Trust=Peace

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Have you ever read or seen a news story that bothered your mind so much that you lost sleep over it?
In the past two days I read two seperate news stories and they have worried and plagued my mind so much that here it is 3 am and I am wide awake on “high alert” to any sound or movement in my home. I need to be up in an hour and a half and ready for a busy day, but my brain refuses to shut down.
I am ashamed to admit I allowed myself to become paranoid to the point of standing in Kat’s bedroom, considering all the “what ifs”. I have mentally chased the “what if” trail all the way to the dramatic end where the intruder lay “bleeding out” (because make no mistake, this mama would not stop until one of us is dead.) I stood there and considered where would be a good, safe location to hide a weapon in her room (easily accessed, adult height, safe from curious fingers). I checked and rechecked her window locks…and yet peace eluded me.

Then as I sat by her bed praying and pouring out my heart to the Lord, a simple yet precious scripture I learned as a small child flooded my heart. To be honest, it had been niggling around the edges of my brain all night but I was so caught up in my ridiculous paranoia and planning that I didn’t allow the scripture to take root until out of desperation I sat still before the Lord.
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those that fear Him and He delivers them.” Ps. 37:7. So simple to understand. Straight forward. So powerful and real I almost wanted to pull back the curtain and see if I could see which Angel is on duty tonight.
I left her room and opened my Bible. I searched for “safety” and found this:
“In peace, I will lie down. For you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8.
Huh. Imagine that. If I had poured my heart out to Him at 11:00 pm when I first began tossing and turning, I would not have turned loose my grisly imagination or crossed the fine line between “caution” and “paranoia”.
The clock is still ticking *yawn* and my heart is at rest so now I’m heading to my comfy bed for the next….hour and 30 min. 🙂
My heart IS at rest… but I would not suggest anyone to rattle a door knob or window screen. If that camping out Angel doesn’t get ya first, I’m pretty confident I know 3 ways I can take you out before you get fully over the threshold. 😉
~kidding~
G’night all.

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IF……Then what?!

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This is a journal entry from 2013 but every now and then I need a reminder.  I’m posting it here in case you need a reminder too.

I woke up very early this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I began my day’s devotions. By now I should know when that happens, it’s fixing to change my life and God is allowing me extra time to compose myself before my family wakes up and sees me broken and weeping.
Today’s thought:
IF the absolute worst case scenario happens in my life…THEN what??
As a wife and mom my top two very WORST fears have always been:
“What if something horrible happens to my husband?”
“What if something horrible happens to my children?”
In the past sometimes my mind would be tormented worrying about it.
When each of the kids learned to drive,” what if they have a wreck?”
When they began moving out on their own, “what if they got hurt and no one knew to contact me?”
“What if Mike had an accident while traveling on a business trip?”
“What if he gets sick and we can’t make ends meet?”
“What if he was in a bad car accident and I lost him?”
THEN WHAT??
Sometimes the worry would be so real I would actually tear up and get all in a dither as if it had already happened…and then the kid would walk in late for curfew or Mike would call and say his plane was delayed.
Lets face it, MOST of our “What ifs” never happen and it’s a lot of wasted emotions and energy…but sometimes………

I have felt God touching my heart with a whisper to “examine this closer” for a few weeks now, but I kinda danced around the edges because this devotion just felt to big and deep and scary to examine too closely. Today’s devotions addressed all of that and there was no escaping it. Here’s the deal:
Satan does not have the power to MAKE something happen in my life. Only God has the plan and the power to bring about circumstances and situations in my life according to His best plan for me. So since Satan cannot touch me without God allowing it, Satan works overtime plaguing my mind with FEAR of something horrible happening. And in the past I have trusted God to the best of my ability and prayed for Him to prevent the horrible “what ifs” that came to mind.
But this year he saw fit to allow it. The two biggest fears of my life happened. Suddenly I was thrown from the “WHAT IF…” Straight into the …”NOW WHAT??”

“IF Alisa is in a bad car accident and almost loses her life…” Became “Alisa has been in a critical car accident and is barely alive, please hurry!” And now for the last 6 months we have been trying to figure out the “NOW WHAT?” part. Prayers, surgeries, therapies, medications, predictions….it’s been a whirlwind, and only recently have things slowed down enough for me to dwell on this thought:
The WHAT IF happened….and during the “NOW WHAT?” I discovered GOD WAS THERE FOR ME! He daily whispered to my soul, “I’ve got this! Trust me! Be still and trust me!” And we made it through! Just typing it makes me cry! We made it!!

