Tag Archives: patience

When it never comes….

12 Apr

So I told you at the end of my last post, I had some life-giving words to give.

I did it.

It was not easy.  Well, it was easy but …oh, just let me explain.

It took me a long, REALLY LONG, time to speak these words.

I knew years ago, they needed spoke.  But as I’ve talked before about how to give a real apology, I knew I wasn’t ready yet to not try to justify myself… or include “you hurt me too.”

In my opinion, one of the biggest hindrances to forgiveness is when we try to tackle both people’s issues at the exact same time.  Often what happens is, neither feels their issue was addressed properly and nothing truly gets resolved.

There is a time to tell someone, “you really hurt me when….”  but it’s not the exact same time you’re saying “I’m sorry that I….”

And I wanted to say that first part really badly.

Normally, I’m all about face to face apologies.  There are exceptions.  And in my case for this one situation, it was a letter kind of apology.

It was easy to write.  I did have a lot to ask forgiveness for, and I knew it! God had convicted me a long time ago, and I had repented and asked forgiveness years back.  So, there wasn’t any doubt about what I had done or why I should be sorry about it.

However, what came next was hard.

The waiting.  Knowing the letter had been read, but waiting for some kind of a response.

You never know *if* you will get a response, what it will say, or what it won’t say.  But you have to wait anyway.  We all do.

Best case scenario, you get a quick response, total forgiveness and an apology for what they may have done in or because of the situation.

That doesn’t always happen though.  And then we have to control our emotions and lead our hearts with what we’ll do next.

This might seem silly to some, but I waited 48 hours for a reply, and it felt like eternity.  In that time, I felt very vulnerable and exposed.  It seemed like my raw honesty was being ignored.  Or minimized.  Or maybe even mocked?

I wrestled being hurt or offended. But I was preaching and preaching and preaching to myself… DON’T pick anything up.  This wasn’t about me.  This was about them.  Entirely about them!  I owed an apology.  And I gave a sincere, genuine apology.  If I didn’t hear anything back, that was OK.  I didn’t have to.

The response was very nice.  I was forgiven in full.

Praise Jesus!

Yet, that one last thing was missing… “I know I hurt you too.”

…….

 

Guess what?  It’s OK.  That’s not news to my heart.  I knew that YEARS ago too.  And Jesus is the power to forgive… not simply by the receipt of an apology.

Sure — I believe in apologies.  That’s why I gave one.  But… Jesus’ paid the debt for everyone’s sins.  Mine, theirs, yours… all of us.

I don’t need to require payment to forgive.

I can forgive quickly and fully because Jesus’ has forgiven me of much worse.  He paid my sentence.  He paid their sentence.  IT IS FINISHED.

 

If you’re still waiting for that response, forgiveness, or admission of guilt from someone else….. can you look to the cross this Easter and say:

IT IS FINISHED!

Practical Application:

Am I still being a debt collector? Am I requiring payment that Jesus’ already paid?

If only I learned this years ago….

14 Mar

It’s a common phrase isn’t it?  We’ve all said it.  We’ve all heard others say it.  And we’ve all contemplated how our life would be different if we only knew then, what we know now.

This has never been more true for me than in my marriage.

If I only learned years ago, like 12 years ago, that unconditional respect was a command in Scripture and how to speak and act in a way that was obedient to that command…. my marriage would have been SO different the first 10 years.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have felt like I married an un-romantic dud.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have treated my husband like he was my child.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have thought I was just as much the head of this family as he thought he was.

Maybe, I would have submitted with joy to his ideas instead of insisting that I was always right and so much smarter than he was.

Maybe, my husband would have listened to me more if I was more careful with his feelings.

Maybe, my husband would have talked to me more intimately if he felt safe enough to be vulnerable with me.

Maybe, we would have really been “best friends” instead of just trying to say that we were because it sounded right.

Maybe, my husband would have met more of my needs because he would have felt more fulfilled too.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been tempted to entertain emotional attention from anyone else.

Maybe, I wouldn’t have been so jealous.

Maybe, we would have had lots and lots of hot and passionate sex.

Maybe, we would have learned to enjoy each others hobbies and looked forward to doing things together instead of him appreciating his time away to do his own thing so frequently.

Maybe, we would have served each other selflessly instead of expecting our feelings to trump the others.

