Find Your Zeal

I’ve been silent again. Too silent. Lost in a dark and lonely solitude of my own making. A silence that is not easily explained, or even identified for that matter. A silence that tonight was reawakened by one simple word. A word that in today’s world of instant this and immediate that, just isn’t spoken. A single word that could have only been placed on my heart and in my mind by the Spirit that lies deep within myself; the Spirit He placed with in me, within us all that believe.

ZEAL

What is zeal? Webster defines it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Its synonyms include: passion, fire, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, and intensity. With antonyms that include apathy and indifference. In my silence, I had lost; correction, have lost my zeal.

So as I set in the quaint setting of an old barn tonight, sharing in fellowship, with a sisterhood of women who like myself, love the Lord; I was reminded, as perhaps some of them were, that my life was missing a vital piece of God’s armor; the Cloak of Zeal.

Many of us are familiar with the Armor of God. Ephesians 6 reminds us that this armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Tonight it was also revealed to us that there is one more vital piece of armor that no soldier should take the battlefield without, the mysterious cloak of zeal.

woman-armor

     To learn of this lesser know part of His armor, we must venture back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah. Chapter 59, verse 17 states: He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (NIV) The New Living Translations reads: and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.

Zeal. Passion.

     He wants us to wrap ourselves in this attribute, to be entirely protected by His armor, allowing the final piece, the cloak of zeal to cover all the other pieces, further protecting us from the enemy. We must remember to put on each piece of this armor, each morning as we prepare to face the day. Allowing us to be properly equipped to take on anything the enemy may bring our way.

The speaker asked us, what are you passionate about? I instantly thought about my desire to write, to share my thoughts and revelations. To share what He has done and continues to do in my life. My passion to share how with His love and direction, you can overcome anything. That with Christ in your life, you can accomplish anything that is a part of His will for you. I know that with His guidance, I have so much to say, so much to share… that my voice, directed by Him, just might have the ability to change a life.

I have previously shared brief glimpses into some of the darkness that was my former life, my life before I learned to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior; trusting Him to get me through the hardships that had been all to often placed before me. I have battled depression for decades and sometimes, even with the truth and understanding, and the hope He brings; the darkness can creep in and with it the silence that eventually engulfs me. It sneaks in slowly, quietly… sometimes I notice it, but it is just so comfortable, so familiar, that I don’t stop and think about it being harmful for me. Forgetting how much it will hinder the progress I have made in my growing relationship with the Son of the living God.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of another bought of silence, brought on by the stress of life, the fear of the unknown, and simply listening to the enemy repeat the familiar old lies of why I will never be more than I am, why I will never succeed in my life. I know better, Christ has brought so much more to my life than I could have ever imagined. Yet, with life gets tough, when there are too many unknowns; it is all too easy to believe those old recordings, to look in the mirror and see who I used to be, instead who He has helped me to become. It’s difficult to have passion, to live with zeal, when your life seems to be nothing more than a black and white movie that lacks even the possibility of a remotely happy ending.

As I listened tonight, to our speaker, a woman whom I love and am blessed to call my friend, I was/am reminded that I am responsible for my own zeal. I am in control of what I am (or am not) passionate about in my life. If I want to be able to share what He has done in my life, I need to be spending time with Him,so that He can continue working in my life. I am disheartened to admit that my time with the Lord has been minimal. My time in His word, even less. I pray, occasionally, and the only time I open my bible is on Sunday morning as I sit with the rest of the congregation while our pastor leads us through His Word. Tonight I was gently reminded that this is not enough. Not even close. He needs and wants more from us, He deserves more from us. As our faith grows, we learn to call him friend, companion, even father. These names signify a relationship and we should be nurturing this relationship, allowing it to become stronger every day.

I can often find myself complaining about being tired or not having enough time to get certain things (like the dishes) done. Yet, I can stay up late, watching one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix, or playing a game on the computer. Or take my weekend off and spend it nearly motionless on my couch, instead of catching up on one of the many things that could be done. Most every morning I hit the snooze multiple times instead of simply getting out of the bed and hitting my knees and spending five or ten quiet minutes starting my day in prayer. Its a conscience choice, one that I have been making poorly for a few months now.

So, my zeal has been renewed. I once again have a fervent urging to find time, no, to make time to spend in prayer and more importantly in His word. Utilizing even the smallest of moments to help strengthen my faith, but better yet my relationship with Him, the One who never stops wooing me. And He doesn’t, He is always pursuing us, all of us, even when we stop pursuing Him.

romans12_11

 

So I leave you with a few questions, including the question that was asked of me tonight… what are you passionate about? Are you lacking zeal? Do you take the time to arm yourself every day with the Armor of God? In closing I also encourage you to find that passion and give it to God… allow Him to direct you and how you can best serve Him with your passion. Go to Him in prayer, and in those quiet moments, be reminded of all He has, can and will do for you… if you only let Him.

