Friday, February 17, 2017

Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

The title of today's blog is a verse that I read years ago,  Proverbs 13:12:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (biblegateway.com)

This verse really jumped out at me when I read it because that was exactly how I felt at the time. I was heart sick. And not just a minor little cold, either. My heart had the flu. I think my heart is still a little feverish, although I am now on the mend. 

To get a fuller understanding of this verse, I looked up the meaning of the word deferred on Google. 

de·fer1
dəˈfər/
verb
past tense: deferred; past participle: deferred
  1. put off (an action or event) to a later time; postpone.

    "they deferred the decision until February"

    synonyms:postponeput off, delayhold over, hold off (on), put back; More
    shelvesuspendstayput over, table;
    informalput on ice, put on the back burner, back-burnerput in cold storage,mothball

First of all, I must point out how hilarious the synonym "mothball" is to me. It makes me picture my heart tucked away in a ceder chest packed in mothballs for another day.  

But, the word that I think is most accurate is the word "postpone."   There are things that I have hoped and prayed for that I have not seen an answer to. In fact, the more I prayed for certian things, it seemed that the answer I was looking for was pulled further and further out of my grasp. It seemed to me that instead of being "postponed," my dreams were crushed and placed into a casket, then buried six feet under. My hope was completely destroyed. 

I had a bit of an emotional breakdown a year ago December. That is the day I realized my marriage was truly over. I had prayed practically every day for years for it to work out. I had many nights that I just laid in bed and cried, asking God to please fix what was broken. But now I am getting a divorce. I won't go into every detail of what happened for privacy sake. I do need to keep some parts of my life to myself. But, now he is living in Texas and the kids and I are here in Louisiana. 

How's that for an answered prayer. I was angry at God for a long time. God let me down, I'd thought. 

Lately, over the past few months, I have been working on building back the relationship with my Lord, and it has been a difficult journey, but so very worth it. I prayed and was honest with Him about how I felt. I told him I was angry and that I didn't understand why things worked out the way they did.  I cried and He surrounded me with His presence. 

Then last night at church, our children's pastor, Dana, taught in the regular Wednesday night adults service. She touched my heart. Deep. Like the lying on the floor crying at the end of service type of deep. And it wasn't just a few little tears. This was a real, snot pouring out of my nose, ugly cry. The kind of cry that made my kids ask me why I looked funny when I picked them up out of their class after church. 

The passage that Pastor Dana spoke about was Mark 5:21-43, which is the story where Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood while he is on the way to heal 12 year old girl who is dying. Jarius, the girl's father came to Jesus, begging him to come visit his daughter so that she could be healed. Jarius witnessed Jesus healing the woman with the issue of blood and in that moment, his faith that Jesus could heal his daughter was confirmed. However, the in the next moment, Jarius received word that his daughter had already died. This news crushed him and stole his hope away. Hope. There's that word again.

David was very familiar with hopelessness and wrote about it in Psalm 142. King Saul went quite insane and tried to kill David. David had to hide in caves for I'm not sure how long, but I know that if it was me, I would begin to lose hope that I would ever live in civilization again. Samuel had told David when he was a young boy that he would grow up to be king of Israel one day. Living in caves is about the farthest thing from living in a castle that you can experience. David cried out to God and never lost faith in Him, but his hope grew thin. God eventually restored his promise to David, but the guy had to go through a lot to get there.

Anyways, back to this Jarius guy. Jesus overheard someone from Jarius's house telling him to forget about bringing Jesus, that there was no hope now that the girl is dead. So Jesus cuts in and tells Jarius, "Do not be afraid, only believe."  Jesus leads Jarius and his crew back to their home and tells the crowd not to worry, that the girl is only asleep. This actually gets a few laughs from the greiving household. True to his word, Jesus raises the girl from the dead back to life, and Jarius's hope is restored, as well as his daughter's life, and his family. So many things are restored by this one girl coming back to life.

Pastor Dana went on to tell us that Jesus himself has experienced hopelessness and lonliness. When Judas betrayed him and Jesus was arrested, his own disciples abandoned him. Then when he was hanging on the cross, he experienced the feeling of his own Heavenly Father turning away from him, removing his spirit from him. That right there is what got me. Cut me down to the core. I am not alone. My Jesus has felt as lonely and hopeless and I have in my own life. He understands and can comfort me because he knows what it is like first hand. Jesus is my hope. He is here and he is Hope. 

Things in life may seem hopeless, but don't lose faith. Hold on to Him and He will bring you through it. It may not feel like it sometimes, but don't trust your feelings and emotions. This is something I have to remind myself quite often. Trust in Jesus rather than emotions and you will be placed on a straight path. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. That means that it does take work to have a relationship with him, but he will give you the strength that you need to keep going. Take heart, My Love. You will make it. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Yesterday I wrote about sin and today my reading in Psalm is about forgiveness! Isn't God so good!! 

