Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What the media doesn't share...

Most of the Internet is probably aware of the looting and rioting that happened in Baltimore the other night. I don't know how many are aware of the peaceful protests that the media didn't cover. But I have a little bit of Hope to share that the media definitely will not tell you about. I grew up in Maryland, my grandmother and many family members and friends live in and around Baltimore, and I have many fond childhood memories in that area. This is why I'm sharing this.

This is Chris Pautrat, husband of one of my oldest friends in Maryland. I just want to share it with those of you who have seen the news but only get the media's word on what's going on in Baltimore. In another post, he shared this:
Met some of the friendly gang members today and show them the love of Jesus. Not one person denied prayer from us. I saw NO racism at all today. The only person I wanted to choke was a fire and brimstone preacher that basically told everyone to go to hell. All in all it was an epic night. ‪#‎alllivesmatter‬ ‪#‎lovewins‬ ‪#‎peaceoverbaltimorecity‬ ‪#‎knowJesusknowpeace‬#‎blacklivesmatter‬#‎peacefullyprotest‬#‎picstitch‬"


Ground zero on North Street praying people everywhere.
Posted by Chris Pautrat on Tuesday, April 28, 2015



My hope is that we can all learn the boldness and be filled with the love to reach out to our own cities and towns, because real people showing love to others can accomplish SO much more than government or policy or big budgets ever could. And there is so very much that needs to be done.


In case you can't play the video, he says, "Hey guys, we're here in North Street in East Baltimore. Right there behind me, as you can see, there's a row of cops, swat teams out, and we're just here releasing Jesus' peace, and just praying for people. People are so open to the gospel. I've met some of the nicest people here. But they're just upset. They're not hurt. We're here saying that Jesus has heard every cry you've had. We're just loving on them, and I'm telling you that things are starting to shift down here. We're just continuing to pray for peace. Join us as we're down here for the next hour or so praying for more people that we have divine connections. We've already had an amazing time and so much fruit for the little that we've done. Thank you all, bye."

Saturday, April 25, 2015

More overwhelming...

I was going to call this post "Overwhelmed," but I knew I had already used that title.  So I went looking for it just now.  But when I when I read that post from August 2013, I smiled. I remember when God was showing me those truths... and I can see how far He has brought me in the almost-two-years-since. If you're feeling overwhelmed, go back and read what He showed me then//

My car accident last year overwhelmed me in even more ways, and I've already shared a number of instances when God proved Himself bigger and more overwhelming than circumstances and fears.

This last month, a number of things have continued to be overwhelming.  And yet, as I sat down to write, I chose this title not because circumstances are overwhelming me, but because my trust and joy in God overwhelm me, and God's provision and grace continually overwhelm my circumstances.

On January 2nd of this year, I shared what God was showing me about living by faith. I felt very strongly that this learning - and seeing Him move on my behalf - was what this year held for me.  So far, this is definitely proving to be the case.

.~*`*~.,.~*`*~.,.~*`*~.

I shared how we had a mountain of medical bills that I had no idea how we would pay. I knew that I would have to move them to one of those low-interest credit card offers, so a few days before it was due in the middle of January, I looked through them and called various companies to see what I could get. I weighed the pros and cons of various offers, and realized that the best offer was one that I did not have time to take advantage of. They said that a wireless transfer would take up to a week to take care of. If I had a cash advance check, then that could be done immediately in the two days that I had... but the only check I had was so old that I'd lose several months of the offer. I sighed and said, "Father, I'm still not sure what to do, but I have no more time today. I guess you'll show me what to do tomorrow. Thank you for that." And I turned my mind to other things.

The next day, I went to get the mail, and there were two new cash advance checks. I smiled, wrote them out, and used them to transfer what was left of those medical bills. (By the way... that total, while still big, was only about half the original hospital bill. I am still somewhat perplexed about how in the world we were able to pay off half of it so quickly. We're making payments on the remainder, and I know God is bigger than any difficulties that may come up in making them.)

.~*`*~.,.~*`*~.,.~*`*~. 