…and then the other huge “WHAT IF” hit us. UNBELIEVABLE! My heart raged at God for a time. My emotions were so scrambled and my trust was so shaken!! “God, WHY?! I TRUSTED YOU! I’VE BEEN SEEKING YOU AND BELIEVING THAT YOU HAVE US IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND!! WHY THIS? WHY NOW??”
The night of Mike’s cancer diagnosis, I lay in bed thinking “I can’t go through this. I just can’t. I cannot watch him suffer and live with a cancer sentence over him forever. I can’t live through this.”
But here is what I learned:
God allows us to be mad.
God allows us to weep.
God allows us to grieve.
…but then He provides the answer to the “NOW WHAT??” And this morning He opened my eyes that it’s time to get up off the floor.
Dust off my knees.
Dry my eyes.
Square my shoulders and look Satan in the eye….and tell him “HERE’S WHAT!! I demand my joy back in Jesus name! And next go round you’ll discover that my faith is STRONGER than ever! I refuse to quake and shiver over your “WHAT IF’s” because they already happened and now I know I BELONG TO HIM. I AM HIS BELOVED CHILD and IF HIS PLAN FOR MY LIFE TAKES ME THROUGH SOME MORE WHAT IFs, HIS GRACE WILL BRING ME THROUGH!! HE WILL NOT DROP ME IN THE FIRE AND TURN HIS BACK!”
My God is not only the God of the good times, when I’m living the happy, peaceful, joyful times. My God is also God in the dark days, the depressing, scary, sad and hurting days. He has proven himself to me time and time again and I WILL TRUST AND NOT BE AFRAID!
God has taught me some extremely personal lessons. He has dealt with me about some very personal issues that I am sure I would have never been open to if I hadn’t been put in the fire.

I do not believe I am putting a target on my back for Satan to take potshots at by posting this because I now know they cannot hit their mark unless it is in GOD’Ss PLAN, and if it is in His plan HE CAN BE TRUSTED!!

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Lord, Bridle my Tongue

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Have you ever had one of those conversations with the Lord that was kinda on going for multiple days? He talks… I talk… He talks again… and I just need to take a minute to let it soak in. Sooner or later, we come around to it again and I confirm what I was suspecting a few days ago. He wants me to change something about myself and it’s going to be difficult if not impossible. He reassures me He’ll help me to change if I have a willing heart, but some things just seem ingrained.

Like my own DNA. It’s just part of me. It makes me…ME.

You ready for it? Sit down. You’re gonna laugh if you know me personally.

I talk too much. Like, all the time.

If you know me personally, you know it’s true.

We relocated to the Tulsa area almost 2 years ago. Our church has a wonderful group of women.  We have Women’s Bible Study once a month, we also do “Dinner on the Grounds” once a month (Sunday service, potluck lunch and afternoon service). I’m also Facebook friends with almost all the women in the congregation. I’m well connected with the ladies, right?

Well, a few weeks ago one of the women was going through a rough patch and I wanted to make something special for her to let her know how much I appreciate her and was praying for her. I’m a crafty kinda gal and love to grab the hot glue gun and fancy paper. One morning I was in my craft room and had decided I really needed to get this done before she gets well and I miss my opportunity. I sat at my table and tried to imagine her personality and conversations we’d had in the past. Basically just trying to draw from my memory, something she might have mentioned being interested in (gardening? Sewing? Reading?) I wanted my gift to be custom for her so she would know I put some thought into it, not just purchasing something off the clearance section at Walmart. I racked my brain for a solid hour and could not come up with one thing that I knew about her personally! Not one! I know that she has great appreciation for Mike and I being foster parents and she always shows interest any time we get a new placement. I know that she enjoys the funny stories I post on FB about Kat. I know that she is very faithful to attend church, if the doors are open you can count on her being there. But I had no idea what her favorite color is, favorite flower? Maybe she’s allergic to flowers? Favorite food? I’d never even paid attention to what dishes she brings to potluck! I know she has a daughter and I think maybe a son? No idea what her favorite scripture is, or favorite song. CLUELESS.

Then I felt the first nudge. “You can’t make something specifically for her because any time you have spent time with her you talked the WHOLE TIME. You told her about the foster babies. You told her about Kat. You told her about 2012. You’ve told her more than she probably ever wanted to know!!!”

