Wednesday, July 21, 2010

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast,” 1 Peter 5:10.

Next week, I leave for She Speaks conference and I couldn’t be more excited. I am going there with a high level of expectation. God is working big time and it’s incredible to be included! But, as I’ve been preparing my heart and mind for what I know will be a tremendous learning experience, the enemy has been on the attack, seriously on the attack!

Of course, that’s what happens when we commit to being God’s soldiers – he looks for ways to defeat us. He’ll use self-doubt, struggle, illness, and any number of other jabs, stabs and assaults to try and knock us off our mission. Friends I say this because the past couple weeks have been a big-time attack period. I felt inadequate and not good enough to accomplish anything in the “real world of writing.” I got down on myself for not sticking to my workout regimen and not feeling my best physically. I lost motivation. And, to top it off, I was sick as a dog with no diagnosis and no medicine to treat it. For two weeks I suffered without any sleep – spending every night coughing my head off! I was struggling.

And then. A series of three events/communications came my way that were clearly from God. Strong messages that have strengthened and reassured me that I may be under attack, but I will not be defeated.

Last weekend I was preparing for a busy day at the ballfield. My son’s team had two games, so we were going to be there all day. I was assembling our boatload of supplies: coolers of food and drinks, sunscreen, chairs, blankets, etc. Hurrying around, I was also letting little twinges of doubt creep into my thoughts. How did I think I could handle this calling when I can’t even organize a day at the baseball field? Just then, the dogs needed to go out and they need supervision. I hurried them out, hoping they’d take a minute or two to do “their business” and I could get back to my frantic preparations. Not to be. They putzed, so I sat down on the steps. Something told me to relax, breath in the morning air and pause. As I did, two words entered my spirit. “She Speaks.” At that moment, I cried. I thanked God for clearly reaffirming that yes, He has chosen me for something and I am NOT inadequate.

A few days later, I received a message from a dear friend who has an amazing gift of prophecy. She receives and writes messages that she just knows are for specific people. Her message to me was elegant and beautiful – and clearly another affirmation from my Heavenly Father. Among other things, her note said I am richly blessed and beloved. That God has invited me to His table and a seat of honor has been given to me.

Who wouldn’t just melt upon hearing that? I literally dropped to my knees and thanked God. He knows just what we need, when we need it.

The final piece of this intricate puzzle was an email from Lysa TerKeurst, the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, the organization that puts on She Speaks. The title was “You’re Not the Only One.” It was to reassure those of us preparing to attend the conference that we are all facing trials. Some are struggling with self-doubt, some are stressing over the size of their waistline, some wonder if they are really “good enough” to be called for this purpose. Some, like me, may be struggling with all of these! However, the message was clear. We are all human and struggle with things every day, but Jesus loves us perfectly. His pure, perfect love sees past anything I may consider a flaw. And, by all means, YES, we are absolutely perfect for this calling. God uses everyone who’s willing for His wonderful purpose. That’s all we need to be – willing! Isn’t that a great thought? I don’t need to have the perfect outfit, perfect words or especially perfect abs (thank goodness) to fulfill the call. These are all attacks from the enemy and I’m not taking it and I have told him so!

So, I prepare my heart and mind with a spirit of great expectation and gratitude. I am humbled that God wants to use me for something – to help tell His story. He has a plan and I am a willing and obedient participant. I cannot wait to continue to share this journey and see what He has in store. I’m grateful for everyone who has supported me through prayer, encouragement, kind words and simply by reading my writing. It means the world to me. Blessings and love!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed...’

...Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22

The past few weeks have been quite tough in the health department. I’ve been sick with an unexplained crud (my term) and have not been able to sleep more than 3-4 hours every night. After about 10 days, I went to the doctor. I left with no diagnosis, but three prescriptions that cost a lot to fill. But, I thought, if they help, so be it. After three days, I didn’t feel any better and was even more frustrated. On the doctor’s referral, I went in for a chest x-ray. Two days later, I was told the x-ray was negative. At this point, I’ve been sick for two and a half weeks. I feel like a zombie and have spent hours crying for relief.

The one thing I haven’t done enough of is pray. Sure, at three in the morning, I’ve begged God to take this from me, to give me sleep, any amount is fine, just let me sleep so I can begin to heal. But true prayer, the kind that rejoices even in the face of trial, prayer that is full of faith and hope that no matter what, God is able to change the circumstances in an instant. That kind of prayer has not been part of the conversation, sadly.

This morning, as I waited for yet another call from the doctor’s office, I was fiddling around on the computer listening to music online. Song after song grabbed at my heart and slowly I realized that I needed to release this frustration that I’ve been holding to and give it to Him. That I need to pray earnestly, asking Him to show me His purpose in this situation. So, I prayed. And, as I prayed, I remembered the comments of friends who have warned me to slow down and rest through this. Friends who have said they were praying for me and for my healing.

Through prayer, I realized that I needed to use this time to draw closer to Him. To see that through faith, He can heal anything, physical or spiritual. And my friends’ prayers for me to slow down really tell me that only by taking the time to spend with Him will I find true healing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18

When my husband started a baseball academy a little more than a year ago, he told me that besides teaching young men the way to play the game, one of his other goals was to teach them about integrity and other valuable life lessons about how to conduct themselves. The boys in his organization range in age from 9-12. These are tricky years regardless, and can be even more challenging when you throw in high-level competitive sports.

This past weekend, in the state tournament, the youngest of the crew had the opportunity to learn a tough, but important lesson. The other team was in a situation where a player had to leave due to a family emergency. Unfortunate, yes, but because of the way they had submitted their lineup, that meant an automatic out every time that batter was due up. We pointed it out to the umpire, who enforced the rule. Because of that, the other coaching staff became belligerent, verbally abusive and completely unsportsmanlike. For whatever reason, the umpire decided to favor the other team as a result, leaving our team in an uphill battle. Balls were being called strikes, outs were being called safe – it was messy and ugly and our boys were frustrated. This went on for the final innings of the game, and in the end, our team lost by one run, knocking them out of the tournament.

But, upon reflection and further discussion, what made me incredibly proud was the manner in which our team conducted itself. Our team went out and played its best without questioning or arguing. Our coaching staff (my husband included) was being berated incessantly, but kept their cool and stayed focused. I think because of that, our boys realized they needed to do the same, and did.

Afterwards, the boys asked tons of questions and had even more incidents to relay. But what stood out was that most of the boys I talked with had the game in perspective. None of us had an answer for why they chose to behave that way, we just knew they did. We reminded ourselves that we’re all human and make mistakes. Two things bubbled up for me in my discussion with my son. Since we all make mistakes, we need to find a way to forgive those involved – God is in control of it all, even a baseball game – and things have a way of working out in the long run. And, when we find ourselves on the short end of the stick, how we respond says volumes. Our coaches and team remained calm, patient and focused and while it didn’t give them the win, they got a lot more.

My prayer is that each of us as parents looks at this, and other situations, and take this Scripture to heart. I’ve had to examine my own heart in the past couple days and really pray about the responses I made then and may make going forward. I realize over and over again that our children are looking at us to set the example for their behavior and what I’m modeling matters to their growth.

I believe that the standards my husband runs his academy by are high. And, I believe that because of that, our teams stand out from many in the crowd. The coaches run the teams with integrity and honor. I strongly believe that that life lesson means a great deal more than winning or losing.