The Arrival (Rachel’s Story, part 2)

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At 9:30 PM, Rachel, resigned to what was about to happen, agreed to the c-section. As soon as she said, “OK”, the room exploded with activity. The lights came on and people rushed all over the place. Aaron panicked and began calling everyone he knew. While Rachel watched the craziness around her, she could sense God’s presence. She knew He was there with them which kept her calm. She looked down at her body and told it, “Body, you had one job,” signed the consent papers put before her, and called her mom.

The anesthesiologist, the only calm person in the room, sat down on her bed and explained what to expect while a nurse tossed scrubs at Aaron. “Put these on,” she told him as she ran off.

Then the doctor returned to tell Rachel what would happen, and what could go wrong, “But it won’t” she added.

As Rachel was prepped for surgery, she watched Aaron on the phone with his mom and thought, “This is surreal.” When Aaron finished his call, he was told to wait in recovery room. They would get him when Rachel had been given a spinal and was all set up in the OR.

Aaron, still in panic mode, made his way to the recovery room and was joined by the respiratory specialist. “Everything’s going to be OK,” the specialist said. He continued speaking reassuring words until Aaron was able to calm down. Well, maybe not calm but at least not panicking.

At 10 PM, Rachel, feeling loopy on the magnesium they were giving her for her blood pressure, was wheeled into the OR and watched as people scurried around preparing for her surgery. Aaron joined her just before her doctor arrived after scrubbing in. She walked up to Rachel, holding her hands up, and said, “Remember when your baseline protein level was 125 early in your pregnancy? Well, four hours ago it was 900, and now it’s 4500.” From earlier talks with the doctor, Rachel knew protein in her urine meant her placenta was breaking down.

Rachel said, “So I’m exploding.”

“Yes, you are,” her doctor said. When everyone else in the room introduced themselves, Rachel acknowledged each one, but then said solemnly, “I promise to forget all of your names.”

“What music do you want?” they asked her.

“I don’t care,” she said. So they put on their shower play list and began singing along.

Aaron was brought in and they started the c-section. She was worried that she would feel the knife slicing her open, but she didn’t. However, she did feel a lot of jerking and yanking and pushing down on her diaphragm which made breathing difficult. She also noticed her hand turning purple as the blood pressure cuff kept going off every minute.

As she struggled to breath, she heard Aaron’s commentary while he snapped picture after picture.

“I see her!”

“This is so cool!”

“I’m looking at your insides!”

“Wow!”

And then, at 10:58 PM Rachel heard a baby cry. Aryn Jade had arrived!

While Aaron helped bathe newly born Aryn, Rachel noticed the music that had been playing in the background. “Is that the Backstreet Boys?” she asked.  “Yes, it is,” someone answered. “Cool,” she said.

Aaron held Aryn next to Rachel while the anesthesiologist took a family picture of the three of them. Aryn was breathing well and didn’t need intensive care so a nurse took Aryn to Nursery Two, a higher care nursery for premies than the regular newborn nursery, but not as intensive as NICU.

Still laying on a table in the OR, Rachel asked her anesthesiologist, “Why does my chest hurt when I breathe? Am I having a heart attack?”   “No, you’re fine. It hurts because they were pressing down on your diaphragm to leverage your baby out.”

Then she focused Aaron, who was still taking pictures and giving a running commentary as the doctor finished working on her.  “That’s gross!” he said as the placenta came out.

“Take that, placenta!” Rachel said, and heard the doctors crack up.

Jerking as they sewed her back up, she commented “I smell something burning.”

“They’re cauterizing you,” the anesthesiologist answered.

“I smell me burning. That’s so cool,” she said.

Everyone was still singing along to the music, and later remarked that this was the most fun delivery they had had in a long time. Finally, the anesthesiologist held a bottle of morphine in front of Rachel’s eyes. “I’m going to give you this now.”

“OK,” was all Rachel said and quickly began to feel the effects. They turned her and flipped her as they moved her from the table to a bed and she lost all sense of direction. And then the drug really kicked in and she lost touch with everything.  That is, until she got to her recovery room where she threw up all over herself.

