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Complacent no more!

Okay, so here is an explanation for why I have been absent for so long. I am not excusing my absence, simply explaining it.

I became complacent. As a result, I grew luke-warm in my relationship with God. I lost my sense of purpose. I stopped reading the Bible and praying, except on rare occasions, and the things that I used to be passionate about (like this blog and helping other women/men who are going through a similar experience) faded.

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one day in late 2018, and a friend shared how she was praying for the church, and God spoke to hear that the church in America is lukewarm. Many of you may not know the significance of being lukewarm. In Revelation 3:16, God says: “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Just before that verse, God says, “…you are neither cold nor hot; How I wish you were one or the other!” (NIV). God would rather have me hot or cold than lukewarm. He hates it when we are lukewarm. It disgusts him to the point that he wants to spit us out of his mouth. Those are some strong words.

God desires to be our first-love. Nothing else in our life should come before him, nor should any earthly relationship take priority over our relationship with God. Either love him with your entire heart and soul or do not love him at all. There is really no room for being in the middle.

As I read what my friend wrote, it reminded me of something I had read earlier from the book of Jeremiah about the people being complacent and the consequences of that. God spoke to me, “Kim, you are lukewarm because you are complacent.” That was a stern rebuke from God. But, he was certainly correct. I was lukewarm. I was going through the motions but not truly drawing near to him or seeking him. As a result, I felt like I was just existing rather than really living. I felt dry and barren in my spirit. All because I was complacent. I knew I needed a change but I was expecting something drastic, I guess. It’s kind of like I was expecting God to flip the switch from off to on, but then I realized…God doesn’t force himself on anyone. It’s my choice and my responsibility how close I am to God. God loves us and will pursue us and draw us but the choice of how we respond is ours. If I wanted to feel alive and full of purpose again, I was going to have to take steps toward God. He was waiting, and He would meet me once I took those steps.

As part of becoming hot again, I have set goals for myself this year. First part of the day, my goal is to read my Bible/devotion. Another goal is to pray daily. Those are simple goals, and with surrender and discipline, I can meet those goals. I don’t want God to spit me out of his mouth. I want him to once again be my first-love.

What about you? Are you hot or cold? What can you do to take steps toward God, who loves you immeasurable more than you can imagine and desires a relationship with you? It’s your choice. Choose wisely.

Word for 2019

Hi, everyone! I know it has been quite some time since you have heard from me, and for that I apologize. I left you all hanging, and I am sorry. I will explain why it has been so long since I have updated this blog in another post to immediately follow this one.

As the end of 2018 drew near, I was challenged by a couple of friends on Facebook who were praying about a word from God for 2019. I was curious about this practice as I have never done it. But, I decided I would take the challenge and I began praying and asking God to give me a word for 2019. I also asked him to confirm the word because I wanted to be sure it was of him and not something that just popped into my head of my own.

On January 7, I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at school, and I was praying. I remember I was specifically praying for a word for 2019. Then, I heard that still, small voice: surrender. Immediately, I questioned if it was me or God, so the voice repeated, “surrender.” I had my word from God for 2019. Surrender. I don’t know what word I was expecting, but it was not surrender. Nevertheless, I have started asking God to teach me what surrender means. I do not know what forms surrender may take or the different ways it may look, but I know God will teach me.

When God gave me the word surrender, two areas of my life immediately came to my mind. The first was money/finances. I worry a lot about money and how my family can pay the bills. As many of you know, my husband is disabled due to chronic, severe migraines, and I am not able to work outside of the home. It is hard to find regular work to do from home. So, money is a concern. I need to learn to surrender those worries and concerns to God. The other area is my relationship with my thirteen-year-old daughter. I find myself getting into power struggles with her. It frustrates me, and I do not know how to handle it. I have to surrender that to God. One thing I have been doing is not engaging her when she starts being difficult or stubborn. I am learning to withdraw from those types of situations, even if only for a few minutes, until I can approach the situation in a positive manner. I talked to my husband about this dilemma, and he and I agreed that when I find myself entering into a tug-of-war with my daughter, I need to tell him about it and let him handle her.

It is obvious that surrender requires obedience to God. I am also realizing, though, that surrender also requires wisdom. I have been asking God to give me wisdom and understanding because I desperately need those things in my life. I can’t do this on my own. Interestingly, one of my devotion apps, First5, is going through the book of Proverbs, and one of the main themes of Proverbs is wisdom. In the book of James, James tells us that if we need wisdom, we need to ask it of God, who will give it to us (James 1:5). I need wisdom to recognize when I need to surrender and in what ways.

I also am learning that surrender means I put God first in my life. He doesn’t need to get the leftovers; he needs the first and the best I have. That means taking time in the mornings to spend time reading the Bible, meditating upon it, and praying. It means stopping what I am doing or putting off what I want/need to do if God calls me to do something else. I’m very bad about having a one-track mind and getting so focused on what I am doing or what I need to do that I neglect other things. I don’t like being interrupted when I am in the middle of something because I have a do-it-now mentality. Sometimes, God wants me to just stop and be still and listen to him. It’s hard changing this part of who I am and getting out of this pattern, but I can do it with God’s help.

I want to encourage those of you who are Christians to seek God about what he wants to do in your life in 2019. I’m excited about where this journey will lead and what God will accomplish in me as I surrender.

