Give Me Jesus–P31OBS Week 5

Wow, what depth this morning in my online Bible study!  I want to share one of the 3 tasks with you.  Three mornings a week, there is a blog post with 3 sections afterward:  Observe, Bible, and Stretch.  This morning’s Bible section tooks me pretty deep!  I want to share with you that section and my response.  Then feel free to add your responses to the comments!  Check out the blog post here:  Give Us Jesus, Week 5

Quoting from the blog:

Bible — Take a moment and read Hebrews 12:1-2.

In your notebook or journal write out your answers to these questions:

  1. Is something hindering you in your faith race? Ask God to show you what it is and how to get back on track.
  2. What can you do to ‘fix your eyes’ on Jesus?
  3. How did Jesus finish His earthly race? What does that mean for us as His followers?

And my response:

1.  Right now, is something hindering my faith race?  Fear and Fatigue.  Fear of the unknown, how are we going to pay our bills, how am I going to pay for my medicine, how…blah blah blah…God is my provider, and I need to CHOOSE to remember that.  Fatigue from not sleeping.  Worry gets the better of me, especially as soon as I climb into bed.  Hours later, I am still struggling to fall asleep.

2.  So how can I fix my eyes on Jesus?  Through God’s Word: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.  Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”  (Matt 6:33-34) “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)  “Though the fig tree not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”  (Habakkuk 3:17-18)  Letting these familiar passages (and many more) come to mind, and even seeking them out if they get stuck in the gunk of life, really helps me take some deep breaths, calm down, and cast my burden once more before the Lord (1 Peter 5:7).

3.  How did Jesus finish His earthly race?  On the cross.  Death.  Conquering of Death so that I don’t have to.  Which means, though my earthly race may end in death, it ushers in a great entrance into Heaven for eternity with the King of kings, my Abba Father, and my savior Jesus Christ.  I’ll take it.  That is a race worth finishing.  Until then, I’ll train.  As the semi-colon reminds me, it isn’t over yet.  God is the author of this life, and until He stops writing it, I will press on, no matter how hard it gets, for God is my strength, God is my fortress, and Jesus is my savior.  When I am weak, God is strong, and pulls me through.  Sometimes He enlists His people to grab my arms and drag me, but He pulls me through!

God, I praise You for these reminders of Your Sovereignty and Your promises.  Thank You for Your Word, for revealing Your character and reminding me that You are God and I am not.  Thank You for making a way for us to have a relationship with You through Jesus Christ.  Amen!

Roller coasters and crashes

I love when the Bible study I am doing currently coincides with the activity in my daily life.  Boom!  Something terrible happened.  Crash!  God speaks truth into my life!  It took less than 24 hours for this to happen this time.

Yesterday morning, I had an “I really hate being diabetic” day.  I had listened to my body and taken less insulin than I normally do, and still something went topsy-turvy on me!  My blood sugar fell for no apparent reason.  I had to make some difficult decisions in the moment.  Thankfully, I had some glucose tablets with me that I quickly consumed, and even poured sugar into my hand and licked it out.  Disgusting, right?   Desperate times call for desperate measures.  And the roller coaster of blood sugars began.

As soon as I was stable enough, that’s when things began to fall apart.  As soon as I could, I got myself out of the situation.  Can I just say, PEOPLE ARE MEAN?!?!?  I don’t ever want people to have to experience what I experience, but yesterday was one of those, “I wish you could feel what I am feeling and experiencing right now” kind of moments.  In public, I balled like a baby.  Yes, I broke down in tears.  It took me a good hour and a lot of people talking truth into me to bring me back to baseline.  And in that process, God reminded me, “I am bigger than this, Kara.  I’ve got you.”

