Why Are You Doing this to Me, God?

I am certain without posing the question that most, if not all, of us have begged the question “Why are you doing this to me, God?”. When things seem so bleak that we simply cannot see the proverbial silver lining, we want to know why God would allow this to happen. I have most definitely asked this question repeatedly. Why would God let me have blindness to carry throughout my life? What good could it possibly do? When we have a child born with, or resulting from an accident, a disability of any kind, we want to know why.

This past week I went on a church retreat camp meeting chock full of spiritual seminars designed to feed us spiritually. There were many to choose from for all age groups. I went with a dual purpose. There were a group of teenagers from a couple of our churches that are working on the “Master Guide” program for Pathfinders. (This is the Christian equivalent of Boy/Girl scouts) There were many of the requirements available at this camp meeting so I decided it would be perfectly fine for me to take all six teens up there… by myself! Ok you can pick your jaw up now. My husband would be up on the two weekends, but it would be up to me for the rest of the week. We had a pop-up camper that slept two of the girls plus myself. Then we had two tents side by side across the front of our camp sight— one for the two other girls and one for the two boys.

Let me insert here that all six of these kids have been in Pathfinders together for the last seven years. Also, four of them are related and the other two girls might as well be. They are all very close. So, Sunday came and Jeremy had to go back home for work. I assured him (and myself) that I would be fine, nothing to worry about. Let me just tell you some details about our campsite. The previous year, an obviously large and heavy camper or motor-home had been on this sight and it had rained, resulting in the trailer sinking and leaving two enormous ruts in the middle of the camp sight. This proved to be a problem for someone with very little vision. I repeatedly stepped in, twisted my foot on, or fell in said ruts, over and over again. We supposedly had running water. I guess that meant we’d be running the water back and forth across the dirt pathway to get it. What’s that you ask? Did we at least have electricity? Oh yes! Exactly fifteen amps to share between two campers. We did in fact lose power on one of the hottest nights we had. At 2 a.m. I might add. We also had luxurious port-a-potty latrines to share. So this of course meant I would have to have someone walk me up to one every time I needed to go.

The second night we were there without Jeremy, it down poured all night   long! I worried about the kids in the tents and prayed for the rain to cease. It didn’t. The kids were all going in different directions for their classes and I still had to get to mine. Remember that dual purpose I mentioned? I was there to get certified in Women’s Ministry. My class ran for two-and-a-half hours in the morning and an hour and forty-five minutes in the afternoon. Trying to figure out eating times in between was challenging but we managed to do it on a camp stove we have. Navigating around the camp sight with tent stakes holding strings suspended outward that I couldn’t hope to see was interesting. Well… you get the idea.

I had to ask various people to help me get from place to place and that resulted in feelings of being a burden to others. But I do not tell you all this to complain or pout about how difficult it was. I tell you because I have a new favorite verse in the bible. It’s John 9;3 which says “Jesus answered, ’it was not that this man sinned, or his parents. But that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”

I love that the first two words of this scripture is “Jesus answered”. These have quickly become my two favorite words in the bible. You see friends, God allowed the rain, the ruts, the lack of running water, the extended tent ropes, all the other challenges for me so that His work could be displayed in me. Ya know what? I made it through the week unharmed. I earned my certification in Women’s Ministry. I had no major mishaps. I even had women approach me and tell me what a blessing it was to see me going forward and accomplishing what I desired to do with Gods help in spite of my disability. May I just add here that I’d like to put the “ABILITY” back in the word disability. Oh my dear readers, whatever you may be facing today, God is just waiting for you to allow his work to be displayed in you! The blind man rejoiced at his vision being restored and had no care for how long he had to endure being blind. Jesus answered and God’s work was being displayed. How marvelous. Oh how I want to be the back-drop for Gods display. How about you?

Time for a retreat!

20180619_123305.jpg
Photo of 3 youth, 2 girls and a boy, from a distance, standing on a stage holding microphones. The boy on the left is wearing a dark suit and has dark hair. The girl in the middle is wearing a white dress and has dark hair. The girl on the right is wearing a blue dress and has dark hair.
Hi all! I am out of town on a camp meeting church retreat! I will return next week giving you a recap of my week here getting spiritually fed. My prayer is that your week is well and God is with you. Looking forward to giving you all the highlights of this week here at Campmeeting. See you all next week.
As I have posted on my Instagram and Facebook pages, feel free to drop me a prayer request and I will be happy to pray for you!

