Why not talk to God?

photo 1 (3)I shared recently about the big decisions I need to make and how much I was struggling to make them.

It has been a season of tremendous confusion for me…no easy answers, no straight, lighted path before me, nothing uncomplicated.

I kept asking God to just make things clear to me.  I kept telling Him that I would go or be wherever He wanted me to go or be…just please tell me!

But as I have shared before, I kept looking to others to help me decide…to wrestle through decisions with me.

I wanted friends willing to listen to me say or ask the same thing 15 times in 15 different ways.  I needed to grapple and ponder and brainstorm.  And I didn’t want to do it alone.

This single parent decision-making thing can be a lonely business.

And for someone who likes to think out loud, it is torturous…unfortunately I think I’ve been torturing everyone around me.  I put my friends and family in the position of having to hear me think out loud a lot.

I spent a lot time trying to find someone…anyone…that would tell me what to do!  I’m surprised they all didn’t run away from me.

I felt such a burden to figure things out…just to make a decision already.

I wanted to talk (and talk and talk…)

And it struck me

Why not talk to God?

Maybe that desire to think out loud is really more about a desire to pray.  I just hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I’d been so busy looking for someone to lead me that I’d missed talking to the One who is my Leader.  I’m truly like a silly little sheep.  I have The Good Shepherd as my guide and I’m not looking to Him.  I’m looking around to anyone and everyone to give me answers, direction, and guidance.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

But God in His graciousness did indeed provide.

First it was a dear friend who, while in the midst of her own health crisis, willingly listened to my life circumstances and shared her thoughts.  I’m in of God’s provision.

She asked me where I wanted to be in 5 years.   She said, “Focus on where you want to be, rather than all the little things that need to happen to get there.”

At first I thought, “How in the world do I do THAT?  There are things that need to be done…decisions that need to be made and actions that need to be taken!”

But the more I thought about it the more I realized that if I trust God’s leading, I must also trust that He will provide a way.

I kept thinking of the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant who had to step into the river before it parted.  Maybe I need to be willing to do that as well…take a step of faith.

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away… Joshua 3:14-16

A lot grabs me in those verses…but one thing that stuck out was that the Lord wants us know that this was not an easy wade in the water…this was an overflowing river.  Probably seemed a bit daunting to those priests, but they trusted that God was going to make a way for them to follow His leading and they took a step of faith.

God gave direction and then provided the way.

I want that.

I want direction…clear direction…obvious direction…a well-lit straight path ahead.  I’m finding that God doesn’t often choose that path for me.  My path is more often than not a little dark so I can only see a step or two in front of me.  I cannot even see a bit up the path.  It is always, and I mean always, a bit curvy and rocky.  I’m walking slowly, deliberately and with anxiety in my heart for what lies ahead.  I want to make decisions that I know will turn out well…decisions that have a happy ending.

I know I can trust God.  I also know I can trust that God’s word is true.  And His word says that I will have trouble.  I’ve been living in the trouble times…I long for peaceful.  I’m always worried that my decisions will lead to more troubled times. Lord, forgive me for my fear and anxious thoughts.

But I also know that there is peace in making a decision and trusting God with the outcome.  I want to make a decision and have the outcome guaranteed…guaranteed to end the way I want.  But God says that He guarantees the outcome to be for His glory and my good…not that it will be my “perfect” outcome.

As I was wresting with my hope for perfection, God continued to bless me.  My one sister, who loves me and all my goofiness, was willing to listen, brainstorm and pray with me until the wee hours of the morning.  My sister, the one I grew up with, is also my sister in Christ.  And what a blessing she is to me!

I shared with her all my thoughts, concerns, fears, and ideas…and she listened patiently, and even laughed at all my jokes! (That is definitely a blessed thing J!)

As we talked through my situation, she said some things that really struck me:

If I love Christ and live my life for Him, He WILL lead me.

If my desire is to glorify Him and bless others, He will work in my situation to those ends.

Sometimes a decision just needs to be made and God will take care of the rest.

And finally, she reminded me of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That term guard was what she wanted me to notice. It’s actually a military term.  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says that to guard means: “‘a sentinel, guard’ – to guard (keep watch) like a military sentinel; (figuratively) to actively display whatever defensive and offensive means are necessary to guard.”