If she had been able to think about it, she might have marveled at how quickly life can change. She had had no idea when she awoke that morning that it would be the last morning she would wake up pregnant. She had no idea as she got ready for work that her body would go into crisis later that day. She just knew God was in control of her life. It was this deep foundation of faith that carried her calmly through the unexpected events of the day. And it was the amazing God she trusted that had arranged every detail perfectly -from the time she “just happened” to be having her regular checkup in an office that “just happened” to be across from the hospital when she went into crisis – to her doctor “just happening” to be on the one on call.

Yet, as well as this day had turned out – a beautiful, healthy little girl and a Big Mac in the freezer – she had little idea that her faith in God would soon be tested like never before.

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To be continued.

Plans:  Do I Believe… or Not?

I had planned to be there when my daughter had her first baby. Both my mother and my mother-in-law had been there when my babies were born. And I wanted to do the same for my daughter.

But I was 500 miles away when I got the call. “Mom, don’t panic, but they want to take the baby now…”

I knew my daughter had struggled with high blood pressure throughout her pregnancy, and that they were planning for an early birth. But that was a month away! Surely the doctor could wait twelve hours before inducing, giving me time to drive over there.

But before I finished  packing, a picture of my newborn granddaughter popped up on Facebook. Proud daddy and adorable AJ. An awesome shot of the two of them together moments after the birth.

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I knew I should be happy. I knew I should be thankful for both mom and baby doing well.

But all I could feel was disappointment. Which quickly turned to bitterness as I added this event to so many others in which I didn’t get my way. Why couldn’t I be there with them at this incredible time? Just one more example of the bad luck that followed me my whole life? Another dream that was not allowed to come true?

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But was it luck? Did God really have control over every detail of my life? If He was in control, then it wasn’t luck, it was His plan.

Grieving over my broken dream, I wailed out at Him: “Why didn’t you want me there?” He let me cry, but He didn’t answer me as I struggled with questions that rose up from deep within. Why was I denied what so many other grandparents got to have? Didn’t God love me as much as He loved them? Was I inferior to other people, as life had convinced me I was since I was little? Always second class, never first? Never worth enough for God to bother with fulfilling my dreams? Always dealing with second best answers?

I knew God loved me regardless of what I felt at this moment. I tried to choose to believe His word over my feelings. “God, I don’t understand this. But I know You are good and that You love me.”

I wish I could say that peace flooded me or that light filled me or some other wonderful result of my prayer. But nothing changed. I still hurt. I was still 500 miles away. And I still had questions.

An hour of packing turned into three, and an eight hour drive turned into twelve. I couldn’t figure out how getting to my daughter took an extra six hours. There had been no incidents that would account for that much delay. Where had the time gone? Was it more bad luck – or God’s plan?

I didn’t want to get into that again, so I ignored the pain, put on a happy face, and went up to the third floor of the hospital. At least I would be able to spend time watching my grandbaby through the nursery window.

But that was not to be either. Baby AJ, being six weeks premature, was in a special ward where visitation was very limited. I wouldn’t be allowed in there without my daughter or son-in-law, and then only for a very short time.

Eventually, I did make it to my daughter’s room, And meet my new granddaughter. And watch with pride the strength of my daughter and son-in-law as they dealt with the curve ball God had also thrown at them. They hadn’t planned on such an early birth either. In fact, their curve ball was much larger than mine. My daughter could hear the other full term healthy babies as they passed in the hall on their way to visit their moms while she was denied her own baby due to medical concerns. Her husband also had to deal with the stress of closing on their new house, which should have happened months ago but kept getting delayed, and packing/moving/unpacking pretty much by himself. Were they questioning God’s love for them also? Were they also feeling inferior to others who’s plans always seem to work out?

“Count your blessings.” “Focus on the good, not the bad.” I can hear people saying as they read my words. I know it’s good advice. So many years I have walked with Him, learning of His love and faithfulness. Time after time I have seen Him intervene in my life in one form or another. Yet evidently this whole experience has revealed that I still have deep issues that need healing.

I know that God is in this. My husband and I were both able to leave at a moment’s notice and drive through the night without an accident despite how sleepy we became. And I am able to stay here with my daughter indefinitely, helping with the move, and later with the baby. Hearing my daughter’s story, it’s amazing how many things “just happened” to happen at just the right moment from the time her body went into crisis and continuing even as I type this.