 

Until the next moment,

 

 

 


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Planted to Prosper

Sunday We started a new Women’s Sunday School class this weekend where we will be studying some of the Psalms. First up: Psalm 1, with the study question for discussion: “Do you feel a gap (or chasm!) between “real life” (work, school, family) and your prayer life? Explain. Ask God to help you begin to make prayer a part of your life.”

Wow! Where do I start my list… Just last year I was a part of a wonderful Bible Study with some of these very same women. I worked hard at committing to having a stronger more fervent prayer life. For a good period of time, I did. But, then summer arrived with all its activities and busyness and I fell short. Really short. I was too busy…

Correction, I allowed myself to say I was too busy.

I’m ashamed to say, that beyond reading my daily devotional, I just didn’t make, or allow the time to spend even a quiet moment with the One who gives me breath.

So I am excited for this SS class, and the opportunity to study once again with these women. I really enjoyed this opening paragraph from our new book:

“Psalm 1 is the biblical preparation for a life of prayer. Step by step it detaches us from activities and words that distract us from God so that we can be attentive before him. Most of us can’t step immediately from the noisy, high-stimulus world into the quiet concentration of prayer. We need a way of transition. Psalm 1 provides a kind of entryway into the place of prayer.” (Introducing the Psalms)

I don’t know about you, but life continues to be crazy; it is obviously just the nature of the beast. Because, even with only one child to be directly responsible to, it seems that I have less time with that one child, than I did when I had all four kiddos still under one roof. As a mom, especially as a Christian mom, I want to make sure that I am modeling for my children what I expect of them as people (who I want them to be) as they step out into this crazy and unpredictable world.

Verse 3 really spoke to a lot of us, myself included:Psalm_1_3m

How firmly am I planted? Which in turn leads to additional questions like: How well am I feeding myself so that I can grow and yield good fruits? Am I strong enough to prosper in the depths of a storm or adversity?

Many of you who know me, or have followed this and my previous blog, know that life has not been an easy path for me. I have been tossed around in the wind, to say the least. Yet, because I learned to trust in the living God, I have been able to survive it all. Even with the few visible scars, I continue to move forward. I have learned how to prosper. Then, over the course of the last four years, our family had some moments where the trials were a little bigger that any of us could have ever planned.

June 2012, just one month before her wedding, my eldest daughter was fighting for her life and we were uncertain if she would even walk down the isle. Through much prayer and God’s gracious and healing hand… she did.

May 2015, just days after completing her first year of college, my middle daughter was in a near fatal car accident and survived. Once again, prayer and God’s grace brought us through this terrible storm.

Through each event, I watched our family grow in our trust in the Lord, creating an even more firmly planted foundation. I watched as both my daughters turned to God, in prayer; doing so with me, as well as individually; trusting Him, as they walked through each of these unthinkable storms. These incidents were overwhelming examples (to me) of not only the mighty power of prayer, but that God indeed hears our cries, and that He cares for us in each and every moment of our lives.

Which takes me back to verse 3.grow-bible_-tree_

When we stay firmly planted in the truth of His Word, when we spend purposeful quiet time with Him, we will then have all that is necessary to grow and prosper. He wants us to do just that. He wants us to do so much more. As we learn to trust that He is always with us, and when we spend those even brief, daily moments with Him; it strengthens us unlike anything we can imagine. We may be thrown into the biggest storm, with monumental winds tossing us to and fro… Yet, because we have a firm foundation in the living God, we are able to weather the storm.

Two of my three older kiddos were home for a short visit this weekend and I am still so amazed at the remarkable adults they (as well as their older sister) are becoming. They continue to care about others and make deliberate and sound decisions in most everything they do. All my children learned growing up in our single parent home, that it takes hard work to get where you are going. They also learned that it takes trusting in and loving a God who, “through all things is possible”. They never had it easy, they earned most everything they received. They watched and saw my trust in God; and over time, each one of my children has developed their own trust, their own relationship with the God who gives us breath.

That is my fruit… watching each of my children as they firmly grow in the Lord.

What a joy it has been watching my two older daughters find such wonderful, loving, and Godly men to share their lives with. I also hope and pray… that my son too will find a women who loves the Lord like he does. And a few years down the road, I wish the same for my youngest daughter.

My fruit is also found in my writing and being able to share it with others. When we spoke Sunday morning, we talked about what we enjoyed most about watching movies, or reading a book or poem. Why do we enjoy these sorts of activities? Because the majority of us want to step outside our own world and experience something different. We want to feel happiness when we are sad, to momentarily forget that we are angry or upset. We also want to, perhaps, learn from someone who has experienced something we can not imagine. Or to see that we are not alone, to see that someone else has experienced something similar and they too came through that same storm.

