Life with Kathy Norman
I feel your love wash over me
Chrystal waters set me free
I want more
Your love melts through iron gates
Prison bars & walls of hate
I want more
As I pour out all of me
You receive my offering
Still there’s more….
Love inspires all that’s best
How to work and when to rest
I want more
You show me things yet to come
Distant shores and rising suns…
So much more
Love is patient, love is kind
Restores my soul and peace of mind
So much more
Love waters, love melts
Love pours, love inspires
I want more!
Love shows, love speaks
Love does more than required
I want more LOVE…..
“The World is in labor,
She groans in travail…..”
Lyrics from, “For the Love of it All”, Paul Stookey
Peter, Paul and Mary
Every where I look these days I have only one word that adequately describes this season to me…Transition.
There has never been a more poignant season of transition. Globally the news is full of reports of wars, riots, regimes falling, economic crisis. It’s as if the entire world is shaking and shifting….groaning. As an American celebrating this 4th of July, Independence Day, I feel more concerned and prayerful over this nation than ever before. I believe our only hope actually rests on taking our God given freedom and freely choosing to become completely dependant on God. The problems in our nation have escalated to unprecedented heights.…
Staggering debts, unemployment, rising costs, it’s as if the very nation is….groaning.
In my own young fellowship there is a squeezing and shifting best described as a state of transition.
Like a woman in labor….about to deliver….the squeezing, the stretching, the intensity of the pains increasing and coming closer and closer together…ah yes, transition.
When the early labor begins, it’s so exciting! New life is coming! There is still the ability to laugh, to walk together, to rock and soothe. It’s a time of great joy and anticipation. The pain is….manageable.
Oh….but when things shift into the transition phase of giving birth…
Things can get…intense, even downright ugly.
Having birthed 4 babies and being privileged to attend several births, I can tell you a bit about transition.
I have seen quiet little mama’s practically stand in the stirrups on the birthing table and tell things they never dreamed of saying out loud, and sweet voices changing to almost grizzly bear growls.
I heard one poor woman shout, “I’m done.“ She was cancelling the whole thing and just wanted someone to stop the process and let her go home.
My girlfriend told me she was putting her “face” on when transition hit. She had only gotten past the green primer that helped tone her pregnancy induced red flushed skin when like a race car, her body shifted gears! She gave birth looking more like Shrek than herself, although her poor husband might have wondered if she had taken on ”true love’s form”!
She laughs about it….now. I’m still laughing! It’s a perfect picture of transition!
So….I guess what I’m saying is….once the baby is born, all the green faced growling, name calling, angry outbursts, words said under pressure and in the squeeze, the husband that doesn‘t seem to get what’s happening, say the right things, or goes too fast or too slow…well, they just don’t matter.
Actually, they become a precious part of the story.
The transition phase isn’t much fun when you’re in it…. but later it is remembered with a lot of joy and laughter!
When I realized I was sitting in church next to some green faced ogres, and there were some pretty amazing words and emotions swirling around….I thought…transition! Here we go! It won’t be long now!
It won’t be long now….although it seems like forever to the ones laboring and feeling the pains, the squeezing…transition doesn’t last forever. Soon we’ll get to hold “the baby”…and the joy of that moment will be worth it. It’s going to be worth it all.
Transition is best handled with grace, lots of love, and not taking stuff said personally. In addition to prayer and Bible study here are a few ideas to consider.
Some tips if you are in “transition”:
1. Rest as much as possible between contractions.
You will need strength to push and then care for the “baby” God is bringing. Rest between the pains and the tremendous pressure and stretching.
2. Focus on what’s important.
So what if every one sees your green face, or you said or heard some pretty ugly stuff? Focus on what God is birthing.
3. Don’t forget to breathe.
Stop and take a breather. Relax, don’t hold your breath! Be aware.
4. Work with your body.
You may need to change position…rock a while, lay aside, get low.
5. Ask for what you need.
It’s okay! Ask for a backrub, ice chips, someone’s hand to squeeze, for quiet time, for….help. Transition is no time to be alone!