The bottom line? None of us got what we wanted. God had a different plan. Now we have to decide whether or not we truly believe God has full control over our lives like we profess, and whether His plans were made with our best interest in mind. Are we going to believe our circumstances – or – are we going to believe God’s Word?

The struggle is real.

Life is Like a Beach, section 8: Out of Place

The following is part of a book I would like to publish someday. It’s too long to blog as one post so I’m breaking it up section by section.  Each section can be read as a stand-alone, and hopefully my analogies will provide food for thought as well as encouragement to keep on going no matter where you find yourself in life.  I’ve added links  at the end to the previous sections to make them easier to find should you want to read them. Oh, and all photos were taken by me and are untouched other than cropping when necessary. God’s creation is so awesome just the way it is!

Out of Place

Imagine your surprise to look up and see this washed up on shore! Imagine the captain’s surprise!  Well, I imagine that wasn’t his main emotion. Makes me wonder what went wrong for him to end up where he was. Captain error? Broken part? A storm? Good thing for other captains and other boats who can get him out of this mess.

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Or imagine the surprise on people’s faces as this bird tried to take off with someone’s flip flops! I wonder what the bird thought it was. Did she think it was a new kind of food? Or something to add to her nest? I know she worked hard for quite some time to take off with one then the other flip flop. Eventually she gave up and flew away, but not before she managed to get the flip flops about ten yards from where they originated.

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Sometimes in life we end up in a place we don’t want to be. Something went wrong somewhere. A wrong choice on our part such as a captain’s error, someone else’s choice such as the bird’s choice to move the flip flops. Maybe it was because something in us broke and we were powerless to change our circumstances.  Or maybe it was  a catastrophe in our finances, marriage, health, children, home – the list is endless. The result is the same. We end up in a place we never thought we would. And we don’t like it.  However, the good news is – we don’t have to stay there.  God knows how we got there, and He knows how to get us out. He won’t let us stay there if we turn to Him for help. He can deliver us miraculously like only He can do. But more often He puts people in our lives to help us when we get in difficult places. And in return we can help other people when they get grounded or are pulled from where they should be. We don’t have to do life alone.

 

Continue to have faith and do what you know is right. Some people have rejected this, and their faith has been shipwrecked. 1 Tim 1:19

He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. Ps 91:15

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 

Previous sections:

Section 1: The Path

Section 2: Red Flags

Section 3: Water

Section 4: Waves

Section 5: Sky

Section 6: Surprises

Section 7: Puffer Fish

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella woke up the next morning with one thought on her mind. She WAS going to get some answers. She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know when. But she would get them.

All through work that day, thoughts of Pastor Toby danced through her mind. Who exactly was he? And why did he love her even though he didn’t know her? Or did he? Maybe he did know her from somewhere. If so, she couldn’t figure out where.

After work, knowing it was too late in the day to visit the church, she got back online to do more research.

“Who is Pastor Toby?” she typed. She knew from the earlier research she had done that there would be many opinions, so she was prepared with a notebook and pen to take notes. Maybe she would see a pattern or theme that would give her a better picture of who he was.

As she scrolled through the search results, clicking on one site after another, she made a list.

An hour later, she stopped to stretch. Looking at her list, she shook her head. This is crazy, she thought. There’s no rhyme or reason for what people think about him. She decided to take a break and headed to the kitchen to make dinner.

When she had finished eating, she found herself wishing she had some of Pastor Toby’s peach cobbler for desert. She wondered if he would consider selling her one if she asked the next time she went over there. One of many questions I’ll ask, she thought, as she headed back to her computer.

She decided she was too tired to keep searching. Besides, it really wasn’t helping much. Instead, she picked up her notebook and pen and went into her bedroom. She put on her PJ’s, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. Leaning back against the headboard, she studied the list she had made. There had to be some way to make sense of it.

As she read through the list, she noticed that some of the items contradicted what she already knew about him, while others matched her own observations. She decided to group them into three groups.

