Sunday, April 22, 2012

Come Home Running

This morning I was reflecting on all that God has saved me from. It's just incredible to me to think back to where I was just a few short years ago and where He has me now. It's all Him. As I was thinking about this and praising God, I started hoping that Derrick would pick the song "Come Home Running" to sing this morning when we met for church. I was happily surprised when the lyrics popped up on the screen! I love that was introduced to me at the lowest point of my life, and God really used it as a way to remind me of His love and show me that He had not given up on me, even though I wanted to give up on myself. Now I just feel so blessed to be where I am, loving Him and serving Him. I'm married to a godly man who loves Jesus and me so much, I get to do a purposeful job that I love, and I'm part of a church family that encourages me to grow more and more every day. Yep, I'm really glad that I "came home running". I love that the song says, "Come home running just as you are." I keep thinking about a little child who is being stubborn, not listening to his father, and then suddenly he can't resist a minute longer...the rebellion just melts into sorrow for his disobedience and he turns and runs full force into his father's arms, crying all the way with tears of remorse and joyfulness to be back with his daddy. This is exactly what happened to me! I am so glad that He accepted me "just as I am"....or as I was....with open arms. He is such a loving and wonderful Father! I deserve wrath and judgment, but He gives me joy, peace, and comfort. Thank You, Jesus! :o)

Come Home Running    By: Chris Tomlin

Oh heart of mine, why must you stray?
From one so fair you run away
And one more time you have to pay
The heaviness of needless shame

Oh heart of mine, come back home
You've been too long out on your own
And He's been there all along
Watching for you down the road

So come home running
His arms are open wide
His name is Jesus
He understands
He is the answer
You are looking for
So come home running
Just as you are

Oh child of God so dearly loved
And ransomed by the Savior's blood
And called by name, daughter and son
Wrapped in the robe of righteousness

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reflecting on Lessons Learned

Wow, it's been 4 weeks since I last blogged.....I can't believe how fast time is going by right now! Literally the weeks just tick off like days. Soon I will be starting my new life as a mommy, and I can't wait! But in the meantime, trying to prepare mentally, physically, and spiritually for this new chapter in my life. A lot of the physical stuff is mental for me. What I mean by that is, if I feel tired and like I just want to lay around all day on the couch, I make myself get up and do something. This past week we had beautiful weather, so I was outside with the children all morning every day this week, working in the yard and playing with them. It really increased my energy level, and it's helping me to avoid gaining too much weight now that I'm nearing the end. Honestly, I think I've been more active lately than I was before I was pregnant! And it feels really good, despite the few aches in my feet and legs at the end of the day. It's still worth it. :o)
 The spiritual aspect has been a bit more difficult. As the time gets closer, it's also harder to trust God with everything and easier to start letting the doubts creep in. I've always had a struggle with anxiety. Some of it when I was younger, but it mostly started around the time I graduated from college, about 7 years ago. (Wow, I've been out of college for 7 years!) Anyway, it's been a roller coaster ride. But for the past 3 years, it has gradually been getting better as I have learned to turn over fears to God and remind myself over and over that He is in control. I always hesitate to tell people about this struggle because for some reason people think it's something I can just snap out of. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've heard people say, "Just trust God!" or "You need to relax!" Seriously...I wish those people could just be me for one day. It is not that simple, nor is it that easy! Of course I believe God is in control, and I do trust His ways are best. But after years of my body physically reacting and turning stress into anxiety...well, it's kind of on auto-pilot. I often get to anxiety level before I even have a chance to think and pray about what my fears are. Basically, it's a lot of work. I was complaining to Derrick about this the other night, and he has said this to me before, but it hit me in a different way this time. I guess I was just ready to hear it. He told me I need to stop "fleeing". You know the whole, "fight or flight" thing? Well, I'm not a runner in real life (nor will I ever be), but when it comes to dealing with my issues, my first instinct is to run far and fast away from the problem. This usually happens by doing whatever I can to distract myself....and I have figured out lots of ways to accomplish this! Instead what I need to do is face it head on. Pray, cry, scream if I need to! But just deal with it instead of waiting until the feelings build and build and suddenly I am physically incapable of calming down. I had a panic attack a week ago, the first one I've had in a few years. It really scared me, because I've been doing so much better! And made me realize I need to take advantage of the victory I already have in Christ, and go to Him with this. Not just on a daily basis, more like on a minute to minute basis! God reminded me of this verse yesterday and it really sums up how I feel about this struggle. This is written by Paul, and though he never says what his weakness is, he mentions that there is a struggle he has that he wishes would go away, and even asked God to take it away. These verses are God's answer to his prayer, and Paul's response.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

English Standard Version (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I am having a hard time imagining being "content with weaknesses"! But Paul learned to be. And I can, too. It doesn't mean I am content to let the struggle overtake me and turn me into a basket case. It means, I am content to deal with this, to fight daily, and not to complain about the fact that it's there. Trials make us grow, that is just a simple fact, and one that gets pointed out in the Bible many times! If I want to grow, I can't just sit back and whine about my situation. I need to fight. So that's what I'm trying to do now. For the past couple of days, whenever potentially anxious thoughts creep in, I just immediately pray about it and ask God to help me fight my fears. Because they are still going to be there...I have an incredibly active imagination and  my dreams are becoming more and more vivid based on things I'm afraid of. But rather than complain, or hide, or distract myself, I'm going to meet them face to face and talk to God about them. I think that's the hardest part....talking to Him about it. When I'm afraid I usually just want to keep it in my head and not say it out loud, not even to Him. But that's the worst possible thing to do! I need to go to Him and just lay it all out, no holding back. There are a lot of fears I have that are related to having a child. I won't go into them, but I'm sure many of you who are parents can relate! Still, this child is not mine, she is God' I need to remember that it's not ultimately my job to protect her, especially from things I have no control over. She is in His hands, and I need to leave her there daily. It is so hard for me to think of trusting her with anyone else, even Him, after my body has literally been supporting hers for so long. She is physically part of me, and sometimes it's hard to not freak out about any possible harm that could come her way. But I can't let myself. It doesn't matter that I have carried her....she is still not mine. He is the one who is truly carrying her. He is just using me as part of the process. And I am thankful and blessed to be used in this way....but in the end it's not about me as her mother. That is not where my identity lies. I am a servant of Jesus, and exist to bring Him glory in whatever way He chooses to use me. That is what life is about. Becoming a parent does not change that! I'm sure I will struggle with this and at times forget what is truly my purpose. But for now as I'm writing it out, it is helping me to remind myself that while this is an exciting time, it's just another way of being used by God to worship Him with my life. :o) And my biggest hope and prayer for her is that she will grow to do the same.
 OK, enough about me, time to get going on my day. I'd like to enjoy this weather before it starts raining all week!