6. Forgive quickly.
Forgive. Forgive generously. My friend, Susan, shared that it helps to focus on how God feels about that person. Let’s remember John3:16!
The word of God tells us…
We know the whole creation is groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
We are all in this season! Joined by the entire creation we hear the sounds of the season…the groaning that is beyond words, the roar from even the most timid soul, the squeeze, the pressures as God Himself is enlarging us….stretching all of us in His own way.
It’s a time for love, grace, prayer, grace, humility, more grace….um- did I mention….Grace?J
Romans 8:22, NIV
Roots From the Garden….
I am prone to wonderings and ponderings. Perhaps it’s lake life. It’s so easy to rest my eyes on the waters of Lake Wilson and just think thoughts. Thoughts lead to questions which lead to prayer which leads me to God. I ask God questions….He sends me answers in many ways….
Sometimes He sends me a dream in the night. I think that’s because it’s one of the rare times when I am quiet!J
Sometimes it’s subtle, like a tiny nudge.
Sometimes a thought pops up in my mind that “Wows” me and I know that had to come from God.
Sometimes God speaks to me through my Tom, or my girlfriends, my sister, my niece, a sermon, a song, the beautiful scenery, nature, billboards, bumper stickers, a penny on the sidewalk reminds me…”In God We Trust”
There are so many ways God gets to me! I love the ways He gets to me!
He gets me.
One thing is for sure. He always confirms what I feel Him speaking to me through His word! Always.
If it doesn’t line up with a Biblical “it is written”, I toss it!
I found myself thinking about gossip…. I remember an early message about a lady who became convicted over her “long tongue”. She went to a minister for help. She wanted to make it right.
He gave her an assignment.
“Fill a sack with feathers”.
She did. “Now what”?
“Go to the road and throw them to the wind as you walk”.
She did. “Now what”?
“Now, go pick up every feather”….Though she tried, she could not…so it is with gossip. Words fly like feathers on the wind.
Precious reader, I will tell you I have been on every side of this! Okay, so I wasn’t that woman but I could have been. I wanted to lay my own long tongue on the alter! If I could find one big enough! I have also felt the walls built by invisible bricks made of words spoken in whispers, and the heart piercing arrows of poisonous words hurled through the spirit realm.
We must be very careful about our words, both spoken and heard!
There’s lots of ways to gossip……
Some people dress it up in the form of a prayer request, or a concern.
Gossip is defined as:
1. conversation about personal matters: conversation about the personal details of other people’s lives, whether rumor or fact, especially when malicious
2. casual conversation: informal conversation or writing about recent and often personal events
3. habitual talker: somebody who habitually discusses the personal details of others’ lives
talk about other people: to spread rumors or tell people the personal details of others’ lives, especially maliciously
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
In Genesis 3:1 The serpent begins with a question.
….”Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Oh, if only Eve answered something like…
“Hold that question, God will be here in a little while to walk in the cool of the day. We can ask Him then“….
Like Eve, many of us really do not know how dangerous it is to have these kinds of conversations! She and Adam were the lead couple of mankind! Satan knew exactly what He was doing….bringing death. His mission? To steal, kill, and destroy. He is still using the same methods.
Watch out for people who want to tell you what someone else has said! Especially if that person is not present! Like the Serpent and Eve’s conversation, words tend to get added and twisted and before you know it you will be dealing with heartburn from fruit you weren’t meant to ingest!
I was reading through Proverbs 29 when this leaped off the page…
“When a leader listens to malicious gossip,
all the workers get infected with evil.”
Proverbs 29:12 The Message
Wow! I was floored to read this! As a Registered Nurse, I’ve learned that there are many ways to become infected. A person can get exposed by touch, through inhaling, through body fluids, through many portals of contact.
Wow! Listen! The ear bent to gossip is a portal of evil infection!
We see it in political circles, we see it in the workplace, and sadly, we see it in the church. Evil destroys trust, which destroys relationships.
God flows through relationship…He flows through unity….
So….there is the strategy. Again. It happened in the gorgeous Garden of Eden, it still happens today. The enemy of our souls has not come up with a new tactic…we still fall for the old one!
