"Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds . . ." Wm Shakespeare

Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day, Last Post of 2010

So here it is at last. How did I see the old year out and the new year in?? I stayed home, by myself and watched TV, played with the cat and on the computer.

Did it feel bad to be on my own? No, not this year. Oddly enough it was one of the most peaceful New Years Eve's I've spent and oddly enough, this year I had 3 different invitations out to party and celebrate with friends and family.

Being on my own, even in being entertained by the TV and the cat, I was able to do a lot of reflecting on the past year, where I was and where I am now. All in all, though it was a very tough year, a year of many big changes and much disappointment, I am doing so Ok.

Toward the beginning of November I began reading a book that took my Christian world and turned it upside down. It has taken everything I've believed and either enhanced it, made bits of it more real or blew other parts all to bits, nothing left but what God 'really' meant and how I am to live my life in Him.

Do I have it all sorted out? No, not a chance!! But in spite of seeing how much of a scumbag (a.k.a a sinner) I am, there is a rising sense of hope in me that God has His hand on my life and I'm going to make it to the Party at the end of life.

For so many years with one disappointment after another, there were times when I lost my hope that life could be better. Now I've discovered not only does hope still live, but I have a good sense that my life has purpose and God is teaching me so much about living in faith and hope in Him. Will my life finally turn out the way I hope it will? Probably not, because God's agenda for my happiness is much different from mine. But, in reading the book (66 Love Letters), I've found hope that His kind of happiness is way more than having a home of my own, or having financial security or finding that one certain man who will be my best friend. It's deeper, more secure and is not dependent upon these things we believe will make us happy. That is a hope I've never understood before, but now I have become single-minded in my search for God's way of life, the way He created me to live. Everything is second best therefore not worth so much energy in trying to make happen. I plan to take that energy and use it in seeking God and His plans for my life.

What direction is my life going in? I have no idea, but I know God knows and has a plan and that is enough for today! One day at a time eh? But although this path, this direction can seem narrow and rough, it is a path of unprecedented beauty and adventure.

Thanks for walking along this journey with me this past year of 2010 and I'll see you in the New Year of 2011.

God bless you on your own Journey
Girl on a journey of faith and trust . . . . :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Anticipation and Disappointment

Well, here I am contemplating the deep things of life again.

Today I am anticipating eating Duck for my main meal. I've not had Duck since the mid-1970's when it was more affordable than Turkey. Each year I gaze longingly in the freezer bunkers at the grocery stores but turn away when I see the inflated price stickers.

This year, to my absolute delight, I found a price sticker which is totally affordable and I bought it. It's thawing in a sink of cold water as I type this out.

However, I find myself wondering if the actual eating of it will meet the expectation I have for how good it will be, how it will satisfy the longing of years gone past. Or . . . . has the memory increased the anticipation that is unrealistic in proportion to what it will really taste like?

I think this is like life. We dream of events we hope will come to pass, yet find ourselves so often disappointed as time after time things unfold differently than anticipated. More often than not, they are so much 'less than' we hoped for.

I'm beginning to believe this is because we look for deep satisfaction from the surface things of life. We don't look in the right places for our hearts desires to be met.

Such depth of desires can only be met at depth, depth which only God can fill and satisfy. When we look to other people, when we look for possessions, when we look for financial security or when we look anywhere else but to the God who created us to meet those needs, we will be disappointed.

I find this to be such a challenge: how do I see things differently than what is the norm of this life? How do I change my thinking to reflect the truths I'm discovering when what is preached or taught or thought is so self-focused? How is it possible to see things God's way rather than the way of the world when so little is taught that is God's way.

My beliefs and ways of thinking are being so radically challenged and I hope God, through Holy Spirit helps me figure it out because certainly there has been nothing that has met the needs that are way down deep within me. Of all the good and most wonderful things I've experienced, not one has answered that need for "something more". I must then conclude there is nothing on this earth; not wealth, not possessions, and not great and wonderful love apart from God, will ever meet this need, thus I find myself wait on and looking to God to bring that depth of fulfillment and satisfaction. Just what that looks like, I have no idea.

My journey now takes a turn onto the path less trod, it goes off the main highway to a small dirt path winding up and up and up, away from the frenetic path I have thought as the right road. My journey now takes the path of adventure of finding God's way in each step of the trip. Having once thought I was following God and finding out I really was not, this is basically a trip into the great unknown . . . .

God's blessings for you as you find His path for your life.

Girl on a Journey

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Love ~ God's Way

Those of you who know me, know I've been reading Larry Crabb's book 66 Love Letters, a dialogue between the author and God. It goes from Genesis to Revelation with Crabb writing his conversation with God about God's message of Love in each book of the Bible.

To say this book has grabbed my attention would be a severe understatement. It has become my whole soul and spiritual attention, it is almost an obsession as it rambles through my thoughts regardless of any activity I'm involved in.

It follows me in observing others behaviors, it tracks in my mind during conversations I'm involved in and in listening to conversations around me. Questions and understanding revelations going helter~skelter through my mind, like a dual personality. I'm present on the outside to what is going on, but my mind is carrying on this dialogue with God on the inside.