True

Not True

Unknown

True: teaches about God, church leader, mysterious, loves everyone (at least she knew he loved her), kind, brings life to things  around him (like his backyard), unique, lived at the church forever (that’s what Jude had said), likes to feed the hungry (fed her that amazing peach cobbler), likes to talk

Not True: stays to himself, won’t let others near him, only interested in his son (he sure was interested in her)

Unknown: can make people see what’s not there, commands strict obedience, out of touch with life around him,  sacrifices to help others, selfish, hoards the money given to the church,  secretive, built the church and yard with his own hands, supernatural, can do things no one else can do, nice on the outside but dangerous on the inside, reclusive, gets involved in everything whether it’s his business or not

She put her pen and notebook on the side table. That’s enough for now, she thought sleepily. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

The next day, she couldn’t wait to get home after work. She stopped only long enough to pick up some fast food. All throughout that day, a thought had slowly formed in her mind that she wanted to check out, and she didn’t want anything to get in the way.

She dropped her keys and purse on the entrance table, set the fast food on the kitchen table, then went to get her notebook and some highlighters from her bedroom. Settling IMG_20180601_222435544down at the table, she chewed on  her burger as she read through her lists and highlighted everything positive with her yellow highlighter. Then she highlighted all the negative things with her blue highlighter.

She had been right! Everything she knew about Pastor Toby was yellow. While everything she knew was not true about him was blue.  The ‘Unknown’ list was a mixture of blue and yellow.

OK, she thought. If everything I’ve seen and heard and experienced with him is positive, then maybe all the positive ‘Unknowns’ are also true. And if all the ‘Not True’s about him were negative, then maybe the negative ‘Unknowns’ are lies too. Maybe they were written by people who didn’t really know him.

With this realization came mixed emotions. On one hand she was excited and eager to spend more time with him, to get to know him better. Some of those positive unknowns were pretty amazing. But on the other hand, she was afraid to test out her theory. What if she was wrong? What if he was only showing her the positive until he won her over, then she’d find out how dangerous he was when she could no longer get away.

The rest of the week dragged by slowly as she struggled with those two opposing thoughts, each clamoring for her attention and juggling to gain top billing. Finally Friday night arrived. As she got ready for bed, she thought, “Tomorrow is the day. For good or for bad, I’m going back. This time, not only will I get some answers, but I’m going to look specifically for anything negative.  If I find it, I’ll know that some of those other negative ‘Unknowns’ are probably true. Then I’ll know I can’t trust him and I’ll leave. No matter how good that peach cobbler is.”

 

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

 

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day Two

This is the second day of the Three Day Quote Challenge, which I was nominated for two days ago by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God 

This challenge takes place over three days. Each day (or night), I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger to continue the challenge.

My second quote is this…

“While you’re waiting, God is working.” by Rick Warren

God had done some incredible things in my life. But it seems in between those times, there are long seasons of waiting. I don’t know why we have to have those waiting seasons, although I have several theories, but what I do know is that there is a lot going on in heaven that I can’t see while I’m still on this earth. Yet, all too often, I rely on what I see instead of what I know is true.

Rick’s quote reminds me that God is not idle just because I don’t see constant amazing things. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes activity going on every day!

Waiting is never easy or fun, but that doesn’t mean I have to be miserable while I wait.  🙂

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What helps you get through those seasons of waiting for God to do what He’s going to do? How do you spend that time? Share your thoughts – it just might be something someone needs to hear today!

 

And now for my nominee… His Perfect Timing.  Perfect timing… waiting on God – how could I not choose this very inspirational one!

Three Day Quote Challenge – Day One

I was nominated for this challenge by BIBLEBLOGGERGIRL  from Teen, Meet God  Thanks so much for the nomination, Shae.

As you may have guessed, this challenge takes place over three days. Each day, I will share a quote I love and explain why I love it, then I will nominate one blogger per day.

My first quote is this…

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“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” by Jack Canfield

I can’t think back far enough to know a time that I wasn’t full of fear. From my earliest days, I was terrified of the unknown. That included people, places, and events. If one of my few friends suggested a new game, fear would immediately fill me. If my family visited a new place, I would be nervous until the trip ended. Joining girl scouts was too scary to stay for long. Making new friends? Impossible. Fear kept me from so many things for so long that it became a intricate part of me. I couldn’t imagine not being afraid. Even after I met Jesus and He had time to work in me, fear remained. It’s been over 40 years now, and I’ve been set free in so many areas. Yet fear still rises its ugly head when I’m faced with something new. Like writing a blog. And publishing my first book. And meeting with a local writing group.

