Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Grief ~ A Study: Part 2

"It is very mortifying and painful to find how weak one is."
"That is true. But our mortifications are some of God's best physicians and do much toward healing our pride and self conceit."

The above quote is taken from a wonderful book I am currently reading, called Stepping Heavenward: Once Woman's Journey to Godliness by Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. The book is written in the style of a journal, at the pen of a young girl named Katherine Mortimer, and begins in the year of 1831. I won't extrapolate exceedingly regarding the qualities of the book at the moment, as I haven't finished it yet, but it has been very encouraging to me so far. I am learning a lot about my Heavenly Father through it, as I read of Kate's own journey as she learns and grows closer to God.

But back to the subject at hand: grief.

In my first post on grief, I quoted a few verses from Psalm 119. If anyone knew about grief, it was King David, and he experienced it throughout his life in almost every way imaginable. Pay attention to the way he describes the state of his soul, of his spirit in these verses. "My soul cleaves to the dust.....My soul weeps because of grief."

Have you ever gone through something in your life where you felt like you couldn't get back up? Like you'd been pushed down too many times? Was there ever a pain so strong you could hardly bear it? That is the picture David is painting here; he knew what it was like to have that kind of pain.

Like David, every single person on the planet goes through grief and hard times. Some experience it more than others it's true, but I have learned that there is more than one way that grief can appear in a persons life. A lot of the time, it happens through situations we can't control, like the loss of someone we care about, or through the workings of our Enemy as he tries to get our eyes of our Father. Just think about Job. He was a Godly man, and loved the LORD, but God still permitted a lot of horrible things to happen to Him. Did this mean that God did not love Job? Of course not. I think He loved Job enough to let them happen, because they ultimately brought Job even closer to his Father, and brought him more understanding. Look to Psalm 119 again; what does David say, right after expressing the pain in his soul? "My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your Word....My soul weeps because of grief; Strengthen me according to Your word." David knew that what he needed was not for the pain to go away, but for God's will to be done, which always, no matter the circumstance, is that we draw closer to the Father, that we trust His commandments, trust His Word, and only look to Him and His truth for sustinance.

So what does the quote at the beginning of this post have to do with all this? I think it illustrates another way people can experience grief in their lives, as well as how God wants to teach us through these experiences. Just as we can experience "mortification" at areas in our lives not matching up to God's will for us, we can experience grief for deliberately going against the perfect plan our Heavenly Father has set up for our lives. Yes, Satan will constantly be doing his absolute best to minimize our usefullness for God, but when we fall for his temptations, when we make the choice to choose the temptation over God's will, it is no one's fault but our own.

Just like everything regarding what God wants to give us, from salvation to the moment by moment way we live our lives, it will always involve a choice on our part. There are so many blessings God wants to heap onto our plates, even in the midst of trials, but He can't give them to us unless we make the choice to receive them. Just as we are saved by making the choice that what God said regarding His Son is true, we are daily sanctified by making the choice to simply continue trusting Him to see us through anything. Look with me at the last few verses from the passage I quoted before. "I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me. I cling to Your testimonies...I shall run the way of Your commandments."

Simply put, when we choose our own way over God's way, no matter how much pleasure it might bring us at first, it will always end in grief. God can allow us to run the way of emotional destruction, and we hit obstacles and trials as consequences of our sin. For me, God knew that I needed to hit rock bottom, and then continue to dig my pit deeper, before I would realize what I needed in Him. A lot of the grief I experienced in my life was simply me reaping the fruit of the seeds of neglecting the Spirit within me. I kept on turning away from Him, so He chose to let me hit hard and fast, thankfully, before I did any more damage to myself or anyone else.

That is a worst case scenario, but our Father won't always use grief that way; it simply depends on how soft or hard the heart is of the person experiencing the grief. If our hearts are soft, God can allow us to experience simple inner grief, instead of situational grief, when we can quickly realize our folly, and repent over it before our hearts grow hard. When this is the case, that is when God can use our "mortifications" as "physicians", and accomplish much "healing [of] pride and self-conceit."

