Friday, January 9, 2015

Blessings in disguise...are you missing yours?

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
                                                                Hebrews 4:16 NLT
This morning I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm...if you know me, you know this is a HUGE change. When I started the "Biggest Loser Challenge" on Jan. 3, 2015, I started getting up early to take a bike ride. The first day I hopped out of bed excited for this new journey Jesus has placed me on. Happy to be able to get up & determined to get on my bike & ride away this fat barrier I have built over the last 7 years! I leaned into God & gave my complete self over to Him...then I faced the ones that had agreed to go with me. I walked out of my room with a huge smile on my face & said, "Good morning!! Are y'all ready for the ride??" 2 of them were up, the youngest one was sleeping on the couch...this was not what I expected. They were not excited at all, the 2 that were awake just stared at me with a look I cant share the meaning of on a family blog. My heart started to sink..then I heard the familiar whisper of my sweet Daddy God's voice, "keep smiling, this is a good change it will feel good & you need to worry about you, not make them be as happy as you are for this  don't need them to do this, you have ME...I AM enough for you. In your weakness you have my strength."  So, I got myself ready, they did too & off the 3 of us went. I felt alive again...
When I decided to join this challenge I prayed about it. I had accepted the challenge no questions asked. when my sweet sister in Christ asked me to. Then I read the terms & found out there was an entry fee...this was a huge road block for me instantly...I was wondering how I was gonna buy groceries to feed us, there's no way I can do this. But I heard Him immediately, "I will provide." I said ok, with a little doubt hidden behind my answer. But just incase I decided to message my sweet sister & ask her if it was ok if I couldn't come up with the meager entry fee, this isn't national, it's a small group of us women ready for God to show us how to knock these walls down & shine Him bright, so it's very little to most, but I asked her if I could just have the encouragement, fellowship & accountability. She replied like my sweet Jesus was saying it to me...yes. but ask God for it, it will make you more accountable if you invest so much for you. What ask God for this?? I hadn't even went to Him about this challenge...I never thought to ask Him, I just accepted. Of course the first thing I did was tell my Daddy "I'm sorry I didn't think about asking You." I asked Him for the entry fee, I asked Him to show me how to start. I asked Him to be my 5 hour power. Within a couple of days, He provided from the most unexpected source.
Over the last week I've ridden 5 days. 4 of those days I had the company of my guys, at least 1 of them each of those days, except 1 of them. That was today. I woke up before my alarm & Sweet Hubby was in the kitchen leaning on the counter, on the phone. Sr was still in bed & Jr was awake upstairs. Sweet Hubby tells me he bent wrong & his back was pinching & I told him, "it's ok you don't have to ride with me today, I'll be ok." Just then Jr comes down & asks are you going on a bike ride today mom, I told him yes & asked if he wanted to go. He looked at me & said "not really, I'm sorry mom." I said "no son it's ok." Then I felt this joy I cant even, excitement & peace at the same time at the thought of being able to take a bike ride by myself...just me, none of my guys with me. The worship music in the headphones in my ears...the time alone with my Daddy God...just me & distractions, interruptions, no worries...Oh my goodness, YES this is an awesome plan!!! THIS is the plan for my ride today!!!
Then both of them decide that one has to go...WHAT??? NO!!! I screamed in my head...but then the peace & joy of being able to have time with headphones in, still with my sweet Daddy came rushing back over me. I smiled & said to them both, "I will be fine, I promise. You guys don't have to worry, just stay here I'll be great, really!!" They both looked at me, neither of them convinced. So I went on & said, "Really this way I can listen to my music & not worry about having to listen for someone. I really want to go by myself today." They were content with this answer & agreed. My Sweet Hubby went to the garage & got my bike out & ready for me, a great surprise. Jr walked me out through the garage & said, "ok have fun mom." Off I went, music in my ears, a woman filled with excitement & joy...a tiny bit of fear crept in....but as I rode up the street, no plan, just riding wherever I rode. Talking to Jesus, singing to Jesus & sharing my joy & a smile with those I encountered along the path. What a ride it was...I loved all the rides this week, with each of my guys too, but God is my favorite riding partner. As I came riding around the neighborhood streets He whispers "sometimes it's good to have some quiet time for ourselves. You asked & I am giving you what you asked for, it may not always seem to be what you expected...but it will always be better my beautiful girl." Just then I looked up into the beautiful blue sky & felt the breeze blow through my hair & in my face...I couldn't help but laugh & answer out loud...."Yes Jesus, this is just what I needed!!! Thank You!!" I kept on riding just singing & smiling, letting Him pour His perfect mercy & grace into me & fill me with JOY, real JOY not the other kind....I made it home...