The stakes were high back then, they are still high today.
I have said many times that Satan couldn’t defeat the church so, he joined it.
I hate to say it, but he uses us to infect each other…By gossip!
Speaking….Listening….it’s got to stop.
How? I believe the only way to kill the evil infection that gossip looses is through humility, forgiveness and repenting.
Perhaps you’ve been “sickened” by gossip. Have you been the target of gossip, or you have been exposed to hearing gossip, or perhaps you are a gossip? YES! Been there…. done that… been that!
I am “sick” of it. If you agree, join me, if you will, in this prayer:
Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to search my heart and see if there are any wicked ways in me. Please, shine your light on every hidden part. Forgive me for every word spoken and heard that did not bring life. Deliver me from any evil that I have been infected with. Please heal every wound that gossip has brought to me and through me. I forgive those that have gossiped about me and those who listened. I forgive myself for speaking and for listening. Purify my heart, let Your words become mine, and keep me from evil that I will not cause pain to myself or others. Help me walk in grace, mercy and love. You alone are my redeemer, my salvation, my hope and my life. Thank You for no weapon formed against me shall prosper, You deal with every tongue. Please, Bless me indeed, let Your hand be on me, and enlarge my territory to Your Glory- Double for my Trouble! In Jesus Name, Amen
Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
Under the cold grey skies of late January my Father left his weary body behind and with one final breath, he was gone. It was kind of him to leave in the dreary days of winter.
The weather provided ample excuse to stay in and rest my heavy heart.
The last days of his life had taken it’s toll on me….
The others had surrendered to exhaustion and the house was quiet when I heard his soft scream. The sound of that cry still haunts me. I woke up trying to figure out where I was in the darkness. I groped my way to his room. By the second scream I was at his side.
Our eyes met.
“I’m here sweetheart”.
He nodded his head. No words needed. His eyes told me he knew help was coming. The stoic old soldier quieted himself. His many years of suffering had forged a patience known only by a few. His courage in life and in death are indescribable.
My bare feet hit the floor running. The morphine was in the refrigerator!
I wiped out rounding the corner to the kitchen, slipping on water that had spilled over the dog’s water bowls. With a move that was worthy of a professional wrestler, I body slammed the rock hearth and hit the floor with a loud boom. I would have gotten some medical attention but I knew time was short…within 32 hours he was gone.
It is a comfort to know that he is now at rest, at peace in the presence of God. However; there is an unspeakable horror in seeing the man I so dearly loved writhing in pain, trapped in a body that refused to give up life easily.
Whatever reserves I had were fully spent.
At first it was good to be alone. I put myself to bed. I took long soaks in the tub. Slowly the fog began to clear.
When my friend Jan asked me when I had eaten last, I couldn’t remember. She called in a few minutes to tell me to expect food to be delivered later that day.
It took effort to dress but when Rebecca showed up with home made soup, cupcakes and kind words laced with genuine love, it was more than worth it.
I took a bowl of soup and a cupcake and crawled back in bed.
That’s when I went on my HGTV marathon.
Armed with soup, crackers, Pringles, chocolate , my journal, my favorite pen and lots of toilet paper (I’d blown through the boxed tissues the first 2 days home), I crawled back to bed.
I had no immediate plans to ever leave.
Grief has many faces. I wasn’t alarmed as I wafted from tears, to sorrow, then to anger, to acceptance, then back to anger and on and on emotions swirled like tempest waves on stormy seas.
“Designed to Sell” came on. Where the heck do they get the assemble-it-yourself living room sets for $300?
I watched them work. The effort. The many hands. The time. The mistakes.
When the camera is off, the crew is left to work behind the scenes- ah but such is the bargain of “some assembly required”.
It’s the same thing with people.
All of us have a place uniquely designed by a creative genius, God.
The bargain is obvious!
Sins- completely covered- price to me? Free!
Freedom- cost? Charged to Christ.
Well, I could go on and on with the metaphors but there is one big caveat.
Some Assembly Required!
You simply can’t get it together any other way!
This is the task delegated to the local fellowship. Or, you can stay in the box, never to know or fulfill your full potential.
