Storms Brewing: What Do You do?

Sometimes we see the storms coming.

Sometimes we can see the storms of life before they come.

Sometimes we can see the storms of life before they hit.

But most of the time we don’t.

Sometimes we find ourselves flooded by our circumstances.

Sometimes we find ourselves flooded by our circumstances, like the ship out there in full storm.

Sunday morning at 2 AM I received a call telling me my mom, thousands of miles away, was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance. I did not see it coming….

How we respond in these situations is often telling. Unfortunately, this is not a first for us. I have had practice with these exact circumstances. I have had opportunities to learn practice and grow.

As I write, she is still in ICU and I am no longer thousands of miles away. I am a 10 minute drive from her unit. It has been a roller coaster, but the one thing I know, God is present and he is good. There have been changes and complications with her health and with other unrelated circumstances. Whatever happens, God has not changed.

Tonight, I am hopeful for more time with my mom. That has not always been the case this week.

Regardless, I know the storms pass and the sun will keep coming up in the morning.

After the storm

After the storm

I can choose to focus on the pain and suffering, or I can look at it, but do so through the lens of a loving God who not only understands, but controls the ebb and flow of life and circumstances.

Yes it has been difficult to focus on the goodness of God this week, yet I have chosen to turn on worship music (a key to my heart) when I could not focus to read or pray in-depth. This helped me “look up” and experience the presences of God.

The sky is not clear yet. But it I have lived long enough and followed God long enough to know it will clear in due time. It is worth the wait. Worship is one of the best ways for me to remember and trust the one who made me.

What are your storms? What is your favorite way to connect with God when circumstances over whelm you?

It feels cliché to many, but Romans 2:28 is still true!  “God works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose.”

What a Difference a Year Makes!

Last year at this time I was in deep grieving mode. This time of year is full of reminders for me of a lot of sad events. Not to list them all, but the death of my father was just over 10 years ago and my brother who died almost seven years ago was born in early September.

A snail takes his time to make progress, and so do I.

A snail takes his time to make progress, and so do I.

Henry Cloud wrote a book called Changes That Heal. In it he posits that in order to heal our brokenness we all need Grace, Truth and Time.

Grace is unmerited favor. We don’t earn it. It is given to us primarily by God, but we can extend it to each other by forgiving and being kind. We also need to learn to offer and receive it from ourselves.

Truth has to do with being in line with fact and reality. It also has a meaning related to sincerity in action and character. When I think of God, I think of his character as truthful. The way he asks us to interact with each other also fits here. Like grace, truth relates vertically in our relationship with God, then horizontally in our relationship with others and finally how we treat ourselves.

Am I receiving and extending grace? Is my life aligned the truth of God and his word and promises?

Time…this is what makes it complete.

Give a plant good soil, food, water, sun and it will grow, but not over night. If I plant myself in grace and truth, I still need time to let these sink in and bring the healing I need.

August, September and October still hold reminders of unpleasant things that have taken place in my life. But this year, after a year of grace & truth, the sting is noticeably less. I have learned to hold those events in a way that they are still part of my life, but they are not preeminent. I am sad from time to time, but I am not overwhelmed like I was a year ago.

To all those who hurt, and we all do if we are honest, you have hope. Be of good courage. Accept the grace of God for your situation. God is present with you even if you can not sense it. Know the truth of the word of God telling you, that you are never alone, and the character of God that he is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or even imagine!  As the Bible says more times than I can count: “And it came to pass…”

This too shall pass.

What is in front of you that needs you to apply grace and truth to it? Is it a loss? Is it a failure? or maybe you can not forgive yourself or someone else? Take a moment to be honest with God. He already knows it anyway….

Now ask God to show you the truth from the word of God that applies to you and your situation. Let God and his word define you, not your circumstance.

Finally, thank God that he will show you how to let go, or to hold this thing loosely, so you can see it from his eternal perspective. Then wait. Time will make the difference.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Change

Change, wanted or not is often harder than I first think it will be.