Then I read these words this morning:  “I NEED to open my Bible to see what God can teach me about peace and trust. Then He can show me how to become more than a good Bible study girl in my walk with Him. He’s shown me I can’t just read the verses. I have to understand and believe them, then put them into action by allowing His Truth to replace my anxiety.”  (Thank you, Walking the Daily Walk)

When I spend time with Jesus, He is able to remind me that He has the wheel.  He’s had it all along.  I try to take it from Him, try to be a backseat driver, but He NEVER LETS GO.  Even in the most chaotic of moments, He has it.  He never leaves my side.  And I know this.  I have experienced it time and time again.  I just needed yet another reminder!

How often do we all forget that though?  How many times in scripture does God remind His people, the Israelites, that He is in control?  That He is sovereign?  Oh, I don’t know, hundreds of thousands of times over the generations?  As He is providing Manna to them in the wilderness, or sending water out of the rock, or bringing them out of Egypt, or bringing them into the land of milk and honey, and even as He brings His Son to the cross, God reminds us that He provides, He loves, He is faithful.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that You are sovereign in all things, and that You call me to action through prayer.  So I pray for the people I interacted with yesterday.  I pray You remind them of Your truth.  I pray that Your Spirit will equip me with Your strength to forgive them before I interact with them again.  I pray that You will continue to walk me through this life of Type 1 diabetes, and continue giving me insights into the needs of my body.  You have brought me almost 30 years in this Type 1 journey, with minimal issues, and I am so thankful.  May I not forget that.  G0d, YOU ARE GOOD, in all things.  Teach me, mold me, make me.  I am Yours.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Health (getting there)

On November 26, 2015, Thanksgiving Day, I fell down the stairs.  My ankles hurt, but not enough to slow me down.  By Tuesday, I couldn’t put weight on them!  So I went to walk-in (ha ha, get it???) care.  I had sprained both ankles somehow!  So I found myself on the couch, immobile, for about a week.  For the following weeks, I was on crutches.  I slowed way down, and yet did not change the number of calories going in.  Very rapidly, I put on weight.  I found myself at the heaviest I had ever been (apart from pregnancy), and my joints getting worse instead of better.

Choices.  What can I do?  Well, I started on December 30 by letting go of diet soda.  I have not had a Diet Coke or Diet Dr. Pepper since then!  I am trying to stretch more.  That will be a huge help, as there are days I feel like I can’t move at all.  Yoga.  Stretching.  Smaller portions/meals.  Increase activity.  That is my start.  I am down 8 pounds already!

Certainly, I am quite far from my goal.  One step at a time, I will get there.  The strength is not my own, but a gift from God.  The support I have surrounding me is a blessing.  So, I am putting all this out there for accountability.  I don’t want to hide my journey.  So here we go!

Lies Women Believe, Chapter 6

It is fitting this chapter is about marriage, since our small church has been in prayer about marriage and hosting a marriage weekend.  So, back into prayer I go!  Thank you, Lord, for continuing to reveal Your truth about marriage, about us, about YOU!  May I continue to seek to glorify you, and to submit prayerfully to my husband.  Thank you for the man my husband is, that he desires to love and honor you!  Because of his desire to love and honor you, I know it is easier for me to love and honor him.  I pray for those women who do not have a man like Brandon in their lives, and that You would be at work in their hearts and the hearts of their husbands.  Thank you, again, Lord, for your provision and presence.  Amen.

Now, to dive into the lies we receive about marriage.  I think it will be difficult to find songs to supplement each truth that follows, but I know there are some good songs about marriage!  🙂

Lie #21:  I have to have a husband to be happy.

Truth #21:  My Joy is made complete through and in Christ alone!

John 15:1-11 says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

 

 

 

Lie #22:  It is my responsibility to change my mate.

