Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Prayers Are Too Small – My God Is Too Small

We had a prayer meeting at church the other day during a leadership meeting. As I sat there I was moved by the many prayers for specific people in the church, community, and lives of the people praying. They really were beautiful prayers and I felt their heart as they prayed. Then someone came and smacked me upside the head. One of my brothers prayed a confession for all of us…he asked forgiveness for our prayers being too small and in turn making God small. He prayed that instead of us reaching a handful of people in West Seattle that the entire city of Seattle would know God and the entire nation would look on in disbelief! What??? Why would I pray for something so impossible?

My biggest prayer ever was that God would heal my dear friend Jeannie of cancer. I fully believed he would and to me that was asking the impossible, a true miracle. Why would I not have prayed that God would cure all cancer?

We had another prayer meeting the following night and again was struck by how limited and small I (we) pray. To be honest, lately I have been convicted about how small my world is, not in terms of prayer though. I was at the movie theatres to see an independent movie about food. I was in tears watching the previews! The first preview was for a movie called No Impact Man; my sadness was that I never even consider the impact I have on my environment. The simple things I could be doing to reduce my carbon footprint (by the way this is a new word in my vocabulary). The other movie was about an American Idol type series in Afghanistan called Afghan Star ( Here’s an excerpt:

But in a troubled country like Afghanistan, even music is controversial. Considered sacrilegious by the Mujahiddeen and outright banned by the Taliban (1996-2001), music has come to symbolize freedom for the youth. While the conflict still rages many of those taking part are literally risking their lives.

Our main characters reveal the true hopes and dreams of the Afghan youth, their desire for peace, education, and freedom to express themselves. 60% of the Afghan population are under 21, and despite the backdrop of conflict, corruption and repression they are funny, articulate and ultimately inspiring.

At that moment of watching these previews I was truly struck by how small my world is! I do not usually think much beyond what I see and experience. Paul David Tripp wrote in A Quest For More, “The little kingdom will quite regularly don the latex masks of outward participation in worship, obedience, and ministry. It will appear as though it is serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, when daily it is bowing before the throne of self. Driven by earth-bound treasures and anxiety –bound needs, its worship can only be the worship of self.”

More awareness of my little kingdom of me was revealed this week and I look forward to sharing that in another blog. For now, I am reflecting on what repentance should look like and how to move from my little world to the big world of God.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blessed To Be On Holy Ground

I had the amazing opportunity to hear about the suffering, shame, abuse and sin from some precious women this weekend. Although I shared tears and grieved with them, honestly it was really hard to not walk around all day with an immense joy and a big smile planted on my face.

My smile to most would seem out of place. There were tears, yelling, sobbing, and anger. How could I appear so content while so many women were bearing their soul and sharing secrets they probably never thought they would share? All I can say is Jesus, simply Jesus.

These women are beginning a journey that I have been on for several years. I get front row seats on their journey. I get to witness lives transformed as the lies about who they are and distortions about who God is are revealed. I get to watch as they behold the glory of God and enter into right worship with God, hearts aligned with their Savior. I get to sit with them as they identify their false idols and behold His glory and in turn His glory is reflected in their lives. I am blessed beyond measure with this privilege. Some might only get to witness this on occasion, I get to witness this every week, every season. I am truly honored and truly blessed to be right where I am, standing on holy ground.

I can stand with my sisters humbly and broken, weeping and rejoicing in their sin and suffering and be filled with hope as I know what Jesus did on their behalf. I do not have to wait for some future event; it has already been done, finished. I can fully expect on behalf of these women.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God hrough our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

As they realize they have been fully forgiven and completely cleansed for the sins they committed and the sins committed against them; fear, shame, and condemnation no longer have any power over them. There is more…they have been made righteous! Jesus pours His righteousness into us – we cannot do it on our own. There is nothing we can do! This is life changing!

Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5: 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

As exhausting and heavy as it is to hear so many women hurting in a great way, it is also exciting to know that over the next several weeks, they are going to see Jesus in a new way. The veil will be lifted in ways they never imagined, they will start to see with new eyes. They will begin to see their utter need for dependence on Him. How can I witness this and not desire to drop to my knees and worship when I behold His glory?

