Tuesday, April 21, 2009
This is my stepson Brandon, the joy on his face says it all, embrace life, live joyfully!
This week has been interesting, to say the least. I have had to deal with teenage issues, anger issues, grief issues, body issues, mental health issues, financial issues, too many teeth issues, and on and on and on. But, the topic of joy has come up in several conversations, so I realized God had a lesson in this for me, and I didn't want to miss it. Joy and happiness are different concepts. Happiness is a feeling, connected to how a particular event is going, or not going. It changes like the wind, I feel happy because you...., you made me happy by......, get my point? But joy is a separate entity all together, and God talks about it's importance in his word. So, I spent some time praying and talking to him about joy and this is what he shared with me.
Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect lacking in nothing.
Hmmm, joy in the midst of trials. It seems to go against our nature, but I knew he was making a bigger point here. God wants us to be victorious OVER our trials, not accepting of them. For me, this made my agreements issue quite obvious. I had made an agreement that I would be in pain the rest of my life, and that was easily stealing my joy. When those of us who endure chronic pain, unrelenting pain and sickness, it is easy to get overwhelmed and sucked in by the medical system and diagnosis codes, and we come to beleive this is who we are now. How wrong I was in this. Not only is pain or my medical issues not who I am, but I am not bound to them. They can only imprison me if I let them, and releasing them to God is cathartic.
He went on to show me Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!
He didn't say when I feel like it, he didn't say when I wasn't writhing in pain, he said ALWAYS, which is profound to me. There was a reason he was showing me rejoicing always was significant, and this is what he meant by that:
Nehamiah 8:10 .....Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Ahhhh, then I got it. I live in constant pain. Some days I can walk and breathe through it and other days I can barely make it to the bathroom. My anatomy is problematic, putting it mildly, and I am given morphine and other strong meds to try and get through my day, but I don't give in to that. God was telling me loud and clear that in my pain, my physical weakness, the joy I have in him will be what gives me strength. And strength comes in different forms.
I may not can bend, lift, or sit like most people and walking for lengths of time is a challenge, I lose my strength rather quickly. But, if I rest I can go on for a while. My spiritual strength is what is at stake here. The very nature of having an illness with the possible outcome of paralysis in both legs would zap anyones strength. Just wading through the medications, doctor appointments, and symptoms would make anyone throw in the towel. But, thanks to the abundant grace of God, he gives me joy, and it's contagious. Some of those days, too many I hate to say, where wrapped with a veil of despair, depression, like I couldn't even explain why I felt sad or empty, I just did. Even on the days I couldn't use 'happy' as an adjective I chose joy because at the end of the day I know in him I am well, whole, and holy. What a revelation! It's really about our joy, him desiring for us to be joyful, in him, despite the trials we are walking through. And what I have found that when I choose joy people notice it, my light is brighter to the point they ask me what's my secret. And I love telling them, even when I have to adjust my position a million times I take the time to tell them, because I see the lack of joy in my friends, my family, and on faces I see every day, it's a complete pandemic in our world.
And then I came back to the significance of each of us. I truly believe that it is not our insignificance we fear but our significance on a grander scale. God made each of us unlike any other. We each have the ability to change this world and glorify God if we choose to. The question is, will we embrace our significance in the bigger story that God is writing or will we hide behind our feelings of insignificance? Will we stay stuck in car pool, dance recitals, working long hours, or addicted to Facebook, and not realize that our destiny in this life is to live boldy, joyfully, through our trials and shine a bright light in this world? That light gets attention doesn't it? Guess what makes people attracted to bright lights? Luminosity, a light that glows. Within each of us we are luminous in varying degrees. I believe our joy is the power that illuminates our spirits, and it is why God said rejoice always, be luminous always, so that others may see a pathway to God. How in your life are you sharing joy and being luminous? Is your light showing a pathway to God, and are you willing to share it?
I can't tell you the people I come across on a daily basis that are in need of this light in their lives. A friends dad is battling cancer and very little joy is found in the hospital, a friend is in such despair they are considering ending their life because they don't believe joy exists, and another friend is feeling overwhelmed with the day to day struggles of simply trying to be a good person. I know each of you come in contact with friends and people like these every day. Are you a source of light, of joy, or are you another face sharing the same space, or reading a post and not replying for a loss of words or time? If I had to choose one concept that we all are in a war fighting for it would be the protection of our joy. Are we losing or winning this battle for God?