Truth #22:  I love this quote from Nancy Leigh DeMoss on page 140:  “I wonder how many husbands God would change if their wives were willing to let God take over the process.”  We are such meddlers sometimes!  I know I have been guilty of this, especially in my first marriage.  Yes, that’s right, I am divorced and now married for the second time.  I have fallen into the snares of the enemy on numerous occasions.  1 Peter 3:1-6 reminds me of the truth of my role in any changing my husband experiences:  “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” 

And so, wives, we must learn patience.  Change does not happen in a day.  It does not happen in a month.  So, as we wait upon the Lord, let us me mindful to PRAY for our husbands.  Truly, the Holy Spirit is in the business of CHANGE!  Let us step back and cast our cares before the Lord, living to honor Him in how we relate to our husbands.

 

 

Lie #23:  My husband is supposed to serve me.

Truth #23:  Why would I expect my husband to serve me?  There are times he has; for example, after the C-Section birth of our now almost-15-month-old, my husband did serve me while I healed.  But on a regular basis?  Not necessary.  Jesus himself teaches us about servant leadership and the gift it is to serve instead of to be served.  That is especially at the forefront of my mind as we enter into Holy Week here, and I reflect on the Last Supper where Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.  John 13:1-20 shows us much about serving:

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”  Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Lord Jesus, give me a servant’s heart!  I know that being a servant does not belittle me, but gives glory to You!  Give me a heart to serve my husband so that he may be able to complete the work You have given him.

I write this prayer to serve my husband for many reasons.  There is no way I can even fathom requiring my husband to serve me, because he really is overworked.  Not only does he have a full-time job that provides medical benefits for our family, but he is also shepherding our church, doing online coursework for Seminary to get his Masters of Divinity so that he can be an ordained pastor, edits manuscripts to bring in extra income, and is a very loving father and husband.  I can’t add anything to his plate, and seek to take off his plate as much as I can so that he can accomplish his 4 major roles.  Yes, FOUR.  Well, FIVE if you separate husband and father.  My husband is a busy man!

 

 

Lie #24:  If I submit to my husband, I will be miserable.

Truth #25:  This was a very difficult truth for me to accept, because accepting it meant accepting responsibility for the failure of my first marriage.  I was far from submissive with my first husband.  I did not understand the importance of it.  For three years post-divorce, the Lord worked on this truth in my heart.  It was not until fully understanding the submissive role of a wife that the Lord brought Brandon into my life.  Being submissive does not mean being weak.  In fact, there are times it takes a lot of strength to BE submissive!  You know those situations:  where you completely disagree with your husband, but you muster the strength and pray to the Lord to give you the ability to say, “Ok, _____, as you wish.”  And yes, I did just quote The Princess Bride there!  It is Princess Buttercup who should be saying “As you wish.”  🙂

I have learned the hard way that submission becomes “easier” (it is always challenging for us strong-headed, stubborn women!) when we are in a relationship with a man who submits to God’s authority.  So, when I found myself post-divorce and post-psycho-Kara (I had about a year of extreme “rebound” from the oppression I was released from), God showed me the importance of painting a picture of the ideal relationship.  And, being that I paint best with words and NOT with a paint brush, I made a list.  Well, more of a rubric than anything else.  The “Must-Have” qualities in a man, the “Would-to-Have” qualities, the “I-Can-Tolerate,” and the “Heck-No’s.”  In my “Must-Haves” I wrote “a man who loves the Lord.” Brandon definitely loves the Lord!  I have found it is so much easier for me to submit to his authority because I know he is seeking the Lord daily!  For those of you who are married to a non-believer or to a man who is not where you are in your faith, I appeal to you:  Pray about the words in 1 Peter 3!  How can you, by submitting to your husband’s authority, help pave the way for his heart to come to the Lord?  It is possible!  Don’t give up.  God can heal ANY marriage, and bring His Truth into any heart.  Pray for your husband!  Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to him the Truth and Grace we have through Jesus Christ!  And serve your husband from the heart, willingly, with your mind on the Lord as you do so.