2 Corinthians 3:12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day - My Thankfulness

I guess I don’t get Mother’s Day, at least not from the perspective of me being a mother receiving gifts or acts of service. The truth is I am the one who feels thankful. Thankful for a precious daughter who I know really does love me and a God who was willing to entrust this beautiful creation to me. It’s hard to receive appreciation for something that blesses me continually. Every day is a gift, so I don’t fully get one day a year celebrating me.

Sixteen years ago today, Mother’s Day landed 10 days before your birth. I remember sitting on the sidewalk outside my house that day all alone. I don’t know where my own mother was that day, I remember feeling pretty abandoned without family or friends. With only 10 days left I was full of anticipation. I pondered everything from excitement of meeting you, to fears of whether you would be healthy, and whether I would be a good mother, and important things like would you look like me? As any mother knows, those last few weeks of pregnancy are brutal. Both the physical discomfort and anxiety of sharing with the world that precious little being you’ve protected and bonded with for 9 months. I’m in awe it was sixteen years ago!

I had no idea then how fast the years would rush by, how many mistakes I would make along the way, how much I would really love you and how much you would love me, how your faith would chase me into the arms of Jesus. I would never guessed the number of tears that would fall from both of our eyes, the number of times we would hurt each other, how blessed I would be every day to wake up and hear “mommy”. I am thankful I have at least 2 more years to still make an impact on your life and at the same time terrified that I only have 2 more years to make an impact.

I have many memories of our time together. Today, the one that sticks out was when you were nine years old I had gone clothes shopping. You were always drawn to the jewelry section while I shopped and that day was the same as always. Unbeknownst to me, while I was trying on clothes, you had counted out all your pennies, nickels, and dimes and had bought me a watch. It was the first Mother’s Day present you had ever bought truly all on your own. I will never forget how proud you were that Sunday to give me my present along with soggy cheerios! Your beaming smile and excitement was the greatest gift of all but the watch you bought me was beautiful and I wore it proudly.

Today you gave me a precious gift, your heart. Like you, I have protected myself. Even as I read the letter I was afraid to feel. There have been times I have felt so much I thought I would just die. I’ve realized for a while now I have been preparing my heart for the day you leave and that has meant protecting it also. I am sorry too. My greatest desire would be for you to experience your heart’s desire but that truly is also my greatest fear. I won’t be able to protect you while you chase your dreams. I won’t be there to make sure all the doors are locked and that you’re safely tucked in.

As you are learning to give your heart to me and live out the person God created you to be, I have to learn to fully trust God’s protection and sovereignty over your life. I need to fully accept that you are first and foremost His daughter who He has allowed me to care for. I love you as much today as the day you were placed in my arms and I am truly thankful for you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Path to Submission

In 2003 I met my husband on an online “Christian” dating website. When I created my profile I had to pick my favorite scriptures to put on there. I selectively went through the bible and found all the verses I could on submission and put on my profile that thinking I could at least put all my identity here rather in my past. At the time I did not have any idea what that meant. We were married just a few months later and I think on our wedding night I had my first opportunity to practice submission and found that there was absolutely nothing within me that was willing to submit to my new husband. I wondered why? My initial response was “well, he needs to earn my respect” along with other not so kind responses. I had no idea why at the time and I certainly was not interested in going to my past for the answers.

In looking back, I could see this long trail of men who had abused me, used me, abandoned me, or rejected me. It started with my grandfather at the age of 3 who sexually abused me, then my father at the age of 4 until I was 8 who also sexually abused me. There was also a long list of men that pursued me through my junior and senior high school years just to get what they wanted and then would discard me. I not only didn’t have a father who would protect me from these men, but he was the biggest perpetrator of all.

