Tag Archives: Prayer

Paper Scrubs and Perspective…

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Paper scrubs. 

You know what I’m talking about, right?  They come in a lovely, muted shade of blue.  They’re large and easy to slip on over clothes.  Many hospitals have them for their staff and patients.

After my suicide attempt last month (read that story here and here), I had the pleasure of donning a couple sets of these paper scrubs.  The first set was in the first ER I visited that morning.  I wore them until I was released and allowed to put on the clothes I had arrived in.

From there, we traveled to another ER where I would later be admitted into the hospitals mental unit.  In that ER, I was so graciously given another pair of blue paper scrubs, only this time, they were ginormous (is that really a word?).  I stepped out of the bathroom and kindly asked the nurse if I could have a smaller pair because these were huge.  She seemed agitated.  Who wouldn’t be in that situation…Overworked.  Underpaid.  A stressful environment.  And a patient who doesn’t value her own life making what, at that point, probably seemed a silly request.  Needless to say, she was not sympathetic to my request.  Those giant blue scrubs were mine.

All of my belongings were taken, including the hat that was hiding my less than clean (glued to my head from 2 day old natural oil and hat head) hair.  I sat in that ER, not in a room, but in the middle of a hallway, wearing my nifty (note sarcasm) blue scrubs and my greasy hair.  I was there with two dear friends who helped me laugh it off and make the most of a pretty scary day.  They didn’t care how I looked.  They loved me anyway.  (Thanks ladies!)

So, those blue scrubs were quite embarrassing.  Nothing screams out of the ordinary than to be the only patient in the ER with paper scrubs on.  They might as well have stamped a big label on the back that said…

“Attempted Suicide = Another Fail!” 

That’s how it felt.  I thought everyone that saw me could see what I’d done and I added that to my mental list of failures.  I was there.  I was alive.  I was just as broken as before.  And now, I was on my way to the mental hospital with awesome paper scrubs, greasy hair, and no dignity.

If that doesn’t encourage the depressed, then what will?!

After a five hour wait in that ER, I was finally taken to the mental hospital building down the street.  I was escorted by two people who spoke very little.  The only thing shy of feeling like a prisoner was the fact that I wasn’t in handcuff’s.  They loaded me into what I like to call a creeper van.  You know the ones you see on TV when the news is reporting a BOLO for a kidnapping.  It’s always an old, creepy 15-passenger van.  Well, this was one of them.

I climb up into the van in my giant scrubs and off we went.

Down the street, we pulled in at the mental hospital.  This was a separate building from the main hospital.  I could make some sarcastic jokes here too but I don’t want to go overboard with that so I’ll leave it be for now.

My sweet friends were able to follow us to that building.  What a blessing they could ride in their own car and not in the creeper van!  So I was escorted by my two quiet guards and dropped off in the waiting area where two ladies met us.  They went through all the rules about what I could and couldn’t have there.  Unfortunately, my awesome App State hoodie, black sweats and tennis shoes didn’t make the cut.  So, off my stuff went along with my friends and I walked through the heavy, no way out of here once you enter, doors in my blue paper scrubs, bright yellow hospital no-skid socks, and my jacket that actually past the approval list (thanks Old Navy for my fleece jacket…it passed!)

Once behind bars, I mean those big locked doors, there was no getting out and things got real.  I was alone.  Sure, there were folks there…but it was late and all the patients were in bed.  I had my vitals checked by one nurse and then was sent to a room with another nurse.  In that room, any dignity I might have managed to tuck in my paper scrubs pocket went out the window when I had to remove them to have all the markings on my body viewed and documented in my chart.  Because I have been a cutter for years, there were many scars marked on the chart.  More shame.  More embarrassment.

At that point, the nurse grabbed a hospital gown.  You know the ones…wrap around, tie in the back, you’re lucky if they don’t show all your glory…yep, that’s the ones!

And in that moment, everything changed.

Perspective changes everything.

Those blue paper scrubs…had been embarrassing.  Humiliating.  They had screamed to all, I thought…

Bad choices.
Stupid.
Crazy.
Worthless.
Criminal.
Garbage.