Getting to know myself better

Sitting in the eye doctors’ office at nine years old and listening to the Optometrist tell my parents that their daughter would be legally blind set me on a journey of normalcy at any cost. I attended regular schools as my mom and dad wanted as much of a normal childhood as was possible given my circumstances. I never went to blind camps or special groups for blind kids. I made independence my middle name. There was no need for me to have any special treatment for my condition, I was as normal as anybody else.   This was what I had been telling myself, others, and well… God. Where I recognized I needed God in my life after I was an adult, I wanted the independence that others had. The freedom to go to the store or take my kids to the library or just go shopping for fun. These desires were not to be a reality, or were they?

We had moved to a little town that had a grocery store, library, salon and lots of little shops to poke around in. Why, even my kids’ Dentist was right around the corner! We found a house right on the edge of this quaint little town in a beautiful neighborhood. It was the perfect place for our family of four. The kids had a block to ride their bikes in, I could walk my dog, and I had a lovely sun porch to have my prayer and devotional time with the Lord. My prayers for more independence had been answered!

The children and I had a marvelous time walking to the nearby park, the library, shops, and of course… the ice cream parlor. My husband was so happy for me to be able to take on the responsibilities that I longed to be able to help out with. It made me feel more like an adult to be able to run errands, get groceries, and just doing the general day-to-day necessities of married life. After so many years of feeling like a habitual teenager asking for a ride to the mall, I had my independence! Oh, how I praised God and sang songs of His glory. But I began to feel a little stagnant in my devotional life and wanted more. I asked God to show me what needed changing in my life. He showed me in the most heartbreaking way I could think of at that time.

We had lived in this most perfect location for about a year-and-a-half when we learned that the person we were renting from wasn’t paying the mortgage but using our payments for other things and now was losing the house. My whole world seemed to shift in that moment. No, I didn’t just get the news that my husband was having an affair or that one of my kids was just killed in an accident, but it was still a death, a blow to what I had prayed for for so long. How was I supposed to reconcile my declaration of answered prayer to anyone who would listen with the news that God was now taking it back.

I rejected God at every turn for the next three days. My family and friends tried to comfort me but I would have none of it. I didn’t care that I was setting a terrible example of God’s working to my kids. God was a flaky giver in my mind. He dangled my answered prayer in front of me like a carrot for a rabbit, then pulled it away. At least that’s what I chose to believe.

Remember my stagnant devotional life I mentioned? I truly wanted God to strip me down and reveal what was hidden in me. I always felt that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t give up if God asked me to. My house? Sure. Fancy clothes? Absolutely. Even people that were not in keeping with Gods’ plan for my life? no problem. Some of these things would be harder than others to part with but hey, if God asks me too, I’m in.

I remember going up to my room, probably to pout, and literally laying on the hard wood floor. I finally was ready to talk to God about this situation. I was ready to tell Him that He was making a terrible mistake and needed to revamp His plans. “How could You do this to me?” I yelled through my sobs. “Why would You give me my independence then take it back?” These were the questions I hurled at God after I decided to stop giving Him the silent treatment. I hadn’t counted on Him showing me things about myself that I didn’t really want to see.

God revealed things to me in my time getting to know the floor better. In Genesis chapter 22 Abraham is asked to sacrifice his own son “…then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.” Abraham trusted God’s plan so deeply, he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. I knew in that moment God was asking me to make my ultimate sacrifice at that time. He wanted me to trust Him with the one thing I wanted so badly. If Abraham could trust God so much as to be willing to sacrifice his own son, then surely, I could trust Him with my long-awaited independence. After all, we are not to be Independent of Him but to be dependent IN Him. This unexpected turn of events put me on a path of discovering just how committed to God I wasn’t. If you ask God to show you yourself, He will. It was the most painfully wonderful realization I’ve had. Now I know when I need to ask God for a little extra help letting Him take the reins.

