However, life has been absolutely amazing. God has been moving in our hearts like never before. Kevin and I have been drawing even closer than ever. Some of you are probably smiling wondering how that is possible since we are already pretty inseparable! Some great things have been happening.
Yet, my heart is heavy. I'm doing my absolute best to focus on the positives. I've been down the road of depression and I know how very important it is to "nip it in the bud" when it comes creeping back in. My eyes are wide open to the blessings I'm experiencing and so often during the day I have to stop and TRULY redirect my thinking to make sure I'm focusing on the amazing things God is doing in our lives! There are plenty.
However, curve balls are being tossed at us and sometimes it's just enough to break me. On Friday, the day that Kevin and I celebrated our 16th anniversary, in the back of my mind it was a struggle for me. That day marked 9 months without Dad. 3/4 of a year GONE without him and it still is as fresh and raw as the first day. This Friday night, Kevin and will be blessed to go out and watch the movie Courageous. It is something we have been planning ahead for months. It is something that is so important in our lives right now and we KNOW that God is going to use it in a mighty big way. However, that day is also my Dad's birthday. Our first one without him present with us.....yet, my heart also leaps with excitement think about how amazing of a celebration he is going to be having with the one that created the universe. Can't get much greater than that. Yet, my heart is truly sitting heavy with sorrow. I'm just a couple of weeks away from heading back home and that trip is a "heavy" one for us. However, I'm so thrilled that my "sweet T" will be coming back with us to stay for awhile. Our entire family is excited for her visit. My heart needs it even though I know there will be some sad moments.
We've been dealt a couple of rough blows and the blows seem to keep coming. Just tonight we got slammed with one that is ripping both of us apart. Satan is all over us right now. I know without a doubt that it's because we are being effective, we are moving closer and closer to being in step with what God has for us. WE KNOW IT! Yet, it makes it hard. It's hard to stay focused on the plan God has for us when our hearts are breaking and heavy. Kevin stopped me tonight and just tried to hug it all away (even before our last blow). Though that helped and I cherish those moments, it didn't make it all go away. It's like when our kids are hurt, Mommy and Daddy just want to make it go away. We can try and we can soothe, but we really don't have that magic power to make it not exist! Though we try with everything in us.
My stress level continued to climb and the voices of doubt wanted to overtake, but I remembered the song that kept going through my head this morning when I was walking and praying. "Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Open the eyes of my heart. I want to see you. I want to see you. To see you high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory. Pour out your power and love as we sing holy, holy, holy." I can't remember actually singing or hearing the song recently, so it was definitely one of those moments provided by the Holy Spirit. My stress isn't gone and I'm overwhelmed with concern for people that we love, ones that are making poor decisions that are dividing their families, and for some health issues that those we care about are facing. However, I have a growing sense of peace as those words have come back to my heart again.
This session of Bible in 90 Days (B90) is quickly wrapping up. Today, I found myself almost 5 days behind and as I spent considerable amount of time tonight trying to catch up (now only 1.5 days behind!), I kept finding words in the Gospel of John that totally just continued to speak more and more peace to my heart. I am a worrier. I easily find myself stressed out. Even though I know without a shadow of a doubt that that is NOT the life God wants for me, I still struggle daily with it. Though that grip is getting less and less, it is happening at a much slower pace than I would like. It's one of my GREATEST weaknesses.
However, the words I read tonight just kept speaking over and over of peace. Faithfulness. Joy. The things I've been experiencing even through the darkness. They have been within reach. I'm grateful beyond words than I can express to feel that. God is truly opening the eyes of my heart and I couldn't be more grateful to be His daughter.
Though I've highlighted like crazy the book of John, here are a few of my favorites.....some are ones that really jumped out for the first time or jumped out VIVIDLY. Reading from the NLT continues to be an eye opening experience for me. Though sometimes I feel it is a bit "loose" in translation, it still puts it in a way that my brain can wrap around much easier!
- 1:4-5 "The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it." THAT is what I'm experiencing right now. Darkness is hovering around us like a fog that won't burn off.....but light is so much stronger.
- 3:30 "He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." Truth! Praying it. Holding onto it. It's not easy, but it's necessary.
- 5:4 "Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don't have God's love within you." Amen! Why on earth do I continuously seek approval of others? Why does my heart ache over issues of rejection and abandonment. The Word says it plain and simple and I need to grasp it with both hands and hang on tight.
- 8:5-6 (Jesus speaking) "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful in my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." That isn't just a famous quote, it's straight from the Bible. Truth sets us free. Holding on to the truth when it seems like the world is against us brings freedom! Remaining faithful to Biblical standards is what matters.
- 14:6 (Jesus speaking) "I am THE way, THE truth, THE life. No one can come to the Father except through me." We have spent two Sundays on this one verse and have at least one more week to go. I've learned so much from this series. Though I've heard this verse countless times and memorized it as a young child, it's coming to life more than ever. What is important to note is that the article "the" is purposely written. It means ONE. It means my way, my truth, and my life MUST line up with HIS way, truth, and life. No variance. There is NO OTHER WAY! It's not MY WAY....it's HIS way!
- 14:27 "I am leaving you with a gift---peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." I think the NLT wording of this verse really made it touch me deeply tonight when I read it. It is a verse I was familiar with, but the different wording really made it sink in. I needed it! The world may not understand the peace that fills my heart, they can't! However, God has put it there as a gift. A treasure.
- 15:9-11 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" My joy is overflowing. Even in the harshness of the battles we are facing, I'm able to find joy. It isn't something I've been able to stop the flow of. To me that is beautiful! It is something I sought for so long and battled so hard to find when I struggled so greatly with depression and now I'm in the place that I can't seem to turn it off. THANKFUL!
- 15:18 "If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of it's own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world." I cling to this verse on those days that I feel alone in making choices that take myself or my family out of the "popular" crowd. When I want to wallow in pity....these words put me right back on track. I am meant to be different than the world, no matter how alone it may feel at times.
- 16:33 "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." That verse doesn't say you might have trials....it says you WILL HAVE MANY. It doesn't say I will never hurt, struggle, or my heart won't break. It basically says, I guarantee you will! The beauty of the verse is the hope and encouragement the second part brings. I HAVE overcome the world. Can't get much more strength than that! There is nothing I am facing or any emotion I am feeling that God can't handle!
So, it may be WELL past when I'm supposed to be asleep and when I am trying to turn off technology, but I had to share the comforting words I had been reading tonight. Though I originally thought about waiting until tomorrow, I wanted to go ahead and "get them down" while they were fresh. Tomorrow is a busy day and I don't want to take the chance that I won't get them written. That seems to be happening a LOT lately! I know someone else reading is probably struggling with some harsh curve balls in their life right now and I pray that the words found in John bring comfort and encouragement! THAT is the desire of my heart. THAT is why I so often take the time to blog!