But in that moment, when the gown became the next option, those blue scrubs were like an outfit right off Rodeo Drive.  No money would have been enough to show the value in them.  After a quick glance at the hospital gown and a moment frozen in fear, I managed to spill out a very desperate and wimpy, “Can I just keep the scrubs?!”

I’m certain she saw the look of terror and heard the sheer desperation in my voice and she kindly agreed that would be okay.  Thank you, God!

Those paper scrubs had just become my saving grace.

Why?  Why had things changed so drastically and so quickly?

Well, let me explain a little something about perspective…

You see, before my clothes were taken, they were my clothes.  They were things I had picked out.  They were comfortable.  They were mine.  When they were taken away and I was given something I had not chosen, I was no longer comfortable.  I was bitter.  I was angry.  They had taken away what belonged to me and there was value in my things.  I saw no value in the paper scrubs they were giving me because in my anger, I felt it was punishment.  I felt like I was being punished by having my own things taken away and substituted with their hideous paper scrubs.

When I went into the mental hospital, I no longer had anything except those blue paper scrubs and my jacket (which had no hood and no strings, mind you, or it too, would have failed the permitted list).  Those scrubs had become all I had.  They were mine.  They weren’t the most comfortable (remember, they were huge…we’re talking I was walking on the legs of them with the waist pulled up to my chest huge.  The shirt hung almost to my knees) but they covered me.  And that was extremely important to me.

I didn’t realize until yesterday why they became so important, why my perspective changed so quickly.

Having experienced what feels like a lifetime of sexual abuse, modesty is not just important, but necessary for me to feel safe.  I can’t sleep without blankets wrapped around me.  I’m not comfortable unless I’m covered.  The idea of wearing that hospital gown was the idea of being exposed.  It sent me back to my childhood and memories of being exposed, fear, terror.  Something as simple as a gown can be such a huge trigger.  In that moment, standing there with that nurse, I imagine she not only saw my terror but she probably couldn’t help but see that helpless little girl begging for protection.  Those blue scrubs became my protection.

Perspective changes everything.

When I had things, the blue scrubs were an embarrassment, something else to be ashamed of.

When I had nothing and was at risk of losing the blue scrubs, they meant the world to me.

That night, I was stripped of everything…

Except the blue paper scrubs.

If I had known a month ago, just how meaningful those paper scrubs would be to me now, I would have kept them.  I would have held onto them as a reminder of the grace and mercy God poured onto me that night as I stood there like a frightened little girl begging to keep the scrubs that no longer screamed of shame and imprisonment but of safety, protection, and comfort.

And later, after I was escorted to my room, once again I was reminded…

Perspective changes everything.

I’m a writer.  It’s my therapy.  It’s like the air I breathe.  Words are my lifeline. 

Remember, I had been stripped of everything shy of the blue paper scrubs and my coat.  I sat on my bed and tears poured from my eyes.  (This in itself is huge.  Before that week, it had been nearly a year since I had cried and even then, they weren’t tears for myself, but for another horrible situation.)  I sat there, talking to God, begging for Him to get me out of that hell, crying out to Him in frustration and anger, believing I didn’t belong there.  Yes, I cried out in anger at God!  I’m pretty sure He can handle it, in fact, I am pretty sure that’s exactly what He wanted me to do.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.  Psalm 18:6

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  Psalm 34:17

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:30

God knew I was desperate, scared, lonely, and angry.  He could handle it…and He did.

He gave me the courage to get up and go ask for a pen and paper.  Now, remember, things are pretty different in the mental hospital because everything that you once had privilege to is now considered a dangerous weapon that you could use to harm yourself.  The nurse kindly handed over a tablet of paper and the guts of pen.  Most folks know I am a huge pen snob (if you ever want to give me a gift, I love all colors and super smooth, lol).  She handed me this tiny three inch stick of ink.  You know what the inside of a pen looks like, right?  Imagine yourself writing with just the inside…not the nice, comfy, hard plastic shell…nope.  At that point, that pen and paper were the most amazing gifts I could have received.  It would do just fine…and it did.

