Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Life's a process: What is the most important part?

My husband and I have recently walked through what felt like a long waiting period to hear back on some news.  There were multiple delays during this process and during each delay, we would step back and say, "it's ok, we will wait. God is working on this." 

We've come to a recent realization after this waiting period that while we thought that God would do work in the OTHER people as a result of this waiting process, he was actually causing delays and pauses in the process to do work in US, namely me.  Ultimately, as a result, our marriage.

After thinking through this and being very much humbled, or hit in head with a spiritual 2x4, I realize that so many of us do this in our day to day lives.  There are a lot of us out there that think we need to wait until the time is right, or we believe that God has delayed gratification on a desire in our lives due to the fact that OTHER people or circumstances need to be changed.  Oh how foolish we humans can be.

After my run in with the spiritual 2x4, I have realized that more often than not, the Lord has brought delay, pain, or long processes in our lives because he needs to work IN US.  It is not fun.  It requires a lot of patience and most of the time I am finding out that I really have no choice in the matter.  At the end of the day, if the Lord wants to do a work in my life, he will bring along or allow, any circumstance necessary until I do the heart work.  For some people, this probably sounds a little harsh, maybe insensitive, and could cause some theological, "why does God allow pain?" questions. 

I prefer to go the route of simple faith.  I will not always know the answers, and I will not know the reasons that there is hurt here on earth.  I do, however, trust that through difficult circumstances God proves faithful.  This proof of faithfulness is only seen by those that actively choose to be in relationship with Him or it is seen through the lives of other people who believe. 

Are you in a current period of waiting?  Have you been hoping that the Lord will do a work in other people's lives in order to better your own?  Or, are you praying for changes in someone else's heart?  If so, I would challenge you today to take a look within you, pray through it and ask if the Lord is trying to show YOU something during this time.

At the end of the waiting process for my husband and I, I realized that I can have reckless spiritual abandon in supporting God's calling on his life, just like he has had for me.  We BOTH now know that it can be hard, and worldly things can be distracting, but we believe in God's will for our family over our own. And we are beginning to feel like leaps of faith are our extreme sport of choice. 

Most of you probably think, easy for you to say, Dana, God always shows up for you.  Truthfully, and embarassingly, it's not easy.  I still get distracted by things that I shouldn't and for the first time in our marriage, we fought, actively fought, because my heart was not ready to hear what God wanted me to hear.

For those of you in the trenches of waiting, trust me when I say that God has a purpose for this time.  It may not show up in others, like you hope, but it most definitely will show up in personal spiritual growth and better yet, stronger relationships.   Refinement in life is necessary and will always happen but it so much better when you take an active role. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Float of Obedience

As most of you saw on my last post, I have been filled with a ton of gratitude lately while at the same time, lacking a lot of concrete direction in my life.  In a recent conversation with someone I was discussing how, for the majority of my life, I have always had an audible relationship with the Lord.  When he gives direction, I hear him speak and it is usually very clear.  Lately though, I have felt as though the Lord is seemingly very quiet.

Something that I have come to realize is that when stepping in, faith can feel heavy, burdensome and confusing.  Sounds fun, right?  I think that a large part of the reason that I did not write a lot over the past year is because I do not want to paint God in a bad light.  I have thought about and talked about how fulfilling and difficult it is to follow your calling with friends who are actively doing the same thing and there is an ever-present undertone of, should it be this hard?

Let me be clear in my continually developing thoughts on this, it is hard.  It can feel as though you have completely lost yourself, your marbles, your logic but that is absolutely the whole point.  Every single time I have come to the end of myself and my strength the Lord picked me up, talked me through it, and reminded me that this is NOT about MY strength.  This is not about what I will be able to accomplish, it is about what He wants to accomplish through me.

I feel like I have lost myself at times because in reality, I have.  I am constantly ridding myself of old, life-sucking habits, that do not produce fruit in me, my family, or God's kingdom.  For some people this sounds torcherous, submissive, and weak.  Why would I give up my dreams or hopes for something completely unknown? This is the day in age when we set a goal, go after it and achieve it.  Why should we have to pause and pray about everything - let's just get things done! Everything should be in our control or within our power to accomplish but it is not.  Releasing what I considered best for me has helped me to realize that I didn't even know what my best was.  I wrote about a lot of the positive experiences that have come as a result of stepping into God's will but those came from a lot of introspection, meditation on God's will and lots of time in God's word.