I am going to link several scripture references here for you all to read and dwell upon regarding submission.  Read the whole passage of each chapter!  There is more than just us submitting to our husbands.  God calls them to love us as Christ loves the church!  That’s right.  It is not a one-sided relationship.  We submit and respect, they love and cherish us.  If they don’t yet, they will.  Keep him lifted up in prayer!

Colossians 3

Ephesians 5

1 Peter 3 I have quoted above.  Take the time to re-read that passage!

And, Proverbs 31:10-31

 

 

Lie #25:  If my husband is passive, I’ve got to take the initiative or nothing will get done.

Truth #25:  The truth here is that there is a huge difference between equipping and enabling.  If we continue to step into the leadership role in the marriage, our men will never learn to be the leaders God created them to be.  This ties in with the act of submitting to our husbands’ authority.  When we fight this truth, we end up with resentment and frustration even more so than if we continue in submission to our husbands’ authority.  Truly, by continuing in prayer, the Lord will be at work in the hearts of our husbands and eventually they will pick up the role God has given them:  the leaders of the households.

Genesis 16 through Genesis 21 shows us how Sarai took action, and then ended up hating the result of that action.  It is so hard to trust in the Lord’s timing, but it does bring so much more peace in the long run!

Psalm 27:14 encourages this truth:  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

 

Lie #26:  Sometimes divorce is better than staying in a bad marriage.

Truth #26:  This is a lie I fell to.  Granted, I was a broken, depressed, grieving woman at the time and thus extremely vulnerable.  I know I was wrong to leave, and yet God has given me grace and taught me much.  Nancy DeMoss does write that there are some situations where it is not safe to remain where you are (in cases of abuse for sure!), and that God gives wisdom.  When we choose instead of letting God choose our spouse for us, we will face many challenges.  Even when we let God choose for us, there will always be challenges.  No marriage is easy.  Since the fall of man (and woman) in the Garden of Eden, there has been strife and role-reversal in marriage and thus all these lies we are addressing.

Another issue here is the Happiness Factor.  This is the society and culture-driven lie that “we have the right to be happy.”  When I searched for “happiness” in scripture, every verse I found talked about delighting in the Lord, being joyful, or rejoicing.  Other words include peace, blessed, content, comfort, etc.  These words are VERY different from what our society views as “happiness.”  This leads me to believe that true HAPPINESS is found in complete submission to God’s authority in our lives, letting His Spirit bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control into our hearts. (Galatians 5:22-23)

So how do we “fight through” the hard times in marriage?  I found a lot of great examples from Love and Respect, The Art of Marriage, The Five Love Languages, and similar books by Christian authors and psychologists.  Remember, scripture never tells us life will be easy.  In fact, numerous times, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and other writers speak frequently of challenges we will face.  Through each challenge, hardship, trial, persecution, etc., the Holy Spirit is surrounding us.  Jesus walks with us.  God’s strength becomes evident in the midst of our weakness.  As tempting as it is to throw in the towel, I pray more and more of us will stand firm, and trust in the Lord.  In the years ahead, I hope to see the divorce statistics for Christian couple DROP.  The Bible clearly defines marriage and the call God has for us in marriage.  Be in prayer for your spouse.  Be in prayer for yourself!  Pray against the schemes of the enemy, and daily put on God’s Armor (on you, and on your marriage!).  Read Ephesians 6, starting at verse 10, to learn more about God’s Armor.

 

God Gave Me You:

 

Lead Me:

 

Grow Old Along With Me:

 

 

“Bring on the Rain”

A number of years ago, I heard this song and had to pull over to the side of the road.  I had to let these words wash over me.  It was right after my sister and grandfather had passed away and I was really struggling emotionally.  Listen to these lyrics:

 

Yeah, bring on the rain, I thought to myself.  I felt like Job in that moment.  Just bring it!  “What else can you take from me?” I thought.  Don’t.  Just don’t say these words to God.  Why challenge Him?  I was angry.  I was lost.  I was hurt.  I was one broken child of God.