 

The power of hope

Several days ago my husband and I were watching something on television, and it reminded us of what we have been through. Now, at this point, nearly 10 years after the fact, we hardly talk about his affair. But there are occasions when something takes us back to those days.

We discussed how hopeless things seem when you are in such immense, all-consuming pain.  I told him how dark and bleak things seemed, how all I could see was darkness and pain, and how there seemed to be no way I would ever feel anything other than the agony I was experiencing. I could not see my way past it. There seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. I could not imagine a day when I felt anything other than pain and despair. I could not imagine tears ceasing to flow from my eyes. But, you know what…despite the pain, I did have one thing, even though it seemed like a long shot…I had hope. Albeit just a sliver of it, but I still had it. And in the end, hope won. I hung on, clinging to hope that I would not always hurt, and, eventually I stopped hurting. Eventually the sun shined again. Eventually the tears stopped falling from my eyes.

So, for those of you who are asking yourself these same kinds of questions, who are wondering if you will ever stop hurting, you have hope. I don’t know how long you will hurt, how many tears you will have to cry, before you start feeling the sun shining again, but it will happen. Just hang on…cling to hope. It won’t let you down.

Deep Waters

 

I have been having a very difficult time the last few months. Life is just so hard at times, and I find myself battling depression quite frequently. You would think that having survived my husband’s adultery would make other problems, like financial worries, seem so trivial and easy to handle, but that is not the case for me. Perhaps the reason why is that the affair was temporary, but the situations I live with every day are chronic, and there seems to be no end in sight. I have been feeling very discouraged and am battling depression from the endless onslaught of life. I feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and there are times when I have honestly wondered how much more I can handle.

My husband has chronic, severe migraines that are debilitating. Lately, he has been having hemiplegic migraines more frequently. Hemiplegic migraines have many of the same symptoms as a stroke, so they are hard to deal with. Dealing with a chronic illness that so drastically affects one’s quality of life is quite challenging. It takes its toll on all involved.

In addition to my husband’s health, I help take care of my MIL, who also has multiple physical problems. My daughter has issues with anxiety, and she is simply not able to handle attending public school right now, so we teach her at home. With my husband’s illness, I am the one who primarily has the responsibility of teaching. Add to that the daily demands of housekeeping–dishes, laundry, and routing cleaning, and I feel like I am drowning. Handling these problems has been a huge adjustment for me, and, to be honest, I have not handled the adjustment well. I feel exhausted and worn out, which only compounds my feelings of depression and discouragement.

A couple of days ago, I was taking my daughter to an appointment about an hour north of where we live, and she was playing music from my iPhone. Her favorite song is Hillsong’s “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail).” I have never paid much attention to the lyrics because it is hard to understand the words at times. But this day was different. Before my daughter and I were even out of town, I was already feeling like the dam of emotions washing over me was able to break. I did not want to be a basket case for the appointment, so I started asking God to help me.

I am very honest with God about how I feel and how I see things, so my prayer began with something like, “God, I really need help right now. I don’t know how much more I can take. Please help me.” I asked Him to help me focus on Him, to remember His goodness, provision and faithfulness instead of me focusing on all the complications of life and how I feel. Then, my daughter played her favorite song, and I really listened to the lyrics, and God began to reveal things to me as I continued to pray.

For one, I walk by faith. I must choose to walk by faith daily, sometimes several times a day. I must choose to walk by faith, not to walk based on what I can see or on how I am feeling. I cannot let my emotions guide me. Secondly, faith requires me to give up control, and that is a hard one for me. It’s hard for me to accept that the dishes may not get done or the laundry may not get folded and put away because I simply have too many other issues to contend with.

I began speaking God’s word over my life and circumstances and I reminded God of things in His word as I prayed. I asked for wisdom and direction and guidance. I spoke words of life over myself, and I began to encourage myself in the Lord. It was a battle, I’m not going to lie. I did NOT feel like focusing on God, like focusing on His Word, or like reminding myself of who He is and what He has done. It was a deliberate act of my will to recall the times God has taken care of me and helped me, to remember His goodness and faithfulness. By the time the song by Hillsong had ended, I was feeling much better in my spirit. My soul was not in despair and chaos. Instead, I had a sense of peace, not because my situations may change, but because I knew that Jesus is in the storm with me.

I felt as if God was telling me it is time to go into deeper water, water that may be so deep I cannot possibly make it on my own; water that is so deep that my feet may fail. Yet, it is in the deeper water that I can learn to trust my Savior more; it is in the deeper water that I realize I don’t have to worry about drowning, because Jesus is holding out His hands to me, pulling me up. In deeper waters, the boundaries of my faith will be tested, but I need only to remember that the One who, with one word, can calm the storm is in the boat with me. His sovereign hand will guide me and keep me. But the wonder of faith is that it is only strengthened when it is tested and challenged. It can only grow as much as I allow it to grow. It won’t grow if I stay in shallow waters where it is safe, waters where I can see where I am and the things that are around me, waters I can easily get out of in my own strength. No, God has me in deeper waters, so my prayer has now become not for God to help me out of the water, but to help me WALK on the water. That’s a huge stretch for my faith, but I’d rather walk on the water and experience Jesus reaching out His hands to rescue me if I start to drown than to stay in the boat, afraid of the wind and waves that grow louder and louder, throwing my soul into chaos. That’s not how I choose to live my life. I choose to venture into the deeper waters where I know my faith can grow.