Right out of high school I married the first boy that actually did not use me. He had a big heart and was very kind to me in the beginning. Unfortunately, he had the mental capacity of a 15 year old boy and we had a pretty rocky marriage. When my daughter was just 6 months old, we endured the Northridge earthquake in California. We were living just outside of the epicenter and although we did not suffer any damage, I had to drive into Northridge to work. My days consisted of 4 hour commutes and 8 hours of work. We had a good friend who was also doing the same thing and since my husband was unemployed he stayed home and watched our girls. After several weeks of these long hours, 5-6 days per week, I got a phone call from him saying that my friend’s 15-mo baby was really sick. I called my sister-in-law to go check in on them and she called me back and said that she needed to be taken to the hospital right away.

I met the mother at the hospital several hours later to find out her daughter might be dying and they were concerned that my husband had done something to her. She told me that she had been advised to stop all communication with me and that I should probably leave. I was on my way out of the hospital when I was stopped by the officers saying they wanted to escort me home. I managed to call my sister-in-law before leaving asking her if she would go pick up my daughter right away. When I arrived at our apartment and got out of the car, there were about 5 police officers waiting to escort me into my apartment, each with their guns drawn at the door. I had never in my life been so terrified, confused, and alone. I spent the next several days trying to make sense out of it all. I had no idea whether that precious baby was going to survive and what was going to happen to my husband. I was hurting so deeply for my friend yet so thankful my daughter was ok.

The next several months would consist of court hearings that would leave me feeling alone and confused. Since none of it made any sense to me, I had a great fear that they might take my daughter from me. The information we heard at the court hearings never lined up with the story my husband gave me. I finally confronted my husband as if I were talking to a child who had been lying and he finally broke down and said in his frustration he had thrown the little girl against a wall. Thankfully, she survived but she had a long recovery ahead of her and had to relearn everything, including eating, talking, and walking, wear a helmet to control her seizures, and a brace on her arm and leg. The day my husband confessed, I packed my bags and left the little room we shared at his parent’s house. At that point, I found myself without a home, without a job, no money, on welfare, and a husband that was on his way to prison for 5 years. When I found myself at the grocery store trying to swap my food stamps for cash to buy my daughter diapers, I vowed that I would never depend on a man as long as I lived.

I spent the next four years working hard to raise my daughter while going to school full-time. In 1998 I married my second husband. By this time, I was close to graduating and was working for Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies, climbing the corporate ladder. I thought that I maintained a lot of control in this marriage and although I had control from a financial perspective, I had little control in the marriage. He was emotionally and psychologically abusive. I found myself working 10-12 hour days, coming home and doing the cleaning and cooking, then spending the next 4 hours doing homework. If I did not clean the house, he would not speak to me or my daughter for days at a time. If I brought home take-out, it would be met with his disappointment. He was extremely strict towards my daughter, not even allowing her to run on the grass, discipline for her meant sitting at the table for hours on end. It would take a few years for me to discover that he was actually leading a double life…on the internet and who knows where else. His other life included online girlfriends with sexually explicit interactions, disappearing for days on end, phone sex lines, and downloaded porn. After about 2 years of “tolerating” his actions and no repentance, devastated…I filed for divorce.

Now I am married to an amazing godly man, now it is clear to me why submission was so hard. I was really making him pay for all the men who had been untrustworthy and had hurt me in great ways. Starting with a father who was supposed to love and protect me to husbands that had mistreated and betrayed me. There was nothing in me that had the desire or ability to “submit”. It went against my very being.

The first few years of our marriage I fought my husband every step of the way. I wanted my way all the time. Although it looked like this marriage was different and this man was honorable, I maintained as much control as I could. When we moved here I got a job that would offer the financial security I was used to. I was in complete rebellion yet my heart was being tugged on. I really desired to allow my husband to lead us and for the burden to be lifted off of me. I am very thankful that my husband did not allow me to manipulate, even though I tried, he held his ground. He did so in a loving way though, I never felt powered by him. Equally, God never powered me or forced me, it seemed there was always a gentle beckoning that was filled with grace even in my stubbornness.

