Why Would God Wait for You?

I seriously miss my family. My husband is in the Army, so for our twelve-plus years of marriage we’ve lived at least 500 miles away from them. After we visited them last time, I printed off dozens of pictures and covered every square inch of my refrigerator. Now, whenever I open the freezer, my heart catches a little. I long to cuddle with my nieces, play games with my nephews, sip coffee with my dad and walk the dogs with my mom. Even though I’m so blessed to have a family who loves me, missing them hurts sometimes.

There are many Bible verses that instruct us to wait on the Lord, but did you know that God waits for you?

Isaiah 30:18a says, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.”

The word for waits is “chakah”, and can also be translated “to tarry or long for”. If you have not yet trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He is not far from you (Acts 17:27), and He is anxiously waiting to be merciful and gracious to you.

(first published on http://www.swagga4christ.com)

 

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How to Have A Happy Heart

love-tree-1077047-mI’d been at my new editing job for less than a week, and already I’d offended someone. No matter that I’d prayed over every single article, prayed for my attitude, humility, comments and thoughts–still, somehow I’d allowed an author to feel as if her work wasn’t good enough. It was an accident! I want so much to honor the writers I edit.

A brief email. She wasn’t rude, but I could read between the lines. I’d hurt her feelings, maybe overstepped my bounds with the changes I’d made to her article.

It took a few hours, a few emails; finally we seemed to resolve the issue. Surely, I could carry on with my evening–just let it go. But my heart was still stuck in my feet. I hate to let someone down. I hate to hurt someone’s feelings. Back to the computer, I kept reading, kept typing, kept working.

Ding! A new email, but I was hesitant to check it. Bravely, I clicked through to a message from another author. She wrote, “Hi Abby, Rough day? Feel free to do anything you want [when you edit my articles]. (They are His articles-not mine!) Rewrite, edit, change, etc.”

My spirits rose. As I whispered a prayer of thanks. Proverbs 12:25 came to mind, “Anxiety in the heart weighs a man down, but a good word makes him glad.”

Whose heart can you buoy with a good word today?

Lose my Life (my perfection) to Find It

I was plowing through old snippets, journal jots and tiddles and half notes to someone at sometime, when I came across this. Funny, no, awesome, how perfect God’s timing is to resurrect old lessons He’s taught and gently remind me.

Hope it brightens your heart today too:

To a Friend,

I completely agree and just this morning God was quickening my heart to this truth. You know Jesus says in Matt. 10:39 that we must lose our lives to find it. I have been mulling that over thinking: I must “lose” my fake happy, my artificial perfect (my attempts to create a perfect body or perfect diet or control my world) in order to find true happiness–true joy. We cannot grasp the real LIFE of Christ while our fists are tightly clinging to a poor substitute.

In the Greek, the word lose can be translated: render useless. I have to render useless all my “perfect” happy. And that may cost me something, it will cost me my control, my eating disorder identity and many other things. But, it WILL find abundant life that Christ gives me!

Furry Evangelism, and a New Resource

Romans 10:17 says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”

Believers must be courageous to tell everyone about our savior Jesus Christ. However, for most Christians, evangelism is arguably the most intimidating aspect of our faith.

Where to begin? How not to offend? 

What if they reject me?

How do I explain the Gospel concisely and accurately?

What if they ask a question I cannot answer?

I know all of these fears often invade my mind and literally paralyze my tongue when the opportunity to share the love of Jesus is presented. A few of these opportunities have arisen when I take my therapy dog to visit the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Then, I read this story, “We provide these gospels of John to patients we visit as part of the Canines for Christ therapy dog ministry.”

I immediately sat down and ordered copies of Forever Faithful, through the Pocket Testament League.

My dog is a comforter to numerous hurting people. I hadn’t considered that he can act as a comforter and help to calm my own nerves as I share the Gospel.

Then I read this story, “I plan on reaching out to the people and children this Christmas season. There are children in my area that come to see my puppy Nemo. This dog alone is a key to ministering to the children in my area. Looking forward to doing this for my Lord.”

The story brought to mind my former neighbor’s young children who often came over to “borrow” my dog. He ran up and down the yard beside them as they played hide-n-seek, tag football or red rover. The next summer, the relationship that began withheir interest in my cute, little dog deepened and their parents allowed me to take them to vacation Bible school at my church. I had no idea that my dog was such a wonderful evangelism tool!