God provided for my needs in that moment.

I went back to my room and wrote for most of the night.  I poured out my heart.  Looking back on those words, they seem silly now but in that moment, they were real.  They were words of hurt, pain, fear, loss, rejection, punishment, imprisonment, shame, embarrassment, regret, anger, and so much more.  Those words were everything and the fact that I was able to write them down and I have them now to look back on…that means everything.

I had nothing…but paper scrubs, a pad and the guts of a pen.

In that moment, I had everything I needed.

And later, when I desperately needed to try to sleep, I thought of Memphis.  He’s this adorable, (worn out and grungy well loved looking) stuffed hound dog that I sleep with every night.  He’s brown and has long floppy ears.  I snuggle him as tight as I can and while I sleep, the two of us are inseparable.  I’ve had him for about 15 years and have slept with him almost every night (shy of the brief period of time when my three children fought over him).  In the hospital, I didn’t have Memphis.  That was one more reminder of all that had been taken from me.  What I did have, was a solid white less than soft, bath towel.  Not to discount Memphis in anyway, but in that moment, that towel became the comfort and safety I so desperately needed in order to allow myself a few minutes of sleep.  I balled up the towel to about the size of Memphis, wrapped my arms around it and cried myself to sleep, still wearing my blue paper scrubs, my coat and resting my head next to my paper and guts of a pen.

I was safe.

I was cared for.

I wasn’t alone.

God had been with me. 

He had provided for me in every way I needed.  He had filled my heart and mind with His word.

I will not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done.  Psalm 118:17

Which I repeated over and over that night.  I wrote it out on my paper.  He reminded me of the words of a song I had listened to many times in the days leading up to my suicide attempt.  (For King & Country, Shoulders)

“…My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…”

He gave me those blue paper scrubs. 
He gave me a pad of paper and the guts of a pen. 
He gave me a plain white towel.

And He gave me a new perspective.  He gave me His eyes to see the gifts these things were.  When I felt everything had been taken away from me, He met me right where I needed Him to.  He opened my eyes…not to what I was missing, but to the gifts He had placed before me when I needed them most.

My words can’t express the emotions and gratefulness I feel from gifts I received that night.  My words will never be enough to say just how amazing it was to feel His presence that night.  It was my darkest moment and yet the most precious moments of realizing just what an amazing and good God was with me that night.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”  John 6:12

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thank you God, for saving me.  Thank you for providing in my darkest, most desperate moments…nothing is wasted.

I pray my story reminds you…you are never alone.  He is there, even when you think He isn’t or even when you turn away from Him.  He loves you and is waiting for you to come to Him.

Perspective really does change everything.

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Simple Words…

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I’m a former firefighter and a firefighter’s wife.

I know the power of simple words…

“Thank you.”

Those are some of the most reassuring and power-filled words…not only for the receiver but also for the giver.

Today, I am extending my own thanks after many “Thank you’s” have poured my way over the past week.

Last week, I shared about the trials I recently faced in my post “Back to Life.”  It wasn’t an easy time and it wasn’t easy sharing about it either.  But I knew, I had to share.  I had to share because my story needed to come from me.  I had to share because God’s story needed to shine through my brokenness.  I needed to share because it was the right thing to do.

In sharing some of the most intimate parts of this messy life, I admit, there was a little concern.

What will people say?
What will they think of me now?
Will they abandon me?
Will they look down on me, think less of me?
Will they forgive me for being broken?

Some of those questions, I realize now, weren’t even necessary.  “Will they forgive me for being broken?”  If you’ve asked yourself that before, don’t.  We are all broken.  Period.  It’s not up to others to fix me…or to judge my brokenness.  We all have dirty, ugly parts.  We all have broken pieces of our lives.  We all need mending.  My brokenness is God’s to heal…and slowly, tenderly, and carefully, He is bringing me back to life.

Today, I want to thank all of you who have poured out your words of understanding, encouragement, support and unconditional love.  I’ve received Facebook messages, emails, blog comments, emails and more emails.  The responses have been overwhelming…good overwhelming.