Maybe, my husband would have helped me more around the house because he wanted to instead of digging his heals in and ignoring me.

Maybe —- this list could really just go on forever and ever and ever.

This isn’t just the case with my marriage.  I feel this way about a lot of things in my life.  I’d love a time travel machine to do it all over again.

But.

I don’t think entertaining “if I’d only learned this years ago” is where Jesus wants us to camp out with our thoughts.

I certainly won’t take credit for this phrase because I didn’t come up with it… but it’s incredibly true.

Everything we face will either make us BITTER or BETTER.

We can wrestle with the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s in our mind and maybe we don’t feel like at the end of the day we feel “bitter” about it.  We just feel like it would have been such a different life if we’d only known.

Bitter does seem like a strong word when reflecting, however, what if it isn’t as strong as it sounds?  What if, it really does trap us with negative memories when we reflect like that.

Secretly, do we kinda resent some of those situations still? Do we still feel like it was a negative time in our life?

I know that even though I love my husband beyond belief and have totally forgiven him and been forgiven by him for the mistakes we made in the beginning of our marriage— if I sit and really think back on some situations that were really hard in our marriage, I can start to feel hurt again.

There is one memory in particular of a time when I felt devastated.  And this one really bothers me because I didn’t feel like I “deserved” it.

You know what I’m talking about…. there are memories where you can see why he said something mean because you said something mean first.

This wasn’t like that.

In fact, we’ve talked about it numerous times over the years and he has even said the phrase “if that happened today, I would NEVER do it like that again.”

I know he wouldn’t.  And yet, if I dwell on that memory for ANY amount of time, the hurt tries to push back in.

Christianity is all about being intentional.

We don’t “accept Christ” accidentally.  We don’t just miraculously grow closer to Him just by being alive.  We don’t stumble over an open Bible and learn.

And we don’t become BETTER without being intentional either.

What if…. it was a good thing that we didn’t have marriage all figured out before?

Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.  I don’t think we should keep engaged couple uneducated so they can live the wrong way for a long time because that’s better for them.  Of course that is not better at all!!!  We’re crazy if we keep this knowledge to ourselves and do nothing with it to benefit other believers!!!!

But – God wastes ABSOLUTELY nothing when it comes to our lives and experiences.

Walking through failure, especially in marriage, gives us an irreplaceable way to learn patience, forgiveness, mercy, grace and self-control.

Not only does this further our understanding of what Jesus has given us, but it grows our characters in a way to advance the gospel that can be some of the most powerful testimonies ever!

Of course if we never sinned in our marriages, we’d be an awesome example of getting it right and that God’s way is perfect and beautiful.

But getting it wrong gives us the chance to be BETTER and reach couples just like us who also got it wrong and need the truth.

Practical Application:

If only I learned this years ago….. I wouldn’t know forgiveness like I do today.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be able to relate to wives out there who have blown it big time just like me.

If only I learned this years ago…. I wouldn’t be nearly as aware of just what it took for Jesus to take all my sin to the cross.

Of course, getting it right in the first place is best.  But getting it wrong can lead us to a beautiful place of BETTER.

What’s the story on “My Demon” now?

7 Mar

Do you remember the post I wrote titled “My Demon” from September 21, 2012?  I was just over a month into my new respect journey when this revelation kicked me in the gut. (If you’ve joined since then and never caught it, it’ll help to understand this post by reading that one first.)

In fact, that one post was shared on numerous sites (including Peacefulwife – which is when a lot of you who read April’s blog started following this one too!)  I answered a whole lot of emails and comments on this topic because it rang true for just so many of us women.  And it was very evident at the time, I was just “one of you.”  The post wasn’t written by a scholar in the least.  My real, honest emotions and thoughts are what made it relatable to others. And the revelation and wisdom came straight from God – because I’d lived 10 years of marriage at that point (and 29 years of life) running wild with the thoughts and emotions that presented themselves at any given time. And never knew any different.

April sent me an email and asked me what I thought about writing a follow up to “My Demon” – 18 months later.