Psalm 32

Of David. A maskil.[a]

Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.[b]
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Lowdown Dirty Sinner


Matthew 26:14-46

14 At that, one of the twelve, Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests.
Judas Iscariot: 15 What will you give me to turn Him over to you?
They offered him 30 pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment, he began to watch for a chance to betray Jesus.



Judas watched for a chance to betray Jesus. For some reason, this verse really jumped out at me today and got me thinking. I guess in the past I felt a little bit sorry for Judas, the disciple who fell into temptation and was responsible for the death of the Savior. I kind of had a picture in my mind if the pharasees coming to him and tempting him with money. Now, I am not a Bible scholar by any neans, so I may be wrong in my assumption here, but today when I read this verse I realized that the betrayal of Judas was very premeditated. He went to the Chief priests and watched for the perfect chance to hand Jesus over to them so that Judas could earn himself some money. Yeah, I am starting to feel less sorry for the guy.  Like, not sorry at all. A little disgusted, really. 

But then, I have done things which have not honored God. Every time I sin, I am just as guilty as Judas. I have done things that i knew were wrong, and I even told God in prayer that I knew they were wrong, but I did them anyway. I premeditated my sin Just as Judas premeditated the betrayal. That is so low and dirty. That is who I am. A lowdown dirty sinner. I don't deserve a single blessing. 

But Jesus. 

For some strange reason, Jesus still loves me. I am not sure why. I have treated him like dirt many times in my life. But he still welcomes me with open arms when I come to him. When I pray and thank him for the blessings he has given me, I still feel his presence wash over me. 

Judas felt horrible for what he had done, and unfortunately he made a choice to end his life, but I think Jesus would have forgiven him. Jesus came to this earth to die for our sins and Judas was the tool that God used, and I truly don't think he would have done of it he would have known it would have resulted in the death of Jesus. 

If you are a lowdown dirty sinner, Jesus still loves you and wants to welcome you with open arms. All you have to do is ask. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Like a Child

biblegateway.com sends me an email every day with verses from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. It is the plan that allows you to read the entire Bible in a year. I have been a Christian almost my entire life and I am ashamed to say I have never read through the entire Bible. I have started other reading plans many times over the course of my lifetime, but have never successfully finished because I would forget to read for a few days, then try to go catch up and get discouraged. I like biblegateway.com because all of the verses are laid out for you in one place.

No, this is not a commercial, I do not get any money for endorsing their website. I just really like it. I have decided that this year, I am going to take control over this area of my life and make it happen. I have created a better morning schedule for myself so that I have time to read my daily Bible readings.

Another reason I have fallen behind in my reading in the past is that I get bogged down in the sections of the old testament that I either don't understand or that are just plain boring. Now, I know that doesn't sound very spiritual, but yes, I will admit that some parts of the Bible bore me to tears. So for these sections of the Bible, I am going to still read through them, but I am going to keep my expectations low. I may not understand them now, but I am hoping that if I keep reading that it will sink into my dense little brain at least a little bit.

Please don't get me wrong, I love to read the Bible and there are so many places of the Bible that have spoken to me and that I have learned so much from! But, there is still so much that I really dont get.

As my own kids are learning how to read, they don't always understand every book they read, but I encourage them to keep reading books so that they will gradually get better at it and gain more understanding by pressing on. I am treating myself as a child learning to read. I may not understand everything I read, but if I am diligent in the practice of daily Bible reading, over time more of it will hopefully make sense. If God can perform many amazing miracles, then He surely can allow me to have more understanding of His word. That will truly be a miracle in my life!!

I really don't have any particular reason for writing all of this, other than to just get my thoughts out and share them. I am hoping that this encourages at least one person to read their Bible. It really is an amazing book. I am planning on making my blog into a sort of commentary of what I read every day and what God is teaching me through it. I learn best by writing about what I read, and hopefully it will encourage someone in the process. It will be like reading my own personal journal!

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Pit

As someone who had struggled with depression for most of my life, I really relate with this passage from Psalm 30.

1 I praise You, Eternal One. You lifted me out of that deep, dark pit
and denied my opponents the pleasure of rubbing in their success.
2 Eternal One, my True God, I cried out to You for help;
You mended the shattered pieces of my life.
3 You lifted me from the grave with a mighty hand,
gave me another chance,
and saved me from joining those in that dreadful pit.

4 Sing, all you who remain faithful!


I have always thought of depression as a pit, so when I read this today, it made me realize that I am not the only one that feels that way. David in the Bible, thousands of years ago, felt that way also!  Keeping my eyes focused on Jesus has been the only thing that has kept me out of depression.