Hm. That stung. I finally just made her a funny card shoved it in my Bible so I wouldn’t have to look at the reminder of God’s reproof.

I like to talk. I think I’m interesting.

Stop laughing.

Another nudge happened when I made a short road trip to visit a dear friend. Oh how I love her! I spent the weekend at her place and treasured every minute of our time together. While there, she and I took a short little drive out in the country, looking at wildflowers, taking pictures of a funny dog, even stopping to steal flowers from someone’s front yard tree. Oh how I loved our girl time! Once I got home I wanted to make a special thank you gift for her. I sat down to make a project and as I reviewed my favorite conversations from our time together I realized every stinking one of them was about ME! EVERY ONE!! How did that happen?!! She talked too! I’m sure she talked too, because I remember us laughing almost to the point of tears…oh wait…that was because of a very old memory. Oh no, Lord. I did it again, didn’t I? I had time in the presence of someone that means so much to me, but I talked a mile a minute while she laughed. The only time she talked was when I was busy crying about 2012. Oh man.

I don’t want to be this way! This is a rude and selfish and ugly trait and I want to correct it! I really need to stop talking and LISTEN. But do you know how HARD it is to shut my mouth when I get around people?! To be completely honest, I even talk out loud all day when I’m rattling around my house with infant babies that can’t respond!

And poor Jesus! I know he said to pray without ceasing, but I wonder if sometimes even HE is staring off into space and yawning! *wink* (not really, of course, but you get the picture…..)

The most recent nudge happened a few evenings ago. I attended the viewing of a sweet lady who passed away. The weather was bad and tornadoes were in the forecast so there weren’t a lot of people in attendance. As I walked into the funeral home I discovered 2 sweet friends from out of state had made the trip to be with the family. I was so happy to see them! It’s been several months since we visited and even then it was at a church meeting so we didn’t get to visit much. I wanted to chat with them and see how they’ve been since I last saw them. I stepped over to them and….you got it….I started talking. (see the pattern yet??) Even after TWO Godly nudges, can you believe I STILL talked the whole time!! In my defense, I think I asked them how they were doing and I *think* I waited until they said “fine” before I launched in.   ~sigh~

God: “Seriously. I want you to STOP TALKING ALL THE TIME! Be quiet and LISTEN!”

Me: “But Lord that doesn’t sound like any fun at ALL!!”

God: “Sandra Danene, Either YOU fix it or I’ll fix it!”

I’ve always had a fear of being paralyzed or something happening where I couldn’t speak or communicate.

So, here I sit. I’m trying to figure out how to stop talking. Staple my lips shut? Break my jaw so they wire it closed? Duct tape? Shock collar? Tie a string on my finger??

I drew a hot pink “L” (LISTEN!!!) on both of my index fingers right before I went into church yesterday morning. Since I tend to flail around with my hands when I talk, I hoped I’d catch a glimpse of the L and shut up.

It didn’t work.

 

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My Crossroads

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I was raised in a Christian home.  I have personally never had that moment of wondering if God is real.  I grew up acknowledging him and learning to recognize his blessings.  However, as I grew into adulthood I became lazy about my spiritual life.  Since I knew God was real and I had access to him anytime, I tended to take him for granted.  Of course I called out to him in earnest when I needed him to provide or work something out for me, but I didn’t have a meaningful relationship with him.  All my life I was in awe and reverence of Almighty God but it was a religious reverence.

That changed during our trials of 2012.  God clearly showed me I was at a crossroad in my life. The jig was up.  It was time to grow up spiritually.  It was sink or swim.  I learned how to LIVE “Pray without Ceasing”.  I rarely said “Amen” at the end of my prayers, instead I would just pick up where I left off and keep on talking to Him.  It was sincere.  It was earnest.  I needed God like I had never needed him before.  My prayers evolved from organized, clean, tidy lists to just talking to him.  As my prayer life changed, so did my relationship with Him.  Without taking away any respect for his deity and power, it was like God eased himself off his throne to sit with me on the floor.  He became my best friend.  He became personal.  I fell in love with him and before long I realized that nothing…NOTHING…is more important to me in this life than maintaining and growing my relationship with God.  I believe my trials were meant to test me, to see if I wanted to be more than a surface Christian.  But during the trial I think I subconsciously also began testing God.  I knew he was real, but did *I* matter enough to him?  He’s such a big God, could he really care about me?  The amazing thing is, He didn’t take offense.  Never once did he respond with “How dare you to question my love for you?!  I am God!”  Instead, every time I took a step into the unknown I felt his hand.  In the dark times I could hear his whisper giving me direction.  When I felt like I was being battered and beat up emotionally, I could feel his shoulder touching mine and I gained the confidence that I was not on the front line alone.

