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Posts Tagged ‘discouragement’

IMG_4194How are you, really?

This is not a question that can be answered with that four-letter F-word (fine).

Really, how are you?

Got some worries? Got fears? How about disappointments? discouragements? … heartbreaks?

Is your mind cluttered with a never-ending to do list? To pay list? People whose needs need to be met list?

Is your prayer list filled with ill health? more bills than money? loneliness? job searches? broken relationships? home searches? sadness?

Jesus understands the tough stuff of life, and much of his message, when he was on this earth, was instruction on how to give our anxieties, our sorrows, our frustrations to him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”  (Matthew 11:28)

“Come to me,” he says, “cast your anxieties on me for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

I do not have answers for life’s difficult days, but I know who does.

More than that, I know that even though I do not have the answers, even though I do not see the big picture, even though I do not understand human suffering, “I have the God of hope that fills me with unexpected joy and peace, as I trust in him” (Romans 15:13). That hope is available to all who trust in him, who had the keys of our lives over to him.

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There are times of progress, of advancement, of moving forward.

Then there are other times …

quiet times,

noisy times,

times of little progress,

times of barely moving,

times that seem to stand still.

It is in those times that we can lose all confidence and motivation for the direction we were headed. Discouragement can take over, and a desire to simply give up pervades our being.

But moving forward is still moving, still achievement.

We humans struggle for our timing to be the timing of the universe. It is not.

We are not called to be on time, we are called to be faithful to use the gifts that were given to us … there is no mention of when to stop (no mention of age, or slow progress, or   discouragement).

Romans 12:6-8 tells us:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” 

Basically, the message would seem to be, just do it!

Joy will come in the morning, it just might not be this morning.

Each step is moving you forward. Keep going, tired one. You have gifts to use that others need so badly to receive.

“Cast not away your confidence because God defers his performances. That which does not come in your time, will be hastened in his time, which is always the more convenient season. God will work when he pleases, how he pleases, and by what means he pleases. He is not bound to keep our time, but he will perform his word, honour our faith, and reward them that diligently seek him.” ~ Matthew Henry

 

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It was Sunday night

It was the night at the end of a ‘break’ of two days

It was the night before the next five in a row of work, school, church and other activities when:

“Lord God All-Powerful, I’ve always done my best to obey you. But …” 1 Kings 19:10

-the dishwasher was full of clean dishes, and the sinks were full of another load of dirty
-the son’s football gear was still in front of (not in) the washer
-the front door still framed in green painters tape … only one more coat of stain … only  one  more
-the meals still undecided for the week
-the dust not wiped away
-the mildew-lined bathtub still not scraped of old caulking and new applied
-the blog posts uncompleted
-at least one child was angry with me
-the mother-child conversations unspoken
-the time with hubby not happened
-the renewal, the playing, the rest, the quiet …

downcast eyes
downcast heart
tears building
regrets counted …

A Momma Meltdown was building.

And so, into the dark
into the night-lit light of candle, and torch, and stars peaking from edges of autumn night clouds
onto my beach by the shore
(okay, the brick patio by the pool)
I take my weary, worn out, waste of a woman self
… to weep my poor-me tears
In privacy.

And the frogs in the wooded area croaked their nighttime song
And the clouds lifted their curtain on their very own stars
And the raccoons, whose appearance was masked to me, tiptoed on the other side of the fence
And the air was warm like a familiar hug
And what had been melted dried up
And what had been undone was forgotten
And where there had been downcast eyes, a downcast heart …
were uplifted eyes and a peaceful heart.

‘things’ were still undone,

But I was not.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:7

And just when I felt I had been put back together again, I read a message from a friend, that had come in when I went out

a note encouraging me …

in the small things I do …

it was like …

a gentle breeze across my face.

“Go out and stand on the mountain,” the Lord replied. “I want you to see me when I pass by.” All at once, a strong wind shook the mountain and shattered the rocks. But the Lord was not in the wind. Next, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Finally, there was a gentle breeze, and when Elijah Carole heard it, he she covered his her face with his her coat.” 1 Kings 19:11-13

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Why do I forget what I know?

Why do I overlook the obvious?

Why do I look for what I need in the wrong places?

Why do I look at all, when what I need is right in front of me?

“A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 18:24

3cc4f3db908903d40e74834f0fc5823dWhen we experience disappointment, loss, loneliness, discouragement … and we all will … it is important to remember that we are never alone, and that all that this Earth and life offer (people and things) is dust in the light of what god offers.

We have all had hours, days, weeks, even years when it seems as though there is no hope at all in our life. The future, whether tomorrow of every tomorrow until our last breath, can appear to us to be void of any hope.

But we have it all wrong!

Our hope is not in ourselves or our abilities.

Our hope is not in our families.

Our hope is not in our job.

Our hope is in nothing but Christ.

He is always with us … “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

He is always for us … “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He is our strength  … “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This song came on the radio one day, when hope seemed lost:

“You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It can not hide the light
Whom shall I fear?”