Our God is a merciful, and loving God, and knows exactly what is best for His children. Just as He is not willing that any should perish, He is not willing that any of His children live a life they think as independent of Him. He loves us, no matter what, and His greatest joy is seeing joy and fruit and peace in our own lives. Our only part in all of that is making the choice to trust that He truly does know what is best, trust that He can fulfill us completely, and trust that He will soften our hearts and mold us to accomplish that end.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Vid of the Week #4

Yah yah yah....I know, I forgot again. But I have a valid excuse this time!!! :D

Friday I took my little sister Christmas shopping, after going to see a movie. (We saw Enchanted, which was hilarious by the way, I highly recommend it. Good family movie.) After about 3 hours of walking around shopping - in heels...yah yah, I know it was dumb - and after getting almost all of my Christmas shopping done, I was way too tired when I got home to even think about posting anything. Oh well, at least I'm only a few days late this time.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....."

This is a beautiful song. "Tonight" Done by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound at the Gaither Homecoming in South Africa a few years ago.

And of course......weekly Mark Lowry dose. :)

(Just don't ask me what he's doing. Still haven't figured it out.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Grief: A Study ~ Part 1


What has it meant to me in my life? Is the issue that it caused me pain? No, that is not the issue. Nor are the specifics that caused my pain the issue. The issue is how it changed me.

I need to show how it changed me for the worst in the beginning, and that change kept me captive in a pit. It turned me....not against, but away from my Heavenly Father. I lost my trust in Him. Not my trust in His Son for eternal life, but my trust that He is able to do "exceedingly abundantly" above anything I would ever dream to be possible. I also didn't understand that this ability of His, this power, has more to do with inner transformation on my part than a changing of outward circumstances.

Psalm 119: 25-32

My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your Word.
I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.
My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.
I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

Mid August 2002

Winter of 2002-2003


Early Spring 2005

Late May 2006

September 25 2006

April 16 2007

What do all these dates have in common? They are dates and times that stick out in my memory as the most painful times in my life. I don't feel comfortable sharing all of them, but I felt the need to put down in writing the date where pretty much everything began, when my world, little by little, began to fall apart.

This is my "[telling] of my ways," as Kind David said in the wonderful, and encouraging verses above. My purpose in writing this is not to discourage, even though some of the things I will share as I tell my story will be very sad, and I'm sure as hard to read as they will be to write, but I need to share them, in order to show just how far down I was, to glorify how far God has brought me up. (And He's still not done.)

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you realize how loved you are. No matter where you are in life, no matter what you're going through, no matter what decisions you have made or what things you have done, you are LOVED. By a powerful, but gentle, Father, who desires NOTHING more than drawing you closer to Him.

This is my comfort, and the reason I can thank God for everything that happened to me, because I know now that it happened for a reason. It was all a part of God's wonderful plan to bring me to Himself. He didn't orchestrate the pain, much of it was my Enemy doing His best to keep me from seeing my Father's face, to keep me from reading the love He has for me in His eyes, from His Word. But though it was meant for evil, God turned it to good, and I am His vessel, willing to be used in whatever way He sees fit, to His glory, to proclaim His love, to show His majesty in the miracles He worked in me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Video of the week #2 and #3

I almost forgot.....it's Friday, time for my vid of the week....even though I forgot last Friday. (I can still call it "vid of the week" if I want to, even though I've only posted one once.)

Anyway, to make for my negligence last Friday (what was I doing last Friday?), I shall post two vids tonight, one funny, one inspirational, as the first vid was both at the same time. (Disclaimer: The funny vid will almost always be of Mark Lowry, as he's my favorite comedian, but I'm sure I'll pepper in some other funny stuff as well every once in a while.

Video #2

David Phelps has an amazing voice to be sure, but it's the words of this song that always get to me. The introduction by Joni Earickson Tada is very encouraging as well. "Praises to the great I Am. We will live in the light of the risen Lamb!"

LOL! I have seen this video so many times, but it never fails to crack me up.

And now I have to run to the bathroom.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Writing Process

Alright, it's been a while since I've actually written anything here, seeing as my last post wasn't exactly a "post," at least how I categorize them, and the one before that was something I'd written a few months ago.

