Helping Someone Else

Where I See God
Journal #31: Helping Someone Else

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

She bowed her head and I prayed. I heard a deep breath released.  Slowly as she lifted her head I could see her thinking things through.  She didn’t seem as desperate as she had a few minutes before. Calmness and even peace were transitioning around us.

Earlier in the week we had met in a small group where she began to share her story.  My heart had raced.  Her story was very similar to my story.  “God,” I prayed, “What do I say? What do I do?”

I shared my number with her and offered to listen if she ever needed me to.  I also offered to pray with her.  I told her, I didn’t have any solutions, but I knew God did. I wasn’t sure if she’d call or not, but I had to offer.

She did call.  We set up a time to meet.

As I opened my eyes after praying, I distinctly remembered telling a friend once when I was hurting so terribly, that I never wanted to heal if it meant I had to work with others who had been through my experience.  I hadn’t meant to sound so bratty; I just didn’t want to keep being pulled back into the pain.  It was too difficult.

However, here in this moment watching this young woman process how she was going to handle her situation, I suffered no pain.  In fact, I wasn’t even worried for her.  I felt complete confidence she would experience the joy that comes from healing.  She was searching for it and willing to work at facing the emotions of the past.  She was almost to surrendering it all into Christ’s hands.  To freedom. To victory.

Face to face we sat.  One who had already walked through a trial with one who was walking in it.

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College Visit

Where I See God
Journal #30: College Visit

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

“God,” I prayed. “Give us reassurance that this is the right school for our daughter. Amen”

After a two weeks of e-mailing back and forth, my daughter finally had her appointment to talk to the college department in which she wishes to study.  She had a few questions about her potential studies, as well as, for Financial Aid and the school’s Honors College.  Early last Friday morning we climbed in the car buckling up for the two hour drive to her appointment.

On the way we discussed the questions she desired to ask, went over some introduction skills, and settled in to talk about the rest of life; primarily, her upcoming Homecoming plans.  Google maps led us straight to the Admission’s parking lot.  We walked in to meet her Admission’s councilor.  “Perfect timing,” he said as he greeted us with a smile before shaking our hands.  “Let’s head over to the Rehabilitation Sciences Department.”

A nice walk across campus and up three stories on the elevator brought us to my daughter’s desired area of study.  The Admissions councilor had answered Honor’s College questions on the way over, so our checklist for the visit was quickly being completed.

Introductions were made to a potential future professor. We then sat down to listen and ask questions.  My girl, started off slow but determined and clear spoken.  We were thankful for the prompting questions from the professor.  When finally he asked her what she was really after.  Confidently she explained her dream and her idea to use this degree for her undergraduate studies.  The professor smiled at her and said, “Wow! I don’t think we’ve had anyone with that dream before. Your path is very well planned out.  I think this would be a great starting off place for you.”  She smiled and listened to what her course work would hold and how the program could be adjusted to get her not only a degree, but also prepare her for the next step.

My daughter thanked the professor before we walked out the door to head for the Financial Aid office.  Three steps outside the professor’s office she released a sigh of relief.  “I feel so validated, Mom.” Her hope filled words fueled her passion for her dream.  At that moment, I felt a calming reassurance pour all over me. Mission accomplished.  Prayer answered.

Heading home we listened to music while she napped in the passenger seat.  I smiled and thanked God not only for the answer to our prayer but also the opportunity to see my girl take steps towards fulfilling her dream.

Remembering

Where I See God
Journal #28: Remembering

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

My mom said it would happen.  And it did.  I tried to prevent it by moving on and filling up that space, but it still happened.

My Facebook post read, “After my son’s wedding last week and getting my daughter started in her senior year, I put my house back in order and headed out to an amazing conference.  This morning a very somber emotion fell right on top of me.  Truthfully, I’m not sure I understand it other than 1) it’s the approaching change of a life season and 2) a slowdown moment after I’ve been running so long.  Curious about other moms who have experienced solemnness after life changes.  Any advice?”

Why after such a joyous and fun-filled event would depression dare to flatten me?

I realize that after many mountain moments people end up in a valley, but I had worked so hard to avoid the valley.  Scheduling a conference to follow the wedding was my attempt to move on gracefully.  My jump start to get back in gear.  However, it didn’t’ work.

I needed a moment to lament.  To mourn the change and remember how God has gotten me through things before and will continue to do so in the future.

Scripture tells us to remember the “miracles of long ago,” reflecting on God’s goodness.

