Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Habakkuk Revisited

My last entry was on 9/11 and, as is the usual start to each entry, I began with a verse I found appropriate. The verse I choose for that day was Habakkuk 3:16-19 and it seemed to capture the reality of September 11 accurately. Oddly enough, I have not been able to escape those verses since that post. I am literally meditating on them daily and I so I feel the need to stop and re-examine them once more. I will post them again, this time beginning in verse 17.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.

What thoughts did you have as you read and finished the scripture? I was transported back to several times in my life when my soul cried these very words even though I wasn’t aware of the scripture. I believe that this is the place that the Lord needs to take you to so that he can begin to use you for the purpose you were created. I heard a pastor say once ‘In order for the Lord to use you greatly, he must first break you greatly’. I believe that if you are a child of God, He will break you and if you withstand the hurt, your soul will cry the words of Habakkuk.

I do not know of one person that wishes pain, fear or turmoil on themselves. I also do not know of one person who has not experienced it at some point. Hard times are a fact a life; there is nothing we can do to avoid it if we live long enough. The ‘experience’ has to be so bad that there seems to be no earthly escape to cry the words of Habakkuk and mean them with all your heart.

Do you know why Habakkuk could rejoice in the Lord? Do you have any clue why he was joyful and found strength in the Lord? He knew Peace. How many times have we prayed that God would give someone the peace that passes all understanding? We sometimes throw that around very nonchalantly without realizing the power in its reality.

I have been at the bottom, have you? Who was there? Sure, there was someone there physically – your parents, children, friends or a spouse, but who was there to pick you up? None of those people, not if you were at the bottom. There is only one person who is there to pick you up and you know he is there because of Peace. Peace lifts your eyes first then your head. Peace brings you to your knees and then your feet. Peace gives you strength lift your hands and then Peace slowly but surely pulls you up.

Your situation may be the same, but Peace has given you a new set of glasses to see through. It’s a hard fight to get those glasses, but what a view. You turn around and look where you were and you never want to go there again, but you wouldn’t change it if you could. This is the sweet spot. You can’t imagine it until God has brought you here, but He will bring you. He will make you surefooted and you will rejoice in Him.

I have been through the valley and I have stood on the mountain. If I live long enough, I will experience both again. I like the mountain much, much more than the valley. It is the valley, however, that has given me strength. It is the valley that has prepared me for my purpose. Do I know what my purpose is? No. Maybe I will find out tomorrow, maybe not. Perhaps I will just live it and never realize it. Regardless, I don’t want to miss it. I have been and am being prepared for it, so are you. Life is good, but life is hard. I will rejoice in the Lord because he is sovereign and is my strength.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I trembled inside when I heard all this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. Habakkuk 3:16-19

Today is September 11 and at some point today we will be forced to remember the events that took place 8 years ago. I say you will be forced, maybe that only applies to me. You see, those events are sad and I don’t do sad. I ignore sad at all cost. I try very hard to live by the ‘turn-that-frown-upside-down’ mentality. I will have to be forced to think about that tragic day. I suppose since I am writing about it now, this is the forceful moment.

September 11th was the JFK assignation of my generation. We all remember where we were and what we were doing that morning. I was living in VA at the time and was at the doctor’s office having my knee x-rayed; tendonitis. Ty was visiting that week and we had tickets to the Aerosmith concert in VA Beach on the 12th. It was the second time we had planned to see Aerosmith – the first time the concert was canceled so that Steven Tyler could have knee surgery.

I was lying there on the table with that heavy xray vest on my chest when the technician walked in and said the 2nd tower had been hit. I already knew the first tower was hit and when news came of the second, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what had happened. I said ‘What is going on, can’t those pilots see the towers?’ I assumed the planes were small crop duster planes carrying 2-3 passengers total. I never imagined the reality of it all.

I left the doctor’s office and headed to work listening to the coverage all the way. I soon realized, like the rest of America, that this was a serious threat to our nation. We were under attack, and never was I so glad to work in a one story building. We had a small TV in the front of the office that everyone crowded around to watch the coverage and about 30 minutes in, I knew I couldn’t take anymore. Eight years later, I still cannot watch the coverage. It took months to get the images out of my head of those people jump out of the window 100+ stories in the air.
News soon came that all sporting events, concerts and flight were canceled. I wasn’t headed to a sporting event, but I was headed to a concert and Ty was scheduled to fly home at the end of the week. I called Ty to tell him the concert was canceled and I was very upset about this. I needed normalcy and fun. I needed to go to a concert where there weren’t images of planes blowing up and people dying by the thousands. I needed an escape, without it my frown couldn’t be turned upside down.

By Friday of that week, the nation was slowly moving forward. Bush Gardens opened up and Ty and I enjoyed a day of roller coasters and funnel cakes. We observed a moment of silence at noon and that was about all I could muster. The next day, Ty rented a car and headed back to Florida. Life moved on.

We have come a long way since that day. Former President Bush went from being beloved to being hated. We went from being united to being divided. We are safe yet feel very vulnerable knowing that another attack is always one breath away. We know it could very well be us or our loved ones who suffer next time. We cling to our God, yet we ask why?

We will never know the answer to why God allows such tragedy in our lives, especially mass tragedy like 9/11. We know God allows things for a reason, and it is that promise and many others we find in His word that help us move forward with peace. I especially have to immerse myself in these promises, otherwise I find myself living bound by fear, unable to participate in the joys of life. You may find yourself living the same way.