Here is a sentence from her email:

“I think it would be neat to hear how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity, what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”

I pretty much immediately told her, “I’ll think about it” while in my mind saying – “No way!”  April’s blog is amazing.  It’s eye-opening, full of brilliant wisdom, insightful, helpful, and pointing out deeply painful but necessary truths to helping women change and save their marriages from a lifetime of misery!  But even more than that — it’s hopeful.  Even the things that are hard to read, are hopeful.  Change can happen, my marriage can be better, I can be a better wife, he can open up and lead as these changes take place — there is HOPE for something new!

And the truth?  I don’t think a follow up to “My Demon” is going to offer the hope April normally posts on her blog.

But — maybe, just maybe, there are women out there who are just like me.  And this post might be for you! So, I’ll answer these questions.

(–  how you hear the demon’s voice now, how often, the intensity)

I still hear my demon’s voice loud as ever and ALL THE TIME! He’s still a raging maniac full of accusations and specifics that beg to be entertained.  He knows me full well, and the areas that I’ve learned to shut down permanently are rarely touched and new areas where he wasn’t attacking before, he’s thrown some boulders at wildly.  He’s no joke.  The closer I grow to my husband – the more respect I show my husband – the stronger the spiritual battle.  The bigger threat we are to him, the more desperate he becomes and the more vicious his behavior.

(– what you do, and how much stronger God’s voice is now and the kinds of things you focus on and think about now.”)

I’m back and forth on what I do.  I’m such a sinner.  More often than not, I refuse to entertain the begging thoughts and accusations against my husband.  But sometimes, I still stumble in my flesh and I dabble in the game.  My journey for respect hasn’t magically or quickly removed all my selfishness, expectations, and ability to see all my husbands faults and sins with a magnifying glass. Especially because WE TRULY ARE A BRAND NEW COUPLE, and in ways that I never stumbled before, there are all new ways to tempt me.  Now, my husband does things for me he’s never done before and talks to me in a way we’ve never communicated, and if that seems hindered, it’s even harder not to jump to conclusions or freak out a little bit at the thought of that going away.

I hear God’s voice and I have allowed His truths to change so many of my behaviors and patterns, but I can’t say He’s always screaming louder than Satan.  I have to intentionally be still and silent to hear God and in the middle of my wrestling — some times I feel so wound up I can’t sit still. Even if that just means pacing the floor in frustration while my husband is at work.  It’s still a choice like it was before to go to Him and listen. In my experience, God rarely screams.  Satan however is a beast, and he’s deafening at times.

What I focus on and think of now is being intentional AND unrelenting.  (I talked about this word in January.)  I make an honest attempt at turning my wild thoughts back on myself.  Why do I feel this way?  Am I giving too much weight to my husband’s short-comings and not nearly enough to his strengths and character? How did I handle this situation?  Do I have disrespect to apologize for?  Is what I am tempted to say full of things that will be helpful to us, or hurt us?

At the end of the day — this respect journey has changed my life!  I want every single woman on the planet to read the books I have, read the blogs I have, and see the world in a different way than it’s being portrayed and pounded into us in every direction.

Life is BETTER with respect.  Life is BETTER with God.  Life is BETTER fighting the good fight.

But does this journey ever get easier?  No.  I’m so sorry if that crushes anyone’s hopes.  Maybe your experience will be different from mine.  Or maybe some of you older and wiser women are out there saying “Oh honey, you just haven’t been doing this as long as we have, you need more time.”  And maybe you’re right.  But at this point, I doubt it.

I think Scripture paints a pretty clear picture that walking the straight and narrow will be hard.  Persecution comes, trials come, heartache comes, and we’re all sinners until we cross over to eternal life.

Is there power in the armor of God? You better believe there is!!! When I intentionally get up in the morning and put on every ounce of protection I can muster on my body and mind – God is faithful to give me strength and courage to PRESS ON in the battle.  But He never makes it easier, even though He’s with me.  He only makes it change me by refining me IN the fire.

Is God’s way worth it? Absolutely.  Is God’s way getting easier? No, it’s not.

But I’d never look back.  I’ll keep fighting the good fight and being refined in the fire pressing on toward the prize.  No matter how loud Satan is, how often he attacks, with what intensity he beats me down and no matter how many times I stumble and fall.

Practical Application:

If you’re out there wondering why you’re not a good enough Christian wife because this hasn’t “gotten easier yet?” – STOP IT! That’s still Satan beating you down.

MY belief? The more Satan attacks, the evidence that you’re walking the straight and narrow because he’s threatened.