A lady friend once told me she was quite happy in her religious box until I came and kicked the sides out…..it was one of the nicest things ever said to me!
So….what happens in assembly?
You get touched!
Yes! In the presence of God, whether through a song, a message, a hug…it takes being touched to come out of “the box”.
You get turned!
The way you were in “the box” is rarely the way you are set up for use.
You get connected!
God will join you to other “parts” of similar or complimentary purpose.
You will be used!
Just as a couch is designed to be beautiful in the space it’s intended for, it also gives rest to the weary…. after it’s assembled.
Ah, yes! In God’s house there are many beautiful wonders.
Some for exclusive use for special occasions. Often these are fragile, gorgeous and priceless.
Some can be used in many ways, multi-purpose and tough enough to stand up to daily wear and tear.
Oh sure, some are used more than others! Take the little used crystal vase. It spends a lot of time on the shelf, but when the Master of the house sends His beloved a gorgeous fragrant bouquet of flowers for no other purpose than to show His love for His bride, there’s no comparing the beauty of the sun kissing the perfectly clean, polished cuts to contain that beauty and reflect the light. We are all useful….the hardy, the fragile, the new, the old.
We are all important to God.
We all have a glory to be revealed.
We all have the opportunity to get out of our proverbial box and to become fully useful!
So, I laid down my remote control and drove my weary soul to church.
Can God speak through HGTV? Of course He can, and HE did!
As soon as I walked into Grace House, my local fellowship here in the Shoals of Alabama…..
I was touched!
I was turned!
I was connected!
I was even used! A kind lady told me just yesterday that I said something to her…it had made a big difference, she said it gave her hope…it…helped.
Connected - by bonds of love welded in the fires of adversity.
Turned- away from the fake responces when asked how I was doing, I never said, "I’m fine", I told the truth…."I’m a mess".
Touched-by loving friends ,kind words, music, the message…deeply touched in places of my heart that only the Spirit can reach.
Sure, it feels safe in the box. It’s…familiar. Don’t settle for the confines of a dull cardboard life! God has designed a good plan for us! However; there is…..
Some Assembly Required!!!!!
My life is a trip! One minute I’m cruising at 70mph on wide open spaces, the next there are flashes of orange and yellow warning signs! The highway has ended and I’m detoured to a narrow side road…
Isn’t life like that? Some days I wake up and set my cruise control! I fly down the highway singing at the top of my lungs and before I know it, I can be in a completely different state of mind. Other times, I find my way has been detoured! To arrive safely I have to get quiet, pay attention and slow down!
“Detours” can have many forms. One minute you’re getting a routine mammogram, the next you’re fighting Breast Cancer. One minute you’re about to turn off the TV, the next you’re riveted to the screen watching terrorists attack the nation.
Wham! War is declared! Granted, in the light of the events of 9/11, and the death of my Mom from Breast Cancer, not all wars are equally significant but even small wars can claim casualties.
I have learned regardless of the global significance not to dismiss my wars…have you heard? It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine….
I’d been sick for days and things had piled up.
Note to new moms: There are certain things like bills and housework that are faithful to wait while you nurse a baby, take a needed nap or a bubble bath….but in the priorities of life eventually even they must be tended. I felt better so I decided to tackle the mail.
Mail Mountain had risen to new pinnacles! Heaped with junk mail, flyers, the usual coupons for stuff I don’t need and the early bird Christmas brochures… this looked easy enough. I quickly began sorting and the pile I named “garbage” grew quickly. Yippee! This is not so bad! I figured I’d be done in record speed when I opened an unusual envelope. I’ve learned to open everything because I have found unexpected checks in the mail….those are fun! This one wasn’t…..Poof! There went peace! Wham! Suddenly I was at war!
Yes, right then and there my kitchen became a war zone!
I felt my knees get a bit weak.
I told myself everything was going to be alright. Like good little soldiers, memorized passages of scripture came to full attention. My mind told my heart everything was going to be fine but my mutinous body was arguing the difference! My hands were shaking! My heart began beating faster and my stomach threatened to toss the protein shake I’d had for breakfast.