 

 

Aren’t my sins too big to be forgiven? (part 2)

Welcome back! Pull up a chair at the table and let’s get back to King David’s story (if you missed part 1, you can find it here). When we last were together, King David slept with another man’s wife against her will, got her pregnant, tried to cover that up by making her husband think it was his baby, then when that plan fails, ultimately has him killed while trying to defend David’s kingdom! Whew. Let’s see what else ol’ David is up to…

As the battle is under way, several of the king’s soldiers died and among them was… you guessed it… Uriah. One of the chief soldiers, Joab sends a messenger to the king to let him know that several of the men have died in battle and one of them is in fact Uriah. The king simply responds by telling the messenger to tell Joab, “Well, don’t lose any sleep over it. After all, men die in battle all the time.” Now that’s a pretty callus attitude.

When word is taken to Bathsheba that her husband has been killed in the battle, the bible says she lamented over her husband (verse 26). I looked up the dictionary definition of “lamented” and it said, “A passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Now, I imagine this poor woman falling to her knees when she learns of her beloved husband’s untimely death. She covers her face with her hands and cries, body shaking, heart crushing sobs of which she feels in that moment there will be no end. Can things get much worse for Bathsheba? She has been through such horrible things both physically and emotionally, now the one person who would help her through all that was dead. How? By the hand of the King.

Bathsheba is stricken with an amount of grief to completely undo someone and David, the one who caused it all, is saying “No worries, it happens.” Allow me a little scratching of my head for a second. But wait, there’s more. After a time of morning (this was approximately 1 week), David sends for Bathsheba to come and live with him and be HIS wife. Just seven days after losing the love of her life, she is to be the wife of another. I suppose that David might have been trying to do a good thing by taking Bathsheba in after her husband died. There wasn’t a lot of options for women back then after they were widowed. However, I’m inclined to believe that David was still just interested in making Bathsheba his own. Verse 27 says that David brought her into his house, but what he did displeased the Lord.

There came a time that a man named Nathan was sent by the Lord to see King David. Nathan told him a story of a man that had a large flock of sheep but didn’t want to slaughter and prepare one of his own sheep for a guest so he took the only sheep of a poor man. This sheep was not just property, it slept, ate, drank and grew up with the man’s family and he loved it like one of his own daughters. Ever had a beloved cat or dog like this? I have. It was terribly painful to lose her. Well David burned with anger that someone could be that heartless and demanded that the man who stole the poor man’s sheep to be punished by death. Then the defining moment happens. Nathan utters the words that David hears like thunder. “You are the man.”

Like flashes of lightning, David replays all the deeds he has done and reality crashes into him like a cannon. I imagine all the color drains from his face, his shoulders slump, and his eyes close. He doesn’t deny any of it. Nathan delivers a “thus says the Lord” message as David hangs his head in shame. Crown falling to the floor, palms on his forehead, he listens to Gods message of “didn’t I give you everything? Didn’t I make you king and ruler? Didn’t you have enough?”.

David feels empty, shameful, loathsome. But then Nathan tells him “The Lord has also put away your sin…” and there it is… forgiveness. David rose to fame and acquired much power and it all went to his head. God knew that David was what He called a man after God’s own heart. David loved the Lord at his core, but he let power overtake logical thinking. But as soon as God brought it to his attention, David saw his own sin and came back to God. After everything David did, all God needed was for David to recognize it, admit to it, and ask God to forgive him… that’s all!

Friends God doesn’t need or want a laundry list of good deeds to make up for our sins. He doesn’t need or want us to carry those sins and their burdens for a said amount of time before He can forgive us. What He desires is a repentant heart and then an open heart for Him to come in and let us start over with Him. God loves each and every one of us… including YOU! All you need to do is simply go to your knees and say Lord forgive me. I want to have You in my heart and life from this moment on.

He truly desires you to ask Him to live with and for you, no matter what has been done before. Just ask Him.

 

Aren’t my sins too big to be forgiven?

Have you ever felt that your sins are just too many and too big for God to forgive them? I have. When I was younger, I used to steel make-up from the grocery store just to see if I could get away with it. When I turned twenty-one… party time! When I wanted to be noticed, I did things to get noticed. I compromised my safety at times so my blindness would be over-looked and I could just fit in with what everyone else was doing. I know there are worse things that people have done and there are worse things that I have done. But no one has done something that God couldn’t forgive them for if they were truly remorseful. I want to take you on a little journey in scripture for a moment and look at someone who did what might be considered the unthinkable.