Where does this leave me today? I have learned to remind myself as often as needed of the reality of knowing Jesus. Regardless of what happens in my life, this is only temporary. I will spend eternity with Jesus. If God takes away everything & everyone I know and love; I still have Jesus. If I am left with no choice but to throw myself from the 100th floor of a building, I can assure you that Jesus will be the last person I call out to on my way down… and it is He that will catch me at the bottom.

I have never watched the footage of 9/11 since that day. I have never again tried to see Aerosmith in concert. I have never again dreamed of working in a high rise building. I have never again taken a flight without thinking of what may happen. I didn’t lose anyone on that day, but like you and every other American out there, I lost a piece of innocence. We are forever changed and regardless of the issues in our nation today, I am very proud to be an American and pray God’s blessings on us daily.

Friday, August 7, 2009

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

So today is a rough day for me. I really thought today was going to be a great day since I was able to get into a pair of 6 size pants and a shirt I haven’t been able to get on since Andrew was 4 months enutero. This led to an anxiety free morning, sweet kisses from Andrew as I left him at school, the perfect latte to be followed by a little piece of heaven, aka a Vanilla Bean Scone.

I arrived at work to find my boss packing up his office. Much to the surprise of everyone, he was let go this morning and had only minutes to leave the building. I am sure it wasn’t that dramatic, since his dismissal had nothing to do with anything unethical, but it seemed that dramatic. I never got the chance to say anything, not a word, his light was just off and he was gone. And I am sad.

I spent about an hour trying to keep a straight face. I was in and out of meetings, sitting with the director and then with my interim manger and others in my team. All the while I was so angry about this, just sad... and angry. Then I heard a still, small voice reminding me that my boss and I serve the same God. Here we go, yet another teachable moment.

My boss was totally taken by surprise this morning, as was I, but the Lord wasn’t. The Lord knew the day He gave him this job that one day He would take it away. Doesn’t that seem so unfair? Well, it is… if you are of the flesh. God doesn’t work in realm of fair or common sense. God works in the realm of perfection – we just haven’t a clue sometimes.

The last 3 months on my previous job were a nightmare. Then I got laid off. Then I spent 3 months unemployed. Then I spent 6 months doing clerical work and fetching coffee for people. Then God said “Here, I hope you like this gift”; what a blessing this job is! Just to type it makes me smile.

God is so faithful. He loves us and knows what is best for us. Sometimes He puts us in difficult spots, but only because that’s what it takes to obtain His perfection. I may never understand why my boss is no longer here, but I know it was for the best. It was for his best and I praise the One who holds us both in His hand.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They're all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

Don’t you love this song?! Did your mama sing this to you when you were little or did you sing it at church? I sing this to Andrew every night while rocking him to sleep. The words are so familiar to me since I, like many of you, grew up singing it. Not until I started singing it to my baby, however did the song take on a new meaning.

It is not difficult for me to see the truth in these words when I look at Andrew. He is sweet, with chubby little cheeks. He has 8 little gappy teeth standing like good little soldiers through his baby grin. His new tactic for making love him is how he interacts with our dog, Richard. Andrew loves Richard as much as any boy could love his dog. The mere sight of that doggie makes his cackle out loud. I catch him from time to time lying with his head on Richard’s bed, face to face with our canine love just carrying on the most interesting of conversations. Well, Andrew thinks it’s interesting anyway. So, who couldn’t love a child like that?

When I sing this song, however, it is not Andrew’s face that I see. I see the faces of children who I have never met, have never seen. I see children in India, China, Uganda and other places whose countries name I could never spell. I see juveniles who have been given up on and adults who are in prison. I see children, people who are not all that loveable and then I smile.

Why do I smile? I smile because it is this simple little children’s song that reminds me how great a love the father has lavished upon us. I smile because God has once again reminded me that I am called to love the unlovely. I smile because I am worthy, and so are you because we are loved.

I have a coworker who I am very fond of. I actually have several coworkers that I am very fond of and pray for daily. You see, I am surrounded by Muslims at my office. They are nice, funny, and considerate; a complete 180˚ from what we have grown to fear. This one particular coworker has just become a first time father. His wife miscarried last year and this pregnancy was no cake walk. He was ecstatic the day his daughter arrived, safely.

When I read the birth announcement I had such mixed emotions. It was much like a Christians would be, except Allah was used a lot rather than God or Lord. I was thankful that she arrived safe, but saddened that she would not be raised to know Jesus. Isn’t that just like we humans? To think that the only way a child can grow up to know the Lord is to be born into a Christian home!?

Read the words to that song again. Smile & rejoice! There is hope in those 5 little lines. That baby was born for a purpose. Jesus loves her and has a purpose for her just as he has a purpose for Andrew and for you and me. It is up to her to seek out her purpose and up to Andrew to seek out his purpose. It is up to me to continue to pray that they will do just that as I continue to seek my purpose.

Do you write people off as a lost cause because of what they look like or where they come from? What a tragedy. Jesus loves the little children. Isn’t it funny how sometimes God uses the most minor of things, such as a children’s song to remind us of who He is.

Monday, June 29, 2009

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42

So, it has been a while since my last entry and for that I am sorry. There are a couple of reasons as to why I have been absent for over a month. First, I have been swamped at worked. I am talking stress overload, but I am not complaining since I have long waited for the opportunity to use my programming abilities at this level. The other and most important reason for this is far more significant.

This blog is just a simple blog for many people and for many others it is much more. For me, this blog is comfort, reassurance, therapy and accountability. I started doing this because I felt led to for reasons unknown to me then and now. I have been transparent my entire life and only now does it seem right to let people into the most personal parts of mind and thoughts. So, why is it that all of a sudden I have writers block? It can’t be because I am busy; even at my busiest I can write an entry in under 15 minutes. It’s because my words are not my words and my thoughts are not my thoughts.