Which is why I write–I write to share my experiences, even the hard ones; the ones that may have left less visible scars. Because not only is it therapeutic to me… but maybe, just maybe it will help someone survive their own storm. Perhaps when I write, I can share the hope He gives me, even in my everyday life. I know that God guides my words and I pray that he will continue to do so as I reach out to share with family and friends, one moment at a time. I pray that I will continue doing so, while firmly planted in His truth and love.

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Until the next moment,

 

Staying Silent in the Storm

Its been just over six months since my last entry. Forgive me for my extended silence, but for the first few weeks I let the impeding storm get the best of me. On March 26th, I was let go from a job I truly loved very unexpectedly. I am sad to admit that while it was unexpected, it was unfortunately not unwarranted. I pushed the limits of a very firm line where no gray existed. My actions had consequences, as they always do. I still regret the choice I made, and would certainly do it differently. Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes. I certainly have learned much from this error in my own judgement, and still respect the choice made by my former employer. All of this occurred  just before Easter, so I took a couple weeks to relax and enjoy my family as we prepared to celebrate our Risen Savior. Then I began my work search, which did not go well. There was nothing  available in the current field I was working (Customer Service) or anything similar. After nearly two months of futile searching, I took a position at a local travel stop. I worked three days and then the storm kicked in even harder, this time with more severe casualties.

The evening of May 15th, I received a call no parent wants to receive, but I am relieved to say that it could have been a worse call… but God had other plans. I still remember that call as if it was last night. My son was home briefly from the end of his second year of college. Spending some quality family time before heading off to a summer internship. We were playing Mario Cart with his younger sister when my phone rang. I was actively playing and asked my daughter to bring me my phone. It was my middle daughter’s boyfriend calling, which I thought nothing of, because her phone often died. I answered the phone and it was actually her boyfriend, Heath. I instantly knew something was wrong as his voice lacked his usual playful tone. He proceeded to say, “Um… We were sort of in an accident and Kayleigh is hurt. Do you just want to talk to the EMT?” He handed the phone off to a man who would tell me that my daughter was conscious, but they believed she had a broken hip. He then explained where they were taking her. Before he got off the phone he told me how lucky she was as this particular type of accident is often ends in fatality. Lucky, no… God just had other plans.

I quickly called someone in my church family and explained what was happening, getting the mighty power of prayer in motion. I then headed down the interstate on the hour long drive (that felt more like two) with my two children. I called my oldest daughter and a dear friend as I silently prayed myself as I drove along. As we got closer, an officer from the scene of the accident called to give me more information, reiterating what the EMT had said about the accident. His words were, “Its a miracle she’s doing so well” He also let me know that the other driver received a citation at the scene, calling the accident a “high speed collision”. He also confirmed that Heath was OK, he had gotten hit in the face with the airbag and was sore from the seat belt, but had no apparent injuries. I had about twenty minutes left in my drive at this time… the longest twenty minutes of my life.

We arrived at the hospital and found parking near the ER entrance. As we waited to speak to a woman behind the front desk I noticed a man walking quickly down the hall. After letting the woman at the desk know why we were there we were directed the the ER room she was in. Walking in the room, I saw my daughter lying on a gurney still in a neck brace, my heart instantly dropped in my chest. I looked around the room and in the back corner there were the doctors looking at her X-ray, one of them the man I had seen in the hallway. I would shortly learn he was the orthopedic surgeon. Even without my medical background, looking at the X-ray I knew it was bad. Within minutes, the surgeon explained that there were three breaks in her hip and pelvis. She would certainly need surgery.

peggy

They got her prepped and preformed the surgery that very night, taking just over an hour to complete. They placed an internal screw and an external fixator to help hold her pelvis in place while it healed. This would take 7-8 weeks, of which she would not be able to walk. Once she was settled post surgery, the kids and I tried to get a little sleep in one of the waiting rooms. She was in ICU for a couple days, during which time we were given a respite room to rest in. After a five day stay, she was transferred to a Rehabilitation facility for eight days. Here she learned how to move and take care of herself with the fixator in place. This gave us time to turn our living room into her living space while she healed.

cominghome

Once she was home I was able to go back to the job I had started in May. It became very evident that I was not going to be physically able to do this particular job (standing for eight hours) for very long. My back began to feel the stress and the whole reality of my life began to take it’s toll. I missed a couple days of work and during the time I was resting I heard the wee small voice of God, “Do you trust me?” I showed Him that I did, by contacting my employer and letting them know that I would not be coming back to work, that it was not in the best interest of my health. Thus started the work search once again… However, this time it wasn’t as long and I had a promising new FT job that I was looking forward too. To my surprise, it was not as it had been presented and would actually only be PT hours, thus my need to find a second PT job or a different job entirely. Once again, God was in control.