In the battle…. try so hard to find that still and quiet place so God can refuel your strength, courage, wisdom and power to keep going and resist Satan’s voice.  You can resist… but I doubt he’ll ever shut up.

The challenge to refrain from judgment.

11 Jan

No matter who you are, I am 100% confident you’ve run into this issue in your life.  And not only run into it, I am going to take a bold stance here and say that you’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this issue.  Which puts us all in the same boat.  If I’m wrong on this, and this post offends you, please accept my apology before hand — but I have never met anyone yet who has informed me this wasn’t true for them.

I’m going to talk about the reality of having and/or running into someone who has a very strong opinion or conviction about something in their life – and how we handle it and how they handle it.

Incase you’re having a hard time pulling together what I’m talking about, I’m going to give you the top issues where I believe this happens most frequently in the lives of Christians – Immunizations, Education Options, Modest dress, Alcohol consumption, Entertainment choices, Homosexual Lifestyle, and Worship Style.

I’m going to guess as you read through those, you have a preference, opinion, or conviction on them AND you can also think of someone or something that angers you on that topic because of their dogmatic approach or view.

It’s really hard to feel such a strong conviction either supported firmly in Scripture, or just by personal opinion after prayer and study and not feel like anyone who disagrees is simply dead wrong.

It’s also VERY hard not to want to help educate everyone we come in contact with about why we feel the way we feel, and hopefully “win them over” by expressing our point of view.  After all, we feel intensely passionate about our decisions, especially if we reached them after prayer.  How could they not possibly be the right answer for everyone?

If we’re honest – what is more confusing and upsetting than for two Christians to sit across the table from each other and say, “after counsel, prayer and searching Scripture, we are positive this is the direction the Lord is calling us” and they both announce opposite answers.

How can this be?

Yet, often times,  we neglect to see our own dogmatic stances and can become quickly judgmental of other “lesser Christians” for making spiritually immature choices.

But — we never miss the dogmatic stances of others.  And we take such rapid fire offense when we’re:

– Presented another option. (You know, the “I’m coming to you in love” conversation where they simply just want to tell you all the “positive” things about their choice and give you something to consider.)

– Challenged in our beliefs. (When someone comes right out and says – you’re wrong.)

Why is it that we feel such a deep need for everyone to “choose what we choose” in life?   Honestly, lets cut the fluffy ways to say it… that’s what we’re doing.

We don’t share what works for us WITHOUT being asked because we’re just sharing our success. (There is a BIG difference between being asked about a choice you’re making and finding ways to put your opinion on people when not asked.) We’re sharing because we think we’re doing something right and we want others to get it right too.

Is it a desperate attempt to confirm that we really are hearing from God?  Are we not confident enough in our own calling that we attempt to get as many other people on board as we possibly can because it only serves to confirm our choice?

We’re guilty friends.  We’re guilty of searching and seeking for like-mindedness to appease our own beliefs.  We write and read articles that appeal to our pallet of preference.  We seek counsel from those who make the same life style choices.  And we find peace in agreeing with others.

I’m not trying to say “we’re guilty” in a way that brings condemnation.  I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to seek the counsel of those who believe what you believe.  It is actually wise if you’re seeking the counsel of other Bible believing Christians.

However, I just want to give us some food for thought on how we advertise our lives.

I have a friend and I admire her deeply.  She doesn’t even know how much I admire her. But, I watch her approach to life and her spirit blesses and challenges me.

She never gives her opinion unless she’s asked.  And she always does so in a VERY loving and non-judgmental way.  She and I do not agree on everything and it has never once been an issue of contention between us.  She doesn’t lessen her friendship or love for those who do things differently than she does… and IF she struggles with judging others for making choices against her own convictions, I’ve never once see an ounce of that from her.  She has a very peaceful, gentle and quiet spirit about her that trusts deeply that God leads and convicts His children without her “vocal” assistance being forced in any way.  That doesn’t mean she believes God will not use her to speak to others in a way that may convict them, but she never feels the need to take that into her own hands.  She has total faith that the decisions they make in their family through prayer and scripture are right without seeking to prove it from thrusting them on everyone else.  Her love and friendship is not conditional.  Her convictions do not need approval from others.  And she doesn’t pick up offense when others do things differently.

