Tag Archive | faith

Sundogs and Rainbows – or When God Sends a Hug and a Promise

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. God sends me rainbows. I’m not kidding. Or imagining things. Rainbows have shown up too many times, at just the right moment when my heart needed reassurance of God’s care and presence in a situation for them to be a coincidence. Sure, rainbows have randomly occurred on days that are just any other days for me. And then I can smile at how marvellously God has designed every aspect of creation for our delight. There is always a message in the beauty of creation for my heart to receive.

And then one day I received a sundog. Disclaimer that this is not scientifically correct, but the most understandable way to describe a sundog if you haven’t seen one would be that it is a rainbow on either side of the sun that is formed in cold weather by ice crystals. Winter’s rainbow.

And so it was, that frosty January afternoon as our truck left town and turned onto the highway, a brilliant sundog appeared ahead of us. This was only a few days after hearing the words from my husband “I am a sex addict.” The reason we were unaccustomedly in a vehicle together going to the city, or anywhere for that matter, was for individual counselling appointments with a sex addictions recovery therapist. My first. His second.

The atmosphere inside the truck was as heavy and still as the frigid air outside. But we were together. And that meant something. Especially when I looked up and saw the sundog. God’s hug in that moment. For me. God’s promise that He was with me holding my hand on this journey He was setting before me. The unmistakable sign that I was not alone. That whatever may or may not happen, God was with me. I would be okay.

God has signs all around us all the time. Some are obvious. Others we don’t recognize for what they are. But the miracles and wonders are there. I call these “God moments.” A friend describes them as “God-incidences.” God knows exactly what will speak words of comfort, peace, strength, courage and hope to my soul and to yours. He knows what will make each of our hearts smile when we need it most. A hummingbird, a smile from a stranger, a flower growing in an unexpected place, a meaningful compliment, a starry night……. a sundog on a desperation filled day.

Did the knot in my stomach untangle? No. Did the lump in my throat disappear? No. But the warmth of God’s embrace allowed me to take a deep breath, look heavenward, and thank God for the inevitable and much needed change that was beginning in my life. And as an added blessing, He brought my husband along for the ride too.

For I am the Lord , your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

The Parents – To Tell or Not to Tell

Please excuse me while I jump ahead in my story to something that hasn’t even happened yet. Tomorrow I get on a plane to visit my parents and my brother’s family. They do not know the events of the last two and a half years of my life recovering from a marriage ravaged by sex addiction. They also are not aware of the neglect and emotional abuse of the preceding twenty five years.

It has been easy to hide the truth from my family. I moved 3,000 km away from home two days after my wedding. In the early years, when our children were young and adorable, someone would make the trek once or twice a year for a family visit. Now that our children are young adults, the frequency of the visits with my parents has diminished to once a year or so. It has been relatively easy for my husband and I to wear smiley faces and play happy little family for one week every year. Besides that, I do come from a family content to hide its flaws from one another. It is more comfortable for everyone that way.

At forty eight years of age, I still fear disappointing my parents. Of messing up in their eyes. My therapist has assured me that they will love me no matter what. He asked me if anything my children did would affect my love for them. I know my mind was supposed to draw the parallel between the parental love I have for my children, and that my parents have for me. But I just can’t quite get there. It seems that I need more than love from my parents. I need acceptance and approval. Security and safety in my position in the family. And that comes from playing my part properly.

To be fair to my parents, I do believe they would wholeheartedly accept both myself and my husband if I dared to be authentic with them. Quite likely there would be tears over my pain. Guilt that they didn’t help me. Hurt that I didn’t trust them enough to share my heartache with them until now.

I have become skilled at justifying to myself why I have not and should not tell them my story. I have asked myself too many questions that don’t have answers. What exactly would I tell them? How much of my husband’s story? Of mine? What do I include and what do I leave out? Why stir things up now when they are getting older? I only see them once a year, wouldn’t it be better, or at least easier, to just keep things as they are?

I have come to realize there a few problems with maintaining the silence. Although my parents are getting older, they are only in their mid seventies. They could easily, and I hope they do, live another twenty years. That is a long time to continue feeling like I am lying and keeping secrets from them.