I've also been struggling with quite a bit of pain these last couple months in my hips and back, and last week, my knee as well. My therapy from the car accident had ended, and I honestly did not think that the pain that had been steadily growing in my lower back and hip had anything to do with it. The parts of me that hurt after the car accident were completely healed.

So I asked God for direction and moved it to His desk. (See this post for the explanation of of that visual.) Once again, He is taking care of it. He led me to a different chiropractor who took X-rays (and didn't charge me for them) and who identified exactly why my lower back was hurting me so much! Turns out my pelvis got twisted somehow, which was putting strain on everything... and the middle of my back was hurting trying to compensate for the lower end. Her explanation exactly fit what I had been feeling, and even mirrored some of how I had attempted to explain what it felt like. And more importantly, she knows how to fix it. It's been a month since then and I am feeling SO much better...

...except my knee, which mysteriously began hurting a week ago. At first I thought I'd just been sitting too long in a bad position. But the next morning, it hurt worse, and by Sunday morning, the pain if I bent it more than a tiny bit or put any weight on it was quite bad... and walking (aka: limping) to avoid the extreme pain was making my back start aching again.

So I asked for prayer at church.

About an hour later, I suddenly realized that I could bend my knee almost the whole way before I felt any pain. When I got home, I realized that I still could not go up and down steps or put any weight on it in a bent position without pain... but I could walk normally. I felt pretty clearly that God had instantly healed it only enough to keep it from re-insuring my back, but I'd have to be patient for the rest.

So all week long I've waited, and each day the pain decreased or I noticed one more facet of movement I'd regained. I had a slight set back Wednesday after I went grocery shopping, but still my movement increased and pain decreased.  Last night, I finally regained the ability to stand up from a sitting position like a 38 year old instead of a 110 year old. ::smiles::  There is only the tiniest twinge left to remind me of the pain I was suffering last weekend.   In fact, last night when I went to bed, my last thought was, "It's soooo good to feel good! I think I feel better than I have in months!"

I'm looking forward to seeing what other ways and directions God leads me this year!

.~*`*~.,.~*`*~.,.~*`*~. 

And finally... my job.  I also wrote in January:
My job lately has had a heavier load that I want, taking more time from my family than I want... but I think He will teach me to follow His lead in this.
The extra-heavy workload seems to be a quarterly thing, 'cause I'm in the middle of it again. There is so much work to be done that I could pay off that mountain of medical bills pretty quickly... if only I had 300-hour work weeks and the stamina to work that many hours.  But obviously I don't.

I have had such peace this month, though. I'm not doing perfectly, but He is leading me in such a way that I am doing much better at focusing during the day (so my days have been extremely productive for the most part) and I've been able to take more evenings off for time with my family.  (This is a struggle that is very, very hard when you work from home.)

It's still a process, and I'm not there yet... but I see Him leading me and giving me grace, and the results are good!  Most importantly, I am handling it from the fortress that is Him. And when I forget and step out under the stress, He reminds me that He is there, and He pulls me back under His refuge.
11 But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Let them ever sing for joy;
And may You shelter them,
That those who love Your name may exult in You.
12 For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord,
You surround him with favor as with a shield.                            - Ps. 5


.~*`*~.,.~*`*~.,.~*`*~. 

I am beginning to see that, quite often in life, we have only one choice.  It seems different. It seems like there are a million choices we have to make... choices we can make... choices other people are making for us that we have to respond to. 

In reality, we often have only one choice. 
We can only choose who or what to be overwhelmed by.

There are always overwhelming circumstances surrounding us and a little voice saying, "This is too much. You can't handle this."

But there is also an even bigger God.

And if we want, we can lift up our eyes to Him instead and find ourselves overwhelmed by the One who is  bigger and more overwhelming than our circumstances.  This is where our joy and peace lies. In being overwhelmed by Him. This is where grace flows into us and over us... and through us to a world full of overwhelmed people.

Psalm 121 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

Psalm 34 I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the Lord;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
10 The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.
11 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.


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