She is a true Proverbs 31 woman in my book, and I hope to keep refining my character to resemble hers.

Practical Application:

Do some reflecting on how you present your convictions and accept the convictions of others.

1.) Do you offer your opinion even when you’re not asked?

2.) Do you seek to get people to agree with your choices?

3.) Do you feel like people are less Christian when they make choices that are different from choices you make?

4.) Are you offended easily when people push their convictions on you?

((To my friends who are doing the 21 day fast with me…. how are you doing?  You can email if you’d like too – gulickfamily@hotmail.com))

 

 

Resolve.

3 Jan

So, I’m sorry to get so mushy, gushy on you yesterday.  Thank you everyone for not unsubscribing.  I’m a little smitten lately and I’m bouncing around like a love struck twelve-year-old. I promise… no lovey – dovey post today.

I’ve had some time to reflect on the past and what it means to be entering 2014.  Does that look weird to anyone else?  Shouldn’t it still be like 1999?  Anyone? Anyway…

And in true cliché fashion… here are 14 things I need to work on/ change for 2014.

1.) My prayer life.  The next time I’m at the store, I need to pick up a prayer journal.  I recently ran across some old ones and I remembered, my prayer life was so much more intentional and genuine when I took the time to write them out.  I’m very good at offering up quick prayers, and praying with the kids in the car on the way to school (both good things) but the real heartfelt confessions, prayers for others, and seeking the Lord’s guidance-  has been sorely lacking and missing.

2.) Quality time with my children.  If you think you’re not a selfish person, have some kids.  In fact, have four.  I lose the drive to do anything with any of them because I’m going to have to do something with all of them and frankly, I rarely have the patience.

The fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, PATIENCE…. yeah, about that.  Why I am not getting this?  Selfishness.

3.) I suppose that means I better work on selfishness.  I can’t be patient with others, including my kids because I’m too concerned with myself.  What I’d rather be doing, what I feel – what I like – what it’ll cost me – what I have to give up. ME, ME, ME.

4.) Fasting.  I started out last year with my first ever 21 day fast and it was so good.  We saw some truly incredible fruit from the Lord and I was so encouraged. I mean things we’d been praying over for 10 years, and God just busted walls down and made things happen like I’d never seen before.  It blew my mind!!  I kept fasting once a week for a long time… until, I stopped.  And I never started back up.

I’m gearing up for another 21 day fast.  You want to join me?  Let me know and we’ll encourage and pray for each other through email.

The best way to cure selfishness — fast.  If I want to learn to be selfless, it’s time to deny myself and elevate Christ — and fasting does that instantly.

5.) Serve my family more.  I  spend a lot of time serving my family by keeping the house running.  But to really serve each member individually – well, I don’t do it.  But I want to.  I want to learn each of my children’s love languages, and build them up more.  I don’t want to co-exist with them and discipline them for 18 years.  I want to love them and build a lasting relationship with them.  I need to study them and serve them in ways that speak right to their heart. Because they matter to me. I love them.  My husband too.

6.) Laugh more.  Life is serious.  Death comes quickly.  And eternity is permanent.  But life is beautiful, precious, and a gift — it’s not meant to be lived in a state of constant worry/stress, depression or bitterness.  It’s meant to be enjoyable and fulfilling.  We need to laugh and joke and smile so much more than we do.

7.) Trust and submit to my husband.  I learned last year (as you read from my sappy love saga yesterday) that God’s way works, it’s wonderful and perfect.  But if I for one second think I have this stuff mastered, let my guard down, or stop praying for God’s constant help — I’ll fall right back into a worldly way of living out my marriage.  It’s easy for natural human tendencies and ideals of the world to creep in quickly.  But I know my husband was given the headship of this family by God Himself and He will not fail us, forsake us, or leave us when we follow Him.  My husband is amazing, and he’s an incredible leader.  I trust him.  But I will never stop making this a constant priority.

8.) Protect my eyes and ears better.  I’ve noticed that we’re spending more time with non-Christians and the language and conversation topics can turn unholy quickly.  Instead of listening, or trying to participate still in some way… I need to remove myself.  I spent many years speaking unholy, and if I know anything to be true for me – it’s what goes in is most likely to come back out.  I don’t need to be picking up any accidental temptations or habits.  I need to give myself the freedom to walk away.