During this time although I was still working hard and climbing the ladder at Starbucks Corporate, my heart was no longer in it. When I married my husband we had envisioned doing ministry together. That ended up looking more like him doing what he was called to do and me (due to my own fears) in the background hiding as the bookkeeper. I was often resentful and bitter about not being more involved in his ministry, I did not fully understand why it looked the way it did; it was not what I had envisioned. I wanted more, I wanted to serve God the way my husband did, but I was terrified of people and honestly had no discernment or gifting to serve in this manner. I would cry out to God begging Him to use me. I had a distorted view of God believing He was the one withholding from me.

Then my heart started to surrender. At the time, James was working at the Union Gospel Mission, making less than half of what I made. I came home one day and told him that I thought God wanted me to quit my job and stay home. He of course said I had lost my mind and that there was no way we could do it. We did all the numbers on paper and it looked impossible. I told him though that I really felt God was prompting this so we took a leap of faith and I quit my job.

Keep in mind that vow I had made years ago…that I would not depend on any man. God blessed our obedience in a big way. First, what did not look even remotely possible on paper as far as our budget, God made possible. That year I received 12 years worth of back child support which we used to pay off old debt. Secondly, He put it on our hearts to pull my daughter out of school and bring her home. We would not have been able to do that if I was still working. She has blossomed and excelled in school since we brought her home and I have been blessed to be able to spend so much time with her. Over the next several months I would get to spend hours a day learning about Jesus and His love for me and spend precious time with Him. My heart towards my husband began to change and I was finally able to see him as God saw him.

Our first year at Mars Hill Church I participated in my first Grace Group and also had the opportunity to go to Michigan for Leadership Training. The next quarter I was leading a Grace Group. I now lead Redemption Groups and this spring, I will be leading my 7th group in less than 3 years. I now have the privilege of walking alongside women of Mars Hill as a volunteer biblical counselor. My husband occasionally asks me to join him in counseling with couples. I fully believe my ability to do this came from surrendering and submitting to God, I was finally allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me. I do not think that it was necessarily that I have more knowledge than I did in the beginning of our marriage but I now a have righted view of God. I truly believe that only came from finally submitting to God.

I can now articulate and understand my heart in terms of submission. There truly isn’t any ability within me to submit to my husband, we are both sinners in a fallen world that come from horribly abusive pasts. We both entered into marriage with great wounding. My ability to submit to husband comes from a supernatural ability. It happens only when I am in submission to my Heavenly Father.

As I tried to control my life and proceed with self-sufficiency, I was only delaying what God intended for my marriage and our ministry together. I had a completely distorted view of submission. I really saw it as lowering myself so I in turn could be walked on, abused, betrayed, rejected, or abandoned. When I took my eyes off of myself and turned to Jesus in brokenness, I submitted without even realizing it. My heart just yearned for oneness with Him. When I keep my eyes on Jesus, my heart willingly submits to my husband. I have learned that when I have to consciously “submit”, meaning I have to think twice on whether I am willing to submit, then I am in sin, my heart is in rebellion. It is in those beautiful moments that I have realized after the fact that what I did was in fact “submit” and it came so naturally. The hardest part to accept is that when I refuse to submit to my husband I am really refusing to submit to God. When I have to struggle with submission, I am really struggling with God.

I love this passage from Rebecca Jones who wrote the book “Does Christianity Really Squash Women?” “Without the power and grace of Christ, the church cannot bring all things together under His headship. Without the power and grace of Christ, I will never begin to bring all things into my home together under the headship of my husband. That is why we have to be filled with the Spirit’s power in order to submit. (Women) need the Sprits’ strength and resurrection power to enable them to fulfill their calling as women. Submission is not for the weakling. It takes tremendous strength, as Jesus shows us when He submits to His Father's will and goes to the cross.”

I have realized that I am a hindrance to God's glory and all God intends my husband to be when I refuse to submit. I forget that my husband has a great accountability to God for his household and when I stay in rebellion, I am not allowing him to be all God intended. I am hindering God's glory from shining through my husband. It is not about some earthly man controlling is about honoring God and his design for marriage AND biblical womanhood.