I may not be at a stage in life where my material things reflect richness to the outside world but I hope that the joy within me shines brighter and is a visible example of that "something" different.  Additionally, even during the times that I feel as though the Lord is distant and I am simply floating down the river of His will, He comes through through the voices of others.  Never discount the spiritual wisdom of those you respect and trust within your life because they may be the very mouthpiece of the Lord during your most confusing times.

I realize that there are those that read what I write and don't believe what I believe.  They don't belive that faith is worth giving up their dreams, comforts or luxuries and believe me when I say, I do not fault you for it.  A walk into God's will and a relationship with Him is a personal choice.   For me, that choice, that promise, has become the most life-giving, fulfilling, and rewarding journey of my life.

Today I would simply ask you, does your way fulfill you?  Has it proved fruitful in all areas of your life, mind, body and soul? Or does it ever feel like there is something missing?  If you feel like there is something missing, trust that there is someone out there pursuing your heart at all times.  If you seek it, you will hear the knocking.  Consider answering that knock.  What do you have to lose?   More importantly, what do you have to gain?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No matter the season, see the faithfulness

I have been asking the Lord how he would like me to process through everything that has happened in our lives over the past year and he keeps telling me to write. 

I then realized that I have not written anything in a year.  Interestingly enough, this year has been one of the most faith dependent and defining years of my life. 

When I look back at other times in my life that I've had to depend on the Lord, I was always looking or waiting for a specific thing to happen.  When it came to my relationship with Jake, I was waiting on the Lord to present us with some type of job opportunity that would bring us to the same town.  When we were walking through infertility, clearly the hope was for a pregnancy and he came through.  This year, however, I have simply stepped in to whatever it is I have felt him calling me to.  It looks and feels entirely different.  This year, I just keep on having to say, "Lord, whatever it is you have for me, I want it."

It sounds simple but it is incredibly hard.  Terrifying most days but so very worth it. 

In stepping in, God has helped me step away or distance myself from things or people that are not meant for this season.  I say that because in this season, everything often sounds illogical, irresponsible, and downright crazy so it has been pertinent that I am surrounded by those that faithfully encourage the crazy and support the leaps of faith.  For those of you that have encouraged us emotionally, materially, and even financially throughout this year, thank you for being conscious of the Holy Spirit and supportive of us pursuing the Lord - no matter what the cost. 

I am aware of the people in our lives that fully understand that when God says do something, it is time to act and I am surrounded by a tribe of people who believe just as much in God's plans for good for us, and all of His children, as we do.

As I write this, I am still not clear as to where God is leading us and I am even more unclear as to what my particular role is in all of it. 

Here is what I know for sure:

1. God has taken care of our family's financial needs in incredible, miraculous, and unexpected ways this entire year.  There has not been one month that we have not been able to pay our bills, even during times of minimal to no income from me.  (Thank you to those of you who have SO generously given in so many different ways.  You are the literal hands and feet of Jesus in providing our daily bread)
*That proves to me that we are walking in the right direction.
2. I have been blessed with the very best partner in walking through our callings and I can see that marriages are made or broken during times like this.  Jake has done as much, if not more, stepping in than I have.  He can literally do and learn anything.  Works endless hours and I have never been more convinced of my husband's love and support of me as an individual and of His absolute faith in God and God's plans for our life.  He continues to become an incredible spiritual leader and man of God and I fall more and more in love with Him as a result of it. 
*Thank you, Jesus, for being faithful in leading, guiding, and improving our marriage as a result of obedience.
3. When the Lord tells us not to worry, he actually means it.  I believe this more and more every single day.  He cares about things ranging from date nights, to clothes, to car care.  (Thank you to friends who have invited us out or treated us.  Thank you also to parents who have visibly seen our need to just focus on marriage and stepped in to watch kids.  Thank you to anyone who has given us hand-me-down clothes or toys. They are so wonderful!)

While I don't think that most of you care to read through a thank you list of mine, I hope you see the point of all of this.  Regardless of whether or not you have been called to the exact career and path you were made for or called simply to release things or relationships that are unhealthy, God will be faithful.

I've always known that I serve an incredible, powerful, and loving God but I guess there are times I am still surprised at his care and concern over every detail of my life.

Know this, you will encounter seasons of plenty and seasons of little but no matter the season, God is faithful to show up.  Today I challenge you to search for and find a way that God has shown up.  If you can't find something right away, keep looking, the smallest detail may prove the most meaningful proof of faithfulness.