Sounds hopeless?

No way! Fear may still rise up at times, but it no longer incapacitates me.  Quotes like the one by Jack Canfield help me remember I’m not the only one who has to deal with fear, and that fear doesn’t have to hold me back. And best of all, Jesus is slowly teaching me to replace fear with faith.  He doesn’t want me – or you – or anyone – to live in fear.

And that’s the greatest hope of all because what Jesus wants Jesus eventually gets!

 

And now for my nominee… I choose William Pierce aka wordcoaster8550 at Walk With God. I love his artwork and poetry!

When Bad Luck Is Not Luck

She prayed, “Lord, even though I’ve been walking with you for years now, I feel so spiritually immature. Can You help me mature a little bit more?”

Not hearing anything, she went to sleep.

The next day, everything went fine at work and she forgot about her prayer.  But after work was a different story.

Stopping at Walmart, she couldn’t find most of the things on her list. It was made even worse because she had her two kids with her and they fought the entire time. Trying to rush, she grabbed what few things she could find and got in line to check out. It turned out the only line not moving was the hers. “Just my luck,” she thought angrily.

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Finally getting home, she started dinner. Preparing muffins, she broke an egg only to have it squirt out all over her shirt. She managed to break the second egg into the muffin mix and put the mix in the oven, then went to change her shirt. When she got back, she found the muffins didn’t rise.  More bad luck, she thought.

Frustrated, she took the kids to Pizza Hut, only to find that Pizza Hut wouldn’t honor the coupon she had. Of course they wouldn’t, she thought. Not with the luck I’m having today.

By the time she got back home and put the kids to bed she was so stressed and tired that all she could do was hide in her room and cry.

But then she remembered that God had said to come to Him when she was weary. And she had read that praising Him in the midst of trials was important. So she tried it. After some time, she began to feel better. Although still tired, the stress had left her. She picked up her Bible to read a little before bed and opened to James 1:2-4.  ...trials produce perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature.

The words struck deep into her heart as she remembered her prayer from the night before. All that bad luck wasn’t luck after all. Amazingly, she had even asked for it.

“Lord,” she prayed with a smile. “Thank You for answering my prayer. I know it’s not over yet, and it’s definitely not the way I would have handled it, but I trust You know best. And thank You for being kind enough to wait until AFTER work to answer it!”

And when she fell asleep, she was still smiling.

The Love of the Lord is My Strength

After some very rough years, she found some of her old journals and read through them. Many brought back fond memories. Others memories weren’t so pleasant. But she found it interesting to compare her earliest years as a Christian with what she knew now as a more mature Christian. Then she ran into an entry that stopped her cold.

She read:

“OK, Lord, I did my Bible study even though I’m very tired. Before I go to bed, do you have anything to say?

“I love you. I always has loved you and I always will love you. Believe Me when I say this. It will be a strength to you. You’ll need it in the future. Don’t forget.”

She thought about that. His love is her strength?

When I’m sick with the flu, how will knowing He loves me strengthen me?

When my boss is on a rampage and I get the brunt of it, how will knowing God loves me strengthen me?

If my kids are misbehaving and I’m worn out from the daily stresses of life, how will knowing God loves me strengthen me?

“Lord, I don’t know if I understand. I believe You love me and always will. And I know that I’m going to need your strength in the future. But what do You mean that knowing Your love for me will be my strength?

“You don’t need to understand right now. Trust Me and get to know your strength – My love – now before it’s too late.”

“If You say so. How do I get to know Your love?”

“Read My book. Ask Me questions and listen for the answers.. Learn. Study. Memorize verses that will help. Talk with the spiritually mature about Me. And most importantly, talk with Me as I give you opportunities to experience My love.”

She had accepted His words and agreed to study and pray. And she did for a number of years. But then things changed and life happened and seeking to know His love got pushed farther and farther into the background until she had forgotten all about it.

Wow, she thought now. I didn’t understand then, but I do now. Knowing He loves me is all that matters. It outweighs everything around me.

