Friday, January 13, 2012

My Conversion From Religion to Relationship

I grew up in the church. I don't remember a time in my young life when I didn't say prayers or attend church.  I believed in God and in Jesus and didn't question the Bible.  

Then, as a teenager, I went to Southern Baptist Christian school and church.  This church taught things that I had never learned or even thought of. They taught that Jesus came so that sinners could be "saved", but first they had to ask Him into "their heart".  They taught about heaven and hell and that people actually went to one or the other.  They also taught that women could not wear pants, the King James Version was the only one, divorce was unforgivable, women were to be in total submission to men, Catholics and those in evangelical churches were not truly saved, and any question of authority meant rebellion.  I did not learn about the grace and mercy of Jesus, but rather the heavy hand of a authoritarian God.  I did not learn love, but instead how to judge others that did not worship God the same way I did. 

 Once I graduated high school, I was done with religion. I didn't want to serve a God that disowned people for not wearing the correct clothing, didn't read the "right" Bible, and made women stay in abusive marriages.  I ran as far away from God and "His people" as I could. 

Then something happened, something that turned my heart back to Him. I was pregnant (out of wedlock, I might add) and me and my husband to be were so happy. We looked forward to raising our baby. We read parenting books, my husband read wonderful literature to my growing belly, I quit smoking, ate good food, got married, and did all the "right" things.  

Then on December 21st 1988, I was 21 weeks pregnant and my water broke.  I was put in the hospital, it was a small rural hospital, and my family was over 300 miles away.  They told me the baby was too young to be born and if my body started to get an infection they would have to take her.  I honestly had very little clue about what was going on, I just wanted to keep my baby safe. It was then, in the hospital, that I remembered my old friend and I called out to Him.  I begged Him to keep my baby safe and I promised Him my faithful devotion if He would do this one thing for me. 

I was in the hospital for 3 days and then I started to get a fever, my white blood count went up, and infection was starting. My baby was too little, the hospital did not have a neonatal department.  That night I prayed and I asked the Lord to take my baby home to Him. I asked that she not go to heaven alone, but that she go into the arms of Jesus.  To this day I remember the second her life crossed from here to eternity. I literally saw a shape in the hospital wall, a shape of a man. This man had a baby in His arms and I knew that my baby had entered eternity with the Savior.  I delivered my precious baby, Cecelia Elise, which means "musical gift of God".  

After the death of my precious baby, I tried to go on. Many people did not acknowledge her death, because to them she was not a person. A family member even had the nerve to tell my husband that our baby wasn't really a baby yet! I guess they said that to "comfort" him, but all it did was make it harder to grieve the loss.  They didn't have the bond with her that I had. They didn't carry her for five months. They didn't miss her when she was gone.  

I remember those days, I started to drink to dull the pain.  As I drank I also started to listen to Christian music. That probably sounds weird, but the words brought me comfort.  I would sit and listen to the words over and over, words that I didn't understand but words that carried life.

 I remember picking up my King James Bible and thumbing through it, just looking for some sign.  I would love to say that I got a sign, but it was all confusing and meaningless to me... (to be continued)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Woman's Day

Outside my window...grey skies, lots of branchless trees, and and a few snowflakes.

I am thinking...about different denominations and why Christians often pit one against another.

I am thankful for...the body of Christ.

From the kitchen...unsure, but thinking about hamburgers.

I am wearing...Houghton College pajama bottoms, Evangel University Hoodie, and socks.

I am mom.

I am going...nowhere tonight. :o)

I am reading…"Why You Do The Things You Do" - this is for on of my Christian Counseling classes.

I am hoping….that the next semester will be relatively easy.

On my mind…organization of my desk at work.

I am hearing...the hum of the computer.

Around the house...hanging out.

Noticing that…I love hanging out with my family! :o)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Verse for the New Year

Every year I pray and ask the Lord to give me one word to focus on through the year and one verse.  Although I don't have the word, I am happy to say that I have the verse!

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it spring up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-20

I. Love. That. 

This year has been filled with some yucky unexpected stuff and though the Lord turned it all around for His glory, it was tough going through it.  I'm not sure what this year holds, good or bad or indifferent. I can plan, set goals, make my agenda, and organize all I want. However, in the end it really only matters if what I want lines up with what God wants.  

This year I want:
  • More of Jesus
  • Laser like focus on the things that truly matter
  • My family members to grow deeper in their relationships with the Lord
  • My family to never doubt how much they are each loved
  • New opportunities to serve the Lord
I can't tell you the last time I was so excited to start a new year! Up until last night, when the Lord gave me a dream (I will share later) and my verse for the year, I was not anticipating a great year.  Now I cannot wait to see the things God has in store and I look forward to 2012 with a whole new anticipation! 

