Monthly Archives: October 2015
Monthly Archives: October 2015
Have you ever been in a room full of people, a party, or even at a table in the midst of many conversations but you are disconnected and you just feel lonely? There was a time when I felt just like that.
A while back I realized I was feeling very lonely. Even though I have a husband and four children always around me; I felt alone. Friends weren’t calling and my social life was really very superficial, in fact non-existent. There were no meaningful conversations or even just fun daily banter taking place. It was a difficult time, but one that taught me a lot about myself and especially about my God. At first when I started feeling this way I wasn’t sure what was happening.
I would see people going off to lunch together after church, and inviting each other to their homes
I realized I was walking through a season. It was a season where God was calling me to His heart. It was time to draw closer.
and on fun outings. But that just wasn’t happening for me. When things like this occur in my life I usually do some self-reflection. Be careful it can be a slippery slope between self-reflection and self-abuse. I started wondering what was wrong with me and at times acted defensively towards others because of it. I tried being more friendly and outgoing. Nothing was working and my situation didn’t appear to be changing. I started to pray.
I love praying on the way to work. When I leave in the morning it’s dark out and fairly quiet. Even the freeway doesn’t seem to be as noisy as it does at four or five in the afternoon. There were many times I would be praying on my way to work, tears streaming down my face crying out to God about how alone I felt. I would ask Him to come to me, cover my and comfort me. It was in those times, I felt His tender hand wipe away my tears. He would touch my heart and say, “I am here.” It was then that I realized I was walking through a season. It was a season where God was calling me to His heart. It was time to draw closer.
It’s important for you to know that if you are feeling lonely; if you aren’t already, you need to begin to guard your heart. It’s very easy to mistake this season of growth for a pitfall such as rejection. The enemy would love for you to believe you are not wanted, less than, or not accepted. It’s a lie, plain and simple. There were times where offense tried to rise up in me, but I had to recognize the lie and liar and squash it right away. Make sure that you are praying and most importantly, listening. It’s the voice of God that will carry you through the valleys of this season.
I began to hear God’s voice often and sought after knowing Him in a closer way. There were even times when I would be at work and songs would pop into my head. I would hear them over and over again. One day as I walked through the hallway at work I heard Him clearly say, “I am singing my song over you.” It’s so hard to physically stay in control of yourself in those moments when you just want to crumble to the floor and weep in His presence. Not for sorrow, but in gratefulness. Thank God for the large stall in the ladies restroom!
These are months I wouldn’t trade for a hundred close friends. I don’t know how many times I have said and sang the words, “He is Everything to me.” But during this time I learned to live them. I couldn’t look to my husband, friends or children for fulfillment. It had to be God first now and always. Proverbs 18:24 says that a man with too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I would often think about Moses and how Exodus talks about the Lord speaking with him face to face. The dark place of loneliness quickly disappears when you are surrounded by His light. When His breath is on your face and your heart begins to beat in sync with His heart. There is absolutely no one and nothing in this world that is better than that.
Recently, I have had waning relationships that were put aside return in newness and in health. They are simply the bi-product of putting HIM first. Matthew 6:33 can be applied to so many areas of our lives, but it has really come alive to me in the area of friendship. I sought after a real friend and there He stood before me. I was sinking into loneliness and He carried me out of it. I needed someone to talk to and He listened and even answered.
You see it is NOT good for man to be alone. That’s basic bible. It was never God’s intention for us to live closed-off, shut- out and alone. He created us to commune with others but He intended for us to look to Him first. So if you are feeling lonely; look to Him to fill your heart. If you don’t feel like you are connecting, you can connect with Him. If you need love, love on God. I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be an overnight process. But building relationships with anyone never is and HE isn’t just anyone…this is the King of Kings we are talking about. Remember, relationships work both ways. So spend the time, build the relationship. You won’t be disappointed. I promise. I’m not.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you are going about life, minding your own business when you are suddenly hit with a thought or revelation? At this point you stop, do a double-take and look straight into life’s camera as if to say, “Really? Well that only took me fifteen years to get.” Well, I had one of those moments while reading Psalm 59. I need to rewind a bit to the beginning of my lesson called, “Watch Your Mouth.”
I was at work when my boss pulled me aside and started talking to me about promotion. This would not be the last time he would spend moments speaking to me about future plans for our organization and how I was going to fit into that. I was excited about the prospect of promotion and worked hard daily to keep moving forward towards that goal. Soon after my initial conversation with my boss I became very ill and put out on medical leave for two months. When I returned things at work had drastically changed.
The department I worked in had been split and some individuals had been promoted into a new department, not me. However, there was one spot left that and I was sure was being held just for me. A couple of weeks after returning to work, I went to see my boss and told him that I would love to move into the vacant position and I casually brought up one of our previous conversations about promoting me. He looked at me it was as though while I was out on leave, he had also fallen, bumped his head and could not remember the last three months of his life. He told me that he couldn’t remember those conversations and he would have to, “Check his notes.” I was stunned.