9.) Touch more.  More hugs – More kisses – more holding hands – more running my fingers through my husband and my children’s hair.  Physical touch is so important.  And I’m convinced that a lack of physical touch can lead to earlier sexual experiences for the hope of being held and wanted.

10.) Spend less time on the internet.  I have no idea why the darn thing is so addicting anyway?  What really am I searching for? What need is it meeting?  Why is it appealing to check Facebook and check it again five minutes later… like some life altering thing might have happened in that five minutes I might have missed.  And really… why am I bored?  Sounds like I have too much idle time… and we know what scripture says about women with idle time…. yep – let’s clean that up this year.

11.) Talk less.  Oh boy… confession time.  I *can be* the type of person who is planning what I’m going to say while you’re still talking. I mean, we all have to do that a little…. or else conversations would have a LOT of dead air time and wouldn’t flow very well.  But, I shouldn’t be so busy preparing what to say that I really don’t listen well.  Besides, without my interjection… people might have more to say.  And more that I should hear.  I’ve been working on this for  few years, but I have more work to do.  I actually hate the sound of my own voice – just hearing my own voicemail is awkward, and yet… I talk like other people love the sound of my voice.  Hmm…..

12.) Continue to grow in mercy.  Again as with # 7, I’m a fool if I think I have this mastered, especially on my own.  I know without the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t know or show mercy at all.  But everyone in this world is being judged by someone, it’s a good idea to understand, we are not the judge.  God is the judge.  It’s our job to love God and love others.  It’s pretty hard to love someone you’re judging.  But it’s really easy to love someone you’re merciful toward.  Keep choosing mercy, and leave the judging to the Judge.

13.) **If you’re under 18 or unmarried, SKIP THIS ONE!!**  Have even more sex – Better sex, longer sex, take your time, give back rubs, and TALK, TALK, TALK about EVERYTHING in the bedroom. Why?  Because NOTHING, and I do mean NOTHING binds a married couple better than sex. If you’re going to be with one person the rest of your life and you want that marriage to be intimate, fulfilling and rewarding — make your sex life the best sex life of any couple to ever exist.  And talk about intimate and non-intimate things before or after sex while you’re naked and cuddling.  It’s easier to discuss, and it’s much more vulnerable and intimate and gives you that ability to drop walls and male/female hang ups.  If you want to be married to your best friend – this is the one thing you give each other that you give no one else… do it often, do it well, and add more dynamics than you had in 2013.

14.) Last but not least…. stop waiting to have enough money to (fill in the blank with….) Give / Go on dates / Fix a need — (I would never advice being a poor steward) however — God provides for His children.  Don’t stop giving to His people, cultivating your marriage, or refusing to fix needs for fear that God won’t be faithful to provide.  God is good for His word.  Don’t wait to trust your bank account instead of Him.

Practical Application —

I’ve got other things to work on too… but these are what I’m focusing on this year.  It’ll be tough, and I won’t be flawless.  But my goals are set.

What about you?

We bring the Kingdom come.

11 Dec

I think I’ve told you here before that a few years ago I was taught through scripture what spiritual gifts are and when they are given – and it changed everything about my walk with the Lord.  The moment you are saved and the Holy Spirit explodes inside of you specific gifts given with the intent for you to complete the body of Christ on Earth, and you discover what those gifts are, your entire life mission changes.

In the same way that Paul was a Christian killer and then suddenly was an apostle who started the early church.

And how Barnabas was the encourager who refuted arguments among believers and strengthened their confidence in their ministries.

And how Peter had discernment that could ONLY be given by God in that he knew that Ananias and Sapphira were lying about the amount of money they brought forward and they fell dead instantly.

The majority of Christians live their entire lives not knowing what their spiritual gifts are and never strengthen or use them.

Gifts are just like a muscle.  If you want it to grow, you exercise it and practice using it in the correct ways.  If you were given the gift of incredibly strong legs, but you choose to never walk – your legs would be weak and unproductive to the body.  If you were given the gift of strong sight, but kept your eyes closed, your eyes would be useless to the body.

The same if true of our spiritual gifts and our effectiveness to the body of Christ.