My husband is in the military and we move frequently. At our next duty station, I met my neighbor, Sally, when our dogs became buddies at the dog park. We sat on benches and talked while the dogs played.

Sally was an atheist. However, the simplicity of our canines’ friendship, seemed to give us enough common ground to continue the friendship. Slowly, we began to spend more and more time together and to share more intimate thoughts. By the time we moved, Sally had not accepted Jesus as her savior, but I know that the seeds were planted and that her heart was yearning for the deep relationship and security that only comes from knowing Him.

The Bible testifies that creation speaks the glory of God. “How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory! How plainly it shows what he has done! Each day announces it to the following day; each night repeats it to the next. No speech or words are used, no sound is heard; let their message goes out to all the world and is heard to the ends of the earth.” Psalm 19:1-4

Even my dog is an instrument to share the truth of God’s word.

The prospect of sharing my faith still scares me. I still fumble for words at just the right time and wonder later if I said the right thing. But giving someone a gospel from the Pocket Testament League reminds me that God’s word will never return void. The reader will hear from the very lips of Jesus just how much He loves them and that He has offered them salvation through His death and resurrection.

I highly recommend checking out Pocket Testament League as a tool for sharing your faith.

2012-10-31 22.01.03

Introverted Extrovert (sounds like a new species)

Does God care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Does one personality type please Him more than another? Is one personality a more effective evangelist?

A couple things recently have caused me to wonder. First, I have always referred to myself as an extrovert. I love people, I’m bubbly, animated, talkative, a people-pleaser and I can’t stay home a full day alone. In fact, the minute I’m snow-bound or otherwise shut up indoors, I’m bound to try and go out (usually to my detriment) just to make sure that I’m not really stuck by myself.

Recently, I have continued a life-long bad habit of over committing. I try to make sure that I’m never lonely or bored. So I promise to work this shift, meet that person, take on that volunteer opportunity, do this Bible study, etc. Finally, I guess I’m getting old, I suddenly realize that when I get that busy all I want is to be alone. Suddenly, I crave those long mornings in Bible study when I don’t have to be anywhere before noon. I miss the moments of cuddling with my puppy and the hours to experiment in my kitchen. I’ve come to a crisis of identity. Am I still an extrovert or am I a closet introvert?

According to definition: 

Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.

I don’t feel like I could live in the extreme of either circumstance. But truthfully, as much as I love being with people, I feel inflated after a couple hours alone, with either a sermon or Christian music playing. What about you?

Last Sunday, our pastor confessed to being an introvert. Obviously, he’s serving the Lord and serving people and he’s not alone all the time. So, is there a right way to be?

God has blessed me in my extroverted moments. I get chatty on this blog and I comment on other’s blogs. I have tried to encourage my readers to be vulnerable, outreaching Christians. A few months ago, I gave away 2 Starbucks gift cards per week, asking the recipients to take a friend out to coffee and share the love of Jesus with them. That request introduced me to a special friend.

When one of the recipients of the gift cards provided me with her address, I was floored to find out that she lives in my home town! I wrote a quick note, stuffed the envelope and stuck it in the mail. Imagine how shocked I was four weeks later when they came back to me. Not a “return to sender” but a freshly stuffed envelope with a full-page personal note, a gift card TO me, a couple beautiful drawings and a cash gift. Stunned. Shocked, Humbled, Grateful. 

The card was gracious. She thanked me for reaching out to her. In return she extended kindness to me on one of those days when I was feeling friendless and lonely. Now, I’ve sent her something and we tag each other in blog posts (:

Another new, unexpected friendship began about a year ago. An elderly couple was dining at Panera just behind me as I was working. When they rose to leave, the lady commented on my Bible. “It’s so nice to see someone in the Word.” One little sentence struck a quickly deepening conversation. I must have stalled them for 30 minutes as we uncovered that her hubby was retired military, I told them about my husband, my writing, my church. She asked me about joining my church’s Bible study. We exchanged phone numbers and bid farewell.

I didn’t see Bob or Shirley again until yesterday. She hadn’t returned my phone call and I didn’t want to be a pest. But when our paths crossed in Panera again, in our same seats, Shirley jumped up, spry for a 76-year-old woman. Shirley explained that her daughter had had surgery and she herself had battled some health issues. But she definitely still wanted a chance to study the Bible with my church and to become better friends. We traded numbers again and said goodbye with a genuine hug.