1 Peter 3:1-7
1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you [1] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Ephesians 5:22-24
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. [1] 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Precious Than Jewels - My Conviction

I am feeling so convicted today but it is a very sweet thing. Generally, my guilt over things leaves me feeling condemned and I will pull away relationally..from people and from God.

Today, I do not feel condemned, I feel loved and invited.

What do I feel convicted of? You name it! I have a godly desire to maintain my household (cleaning, organizing, decorating), I have a desire to be a good employee (follow through, be proactive, be efficient), I have a desire to understand my Jesus in bigger ways (theological studies), I have a desire to know my friends better and to be known by them, and I have a desire to be a better steward of my resources (finances, time, gifting); however, since I do not manage my time well, I do not get to most of these things or I do not do them well.

Conviction #1: Lack of Time Management

Proverbs 31:13-14
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.

I think this conviction has been brewing for awhile. I can almost hear myself saying “God, I can do this” and pushing Him aside. I created a schedule for myself last week. Not an hour by hour detail, but I wrote down the times I would wake up and what I would do the first two hours of every morning. Here is where I usually get tripped up in my day. I take the first 2 hours for me…enjoy my coffee, reading, updating my status on Facebook and seeing what my friends are up to, then I am to plunge into the day. The problem is I never get to the “read” and then I spend the next 2 hours frustrated because I am not ready to do the things I need to do as I am not done doing the things I want to do.

My schedule also included the hours in which I would do my bookkeeping job. All the other open hours should be the time I have to do household chores, errands, and visiting friends. On paper, it looked great. First day, I could not get out of bed at 8am so I slept an extra hour, which leads me to...

Conviction #2: Love of Sleep

Proverbs 31:15
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.

I do not get to see my husband much during the day; often it is 7pm before I even see him. The next two hours are spent preparing for and cleaning up after dinner. Then we usually all sit down and watch TV together. Somewhere between midnight and 1am, we usually head to bed. Now, I know 8 hours is an average but it is not my average. I prefer 9-10 hours. I have a pull to stay up longer to be with my husband versus getting to bed earlier so I can start my morning at a reasonable hour. In the end, I do not think I have even connected well with my husband since we have been in front of the TV for hours.

My husband is the cook; he is quite good at. I think I take advantage of this. I know he loves to serve our family in this way and I let him... fully. I do not feel convicted about not cooking; it is a gift and a blessing I hold dearly. I do believe I can contribute in a more significant way and if I did so would probably see my husband more and have more meaningful time together. I could plan on what we are going to eat, rather than waiting for him to drive home and trying to decide what he should pick up from the store. I could do a lot of the prep work before he even gets home. Chop the veggies, get pans ready, boil water, etc. Which leads to my next conviction...

Conviction #3: Idleness

Proverbs 31:27
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

I love one definition of the word idle: to pass time doing nothing. TV has never really been my idea of a great way to spend time. The first few years of our marriage, I did not even want it on and did not find anything worth watching. I recently, however, got sucked into 24, and then back into American Idol, and now the Biggest Loser. So I have three shows that I have to watch. The rest I could care less about and will generally pull out the laptop and occasionally check out what is happening on TV.

TV is not the only issue...I waste a lot of time doing nothing. Surfing the internet, reading the news (which just saddens me), Facebook, reading Blogs, etc.

Conviction #4: Taking Care of Me

Proverbs 31:17
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.

When I think of taking care of me, I think of lying around enjoying me time…I do not think of my health and well-being. I am supposed to be taking a lot of supplements, but it is a lot of work organizing and swallowing that many pills. I am supposed to be avoiding certain foods (that are predominately in prepared foods), so I should be making most of my meals from scratch. I should be going to the gym, to keep my heart healthy and lungs strong.

Conviction #5: Stewarding My Resources

Proverbs 31:16; 18
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Proverbs 31:20
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.

I am learning to steward our finances better…there is still work to do. There are some areas where I am really diligent and god-honoring and some areas where I do not even think twice. There are some areas where I am just plain stingy and other areas where I am just plain indulgent. Not a good balance.