As it turns out, my body was the only part of me being completely honest!
We’ve all had news like that. News that staggers the mind, or breaks the heart. It’s a sign of life…to care, to feel, both the good and the bad….
In my past, I would have lectured myself…perfect love casts out fear so, “Fear not self!”.
Or, sadly, I would have ignored myself…even dismissed my self! I hate to admit it but I got caught up in a feel good gospel that preached that the body was to be bossed around, and if it spoke up it was to be ignored! And if that didn’t work starve it into submission through fasting….well, you get the picture.
My body spoke. I stopped and listened.
Here’s how I fought for peace and unity between my heart, mind and body….
I made 3 calls.
First call: I called on God. I told Him I was alarmed at the news and although I knew He said all would be well, my body didn’t seem to believe. You see, unfortunately my body had several experiences of things not going well and my body insisted on reminding my heart which put my mind on full alert status! I got honest with God.
Second call: I called my husband. Yes ladies! God first, then your spouse, or your BFF, or ….well you get the picture! He was working but I knew he’d want and need to know. It was reassuring to hear his voiced agreement with what my own mind was telling me. My body held on to breakfast.
Third call: I called a trusted friend…..A threefold cord is not easily broken! I spilled my guts, got real and laid it all on the table. I didn’t worry about loosing my super spiritual statis by admitting I was shaken up and was pretty sure everything would turn out for my good but the war might cost me an arm & a leg….in other words, I bawled my eyes out.
My mind said all is well. My body said no it isn’t!
My body called me to live in the moment and, embrace my humanity.
My body called me to listen to my….self. The truth is, my body knows all too well that things don’t always go well. It remembers wars past, scared skin…war wounds…I have found there is a big distance between faith and unbelief. However; there is a chasm between faith and denial.
As Christians we must listen and trust God to speak to us any way He chooses, whether through our spirit, our mind, our heart, or through the very body that He created in His very own image!
My news revealed a lack of unity between heart and mind, between spirit and body.
I am learning to listen and to be honest when I sense peace, like Elvis, has “Left the building”!
Thankfully…God is there, He will never leave me or forsake me! Truthfully, the news I recieved was upsetting. It still is. I am still going through…there is still a "ways to go", as we say….but the war is won in my…SELF! I am going the distance with peace. Peace of heart, peace of mind and peace of body! I am going through with other "soldiers". My Husband and my trusted friends have my back! They are armed and dangerous…we got the scars to prove it. Once the wounds healed we kinda show them off a bit to well, anyone who wants to hear our wars stories! Best of all, I am going through it with the Captain of the host, Jesus Christ, my LORD and my God!
God is in the here and now! And I can face anything because God, God Himself is with me, even in the distance. Like the Carol King song I sang recently at our local fellowship…."You just Call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running….." Just call! God came to bring you and me, PEACE!
“Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out it’s 7 pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.”
Proverbs 9: 1-2 NIV
Wisdom builds with strength and substantial foundational pillars. Oh 4 might have held, but wisdom doesn’t stop at good enough!
Wisdom prepares for what’s coming and who’s coming!
In preparing spiritual meat, the wise seasoned soul is cognoscente of the palette of the partaker. Spiritual meat is meant to be marinated and delicious! Mull over the word of God, taste and see that the Lord is good.
The mixing of wines boosts it’s flavor and compliments the meat. Gathering things of the spirit from only one vineyard, from only one camp never brings the depth and flavorful bouquet that the fullness of the mix brings! Wisdom mixes her wine. Wisdom drinks from many vineyards. Mixing various wines brings balance and fullness.
Wisdom sets her table.
Setting the table is a sign that you are welcome and wanted. You being here is part of the plan.
Wisdom does things ahead of time. Before the demands of the people, before the storm hits and the raging winds blow, before the crowd shows up hungry and in need of shelter, wisdom works!
Wisdom life works! It works! Can you hear the cry of Wisdom? Come! All you whose lives are just NOT WORKING! Are there some things that are just not working for you? Some plans that have crumbled under the stress of life? Hear now! The LORD has plans, and His plans work! There is a way to build life that is strong, stable, sure, fulfilling, and that leaves a good taste in your mouth! A life where your presence is desired and your place is prepared!