Thursday, January 8, 2015

My word of 2015 is...

I am one of the ones that is a little glad 2014 is FINALLY over. Not that I didn't like the entire year. I loved so many parts easily...others I struggled to find something to like. Really the only thing that I can say about 2014 is that STRUGGLE with a lot of God's mercy, as I walked a valley almost the whole year. It definitely was a year that I learned someone was gonna have control of my destiny...not me however. 
I found that I can choose to ask God to guide my steps, or I can sit back in my humanness & believe I'm guiding them. Yes, I said "believe." I might think I'm making the choices, in a way I am, I'm choosing to live for me & my flesh...but the one guiding my steps when I choose to live for me, is really satan. Because when I live for me, it's the farthest I can get from Jesus. He was very blunt about how to live like Him....

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9:23 NIV

In 2014 I learned so much more about what this really means to deny myself. It was a painful but necessary lesson I really began learning. 
The beginning of 2014 was bittersweet for me. Our oldest son, Sr, returned home from about 2000 miles away, after about 4 years. I had taken Jr to visit one summer for 6 weeks, but it had been about a year & a half since then. He didnt want to come back here, he didnt want to leave his son...this tore him apart horribly. But financially it was a must. I was glad he was home, after all he's my oldest & I dearly love him...although I did understand his heartache. But God brought him home & then blessed him with an awesome job. Which we had no idea would be part of a much bigger plan to grow not only my trust, but my entire family's. 
Within a couple weeks my Sweet Hubby was laid off of his job. We didnt stress it too much because he's a plumber with a local union & they have usually gotten him either right away, or within a few weeks. God had other plans...His plans were not the same as mine, not even close. While this was going on little girl had found out she was pregnant... unexpectedly. Somehow she was blinded by the lies of satan. She just threw out everything she believed about abortion & had decided this was what she was gonna do. But God had whispered to me that this baby would arrive, but not for my Sweet Little girl, but for another beautiful mama He created the baby for. I talked to her about this message I kept getting over & over. The more God told me to "be still" it seemed the more frantic I got. Especially after Little girl told me she had an appt. for the abortion...I just sobbed. I looked up & begged Him to stop this!!! He did a day or two before her appointment. But she had decided to raise the baby with her new boyfriend. I finally heeded my Daddy's whispers to "be still" & accepted the baby would make it into the world, alive.
In the mean time the company Sr was working for hired Sweet Hubby it was a drastic cut in pay, but it was more than the unemployment. He was on with a temporary agency hoping to get hired on permanent with the company, like Sr was. For a few months things went along pretty smoothly, financially. Little girl moved in & out several times. Finally she had sweet Little Feather. This was a HIGHLIGHT of 2014 for me. I got to watch her come into the world, it was quick & beautiful. 
Then they laid off Sweet Hubby?? Then the whispers started at the workplace about the company going bankrupt...again I panicked!! I lost my focus so easily it seems. I had finally started realizing that the less I focused on my problems & focused on God & the lights He was lighting in my path, I had His peace. I was content with whatever was happening. But it seems that I was easily lured from that peace.
 A few days after Little Feather was born, I was flying off to a women's retreat. My second with this amazing group of women...well most of them I did meet some more amazing women. Which I havent shared my entire experience yet so I will just leave it at this...God healed me in an area of great pain & loss. One I had no idea I had??? But He knew it was hidden deep in my heart & He knew it had to go. The joy He filled it with is UNDENIABLE. It took away some deeply buried regrets I'd had for over a decade.