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Once life began to ease into some normalcy, the desire of my heart was to hang onto this new relationship.  I don’t want to feel a distance again.  I crave the closeness and newness of my personal relationship with God.  I love going to church and enjoying fellowship with my church family.  I am loved and accepted and challenged there.  But even more than church services, I cherish my early morning quiet time with Jesus.  I’ve learned to not listen for an audible booming voice from the sky, instead he speaks by drawing my eyes to a special scripture.  He encourages me with a song or a message.  Some mornings he is just quiet and lets me talk and talk.  Every morning I thank him for life and breath and for loving even me.

As I begin this process of blogging, my whole purpose is to encourage and bless others.  Some posts may be more serious and sincere and others may just be a funny incident that bears repeating, but overall if you leave my page with a smile I will feel like I have succeeded.

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Lest We Forget

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I wrote this journal entry 3 years ago, but I feel it also needs to be posted here.

Several years ago on my way to work, as I topped a hill a car was in my lane attempting to pass 3 cars at one time. Pure instinct kicked in and I started to take the shoulder but something stayed my hand. In a split second, that car took MY shoulder and flew past me on the right side as the three cars passed me in their correct lane.

I’ve heard it said in incidents like this that your life flashes before you.  My life did not pass before my eyes, in all honesty there wasn’t time for it to.  I remember gasping and before I could finish “God help me”, it was over.
I was shaking so bad I had to pull over for a few minutes and I clearly remember during the moments that I was thanking God for His protection, I asked Him to never allow the memory of that incident and how huge the miracle was to fade in my heart. Keep it always clear and real that this day you spared my life. Literally.
Many times in the years since, that incident has come back to my mind in such clarity that my stomach clenches and my breathing gets shallow. God has kept the memory and emotions very clear in my heart.
I pray the same thing now as our lives begin to take on more normalcy. Lord please don’t ever allow the devil to minimize how you have held us up and brought us through 2012.
Alisa did NOT “just have an accident”. Alisa was in a critical car accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury, 8 broken bones, 2 dislocated bones, and permanent hearing loss in both ears. The EMTs notified the hospital that they did not expect her to arrive at the ER alive.

And may I also say Mike was not just “sick”. Before we could complete one trial we were doused head first into a “Stage 3A colon cancer” diagnosis. CANCER.

Time and space have a way of smoothing the jagged edges, softening the memory. I do not want to wallow in the sorrow and sadness of it all, but I also do not want to lose the harsh reality of where God has brought us from.

I am studying God’s admonition to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8th chapter and the message God gave them is resounding in my life right now.
May I paraphrase Deuteronomy 8 to explain my heart?
8:2- “And you shall remember the WHOLE WAY that the Lord your God has led you…that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
8:5-7: “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of The Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For The Lord your God is LEADING YOU INTO A GOOD LAND….”
8:11- “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments…lest when you are full…and your heart is lifted up you FORGET The Lord your God who has brought you OUT.”

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Welcome! Let’s get this over with….

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Welcome to my new blog!  I’ve toyed with this idea for a couple years but have been too intimidated to start it.  My biggest fear is showing my ignorance to the world, but since I already do that on Facebook I suppose this isn’t much worse.  My honey believes in this so much he secretly paid the money to secure this domain name and set up this page for me.  He took the time to teach me what to click on and where to type.  Then waited for me to post my first blog.

I opened the page and looked at it.  I came back later in the day and ooohed and ahhhed at the pics of my precious family.  I tested out the tabs and explored a bit.  But every time I try to write my first blog I get nervous.  It’s like the first crisp, white page of a brand new journal.  I don’t want to mess anything up!  Once you write in it, even a dot…the new is gone.  It’s forever just another journal shoved in the pile of other half used journals.

I need to just get this over with.  Just write in it for goodness sake!  Just go!

So here it is.  My first blog post.  Done.  Now we can get on with the good stuff.

 

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