Let’s visit a Shepard boy turned King by the name of David. This story can be found in 2 Samuel chapter 11. The whole of this chapter regales what happened so I encourage you to read it for yourself. But here we will discuss the points of interest. So here we have King David who already had a few wives but saw Bathsheba on a roof top and decided he wanted her as well. Now Bathsheba was already wed to Uriah. However, David paid no attention to that fact. He sent for Bathsheba and as the people were obedient to the King, she came to him. Verse four says that he “took” her. Translation— he raped her.

Then to make matters worse, she reports back to David that she is pregnant. So David’s quick thinking jumps into action and he sends for Uriah to come to him. When Uriah gets there, David begins to shoot the breeze with him; So, Uriah… how’s things? How is everyone doing, how is the war going? David is simply making small talk to put Uriah at ease.

The King then tells him; Hey you really need to just go on home, wash up, have a hot meal, and spend some time with your wife. Translation— go home and lay with your wife so it can look like she got pregnant with YOUR child. But noble Uriah tells David; No way could I go home to hot food, a clean bed and my wife waiting for me in that bed while the King’s men and all the treasures of the nation are at risk, I’m staying right here at the King’s home to protect it along with the other men. I get a mental picture here of David face-palming as his plan was foiled. Then King David invites Uriah to eat and drink and stay with the King. David gets Uriah drunk thinking he will certainly go home now and be with his wife. After all, he’s drunk! Nothing doing. Uriah remains with the men. The King has had enough of his plans to cover up his sin getting messed up. Now he means business.

The King puts a direct order in writing to one of the chief soldiers to put Uriah on the front lines of the war and move everyone else back. He even had Uriah himself hand deliver his own death sentence to this soldier not knowing what the letter said. WHAT! Now that’s gutsy! This soldier still tried to do what he could to help Uriah. He put him on the front lines as he was commanded but he placed him where he knew there were valiant men in hopes that Uriah might have a fighting chance. However, Uriah did not survive the battle. King David has now taken another man’s wife knowing full well she was married and raped her. He’s gotten her pregnant and tried to make it out to be her husband’s baby and then ultimately has him killed. Hmm, I don’t know about you but that seems quite sinful.

Oh, dear friends this story is not over. Next week I will share the rest. Fasten your seatbelts because King David isn’t done with his scheming yet. But there is also hope yet to be discovered. Join me back at my table to discuss the rest of this amazing story. My prayer is that you will find encouragement at the end of it.

P.S. I thought it befitting to talk about this man who died in battle serving his country this week. However, I must share with you that this wasn’t my initial intent when I wrote it. After I read it back, the Lord pointed this fact out to me. God is amazing like that. Blessings on your week and I’ll see ya soon!

 

Can I just be a canvas?

When I see a blank canvas, I see possibility. Any picture that someone could think of can be painted on a clean white space. A beautiful sunrise, a breath-taking mountain view, or an ocean front sandy beach. The possibilities are endless.

I believe that we are types of canvases— human canvases if you will.

The pictures painted on us are usually dictated by our experiences. If we have good things going on in our lives, we may have colors of sunshine yellow, radiant blue, glittery green… you get the idea. If we have had bad, even horrible things happen, our canvas will have colors of black, gloomy gray, lifeless brown… again, you get it. We don’t always get to choose what scene goes on our canvas, but we can choose to change the colors that are being used to paint with.

The colors on my canvas have changed over the years. Growing up with blindness has put those dismal colors of black, gray, and brown on the pristine white backdrop. Feeling that I would never have a “normal” life. (See my post titled It’s ok to be you) It made me feel that my colors would always be just varying hues of those gloomy shades. Feeling like no one would be able to bring vibrant colors into my life because after all, who wants a girlfriend who is “broken”? But then someone did come into my life! Oh, how I loved the joy he brought to my empty life. He began painting on my canvas with colors of red, pink and purple. You know, all of the “love” colors. But as our relationship progressed, those colors turned to black and blue. He broke my bones in my left ear and he broke my heart. He took my confidence and simply dumped and splashed colors of darkness onto my canvas. I wanted so desperately to wash away those colors. But it was a bit like trying to wash off dried paint from the wall. I couldn’t just wipe it away. It needed to be painted over.

As I had changes in my vision that left me feeling like it would never stabilize, there was the colors of bright yellow mixed with gloomy gray. I wasn’t sure how my painting was going to look with all the competing hues. I began to put a coating over my canvas that the colors couldn’t penetrate. I could simply remove the protective coating, throw it away, and put on a new one.  But that left me with no real connection to anyone or anything. Just surface relationships, conversations, and a topical spiritual life. I didn’t really have a spiritual life until my twenties but it had no depth to it even when I did accept God into my life.