Changing tides

Changing tides

It is a little hard, but good to be alone right now.

This week I closed out my mom’s home in Michigan. I was born & raised in Ann Arbor. My parents left the home I grew up in after my dad had a stroke 30 years ago. They moved to a single unit condo. Then after dad passed 10 years ago mom moved again.

For many reasons she just sold her Ann Arbor home. I have spent the last week in those walls going through it, packing up to sell, donate and move along to the next generations.

I guess the feeling I am facing is a sense of homelessness. I can come to Michigan whenever I want in the future, however, mom will rent and it will be too small for me to stay there. I no longer have a home in the town Facebook declares is my hometown.

It is a feeling reminiscent of moving back to the US after 13 years in Africa. It’s like I am supposed to belong, but I don’t.

This time, I am letting go of my earthly “home town.” There is sadness. Yet, when I sit still for a bit, I can find much to be thankful for.

My identity and my significance do not come from where I live, or where I come from. My identity comes from who I know and the one who knows me.

I’m not talking about knowing important people. As a child of the Creator, I am always at home in His presence.

As I let go of my old attachment, I find I need to cling all the more to the one who made me and knows my end from my beginning.

Especially when I feel lost or at loose ends, I turn my gaze to God who knows why I was created and why I live. I see the love of God who sent His only Son to die on the cross just so I, and you, can spend every day in relationship with the one who knows us better than we know ourselves. God went through all of that so He could spend every day in relationship with me, and with you.

As I sit alone in the last place in Ann Arbor I can physically lay claim to, I am grateful to be a lone. Yes, it hurts. I am closing another door on my past. Change is not always easy or fun, but it is inevitable. I am thankful to God because I grew up in this area and for how it contributed to making me who I am today.

Now, I ponder and let Abba remind me how much I am loved with a love that will never fade. That is what I need more than anything, today, and tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow….

When you are alone, you are never really alone.

How do you respond to unexpected or unwelcome change? In the quiet, reach out and let God fill the needy place in your heart with His love for you!

Reflection

Did you know we are a sort of a mirror? Every human being is created in the image of God. Each one of us reflects something about God.

A distorted reflection of trees on the water

A distorted reflection of trees on the water

We have a problem though. God is perfect and we are not. So our reflection is distorted. We all reflect God in varying ways and  to varying degrees of “accuracy”. We will never reflect our creator perfectly from this side of our lives, but there is hope. A lot of it.

– We do not all reflect the same aspect of God. So, comparison is not a good idea. We all have different gifts and abilities. Each one of us in completely unique. The best way for me to reflect God is to be myself. Be the best me I can be. each of us has things to offer the world that only we can. Go with it.

– Hopefully, we know we are imperfect, broken people. I ask God daily to give me the grace to extend to others the grace I need every day. I do not succeed all the time. I am a work in progress. So are you. So, be kind to yourself.

– For all our faults, mistakes and outright sin, Jesus lived the perfect life, qualifying him to die on the cross to pay the price for each of us.  All we need to do is accept the gift of His finished work and resurrection – the proof of  God’s power over evil, sin & ignorance.

The best way to reflect the love and grace of God well, is to be still and know that He is God and that God is good, all the time.

Reflection on still water

A clear reflection on still water

Look at the difference between the images and the clarity of the reflection.

When we are still in our inner being, we are free to be ourselves,  and that reflect God in our lives more clearly.

We can not compare, be anxious or angry and be still in our hearts.

Meditating on the promises of God for us, worshiping God in Spirit and in truth, brings us into alignment, into calm, peace and stillness.

Reflect a moment (pun intended=} )

When are you most at peace? When or where do you feel safe?

What promises from the word of God do you have personal experience with it bringing you away from stress and closer to calm?

Thank God for His loving kindness and the power of His word. Thankfulness is one of my fastest ways to still my mind and heart.