I fell so far from Him in my anger and grief.  And yet, through that same anger and grief, He drew me near to Him.  He renewed my faith, sanctified my heart.  As I reflect back today to that fateful December of 1999 when my world fell apart, I realize I would not be who I am today.  I would not have the strength of faith I do today.  I would not have the deep understanding that I will never fully understand the ways of my God, but I trust Him.  Yes, even through grief, I learned to trust Him.  Trust is so different from understanding!

And yet, I understand so much.  This world is fleeting.  It is temporary.  Nothing in my hands or in my life is certain except for God.  He alone is constant.  So in all the stability I was seeking and desiring in my life, I find it in Christ alone.  He is steady, especially in the storms of life.

Then I stumbled upon this song, and again had to pull my car over to the side of the road and just sob.  Let the tears fall!

 

Yes, I have learned to praise my God, even in spite of loss and grief.  I have learned to praise Him because He is ALWAYS worthy of praise.  Even when I don’t understand what He is doing, I trust in His Holiness.  I trust in His plan, in His purpose.  In my weakest of moments, He gives me strength to keep going, to press on toward the goal.  Even when He does bring on that rain that overwhelms and consumes, He gives me a life boat.  He fills me with His strength so that I may hold on for dear life and come out on the other side of the storm.

Philippians 4:4-7 speaks this truth:  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God is so real!  We never fully understand the truth of that peace until we are in situations where we need it.  God has given me much peace over the years since my sister died.  He has given me many blessings!  Had I given up when I wanted to, and followed my sister into death, I would never understand the idea of the fullness of God’s love.  I say the idea of fullness because my small, finite brain could never fully comprehend the vastness of the fullness of God’s love.  I have seen glimpses, and I have felt that peace that surpasses all understanding.  But to fully comprehend it is out of my league.  God alone can understand His own fullness.  He only gives us insight through glimpses of the whole.

And so I press on, because God has given me strength.  I press on, because He has given me purpose.  I press on, because I desire more of you to know and love Him as I have come to know and love Him.  Whatever storm you are in, whatever crashing waves are washing over you, hold firm to His Truth:  you are loved so greatly that Jesus gave His life for you and conquered death to cleanse you of every wrongdoing you have ever done and will ever do.  That is truth, and that is worthy of praise!

Footprints in the Sand

Reflecting on this blog post today…

You all know that poem, Footprints in the Sand?  If you don’t, here’s a link just in case:  http://www.poetseers.org/the-great-poets/misc-2/footprints-in-the-sand/ 

There are so many links!  I tried to find one that doesn’t have background music for you  🙂

So, you know the poem, right?  Reading it always gives me an opportunity to reflect back.  And what better night to reflect than New Year’s Eve?

I’ve had some lows.  We all have!  Life, even and especially as a Christian, is far from easy, far from perfect, far from what we even hope or dream.  And that’s ok.

It took me a long time to learn that last part:  That’s ok.  My sister taught me that.  But she taught it to me in the most unexpected way.

Fourteen years ago this past November, I left for a missions trip.  One week later, I returned home to my father cradling me in his arms (I was 19 at the time), telling me my 17 year old sister had chosen to end her life.

That’s when my world fell apart. 

I can live as a type 1 diabetic (and have, since May 19, 1986).  I can live single, in a relationship, with groups of people, or on my own.  I can survive final exams.  I can serve in the mission field.  See that:  I CAN.

It’s not about me.  It is all about HIM.  And I couldn’t see that until my sister showed me the way to humility, to grief, to ROCK BOTTOM.