You’ve shared your stories of encouragement.
You’ve shared your appreciation for my honesty and transparency.
You’ve shared your own heartaches and moments of despair.
You’ve shared your tears.
You’ve shared your wounded, broken places to remind me I’m not alone.
You’ve allowed me to remind you that you’re not alone.
You’ve reassured me that I am on the right path.
You’ve given me a voice and allowed me to use it.
You’ve listened and you’ve heard.

I could go on and on … the list of thank you’s is extensive.  Thank you.

Such simple words cannot express my gratitude.

Three weeks ago, I didn’t think I would see March.  Today, it’s March 11th.  We’re nearly half way through this month.  Three weeks ago, I thought my life was over and I was okay with that. 

Today, I am thankful for the air I breathe.

Today, I am thankful for the words I was able to write last week…the words that spilled from my heart when tears wouldn’t fall…words of desperation, fear, chaos…and blessings…so many blessings.

Today, I am thankful for my faith in a greater power, the One who has saved me time and time again.

Today, I am thankful that He has placed people in my life to help hold me up.

Today, I am thankful that those people are letting Him lead them, that they are choosing to walk this road with me, choosing to encourage, support, and love me.  No one is obligated but they have chosen to be a part of this beautiful mess.

Today, I am thankful for all those near and far who have shared their own pain and grief, who are sharing their own wounds in the hopes we can heal our wounds together.

Today, I am thankful for this life that has been given to me, for the desires He has placed on my heart to speak, write, teach, and love.  I never imagined I would share the scars of my past as I have here…but I do believe God is using and will continue to use all my broken pieces for His good.  For that, I am thankful.

Today, I am thankful that He gives me purpose.  He takes all these ugly parts of my life and is using them for something beautiful.  Hope.

Today, I am thankful He is bringing me back to life.

It’s not easy. 

For weeks now, I’ve asked, “What now, God?  What now?”  Life after a suicide attempt is not easy.  When you are in that place, ready to embrace death, willing to breathe your last excruciating breath and kiss this world goodbye, when you are ready to be in the loving, gentle, safe arms of Jesus, and you face the reality that you’re still here, living this broken, messed up life you tried to run from…well, it’s not easy.

I am learning to breathe.
I am learning to face each day…in a new way.
I am learning to live again.

You see, I couldn’t live the way I did before February 21st, 2015.

I was gasping for air. 
I was drowning. 
I was dying.

I certainly wasn’t living.  There were things that brought me life…joy…happiness.  Those are the things I held tight to the night of February 21st, when I felt more alone than ever…my desire to write, teach and speak, my family and friends, and God.

I am thankful for the Words God had planted in my heart and mind that week.

I will not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done.  Psalm 118:17

I am thankful for the songs lyrics from For King and Country, “Shoulders” He gave me to remind me I was not alone.

“…My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…”

I am thankful for the time He blessed me with the privilege of getting to know some amazing people who were broken and hurting just like me.

I am thankful He brought me home with a fresh perspective on what matters most…on life…on living.

And though there are still doubts (those don’t magically go away over night)…

He has given me hope, not just in today, but in tomorrow. 

Three weeks ago, it hurt too much to think about a tomorrow because it felt that day would not come.  Today, I am thankful that I have hope in tomorrow.

Sweet friends, may I ask you to pray for me and my family…because I am relearning many things.

I am learning how reconnect with those I’ve pulled away from.
I am learning how to love my family and friends again, to let them in, to allow them to love me.
I am learning how to live.

He is bringing me back to life…and I am thankful.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

Today, I am thankful for Chris Tomlin and his song, “Thank You God for Saving Me.”  Go…listen to it…and think of all the things you can thank God for today!

“…I called your name, you heard my cry
Out of the grave, and into life
My heart is yours, my soul is free
Thank you God for saving me
Thank you God for saving me…”

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Bubble Christian…

I’m baaaackkkk!  After a month hiatus from the blog for November, I’m back in full force.