Yesterday, I wrote about walking on water and avoiding focusing on the waves. I have had so many waves overtake me since I was a little kid. I didn't know how to handle them, so I internalized and kept it all buried deep down. That was my pit. It kept me prisoner so that all I could see were the problems and not The Solution. But, what I didn't realize was that He was sitting right there next to me in the pit, just waiting for me to look at Him. I struggled trying to find a way to dig myself out of the pit without help. It wasn't until I came to Him and asked for His help that I was lifted out into His firm foundation.

It started with praise and thankfulness. I began to just focus on Him and thank him for all of the good things in my life. My kids. A roof over my head. Air in my lungs. A bed to sleep in. No matter who you are or what is going on in your life, you have SOMETHING to be thankful for. Even if you only have one thing to be thankful for, thank Him and give him the credit for that one thing. That is the first step for getting out of the pit. Your own personal pit may not be depression like it was for me, but if there is something in your life that makes you feel like a prisoner, you can escape!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The First Day



I have never liked the phrase, "today is the first day of the rest of your life", because in reality, every day is the first day of the rest of your life. Yet, here I am in a position where that phrase is exactly what fits my life. You see, I have been waiting for my life to be perfect before I start writing again. I started this blog many years ago, and I knew it was exactly what I needed to do. I am a writer. That is how I process things. I love to type out my feelings, or better yet, I absolutely love the feel of that perfect pen gliding along the paper of my journal as I write out my emotions.  But then life got hard and I put just about all of my writing aside except for occasional journal writing.

Today I was challenged to use my talents and abilities that I know I need to be using. I think about writing every day. I know that I have a deep rooted need to write, but I get so busy with my life so I don't do it. It just gets put aside. Today I am challenging myself to make time to do it. Today my life is so very not perfect. It is so far from perfect I don't know if I could see perfect with binoculars.

I am a single mom with four kids. I live with my parents. I am getting divorced from a man I was married to for almost 20 years. After we were separated for several months,  I fell in love with a man who lives two hours away. That relationship didn't work out, so here I am starting life over yet again. So, here goes. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. And I am in control of my life... no, wait I am so very not in control of my life. I am trying for the first time to actually let Jesus have control of my life.

Ok, before you judge and say that I should have already let Jesus have control of my life years ago, let me explain. I have given Him control of my life many times, but I keep taking it right back. You do the same thing. Don't deny it. You pray, but then you go about your life changing nothing. I know because I do the same thing. I pray and tell Jesus about all my troubles.  That is what I called giving Jesus control. But what I am learning now more and more is that I have still been focusing on my problems.

Three years ago, I wrote about Peter walking on water, so I love that I have come full circle and God is still teaching me the same lessons. He has put this passage on my heart again. First of all, it is amazing that Peter walked on water. People focus on the fact that he fell, but the fact that he stepped out of the boat is amazing.

One day last week, I read this passage and I was wondering how it was possible for a man to actually walk on water. I still have way too much baby weight from my four pregnancies and I am very buoyant, but there is no way I could ever walk on water. I am going to fall into the water no matter how much I try to walk. So how did Peter do it?

First, Jesus told him to do it. I don't think every person can walk on water in every circumstance, but I believe with my whole heart that if Jesus tells you to do something, he is going to create a situation where you will step into a firm foundation. Jesus is your foundation. It doesn't matter where you are, you can always rely on Jesus to catch you if you obey Him.

How did Peter have a foundation in water? Water is liquid, there is no substance to hold any human no matter what their size or weight. So where did the substance come from to hold him up? Faith.

Hebrews 11:1

11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Peter had no doubt that when Jesus told him to step out of that boat, the water would hold him. Except it wasn't really the water holding him, it was the foundation of Jesus Christ through faith. His faith in Jesus became the substance that held him up in the water.

As long as his eyes were focused on Christ, that foundation was strong. As soon as he looked away, the foundation on which he was standing vanished and he fell. That is where I have been. I have been living my life in the boat, telling at Jesus about these huge waves all around me, but as soon as I step out, I keep focusing on the waves instead of Jesus and so therefore the foundation of faith that should be supporting me is nonexistent and I fall immediately upon stepping out of the boat.

My goal is to become so focused on Jesus that I have a firm foundation to live my life upon. He can give me stability in the middle of the sea in a storm, as long as I keep my eyes focused on him. I am not 100% there yet, but I am trying. But, my love, if I take my eyes off of him, he is right there holding out his hand to pull me back up. He is there for you, too. It doesn't matter who you are, what you have done, he is there for you and he loves you.