Then there’s Fred. My atheist friend at Panera who gives me practical advice and driving directions around D.C. We met when he pointed me to the only electrical outlet at Panera. Since then we’ve exchanged small gifts, talked for half an hour at a time and grinned at each other across the dining room. (Don’t worry, he’s my granddad’s age.)

All these examples only serve to explain that being extroverted, needing to be around people and to have relationships, has provided me myriad opportunities to learn from others and to share the love of Christ with them. If I had been cuddled up at home alone, I would never have met these people.

From the other side of the isle: Jesus often escaped to be alone. (Luke 5:16) A Christian will never have the nourishment or energy to grow in their walk with the Lord if they are always being stuffed with the company of and interaction with other people. In Psalm 46:10 God commands us to be still and know that He is God. Stillness is not an attribute often exhibited by extroverts.

My researched conclusion is this: it’s not OK to say, “That’s just the way I am.” We can’t stay the same. We will all be born with a bent, but it is the beauty and glory of Jesus that constantly straightens us and changes us to be more like Him.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Mosaic

Pink is loud.

She sits by Green, a soft-pillow-plump sort.

Black is at the table’s end.

Has that look of everyone’s friend.

Pick-a-little-talk-a-little.

Mosaic of moms on a lunch date.

 

Not too far away,

Huddle White and Stripes.

Next to them

Cuddle Blue and Gray.

Kaleidoscope of couples’ dining.

 

Alone is Pin-Stripe.

Brief business break.

Pressed up against his seat,

Leopard print lady

Carries conversation.

 

Bird’s eye view,

A shifting mosaic,

Of people barely see each other.

Bumping and mumbling

Bodies and voices.

A disjointed puzzle of stories on faces,

in tones, from lips, in postures.

 

Nothing matches, nor need it.

So much the same, so different.

Kaleidoscope, Puzzle, Mosaic of people.

Flitting in a world not their own.

 

Deluded as masters of destiny,

Shifted by time and unseen hand.

One twist of dial, spin of the shaft,

Jilted, jostled, new view.

God laughs.

 

Give Yourself the Gift of Hope

God has recently placed me in a new circle of friends. Our relationship began as I found myself in a new deeper pit of pain than I have known before or am equipped to handle. Now, as I step farther and farther out onto stable ground, pulled by their loving hands, I am being given the opportunity to help them and to share that same love and outreach with others who are mired in my same pit of despair.

A Woman’s Healing Journey, along with the resources they offer including counseling, group counseling, books, 12 step groups and prayer has in no uncertain terms saved my marriage, my sanity and my self-respect. Please, please, if you are dealing with the agony of a spouse’s betrayal, go to their website, contact them, let someone help you.

Here’s a bit of news from our Christmas Letter. Be encouraged.

Dear Friends,

As we celebrate this Christmas season, our thoughts and prayers include you. We are deeply aware that for many of you, 2011 has been a year of extreme heartache and loss. Yet for some, there have also been newfound treasures buried in your “trauma chest:” a more meaningful relationship with God; a re-discovery of yourself, as an individual; or a more intimate connection with your husband because, for the first time, you know everything there is to know about him and he’s finally opening his heart to you.

But wherever you are in your healing Journey, we want you to know that we care, and we are working to meet your needs for healing. We’ve rewritten the Partner’s Healing Journey workbook, and the brand new version, Journey to Healing & Joy, is now available in a beautifiul new format. It is the only workbook for partners of sexual addicts that incorporates both the trauma model and the Life Model to help you heal and learn how to keep your “joy cup” full, with or without a man in your life.

And we’ve added new groups to help you continue to heal and grow:
Coach Sarah now facilitates a 52 week a year drop-in Prayer & Share time for ministry wives whose husbands struggle with sexual addiction
Coach Debbie now facilitates non-traditional, Christ-centered 12 step groups
Coach Keisha, who lives abroad, now provides support for women in Europe, Asia, Africa, Austrailia, New Zealand, and parts of Polynesia
Pastor Steve has joined us and now facilitates Life Model groups for recovering men whose unresolved trauma still blocks their ability to emotionally connect with others, including their wives, at a heart-to-heart level
Coach Jodi, now trained and very skilled at Immanuel Processing, facilitates Immanuel Processing sessions with individuals and groups to enable them to heal unresolved trauma
And Coach Christy, Coach Sarah, and Marsha continue to facilitate groups for new women on this side of the world using the new Journey to Healing & Joy workbook.
And Abby has joined us as a volunteer networker, grant writer, and public relations wonder. She is a true gift from God!
From all of us to all of you, may this Christmas season bring new awareness that our God came not as a ruler, but as a baby, laid in a manger, so that he might walk among us and die for our transgressions so we can know forgiveness, new hope, new joy, and new life with him forever.

