Monday, July 29, 2013

When Resistance Bands are Wrapped Around My Plans

The course for the Chicago Urbanathlon 2013.
It all started out with a goal. A hope. A desire.

Urbanathlon 2013 (click here).

I ran the race in a relay in 2010 and then completed the whole race in 2011 (click here), but since then, let's just say, I've 'fallen off the work-out wagon.' It's not that I'm terribly out of shape, it's just that I'm not nearly as strong as I used to be (way) back then.

And so, about a month ago, I made a plan and I ran.

I started with three miles and worked my way up to seven miles, pretty quickly.

I was encouraged (read -- pumped) until the second time I ran seven miles.  It was then that hip pain settled in.  A deep boring pain in both hips was my constant companion. Whether I was running or not, it was there.  Walking, sitting, standing, lying down, I had pain.

I'll spare the details, but turns out (after seeing a professional) that I have weak hip and gluteal muscles.  The pain is mostly due to 'other' muscles tightening to help compensate for weak ones.  My compensatory hip muscles are over-firing, thus very tight, while the ones that should be strong, are terribly weak.  Did I mention that I was in a lot of pain? 

So, I was put on a running restriction and given a strengthening and stretching exercise program.  In addition, the doctor offered to work on the tight areas to help give me relief of my pain. 

It's not how I thought it would go.

Now, instead of racking up my miles and feeling good about myself for the accomplishments I make, I'm waddling back and forth across my family room with a blue resistance band strapped around my ankles, strengthening muscles that need to be strong. And I'm lying on the ground, stretching muscles that need to be relaxed. 

It's not what I planned.

I've been thinking, it's not all that different from portions of my life.

Sometimes, it's not how I thought it would go. 

It's not what I planned.

And God has other plans. I have weak areas, that I may or may not be aware of and I have tight areas in my life, that over-compensate for those weak areas -- defense mechanisms. 

Instead of going the distance and working towards the goals in my own way, God grounds me and says, "No, we're going to do it this way.  There are some ares in your life, my dear, that need to be strengthened and some areas that need to be stretched."

I don't like it. I like my orderly, organized plans that I can see and understand and check off with pride along the way. I like doing things my way.

I don't like going short distances with resistance bands wrapped around my plans.

But God knows the perfect plan.

I'm pausing on that point today. 

God knows the perfect plan for my life and what it takes for me to run the race He has marked out for me. 

I'm still hoping to run the Urbanathlon in October, and hopefully, I may even run it better, by slowing down now and focusing on the areas that need to be stronger and areas that need to be stretched.

And somehow, I'm thinking that is the case for me in some areas of my life.  God knows what He is doing.  He doesn't leave me on my own, but institutes an 'exercise and strengthening program' for my good, and He takes His Holy, healing hands, and works to give me relief, as well.

I may not understand why He does what He does or how He does it, but I am trying to trust His ways.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"I Don't Know How to Trust You in This, Lord!"

I'll cut right to it -- I've been worrying. Yes, worrying.

I'll spare the details for now, but I am worrying about my oldest son. He's my boy (a young adult, actually) with Cerebral Palsy. He's struggling, and I probably don't have to tell you, so am I.

For days and weeks, the heart cry that continually wells up from deep within my soul is this --

"I don't know how to trust You in this, Lord!"

The thing is, I get that we are to trust the Lord. I've heard it said, I've read about it, and I've even taught about trusting Him.  He's clear as to what we are to do.  We are to trust Him and Him alone.

But what does it look like for me today? What does it really look like to trust Him in a particularly painful situation?

Maybe you're asking yourself that question.

Maybe you're in a dark place, a difficult place, a deeply uncertain place, a broken dream place.

Maybe your marriage is failing and your heart is breaking. Maybe your child is suffering and you are bewildered as to what to do next.  Maybe you are experiencing a conflict in a relationship and are unable to come to a resolution. Maybe you are hurting physically, and there is no relief for your pain. Maybe you feel lost and loneliness permeates your days.

And perhaps you, too, are asking "What does it look like to trust You, Lord?"

I wish there were easy answers, quick answers, simple 'cookie cutter' answers.  I wish there were 'one-size fits all, pull off the shelf, slip on and go' answers. I wish there were 'clear margined' answers. I wish there were 'one-stop-shopping' answers, or 'drive-through for fast food' answers.  

More and more, I'm finding that it is not so.

And to make it more complicated, lately, I've been asking (pleading) and it seems as if the Lord's been silent.

Until this week.

In what seems like the millionth time of asking for something, He gave me a thought, something to imagine, a place to focus and remember.

When I don't know what to do, and uncertainty washes over me, like one wave after another, He gave me a picture -- a picture of Him dancing with me. 

"Come waltz with Me," I felt Him say as He pressed close to my heart.  And in my mind, I saw Him wrap His strong arm around my weary waist and His mighty, gentle hand grab hold of mine.

"Look in to my eyes, my dear one, and dance with Me.  One-two-three. One-two-three. One-two-three."

"This is what trusting Me looks like for you, right now."

"Do not look down at your own feet. Look at Me.  Feel My warm embrace.  Feel My love for you. Stay focused on Me, then when I move, you will move, to the right and the left and the front and the back.  When I pause, you will pause.  Follow my lead."

And, so, I've been picturing myself with Him. I am conscious of His warm embrace around my waist and His Holy Hand, holding me firm. I am gazing at Him -- only Him -- and I am moving with Him.

It's what trusting Him looks like for me today, in this time that He has made for me.

I'm not sure what He is doing or where He is going, but I am certain that no matter the trial or trouble or tear drenched difficulty, I am held secure in His loving arms.

Tomorrow, it may look different, as to how to trust Him.

But today, I am leaning in to His love and waltzing with Him.

What about you?  Do you ever struggle with what trusting the Lord actually looks like? How has He shown you?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Words from Our Winner -- Betty!

When I, with eyes closed, reached in to the pile of names to pick out the winner of the Woman's Study Bible, I had no idea who I would pick or why that particular person would be chosen, but God knew who and why.

He always does.

After I emailed, Betty Z,  to let her know that she was the winner of the Study Bible she wrote back and shared this with me.  I thought it might encourage you. Here's what Betty had to say: 

Seriously,  Andrea -- I won?????

I must say, I am touched by God's goodness!  

Joel 2:12-13 was my verse to live out yesterday, "'even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.'  Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious an compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love ..."

I hate to say, but it is not often at all I fast, but yesterday morning in quiet time, I really talked with the Lord about my thoughts and actions lately, that were not what He wanted for my life -- acknowledging sin, confessing sin, asking forgiveness, believing His forgiveness is mine, repenting and desiring to turn to His good ways for my life.  Then my "through the year bible reading" was Joel.  And God convicted me by the verses above.  I said the words, but do I really mourn over my sinfulness?  Christ paid such a great price of suffering and separation from the Father for this sin of mine. 

So, it was a sweet day yesterday of fellowship with God and of being reminded that giving up food is so small compared to what God gave in Christ Jesus.  Not that we should be telling others about fasting in a prideful way, but I just wanted you to know how moved to tears (seriously) I am as I "break the fast" this morning and am SO thankful for God's graciousness and compassion to me. 

And now to read the email that He is blessing me with His WORD.  He is El Roi -- the God who sees me personally and touches my life with His love in very special ways! 


Thank you, dear Betty! The Lord used you to bless me and remind me of His unique and personal love for each of us, a love that knows no limits and never fails.
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