Proverbs 9 tells us there are many voices calling. Wisdom invites us to come….
“Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” Proverbs 9:5-6 NIV
Holy Voice Mail?
Growing up, when the phone rang, we were trained on how to answer the phone.
“Hello, McDonald residence. May I ask who’s calling?”.
The caller responded and then we were to say, “Please hold and I’ll see if they are available”. Or, “I’m sorry, _____ is unavailable, May I take a message?”.
Mom, a former Chicago executive, was a stickler over phone etiquette. Every person was to be treated as if they were the President of the United States. Period. My Dad was in business and was the Chaplain for the American Legion.
Every call held the potential for a need or need met.
Every call still does!
Now we have caller ID, Voice Mail, email, IM, texting, I could go on and on with the many ways you could live life interrupted.
Recently Tom and I listened to a fabulous teaching series. While we thoroughly enjoyed the humorous and clever teaching there was one hard driven point that troubled Tom. During a segment on the importance of establishing boundaries and setting priorities, the speaker used the story of Jesus walking on the water as a reference passage to rationalize and validate his use of screening calls sending anyone outside his rather small circle of last names to voice mail! Tom was incensed at the arrogant mocking of desperate people asking for help as if they were whining babies! So, we read his reference of the Mark 6 report of Jesus walking on water in several versions…..
Eugene H. Peterson said in The Message:
…..He intended to go right by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and screamed, scared out of their wits. Jesus was quick to comfort them: “Courage! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” As soon as he climbed in the boat, the wind died down…..
While it appears that Jesus did have intentions of passing by He chose to respond to the calls of his disciples, right away.
He did NOT send their calls to Holy Voice Mail and listen a week later.
The great Physician, Jesus, is on call 24/7!
I pray when my phone rings that I will remember my Mother’s teaching and Jesus‘ example! Those of us in ministry can relate to Physicians and new parents. Emergencies rarely happen between 9 & 5, and young ones need to be tended to continuouslyJ
Many are called….few are chosen!
Screening calls? Voice Mail? What would Jesus do?
God’s Strategy Room
When I think of a “Strategy Room“, I can almost hear the James Bond movie music! Bom-bom-bada-bom-bom bada….badada-badada- well you get the idea! It conjures up images of Top Secret information being shared in a secret location. Forget entering without identity badges, finger prints and eye scans. Okay, so now you’re thinking this woman has seen too many spy movies.
Well, maybe so.
Oh, but I have had a tiny taste of the real thing!
I was working in the family business, Amos Metal Products. I did pretty much anything my Dad told me to. I never thought about it. I knew if he asked me to do something I could do it. He knew me. He trained me. I knew him. It was that simple. I don’t ever recall feeling the least bit nervous or intimidated. It’s the same with my Heavenly Dad, God.
I know if God tells me to do something, I can. He knows me, He trained me.
At that time at Amos, I went to Redstone Arsenal every week for contract procurement. Amos was selected for many Department of Defense projects. We developed several prototypes for the military and for NASA. To get on post, first I had to go through the gate where the guard checked me and my car for proper identification. Then, I went to my destination where we did it again! There I was given access to designs the engineers had perfected for the projects they were developing. After reviewing the blueprints I chose whatever I decided would be suitable for Amos to submit a bid on. At the submission of the completed bid for the project there was a whole separate secure procedure for actually submitting the quote for the job. Once Amos secured the bid, there was even more security….well, you get the idea.
This has helped me many times in the war I find myself in here and now.
Yes, you and I are at war. There are real enemies that would love to steal our destiny, kill our hearts and destroy our lives. Why? Because God has big plans and Satan and his minions want what belongs to God.
The good news is God, through faith in Jesus has not only given us “security access” but He INVITES us into the most secret heavenly places! AKA, the Strategy Room! He wants to tell us what going on and gives us the opportunity to participate! He even lets us decide what we’d like to do! He doesn’t want mindless robots! We have choices and opportunities!
I any situation, according to Jeremiah 33:3, God will answer our call and gives strategies from heaven.