Time is flying by.  Just a blink ago, the kids were donning costumes for candy and here we are about to leap into a new year.

Along with holiday fun and Christmas cheer comes many traditions.  We have family gatherings for the holidays, Christmas music blaring in the car and in the stores, shopping till we drop, mad dashes for the latest and greatest, twinkling lights on every street and so much more.

I admit it, I love it.  I love all the traditions.  I love the chaos and busyness.  I love the hot chocolate and food!  Yes, I do!

I also love the magic of Christmas.  I love the joy and surprise in my children’s faces after they see what Santa left them.  I love the pajama days.  I love the excitement over new ornaments and decorating the tree, hanging the stockings and setting up our manger scene.

Much of Christmas has nothing to do with Christ but for our family, we do celebrate His birth.  My children believe He is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  They’ve never known any different and neither have I.  I grew up believing in Santa and Jesus.  As I got older, I learned Santa was magical for children and that magic fades as we grow up.  But for Jesus, that magic has only grown stronger.  The older I get, the more I realize my need to believe in Jesus.  I see the things in my life that have no explanations other than this higher power that I so strongly want to cling to.  Each day, I see something else that convinces me how real God is.

The world doesn’t see it.  Many are lost.  Many are floating through life with no real purpose or hope.  And many are absolutely fine with where they are, their beliefs and choices and their lives.  I am not one to push my beliefs or feelings on someone else.  We can’t force anyone to share in our beliefs and by pushing too hard, we can push them further away and that’s not at all what I want to do.  So instead, I pray.

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Now here’s where some of you may disagree but it needs to be said.  We, Christians, live in a bubble.  We want to believe that all is well and good and happy and God will take care of us and nothing can destroy us.  We shield our children from the words s-e-x, drugs and alcohol.  We teach them gays and lesbians are wrong, period.  The problem is, what happens when something goes wrong?  We haven’t prepared our children or ourselves for handling the problems of this world.  We’ve only hidden the problems away – out of sight, out of mind.  We are afraid to venture out of our little bubble or box and into the world.  We don’t want to watch the bad stuff on TV because it might change our hearts.  We don’t want to sit next to the person that’s cussing because it might hurt our ears.  We don’t want to be with those people (because they aren’t Christians) and we might be considered a non-Christian if we are seen with them.

The world looks at us like fools.  We bring that on ourselves.  We tend to walk around with unreasonable expectations for a world that is broken, including us.  We expect everyone to believe and think like us and we leave no room for failure or growth.  The thing is, we are all growing – at our own pace.  When we hold everyone else to these set standards, we only set them up for failure and then we end up being the hypocrites the world so loves to call us.

Today, an atheist friend of mine on Facebook shared a video making fun of a Christmas song by a Christian music group.  I watched the video, which in my opinion, was beyond horrible, filled with criticism, hate and bad language.  The most frustrating part was reading the comments left by the other 800,000 plus viewers.  The majority of them got a kick out of this video and went on to criticize the original song even more.

Unfortunately, it’s not hard to understand why – there’s really no need for explanation but basically, we Christians, in the comfort of our little bubble, also like to wear blinders.  We say things that don’t make sense or that the world simply cannot understand.  We experience things that are unbelievable or unfortunately, we stumble and fall.  We judge and criticize until it happens to us and then we make excuses to justify our actions or behaviors and wiggle our way out of things.

What if, instead of hiding in our bubble, we stopped criticizing from inside the comforts of our safe spot and we started accepting?  What if someone else believed something different and we chose to love them anyway?  Are they stopping us from praying for them in our own quiet time with our Lord and Savior?  No.  Are they asking us not to believe or not to read our Bibles?  No.  Are we free to believe what we want to believe?  Yes.

Then why do we get so angry and outraged when someone else, who is also free to believe what they want to believe, thinks differently?  We don’t only do this to non-believers but we do it to people who sit right beside us on Sunday morning.  We gawk at what they’re wearing.  We frown when their children make noises during prayer.  We gasp at the idea of an alcoholic beverage or cigarette.