When I’m sick, knowing He loves me gives me the strength to walk out that path. It reassures me that I’m not alone, He’s right there with me, watching over me, doing what’s best for me whether I’m healed quickly or slowly or not at all. Besides, I may be sick physically, but I’m not sick spiritually. No illness on earth can hurt me spiritually.

When my boss mistreats me, knowing God loves me gives me the strength to keep my head up. It protects me from letting those words and actions deep inside me where it can cause damage. No matter what the boss says, God says I’m loved and valued and treasured. I can shake off the abusive words like a dog shakes off water after a bath. And I can rest assured that if action needs to be taken, God will take care of it.

When my kids are misbehaving and I’m worn out from the daily stresses of life, knowing God’s love gives me the strength to keep going.  Knowing that He understands my weariness and frustrations and loves me anyway and that I don’t have to do anything to earn that love, gives me the confidence to rest in His arms and let Him fill me. His love can energize me to handle the kids and stresses. I can be renewed and refreshed each day.

And He was right about not waiting until it was too late, she thought regretfully. If I had persevered in getting to know His love back then like I should have, my life could have been so different. Much less pain, confusion, fear, and anger. It could have been so much more amazing, effective and powerful for the Kingdom.

She felt bad. If only she had heeded His words. But there was no way to go back and change anything.

Well, she thought, if I can’t go back to change my past, maybe I can share my story with someone and change their future.

Friends, get to know God’s love for you. Not just about it in your head, but really deep down in your guts know it.  It will be a strength to you. Trust me on this.  Better yet, trust God!

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Fear

Fear filled her. Unknown fear. Nameless fear. Fear she couldn’t connect to a source. All she knew was she was afraid.

“Lord, speak to me. Tell me what I need to know to relieve this fear.” she prayed.

“We are one.” came the swift reply.

We are one? She frowned. She and God were one? What did that even mean? How were they one? She wasn’t God. It sounded nice, but she couldn’t figure out what He was talking about.

He broke into her thoughts. “Listen. We are one. You and me. Forever.”

OK, she got the ‘you and me’ part. She knew when she gave her life to Him, she became His – His property, His follower, His friend, His daughter, etc.  And the forever part – she knew she would be with Him forever. So maybe that’s what He meant by ‘we are one’, that they were joined and would never be separated. That was good for the future. The problem was now. How was knowing that going to help her with the present day fear problem?

“Don’t you get it yet?” He asked gently. “When you hurt, I hurt. Come to Me with your problems, your pain, your fears. I can take them from you. Do you understand?”

She shook her head. In her head, she understood what He was telling her. But in the nitty gritty of everyday life, she wasn’t so sure it worked like He said. All she had to do was go before Him with whatever problem or fear she had, and He would take it from her? She had tried that in the past without success.

“Do you believe me?” He asked.

She wanted to. And to a degree she did. But deep down? Did she believe He could take her fear from her? Thinking of her attempts to believe her fear away in the past, she wasn’t so sure.

“Do You trust Me?” He asked, getting to the root of the issue.

Oh no. Not that question. She knew He was trustworthy and that she should trust Him.  And she WAS working on it. But she had been let down or betrayed by everyone in her life – family as well as friends. And there was still so much doubt clouding her heart and mind that she was sure she didn’t trust Him like He wanted her to. And that made her feel bad.

“I love you. I will not hurt you. Ever.” He reassured her.

She wanted desperately to believe that. Maybe deep down, where He had planted His Spirit, she did. But it was covered with layers of fear and pain and distrust.

“Oh, God, help me!” she cried out. “I want to trust You!”

“Follow Me. We’ll walk this path together. ” He invited. “Take it one step at a time. As I prove my trustworthiness to you day by day, your trust will grow. And when you can trust Me, when you can believe Me at My word, when you know My love for you and all that means, then your fears will be gone. For perfect love casts out fear.”

“I’ve read that scripture,” she told Him. “It says fear has to do with punishment. I don’t think that’s the same kind of fear I struggle with. I’m not afraid that You will punish me.”

“The bottom line is the same. Let’s look at your fear. What are you afraid of?”

“That’s just it. I don’t know.”

“OK. Let’s say it’s about feeling you’re in danger. Would that be realistic?”