So many things, emotions, feelings, questions, doubts, what ifs just FLOODED my mind, my soul.  Before the words even left my father’s mouth, “She’s gone, Kara,” I felt myself falling to the floor of the minivan, that space between the two front bucket seats.  I knew.  God told me what to expect, and I knew.  I collapsed.  I wept. I BROKE.  Life would never be the same.  “Why, God?!?!  Why didn’t you SAVE her?”  All that week I had been praying for her.  The day before I left for my trip, her good friend (and as we found out later, he was her boyfriend), had passed away in a car accident.  “God, BE with her,” is what I prayed throughout the day, each day I was gone.  All that I could think in the moments that followed was, “God, why weren’t you WITH her?  Why did you not answer my prayer?  Do you even HEAR my prayers?”  And thus my faith began to crumble.  Doubt set in.  What ifs took over my emotional state of mind.  I feel rapidly into a cycle of depression, doubt, isolation, sleep, and no self-care.  Four weeks later, I went back to college in that same state of mind.  My poor roommates…one of them told me that over winter break she had a dream that I was Job and she was Jonah, and our dorm room was Ninevah.  Truly!  But she came to Ninevah.  God bless her for that!

So my cycle of depression deepened.  I struggled with suicide ideation, and even had different plans of how I would do it.  Most of my ideas had to do with cars.  See, her boyfriend died in a car.  My sister died in a car.  I was trapped. 

At the prompting of my roommates (through actions such as spraying me down nightly with Febreeze, tossing me into the shower, clothes and all, at least once if not 5 times, dragging me to the dining hall, and encouraging the chaplain on campus to check in on me weekly), I finally started counseling.  Took me a few different counselors before I got comfortable and was able to open up.  Getting help is hard work!  No, I should say getting the RIGHT help is essential.  And it takes a few tries to find the right help. 

Ah, I always lose my train of thought when I tell this part of my life.  There are so many facets!  Oh yes, my faith was crumbling, and fast.  I quickly came to the point where I was only going through the motions.  Prayers were rote, if I even prayed at all.  Sam called me out on that.  “When was the last time you actually PRAYED, Kara?” she asked me one night when I couldn’t sleep.  I broke down.  It had been months.  I finally confessed to her the doubt on my heart.  “Does he even hear me when I pray, Sam?”

She assured me.  To the best of her ability, she assured me.  I wept.  I wanted to believe.  Truly I did.  And I did pray that night, but the doubt still lingered. 

It took a conversation with my dad to wake my slumbering faith.  Dad and I were grieving together.  He is the one who found my sister.  And he described to me what he saw as he approached her car that night.  “I pulled up, and saw her car.  Next to her car I saw a man, cradling her in his arms.  It was Jesus.  Just holding her.  And I knew.”  He still ran to the car, still flung open her car door, still pulled her out and gave her CPR after ripping his vocal cords calling out to God above and anyone else who could hear, “Help her!  God, No!”  Jesus held her.  He was WITH her.  He WAS and IS with her. 

In that moment, in that realization, my doubt flew away.  Hope and faith were replanted, and growth began.  It wasn’t instantaneous by any means, but I FELT it.  I felt HIM, whisper to me, “I am here, I was there, and I always will be.  I hear you, my daughter.  And I always will.”  That night, I learned a lot about perspective.  MY perspective is NOT God’s perspective.  Far from it!  God sees ALL.  He hears and answers every prayer.  We just don’t always SEE or HEAR the answer.  What we desire and expect will differ from His will.  His answers will be revealed when we can see from a different perspective.  His answers are not always, “No” or “of course!”  Sometimes, His answers are in a dream of a man walking on the beach reflecting on footprints in the sand.  Sometimes they are roommates tossing you in the shower and waiting until you agree to actually bathe.  Sometimes, they are through the visions and answers He gives to others.  That night, and many nights since, God has shown me when He carries me, when he cradles me, and when he flat out drags me through the darkest and toughest of moments.

I am a survivor.  God’s strength and providence have equipped me to be a survivor.  It is surely not any strength of my own!  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

As I enter 2014, may God continue to equip me.  May I lean on His understandings, and not my own.  Lord, teach me.  I am your servant.  In 2014, may my family and I bring glory to You alone!