In 2014 God led me away from a church family that I still love. He moved us quick & swift. We tried another church, several times, but I knew that it was not for us. I didnt have His peace...I understand that some people dont believe that we have to get fed by the congregation we attend. That is ok. But I believe He feeds us & He moves us when His plan is to move us. He tells us to make disciples & when He needs us somewhere else, He takes us there. Until I get where He wants me, I am not at peace. Not in His peace. 
For a while I was content just waiting patiently for Him to take me to a congregation He had planned. I missed the worship & hearing His direction. Finally He placed me in a congregation. I love the worship, I can hear His direction in the words He speaks through this Pastor. I've gotten confirmation from my Daddy many times already. After a few weeks of attending every week, I said to Sweet Hubby, "has anyone spoken to you? or asked you about being new?" He said no. I instantly started questioning why?? This was a moment that was a turning moment for my heart. Of course satan started whispering doubts in my head...but instantly I chose to go to my Daddy for the REAL answer. I clearly heard Him say, "I didnt place you here for fellowship for now. You asked for a place to hear worship music & my direction. Aren't you content?" Again instantly I had His peace. I WAS content. It feels good to go & enjoy fellowship with my Daddy.
So the end of 2014 brought a couple of different changes in our house. Changes that I dont think any of us really expected. First Little Girl heard the whispers of Daddy's real plan for Little Feather. She was in a new place with His plan, one I didnt know would come to pass...doubt is such a waste of time. She accepted His request to give Little Feather to the mama & family He created this beautiful little girl for. I have watched this open up & I shared a blog about how amazing it is. It's still blooming & it's a gift to see the joy & love of God in every single aspect of this journey. Little girl is thriving & so is Little Feather with her new family. My sweet princess is doing very well with the whole plan now...which is wonderful. I saw her hurt & inability to understand turn into acceptance.
Then was the biggest question He has EVER asked me. Sweet Hubby had a special dinner for the local union that we had to go to. While we were gone, Sr & Little girl were at a thrash metal concert. The messages started in the middle of the speakers at our dinner. Messages that were about Sr not being able to breathe. I stayed fairly calm through the dinner & we left immediately after the event. Heading home I got the text that they were stopping by the ER on the way home. So I told them to let me know what was happening. Of course instantly I started praying....really begging my Daddy God, "please let my boy be ok!!!" It was a pretty calm prayer, I had assumed it was probably his asthma...then another text, "MOM ARE YOU ALMOST HERE??? THEY ARE SENDING HIM TO THE HEART HOSPITAL!!! HURRY MOM HE'S NOT DOING VERY GOOD!!! HE'S HURTING SO BAD & THEY JUST GAVE HIM ASPIRIN!!!" This text didnt leave me with as calm of a prayer, this text caused instant distress in this mama who was only a mile or so away!!! Once again I lifted up a prayer, "please Daddy dont take my baby boy!! PLEASE DADDY DONT TAKE MY BABY BOY!!" In almost a hushed whisper I heard it, the question that would take me farther...farther from who the world says I am...but another step closer to who I really am, to the One Who I want to be like..."Even if I take your baby boy now, am I still enough?" My breath stopped, "yes, even if You take my baby boy, You are enough LORD, You are enough." I didnt even realize I had said it out loud until Sweet Hubby asked me "huh?" I said it again, with more conviction, "Yes LORD You are enough." While most of the Dr's didnt even worry about Sr's heart because he was only 29, I prayed. Me & Little Girl stayed by Sr's bedside 24/7 for days. In the same clothes. Finally a Dr said he wanted to do a very important test to make sure