Did I mention that I have been super busy as of late? Have you noticed that if one area of your life is chaotic it affects all other areas of your life? I have been so rushed at work that when I get home my brain will not shut off. Instead of cooking and doing laundry, I find myself struggling to get a frozen pizza in the oven let alone sort the whites from the darks. The alarm goes off in the morning and I am like a jet: gym, shower, dressed, Andrew up & dressed, dog walked, grab the laptop, throw Andrew out at school, get coffee and begin the work day. That’s been my schedule for a few weeks now. Do you notice anything missing in there? If not, it may be missing from your own life as well. I have been so busy getting everything done that I pushed my quiet time with the Lord back, so far back He fell out of my day. That wasn’t the intention, but it rarely is, isn’t it? Very innocent and unintentional, but if not caught and corrected it will have major ramifications on my life and yours.

This blog is God inspired, I know that. I know that when I lose connection with The Source, I lose the ability to write what he would have me write. I am not a writer, but as long as God places things on my heart, I will write them. I am thankful for these times of revelation when God reiterates who He is and where He is supposed to be in my life. When I am frustrated and wondering why I can’t put into words what is on my heart and I get the gentle reminder that my priorities are out of whack.

God does not have to use me in any way whatsoever, nor does he have to use you. He wants to use us, he has a plan for us, but if we don’t have time for him, he will find someone else to use. I have no idea what the Lord has planned for me, but I don’t want to miss it because my job was so busy or the laundry was calling. Are you too busy? Is God using you the way He intended to? Let’s choose the good part!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

My how time flies! Today is a very special day in our house, in our world… Andrew is 1 year old today. One glorious, awe filled, tiring, ever changing year ago today, our lives took and extreme turn – to the right.

There are so many things I would not recommend you do in life. For example, I would not recommend you ride your bike with no hands and attempt to roll over a big rock at the same time. That can leave a horrible scar on your face. I would not recommend picking up a piece of ash from a smoldering fire just because the gray glow is so pretty… ouch! I would also not recommend being 3 months pregnant and 3 weeks married. No, there is a reason that God has an order for things in life as George and I quickly found out.

The morning of May 13, 2008 started out like no other morning of my life. I lay awake all night trying to imagine what life would be like in the next few days as we became a family of three. How wonderful it would be to finally be thin again (because I was sure that would happen within a few days). How much fun it would be to take Andrew places and show him off. Then I started to panic at the reality of this situation. George and I would never be able to go to the movies again. We could never just fly by the seat of out pants. Everywhere we go, we have to remember to take this kid. How am I going to remember to take him when I am so prone to forgetting my keys!? I had the preverbal breakdown and cried “I’ve changed my mind!”… to late of course.

We got to the hospital at 5:00 in the a.m. and they checked me out and got me all set up. Now, I should have known the day was going to be rough when the initial exam hurt worse than anything I had ever experienced. Come to find out, I had a UTI that had gone undetected and now could not be treated until after birth. Fantastic! They came in around 10:00 to break my water with what looked suspiciously like a crochet needle… hook… dagger. Everyone told me this part was a piece of cake. Well, just FYI, I have finally found a cake I could do without. As the good Lord above as my witness, I got the epidural as a means of escaping the pain caused by that UTI.

The day dragged on and I was not dilating at all. So, around 5:00 Dr Tal came in and spoke with me about having a c-section. Mama near ‘bout fainted! He said I could labor for another 10 hours, but the c-section was going to be the likely outcome. It was a no brainer for me. So, I got ready for surgery and George & mama got ready too. I remember lying on the operating table, looking at the clock and it was 5:45 pm and I asked ‘How long will it take to get him out’? I was astounded when Dr Tal said ‘Less than 15 minutes’. I would see my baby face to face in less than 15 minutes… I cried. I sobbed!

I have never told anyone why I was crying. It wasn’t they typical tears that are cried on the day you give birth. I cried because I was minutes away from meeting the baby I had prayed to miscarry. I couldn’t be the one to get pregnant before I was married! I couldn’t disappoint everyone with such news. I prayed to miscarry before the whole world found out my hypocrisy. This is very hard to admit, hard to type the words knowing that some will read this and remember their own miscarriage. There are many who long for a baby and cannot get pregnant. There are many who have lost children before or after birth. And then there is me. Hard to admit those feelings, but they were real.

It is important for me to say that I believe God always answers our prayers! Might I also say that I will forever be thankful that He loves us enough to sometimes answer with a no! I gave birth just like any other first time mother… unaware of what was about to take place. Let’s face it, for the first month I wasn’t even sure I liked him. It took mama to point out that the feeling would soon pass. It did and it has been a ride ever since.

I have been pooped on, peed on and thrown up on. I still can’t wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and have stretch marks that will never go away. I have not eaten a hot meal in one full year, have not sleep a full night nor gotten through a full hour of TV. Am I complaining? No, I am not (although I have my moments). I wouldn't trade any of this for anything I had before.

I have looked into the eyes of my flesh & blood. I have heard him laugh and laughed with him. I have heard him cry and cried with him. I have jumped up and down in the excitement of a first tooth. Called family with pride when he decided he could hold his own bottle. And yesterday, wanted to take out a full page ad in the Houston Chronicle announcing he blew kisses as we left school.