Hard to explain but those of you who can be in a conversation with someone and be thinking of what you will cook for dinner at the same time will totally understand!!

Years ago I read my very first Larry Crabb book called Inside Out. It was life-changing to a degree back then, but I can see it was a very immature beginning to this life lived in and with God.

This book however, is calling for balance between a very loving Father and a most holy and righteous God. It's the balance He wants for each of us and reading it has turned my world Upside Down!

I will make this observation for myself in reading this ~ I would have been plunged into the depths of despair had I not first known, really really known, how deeply I am loved by God the Father. I think for me, reading this book has come at the perfect time for me, for my life at this point in time. I can see this so very clearly and am grateful for it.

This book is not an easy read. It has the potential to challenge the very fabric of your life, as it has mine. Every chapter thus far, I'm at Ezekiel now, has been read a minimum of two times and most of them read three or four. I cannot take it all in with one pass by. I've been writing my observations and questions in my journal. I have pages of questions and more pages of my own dialogue with God. Some of what Crabb writes resonates with my own experiences, but it has generated many other questions and conversations between God and me and it's good.

  • Don't read this book if you like your life as it is.
  • Don't read this book if you don't want a challenge.
  • Don't read this book if you don't want to be uncomfortable.

But . . . .
  • Read this book if more than anything else you want your relationship with God to supersede everything else.
  • Read this book if life has failed to enchant you.
  • Read this book if you are disappointed in life and people.
  • Read this book if present relationships let you down over and over.
  • And, Read this book if you just wonder if there is more to life.

If you decide to read it, take your time, talk to God about it and write down your thoughts and questions.

It is often said in the Bible, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear", this applies to this book also. There are so many things to hear God say, so many truths to see and I hope if you choose to read it, you will give God every opportunity to open your heart and mind to all He has for you.

May God bless you and keep you. May God make His face to shine upon you and give you much heart peace as you walk one day at a time on the Journey of your life.

Girl on a Journey

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tis the Season . . . . again

The end of another year is here once again and this year, as in many years past, I am not where I thought I would be, either in physical location, job or emotionally & spiritually.

Nothing in my life has stayed the same, but for me this is a good thing. I'm not sure if I would even know how to live in one town, in one home for too many years in a row or work at the same job for years at a time. It's just never happened, not since I was 14 years old and we moved out of my birth home, and left my birth town. The longest I've lived in a home is 4 years and that only happened 2 or 3 times.

Regardless where I live, what my job is or where I hang my hat and call home, the changes that mean the most to me are the changes to my character, my emotional well-being and my spiritual growth.

It's true. The older I get the more I realize the truth of Matthew 6:20 - 21 ~ 'but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in or steal, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also'.

I have very few personal possessions now. I gave most of it away, handed down the family heirlooms and purged things that really have no value to me any more. And I'm ok with that.

What I'm keeping for the rest of my life however, is my character, my emotional well-being and my relationship with God, these are the only 'things' I will take with me to the next phase of my life, the other stuff will not. The other stuff is what I will pass to my children and grandchildren, things that mean something to me and will remind them of a time gone by.

So, as I reflect on the past year I know it's been a tough year to walk through, but it's changed me in ways that a life of ease or of getting what I wanted may not have done . . . . and that's ok.

I'm looking forward, with anticipation, to see just how my life circumstances will change in the New Year, but for now . . . . for today, I am content.

Blessings to you as you journey into a brand new year full of change.
Journey Girl

Saturday, December 11, 2010

My Selfish Unfaithfulness to God

This topic has sent me on another quest to discover just how I live that is unfaithful to God . . . . it was and still is a painful journey.

For years I've known that God is to be my source, my provider for all I need, but it seems to be going deeper, it's getting narrower and it's becoming a pinch!

I understand He provides for all my needs, it's the definition of 'need' He has which is so different from what I think I need which is causing all my struggle, which is causing me to doubt at times His love for me, selfishly because I'm not getting what I want, or think I need.

I am beginning to 'get' that He is more committed to changing my character than He is to relieving me of any present challenge. I'm beginning to see that at times my biggest 'need' is to find relief when I'm in a situation I don't appreciate, a place that is painful, lonely, bored or sad.

So where does the unfaithfulness come in . . . . when I'm lonely and I'll do just about anything to find relief. When I'm bored I want relief so what do I do?? I fill my time with mindless playing about on the computer, watching TV or eating something, even if the 'something' is healthy but I'm eating to lessen the pain of loneliness or boredom. I seek out other people to find relief of loneliness. When I'm sad or lonely, I'll first think of 'who can I call, what can I do?' I use people to assuage my need more than I go to God, how selfish is that?

People use drugs, cigarettes, porn, sex, reading books to escape, partying, watching TV and other people to find relief from the difficult and painful situations we find ourselves in. We date and marry others, one of the most important life-changing decisions we will ever make and our motivation is often to find relief for whatever our need is; financial security, loneliness, that deep desire to be loved by a special person etc. We use other people for our selfish need to find that relief.