“Yes, since I live and travel alone, I do fear for my safety at times.”

“Why would being alone make you fear?”

“There’s no one to protect me.”

“I’m there to protect you.”

“I know You can but I’m afraid You won’t for whatever reason.”

“So it’s a trust issue.”

“I guess so.”

“What if your fear was in having to do something outside your comfort zone? Like speaking in front of hundreds of people? What would you be afraid of?”

“I would be afraid I would mess up, or make a fool of myself.”

“Would it help if you didn’t have to do it alone? If someone was standing there with you, giving you suggestions and reassurances?”

“Definitely.”

“I would be standing there with you.”

“But would I be able to hear You.”

“So it’s a trust issue again. You don’t trust that I could make myself heard by you. One more example. What if your fear had to do with illness. What if you were just diagnosed with cancer. What would you be afraid of?”

“I would be afraid of dying. Of what would happen to my family if I did die. Of not knowing how bad it would get. Of the side effects of the treatment I would have to have. Mostly, I would be afraid of not having control.”

“What if you knew dying only meant being with Me? What if you knew your family would be taken cared of? What if you knew someone would be there every step of the way with your treatments? What if you knew someone who could not only control it all, but do so in your favor?”

“Yeah, I see what You’re saying. It does come down to trust.”

“The same goes with other fears. They all boil down to trust.”

Thinking about it, she saw that He was right.

“And why can’t you trust Me?” He asked her.

“Because I see and read about people who got hurt even though they were Your followers. If You let them get hurt, You could let me get hurt.”

“So your faith is in what you see, not in Me. Why is that?”

“Because I know what I see better than I know You.”

“Do you really know what you see? Do you really know why they got hurt? Why it appeared that I let them get hurt?”

“No,” she had to admit.

“So knowing is not the issue. It’s trust.”

“So how do I learn to trust You?”

“Like I said. Walk with Me one step at a time. As You experience My faithfulness, your trust will grow. As You experience My unconditional love for you, your trust will grow.

What really gives fear a handhold in your heart is your fear to let fear go. The thoughts IMG_20180430_181558737and reasons you have about why you need that fear make you take it back every time I try to take it from you. But over time trust in Me will grow until it’s bigger than your fear. Then all you’ll need to do when a fear appears is to ask Me to take it and I will. And your belief, your trust in Me, will make it possible for you to let go of it for good.

Got it?”

And she did. And He was right. Over time, her trust in Him did increase, and the fears in her did decrease. Amazing.

My Cross… It’s Not What You Think

She opened her Bible and read Matt 16:24  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

She had heard many interpretations of what this cross might be. Chronic illness, death of a loved one, difficult people in your life…  They all sounded reasonable, but something about them bothered her. And they didn’t really apply to her life at the moment. Did that mean she didn’t have a cross?

So she asked the Lord.

“Do I have a cross?”

“Everyone does.”

” Well, I’m not sick. No one has died. And there are no difficult people in my life.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“So what is my cross?”

“The ability to understand.”

“I thought that was a good thing.”

“To a degree it is. But you want to know and understand every spiritual thing.”

“So?”

“You’re not capable of understanding everything. You’re limited by your human brain. Besides, even if you could, it wouldn’t be wise. There are some things you cannot handle yet. And sometimes knowing too much would cause you to mess up what I’m doing. You would be tempted to take over instead of relying on Me.”

She thought about that for a few minutes.

“I can see how knowing everything could be a bad thing. It could feed my pride and I would be trusting my understanding instead of trusting You.”

“Right.”

“So how do I carry this cross?”

“Deny your desire to understand everything. Accept and enjoy what you know and don’t fret about what you don’t know. Learn to use the knowledge that you have. Trust Me for the rest. And relax. You’re not carrying this cross alone.”

“I’m not?”

“No one carries their cross alone. I promised to always be with you, in every part of your life, to care for you and help you. That includes carrying your cross.”

“Is the cross the same for everyone?”

“Oh no. Just as every person is different and unique, every cross is different and unique.”

“Wow. It’s amazing that you can help everyone at the same time in so many different ways. I can’t get my head wrapped around how big You are.”

“See? That’s what I’m talking about!”

And she did.

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