News flash – we are all sinners.  Not one of us in this world is better than another!  Who are we to sit back and criticize anyone else (and I’m speaking to myself here because I’m guilty of all of this).

When I was a teenager, there was a man who hounded me about going to church.  At the time, it was so annoying and really felt invasive.  It made me angry.  At the time, I was in a place where the smallest thing made me want to run far from God.  And so I did.  That man would not give up.  He, in his best heart, wanted nothing but the best of blessings for me.  He wasn’t out to fix me.  He simply showed he cared.  He didn’t criticize me or call me names.  He wanted me to experience the blessings he was experiencing and that was in church.

I didn’t realize most of this until recently.  What I learned from this is we are all in different places.  We are all growing at our own pace and twenty years ago, that man could not convince me that I was worthy of God’s love or time.  He could not make me see the blessings in life.  His pressure angered me.  Today, I am so thankful that he did not give up on me.  It may have taken nearly twenty years for me to come around but I did.

My point is, by living in our safe Christian bubble and shouting, “Your wrong!  Shame on You!  You disgraceful sinner!” we are doing nothing but pushing away the very people we should be showing love to.  Not acceptance of sin – but unconditional love.  Genuine, care for another human being which we all deserve.  What if we stopped worrying about what everyone thinks of us, what others are saying, what someone did or didn’t do and we started focusing on what we can do to make things better.  What if instead of avoiding a non-Christian because we don’t know how to relate to them or instead of attacking their beliefs or lack of, we simply talked to them, like they were a human being.  What if we asked them questions about why they believe what they believe and chose to get to know them.  Would that really be so bad?  After all, wasn’t that exactly what Jesus did and as Christians, isn’t becoming more like Christ exactly what we are suppose to do?

What if the world looked at us Christians and instead of seeing a bunch of people trying to hide their lives behind fake masks of perfection, broken hypocrites, they saw wounded people who found hope in Jesus Christ and shared the same love and grace that had been poured upon them by their Savior?

 

 

31 Days of Grace | Day 3 – Grace, I Need You

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Grace”  Phil Wickham  (click to listen or visit site)

Grace I call Your name
Oh won’t Your smile fall over me
I’m cracked and dry on hands and knees
Oh sweet grace rain down on me I need You grace

I pray for dawn a new day to live
I pray for mercy only Jesus gives
Though darkness falls and a million cry
I believe over all there’s a greater light shining for us

Tonight, as I sat here stumbling on words of grace to share with you, my heart is heavy.  Tonight instead of grace, I want to share with you a need.  A local church is hurting tonight.  Elderly members from Front Street Baptist Church of Statesville, NC, were returning home from a weekend in Gatlinburg, TN.  Somewhere near the TN/NC line, the bus they were riding in crashed, crossing the interstate into oncoming traffic, hitting an SUV and a tractor trailer.  So far, there are eight people confirmed dead.  At least 14 more are hospitalized.

As I struggle to pull together my thoughts of grace, I am flooded with thoughts of grief, sadness and heartache for these families who’s lives are shattered tonight.  Please join me in prayer for all those involved.

Lord, I come to you tonight with a heavy heart.  I rejoice thinking of the grace you have poured into my life.  At the same time, I am begging for mercy for these families.  Please hold them tight, make your presence be known as they face the loss of loved ones, as those injured cling to life.  Let them know you are with them, comfort them, give them peace.  In your name, Amen.

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31 Days of Grace | Day 2 – Confident Grace

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Hebrews 4:16  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The Bible tells us to come to God through prayer, with confidence.

Often times, we let the things of this world hinder our ability to be confident with Christ.  Perhaps that stems from our own shame and guilt.  Maybe it’s because we don’t take the time to put much thought into what we’re praying or asking of God.  Sometimes it can even be our own lack of worth, feeling as if we aren’t worthy of his time.

Whatever our reasons may be, the Bible tells us we can come to him with confidence and in doing so, we find mercy and grace in our darkest hours.