The next few weeks were difficult for me because I felt so disenfranchised. I started nit-picking
At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him… It was an ugly moment in me.
everything and becoming bitter over what had taken place. I tried to still do my job with pride but I found myself complaining quite a bit and even stirring up others by the negative things I would say. At one point I sat down to “unload” on a co-worker who had been with the company for 15 years. Surely, I would receive sound council from this older, wiser woman.
I mumbled, griped, complained and even gossiped about my boss. I was so upset and felt it was my right to say the things I did. Picking and choosing what we will call sin is a dangerous game; and it is one that we will lose every time. At this point I had convinced myself that it was ok to speak badly about him since he had done me wrong. After all, he wasn’t in “church” with me. I knew it was sin, the Holy Spirit lives in me… Just confessing this part makes me cringe. It was an ugly moment in me.
Very soon after I was praying and I heard the Lord so clearly say to me, “You have a choice. You can let me handle it, or handle it yourself. Or will your friend do more for you than I? There are those moments when God speaks to you and He is the Lover of your soul, your heart flutters and you rejoice at the sound of His voice in your ear. He can also speak to you and be Daddy, or Papa loving and tender. At this very moment He spoke to me as Father and Lord. The sound of His voice commanded me to attention and I knew there would be no more excuses or justifications for my behavior. Plain and simple, I was wrong.
From that moment on, I let it go. (I wonder if Queen Elsa knew she was going to release a song of deliverance.) I asked God to forgive me and I moved on by making a decision to change my attitude and chose the high road at every turn. Every time I wanted to remember what I thought had been stolen from me, my mind returned to God’s words over me and I was empowered to return to peace…His peace.
Our organization shifted again and this time because of the changes a large amount of the work load swung over to my group. Coupled with the growing industry demand our department found itself heavily bombarded with more work than we could handle. We were all working ten to eleven hours every day. I kept a good attitude about it all and was determined to be God’s instrument of peace amidst the chaos and complaining. Every day, He put a smile on my face and gave me a reason to laugh out loud and enjoy my job.
One day my manager called me in to her office and told me that we were hiring a new group of representatives and they were starting the next week. She had recommended me for a mentoring position. It was going to be my responsibility to train a new employee. I was ecstatic. I love teaching and this was an amazing opportunity being trusted with a new hire. If I had been promoted those months ago, this opportunity would not have been available for me. I would have been operating in a different capacity and not in the place I was called to be.
Current day…I am reading Psalm 59 and I am looking into life’s camera dumbfounded. I hear the words of David. He is crying out for deliverance from those who seek to destroy him. He is pouring out his broken heart before God and waiting on him to move on his behalf. The man who had become a father figure to him, Saul sought to kill him and yet he waited. What I found most profound about David’s Psalm was that he hadn’t gone out gossiping about Saul telling his woes and troubles to whoever would listen. He took all of that to God and at the end of Psalm 59 in verses 16-17 David praises and worships God, while he waits.
David, in the midst of this great trial and grief, remembers the Lord and how worthy He is. He draws his strength and resilience from Him. He remembers that there is nothing more important than his bond, heart to heart with God. As I came to end of this Psalm I heard the Lord speak to me again and although the scripture may seem harsh to some; at that moment his voice was like gentle rain on my face. It brought refreshing and renewal to me. He said, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life. But he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction and I have come that you may have life.”
I close my eyes and He is nearer to me than the skin that covers my flesh. He is my breath and the life that moves through me every day. In Him I live…I move…I exist because of Him. Once again he has lovingly taught me a much needed lesson about trust and honor. I sense the chuckle in His voice as He speaks again, “Are you ready?…New level, new lesson.” I can’t help but giggle with Him. Never a dull moment with our God.
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what has been planted. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
It is 5:10 on a Monday morning and I‘m headed out the door on my way to work. My drive in is usually dark due to the early morning hour but today the dawn is quickly breaking through the night sky and the asphalt of the usual dark streets has now begun to reflect the early morning sunlight. The transformation of daylight is only one of the marks of the season’s change. The weather is also changing and the green leafy trees have begun their makeover into an array of browns, orange, red and golden yellows. On this particular morning I can almost see the finger of God pointing to the horizon as the sun begins to peak though.
My heart races, my eyes are open and I sense this season of change is more than just an annual event written in the almanac. His voice is clear although it is a mere whisper in my ears. It is as loud as thunder and as gentle as a soft warm breeze. On mornings like these I wonder how I arrive at my destination. I am completely captivated by His voice and He has all of my attention.
He shows me the beauty in the colors of the leaves and I realize that although lovely to behold these changes signify the death of the leaf. Soon they will dry, wither and fall from the branch. It is a necessary cycle preparing the tree for the next season of life. As the season continues, the rains will come. Each drop of water will aid the process gently removing the unfruitful parts of the tree to make room for the newness and life that will soon come. I see myself and what I have walked through so clearly. I had not relinquished the unfruitful leaves in my life so willingly at first, but as I have surrendered each and every fruitless branch, He has been faithful gently prune it in preparation for new areas of life.
