Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Through the Fog

This morning as I drove to work, there was heavy fog all around.  It was difficult to see very far beyond where I was driving.  However, I've come to think of fog in an interesting way...maybe weird to some, but hey, I'm used to being the "weird artsy musical girl." But when the fog is thick and heavy like it was this morning, it's almost like a reminder that the presence of God is all around us.  As I navigated my way through low visibility I had to really focus on the road in front of me using my headlights to lead the way.  After about 20 minutes of driving, I turned a corner in the road and the sun appeared.  And the fog all but disappeared.  And I got to thinking.  (And if you don't know me too well, you need to know my thought process can be....interesting at times.)

My drive to work this morning is kind of like life.  Especially mine lately.  LIfe has been a roller coaster of sorts over the last several years.  I've experienced amazing highs and devastating lows.  As we all have.  I've seen things so clearly sometimes and then one minute later stood there in confusion and wondered what in the world was going on.  Our lives are full of foggy moments and sunny moments.  Like this morning.  I couldn't see 50 feet in front of me (I'm guessing that's right...I'm a total girl and have no clue how far that is).  However, as long as my focus was where it needed to be, on the road ahead and on the light guiding my way, I was able to navigate...though maybe unsure or unsteady...I was still able to stay on the right path.  Then when the sun broke through, it confirmed I was where I needed to be. 

And so is life.  I realized this morning that the only difference between the good days and the bad days is where I've placed my focus.  When the fog surrounds me and I'm unsure and scared and have questions, if I will keep my focus on the One who guides each and every step on the path He has planned for me, I am able to face whatever the day brings or whatever situation arises.  However, if my focus switches to the problem or the inconvenience or the bad news or whatever, I allow the fog to overtake me and I give in to the fear and doubt.  And I have found that even when I'm unfaithful in keeping my focus where it needs to be, God is always faithful to provide a way.  And if I will hang in there and not give up, the sun will come shining through and confirm that I am on the right path.  Sometimes that path is scary.  Sometimes it may be unsure (to me...not to God).  Sometimes it may be easy, but just as often it's hard.  But the problems, doubt, fear, moodiness always come when I focus on the problem or doubt or fear or whatever instead of focusing on Him.  

You would think after 37 years, I would have learned this lesson.  But as Paul said, I do what I don't want to do and don't do what I know I should do.  And thankfully, God remembers that we are dust, that we are simply humans struggling to make it through this life in anticipation of the next.  

Now I don't know if God allowed the fog this morning just to teach me this much needed lesson.  I kind of doubt it.  But I've also learned to trust that God can speak through anything to get our attention.  He's done that a couple times this He must figure I really needed to hear it.  Earlier in the week through an online video of a sermon about patience in praying and trusting that if God plans it for you nothing can take that away...through a friend whose thoughtful words in an email encouraged me to hang in the fog this morning as a reminder of where to keep my focus.  So I'm thinking this must be pretty important!  

As you may or may not know, music is a big part of my life.  I can pretty much come up with a song for any and every experience in my life and your life (if you ask me).  And as I've driven around in my car this week, I've been listening to some CDs I made for my Momma several years ago.  And there have been several songs that have really spoken to me this week.  One of them is "God Speaking" by Mandisa...and it just reminds us that God will do whatever He has to do, speak in whatever way He needs to in order to let us know how much He loves us.  The other song is a version of the old hymn "In Christ Alone" by FFH...and my favorite line in that song is "from life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny."  Wow!  How powerful is that...JESUS commands my destiny.  My future, my life, my hopes and dreams, the deepest desires of my heart...HE has full control of that and has a plan far beyond my wildest dreams!  So knowing that, why would I ever take my focus off of Him?  But I do.  So he sends the sermons.  And the emails from friends.  And the songs.  And the fog.  And I'm thankful He does.

My prayer is that through my ramblings that He will speak to your heart and remind you that He is in control, He has a plan and He loves you.  And if you will focus on the One who died to prove that, He will guide you safely home.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans for good and not for evil.  Plans to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, September 12, 2011

He Is

It dawned on me a few weeks ago that I haven't updated my blog all year...and I really hate that because I really do love writing and sharing things I feel like God has shown me.  However, since this year began, life has been full of change...both good and bad.  And it has been a year that has tested my faith beyond what I ever thought it could.