In the coming weeks, I will be joining thousands of other women from all over the world in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study.  This study will be based on the book A Confident Heart by Renee Swope.  A Confident Heart gives voice to the questions, doubts, struggles, and hopes so many women have. Renee shows women how to identify, overcome, and even use doubt in order to live confidently in God’s power, truth, and grace.

We would certainly love to have you join us – perhaps you will find grace through A Confident Heart :)

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A Good Bad Day

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This is follow up from a post I wrote a few days ago.  Check it out here.

Too often, I stuff my feelings in order to protect myself or those around me from uncomfortable topics and emotions.

In my previous post on this topic, I mentioned that sometimes I just want to be able to share, to get some of that out.

While there have been many times I could have used a shoulder to cry on I an ear to hear, realistically, it’s not always or even often available. With that said, how do we get through the tough times without feeling like a burden to others?

I am learning that turning to God in everything, praise or problem, is key in my life.

Philippians 4:6  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Even though there have been people in my life I could have turned to in tough moments, I have always worried about becoming a burden or pushing them away with my baggage.  I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to open up but even more so, I’m learning how to turn to God in those moments when my heart is so heavy.

Scripture, prayer and music have all been huge in my life in recent years.

Music has always had a huge part in my life.  Anytime I was feeling down, I would drown myself in songs that I could relate to, songs that poured out the same feelings I was feeling, songs that made me feel like I was not alone.  I clung to the lyrics and played them over and over.  On a side note, many times the music I chose reflected the world I was in which was not always good.  While it left me feeling like I wasn’t alone, I see now my choices in music weren’t always the best choices and sometimes fueled my negative thoughts and feelings.  I’m a big believer in garbage in = garbage out (just ask my kids how many times I’ve used that on them, lol!) and am very thankful so many Christian artists are out there now.  You can find music in any style – hip hop, rap, country, normal – in Christian music.  It’s refreshing!

Prayer has not always been an easy one for me.  I have always prayed but I admit, I’ve gone through moments of doubt and have asked questions like, “If God knows everything, why do we need to pray?”, “Why would God want to listen to me?” and “Will my prayers really make a difference?”.  Some days, I still battle those questions but I do believe prayer is important.  I believe it’s one way for us to build/grow in our walk with Christ.  I believe God uses prayer as a way to keep us connected to him.  When we pour out our hearts in prayer, we are seeking him.  When we fail to pray, we are trying to do too much of the work on our own.

Scripture is a tool.  Did you know that?  It’s not just pretty little letters typed into a nice leather bound book.  It’s history, it’s real peoples lives, it’s their stories, their trials, their triumphs.  It’s the emotions they felt, the mistakes they made, the faith they held tight to, the distress and loss, and so much more.  There is really nothing I could face today that I couldn’t find similar responses or emotions to in the Bible.  Every time I have looked a particular subject up, I have found verses that encourage me, words that speak to me, stories that that I can relate to.  Scripture is a tool for when you are weary, hurting, in need of encouragement, hope, peace, to strengthen your faith, give you courage, guide your steps, bring light to your life and so much more.

I haven’t always had a lot of friends.  I still don’t have a lot, but the ones I do have, I love with all my heart.  I put 110% into those cherished relationships and my heart aches for the friendships that have passed.  When someone takes the time to accept me, get to know me and love me just for being me, that means the world to me.  The thing is, to be a great friend back, I can’t put unreasonable expectations on them.  I can’t expect them to be here for me every waking hour.  I can’t expect them to drop everything and rush to my side every time I feel sad or down.  I can’t expect them to know the right words to say all the time or to read my mind.  Sure, they may want to do those things at times, but to expect that from anyone would just be too much.

That’s where God comes in.  He is available anytime, any day, any place.  All he wants is for us to come to him.  If that’s in prayer, then I pray.  If that’s through Scripture then I soak myself in his words.  If that’s through music, then I crank up some Casting Crowns, Third Day or my current favorite, Rhett Walker Band.

He has never failed me.  I have failed him.  I have turned away from him.  I have been angry, doubted his love and concern for me but he has never failed me.

Psalm 118:24  This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 136:1  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

 

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