In a marriage we vow to love one another through better or worse, through sickness and health, for richer or poorer until death we part. I'm beginning to see when I look to other people to find relief from the above kind of situations, I am being unfaithful to God who has said He will meet my need.

I am unfaithful when He says 'no' and I turn away from Him.
I am unfaithful when He says 'wait' and I go ahead to provide it for myself.
I am unfaithful when He doesn't provide as I expect Him to, and go looking to get what I want.
Or worse still, I try to manipulate God into relieving me of any current situation which is causing me pain or pressures me in some way. In fact, the whole attitude of striving for relief and comfort is pretty big in my life and that is very disheartening to discover.

If I liken this to
being faithful in a marriage, what if every time my spouse did not meet my 'need' or didn't give me what I wanted, and I then go looking for another to meet that need? This would be very detrimental to us building a deep, satisfying marriage together. In fact it's one reason, I think a very big reason, why divorce is so prevalent. 'We' don't get out of it what we need, so rather than loving sacrificially and asking God to provide for our needs while still in the marriage, we find a way to 'get out' of it and go looking for someone else who will meet our needs. To me, seeking marriage as a way to having my own needs met is a very bad motivation (I can say this because that was my motivation for a while). I Cor. says Love does not seek it's own, but I want relief from being alone, from not having a companion to enjoy things with, to assuage my loneliness rather than to give and love as Christ loved the church (a topic of discussion too big for this post).

I think I am like a baby who wants to be fed, to have a full belly to feel good, so I cry. I'm like the toddler who wants 'that' toy so I pitch a temper tantrum to get what I want to feel good. I am like any other scenario you can think of which describes someone who wants relief in some way and behaves poorly when they don't get it.

I read the following which says better what I'm trying to say:
“until you fall into the dignity of despair where words about Me mean nothing to you and where service for Me seems futile; until the wisdom that comes easily fails to stir you with hope; until available pleasures, legitimate and illegitimate, moral and immoral, no longer satisfy or even bring more than temporary relief to your empty soul; until whatever wealth you have accumulated, whatever possessions litter your life, whatever achievements decorate your resume, until all of it leaves you with the realization that more will not fill the emptiness in your heart; until time with friends doesn’t energize you as it once did’ until sacrificial deeds of kindness that win the applause of many no longer have the power to help you feel worthwhile; until the drama, passion and activities of church become lifeless and dull; until you have nowhere to turn for the satisfaction for your soul’s desire, not to the Bible, not to prayer, not to music, not to friends, not to church; until all this happens, you will never dance to heaven’s music as I designed you to dance. You will hear not My song of love as clearly and beautifully as I sing it. You will not know that every moment of your life is a perfectly tuned note in the eternal harmony." Larry Crabbe

When everything but God has more importance in my life in meeting my need to find relief to any of my situations, it is being unfaithful to Him, it is turning to someone or something other than Him and that is idolatry.

I want things from this life that most people want or if they have them, take them for granted.
I want my own home again where I can entertain, have my kids and grands over for holiday meals.
I want gardens both vegetable and flowers.
I want a clothes line to hang out laundry (I know, sounds weird).
I want a good husband/marriage relationship.
I want a car that isn't falling apart, bit by bit and isn't held together by the grease and oil that covers it.

I want, I want, I want . . . . selfishly, to bring me relief. But I'm beginning to see they are a temporary fix at best and a trap into more selfishness at worse. I can look back at my life and see it is riddled with decisions that should have made my life easier, better and more pleasing, but in looking back, it did little to satisfy or meet those 'needs'/wants. What it did, that I did not realize till now, was give me a sickening attitude of entitlement and one of 'deserving' and that is so not pleasing to God. (
Please don't misunderstand, I am not against marriage, having friends, having a home and all the things we enjoy in this life, I want them too. What I'm talking about is our motivation to selfishly find relief and above everything else feel good about me.)

But what does God want for me? He is more committed to changing my heart attitude, to changing my character, to making me more into the image of His Son Jesus than He is to giving me a temporary and eventually-dissatisfying relief for my present discomfort.

As Christians, we want the same thing right? We want to be like Jesus. But it's the journey to 'becoming' we find so incredibly difficult and most of the time we are not even aware that the wanting of all these good things is often the hindrance to becoming more like Jesus and to building our relationship with God into a deeper, more intimate and infinitely more satisfying relationship. And, as long as I continue striving to provide for myself, I rob God of the opportunity of providing for me, in a more rich and satisfying way and I rob myself of an opportunity to grow my faith and trust in God.

It's not an easy trip, there are so many roadblocks, some of which I don't even know are tripping me up. I guess I'll just leave it to God to show me them when necessary ~ as He did with this selfish desire to find relief.

Here's to each of us as we travel our own Journey. May the Provider of all our needs draw you closer and be everything you really do need.

Blessings from a Girl on a somewhat-painful-portion of this Journey called life.