Happy New Year!! May it be filled with Gods grace, mercy, and love! :o) 

Friday, December 30, 2011

20 Reflection Questions on 2011

One of my favorite websites for inspiration is   (In)Courage.  I have prayer time every morning at work, I work in a ministry, and that is one of the places a visit each morning. Today there was a post with 20 questions for reflecting the New Year and I thought I would post my answers here: 

20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? This year, though not the best year, has held many wonderful things. If I had to choose one, I would say that my nephew Luke's miraculous recovery. 
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? My husband and I brought our third homeschool graduate to college. Even though she was the third to go to college, it was still challenging. She was 17 years old, because she graduated a year early and she was 12 hours away. However, she has done amazing and looking back, I'm glad that we allowed her to go. 
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? The most unexpected joy was when the Board of Directors voted me in as the Executive Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I work. 
4. What was an unexpected obstacle? My husband lost his job in June and though God has been faithful, it was not something we anticipated. 
5. Pick three words to describe 2011. Traumatic, Belief, Thankful
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Prayerfull, Growth, Determined 
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking). Humbling, Trust, Educational
8. What were the best books you read this year? A Woman and Her God, Beth Moore, 
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? This year I would have to say most valualable relationships were with my husband, my children, my sister, and a few special friends. 
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? My biggest personal change was from being a stay at home homeschool mom to working full time. 
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I learned that I am a competant adult and I can succeed at things. I also learned that being a leader is not a bad thing, it is how God designed me. 
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I learned that no matter what man says, God always has the final say. I also learned that prayer is vital and that God truly knows me intimately. 
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? This one is more difficult. I started jogging this spring, but then Luke's accident happened and life got totally sidetracked. In looking at this question and answering honestly, I did not grow physically this year, at least not in a good way. 
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? In all honesty between family, work, and being a full time student many of my relationships have taken a back seat. I am learning that I cannot 'do it all' and I also cannot 'have it all'. My focus has to be on what God has called me to do and I am blessed that my friends have continued to stand by me and love me any way. 
15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)? The most enjoyable part of my work is helping people and ministering the love of God to them.  I also love training the volunteers and sharing what I am currently learning in my studies with them.  It is also wonderful to be able to pray with people and be open about my faith in Jesus. 
The most enjoyable part of my home is knowing that my husband has taken the responsibility of homeschooling our son and is doing a wonderful job! I also know that our home is filled with love, laughter, and that God is in the center of our lives. 
16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)? The most challenging part of my work is when people can't, for one reason or another, move forward. I see many people who stay stuck in their circumstances and who don't walk in freedom of the Lord.  
My most challenging aspect of home is probably finances. However, God continues to be faithful and His provision is always greater then our need. 
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? I have not had much down time this year, but if I had to pick a biggest time waster I think it would be worrying.  I tend to worry too much and trust too little. 
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Spending time each morning in prayer and praise to God.  I have found that when I do not turn to God first, my day does not go smoothly. Another best use of time has been continuing my education, even though it keeps me extremely busy.  I know that God has appointed it, so I will continue to pursue my Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Christian Counseling. 
19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? God is truly faithful. I just need to always remember that, especially when money is tight. 
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you. Trusting God is all things. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Primary Talk

Someone asked me the other day who I was going to vote for in the upcoming election. Not the Presidential election in November, but the primaries which are this month in New Hampshire.  I think for the first time in many election cycles, I have no clue who I am voting for. 

My husband is a huge Ron Paul fan, I'm not totally sold on him.

My first instinct was Baachman.

Then Cain.

Then Huntsman.

And now...

I have no idea.

I may very well go into the voting booth, close my eyes, hold my nose, and mark a candidate (yes, my small town still uses pencil and paper).  

It is sad, I know. Especially since I am informed on many of the issues and I have an interest in politics.  I think I have lost my faith in the whole system and I am more skeptical then ever about politicians. They will promise anything to get elected and then forget all they promised. 

I wonder how many other voters feel the same way as me? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I'm going to a sleep clinic tonight. Apparently I snore and when I snore I have a tendency to stop breathing now and then. Of course I have no firsthand knowledge of this, since I'm sleeping but instead I am relying on my husbands testimony.  

Having never experienced a sleep clinic, I have little knowledge about what to expect. The doctor told me and I received a pamphlet, but I think it's one of those things that a person actually has to go through to understand. 

I'm a little nervous, especially since I sleep much better at home, even if I snore.