This has been a season of transformational change for me in so many ways. There have been areas in my life that were dead and fruitless. Those areas seemed so beautiful to my eyes and yet it was time to allow the removal to take place. Just like the gentle raindrops washing away the lifeless leaves from each branch, He has washed away these areas in my life. Some of the changes were painful and there seemed to be a time where I even mourned the loss of these areas. God walked me through this too. He allowed me the time to process and when it was time He called me to stand up, and grow up. I would not have come to this place of thriving life if I had not allowed the pruning process to occur.
A time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Ecclesiastes 3:3-4
When the dead leaves fall to the ground they are transformed further. They break up and become nourishment to the tree, bringing it strength and feeding it for the next season. The leaves go into the ground and become a type of fertilizer which is then absorbed by the root. The useless, dead leaf is now once again part of the tree, but this time in a way that gives life. Those things that have been removed out of my life are areas where I have gained strength. Each learning process will forever remain in my memory, not as a source of pain, but as a remembrance for growth. I share with you these areas of victory because God has the ability to transform every dead thing that was cut off into an instrument of change and seed for new life. I am reminded of one of my favorite scriptures. It was one of the first ones I learned and it has carried me through many situations.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
I arrive at my destination and I am about to enter the building I see a tree at the entrance. There are benches and tables under it. Sometimes at lunch we sit under this tree and it provides shade from the sun. Even during the triple digit heat of summer, it provided shelter and a cool place to rest. I study the trees structure. The trunk is weather and time worn, but wide and strong reaching past the three stories of the building’s height. Its branches spread out across the yard and stretch towards heaven in a stance of praise and surrender.
Breakthrough has come and the new season is here. I see it, feel it and every fiber of my being is alert to what is breaking forth right now. It’s time for me to embrace this newness and walk in the fullness of His plan for this season of my life. My heart is surrendered to Him and all that He desires to do in me. I sense His nearness and I know that His plans for me are good. I can’t help but smile, because I know He is with me here, now, and always.
I am enamored with autumn. The change in weather, captivating colors, warm sweaters, and intimate gatherings make this the best season of the year. Even the fragrance of autumn invokes warmth and friendliness that the other seasons do not share. You see, spring carries the excitement of new life, and fresh blossoms. While summer is about the outdoors, cook-outs, and travels. Winter may be cozy, but is so over-chilled any reason to stay indoors is welcomed. This brings us back to autumn. Autumn, in my opinion, is the centerpiece of community. We can once again gather to drink hot coffee, pumpkin flavor of course. We hold dinner parties, and engage in meaningful conversations because we are less likely to be distracted by a beach ball flying in our face. If married with children, this is the season where our children have returned to school, which means bedtimes, routine, and order are back in place. In the movies, this is the season when couples really fall in love. I could go on.
Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.
Instead I would like to consider something this season also represents, but is to some extent ignored, and that is transition. Foliage fades from vibrant greens to serene oranges, and browns before floating to the ground. The bright scorching sun is overshadowed by clouds. Gardeners prune back the once brilliant landscape as plants are no longer producing. This cycle of death is what leads us into the serenity of winter. Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us we don’t consider all that is being removed. One day I was in what was an intense study for me. The words “intentional, deliberate friendships” had been playing over and over in my head. Partly because I realized I have a smaller group of close friends than I used to, and partly because I questioned my decision to decline an offer to “hang out.” Saying no has become fairly new for me, and lately I have used the word more than I have in the past 5 years. So I asked God, “Show me characteristics of what being intentional looks like. Show me how to receive others well, and to be deliberate in my actions towards them.” He showed me many different aspects of relationships through different individuals in the Bible. Then, right in the middle of the lesson I asked for, was a lesson I needed. It was after putting together the list of characteristics that He then showed me Autumn.
Yet, we are so captivated by the beauty that surrounds us, we don’t consider all that is being removed.
Autumn is significant to the season of friendships or relationships falling away. The desire to be a well-liked person can overshadow what God is doing in your life, pushing you into a place of loneliness. We are surrounded by beauty as change is manifesting, but if we don’t allow ourselves to embrace the pruning we will miss it. In order for new plants or fruits to grow the lifeless and fruitless must be removed. Autumn is a season of transition because it is a season of cleaning out or making room. That transition brings winter into a cherished space. The winter is where we can sit in His serenity. In the winter is where we find His peace. In the silence of our alone time we can hear His voice clearer, and feel Him strengthen us. Below the cold desolate surface, in the richness of the soil He has planted us in, are new seeds waiting for the time to spring forth and bring fruit.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2b (HCSB) says “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven… a time to plant and a time to uproot;”
My prayer is that you find the beauty in the uprooting.