My daughter had the fixator removed on July 6th with no complications. She then started her four weeks of PT the very next day. She spent one week with the walker, one week with a cane and then spent two weeks beginning the task of rebuilding strength in her legs, getting her ready to head back to college. I can’t begin to explain what this summer was for us as a family, as individuals… How it changed us. My son stepped up and became an even better man than I could have ever imagined, showing such compassion for all his sisters, as well as myself. He was just there in every way possible; no questions asked, he just did. I can honestly say that I would not have gotten through the first few days of this whole ordeal without him. My daughter herself showed such strength in what lie ahead of her. She didn’t question, she just trusted, walking by faith, not by sight; just like her life verse. Even that first night, she set aside her own fears and comforted her tearful little sister, telling her to “be strong and to not cry”.

firsthug         possile

Just one week before my daughter would have the external fixator removed (at week seven) I “tweaked” my back getting off the couch one evening. I would discover the next morning, that had done much more that just “tweak” it. I was in excruciating pain and after a trip to the ER, the doc was concerned that I had re-injured one of my compromised disks from a sever injury over ten years ago. Two weeks of PT showed no improvement, and actually my pain intensified as it began radiating down my leg into my knee on my left side. The initial MRI was turned down by my insurance company, but my doctor was a great advocate and by the end of week three I was scheduled for an MRI at the end of the next week. By the end of week five, I was on the phone with my doc discussing the results. I had two herniated disks and he was sending me to speak to a surgeon. It could have taken two to three weeks to get an appointment but by God’s grace there was a cancellation and I was seeing the surgeon just three days after my results.

My visit with the surgeon was short and sweet, he shared with me that the MRI revealed that one of my disks was actually ruptured and the broken piece had fallen into the joint of my vertebrae and was pinching the nerve. He even said to me after looking at it, “It’s no wonder you are in pain”. They scheduled the surgery for ten days out and presented the information to the my insurance. I was worried that the surgery might not be initially approved, just like the MRI but that was not the case. It was approved, I just had to come up with my portion on the payment. Once again, God provided and I was set for surgery. My microdisectomy took just under an hour, the ruptured disk was actually in two pieces, and had caused the nerve to turn on itself. 24 hours later I was headed home, uncomfortable from the surgery itself but free of the pain I had been experiencing for nearly two months.

That was three weeks ago tomorrow and I am feeling better and stronger everyday. Last week I had my follow-up visit and will return one last time at the end of the month. At that point I will be released for PT and prepare to get back to work, still trying to see where that is suppose to be. This morning, I was only further reminded that God is indeed in control, aiding us through the storm…

storm

“Christians have many benefits as children of God, but flood-free lives are not one of them. Perhaps this is one of the most difficult things to accept. Noah spent his life walking with God, yet he and his family faced a horrific storm. As the door of the ark was closed, Noah’s only hope was to trust God through the unknown.
We all have faced unknown storms. The untimely death of a family member. The uncertainty of our health. Unemployment. Just to name a few. But our key verse gives us a certainty for times that are uncertain.
No matter the severity of the storm or how we arrived in its eye, we can trust two simple truths about God and the floods we face: 1) God remembers His plan for us. 2) God remembers His love for us.
A storm doesn’t mean God forgot us. God remembered Noah and gave him instructions to build the ark. It was Noah’s obedience that kept his family safe when the flood rose. In the same way, God directs us, and our safety often requires obedience. Whether we are currently in a storm or just on the other side of one, we can be certain our storm will end. Isn’t it comforting to know that God will be with us through it all?”~First 5

So as I move forward out of the storm into bluer skies I am so very thankful. Thankful that I was allowed to play nursemaid to my daughter this summer instead of mourn her. Thankful that I was able to see my son grow into the compassionate and caring man he is becoming. Knowing that he will do great things in his future, that he will make a difference in his lifetime. Even more so thankful, no blessed, by the kindness and generosity of the people He has placed in our lives. Whether it was meals/groceries, running an errand, picking up my child when I couldn’t drive, or the simple act of prayer. We were shown so much Christlike love, through action over the coarse of this summer. It will never be possible to repay, but I will certainly pay it forward when given the opportunity and pray for God’s blessings on them all.

I hope to not let there be so much time between entries in the future, as I really want to use this blog to show others, what can be done when you trust God, when you allow Him to be the top priority in your life. That even when the door is shut, you can praise Him in the hallway while you wait for the next door to open. That you can learn to take every moment of life as He gives it to you, never walking alone… Praising Him in the Storm.

Until the next moment,