This truth has saved me from disaster! Not remembering has cost me big time.
There is much I do not know, cannot know, must not know….even some things I don’t want to know. Oh sure, I’m curious but it’s actually been more exciting NOT knowing and just being real.
I told a girlfriend recently that I felt urgently that I needed to talk to her. It was personal stuff, intensely personal. It was risky! I asked her if she might be interested to hear my impressions. She said yes.
Bom-bom-bada-…You here the music too don’t you?
I shared what I thought God had impressed on my heart regarding things I simply had no way of knowing! She said it was “right on” and gave her timely help on her journey.
Life is exciting filled with purpose and how-to’s from heaven!
Times were crazy busy during the last semester of nursing school. I was going to school full time, mother of 4 active kids, running a household, leading worship and the women’s ministry at church. Oh, did I mention I was also class president? My long history of abuse and unmet validation needs, mixed with some false teaching and performance based theology had created quite the perfectionist. Deep wounds festered while I performed all the “good Pastor’s wife” duties, trying to please God and the world – oh but that’s another story. Let’s just say it was not a good time to be sick!
Normally, I have boundless energy, even a bit hyper. You know- the captain of the cheerleaders type! (Yes, I was that, too.) But suddenly I literally couldn’t hold my eyes open. My Doctor ordered labs.
I tested positive for the Epstein Barr virus!
I was devastated. I had worked so hard to be a straight A student only to find failure knocking on my door.
God answered the door while I slept.
2 weeks of sleep later, I dragged myself to campus to take 3 exams that I wasn’t ready for. I prayed. I cried out and lifted it all up to God singing, ”I cast all my cares upon you“.
But first, I armed my weak self with information from the strategy room of God. He knew all the answers to my tests. I quieted my soul. Then, I listened with my heart wide open.
“I’ll be with you”.
It was that simple. My invisible God who knew all the answers was with me. I went in feeling almost like a cheater. A spy with a secret weapon….
When the tests were graded and being handed out all eyes were on me. Everyone knew I failed. What they were watching for was how I was going to handle it. Was I going to say bad words? Was all that prayer just a psycho babble crutch? When I received my grades all I could do was sob in sloppy choked up gasps for air. Everyone started crying with and for me. My friend Pam couldn’t stand it! In tears, she ran to my desk- grabbed my tests and with a loud surprised voice yelled,” She didn’t fail- she got all A’s”.
Pandemonium broke out! Every one was crying and hugging me.
You see, they told us from day one, “Look to your left and to your right…only one of you will make it to graduation“. Statistics. Facts. It made me mad. I felt a fire in my bones. I wanted to make history. I told the ladies to my right, my left and for good measure, the ones in front of me and in back of me that we were all going to make it. (Later it was the one to the right who nominated me for class president, the one on the left seconded the motion. I think all four of them voted for me.)J
What came to me was very simple, “Pray”.
So, I invited anyone who wanted to pray to join me before every exam. I could hear the laughter and worse, the jabs. One person laughed in my face and said, well, never mind that. Some things aren’t worth repeating. You get the idea.
That was it. Pray with whoever wants to before every test.
Amid snickers and sneers we prayed. Then it slowly grew.
One day, I lifted my head to see every student in our class standing in that circle of prayer. Did I mention that we had the largest percentage of graduating nursing students in the history of the school? Every single one of us went on to pass the NCLEX to become Registered Nurses. 100%!
God knows all the answers. He, well, He knows everything! He has a secret place where strategies from heaven can be heard. He has invited us in. He identifies us through Jesus Christ! We, through Christ are invited by God Himself to call, just call and He will answer. He will tell us marvelous, wondrous things we could never figure out on our own!
I have found myself in many tough situations since then, many of my own making. Maybe it will become a country song…..
I was in a pickle – but with YOU,
I came out smelling like a rose…..okay, maybe not!
I think I’ll stick to Bom-bom-bada-bom-bom-bada…..!
“This is God’s Message, the God who made earth, made it livable and lasting, known everywhere as God:’ Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.’
Jeremiah 33:2-3, The Message