Andrew was fearfully & wonderfully made, in the image of God, for a divine purpose. There is no one on this earth like him. He makes me appreciate my parents, family, husband and sleep so much more than I ever did. He makes my heart smile just thinking of him and simplicity is so much more appealing. He makes things good…

So, here we are, raising a baby in the honeymoon phase of our marriage. It’s difficult, tiring and downright overwhelming at times. I wouldn’t recommend starting out your marriage by decorating a nursery, it’s puts you into fast forward long before you need to be in fast forward. I suppose, however that being a parent at any stage is difficult, tiring and overwhelming. Would I do things different? Well, does it really matter? My sweet gift from God is 1 today, and to me, today, nothing else matters.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Her children rise up, and call her blessed! Proverbs 31:28

This weekend is Mothers Day… and if you haven’t already done so, you need to get a gift or some form of acknowledgement for your mother as well as the other women who have had a profound impact on your life. I have been celebrating Mother’s Day for… hmm, 31 years now, granted some of that time was without knowing. It is only this year though that it makes sense to me. This year I became a mother and now I get it. I get why ‘Mamas’ are to be celebrated.

My mom does not see her value at all. She would tell you that she isn’t pretty, has too many wrinkles, fuzzy hair, a bummed up foot and thanks to some local jealousy, she would also tell you that she is perceived to not be nice. None of this is true of course (well, her foot does need some work), but this is how she perceives herself. Today, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I want to tell you how I perceive her.

When I was in 1st or 2nd grade, I had a classmate that was very poor. I didn’t realize that she was poor at the time, but I knew she was different, everyone did… and everyone made fun of her; I made fun of her. Mama found out about this and I honestly can’t remember if I got a spanking or not, but I do remember being told that I had to apologize to her the next day. The very next day, I did just as I was told and I apologized to the girl. I will never, ever forget the look on her face as she thanked me for my apology and confirmed that my teasing had hurt her feelings. I am so thankful that I was made to apologize, through that, mama taught me to be kind to people and to say “I’m Sorry” when I am wrong.

The summer before I went into 8th grade I found myself with no friends. The friends I had previously proved to be bad influences and had to be turned loose. So, as the first day of school approached my fears increased, after all, you cannot start school with no one to eat lunch with. So, mama and I prayed every night that God would send me a friend… And he did. He actually renewed my friendship with Sandy who was my best friend from the time we were 3 years old. We are great friends to this very day because God joined us as such. I look back at those few months and see mama as the person who not only taught me to pray, but to know that God hears those prayers.

When I was in High School mama made me get a job if I wanted to go Europe (Sandy went too) because I would have to pay for it. This meant sacrificing a car for a year, but it was worth it. I flipped burgers at McDonalds after school everyday and then had to be there at 4:45 every Saturday morning. Mama would stand at the door as left for work on those mornings in her nightgown until she could no longer see my taillights (I was of course driving her car) and then she would call at 5:00 to make sure I got there safely. I don’t think she ever did go back to sleep. Europe is as vivid in my mind today as it was in person 13 years ago. Mama is the person who taught me that sacrifice and hard work make the reward so much sweeter and also that teaching your child this lesson sometimes means you have to sacrifice too.

Mama didn’t work on Mondays and if I close my eyes today I can still smell the crisp, spring air coming through the open windows of the freshly cleaned house when I got home from school. Monday’s were my favorite day! Ty & daddy were working and so mama and I would always go to Burger King and get chicken tenders with ranch dressing and a coke. Then we would go see Grandma at work and spend some time with her. What was a typical Monday then (which packed on nearly 15 pounds) are precious memories now. Every child should have sweet, innocent times with their parents and grandparents. Those days passed too quickly, but Mama taught me to keep a clean house, cherish simplicity and, most importantly, to love Grandma. And I do… all three.

I soon graduated from High School, then college and quickly (seems quick now) I found myself in Virginia as a naive career girl. I thought I was a smart career woman, but I soon found out otherwise. My nice, classy coworkers were neither nice nor classy… in fact they were down right mean. My boss wasn’t much better and I found myself crying at night more often than not. I called mama and recounted numerous stories just sure I would finally have someone on my side. Not so… she would always point out what I did wrong in the situation and encourage me to either apologize or correct my behavior. She saw the mistreatment, but she knew that neither of us could force the actions of others and that I was called to be a separate people. As I worked on me – my work ethic and attitude, the situation remained the same, but I was able to weather the storm. Today, I am a much better employee and confident in my skills. Mama has always taught me know when the ball isn’t in my court and to do my job as unto the Lord.

Mama taught me to be a lady. She taught me the basics like wearing a slip when you wear a dress and also to wear a dress. She taught me to sit up straight (George is still trying to drive this point home), not to wear white before Easter, send ‘Thank You’ notes and proper manners when addressing your elders and to love my mother in law.. She taught me far more than I could ever put into words.

I must mention, however that she is not the only woman who has had great influence on my life. I could go on and on about various ladies who have played a role in me becoming who I am today. For example, two of the greatest things that I have ever learned were taught to me by Aunt Sue. First, she taught me how to chew with my mouth shut. I remember sitting at the table eating and her telling me to close mouth. I never said a word, but I remember thinking ‘if I close my mouth I will suffocate!’… The second, and most important thing I learned from her, is that if anything ever, God Forbid, were to happen to mama, she would be there, filling in the void to the best of her ability and loving us unconditionally. Every child should have a mama, but what a blessing to also have an Aunt Sue!

So, while my mom may see nothing more than wrinkles and fuzzy hair when she looks in the mirror, I see the woman I hope to become. I pray Andrew gets all the blessings that I have gotten and more. Happy Mothers Day Mama and to all the women who have blessed me for so long.

