and very numb inside.

The next week I found out I would be getting a mere $2300 for my van. My van of course was worth way more than that  to me and next to impossible to replace at that price. I  So I went to a local dealership where I was close friends with some of the employees and the salesman there put me in a couple of cars.  I really didn’t like any of them and I told him he was trying to sell a puppy to someone who lost their beloved dog two days ago.  It didn’t matter what he showed me I couldn’t make a decision.   I am a single mom who is trying to raise 4 kids on very little money so I really didn’t even know how I was going to afford anything.  After the last car he told me he had another option but I couldn’t tell anyone.  He had just driven back a car from out of town.  The woman was a friend and had purchased a new vehicle so she had asked him to drive her old car back to sell for her.  The woman was only asking $3500 for it so it was more in my price range than the ones he had been showing me.  After 2 friends looked over the car for me I told him I would buy it.  The salesman was even going to do the sale outside of the dealership so I wouldn’t have to pay additional fees.  You would think it would be easy now.  Insurance cuts me a ck and I pay for the car and I go away happy.  No that’s not how it works for me.  It took two attempts to fill out and fax paperwork correctly.  How should I know I’m the customer?  I would have thought they were since they are the one’s buying my demolished van.  Then I had to track down the title which was not as easy as going home to the file and pulling it out.  You see the bank gave me the wrong title 2 yrs ago when I finished paying for my van.  They did send me a title just not the right one.  So after I tracked that down turned it all in I found out the owner of the car I was buying was still looking for her title.  Great!  I’m beginning to think this whole title business is a bunch of crap!

Finally all the money and titles located so I go to get my new car.  The wonderful salesman tells me how I can’t come by the dealership to visit my friends  in my new car for awhile.  It seems the owner saw the car and was trying to buy it out from under me.  He was even offering more than $3500 I had agreed to pay because he want to sell it for $6000.  He told the owner the woman wanted the car for her grandson so it was going back.  He put his job on the line so I could get a good deal on a car I desperately needed.  God was really looking out for me there.

Well 26 days later I finally have my new car and what’s even better my daughter has one too.  See, I had to turn the rental back in after a week and I still hadn’t gotten a vehicle.  God was faithful though and a friend from church was trying to sell an old van.  He said we could use it and if I wanted it to make an offer.  It wasn’t worth much but it ran and if my daughter crashes it  I won’t be out much.  So I made him an offer, to which he accepted.   What started off as something terrible God turned into good.  I was going through gas and time like crazy trying to get my kids everywhere they needed to be.  Now I have a little car that gets great gas mileage and my daughter has a car to drive herself to school which will save me a ton of time and money.  The best part about it all was my children seeing how God works things out for the good of those who love him.  I don’t think my kids will ever forget this especially since they know how much I have always wanted a blue car.  They are more excited about the sunroof than the color and that’s okay with me.