My husband asked me what I wanted to do for date night. Honestly, I was longing to reminisce about where we’ve been and remember what it took to get to this point in life.  We took it a step further and perused around in the Forester visiting in order all the homes we’ve lived in since moving to Northwest Arkansthorntonville.1as almost twenty-five years ago.  Our very first residence is only a few blocks away from our current location, but the other three took us on a tour of our area.  We laughed at memories, teared up thinking through when we brought each kid home from the hospital to the little house on Tradition Avenue and reflected on the challenging moments God used to create amazing moments in our life.

We ended our date at a local pizza joint daring to dream on what our future might hold.  It was a beautiful evening that allowed me to lament the letting go of a season with one of my children and celebrate the times we have ahead of us.

Guilt-free Service

Where I See God
Journal #26: Guilt-free Service

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

This morning I walked into a friend from church.  It’s been awhile since I’d seen her and I quite literally walked into her.  I was on my morning stroll around an area park while she was on her morning power walk coming from a perpendicular path, bumped into each other. We continued on together catching up on the part of life that has happened since we last saw one another.

She’s an amazing woman, filled with humility and God’s spirit.  She began to share about a ministry on her heart when… it happened.  Part of my heart yelled, “CAUTION: Guilt ahead!”

She spoke about our church’s involvement in a beautiful ministry that helps the homeless community in our area and their need for more volunteers.   Time and time again my husband and I have prayed about serving in this particular ministry, but have felt the Holy Spirit say, “There is somewhere else I need you to serve.” So we’ve served where we have been led, trying to help the ministry in other ways than time and service, like financially and giving of supplies. However, when this ministry is mentioned, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach followed with condemning thoughts of… “Kysia, you aren’t doing enough.  Why aren’t you helping with this ministry?  Don’t you like the homeless?  Are you being selfish?”

I recognize those are not thoughts from God.  I also know that anyone serving within the ministry mentioned, wouldn’t say or ask them.  So what is it about me and that ministry that is in such conflict?

I know the answer.  It seems like a ridiculous answer to me.  Yet, it is a common one.  Simply put, I feel guilty turning down service opportunities. This particular ministry I know needs a lot of help. Like baseballs in a pitching machine, I continually throw accusations back at myself tearing myself down because my energy is being used elsewhere.  I start to view the service I am already a part of as unworthy or at least, not as worthy to God.  A big fat lie.

Here is the deal.

  • We can all be part of ministry but we can’t all serve in the same area. There is too much ground to cover for that. We are members of the body called to different areas. Gifted in different ways. (1 Corinthians 12:5) There are vast opportunities in many areas of service.  Which is why it is so important to ask God, where He can use us most effectively.
  • As long as we are staying faithful to God, we are not going to disappoint Him. Serving God isn’t a pyramid sales opportunity where there are levels of power and worth. In fact, “there should be no division in the body [of Christ], but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:25) We are on the same team.  I’m even on that team when I’m not working in the ministry my church offers, but instead in a different area of ministry.
  • If we are going to compare our service let’s keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter when he was trying to compare himself to John. “What is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22b) We are each to follow Jesus. Even when it looks different than what our brother is doing.
  • We are to encourage each other and build each other up as we do our work. (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Even if someone else’s work looks different, we are to encourage onward nearer to God.

This afternoon a friend called in a bit of a panic.  She had broken a prop she was planning on using at an upcoming special event.  She wanted to know if I could help her fix it.

When she rushed in the door she said, “I don’t know what to do and I’m not good at fixing things.”  I said to her, “There are lots of things you do really well, let me do what I do well.” Taking the large pieces of pottery, I was able to reassemble them and glue them back together so the piece could still be used for the event.

As she left to get to her next destination, I thought about what had just happened.  Two people – one gifted in selecting beautiful items for staging events and one person who was good at fixing broken pieces working together to get something done.  That’s the way ministry works. Different gifts, different callings working together to advance the kingdom of God.

There is no guilt in service, only work. As, I parted from my friend after our morning walk, I stopped to pray for her.  I also prayed for the homeless ministry for more people to volunteer.  Then I let that “caution: guilt ahead” go.  God’s given me a job and that is where I need to focus.

Gift of a Prayer

Where I See God
Journal #25: Gift of a Prayer

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.” Acts 4:32a

My meeting with the rehearsal dinner location, hadn’t gone so smoothly.  It was the first time during this wedding planning season, I had really felt nervous about the plans I’d made for the special dinner.  Then my contact with the restaurant stopped returning my calls.  My nerves amped up even more.  Wedding guests of family and friends were already invited to this particular location. I felt frustrated and nervous.

After I’d shared my fears with my future daughter-in-law, she handled me exactly the way I needed to be handled.  She offered to pray for me right in that moment.