Friday, April 24, 2009

All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. ~Raymond Hull

Ok, have you ever heard two people tell the exact same story and stood in amazement at how different the two versions are? Well, such is the case of a husband and wife I know… we’ll call them Gibby & Leorge. Oh, what the heck… it’s really me & George. Everyday I have a story about him and as I am telling it to whomever (typically mama) I am thinking ‘How would he be telling his side’. No doubt he would leave out some very important details and paint me in a bad light… not at all like the story should be told.

Let me tell you today’s story… come, sit at my feet, listen and use your imagination to paint the pictures. First, I need to tell you how our mornings are supposed to work. I get up at 4:45 and am out the door at 4:57 for my morning workout which ends at exactly 6:00 putting me home by 6:10. I then come in and do one of two things. I get in the shower while George sleeps in or if he is already in the shower I pack the diaper bag, get the iron turned on and get my clothes ready to be ironed. I cannot iron until Andrew gets up since the sound of the ironing board unfolding is so shrill it wakes him up.

Regardless of either of these two paths, I have my morning quiet time while George is in the shower. I have 20-25 minutes totally uninterrupted and I enjoy it. No, it’s not an hour and half, but I do try to make the most of that time. I have prayed and asked God to give me a time that was unrushed and uninterrupted for quality time with Him, and this is the time he has given me. I sit in our study (we called it an office until Aunt Sue very politely said ‘Baby it’s called a study’) in 1 of our nice new recliners (they are somewhere between retro & ghetto and I love them). Lamp on and blinds open I open the devotional and read the passage from the bible… as I read I hear the birds chirp and the sun is rising. It has become essential for my morning and I begin my prayer time the same way ‘Thank you Lord for this time with you…’ I am so thankful for those 20-25 minutes.

This sets up the remainder of the morning, which is rushed, but pleasant and it works for the 3 of us. And so, I got up this* morning with all good intentions that today would be no different… WRONG!

I get home at 6:11 – now you can see we are already 1 minute off schedule here and I have no doubt that this one minute totally turned everything upside down. I come in and turn on the iron and get the diaper bag ready since I could hear George in the shower. I go in and say ‘Morning Georgie’ on my way to the closet to get my pants. I walked back out of the room, pants in tow, but said nothing more to Georgie. Put the pants in the laundry room and settled in my chair. Now, something in my mind said ‘You should have told George you were going to read your bible’, but that ship had sailed. Before I go any further, I must say that while our house isn’t enormous, it isn’t small either; trips from the front to the back are a hassle.

I am 3 verses in to the scripture passage and I hear ‘Liibbbbby’… I ignore it. Six verses in and I hear ‘LLLLiiiibbyyyy’. The second ‘Libby’ was even more playful than the first and gave no hint that anything was wrong… again I ignored. At this point I thought to myself ‘He will realize that I am not in the room and am not coming and he will stop calling my name’… WRONG, he called again. I really thought at this time he was out of the shower and if he really needed me he would come find me.

So, I started my prayer time ‘Lord thank you for this time with you…’ LIBBBYYYYY! Since I was already in prayer, I just gripped my hands and through gritted teeth said ‘Oh dear Lord, if he wakes up Andrew I am going to kill him. Seriously, if he needs a towel can’t he just get it himself?!’ I continued to pray and act like I was focused and when it came time to pray for George, I did. I may have called him an idiot though, I can’t be entirely sure, after all I was only acting like I was focused. He called at least 6 times… SIX TIMES!

I finally was done with my ‘quiet’ time and headed to the bathroom for my shower. I opened the door and sweet Georgie is still in the shower. So, he asks where I have been, he has been calling for 20 minutes. I reply ‘Yes, and I would have thought you could have figured out I wasn’t coming. I need to get in the shower’. I may or may not have said ‘Get Out’. He says ‘I needed a razor and would be out if you had given it to me’… and it went on from there. I was rushing to get ready, because now I was a good 15 minutes behind schedule, Andrew woke up early and George was ready to leave early. Nothing was out for dinner, had nothing to grab for breakfast and had a zit on my chin! We have now stopped talking aloud to each other but I am sure we are really giving each other a lashing in our own minds; I sure was.

By the time I got out the door this morning George had taken the time to dress Andrew, I decided to go by Starbucks for breakfast (they have good oatmeal) and frozen pizza would have to do for dinner. Andrew looked adorable (of course) and I managed a quick picture before we left all the while giving a loving, if not forced, smile, kiss and a ‘Love You’ to George. And we were done… on time.

I laughed on the way to work as I replayed how annoying he was this morning and thought he was probably replaying how annoying I was. I am sure we have 2 different versions of how that time went. Perhaps my quiet time would have gone better if I cut it short to answer George on the second call. Perhaps it would have gone great if he had just gotten out the shower to get his own razor. This I know for sure, we both contributed to the chaos that was our morning. I also know that we are growing and by the time I was a mile down the road, he had already called. The phone call ended, as it always does, with ‘Love you babe’… this time not forced.
* 'This morning' was actually a few days ago. This morning was actually smooth, despite oversleeping!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don’t you be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10

Fear… when you think of fear, what do you think of? Being at home alone and hearing a strange sound at 3 in the morning? Maybe just hearing the theme song from Jaws strikes a little fear in your heart? Snakes, spiders or big fat rats are a major fear for most women (and men) that I know. This type of fear causes momentary panic that passes once you realize that strange sounds was just the ice maker filling up with water, the song stops playing or you find relief in the fact that those snakes are behind glass at the zoo.