it wasnt his heart. Little Girl & I prayed so hard, together, out loud, everywhere. God showed those Dr's something that day, I saw it in the Dr's eyes when he came out & said "your son had a heart attack..." he was shocked, he said again, "he's 29 & he had a heart attack!?" I said oh no. He replied "also his main artery on the side that makes the heart pump, is like a branch that splits into 2 arteries, he had cholesterol almost blocking it shut & a blood clot had formed & almost made it to the split which would have caused a massive heart attack at 29!!" I shook my head tears pouring down my face, he went on, "the specialist Dr is in there with him placing a stent now"...Little Girl & I went out to our car where I had my breakdown....after the breakdown I lifted up a prayer of gratefulness....another prayer of gratefulness. 
There were many prayers of gratefulness in 2014 for me...I cant possibly list them all off. I dont know if I remember them all honestly. But I do know that weeks we were praying for groceries, or a bill to be paid. I learned what it means to budget with very, very little. But time after time, my Daddy God comes through. Each time He does it changes my heart a little more. He trims away a little more of me & my selfish, worldly ways & fills me with more of His peace. As He does, I find that I'm more & more content with less & less of the "needs" which are really just "wants" in disguise. 
Christmas was one of the times He showed me that my "needs" were simply wants. Wants to please people's flesh. Sweet Hubby took a job for a world wide delivery service that hires on seasonal help. We thought it must be from God because this would almost double our unemployment & would make it easier to buy the 3 gifts for each of the kids that we always do. WRONG...instantly I knew it. We had to give up our unemployment for this position. He started on December 2 & was to go through January 1. Well let me just say that in the few weeks he worked for this company, he made less than the unemployment, FAR less. I panicked, then handed it to God, then took it back over & over along with panicking & complaining a whole bunch. I watched my Sweet Hubby sinking...this opened my eyes. My doubt was causing him to stumble in his faith...I was being exactly what I didnt want be...a stumbling block. Worse yet, I was tripping the one I love. This opened up my eyes. 
Christmas was beautiful, my best gift was most of the family enjoying Christmas Eve together, laughing & playing games & hugging & crying & it was BEAUTIFUL.
Now it's's only 8 short days into it. Sweet Hubby is still laid off & we are waiting for unemployment to kick back in still. Sr is finally released to work & has been hunting. Little Girl moved in with her princess hasnt come to see me yet since Christmas...but me, I'm here. I'm closer than I've ever been to my Daddy God. I'm still a human made of weak flesh & selfishness. So this year I've prayed for more...again more Him & less me. I say I'm ready & believe I am. I am ready for the changes He has for me this new year. He's already been hard at work. I was invited to join the Biggest Loser challenge & each day I take it one step at a time. I give Him the control & He guides me in His plan. So far I've actually done very well. I have almost stumbled a couple of times...but each of those times, He picked me back up. I am not looking at this change as a "diet" I am looking at it as just what it is giving me...HOPE. The kind of HOPE that only God can provide & live up to.
As I started to listen for the "word" He wanted me to cling to this new year...He shared the verses that I have dubbed "my life verses."  Several years ago I saw the first verse in a plaque on a friends wall & it grabbed hard at my heart. So I went home & looked it up in context. As I read this verse, the next 2 grabbed me just as hard & after reading them realized they define the foundation of what my relationship with Him is. So this year He has told me that He wants me to return to those verses. He is gonna live them out with me each & every filled my eyes with tears of joy, my heart with a new found readiness & as I read them "word" for 2015...