I am a fruitcake at times. My trains of thought are wildly sporadic, and people often wonder if I am one brick short of a full load. What I really want them to know about me is my Ardithian way of life is one where I choose JOY on a daily basis. I choose not to be stuck to the emotion of when our house was burning down, when a gun was held to my and my moms head, when I was naive to the point in high school where I had no clue about boundaries, when my first husband left us on Christmas Eve, when the doctor said it's untreatable, uncurable, it's a horrific diagnosis, or when I was faced with any one of my 20 surgeries. We all have our "lists" don't we? And though it's not easy, the times I do it, my life is blessed beyond measure and I am the luckiest person walking this planet. My prayers are for you to feel the same and to find it in you to choose joy as well.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
As Frodo and Sam chose to face a mythical journey, one where fate had chosen them, a fellowship protected them, and evil hunted them, I too choose to believe that my life is as important as theirs was on a mythical scale. Though they are fictional characters, their story of great triumphs in the face of tragedy is one where the bigger picture of good vs. evil lay in the balance. The story of David and Goliath in First Samuel is one that resonates with me as well in the understanding that small forces can conquer mighty evil presences in this world, and David was real. He was a small, shepherd boy who believed mightily in God and knew that his God of Israel would protect him and deliver his people from the Philistines.
Why would the people who were alive back in the days that Jesus walked the Earth be any different than us? Why would they be any more important to the kingdom of God than we are? I have thought about this a lot, prayed about it even more, and God said to me that my story is an important one. He will do great things if I am willing to share my story with others. In that I trust him as David trusted God back in his day. Though I don’t carry a stone with me or a slingshot, I carry my faith, my story of a person who has overcome great odds to carry forward God’s message, and the knowledge that God above all else is the reason I am alive today. If he loves me, with all of my faults, then he loves everyone, because I share the same types of faults as any other man.
I may not be aware of the details or pitfalls that lie ahead in my journey, but I am aware of the fellowship that I share, and the mission my friends share with me. Ours is one of love conquering evil. The friends that I choose to trust, their love for me and for God, will help strengthen my shield against the evil that is very real in this world. This world is dying because man’s selfish desires and ignorance are killing it. Time goes by slowly, but there is a battle afoot for the kingdom of man, and one that is so worth fighting for. I believe that my efforts, along with those in my fellowship of friends, will be ones that share love in a world of hate, sow peace in a world of pain, and give hope to those who have lost theirs.
And not only this, but we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulations bring about perserverence; and perseverence, proven character, and proven character hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5
As Frodo and Sam helped one another take steps that they each didn’t think they could take alone, their bond of friendship carried them ahead. Friends are important in this journey we are on. I can only imagine the outcome if Frodo had befriended someone who didn’t have his best interest at heart, like Smeagle. Choosing friends carefully is important because one never knows when we will need one of those friends to help us carry the message of love and hope into a dark, evil world. Evil is around us. It is what keeps us tired, angry, and sick. Can you imagine what the world would be like without those forces? It would be a very different one wouldn’t it?
The journey to defeat evil in all its forms is the heart of the message that God has for us. It’s really the whole point. The point that God loves us, that he wants us to be joyful and maintain an intimate relationship with him, is the reason the war is so worth fighting for. He wants peace for every man, and he has is heart broken when people choose to walk alone in such a world as ours. I choose a path that is mythical, one that will leave a legacy of faith, hope, and love in a world where that is hard to come by. As David defeated Goliath, I hope to defeat the evil spirits that haunt me and my loved ones, ones that hurt children, and ones that keep people sick on a daily basis. David used a rock and his willingness to stand before a mighty enemy to glorify God. God has given me a rock in the message of my story. I’ll use my rock to sling in the face of my enemy which I call defeat, frustration, anger, and hurt. They are as dangerous as Goliath was to David, but these forces will not be ones that conquer anything in my life. My story, and the slinging of my rock, will show a lost and dying world that there is hope that springs eternal, and not all is lost. And as little Frodo and Sam ventured out, the impact of their actions were ones that save the world in the end. Though they were little in stature, they were big in heart. I too feel the same.