What about the fear that causes the joy to be sucked right out of your life and leaves you paralyzed day in and day out? This is something that I know a lot about. You may be shocked to know that fear causes me to cry myself to sleep many nights. No one really knows about this except me and the Almighty Himself – not even George who is sleeping mere inches from my sobbing head. I have learned to sob quietly.

I remember way back when I was a freshman in college promising myself that I would not ever let fear control my life. I did not tell myself this in an effort to comfort my current fears since at the time I didn’t realize this would be a battle for me. Rather, I knew I would graduate and move far away from my family and though it would be scary, this was what I knew I would be doing. That was easy though, the thought excited me – I don’t recall ever being scared. People told me I should be scared so I made this proclamation to them and myself. Funny, though, that that proclamation has always stayed in the forefront of my mind. I didn’t need to lean on that promise then, but I do now.

Fear really started in my mid-twenties and gets progressively worse with each passing day. I have feared everything. For a while my fear was that I would never get married & have children and then when I was old I would have no one to drive me the nursing home. Now, this is funny even as I type it, but I literally cried myself to sleep many nights over this. Growing old all alone… who wants to do that? Then I feared I had cancer because when I got out of the shower I had purple spots on my legs – cancer was the only logical conclusion. It never occurred to me that I have very fair skin and take much too hot of a shower. Then I feared that I would have heart attack at the gym, but thankfully they now have portable defibrillators located throughout the place so I just workout on the machines near those. It only makes sense right? I mean that way when I do go down they don’t have to move the machine that far to revive me!

This has all been easy enough to deal with, but now I have Andrew. I am now truly living for something, for someone and I want to live a very long time. And I want him to live even longer. Now my fears are very debilitating. Cancer… I could get cancer and not be able to raise my baby. Car accident… who’s to say it won’t be me in that fiery crash today? My biggest fear is that something will happen to Andrew. I fear every single day of my life that I will leave him in the car all day while I am work. That happens all the time. I fear that something will happen to him because of something I did. I am very careful about any news story I hear or read. If it happened to a child or a young mother, I can’t listen to it. It cripples me… literally. Everyday, all throughout the day, I battle fear.

I know there are many who would say that fear has no place in the life of a Christian, and I somewhat agree. But my fear and anxiety, well that’s just the thorn in my flesh. God uses it to draw me close to him. You see, my fears are about things that no one on this earth can prevent and that God himself may choose not to prevent. That is the reality of life. The good news is that I have the reality of Jesus… the freedom from fear. That freedom doesn’t mean that fear is no longer a part of my life – it will always be a part of my life.

When I cry myself to sleep at night, I do so while pouring out my fears before the Lord. Lord, I don’t want to get cancer and die until Andrew is grown. Lord, please let me live long enough to raise him to know you. Please Lord give me the wisdom to keep him safe at all times. Lord, I am scared. Every single time the same thing happens. Peace… He gives me peace & rest. He calms my fears. Never once does he say “You won’t die young”, “there won’t be an accident” or “Andrew will always be safe”. No, there is just peace that God is sovereign and in control. And every time I find myself in momentary awe and worship of the one who created me and has allowed me to fear. And that is what it is all about… the end result of our struggles should always be worship.

Fear is the thorn in my flesh and it keeps me continually at the feet of Jesus. I may be wrong, but I think it will always be there… keeping me where I need to be. I now realize that the promise I made myself back in college was not ‘Libby Inspired’, but rather ‘God Inspired’. He knew then what I would need now and he gave me something to cling to. What is your thorn? Are you praying that God will remove it? He may not. Your thorn may be the one thing that brings him the most worship and through worship, freedom is found.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you.1 Peter 5:6

So, I am sitting here in the LA airport trying desperately to get home to Houston. My flight was scheduled at 5:00 this afternoon, but I was given permission to try and fly standby since the company messed up by booking me so late. So, I got to the airport at 10:00 this morning and have not made any flight yet. It is now 3:00 and am guaranteed the next flight since that was my original flight.
Now, this may seem like no big deal to you, but I cannot stop crying. I am tired since my days this week started at 5:00 am and I wasn't back to the hotel until 10:00 pm each night. When I left Houston on Monday, I left baby Andrew with fever and an ear infection. Aunt Sue flew into Houston today for the weekend and is now at the house waiting for me and it will be another 8 hours before I get there. My name got dropped from the standby list and therefore I lost my shot at the 2:25 flight. It was at this point I broke down and sobbed like a baby.
I did meet a nice gentleman that works for the airline and he got me into the presidents club. I have enjoyed leather seats, Internet & free coffee and drinks. But I really just want to kiss my baby and he is in Houston.
So, I decided to fiddle around on the internet and I found the Newsboys new song on YouTube - you can listen here . In the Hands of God... am in the hands of God even sitting in the airport. I don't know why he want me on the 5:00 flight, but he does. I am not happy about it, but I fly in the hands of God. I am crying and tired, but I love Him and I trust him. I think he wants me to go have a very nice meal in the airport and charge it to the company, I think Jesus would like that a lot.
Trusting the Lord in what seems trivial and irritating is just what He wants us to do. Why, Lord, could I not fly out at 11:30 this morning? I don't have the answer for that, but I do know that I am in the hands of God.