I would also be denying them the opportunity to celebrate the growth and healing in our lives and marriage. I would be intentionally withholding the story of the outpouring of God’s redemptive love upon us and the miracle after miracle that has become part of our testimony. Surely they would want to know of this amazing grace. Surely God would want them to.

As I sit here writing this, I am becoming mildly uncomfortable that I have chosen to openly share the struggles and victories of my life with nearly everyone but my parents. And yet……

Will this visit be the third time we are together since beginning recovery that I will succumb to my own fears and insecurities and talk about the weather? Will I be able to admit that yes, I am worried about hurting my parents, but it is really me I am trying to protect? Will I seek God’s boldness, strength, wisdom and guidance on the when, hows and whats of this conversation?  Or will I be afraid of the answer and keep waiting for another time?

And so I get on the plane tomorrow not knowing what the next week brings. But God knows. And I am trying to be okay with that.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6

Choices!

Back in July I wrote about going to see my spiritual counselor and what God showed me at that time. I also mentioned that my counselor made a second observation and I would share it in the next post, well, I didn’t….because honestly, I was truly grappling with it. I didn’t like her suggestion or observation. I didn’t want to look at it and to some degree I am still wrestling with it.

What she shared with me was the Serenity Prayer; the first part of it. If you are familiar with Alcoholics Anonymous then you have encountered the Serenity Prayer. The prayer has worked its way into so many cultural outlets that many non-Christians know it, or at least the beginning, by heart:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.serenity 1

The rest of the prayer goes like this:

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

I admit I reacted to her strongly because deep down I was truly afraid to accept the things I could not change and feared I didn’t have the courage to change what I could…..and would I really know the difference??

Why did I struggle to “accept” things? Because I believed that accepting something was laziness. I was afraid that accepting that there are some things I could not change would make me complacent. But slowly (very slowly) I am beginning to realize instead that acceptance constitutes a leap of faith — an ability to trust, as the prayer goes on to say, “that He [God] will make all things right if I surrender to His Will.” I then make the choice to let go and have faith in the outcome.

acceptance

Accepting or surrendering takes courage…..for me the word “surrender” like acceptance, had mostly negative connotations. I associated it with resignation, failure and weakness. But the Serenity Prayer reframes the notion of surrender as an act of faith and trust. The wisdom of the prayer lies in exchanging a life of endless “what ifs” for a life of trust in powers beyond ourselves. That changes my perspective!

Another thing I am coming to realize is that acceptance takes courage, it takes courage to change ourselves. And I didn’t want to be courageous anymore, it was too much work.

One of life’s greatest challenges is imagining how our lives could be different than they are now. Often, my own deeply-ingrained habits are my own worst enemies, and simply identifying them is half the battle. Since habits gain power through repetition, it takes real focus and perspective to take a look at ourselves and our habits and ask, “Is this how I really want to live?” As the prayer states, this act of self-investigation is nothing less than an act of “courage.”

And in my mind it also meant that I must accept “hardships as the pathway to peace.” What??? I didn’t want hardship, I wanted easy, painless even!!
Yet, every person confronts obstacles in the course of his or her life. Yet, it’s what I do with these obstacles. Do I view them as frustrations or failures, or as opportunities for growth and learning? If I choose the latter then I can transcend my circumstances.
courage
Accepting what I don’t like may be one of the most difficult aspects of life, because there will be people, situations, and events I don’t like and I am not able to change.

Yet, it is true, acceptance is not the same as resignation or passivity. I can continue to push forward despite accepting that there are things beyond my control. It is not passive when I lean into and trust God with my life, situations and relationships. It is not passive when I seek His wisdom and ask for His supernatural courage. It doesn’t take resignation it takes strength, perseverance, faith and trust.

Please understand what I am not saying….if you are in an abusive relationship or have been abused, I am not saying that you should just accept what is happening or what happened. I am not talking about abuse. I am talking about situations and circumstances that affect us and that we feel we have no control over, maybe in our workplace, our marriage or our relationships.
It truly takes supernatural wisdom to know the difference of what we can or cannot change.

serenity-quotes-7

As you can see I am still chewing on this, wrestling with it and walking this out…..to be continued!