The bullies throughout my school years, the people who looked at me with pity as an adult, and even friends who treat me with just a little too much mothering, have all painted on my canvas. My wonderful God-fearing supportive husband and my two loving awesome kids have also painted on my canvas. But when I finally let God paint on my canvas, I found that I could remove that protective coating and let Him paint on the porous surface of the white canvas and let the colors seep into me. The colors are so much more vibrant and bold. God’s colors are not like any other colors that we see. My vision prevents me from identifying colors correctly, but let me tell ya… I see His colors. I know when I’ve let God paint on my canvas or when I’ve let people do the painting. The cool thing is, no matter what colors I’ve had painted by bad or hurtful experiences, God is right there with His paint pallet, ready to paint over the mistakes.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time, also He has put eternity into man’s heart yet that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” God has a perfect plan for each of us and a perfect time to carry out that plan. Each plan has a color and when they are all put on our canvas in the right place at the right time… WOW! What a masterpiece. Oh friends, let God paint on the canvas of your life. It will be a priceless work of art!

 

 

My Mother’s Day Gift to Myself

Hi all! Welcome back to my table. I hope all you moms had a beautiful Mother’s Day! I surely did. It was very low-key, just the way I like it. I slept in a little bit and then had my hot beverage down on my sun porch. I turned on my Alexa to a lovely nature sounds and music playlist and opened the word of God.

I thought it befitting (albeit a little cliché) to read about the Proverbs 31 woman. Oi, she can kinda make us ladies feel inferior huh? Well that’s how I can feel sometimes after reading about her perfect, got it all together life. She’s prepared, she’s efficient, she’s organized… all the ways that I often fall short. I sometimes read about her and feel a little jealous, do you? I go so far as to recommit to being more like her starting tomorrow morning. Then the alarm goes off and I rise with the determination to have a hot hardy breakfast on the table and by the time the breakfast dishes are done, I’m wanting a break. I don’t want to even think about planning dinner yet. Now I do make out a menu for the week for shopping purposes. But I feel a little drained from trying to be Miss Proverbs 31.

However, I chose to revisit her this Mother’s Day and rather than being jealous of her, I decided to learn from her ONE   STEP   AT  A   TIME! I think that’s better for me to do instead of looking at ALL the things she’s doing well. I’ll take the first thing and work on that. The first thing Miss Proverbs does is to be a trustworthy wife: “the heart of her husband trusts in her,” (Prov. 31;11. I will strive to be the kind of wife my husband can trust his heart to.)

I want to make Miss Proverbs my mentor instead of my measuring stick. I want to glean from her, not to be mean to her. Can’t we do that sometimes? We actually accuse her of being “Miss Perfect”. Well at least I’ve done that before.

As I choose to gift myself with learning from Miss Proverbs, I pray you will join me in that. Let’s just take the first attribute that is given and focus on that. Don’t do what I’ve done before and complain to a friend, your mother, or even the dog about how dissatisfied you are with your spouse. Instead make a list of all the good things about him. I will be talking more about Miss Proverbs and what I’m learning from her. I have had life changing run-ins lately that have made me step back and realize that I’m needing guidance from Miss Proverbs and lots of other people in the bible.

The true gift is coming to a point of saying “I don’t have it all together and I don’t know everything about parenting or being a wife.”  My blindness tries to fool me into thinking that because I can’t see very well that I can “see” things better than a lot of people (Insert mental image of me face palming here). It’s ok to know where God has gifted you, in fact we are supposed to know. If we didn’t, how would we ever know we were using our gifts? But it’s knowing them with humility that’s the key. Understanding that we can always learn from someone else a new and/or better way to do something. Yes, we can even learn from our kids (OOOOHH, THAT ONE STINGS A LITTLE). But it’s all part of this journey I’m on and seeking to bring others along with me is being ok with me.  Knowing that there is nothing wrong with me but I can always learn and grow. So, gift yourself with a Mother’s Day gift of allowing yourself to be taught by someone else. It doesn’t mean you don’t know how to do anything on your own, it’s knowing yourself and loving yourself enough to realize it’s time to learn and grow some more.