Here are the lyrics for those of you who can't get on you tube:

We have raised our hopes and our cities high
We have followed fragile dreams
But only One could take the measure of our goals
And we've stumbled over the trials of life
And we've wrestled the unseen
But only One can calm the storm inside our souls

In the hands of God we will fall
Rest for the restless, and the weary
Hope for the sinner
In the hands of God we stand tall
Hands that are mighty to deliver
Giving us freedom
When our strength gave way to the weight of guilt
'Til we strained for every breath
Only One could lift our shame and make us well
And when all is finished and we face
The fearsome power of death
Only One has overcome the gates of hell
You're amazing You're amazing, You are
And we praise You, Lord For what Your hands have done

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. Song of Solomon 6:3

Mama never was one for bedtime stories, those are memories I do not have. I do, however, have one story that she has told me over and over and it is my favorite story. It is the story of how she and daddy met, married and fell in love… in that order. It is an amazing story of God’s grace, mercy and wisdom. It is also a great story of perseverance and obedience on my parent’s part. I always loved telling their story, because it was so unbelievable that is almost a fairytale. I have told this story a million times, never once thinking that I would have one just as great to tell one day.

I remember the first time George & I had dinner together. It was after work one night and totally unplanned. He just happened to ask at the last minute if I would like to go get something to eat. We couldn’t call it a date really, but we both knew it was the start of something. I vividly remember sitting across from George and knowing that he was in love with me. He has always said he loved me from the minute he saw me, I know this is true. We had such a good time that night and so our relationship began.

I knew from that first meeting that George was the one and I never took the time to explore my feelings any further than that. It wasn’t long, 8 months to be exact, and we were engaged. Oh, the fun began. Wedding planning, engagement pictures, trying to merge everything together… it was all going as planned… until the 3rd week of September. I woke up one night with my heart racing, sweating, and very fuzzy thoughts. I couldn’t get a grip and worst of all I couldn’t ‘find’ my feelings for George. I t was 1:00 in the morning and I was in a panic. I started looking through my pictures of the two of us hoping the ‘lovey-dovey’ feeling would return. It didn’t, the panic got worse. So I did the only logical thing (keep in mind that nothing I did for the next 14 months was logical), I got in my car (1 am) and drove over to George’s. I tried to explain to him what was happening – although words and reason escaped me. He just held me very tight and told me it would be ok… he was right, although it would be months before I realized it.

So, two and half months before my wedding, we postponed. I needed time to get my thoughts straight. George was patient, as if this was all normal. We started dating again. The panic didn’t subside, but I was learning to manage it. Every time we tried to reschedule the wedding, I would ‘relapse’. George was patient. As time went on and the panic stayed, I began to realize that I couldn’t marry him and so I gave the ring back. He took it and was patient. He moved back to Houston and I stayed in Orlando. There was no possible way we could make it, it was a hopeless situation.

But you see… we serve a God who is not bound by the impossible or the hopeless. I serve a God who told me George was the one weeks before I ever met him. I serve a God who keeps his promises. There were many times over that 14 month period when God reiterated His promise to me. When I would question and say ‘This makes no sense’, He would respond ‘I do not work in the realm of common sense’. While still in the thick of the storm it occurred to me that God was doing something BIG in our lives… if He hadn’t revealed this to me, I don’t think I could have endured.

I remember one moment so clearly. I was on my way home from work, very tired and very discouraged. I was sitting at the light just off the interstate and thinking about the entire situation. It had become very normal for me to talk continually to the Lord – he was ALL I had at the time. I said, ‘Why is George still here? Any other man would have left by now. Why is he so steady in the boat?’ The answer was fast and clear ‘Because I hold the boat!’ It was all that had to be said and my logical nature kicked in. Why would God be holding him steady in a very unsteady situation, when there is no reason for him to stay? Because God had promised him to me and me to him. God had set us apart for each other before the beginning of time.

It was still several months before I got my ring back and longer still until we said our vows. But I knew the entire time that I would marry George. I knew I would spend the rest of my life with him. I knew this but I didn’t know when the emotion, the love, would return. To this day I don’t know when it did return, but it did, I suppose gradually over time. George and I should not be married and we certainly should not be happy, but we are. We get mad and we fuss & fight, but we have those tough times and clear moments with God that unite and keep us focused on Him and each other.

There is a song by Bebo Norman called ‘I Will Lift My Eyes’ that was ‘my song’ for 14 months. The first line was not a line I sang, but one I prayed daily, sometimes hourly – ‘God, my God, I cry out, your beloved needs you now’. The entire song is great, but it was that one line that brought me peace every time I said it. It’s that one word – Beloved! I am HIS beloved and HE is mine. He loves me and I love him. My love for George is great, but my love for HIM must shadow all other. Before my panic attacks he was my God since my panic attacks he has become my Beloved. I thank Him for those hard, painful times. I thank Him for every tear, every sleepless night and every hopeless thought. Without all of this I would never have really known my Beloved.

I am anxiously awaiting the day that I get to share with Andrew the story of how George and I came to be. I cannot wait to tell him of our love story. I am excited for the day when the realization hits him that our story is a story of a Great Love… the Love of My Beloved.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

and all, whatever ye may do in word or in work, [do] all things in the name of the Lord Jesus -- giving thanks to the God and Father, through him. Col.3:17

So, this was a verse that was often quoted in our house growing up, but more often it was demonstrated. Honestly, I never really applied it to my life until last year. This is not to say that I didn’t do a good and honest job before then, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I had to really decide to do my job as if I was doing it for the Lord.

You see last January I was still working in a temp job for an Oil & Gas consulting firm here in Houston. I had been certain that God had called me to get my teaching certification and begin teaching 4th graders. So, I got the certification ($1000 later) and took a temp job to make ends meet until God opened a door in the school system. The problem is – he never did. I didn’t get any calls on a teaching job. At my temp job I was being led to believe that they were creating an IT job for me. Daily I was asked to just be patient and they would have a job for me. Meanwhile, I did basic office tasks which included filing, data entry and stocking the snacks in the break room (sure, I ate a few along the way.)