Earlier this year I took a huge leap of faith and stepped out completely trusting God for every single detail and moved.  I changed jobs, changed towns and started grad school.  I have no idea how it all worked out. The only way it was possible was because God has His hand on every moment.

A few months before I moved, however, our family was rocked to its core yet again.  Even though nothing so far has compared to losing my Momma in 2008, this year has come close.  In April, my dad had to rush my grandmother to the hospital.  She was having a heart attack and needed a stint.  We pretty much though that was it and prepared ourselves for the loss.  However, she made it through the procedure and came out like a trooper.  I can only hope I'm that spry and full of life at 91!.  But the next day, as she was in ICU recovering, my aunt was admitted.  She had been suffering from pain in her knee for quite awhile.  First it was diagnosed as gout.  However, this trip to the ER found that she had a tumor that had eaten through the bone in her leg.  After several tests and many painful days, we were told she had stage 4 breast cancer and the prognosis was not good.

So that week was spent running back and forth between 2 hospital rooms.  But God was there.  Even in the pain and doubt and anger and sadness.  He was there.  My granny got stronger and came home.  My aunt, though she didn't have long on this earth, became a witness to everyone who entered her room.  We set up some music on my computer and a slide show so she could listen and watch and sing along.  One day when I wasn't there, they had a time of song and prayer...they said you could hear it out in the halls.  And God was there.  Using the pain to minister and reach others who needed him.

After a couple months of suffering and fighting this horrible disease, my aunt went home to be with Jesus at the end of June.  It was hard to see my cousins face the same horrible pain of losing their mother.  It's a pain you are never prepared for and a pain no one can take away.  But God was there.

I moved a couple of weeks after her funeral and started my new job and got settled in.  Then at the end of July, 2 weeks after I started my new job, my dad called on a Sunday night and told me Granny had just passed away.  I was devastated and so not prepared for that.  I knew she was 91 and wouldn't live forever, but you are never prepared.  But again, God was there.

You would think that would be enough.  That God would see fit to give us a break.  But life isn't fair.  About 2 weeks ago, I received a message that my favorite former Baddour resident's mom passed away.  She had just had a check up and was fine.  Thankfully she had gotten to see her son perform in his first play ever and was able to share that moment with her daughters and sister.  They are such a sweet family that I love dearly.  Later that day, I got a call about another of my aunts.  She had gone to the ER with back pain...and now today, 2 weeks later, we found out she has stage 4 pancreatic cancer...and again the prognosis is not good.  And again, I find myself grieving for another cousin who will lose his mom.  However, God is here.

Through the devastation and tears and anger and sadness and questions and weariness and pain...GOD IS HERE.  No, I don't understand why He would allow so much pain over such a short period of time.  I don't understand why He is taking all of our mothers away. I don't know what His plan is in all of this.  But I am sure of one thing.  He is here, and He is not going anywhere.

People may ask how we can have peace with all this turmoil going on around us.  The only answer is Jesus.  I know people who don't have any faith at all in God.  And honestly, I don't see how they make it through the day.  Even though I don't understand, I have to trust God is working all things out for good...even though I may not see it, even though I question Him, even though I get mad at Him.  He is here.  And He is holding us.  And His plan was not for us to live on this earth forever in this aging bodies full of disease and pain.  His ultimate plan is for us to live with Him in Heaven...with a new body...with no more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow.  This is not our home.

Yes, loss is tough.  It's hard.  It breaks your heart.  It weakens your resolve.  It brings you to your knees.  But for those who know Jesus, it's not really loss.  It's simply a change of address.  See I have the assurance that my mom, my aunt, my granny and all my other family who've gone before knew Jesus.  I'm thankful to have been raised in a Christian family and have that heritage.  And I have the assurance that because of our faith in Jesus, I WILL see them again.  Yes I miss them here.  I will miss those who will pass on before I do.  But I can find peace and comfort in knowing the loss is temporary.  We will be reunited one day in Heaven.  And we will finally get to look on the face of the One who made it all possible.  Because He is, He was and He always will be.

My prayer is that if you are suffering any kind of loss or grief or stress, you will take the opportunity to seek Him...because you won't make it without Him.

He Is (by Mark Schultz)