I've been meaning to write an article for a while about an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for several days, but after many futile attempts, I just can't get it to take the shape that I want. I'm still going to write it, as it is something very important to me. Well, it's something that usually takes an important role in the life of every single person on the planet, and while it usually appears to be a bad thing, I have learned that it can also be a good thing. As anything given to God can be used for good. While I'm still not ready to write substantially on the subject yet, as what I'm mostly fighting with myself about is how much to tell of my own story, I do want to give a bit of an introduction of what should hopefully be coming within the next few days. Lord willing, no later than Sunday night. (Or early Monday morning, however you want to look at it.)

I guess I still haven't mentioned what this "thing" is that I want to write about, have I? In case you haven't noticed, I tend to ramble. I can be quite focused, and all of sudden, something pops into my head and I need to get it down into writing before it flits away and then my focus and direction is all scewed and I have the pleasure (usually) of finding a way to fit my ramble into my original focus.....and I'm rambling again.

Basically, I've been thinking a lot lately about the subject of grief, and how it has affected my life. The hardest thing about writing an article with grief as it's subject, is portraying the grief I went through, without making what caused the grief the focus, as that is not what I want to do. There are some things I feel comfortable sharing about my life, and about what it was that caused me certain griefs, but there are others that I'm not so sure God wants me to share, not because I'm uncomfortable sharing them necessarily, but because drawing attention to them wouldn't enhance the explanation of what it is God is teaching me through grief, nor would it bring Him glory. So that is what I am wrestling with at the moment, and the reason I have been silent on my own blog the last week, even though I haven't been so silent on others.....

So, while I continue to work through this difficult issue in rough drafts saved in both my mind and my trusty Word Pad, I would like to pose a question to the blogosphere: Why do you write?

Not, "Why do you blog?" because with most people, that's pretty easy to figure out, as most blogs have a specific message to get across and specific purpose to their existence. No, my question is why people who have blogs, why do you write? Do you write because it's the only way you can get your beliefs and opinions across in a way that makes sense to you? Or is it more therapuetic? Or is it something else entirely? And regardless of why you do it, what do you do to help you stay motivated?

I understand that's a lot of questions, but I hope people aren't too confused with my disjointedness tonight. I have a lot going through my brain at the moment, so my thoughts are a little jumbled, but also, my hands are cold and I want to hurry up and get this posted so I can jump in bed and settle down with my book. I have to work an 8 hour at the bakery tomorrow, as tomorrow is the bake sale, and I'll basically be up to my neck in cookies cookies cookies. I'll need some "me" time tomorrow morning before I have to leave, so that means I need a good nights sleep so I can wake up early.

Good night blog world, I'm sure you'll be hearing from me soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tag, You're It!

Jeremy over at Till He Comes tagged me to reveal seven things about myself that not many people know. Let's see what I come up with, shall we?

1. I don't write because I enjoy it, (even though I usually do,) but because I don't really have a choice. If I couldn't write, I would go crazy with all the thoughts bouncing around in my head, and no recognizable organization. I think too much.

2. I am a fantasy junkie. While most of my close friends understand, as well as reciprocate my love of the Lord of the Rings, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia, most of them don't realize how far my fascination with LOTR goes. For the adventerous, check out The Plaza, and you'll realize how far my obsession goes. (My IM screename is even elvish, which I hope to become fluent in eventually.)

3. I have read more than 2,000 books in my life, and books that I like I will re-read; repeatedly.

4. While at the moment I am not looking for a relationship, as I have been convinced by God that my focus right now should not be the person I will eventually spend the rest of my life with, I believe that God wants me to meet that person through less than....conventional means. I used to think that my dad was crazy, when I found out he met my stepmom on eHarmony. Let's just say I don't think he's crazy anymore. ;)

5. This one is serious: I was in a severe depression last year, and if it wasn't for the grace of God....I don't even want to know what could have happened. Psalm 40:2 "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

6. I don't like milk. Soymilk, unsweetenedis my drink of choice.

7. I LOVE hockey. I am usually the second loudest person at my brother's hockey games. (My mother is the loudest. Goodness can she whistle.)

So there you go.

I am tagging:

Brian at Only Look To Christ
Faith at The Night Writer
Ben at Hammerswing75

That's all I have time for tonight. I have been mulling over the subject of grief a lot lately, as a situation that I went through earlier in the year has been on my mind. I'll write more about that tomorrow. (And even though the subject will be grief, I hope the post itself will be encouraging, as it is only because of God's love and strength that my grief did not pull me down again into the pit.)