If you are given the gift of teaching, but you never teach anyone – you are wasting your gift to make the body of Christ productive and functionally fully.  If you are given the gift of hospitality but refuse to be hospitable to those you’d rather not be, your gift only gets exercised with light weights and it’ll never grow becoming all it was meant to be.

My gifts are Mercy and Teaching.

When I first discovered this, I flounder in learning to use them both.  Teaching was a piece of cake for me.  But mercy, well, I only wanted to be merciful to those I wanted to be merciful to by my own choosing.

My gift was weak and unexercised. I started to challenge myself to ask God to grow this gift, and to help me die to myself in the process.

This incredible thing happened — the people I felt the least merciful toward in my life kept coming to mind and kept crossing my path.

It reminds me of something I heard on the radio this past week (not an exact quote because I can’t remember it perfectly, but you’ll get the idea.)

– I asked God for courage, so He led me into a dangerous situation.

– I asked God for contentment, so He allowed for a season where I was unemployed.

– I asked God for patience, so He provided a season of waiting.

– I asked God for forgiveness, so He brought to mind someone I hadn’t forgiven.

That’s powerful right?! We don’t miraculously obtain everything we ask God for — we grow our faith in Him by practicing and exercising that faith in the world we live.

I started to really develop the gift of mercy when I came face to face with my past a couple of years ago.  I have a rap sheet that’s pretty horrible.  I ran away from it the best I could…. but it always followed me somehow.  And it usually came in the form of someone not letting me forget by their actions that I was “known for who I really was, hated, mocked and not worthy of love.”

It’s very hard to let go of your past, when others won’t.

But, I had to start coaching my mind with the truths from scripture.  God truly had forgiven me as far as the east is from the west.  He created in  me a clean heart and renewed a right spirit within me.  He had called me from the mire and put my feet on Holy ground. He made me a co-heir in the kingdom of Heaven and gave me spiritual gifts to bring that kingdom to Earth.

I had been shown great mercy.  And so, I longed through  my gift to show great mercy.

Maybe your rap sheet isn’t as bad as mine, so your feeling like you haven’t had to be forgiven for much, leaves you with a lack compassion – mercy – and forgiveness for others because they are way worse than you, and you’d never do what they have done.

But maybe just maybe, you’re like me — and you know exactly what you’ve done in this life that Jesus had to die on that cross for, and you’re ready to find out what your spiritual gifts are, and get busy bringing the kingdom come.

The words of this song just pierced my heart this morning — so I’ll share them here.

Sitting at the stoplight
He can’t be bothered by the heart cry
Written on the cardboard in her hands
Oh, but when she looks him in the eye
His heart is broken, open wide
And he feels the hand of God reach out through him
As heaven touches earth

Oh, we bring the kingdom come
Oh, with every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom come

There’s silence at the table
He wants to talk but he’s not able
For all the shame that’s locked him deep inside
Oh, but her words are the medicine
When she says they can begin again
And forgiveness will set him free tonight
As heaven touches earth

Oh, we bring the kingdom come
Oh, with every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom come

God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you
I said, God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you

Oh, we bring the kingdom come
Oh, with every act of love
Jesus, help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the kingdom

Click here to listen to it now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4bB7BUxBbY

Practical Application –

Whatever God speaks to you… go with that.

It wasn’t “No” it was “Wait.”

2 Sep

Have you ever asked God for something and then wondered is He saying “Yes, No, or Wait?”

It’s tempting for us to ask for something and want it that very day.

“Lord, change my husband, TODAY – in the ways I’m suggesting to you.”

“Lord, help me get a raise, TODAY – and this amount would be best for us.”

“Lord, we want to have a baby – THIS MONTH!”

“Lord, please heal his body – IMMEDIATELY.”

Understand that I’m not suggesting praying for any of these things is wrong, or even wanting these things immediately is sinful at all!

But when God chooses not to answer our prayers instantaneously in the way that we want to see them answered, we’re stuck in this wondering of “Is God saying “No” or is He saying “Wait?”

And here’s the truth. “Wait” for us is also very short-lived. When we have a problem or situation at hand, we can pretty quickly rationalize what would be the only “good” conclusion for us. And when that doesn’t happen, all other solutions seem like they won’t really be for our good or won’t bring about happiness or fulfillment for us.

This has happened to me countless times in my life. But especially in my married life.