This was all fine and dandy until the day came that I had to get coffee for 2 clients that had come in. I held back tears for the rest of the day and when I got in my car, the tears flowed. How Lord, how could you put me in a position that I am fetching coffee for others? All those people who did me wrong and treated me like I was nothing more than the office blond at previous jobs would be laughing now. This job was not below me, but it was way below my education level. In fact, my education level was above half of those I was filing for! I cried all the way home. But, this verse never left the forefront of my mind. So, I told the Lord that if this was where he wanted me, then I would do my job as if I was doing it for him.

It was about 3 weeks later that I got an email from a local headhunter that had seen my resume. He wanted to touch base with me to see if I would be interested in programming position here in Houston. I hesitated to call him – God had called me to teach. But, I felt a constant nagging, so I called 3 days later. It seems that the 99 Cent Only Stores needed a Sr. Software Developer in their Katy office. Now here is the thing – Houston is the 4th biggest city in the nation and the this job was literally down the road from my house. PICK is not a common language – and there is a PICK job right down the road from my house. This seemed to good to be true. Then I saw the word that struck fear to my core – SENIOR! I could not be a Senior developer… no way. I have never been given the chance to do that. I almost told the guy no because I was scared. But, I agreed to interview – what was the worst that could happen?

To tell you truth, there was a lot that could happen. I prayed and prayed about this interview. If I messed it up and came off as an idiot then I would feel that I WAS an idiot – it was how I had been treated my entire professional career. I just could not understand how God could send me this opportunity knowing what a disaster it would be and how I would feel. Plus – I was 7 months pregnant. There was no way they were going to hire me. The interview went well – I met with the manager, director and VP. I disclosed my pregnancy and answered the questions well enough. The job was a Senior position and I didn’t feel qualified. Two weeks later – I GOT THE JOB – and 1 week later I started as a Sr Developer (although that title is written nowhere – LOL).

What a blessing! It was a blessing and if the story ended there I would be eternally grateful for all the Lord had done, but it didn’t end there. Turns out I got paid maternity leave, I have Christian bosses and coworkers– real Christians, and get to wear jeans everyday if I so choose. I am the lead developer on the biggest project that is going right now, and I am doing a great job. I know this because both my manager and my director have called me in to let me know. I don’t say this boastfully, I say it in awe. God…Jesus… loves me so much that gave me this job – like a cupcake on a gold pletter. He wants me to know that he KNOWS I am a capable, smart and professional woman. Everyday I give this job back to the Lord. Everyday I do my job as if I am doing it for him.

I don’t know for sure, but I think God was waiting for me to be willing to fetch coffee for Him, before he would reveal his plans for me. I have no clue why I have a teaching certification; maybe I will use it one day, maybe not. Today, I really don’t care, I just want to do this job until the Lord leads me to the next. What are you doing today? Are you an engineer, an office admin or a stay at home mom? Whatever you are doing today, do it for the Lord – even if you aren’t doing what you planned. The blessings are many.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Psalms 119:105

I, like most people, have had many bibles over the years. The one I carry now is inscribed with my married name – Libby Juarez. Aunt Maedeb got it for me as a wedding gift and I carry it with me to church every Sunday. I like that bible a lot, but it is not my bible (Sorry Aunt Maedeb). That bible is my Sunday bible and is in the same category as my Sunday clothes are – prim, proper and meant for Sunday. Then there is my bible. My bible is much like your fat pants – a comfy friend that you love to see.

I remember when I got that bible, I wanted it so bad. The church always gave the graduating seniors a new bible the Sunday before graduation. King James Version – Scofield Study Bible, burgundy. That’s been almost 12 years ago now. I have lots of notes in there, underlined passages and a few candy wrappers that haven’t been discarded. This is my ‘go to’ bible. I can navigate that thing like as good as Billy Graham! Ok, that may be a little bit of a stretch, but you get my point.

When I was in the worst of my panic attacks, I experienced such violent and graphic dreams that I could not sleep, going days without much sleep at all. I would grab my bible and sleep with it as close to me as I could get it. As crazy as it sounds, that worked. The peace of God literally flowed from those leather bound pages and gave me rest.

A few nights ago, I laid down early and reached for my bible before cutting off the light. Both bibles were sitting there, but I grabbed my bible. I instantly felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me and reminding me of all the difficulties that bible has seen me through. I really don’t know what I would do or where I would be without God’s word. I am the first to admit that I am much to cavalier when it comes to my ‘daily bible readings’ but, my new years resolution is to change that. My prayer is that the Lord will create an increasing desire for his word and for time with him. I have learned that God delivers on these types of request.

Since finding out I was pregnant with Andrew, my aim in life has been to raise Andrew in such a way that he seeks and realizes God plan for his life. I know that he was created for a purpose and God has great things for him. I truly believe that it is our – George & I – responsibility to guide him and point him in that direction. God has brought it to my attention, however, that I have neglected someone in that quest – ME!

God does have a plan and purpose for Andrew’s life, but he also has one for mine. Just because I got married and had a baby doesn't mean that he is done with me and is on to Andrew now. So, what is God’s purpose for my life now? I have no idea, but I want to find out and he wants to reveal it – in his time. Now, before you roll your eyes and think that I am a little too stuck on myself, you are in the same place! God has a plan for each and every one of us. He hasn't called us home yet which means he isn't done yet - I read that in my bible. That should be exciting to us.

I have learned the most from my parents by watching them. Maybe, just maybe the best way to raise Andrew to realize God’s plan for his life is to allow him to watch as I realize God’s plan for my life.