So make today the first day of the rest of your life. You can do that every day. Every day, you can make a decision to keep your eyes on him. It has to be a daily decision, sometimes hourly. Waves get huge and scary, and it is so tempting to gawk at them,  scream and cry, or run back to the safety of the boat. But, He is always there with open arms waiting to welcome you with love. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Mac N Cheese

Tonight is the first night of alone-ness.  All four of my kids are at “Grandma Camp” for the week and my husband is not feeling well so he went to bed at about 6 o’clock.  So here I am all by myself.  I can’t remember the last time this has happened.  I can actually touch the remote! What??!! 

At first I felt a sense of elation.  It happened before I even made it home while I was going grocery shopping without kids.  It only lasted for about 5 seconds, but I felt it! Elation at shopping without kids.  Then I remembered something I forgot at the other side of the store and had to turn my really heavy grocery basket around and the elation left.  But it felt great while it lasted!

After my husband went to bed, I decided to get caught up on watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, but I couldn’t figure out the Xbox controller to turn on my hubby's Xbox because his control has no letters on the buttons.  It took me several minutes of pressing plain silver buttons to sign him out of his Destiny game and find Netflix.  I went back and forth between the same two screens several times. But I finally found my Gilmore Girls!

I got hungry after watching a couple of episodes.  It was 8 o’clock, and I argued with myself for a few minutes about whether I should start cooking at that time, but hey, since I am all alone, why not get crazy and cook some mac n cheese.  So here is were this story really gets interesting.  So, I kind of, ahem, forgot to pay the gas bill and it got cut off, so I couldn’t boil the water for the mac on the stove.  I had to use a burner thing that my mother in law was gracious enough to let us borrow ages ago that I never returned and still had stored up in the top cabinet of my kitchen.  And since the burner thing doesn’t get as hot as the regular stove top, it took about an hour for my water to boil for my macaroni.  I watched the episode of GG where Loralai’s grandmother died and most of the one where Rory goes to spring break before I even saw bubbles.

I was kind of excited to even see some bubbles.  I was beginning to think that this burner thing wasn't going to work after all.  I sat back down to finish watching Rory and Loralai's antics when I was suddenly surprised by complete darkness.  Oh great, the power's out, I thought.  But no, there is a light coming from the coffee maker.  I looked around and only certain lights were out.  That meant it was a breaker. Apparently the burner thing uses too much power to be on the same side of the kitchen as the dishwasher.  I felt around for my phone to use the screen as a light so that I could find the breaker.  I went from one end of the couch where I had been sitting to the other.  No phone.  What did I do with it? I just had it.  I tried several different light switches and, of course, none of them worked.  The bathroom light worked and so did the coffee maker.  But none that would provide a source of light in the bedroom where the breaker box is.  So, I stumbled over toys that my kids 'forgot' to put away before going to Grandma's and barely made it without falling down.  I opened the closet door and felt around in the dark until my hand contacted the cold metal of the box. I remembered that when the breaker blew last time, we flipped one of the bottom breakers and it turned on, so I started from the bottom of the breaker.  Luckily, it was the second to last so it came right on.  Back to the living room.  Oh, there it is! My phone was on the ottoman. 

I finally got the noodles cooked and it was time to make the cheese sauce.  Ok, time out for a second. There is something I need to explain.  I am allergic to wheat so I have to eat completely gluten free. I stopped buying expensive boxes of gluten free mac n cheese years ago because I refuse to pay five dollars for three noodles and a packet of cheese powder. So now I try to make it from scratch, but I am not very good at it so every time I make mac n cheese its an experiment on how to make cheese sauce. Yes, I know, I can look up a recipe online, but what’s the fun in that? Over the weekend, my sister from California and I had a conversation about how to make a good cheese sauce which is probably why I had a craving for mac n cheese.  Except we were talking about how to make queso dip.  Anyway, we disagreed about how to start the sauce.  She told me that it starts with Béchamel. She is absolutely right, except that I am from Louisiana so I start with roux.

    I got the butter out of the fridge and cut off half a stick and threw it into the pan.  I decided it didn’t look like enough so I threw in the other half.  I had a cup of gluten free flour left in the GF Bisquick box after making pancakes last weekend, and it looked like the right amount so I threw that in there to make my roux.  I mixed it in with the butter and it did just fine.  Then I added some milk to make it creamy.  After stirring in the milk, it started looking more like biscuits than roux.  I added a little more milk.  Still looked like a big biscuit.  I ended up adding the rest of the milk that I had in the half gallon jug, which was about three cups.  Now my cheese sauce to macaroni ratio is way off.  All I needed was about a cup of cheese sauce for my noodles, but between the flour and the milk and the fact that it grew like a biscuit, there was about 6 cups of cheese sauce.  So, I removed almost all of the cheese sauce and added the noodles to the remaining sauce. 

The mac n cheese was pretty good.  Tomorrow I think I’ll make some queso.