Serving, I do this but I do not believe I do it well. It is something I am very passionate about and feel blessed by the privilege of the manner in which I get to serve. I often find myself on holy ground. Yet I often complain and grumble the moments leading into serving..I’m tired, I have so many things to do, I do not feel equipped, I am not in a good place…they go on and on.

Conviction #6: Wisdom

Proverbs 31:26
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

I avoid theology and theologians. My attitude towards certain points of theology has been that it does not impact my faith or my salvation and there are other more important things to concern myself with. It took struggling through the idea of Election and Predestination for me to see how God used my recent understanding of these ideas to speak the truth in love to someone about His love for us. Without the idea of election, my words would have seemed trite and like christianese. I have a desire to dive deeper into just a few right now…Election, Justification, Atonement, Propitiation, Expiation, and Assurance. Hence the overall conviction I am feeling right now…how and when?

I’ve always seen the Proverbs woman as unattainable. I am beginning to see how she is really just a model of what it looks like to live out biblical womanhood, an area I know very little about.

She is there to guide us and encourage us, not condemn and shame us because we do not live up to her standard. I believe she is in the bible as a gift from God to show us what a standard of beauty really is.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Cried Myself To Sleep

Last night. I did. Not just simple tears, nope. Full on sobs like when I was a little girl and my heart had been broken and it felt like my world as I knew it was falling apart. I cried out to God to please help me understand why. I know why is never a good question to ask God…if I could understand the why then I could be God. There is a part of me that really does want to know what He has planned for us and the other part of me that is absolutely terrified to know.

I have no idea where this outburst came from; honestly it came out of nowhere. It played out in a conversation with my husband but my sobs were so intense I could barely speak. I could only get a sentence in every few minutes or so before I finally fell asleep.

I did not say anything overly significant but it was a very significant moment. I was being brutally honest with myself, my husband, and my God. I was sharing my pain that I tend to keep buried so deep it would be impossible to feel. I believe God brought this up and out of me yet I have no idea why…yet.

I do not remember exactly what I said only the overall idea. I was confessing my intense hurt and lack of understanding at the fact that we have not been able to have a child together. How unbearably painful it is to read about mother’s who abandon their newborn babies in dumpsters…why does God let this happen? What can I possibly do to cause God to bless us? What have I done wrong? The lies I still have a tendency to struggle with…if I could do things better, if I was a better homemaker, if I loved Him more, if I weighed less…

I do not know what the moment was all about or what I was supposed to learn from it exactly. All I know is that it was a very sweet moment with my Lord and Savior where I was exposing my heart completely before Him and He was right there with me.

Many of the Psalms begin with a crying out to God or sometimes just a grumbling, the Psalmist will generally then move on to praising God. I missed the praising God as I fell asleep but I think He even blessed me with a really good night sleep. In the morning, I was praising God and continue to do so even though there are moments I cry out.

The truth is I am generally crying out in some way although I do not often recognize it. Even in my questioning God, I think He is pleased simply because I am choosing to turn to Him in my pain and in my need. He prefers my honest cries to Him over my denial and refusal to acknowledge Him in my pain.

Here are some examples of crying out taken directly from the Psalms:

5:1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,for to you do I pray.

10:1 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

69:1 Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dimwith waiting for my God.

13:1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my souland have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

60:1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses;
you have been angry; oh, restore us.

64:1 Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from dread of the enemy.

74:1 O God, why do you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?

77:1 I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2 In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;my soul refuses to be comforted.
3 When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.

88:1 O Lord, God of my salvation;
I cry out day and night before you.
2 Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul is full of troubles,

and my life draws near to Sheol.
4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
5 like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
6 You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
7 Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah

8 You have caused my companions to shun me;
you have made me a horror to them.
I am shut in so that I cannot escape;
9 my eye grows dim through sorrow.
Every day I call upon you, O Lord;
I spread out my hands to you.
10 Do you work wonders for the dead?
Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah
11 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
or your faithfulness in Abaddon?
12 Are your wonders known in the darkness,
or your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.

16 Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
17 They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
18 You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness.