Category Archives: Struggles

“Pilgrim’s Prayer for Wavering Faith”

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I’ve come to a mountain on my pilgrimage. It’s named Mount Wavering Faith. It looms before me so that it’s all I can see. I’ve heard of it before, but thought surely I’ll never face it. I’ve blindly followed a winding path of pride, rebellion, sorrow and regret, right to the very foot of it. Will climbing it, and getting to the other side, lead to a surety of what I say I believe? I want it to. But I fear what awaits. What if I crest the top and find there is nothing to find? That thought leaves me in a fog of defeat and despair.

Have you been to this mountain before?
Maybe you’re there now?

You’re not alone. *Do not be afraid do not be discouraged…

As I stare up at Wavering Faith, I feel it’s weight deep inside. I drop to my knees, and rest my head on the foot of that mountain. Slowly a gentle stirring begins in my spirit.

Jesus…

I feel You here! Even here Lord in this shadow of Wavering Faith. May I curl up at Your feet and stay all day? I need Your rest. I don’t want to deal with the world today. It’s hurtful and crazy and sad. I feel like I can’t cope anymore Jesus. I can’t help my hurting loved ones. I can’t turn hardening hearts from Satan’s lies. I want to force them to know Your truth. *But that’s not Your way is it Lord?

I want to lay here in Your presence and pitch a fit as You wipe tears from my eyes. I want to feel the release that being alone with You provides. I’m tired Lord. I’m tired of standing up when all I want to do is fall. I’m tired of waiting for something to happen, when I don’t know what that something is. My soul is restless and not at peace. I want to understand what troubles me so. God forgive me, but, I have moments when I fear that I’ve fooled myself into believing I’m saved. I fear there are parts of my heart that You want, yet I won’t let You have. Maybe because I fear Your power in me. Maybe the real fear is that I’ll call on that power, and it won’t be there. Maybe, Jesus, I don’t believe at all. Then what God? What salvation is left for me if I can’t feel my faith? Or trust? I read Your Word and find myself seeing it with the eyes of an unbeliever. Your being is incredible. It’s so big how can I hope to absorb it? And I’ve been a Christian for decades. Haven’t I? How have I come to this barren place?

Aside from day dreams Lord, I can’t recall ever longing to be any particular thing. Other than what I wasn’t. Always leaping and grasping for stars that weren’t mine to shine.

Since giving my life to You I’ve longed to find and fulfill a calling. Surely I’m meant for something? *Your Word tells me it is to be a Christian and to represent You well. I found solace in that for awhile. Now, in my failures, even that feels shaken. Oh God, if I’m being refined for something here in this valley, reveal it to me. I know you’ve freed me from the bondage of my mistakes, my sins. Still my heart so that I can feel You working. Stay my mind to keep it from searching for signs that just aren’t there. Forgive me for trying to take matters into my own hands. *Now God grant me the kind of faith, not to climb this mountain, but to make it move! Then grant me the patience to wait as You reveal the path it has concealed. *Restore to me the joy of my salvation and renew a right spirit within me. Thank you for calming me as only You can do.

In Jesus Name amen.

Please…click to read each passage
*Deuteronomy 31:8 *Isaiah 55:8,9 *1 Peter 2:9 *Matthew 17:20
*Psalm 51:12,13  (All from NIV)

“Familyweed”

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On August 13th I wroteA tragic event in March of this year left my families lives turned upside down. It’s not my story to tell. Suffice it to say our balance has yet to be regained. If anything mid July saw it thrown off once again. I would say I’ll be happy to see the back side of 2016…but I have to wonder what 2017 will herald in?

A scant four days after I posted the above statement another harsh reality slammed into my family. We didn’t have to wait until 2017 for another mind numbing experience. One we’re still in the throes of. As if we aren’t still caught up in the gale forces of January, March…and July. Will I never learn? How could I even begin to relax and think we’d weathered the storm? Now August has blown into the mix.

I sit here gazing out my window, feeling only slightly like Job. I feel guilty too for not making the 70 mile trek to the hospital today. A place I’ve grown to despise even as I appreciate all it provides. It’s kept two of my beloved ones alive these past long weeks. One endless stay turned into another. A dark tunnel with no end. Emotionally drained. All of us. Weary and helpless.

Fear. Denial. Anger. Sorrow. Tangible frustration that knows no bounds. Aching acceptance.

It’s the realization that absolutely nothing will ever be the same. Massive tumbleweeds, familyweeds, of lives more than half over. Lives that have been enter twined since birth. Brittle and gnarled. Traveling in whatever direction the wind rolls them. Hither and yon. Landed here in the twilight. Full of debris picked up along the journey. Crumbling, weary and breaking apart. I fear complete detachment. It’s a chasm that can’t be crossed this side of Heaven. I began as the last of three. I can’t imagine life without my two. Friends, enemies, timeless love. Good, bad and all in between. Thick and thin. Even strangers sometimes. Dare I wonder how the inevitable will come?

Where would I be with out my faith? Without my God who strengthens me and hears the plea in my heart? Pleas I can’t put into words though the Spirit does. I feel Jesus surrounding the broken places that I don’t understand. Reaching up for the peace that surpasses. I long for my loved ones to have peace. I feel refinement being wrought. Almighty El Roi lead me in the path You’d have me go.

So I pray.* My Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I know, as I release my pent up breath, that my woes are smaller than most but larger than some. Aren’t each of our troubles? Isn’t that the very nature of humanity? All I need to do is watch the evening news to realize that God has been kind to me and mine. Kind indeed.

Now to share the sliver of light that is breaking through my dark.

 

*Lords Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13

“Victory Patch”

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Inner anguish, physical pain,
Pillar crumbled under the strain.
Extenuating circumstance,
Where she is, no happenstance.
So hard to explain.

The venom she spews isn’t poison,
It’s only there to keep her safe,
Locked in a world where she sets the pace.

Years lost, life stolen,
Age a factor,
Not so golden.

Those who surround this soul of thorns,
Often find their feelings torn.
How can love be reaching out,
Let it in! Hearts plead and shout.

I’m obsessed with time now that I’m fifty something. I think we can all agree that it is a fleeting and precious commodity. It can be fickle too. We want it to pass quickly only when we or someone we love is going through something awful. We catch ourselves thinking I wish some time would go by so this would be behind us. Before we know it, it has. The thing from which we begged release has turned into the past. A new scar or a badge of triumph or both.

Alcoholism and co-dependency run in my family. Battling my own addictions is the only time I remember living in just one moment at a time. I couldn’t think beyond the second I was living in. To do so meant I was looking forward to a life with out my poison. Who was I with out it? What do I do now with out it? I’d stand before my soul mirror and see the reflection that Christ shone back at me. I saw an empty shell staring back. Me. Shame and remorse flooding every waking second. I remember wishing someone could see inside my heart. Could see and even feel what was happening to me. It would be a few years after the physical addictions faded before I realized something. I’d become addicted to the commiseration of caring people. I was literally starved for affirmation and acceptance. I couldn’t understand why people couldn’t see that. I saw rejection where there was none…it’s what I did. Then I’d retreat, withdraw and feel like giving up. Now thank goodness I realize God is the only one I have to please. That is the relationship I must seek and strive to maintain, He’s the only one worthy of such dedication. God loves me! He adopted ME!  I regret the time I’ve spent on relationships that were hard and impossible. I ache for the time I spent away from those that were easy and meaningful.

Looking back on that time I truly do see just one set of footprints. I wasn’t alone. When I cried, “dear Jesus come and heal my broken spirit!” He did. Oh the glory of being able to look back now from this side of the mess that was my life! I can never thank Him enough. Life is a journey. We each have to walk through it and make decisions that will determine our future. It’s a process of learning and growing. We can’t look back, only forward. Only forward! My past is just that. There is more for me to accomplish. God promises forgiveness through Jesus Christ, but as I’ve learned, there is fall out from my poor choices. Consequence’s I live. Some I bear willingly, others are excruciating. I want so desperately to have a “do-over” so I can fix it. The weight of being responsible, heavy. I’ve given the Lord an account of my failures. I prayerfully seek guidance now in trying to steer from danger what was in my wake back then.

The only thing I know for sure is that operating in the will of God will see me to the end of my mahalak. Are you or a loved one going through trials? Physical, spiritual, mental…the list does go on doesn’t it? The first step is always the hardest. If it’s you, find someone you trust today. A friend or family member someone who loves you with out fail. Tell them your story. Let them in and let them help. It truly is not possible for people to know your heart if you can’t share it. I know it’s hard. If it’s not you, but someone you love who’s struggling let them know you’re around. Let them know you’ll listen with out judgment. Don’t be hurt if they send you packing. They’ve heard you. They’re just not ready to listen to you.

God loves you. He sees us all. Let Him guide those who attempt to reach out. Let Him remove the heart barricades of those addicted. Let Him cover their scars, like mine, with patches of victory!

Victory in Jesus
( vs 2 and chorus of Hymn)

I heard about His healing, of his cleansing pow’r revealing,
How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;
And then I cried dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t to me the victory!

Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior, forever,
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory beneath His cleansing flood.

E. M. Bartlett

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“Speed Limit?”

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My brothers and sisters, if anyone wanders away from the truth and someone helps that person come back, remember this: Anyone who brings a sinner back from the wrong way will save that person from eternal death and cause many sins to be forgiven. (James 5:19-20 ERV)

So much dialog in my head and on my heart, yet nowhere to begin. Time to write but overwhelmed by words longing for release. Will I anger someone? Insult someone? Hurt someone? More than likely. Will I be misunderstood? I feel sure of that.

I was on my way to town yesterday. I wasn’t on a time schedule and had no reason to be exceeding the speed limit, but exceed I did. Everyone around me was exceeding. That little white and black rectangular sign totally ignored. I rounded a curve and low and behold, there sat an officer of the law. I, and the group of cars around me, began the instant deceleration. My heart pounded in that rush of fear, the other hearts had to be as well. An unpleasant word formed unspoken behind my lips, and all eyes went to view the rear-view. We’d been spied, now trying to appear meek and innocent. A warning. You’re bound to know that feeling…yes? If not, then kudos! No blue lights flashed, no siren sounded. My breathing eased back to normal, and I started thinking about sin. How when we come close to being caught we panic. My first reaction to seeing the cop was a curse word, whether uttered or not, it was thought. Then I had to check to see if my seat belt was indeed fastened, it’s a thousand wonders it was. One wrong action leading to another. My speeding had turned to cursing the authority that could fine me. It made me check myself to see if I was breaking another law as well. Then the remorse set in. What an awful example. What if my grand kids had been with me? Or a non Christian person?

There in lies the trouble folks. People simply hate being wrong. Especially when we are. We don’t like when we’re made to feel less than good. This is where the dialog stuck in my heart head becomes so overwhelming. There is so much to say on the topic of sin. But God has already said it all so I don’t have to. (Click here to read this passage. It’s a must)
I think where we get hung up in this day and age is trying to make one sin worse than the other. But sin is sin. Period. (See**for a small sampling.)  I do not condone a lot of what is happening in this world but a large part of me wants to scream, WAIT JUST A MINUTE!!
The prime example right now, as you’re aware, are businesses who’ve refused a product or service to someone because they’re gay. I appreciate the thought behind the action but does it solve anything? I will never condone homosexuality because it goes against the Word of God Almighty. But, so does murder, lying, disrespecting your parents, stealing, adultery, sodomy, bestiality…the list goes on! Should vendors begin asking all customers how they’ve sinned today? Like, “Hello, may I help you? A cake? Sure but have you robbed a bank today? Or, “Have you beat your wife or kids today? Or, “Have you gambled your livelihood away today?” Or how about, “I can serve you unless of course you’ve lied today, or had an abortion, have you looked at pornography? Have you exceeded the speed limit and cursed today? If you’ve done any of those things then I can’t serve you.”

See where I’m headed?

Today’s issues have always been issues. Today’s society and blatant disregard for God’s laws have this Jesus girl in a flaming hot seat. I’m all for my rights as a Christian…but my job as a Christian is to point others to Christ. Who. Forgives. Every. Sin. The only exception is the sin of non-belief. There is simply no help for a non-believer who’s been told the gospel truth and chooses to deny it. (Matthew 12:31 from The Message)

I would like to think if I owned a business and a gay couple came in seeking my product or service, I’d use the opportunity to witness to them. Like, “Hello, may I help you? A cake with two brides on top? I will bake the cake but here is what God says about homosexuality. No, this doesn’t make me a bigot or a homophobe, nor do I hate you. I too am a sinner saved by grace. We’re all sinners and we all fall short of the Glory of God.” More than likely they’d get peeved and leave. Maybe, just maybe, they’d re-examine their lifestyle. Maybe they’d blow my store up, but the puff of smoke I’d go up in would be scented with the fragrance of my bumbling effort to share Jesus. Our world has gone sin crazy mad. The days we live in aren’t new news. They have been repeated over and over. The Old Testament is riddled with good king, bad king. God fearing, God rejecting.

I wish that we’d react to our Savior Cop like we do a police officer on the side of the road. We know when we’re on the verge of sin yet we keep pressing the accelerator until we get caught red handed. Laws, rules and regulations. They’re all in place for our own good. Our safety. Our health. Our spiritual well being. Our relationship with God. Our eternal existence. We’re to obey man’s laws…until they go against God’s. There will be consequences for going against His precepts. But God will handle all that, He doesn’t expect me to. I don’t mean we should go glibly on about our business, we do need to speak the truth of God. I’m just not sure that inciting a sinner is the answer. But what do I know? I’m a speeding, cursing, sometimes non seat belt wearing, used to be way worse sinner. And the list goes on.

I’d love to know how you’re feeling about this article. Are you unsure how to react to what’s happening around us right now? No matter who you are, know that God loves you. He’ll meet you right where you are. Feel free to comment but be nice!

**James 2:10
**1 Corinthians 9-10

“Call Me Stormy!”

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Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he (Jesus) was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.
Mark 6:47-52 (NIV)

I missed my calling. I should have been a storm chaser. Goodness knows gale force winds find me, even when I’m minding my own business, even when I least expect it. I don’t know why I thought living for Christ would be free from thunder and lightening.

Once upon a time I was the storm. A cyclone of self ruination. I twisted out of control with no regard to the mess I left behind. Wild seemed to brew in my in-most being, building in intensity, screaming for release. I got caught up in the approval seeking tunnel, grasping for affirmation, no matter where it came from. Substance abuse, meaningless relationships…anything that made me feel wanted, part of something. Yet something was always missing. Then Jesus, Master storm chaser pursued me and pulled me into the eye of His calm. He began to still my spinning thought process, He began to change it, I found my something and began to hone it. I wanted to know this Master of the wind.

I was finally doing what I was meant to do. The twister I didn’t see coming though was the chunks of me that would either be ripped away or forever changed. I don’t mean just the the visible signs of my morphing into a Christian. I’m talking about things I couldn’t change. Hearts that didn’t want to come with me into this new life. Hearts that feel there’s no need to be different. I lost some relationships, and some are separated by a chasm of, we agree to disagree, and stubbornness. I’ve waded in the floods of sorrow as the waters of resentment and anger rushed me, ever swirling. Under currents of dislike, hate? I’ve experienced the pain of loss even though the flesh and bone forms live and breathe. There are days I feel helpless. On those days I carry that hopelessness to the power of the Cross. I cry out to the Lord for mercy, praying for those who’re lost, longing to bridge the gap. I know He hears me. He comforts me and assures me that I am His. He makes me ready to resume my voyage and equips me for the next gale.

Yes, I still struggle when the sea of my past crashes into my present. Lately, clouds of bygone instances have blown their way into blue skies, threatening and dark. The winds of remorse gain speed, brewing up regret, and sorrow, and discontent. My sturdy façade quakes as the battering force threatens to blow it away, trying to uproot the foundation of who I’ve become. Who I was always meant to be. There are times, even now, when I think it would be easier to take my eyes off of Jesus and look down into the roiling cauldron of worldly living. Satan luring me back into a vortex of age old lies. But I know I won’t. I won’t because God is bigger. He teaches me things even when I struggle against my own churning wake. Even when I’m blindsided by squalls not of my own making. In my minds eye I lift my hands up as forces rage around me, and in me. That are me. I see God’s hand splitting the heavens, reaching down to grasp mine, His spirit calming a heart out of control. The storm abates. The waters still. I look up, compassionate eyes, merciful smile, God of my storms…God of my calm and I say amen.

My prayers go out to anyone who knows the pain an unforeseen twister can wreak. Don your life jacket of salvation and keep your eyes on the Maker of the rain. Go to battle with prayer and petition and rest in the knowledge that He hears you.

Beautiful, please listen! Master of the Wind

“Un-Easy”

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It’s so easy to be a Christian and spout off godly things while sitting among my fellow church mates. It’s so easy to blog the thoughts swirling in my mind while surrounded by my Bibles and commentaries, concordances and dictionaries. It’s so easy to think I’m prepared to face the adversary called unbelief. To think I have answers to questions a non believer might ask. Until a non-believer asks. Until out of the mouth of one who seeks comes a question or thought that leaves me dumb and grief stricken.

It’s one thing to deal with theological questions from young children, but grown analytical minds? Keen, intelligent minds? That’s another story and nowhere close to easy. Young children are relatively content in taking the word of their parents or other trusted adults. It’s only when their minds start thinking and feeling independently that we’re challenged. Then in a blink you have adult children who have their own views and opinions. Each stage of this process changes the playing field. If your kids are still young, well, I hope this somehow encourages you, or warns you. Whether it be children, other family or  friends, fight hard for their salvation. Do all you can and then some. I’m sure there are scores of books on the topic. Had I read one or two perhaps I could better deal with the searing sorrow of feeling I’ve failed dear ones. Perhaps I’d be better equipped at swaying the heart’s of those who don’t believe that Christ is our Messiah. It’s a heartrending reality.

I had the opportunity to witness to a young woman recently. I was met with questions like, “Why do I have to worry about how I live now? I’m young and have lot’s of time. Why do I have to worry about what happens when I die?” “I want to have the same faith you do but I just don’t.” “It seems like everything is an abomination to God then.” I could see the confusion and the rejection of my words written on her furrowed brow. This sharp young mind feels there is no need to fret about what happens right now. If people are happy and getting along, all should be well. As I continued my witness I floundered like a fish out of water. It’s as if I couldn’t string two words together, I felt something wither up in my inner being. I was failing her, I was failing God! I could hear myself speak but heard it with her ears. It sounded confusing and unrealistic. Her arguments had value and weight. The reality we live in now makes Scripture seem outlandish, otherworldly yet outdated. Had I allowed Satan to best me in that round? Maybe. Regardless of my un-easy feelings, I know a mustard seed was planted in that young heart. I know it! I may have waxed in-eloquent but the seed was sown.

Enter free will, the choice to believe or not believe.

It’s our job as Christian’s to sow. To tell people who Christ is and what He’s done for us. Christians are responsible only for sharing the Word with those who’re seeking. We can’t force people to accept it. If a person rejects Jesus it’s because that person has chosen not to believe. We don’t have to prove Jesus but we do have to live for Him and let Him shine through us.

For those of you that stand helplessly by while loved ones struggle with Christianity, I know it hurts grievously, but take heart. Once the seed is planted our job is to storm the gates of Hell and fight with prayer. Praying that the tiny seed will grow into the being God meant it to be at it’s conception. We all fall short…so help me I didn’t know how far short I was until I witnessed to this young woman. Oh the things I should have done and didn’t! I explained that it’s a total misconception for non-Christians to think Christians are being judgmental when sin is pointed out. It’s not that we feel superior to anyone, in fact we can end up feeling completely inferior when arguments are tossed our way. It’s vital to know the Word of God…it’s just as vital to realize we simply don’t have all of the answers.

I dare say we can all look back and see where we could have been a better witness for Christ. Don’t stop trying. Ever! Parents, grand parents, read the Bible to your kids or grand kids. Tell them the accounts of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. Keep the truth ever present for them to see…and pray.

Father in Heaven, hallowed Thy Name.
Grace is given to cover my shame.
I struggle and fail more often than not,
A work in progress, I’m being wrought.

Lord grant that the seed, I may have sown,
Large or small, be Jesus own.
Into His hands I commit the soil,
For which by prayer, I’ll continually toil.

You did the work on the cross You bore,
My paltry offerings never a chore.
Let eyes of the hearts that I hold dear,
Find You, Redeemer, before their bier.


In His Name and for His sake,
I lift this prayer for You to take.
Amen.

~pdh~
February 12, 2016

“Snow Musing”

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Snow Musing…


“In the way of righteousness there is life, along that path is immortality.” Proverbs 12:28 (NIV)

Gazing out my front windows at the freshly fallen snow I feel as if I’m in a white, forgotten wilderness. We live on a fairly busy road…but the road isn’t even visible right now. The white yard flows into the white road, which flows into the white woods on the other side. The county crews are no doubt busy which means our road won’t get attention until later. I’m reminded of a another bygone snowy day, but it was a work day.

I headed to the garage, got in my truck, and whispered a prayer for safe travel. I backed out of our ice and snow covered drive way onto the ice and snow covered road. I was and am thankful that we live on the straight, flat portion of it. There are several miles between our home and the “main road”. Now, you’d have to live in a rural area to appreciate that term. I cautiously crept toward the stop sign at the end of my road, praying I’d see a clear path when I got there. When it finally came into view I released the breath I’d been holding and relaxed. The main route had in fact been cleared! You see, I’ve had several go rounds, literal go rounds, on ice covered roads. That always leaves me a bit shaken, so I couldn’t wait to hit that clear black ribbon of road!

As I continued on my way, I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of the cold, treacherous stuff. I watched as other travelers slowly made their way along their own slippery side roads, approaching their own stop signs. I wondered if they’d be able to stop, praying they could, for both our sake’s. I wondered if they were as relieved as I had been to see the clear path. As risky as it was, part of me wanted to keep driving around so I could look, the trees were stunning that day.

Isn’t that so like life? We get drawn in by the alluring beauty of our surroundings, enticing us to leave the clear way. Our pride enthralled thoughts lead us to believe, it can’t be that bad. I can make it just fine. Too late we realize we’ve created a self inflicted struggle. We’ve left the clear path. We hit that first slippery patch and careen into the fact that we’ve erred. We’re stranded! We turn and look back to see the safe way beckoning. Sometimes we’re close enough to get back with out much trouble. Most other times we need binoculars to even see that thin black ribbon of road. We have to struggle and fight to get back to the path that’s free from danger. Why do we cruise right into havoc and then turn in disbelief when we see where we’ve landed? Because we don’t listen!

Moses had the mind blowing honor and privilege of having God speak to him. Like, here’s your list of things to do and this is how it will turn out, now go. Yet Moses balked and hem-hawed and made excuses, he resisted. Once God set him straight, Moses did in fact lead the Jews out of Egypt. But he too met with resistance. First from the Pharaoh, which God warned him of. But then came resistance from the very people he led to freedom. These folks were eye witnesses to miraculous wonders that we can only fathom in our imaginations. Yet they faltered. They wanted to go their own way and make their own rules. They rebelled against God. As a result of that they wandered in the desert for forty long years.

Would I have been any different? Would you?

In Exodus 15 God tells us, “I am the Lord who heals you.” But it came with instructions. God said, “listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes”. God promises His people that He will care for them. Always.

When you’re reading God’s Word…listen. When you’re in your prayer closet…listen. Seek the path He has laid out for you. If you begin to wander and shakenly realize you’ve veered of course…stopimmediately! Look up! God will be right where you left Him…waiting. He’ll guide you back to the safety of His clear road.

What a sweet relief…