Heart in the Clouds

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts and Thanks - August 30, 2011


Throughout this whole time that I've been struggling with the roller coaster emotions that go along with uncertainty, I've had a thought in the back of my mind. How can I best honor God in the middle of my circumstances? I have found the only way to keep myself sane and to keep from going off the deep end every day is to focus myself on him and on being thankful for my many blessings. Because they truly are many.

It's easy to say, "Everything would be better if I only had this" or "I would truly be happy if that one thing was going right." But I know that that's not really true. The grass is always greener, right? 

So a couple of days ago in the middle of one of my self-focused pity parties, I was reading TIME magazine about the famine in Africa. I came upon a photo of a dead seven-year-old child wrapped in a cloth. It brought me to tears because, really, how can I complain about my life? In that moment, I felt stupid. My children are happy and healthy. I have uncertainty about my health in some areas, but I'm healthy. I'm not watching my loved ones die from preventable diseases or starvation. I live in one of the richest countries in the world. I have everything I need and so many opportunities are open to me. Who am I to complain?

Sometimes I need a little slap in the emotions now and then. I really want to choose to focus on how I can honor God in the middle of my roller coaster, rather than focusing on my petty worries. Whenever I focus on him, on his love, on the knowledge that he is with me through everything and that I have nothing to fear, I feel that blanket of peace again.

When trying times come, it's like the story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33)--as soon as I take my eyes off of Jesus, I sink. I become fixed on my stormy surroundings and on the things I see as impossible or uncertain, rather than on the fact that HE called me to step out of the boat and walk with him on the water. He doesn't call us to walk with him just to let us drown. In the low moments where I lose vision and I feel like I'm sinking, he ALWAYS reaches down and lifts me back up. I just have to reach up and grab on to his hand. 

So if you're going through a rough time, too, I want to encourage both of us. :) God is calling us to a season of trust. He is calling us to totally lean on him. The best way to honor him in the middle of a trying time is to be thankful for what we DO have, rather than thinking about what we DON'T have. I could do everything on my own if I wanted to. People try to do it every day. But I know that I need God. So I want to encourage you to grab on to his hand, too. There's room enough in his hands for all of us.



Today I'm thankful for...

What my friend Heather calls a cleansing meltdown. I'm having one now and it seems to be working.

Resting in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)

My children. For all my faults as a mother, they are turning out to be two awesome little men. They are sweet, caring and they love each other fiercely, despite all their fighting.

My husband. He's a hard-working man who lives for God and his family. Can't ask for better than that!

Sunshine and mild weather. Seriously, this is some glorious weather and it's always a mood-booster.

Learning lessons.

My cameras. They can be great therapy. I think I'll go pick them up again.

Friends. I have so many great people in my life. Some are nearby. Many are far away. They have encouraged me in so many ways and I'm so grateful for each one.

So I want to leave you with Psalm 91. It's awesome to read it when I feel like I'm surrounded by craziness, as many of us are from time to time, especially with everything going on in the world. Read it over and over and ponder it in your heart because it's all about how God protects those who trust him. I'm learning to trust more and more, and I hope you are, too.

Psalm 91
 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High 
   will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
   my God, in whom I trust.”

 3 Surely he will save you 
   from the fowler’s snare 
   and from the deadly pestilence. 
4 He will cover you with his feathers, 
   and under his wings you will find refuge; 
   his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 
5 You will not fear the terror of night, 
   nor the arrow that flies by day, 
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, 
   nor the plague that destroys at midday. 
7 A thousand may fall at your side, 
   ten thousand at your right hand, 
   but it will not come near you. 
8 You will only observe with your eyes 
   and see the punishment of the wicked.

 9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” 
   and you make the Most High your dwelling, 
10 no harm will overtake you, 
   no disaster will come near your tent. 
11 For he will command his angels concerning you 
   to guard you in all your ways; 
12 they will lift you up in their hands, 
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; 
   you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; 
   I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; 
   I will be with him in trouble, 
   I will deliver him and honor him. 
16 With long life I will satisfy him 
   and show him my salvation.”