I walked away from that conversation with a lot more than calmed nerves over a rehearsal dinner.  God gave me several other reassurances.

  1. My son’s fiancé knew where to take her problems.
  2. She wasn’t afraid to ask God boldly.
  3. God allowed me to see this amazing young woman take action with her faith. Her gift to me of prayer not only helped me breathe and surrender the moment, it also gave me a glimpse of the foundation my son’s marriage is about to be built upon.
  4. God showed me how He had been faithful to answer my prayers about my son’s future wife being someone who would love and serve Him.
  5. Since God had answered that prayer, He wasn’t about to “not answer” a prayer for strength and help through a stressful situation.

I walked away encouraged.

Today, I had another meeting with the restaurant.  It went smoothly.  Everything was back on track for the upcoming dinner.

Gratitude replaced fear.

Even though the mishap caused some stress, I’m am very thankful for the opportunity to receive such a blessing from my son’s fiancé.

A prayer answered, a blessing received.

Connection

Where I See God
Journal #24: Connection

“I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”  Psalm 119:45

With the school year schedule off, I’ve had plenty of time to process thoughts.  Summer has created a much needed slower pace for our family.  Dinners have been later, as evening meetings are minimal; family activities have increased with game nights, movie nights, and just sit around the table to talk nights.

However, there is one area I don’t want to slow down.  My time with God.  While I totally enjoy the extra time with my family, I’ve noticed that I’m not very peaceful when I leave God out.  Spending God time has to be a priority in my life. It is through this time with God I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

A number of faith pieces have come together in my life puzzle this summer. Pieces like a new understanding of trust, plus being able to see how God goes before me to prepare routes each day.  I’m experiencing peace like I have never experienced before.  More now than ever I’m seeking obedience with my Heavenly Father.  It’s refreshing.  Deep breaths are coming more naturally.  Joy is growing fruit deep within.

Truthfully, I’m not desiring to go back to the way things were when school starts back.  Curiosity of “Is this peace possible during the school year?” brings hope of living differently.

For that to be a reality though, I know there are things I’m going to have to give up.  This doesn’t mean becoming lazy, like some summer days imply; instead it will require truly evaluating everything I take on by asking God for discernment. Outside of my work what activities are most beneficial in serving God, my family, and my community?   Where am I needed, most effective, and joyful? Through listening, waiting and searching for God’s answers a unique connection is being formed.

I’m seeing God in connection. Connection flowing through work and living spaces. Connection in God’s word, in prayer, in relationships with friends and family, as well as in moments of slowing down to seek Him. Fast paced living may be necessary from time to time, but connection doesn’t thrive in that pace.  Nor does freedom. Nor does joy.

That’s the largest piece of my puzzle.  Finding out that as my connection with God increases, my freedom does, too. As does my joy.

Through My Doctor’s Example

Where I See God
Journal #23: Through My Doctor’s Example

“Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” Psalm 17:7

A week ago Tuesday my daughter turned in her first college application. The following Wednesday we ran around trying to get transcripts and shot records together to complete the process.  By that afternoon, I started feeling a little off.

Honestly, I thought my nerves had gotten the better of me. (My baby is applying to colleges.) That is until…

4:00 p.m.

I started throwing-up violently.  This lasted until midnight.

The next day the pain had shifted and my loving husband put me in the car for a ride to the doctor.

I felt rotten.

The doctor said it could be a bacterial infection, but he really believed it was an appendicitis.

My doctor is an amazing guy who truly cares about his patients.  He knew exactly the steps it was going to take to get me into surgery as quickly as possible. He started the process, before we even had the confirmation of a CT scan of what was going on.  From each step, as I rocked back and forth trying to minimize the pain, my doctor stayed ahead of the course.  By that same afternoon I was wheeled into surgery at our local hospital.  My doctor understood the timing.  My husband and I trusted him fully.

Recently my pastor preached a sermon on what it meant to trust in God.  She used a definition I had heard described for the word “abide”, but when she applied it to the word “trust”, my world forever changed.  “To lean into as hard as you can.”  To trust God is to lean into Him; to know he is going to stand firm despite my weight, pressure, fears and anything else. He will keep my feet from slipping.

After surgery, when I was feeling much better, I thought about how much I trusted my doctor.  I was in so much pain, I gave up all resistance and just let him do his job.  I also thought about how often I don’t do that with God.  I fight against him, or refuse to wait until his timing comes.  I wondered if I just leaned into him, if things would be so much easier trusting that he has taken care of everything.  This is definitely something I want to work on.

Right now, I’m super thankful for my doctor and the example he set for me.   …And, of course,  how much better I feel!