There was a time (7 years long) when I wanted to see so much spiritual growth in my husband, and I wasn’t seeing it. I would pray and beg God to reveal certain truths to him, and then be crushed and disappointed when he didn’t come home from work proclaiming to me these great revelations. Or start spontaneously asking me to pray with him each day.

I remember thinking things like “It’s hopeless. He’ll never change. He’s too hard-headed. He’s too self-absorbed. He just won’t listen to me.”

And then, in God’s way – my husband started growing and growing and changes started happening in his life that I never believed would.
Do I no longer see anywhere that I wish growth would happen in his life? Of course not. And He could certainly say the same for me. I want us BOTH to keep growing and maturing in the Lord, being changed to reflect Christ. However, now – I trust that just because God doesn’t change him (or me) completely immediately, or even in the next two months — that doesn’t mean God said No or there is no hope for us.

After having our second son, I wanted a daughter more than anything. We wanted to be done having children with just two. And my husband could have been. But my desire for a daughter just grew and grew daily. So we started trying to have another baby. After 3 miscarriages and months of not conceiving – a total of 15 months went by before I was pregnant with a baby that I would carry full term. It was a really long 15 months. It’s amazing how time slows down when you’re in the middle of a trial. I look back now as my son is 4 years old today and wonder where that 15 months went. But when I read my journal entries and remember the hundreds of nights falling asleep in tears, I know it was a very long season. I was certain I’d never carry another baby full term.

And to be honest with you- when I found out he was a boy, my heart broke. I was so glad he was healthy and I knew he’s be the perfect addition to our family, but my desire for a daughter was still there – real and raw. But God had everything under control. He knew my desire and He chose to fulfill that desire – in His timing, for His purposes. He created Jaxon because He loved Him and wanted Him. And He knew the good purposes He would fulfill. I didn’t know all of that before because I couldn’t see past my own solutions and desires. But when Jaxon was 6 months old, I found out I was 7 weeks pregnant with another baby, my daughter.

With this growing family, it wasn’t long before our 968 sq ft house was getting smaller and smaller. We didn’t have a basement, crawl space, or attic space. We only had 2 bedrooms and the living quarters was very tight. I battled the desire for some more space – (even for the purposes of being able to invite anyone over to visit with us, because we barely fit in our living room – let alone another family joining us) and feeling intense guilt that people in other parts of the world didn’t even have running water, shelter or air conditioning. How dare I want “more or bigger.” The market crashed, our house became worth FAR LESS than we paid for it and we were highly convicted that we didn’t want to do a short sale. We believed we made an agreement with the bank to pay back a certain amount of money, and if we couldn’t do that, we were at fault – not the economy or the bank. We weren’t in danger, we were in “wanting.” And there is a HUGE difference there. So, we were stuck.

We tried to sell for 6 years. It was emotional – constantly working on contentment and yet riding the ups and downs of having showings thinking “maybe God is going to move us, now?” I finally accepted “No.” We weren’t going to move – this was going to be the house we lived in and made work for us. And we were going to be happy.
And then, God moved us in 30 days. I honestly had believed it was never going to happen – at least not for a good 10 years at a minimum. I was in shock. And truthfully, every time I pull into our new house – I still am.

And maybe the most surprising of all – there were some intensely broken relationships in our extended family. Damage that I was positive would never, ever be repaired or restored. Eleven years of hurt feelings, intentional cruelty, and spiritual devastation had run amuck in every single direction imaginable. And yet, in the last year, I’ve watched God change hearts of stone, tear down brick walls, and bring change that I was positive no amount of prayer could even begin to touch. That might be the very first time when I understood that in my life, God is bigger than EVERYTHING. There is absolutely NOTHING He cannot do.

I’m in awe this morning that God has rarely ever said “No.” I’m not saying He hasn’t. I’ve certainly prayed for things that never happened. But those things are hard to name now because they weren’t even really important. And they weren’t things that taught me intense lessons to wait on.

Practical Application –

Spend some time reflecting on the situations and circumstances in your life that you were positive would never change, where you’d never find healing, where the days were so long you literally wondered if you could take anymore — but are now totally different, have been healed, joy has been restored, or growth has taken place. And thank God that when He says “Wait”, it’s always for our good and brings about fruit we could never grow in our “hurry up and give it to me right now in this way” mind-set.