Monday, August 15, 2011

Thoughts and Thanks - August 15, 2011


Yeah. 

So I have had a lot of time to think about a lot of things. I think when I go through times of worry or I let fear creep into my life, my vision becomes clouded.

I get the feeling that God sometimes lets me go through times like this because he wants ME to see where my trust lies. He doesn't need me to prove anything to him because he already knows my heart. He isn't angry with me and he doesn't have an "I'll show you!" kind of attitude, but he wants me to open my eyes. I know for a fact what he's capable of doing, having seen many amazing things that can't be attributed to anything other than his divine hand. But when it comes to my life and my health, I somehow forget all the things I've seen and I allow myself to freak out.

I am learning through this time that my faith and trust aren't always in God. I am realizing that I need to change my perspective and that I need to begin to learn from this experience.

Do I know what's around the bend? No. Do I know what the doctors will say? No. But I DO know that God is faithful to me. He always has been. He always will be. It doesn't mean I'll never be sick or have problems or have stressful situations arise, but it does mean that he will be with me through all of it and will help me become a better person because of what I'll learn in every circumstance.

So many of you have encouraged me during this time and I appreciate your thoughts and love. I have also watched many of you, my encouraging friends, go through terrible trials of your own and come out the other side wiser and stronger. I want to learn from all of you. (Please feel free to give advice if you can!)

I'm stressed about things right now and I feel like everything is swirling around me while I am fading in and out of my own life. I don't want my existence to be like that, though. Life is too short and too much of a treasure to waste on worry or on any other sort of negative attitude. So I'm going to ask God's help to turn my perspective around.



So today I'm grateful for...

Waking up and seeing my husband. Yeah, he's laid off again, but it means so much to me to have him with me when I'm going through rough patches. Maybe the timing was God-orchestrated. :)

Encouraging friends and family.

My veggie cleanse. I feel so much better, physically. I've lost some weight that I needed to lose. I have been exercising again, taking vitamins, eating healthy foods, making natural juice in the juicer, and have just been more conscious of my health overall. That can't be bad. I have 6 days left on the cleanse. I had intended to only do 10 days, but I felt so good after the 10 days that I wanted to keep going. When we finish the cleanse, I will be right about at the 1 month mark. I am sleeping better (when I'm not allowing myself to be stressed), eating better, feeling better and my skin has cleared up. All good things.

Being forced to remember that the value of life doesn't just rest in the NOW, it rests in the eternal.

Jesus. By his wounds I am healed. I'm grateful to him for those wounds.

An extra week of summer vacation! I thought cyber school was starting a week before it actually is. Kind of nice to extend summer an extra week. :)

My neighbor, Julie, who is in her late 70s. She is such a strong lady. She has endured a lot in her life, but she doesn't give up. She does all her own gardening, cooking, cleaning and housework and will probably keep going at it all for the rest of her life. She is content with a simple life. She takes care of other people and is concerned about them. She treats my kids like her own great-grandkids. She is hospitable. She is funny. She prioritizes faith, and I want to grow up to be like her. I've learned a lot from living next door to such a woman and I'm glad I can call her my friend.

Letting it go. There've been moments in the last while where I can feel my stress level rising. I can hear the fearful thoughts swirling in my head. But when I've quieted myself and listened for God's voice in the chaos, I have heard him whisper, "Let it go." I can't add another day to my life by worrying. So I'm continuously having to choose to let it go. God has his hand on me.

---------------------------------------------------

One of the dangers of stressful situations or worrisome, depressing times in life is that it becomes easy to block out the world and only focus on myself. Bad idea. There's a huge difference between taking care of myself and focusing on myself. I lose my ability to love and live a compassionate life if I'm only focused on myself and my own problems. So I am asking God to help me keep my eyes on the important things. I'm asking that he show me ways in which I can encourage other people and be his fragrance in the world. God, help me. :)