Along with the fitting lyrics of that song, were the words I had written on My Loves page, Numero-Uno. It was a good reminder to me that my hope is not in anyone, but Christ.

The words of that page were written on a ‘good’ day, but they are true for every day!

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Most of the time I like to think of myself as a progressive thinker (although my kids would probably not agree), but when it comes to one area I tend to be rather old fashioned, even archaic.

For those who are older like me, the song in the video below takes us back to watching the original movie, Footloose,  w a y  back in the 198o’s (for those not so old only back as far as a Shrek movie). It is the chorus that has been playing in my head lately.

The area that shows my age concerns young men.

As a mom of two daughters, one who is twenty and the other fifteen, I have started to observe young men from the point of view of ‘would I want my daughter to date him?’ It is not that either one (especially the fifteen year old) is looking to settle down, but more that I am always thinking ahead to the next step, trying to plan and prepare.

As I have observed young men, I have to say that I am starting to get really discouraged by what I see.

Now I know that I am a mom of daughters, and I am protective of them, and want only the best for them, and really there can never be a young man who is good enough for my daughters (imagine how much more so for their father). I also know that I am observing young men through the aging eyes of a thirty-nine (with three years experience) year old woman, and I do not fully understand the generation that I am observing. Fair enough! Yet, I feel so very discouraged in this!

Let me tell you what I have been observing:

Schooling and Jobs
There seems to be a lack of future goals. Post secondary schooling seems more to be just another phase rather than a vehicle to pursuing and attaining a future career. And many, upon graduation from university/college do not even pursue work in their area of study.

Mom and Dad Dependency
I have heard of far too many mid-twenty-something guys who are still living with, and off of, mom and day (and yes, I mean off of, as in no ‘rent’ is being charged to their working son OR ma and pop are still handing over cash to sonny boy who can’t find work). Certainly the financial circumstances of today require more young adults to still live at home, but parents who are allowing their adult children to completely live off of them are harming the next generation not helping them.

Undefinable Christianity
This one is just about Christian guys. I am all about Christian living within our world, and not segregating ourselves to only churchy activities, but seriously, there just has to be a difference in how we live our lives, if we say that we are ‘Christ-like’. Maybe this is where my ‘old fashioned’ side is most visible, but I really do believe that when a Christian guy is partying he should be able to remember what he did afterward, and that what he does with a girl(s) should be God-honoring.

I do believe that there are good men out there, and have even met some of them, but they really seem to be in the minority, and as a mom of a son as well, I really hope that we are raising him to be part of that vital minority. I hope too that our our daughters will hold out for a hero.

“In a desperate attempt to stay young forever
we have achieved eternal childishness,
rather than eternal youth.”

― Daniel Prokop, Leaving Neverland: Why Little Boys Shouldn’t Run Big Corporations

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When I got married to my hubby, there were two people who wondered aloud about the life (as a pastor’s wife) that I was entering. But I was young, in love, and there was nothing that we could not survive, as long as we were together!

It did not take long to realize that this life had it challenges, but it also had amazing blessings. Our life is designed around the challenge of making the life of Christ one that others want to follow, in a deeper, more sincere way. Along with that, much of our mutual desire is to help those who have been hurt, deceived, or ignored by other Christ followers see that we are not all like that, and that the One we follow is not in the business of hurting, deceiving or ignoring.

Through the years we have added three kids to our family, and as our kids they were born into the title of Pastors Kids PKs). There were negatives like having a busy dad (who has made a commitment to not miss the important events of their lives) and a life where everyone in the church knows you (but often that has meant the blessing of many dear people who pray for them), but I really did not see PK as a negative stereotype for our kids.

Our kids, like their peers (and their parents), have moments when they blow it royally, but they do so not because they are PKs, but because they are fully human.

The reality of our life in the church means that they know things others in the church do not. Things that we sometimes do not want anyone exposed to, especially them. Things like times when their dad has been spoken of derogatorily, or when their mother has been hurt. They have experienced the social ‘shunning’ by peers whose parents do not support the work of their dad. Then there are the times when they have been the center of the negative conversation, and a ‘friend’ has relayed the conversation to them (without any mention of defending them at the time). They know the discouragement and disappointment that ‘serving’ God in ministry can mean.

God has given us such a beautiful life, and we have laid down our lives for the sake of this ministry. But God has given us the beautiful responsibility of introducing His love to two daughters and one son, and that is a responsibility I will never sacrifice.

So, I do what other mothers may shudder to consider. When our children reach high school, I sit them down and explain that I want them to know the freedom of Christ without the confines of the title they were born with. I tell them that we, their parents, have no expectation that they will choose our church as their church. And then, I encourage them to …

GO!
-to a church where they choose
-to a church where they are ‘just’ another believer
-to a church where they can serve simply because they feel compelled
-to a church where the style of worship encourages them to worship
-to a church where the delivery of the message feeds them

“go into the world, and tell everyone the Good News” (Mark 16:15).

That is the most important message I can give them … that, and wings so that they can choose to fly.

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