Merry Christmas,

Sarah, Debbie, Keisha, Christy, Jodi, Steve & Marsha

 

Obviously

I tried really hard to make this post about anyone other than my mom. I was afraid it would sound repetitious. There are other women who have advised me and guided me over the years, but if I don’t start with my mom, all my other stories will have no foundation. Mom taught me to listen, seek counsel and respect experience.

 

I looked up “mentor” in the dictionary. That’s the first time Google Dictionary, that verbose king of words, answered my question with one word: Advisor. In search of something deeper, easier to expound upon, I hit up the thesaurus: trusted advisor, coach, tutor, trainer, counselor, consultant.

 

From first grade, Mom was my teacher. Any teacher’s aim is to see her students learn to read, write, add and subtract. Mom’s impact went much deeper. She taught me sacrifice – while her peers were flaunting established careers or community recognition, she was lesson planning for three restless pupils. While her peers lunched for a brief hour over crisp, restaurant salads and ice tea, she spent nearly an hour simply getting baloney sandwiches made while listening to recitations, explaining math problems and conducting oral spelling tests.

 

Mom advised me to “Study to show [myself] approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15). That verse was stitched into the cover of the Bible she opened every morning. My sisters and I understood that God’s word was the single most important thing for all of life. And Mom made it clear that it honored God for us to devote ourselves to scholastic learning.

 

Mom counseled me through more than a decade of anorexia. She sat with me through therapy sessions, modeled compassion and learned when to let go.

 

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this mentor/mentee relationship, is that although I learned much as I sat at her feet, on her lap and in my desk; Mom’s words and actions reverberate in my life today. I often call Mom for encouragement. But I don’t need to. Usually, I know exactly what she’s going to say. Her influence became a part of me – the most beautiful part of me.

From my journal – April 28, 2008

Who would have thought that a physical body could be such a hindrance, such a stumbling block from knowing its own Creator?

My own arms hold me back

And my own legs run away from the peace and security my heart is dying for.

Oh it hurts so badly.

Vanity sucks my life away.

Eyes that analyze my shoulders, abs, curves and lines fail to gaze upon the solution to their insufficiency.

 

A freewill offering, not commanded. Given for the joy it evokes, the freedom that follows, unchained from a fatal devotion.

 

It’s funny Beth and I were just noticing today how much I feel like a failure. That is what drives me to exercise, what fuels all my self-loathing and determines whether I’ll have a good or bad day.  Failure is the biggest fear surrounding my eating too.  Feeling too full or bloated afterwards is failure. Eating too many vegetables or not enough is failure – too much sugar, too much caffeine, too much fake sugar, not enough protein etc.  There are so many rules I still feel like I must meet.

That’s what destroys my exercise too.  Now that I don’t have the GPS system to monitor and track the intensity of my runs, I’m struggling with each workout to convince myself that it’s ‘good enough’.  I had planned something else, but the weather was beautiful this morning so I took off on an intuitive run.  But no matter how far I went, the pushups or pullups or Pilates I did when I got home, it would never satisfy ED.  And the scary thing is, I know he won’t be satisfied. Not tomorrow, not the next day, not by any feeble attempts – not as long as I stop – ever.

I have determined too that I like and somehow NEED to feel the pain.  I’m not sure what I’m punishing myself for but that’s  a significant element to making a workout sufficient – it has to hurt and it has to leave me sore. I want to feel the perpetual, all-day tired in my legs after a brutal run, I want my shoulders to ache after lifting and to feel it in my core every time I twist or turn.  I even found myself wondering, what’s another way to experience that kind of pain that would allow me to remove it from exercising.  Isn’t that sick??

I really had a rough day mentally today and I think a big part of it was that I didn’t do much with people.  I NEED people in a big way.  Patrick being gone and then having the day off – I spent tons of time on the phone which helped but I cleaned the house, cleaned the car, went to the park and did my Bible study but the greatest relief I had all day was taking a loaf of banana bread to Amber up at work and just seeing faces and talking to people.

 

So food-wise, I ate today.  But every bite was an enemy.  I didn’t feel I earned it.  I tried to remember to disconnect food from exercise – it is not an earned reward, but it’s so hard for me.

Please keep praying.