Sunday, March 28, 2010

Emotional Freedom

I have been skimming through the old journals, and I came across this entry from August of 2003.  At the time, I was just emerging from another one of my bouts with depression, one that almost destroyed me.  I was enrolled in a Beth Moore study which was certainly no coincidence.  God set me up, and He used her teaching to heal me:
 8/4/03—Several days ago, as part of my “Breaking Free” homework, I read this:

"Sometime in the midst of my morning time with God, I ask Him to satisfy all my longings and fill all my hollow places with His lavish, unfailing love. This frees me from craving the approval of others and requiring others to fill my “cup.” Then, if someone takes the time to demonstrate his or her love to me, that’s the overflow! I am free to appreciate it and enjoy it, but I didn’t emotionally require it! See how the love of God that permeates the life through His Holy Spirit brings freedom? Not only am I freed, I am able to free others from having to boost me up emotionally all the time. Hallelujah! Where the Spirit of the Lord’s lavish love is, there is freedom!!" (Beth Moore in Breaking Free).

This is a revelation to me. It has changed me forever. I’m free!

I tried it—He really does fill me up when I ask! All the way to my toes if I need it! Thank you God!
I share this because it's even a more mind-boggling revelation to me now than it was then.  It has changed me forever.  God really does fill that longing in my heart; He provides all my needs, even the emotional ones. 

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Tide is Coming In

Continuing to pull from my journal, here is an entry from 1998, when I went to North Carolina with my friend, Melanie during that summer. We spent a week on North Myrtle Beach, which is actually in South Carolina. The picture of the beach is the actual picture I took that morning.

An entry from June 24, 1998 —Weds—The week of the beach (N. Myrtle, So. Carolina) is ½ over. God woke me up early (5:45) so I got up and walked on the beach. Sunrise was beautiful. I took pictures.

I was walking along and I noticed the tide was coming in. The Lord showed me something in that. I don’t know if I can put it into words. Waves come in on top of each other. Before one could reach me, 4 or 5 more were breaking, one right after another. I noticed there were hundreds, thousands of shells and shell fragments. Much more than when the tide is out. I believe He was saying that blessings will come like that, and I will have more than I can contain. Just like the high tide is in God’s timing, so are His blessings for me. All my needs are being met, but the desires of my heart are yet to come in His time.

The tide is coming in. Praise the Lord!

My Testimony

I recently became aware that I don't really have my testimony on here.  I thought I did.  I've been very selective as I pull entries from my actual journal (which I have all typed into a word document...yes, I'm a little ocd, ok?).  Anyway, here goes with the testimony.

I was raised in church.  I did all the "churchy" stuff; I went to Sunday school, attended Vacation Bible School every summer, and went to youth camp as a teenager.  I knew exactly how to "do church."  After many years of going through the motions, I convinced myself I was a Christian. I can remember trying really hard to please everyone and do the right stuff so they would all be happy.  I never felt I measured up; and I was right.  I was trying to bridge the gap between God and me by being good enough, and that just isn't possible.  I was lost.

I won't elaborate on the many years I went on like this, but basically, it went on for years.  I married at the tender age of 18 and had all three of our wonderful kids by the time I was 27.  We tried to stay in church, but it was very hard, and I know I was unsaved, which was part of the problem.  Looking back, I'd venture a guess that my husband was, too. Because of my upbringing, I knew that our kids needed to be in church.  I was drawn there, and I know now it was the Holy Spirit convicting me and drawing me to Christ.  Eventually though, by the time the oldest was a teenager, we had pretty much stopped going. Great timing to drop out of church just about the time the kids reach their teens.

In 1993, my 13-year-old daughter was invited to Disciple Now, a youth retreat held over a weekend, at a local church.  As a result of this, she was saved and I started going with her to that church.  My life didn't change immediately, though.  Even though I was finally in church, I was still walking in darkness in my heart.  I had been depressed for a long time and was very unhappy. I know now that satan had built a stronghold of depression and fear in my heart.   I had deluded myself into thinking that I was ok.  I justified every sinful and selfish thing I did.  I was never "out there;" into drugs or alcohol, but I might have seen my sinfulness if I had been.  Instead, I didn't realize I needed saving.  After all, I had been raised in church;  I had a Godly heritage.  In addition to this, my marriage was in deep trouble; my husband and I barely spoke. I stayed heartbroken over the situation most of the time; one of the reasons I was so depressed.

It all came crashing down on October 31, 1994. That particular morning, I had come home at daybreak after working all night at Walmart.  In those days, department managers reset the counters for the next season after the store closed at 9:00.  I had to reset my department for Christmas since it was Halloween.  I tried to sleep after my husband left for work and the kids went to school, but even with black trash bags over the windows it was hard to sleep.  I was so convicted about my life and how I had been living, going through the motions of Christianity but not actually willing to turn control over to God.  In short, I was miserable. I slept 3 or 4 hours and finally got up about noon.