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

HOPE, there it was...He is my HOPE. He wants to be my HOPE. He wants me to have HOPE...of course I added a dash of His GRACE, for the times I stumble out of HOPE...My heart feels so different. He is here, He's always here I only need call on Him. He will listen to me...He will hear me & I will find Him what's your word for the year?? 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

For I know the plans I have for your 2015...

I've noticed several people on my Facebook news feed are sharing their words for this year. I love reading them & why they chose them...most have a Scripture to help them keep them in their focus. This year I believe that my Daddy wants me to learn to dive deeper with Him. To trust His heart when I'm blind to His hands working in my life. To remember what His plans are for me, all I have to do is listen with every part of me.  I have a dear friend who has a beautiful sign in her home, it has Jeremiah 29:11 written on it. The first time I saw it, I knew these beautiful Words made me feel an instant flash of understanding, REAL understanding. I told her "I love this!!!" She said "me too, this is one of my favorite Verses." So this was when my Daddy God began to really show me He was in EVERY detail of my life. I decided that I needed to check into these amazing Words a little closer...after all this verse brought more understanding.

So, I decided to check into the rest of the Chapter in context...that's when He showed me that yes, this was His plan. He had more for me to bury deep in my heart. So they became my "life Verses", they are...

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
                                                         Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

For a while I prayed these, I kept them close to my heart & mind during every thing. If I was struggling with anything, all I had to do was pull this promise up & I felt better. In many of my darkest moments this WAS the light I clung to...His promise. It was what would open my clenched fists when I was trying to hold onto a hurt, or a reason for my anger. They helped me clean out a lot of pain that had built a wall NO ONE could penetrate...NO ONE except my Daddy.

This year I believe "HOPE" is the word He is asking me to walk in. I know His ways are higher than mine, so I don't understand EVERY reason He's giving me this word. But I trust His heart whether I see His hands every moment, or I simply hear this promise. I believe He has amazing plans for me in 2015! I know that He's going to restore some of my brokenness, pain that has built for years. He's gonna take this princess deeper than I've ever gone. He's gonna wait for me to come to Him, He's gonna make me choose Him & His perfect plan over my own...I'm excited!!

He's already started, before 2015 came. He sent a challenge my way, it was my choice. All I had to do was say "yes" & ask for what I needed. As soon as I said "yes" & asked for the provision, He provided it the next day...out of no where!!

I joined a "Biggest Loser" challenge. It is my first time. For years I've wanted to be on the show. I actually went a few times to be interviewed...but wasn't chosen. Then He brought me what I asked for...a challenge to get healthier. To get fit so I can enjoy this life He has for me & the family He blessed me with. For years I've put on more & more weight. I have gotten to my heaviest point...I've eaten my feelings, I've eaten away those feelings with more & more. Now it's time to face those feelings & give them to Him. It's time for me to really live in His strength. To remember that in my weakness He is my strength...that I can not rely on my own strength.

Part of this challenge required me to take pictures of myself from several views, along with a live video being weighed. I'm the queen of selfies from above, I learned this had a couple of advantages for an obese, older woman. It thins the face while smoothing wrinkles & it hides the size of the body because of the angle. I taught many other women who felt like I did. Obviously I wasn't able to use this trick for these photos. I prayed hard, I asked Him to stand with me, to help me see myself through His eyes instead of mine. I also asked Him for the courage to share these pictures with my fellow challenge members. He gladly gave abundantly to me...when I looked at the pictures my son took, I didn't look as bad as I told myself...He was showing me that the "mix tape of self hate" that I had been allowing satan to play over & over, was a LIE.

Then He showed me what He sees when He looks at me. I can't even explain the beauty I saw...I know it is Him in me. I actually eagerly posted them to the secret challenge page. Then He challenged me post them to my Instagram. "But they will see..." in a heartbeat I remembered, He is doing a new thing in me. I can be a beacon to those who are in the same fight...a beacon to Him & what He is doing in me. What I can do because of Him. I looked up & said "ok" & shared the pictures as He asked me to.

So, He's challenging me again. This time I haven't got the tiniest bit of doubt, nor will I question His challenge. I am saying yes. In 2015 I will be still & wait upon His whisper. I will answer His challenges with a YES. I will search for Him in everything. I will ask Him for help & accept it when He offers it without question. I will trust Him, He is my Daddy. These are the pictures that begin a new work in me...a work that will challenge me & change me from the inside out.

"In Your hands I will find my strength, peace & hope. All I have to do is say yes & You can show me the way...Your way."                                                 @LifewithNona