God’s peace guards our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.  He is willing to do whatever is necessary to protect our hearts and our minds.

So if that is true…why do I so often feel so little peace?

I don’t believe it is because God is doing anything wrong…I believe that it is because I’m seeking that peace in my circumstances…in my decisions.

My sister pointed out that God’s peace is something I have regardless of my circumstances, my decisions and their outcomes.

It is my decision to live in that peace that God does and will always guard.  I’m blessed by that realization…that reminder.

And I’m grabbing hold of that reminder…no, I’m grabbing hold of that peace.

My big decision is one of the biggest of my single mom life…and one of the top ten of my life to this point.

I know that regardless of my decision, God will not leave me nor forsake me.

And regardless of my decision, God’s peace is mine.

Oh how desperately I want that peace.  It seems so “christianeze-ish”  (my word) for me to say I will live in God’s peace regardless of things going on…and it also seems a bit sketchy that I would say that after all I’ve written about struggle and anxiety and fear…BUT….

That peace is God’s…not mine. It’s a God thing.  And I will grab hold of it and I will focus on it and I will study it and I will live it because God is guarding me with it.

I’m so thankful for my Lord, for my friend and for my sister.

God will lead me even if it isn’t with lightning bolts and neon signs…it might be a late night talk or a quiet morning studying His the Word or a little bit of both or He might just guide me to make a decision and trust Him.

My decision right now is to take a big step of faith. I’m moving forward without a definite plan, but with hope and peace that as I step out God will guide.  I’m taking a big step and praying fervently that God will make clear paths where I see none right now.

I’m trusting God will lead me…and I’m excited to see what He shows me.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24

Do You Transition Well?

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It’s been five years and still I struggle with transitions.

I would have thought by now there’d be no problem whatsoever when my ex-husband picked up our children.

And yet…there is

There is no conflict between him and me…no issues of arguing or glaring or anything…it’s just the transition.

It’s not like I even think about it.  It just IS awkward.

And tonight was no different.

My ex-husband is often late and no matter how hard I try to get my kids organized there is always a measure of chaos when he arrives.

Even though he’s late we can’t seem to be ready.

Tonight was no exception.

Let me set up the scene for the disaster.

It was our only night for my children and me to decorate our tree together because of school, work and bedtime schedules.  And because it was their night with their dad we had about an hour to do it.

I was ready.  Dinner was made.  All the boxes of decoration had been brought up.  The stage was set for a lovely hour of decorating.

And we had a lot of fun even though not all the children were excited to be decorating.  My 7 year old escaped outside to play with the neighbors, my 12 year old had a very difficult time getting his face away from his IPod, and my 16 year old lasted about 15 minutes before she needed food.  It ended up being my 6 year old and me decorating with my 19 year old keeping us entertained.  A tad goofy but still good!

As our hour to decorate became an hour and a half, my little girls worried they were going to miss a special math and science event at their school.  They’d been talking about it for weeks.  I should probably have just taken them on time, but we had so much to do and I thought they would enjoy doing it with their dad.

When their dad did arrive, it seemed like everything just fell apart…including me.

My oldest daughter was up in her room doing her hair and makeup.  A bit on the bad timing side of things and absolutely unnecessary – she’s beautiful.

My shoeless middle son was frantically looking for his IPod which my oldest son had hidden (with my blessing).

My 7 year old was ready and at her father’s car almost before it stopped.  She wanted to get to school fast!  They were already 45 minutes late.

My 6 year old was shoeless and decided to redo her hair…only she can’t redo her hair.  She’s at the age where she can mess it up really well but absolutely not fix it.

Then my 7 year old came back in because the tinfoil hat she needed to wear to the school event was tearing.  She was close to tears.

As I was searching for tape to fix the hat, I glanced around and realized that my teenagers hadn’t done any of the things I’d asked them to do.

It just seemed like everything went kablooey.

I know I’m probably not sufficiently portraying the level of chaos in those few moments, but I figure you can catch the “feel” of the house regardless of my poor description.

Everyone going in different directions, lots of emotions, and dad waiting in the driveway.

I just wish I could keep calm, cool, and collected.  (Well, cool might be a stretch…at least according to my teenagers! :)!!)