I went into the living room and just fell down on the floor. Something broke in me and I just started crying out to God.  I had made a complete mess of my life trying to be in charge, and I finally saw my need for a Savior. The Word I had been hearing at the church I had been attending for a year did not return void, but was at work in me all that time.  I saw the truth at last, and I was so ashamed that I had rejected Jesus' sacrifice all those years.  So many wasted years!  I asked Him to forgive me and I received Jesus as my Savior right then and there.  I laid there crying for close to an hour I guess, brokenhearted.  As I later journaled:

"October 31, 1994:  This was the day that I laid the broken pieces of my life at the feet of Jesus. He was so real to me that day, alone in my house, that I could almost see Him standing in my living room. Having been in pain emotionally for a number of years, I asked Him to fill my heart with His love, because I felt no one really loved me. I asked Him to fill my cup, as I lifted it to Him, until it overflowed with His love. I asked for Him to fill me with the Holy Spirit and use me somehow in His work.  The results continue to amaze me...God has allowed my pain & hurt, BUT—now I listen to Him. I probably wouldn’t have if I had lived the “perfect life” I wanted.  He is molding me so He can use me..."

I would love to tell you that everything was rosy and perfect in my life after that, but it wasn't.  I did have the peace of God finally, and by His grace I got through some very dark days in the next few years.  My brother died suddenly in Dec.1995, my mother died three months after him, and in 1997, my marriage ended in spite of my best efforts.  I can see now that only because I was trusting in Jesus could I have survived those days; His grace truly was--and IS--sufficient for me. 

I have never been the same...thank God!  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Did I ever mention that I bought a house? I did. I am a homeowner. After renting an apartment for twelve years, eleven of them in the same apartment, it was time.  It was quite a journey, from being newly divorced and working two jobs to make ends meet in 1997 to buying a house in October 2009.  God really did a work there.  Not only did He have to get me through some really rough stuff financially, especially in those early days, He had to convince me that I was capable of whatever He put in my heart to do--with His help of course. Anyone who knows me very well knows that I have not exactly exhibited an abundance of self-confidence.  That said, just know that my buying a house is a BIG DEAL.

God had been dealing with me for months before I even started house-hunting.  He urged me to start packing up Jeff's room; a good place to start since I obviously didn't use Jeff's stuff. Actually, Jeff didn't even use his stuff, since he moved to Virginia without the two six-foot bookshelves full of books (yes, he has that many books) and a closet full of clothes. That in itself is a story for another blog.  So, I began carting books to storage, even before I was officially looking for a house.

After months of searching, I found the right house and closed on the deal.  I became a homeowner.  Now if I could just stop shaking long enough to move.  Why was I shaking?  Oh, I forgot to mention:  I was terrified to move. I was so scared of living in a house.  My little second-floor apartment had been home to me for eleven years, and it was my comfort zone. I shifted into high gear: I started really packing and moving. A really good friend and her husband and sons helped me all day on a Saturday, and I was in.  I had wall to wall boxes, but I was moved in.

That night after everyone was gone, I collapsed on the couch to rest and watch a little TV before bed.  I hadn't been afraid yet.  Hmm, that was strange.  It had been in the back of my mind all day, the fact that everyone would leave and I would be there all alone in a strange house.  As I sat there on the couch mulling this over, I heard the sounds of a group of children next door, having a lot of fun at their Halloween party. Ah, how nice.  It made it seem like a friendly, safe neighborhood. 

Wait a minute...Halloween?  Was the date really October 31?  At that precise moment, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My first night to stay in my new house was October 31.  Unbelievable.  In case you haven't read some of my earlier blogs, this just happens to be my spiritual birthday.  I was radically saved on October 31, 1994, all alone in my living room.  It was a very dramatic "about face" for me.  I truly turned 180 degrees, from running away from God and all that He stood for to running into His loving arms and repenting.  I have never been the same.

As it began to sink in that God had purposely arranged for my first night in my house to be that particular day, peace enveloped me.  It occured to me that I was not afraid. I was sitting on my couch, just in awe of Him and praising Him for doing that for me, when He clearly said to me that He gave me this house, and He wouldn't put me in harm's way.  If  He gave it to me, which He did, then He was already here and He made it a safe place for me to dwell.

I love it when the God of the universe goes to the trouble of doing something that will be very special to me.  He knew that it would give me peace to know He did that for me. It's home sweet home because He picked it out and was already here when I got here.  My Father is awesome!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Whom Shall I Fear?

"The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident..." (Psalm 27:1-3).

This is just on my heart tonight.  This girl is no stranger to fear; we got to know each other very well over the years.  However, fear has been evicted from my home and my heart.  It has no place here now, because God set me free from fear. I'm not saying I am never afraid, but it doesn't control me anymore.  Whenever it tries to get back in, I quote scriptures until it goes away.  Scriptures like:

"When I am afraid, I will trust in you." (Psalm 56:3).

"The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 118:6)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Tim. 1:7)

I have literally walked through the house quoting these and others that the Holy Spirit brought to mind, and peace just settles over me like a blanket. 

I don't know if this is for someone or just for me.  I just really felt I had to share it.

"For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD." (Psalm 27: 5-6)

Blessings my friends!