What about you? How do you see “acceptance” or “surrender”?

Our bottle of tears…..

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Beloved, our Father God watches over you and me. His heart is tuned in to our cries, He hears the deep anguish of our spirit, He sees the burdens and wounds our hearts carry…. Our tears are precious to Him, stirring His very heart causing Him to respond to our tears.

There will come a day when our Heavenly Father will come for His children. He will embrace us in His comforting arms and He will forever wipe all our tears away .

And I wonder, will He show us those bottles of tears He has been collecting?

Will He whisper to our hearts~ “Do you see this bottle here? These are the tears you cried… You see my child, you were never forgotten or abandoned, you were never forsaken or left on your own. I heard your heart, I saw how broken it was, I felt your tears and I was there all along, comforting you.”

My friends, do you know that our tears speak a special language to the very heart of God…..

He loves you….He loves you….He loves you…. so let the tears flow… and know that our Father God cares for you intimately and with great passion beloved….

For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9

Isaiah 38:5 “Go back to Hezekiah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.”

Job 16:20 “My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God.”

Psalm 56:8
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Psalm 126:5 “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.”

Faith is Remembering

The book of Deuteronomy, it seems, is all about remembering:

Remember the day you stood before the Lord…

Remember you were slaves in Egypt…  (this one shows up five times)

Remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh…

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert…

Remember the Lord your God…

Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord…

Remember … God’s majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm…

Remember the time of your departure from Egypt…

Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam…

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past…

Do you remember, dear reader?  Do you remember what God has done for you?  Can you stand with one hand grasping your present struggle and one hand firmly holding the past, remembering His Deliverance?  Remember your God because He remembers you. 

Remember…

Remember…

Remember…

White Mountains

This weekend I drove through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Twice.  The first time I drove through at night.  The road was winding and slow.  My ears were popping.  The traffic was rude and annoying.  Two days later I drove back home along the same route.  The afternoon sun pushed bright shafts of light through billowing clouds.  I drove by sheer granite rock faces all globbed up with sparkly blue ice.   Each turn in the road unveiled new vistas of ancient snow covered peaks and snuggled valleys.  As the adventure unfolded I thought, ‘I was right here, I was right here and I missed it’.

Sometimes we travel through life in darkness.   With our focus no more than a few feet in front of us, life’s annoyances and disappointments predominate our journey.  In our preoccupation with the trivial we miss what’s really going on.  We miss the dangerous cliffs and God’s heroic rescues.  We miss the beautiful views He sends to inspire and delight us.  Without light we are clueless and lost.

 

May God grant us light for our journeys and eyes to see.

Unexpected Grace

I went to the river to find beauty.  I was hoping to catch an intensely beautiful sunrise to salve the sting of a bitter disappointment.  But the dense cloud cover from a brooding storm made the event a royal let-down.  The resignation in my heart spoke first.

‘Par for the course’,  I thought.  Have you ever seen a young child disappointed?  Unfamiliar with the possibility of failure a child makes his plans without a remote consideration that he might not get what he wants.  When I see such a child watch the object of his affection slip away I can barely tolerate it.  ‘That kid needs to toughen up’, I like to think to myself.  You just can’t be so vulnerable.

How quickly the ambivalence of cynicism rears its ugly head against desire’s fearlessness.  Excuses spring up like weeds.  Sour grapes.

Two swans sliced their way across the river without a ripple — one directly behind the other.  I immediately thought of God and me.  I so wanted the swan in the back to catch up to the leader, to experience the intimacy I desperately long for.  As I watched the gliding race, the gap between the swans would shorten then widen again without warning.  I watched in frustration, until I understood the truth.  The point of my life is not how close or how far I feel from God.  The point of my life is that I follow Him.  Wind and current and a hundred conditions I can’t explain can pull and push and pressure me to give up hope.  But like the swans I saw on the river, the glory and grace of my journey is to glide along with my eyes on Him.  As I turned to leave the two swans were resting in the shallow water together — face to face.