Fate has chosen me,
A Fellowship Will Protect Me,
Evil will hunt me,
And God will prevail.
Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
What about you?
To watch the theatrical trailer of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy follow this link:
Saturday, April 11, 2009
We have horses, Horse One and Horse Two. Yes, that's what Bill named them and although I have tried many times to name them 'normal' horse names none ever fit. So, Horse One and Horse Two are those we love. I had gotten a call from Bill the other day letting me know that Horse One, our Arabian, had gotten out. When a horse gets out of his pen it's one thing, but when a horse gets out of his property, that's an entirely different problem. There are cars and roads and people that a horse can run up on that may or may not know how to deal with a wandering, high-spirited horse, like our Arabian. Before I headed out to Dulcinea, which is our property where we keep our horses and lakes, I asked Bill what might have caused Horse One to get out. New horses. Our neighbor had gotten a couple of new horses and our fields back up to one another. Evidently, across the fence line our horse decided that his friend, Horse Two wasn't enough and the new horses peaked his interests so that he would find any way possible to get across that fence. Animals are like that, hormones, instincts, curiosity all cause us, yes us, since we are animals too, to look across the fence sometimes. There is nothing wrong with looking. The problem comes when the temptation to cross that fence, which isn't really in our best interest, gets so strong that we throw caution to the wind and jump, or go around, or climb under. All kinds of problems can come from giving in to that.
Luckily, for us, our horse is unable to reproduce, even though he doesn't know that and we have neighbors that helped us out. The outcome could have been a lot different. When I arrived on the scene there was little I could do, because for those of you who know what has gone on in my life lately, me against an angry Arabian horse would not be a pretty picture. But I was able to watch and what I saw took my breath away. Walking down past the fence line to the gate, across the broken down trees and slushing slowly through the muddy trail I walked into the clearing of the neighbors field to see the sun just peering through the clouds. As the rays lit up the field the light danced off the galloping horses coming towards me and their colors, some a gorgeous burnt sienna, but others a watercolored, dappled grey and a soft, velvety brown were gorgeous. I had always known that horses were beautiful, but I had never experienced the beauty of horses first hand like this. It touched that artistic part of me that God placed in my life in a way that is hard to describe.
Over the next few days I really thought a lot about what had happened and what I had seen. I prayed about the experience because I knew that God was showing me something in this and I didn't want to miss this. Horses are beautiful, artistically beautiful, but horses aren't the point. Beauty is. God said to me that science may try and explain facts and theories about how this planet came into existence but when you consider the force of beauty itself it is a force to be reckoned with. It can't be ignored and most importantly it can't be explained scientifically. When you look into the face of a child or gaze into the sunset and see the brilliant colors blending day into night the beauty of those things can't be explained. We, as humans, need beauty in our lives so that we can believe there is more to this life than the ordinary day to day things we see. Adam and Eve had to deal with this. Eden was created as a beautiful sanctuary on Earth. I believe it is what God actually intended for us. But, thanks to giving into temptation, to looking over the fence and actually crossing it, they were committed to a life of ordinary, with occasional beauty mixed in. God didn't deny them beauty altogether, he gave them tastes of it, longings for it, so they would have an instinctual need for it to pass on to mankind. Thank God he loved us enough to do that. Can you imagine this world without the concept of anything beautiful? The arts may exist but they would never be classified as beautiful. Gasp!
I have had several people ask me lately to explain what I mean when I say God speaks to me so I feel that I should do that, and God said go ahead. I can only explain it as it happens in my life and you may believe it, understand it, or not. That doesn't matter really. What matters is my willingness and effort to keep the connection open. I prayed a few months ago and asked God to connect with me in a way that I would understand and asked if he would have a sense of humor. He did both. What I started to experience was that in times that I was quiet I began talking to God and he talked back, softly, where I could hear him, but he answered. He didn't just talk though. He showed me that he could send me answers through the radio, through others, on the back of a car with a licencse plate that said "God did it" and then I began to understand. When I opened up the box as to how I thought God would speak to me he decided to show up, constantly, in lots of interesting, fun and unexpected ways. This past week it was in a cow pasture with horses. I look forward to next week. Don't put God in a box. Pray, ask him to help you with this and let him out to talk with you as you walk through this life. That's really what he desires from us, a walk together, possibly, with horses.