I got annoyed with my youngest pulling all her hair clippies out.  I was frustrated that the few things I’d asked my middle son and high school daughter to do had not been done.  I was disappointed that my daughter went to do her hair and watch Netflix in her bedroom instead of staying downstairs with us, and she still wasn’t ready! I was a little miffed that my ex-husband was late and that meant the girls had missed half of the school event.  I was just a hot mess.

And I didn’t hide it. I oozed hot mess on everyone.

I don’t want to send my kids off with fussiness.  I hate that!

It isn’t always this way, but more often than I want, to be sure.

I just don’t know what exactly it is except that maybe it’s simply that I hate being divorced.  I hate sharing my children.

I miss evenings together.  I miss looking forward to my husband arriving home from work.  I miss family dinners and bedtimes together.  I miss going together to their school events and concerts.  I miss celebrating birthdays and holidays together. I miss so many things.

I hate that my children’s father isn’t here to decorate the tree with them.  To hold our youngest up to put ornaments on the highest branches.  To sip hot cocoa and eat cookies.  I miss Christmas shopping together for our children.  I miss Christmas Eve services and Christmas morning together.  I miss hosting a Christmas party together.  I miss caroling.  I miss it all.  All the togetherness.

Maybe the nights when he arrives in the driveway it’s just a reminder of all those things that are now gone.

And maybe we all get a little wonky because it just isn’t right.  The whole thing is just awfully wrong.

Children aren’t supposed to have to go back and forth between parents.  They are supposed to be with both of us!

I’m so grieved just thinking about it.

And yet here I sit, all pitiful and sad, looking at our beautiful tree and decorations, and I’m struck by how truly blessed I am.  Who every said life was going to be perfect…or even close to perfect?  Nobody.

It might just be that there will always be a little touch of sadness to everything even the joyful things.
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And maybe that is also just life on earth…this world is not our home.

This world…hmmmm…that makes me think about Christ coming here…leaving perfection to come to this sinful, sorrowful place.  How He became a man of many sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3) for us.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.  Isaiah 53:4-5

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by this life, isn’t it?  To focus on all the things that are amiss.  I can so easily get caught up in the things that aren’t going my way, and I can stay there for quite a while.  But we have a great Savior who wants to walk this life with us…who wants to carry our burdens.

We have a savior that didn’t just come here to change our eternity.  He came here to change our daily.  He came to give us all that we need to live a life of hope and joy right here – to live each day with us.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  Isaiah 40:11

The Lord offers us strength and guidance.

…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Jesus doesn’t just want to help with the transitions, He wants to give us all that we need in every moment…and all that we need is Him!

Just as God delivered His people repeatedly, he has delivered us through the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus! We have a blessed hope and reason for great joy!

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth in singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.  Isaiah 55:12

Just reading those scriptures and all the others I glanced at while looking for them, has put my heart and mind in a completely different place.  I feel a great hope welling up in me.  A hope that even though this life is not and never will be exactly what I want it to be, God is going to make it something beautiful…even in the transitions.

Well this post didn’t go in the direction I thought it would.  I was just planning on saying that this season is a time to reflect on the hope and peace we have in Christ.  And God led me in a bit of a different direction!  I love when He does that.

I hope my stream-of-consciousness writing today blesses you.  And I pray that we will all have the perspective of peace and joy this day and everyday as we remind ourselves repeatedly of the beauty of the gospel!  Of the glorious intrusion of God into our world, our lives, our very selves.

Of a Savior who gladly gave up glory for grief to save his beloved children.

Oh Lord, please help us have the right perspective on this life.  There is so much to be joyful about.

Father, just look at those 5 beautiful children you’ve given me!  And I have a beautiful Christmas tree, a kitchen full of food, a pretty dependable car in the driveway, clothes for all my children, heat in my house, my house!, toys to trip over (could stand to have a few less of those) and friends and family who love us.

Not to mention this wonderful season of hope!  Thank you Father!  This is a time to remember the blessings – to not get all wiggy about the bad stuff…the difficult stuff…the challenging stuff…the disappointing stuff.

I do wiggy really well.  I need to do peaceful really well.

Lord, please help us find Your peace in the craziness and challenges and disappointments.  Father, you love us so much and we know that you are going to work through all this difficult stuff…even though at times we can’t imagine how.  Thank you that we can trust you.  And thank you for the hope of this Christmas season.  And thank you for our sweet Savior Jesus!

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