A Note Deer to the Wise!

deer.jpgOn December 31, 2014 I was over my best friends house and she had this really cool, black wrought iron, copper horned Christmas deer that still had the tags on it.  I admired it so much and after complimenting it she just handed it over to me and said “here, you can have it”. I felt so grateful and honored.  This is a truly generous friend who gives me things all of the time.  But this seemed different.  As if it was a sign. 

I already started to put my Christmas stuff away so I figured I would just put this away and enjoy it next year.  I decided to write myself a note and attach it to the deer.  For me that was random and I wasn’t sure why I had this urge but I decided to stop what I was doing and write.  At this particular time in my life we had just moved down to North Carolina from New York and we were just coming off of 3 years of financial and personal hardship, loss and tough times.  We were living in a rental home with very little financial resources and desperately trying to rebuild our lives.  Christmas that year was running on a very tight budget and the fear of no money for the New Year was lurking in every purchase.  I was raised abundantly spoiled at Christmastime and with a family that overspent for Christmas every year.  I was OK with not spoiling my children as it was a nice reality check for them, but if our accounting had its way, we would have needed to skip Christmas altogether.  Although life was starting to look uphill and I stayed loyal and trusting in the Lord, I still felt stressed out and struggling with each and every day.  I prayed my heart out but some days I forgot to be patient and listen for God.

Yet this weekend, as I started to unpack our Christmas décor, excited about bringing in the spirit of Christmas, I came across the forgotten deer and the forgotten note.

 The note read as follows:

Jodi, remember how you were feeling on this day December 31, 2014.  Ken wasn’t sure about his job with Oracle.  We were still broke and unsure of the future.  Lauren gave you this reindeer which you admired and it should serve as a reminder that even in the lowest of lows, fear and uncertainty, God is with you and loves you and you will be safe with him. True friends, family, church, and love is stronger than your fears and God is stronger than your circumstances. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge him in all your ways and he will send your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:5-6.

I was amazed and overjoyed as I read this note as I felt the presence of our Lord in every word.  An epiphany of sorts and a poignant reminder that he doesn’t abandon us during our difficult times.  He is right there seeing us through and he is so proud when we acknowledge our worries through trust in him.  As a result, he gives us exactly what we need.  He reminds us we can’t enjoy the sun if we don’t endure the storm.  We must appreciate our place in life as it is God’s way of helping us grow and giving us that gift of wisdom that he does not spread around lightly.

At the end of the day, that Christmas was just as beautiful as any other.  It didn’t have the material gifts we were used to but it had something better, gifts of friendship, family, fellowship and love.  Yet regardless, we still had some gifts to share, food to eat and most importantly a Lord to praise with much gratitude. 

My husband received his offer letter one week later and by June of this year we were able to purchase a beautiful home where we can continue to spread our roots enjoying the company of our new friends, our beloved family and our new homeland down south.  By all means, this is the not the only way the Lord has shown up in my life, it’s just one of the many few that I have yet to share of his continuous Grace.  Life is Good!  God is Good!

We are still faced with financial challenges and uncertainty for our future but our homage is to our Lord as it has proven that worry and fear get you nowhere.  He will show us his will in his due time.  We just have to trust in him and ask for peace throughout any storm we are weathering.  He ALWAYS get us through.

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

I encourage anyone who is struggling in their life to write themselves a note, bury it away and bring it out one year later.  Start trusting that the Lord has your concerns in his heart and he has amazing plans to carry you through to a place of peace and understanding so you can look back and say, “oh I get it and Thank you God”!

 

 

 

 

 

Lost In Translation

Lost in Translation!  

Does hearing the name “Jesus” intimidate you?  Does the very thought of thinking about him or mentioning his name make you uncomfortable?  When something good happens in your life is he the last one you think of?  Or when something horrible happens is he the first one you blame?  I remember coming across radio stations playing Christian music and feeling the need to turn the channel quick.  As if it was going to brainwash me and I was going to be converted quickly.  Even hearing people (like me) rant about my love for Jesus Christ made me cringe & feel weird.  It was a foreign concept in my mind!

If like the old me, you answered yes to most or all of these questions, guess what, you’re not alone.  At points in my life, Jesus Christ was the farthest thing from my mind.  He was a catholic “staple” during church, holidays & religious education; but that was it.

Psalm 19:7

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Most grew up with some spiritual teaching.  Regardless of denomination, we heard there is a God and he is important to know.  Maybe you would go to a religious education class or Sunday school and whatever your week endured, you were required to give 1 hour, 1 day a week to God.  But most just considered him as important as the Tooth Fairy or even Santa Clause.  A childhood literal fantasy that at certain times throughout the year would show up in church or conversation.  If we lost a tooth, we counted on the Tooth Fairy to fill our piggy banks.  Of course Santa Clause speaks for himself as the rockstar of Christmas past.

I was raised to believe that Jesus Christ was to be honored at Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals.  And if you did “very well” in honoring him during those events, you were “good to go” for the next time.  He was not an investment, he was a necessary character within your family and upbringing.  Yet when life would throw me major curveballs, the Tooth Fairy or Santa became irrelevant!  Their immortality became apparent.  Even friends and family could take the edge off, but were small in comparison to being miracle workers.  Yet the magic of the holy spirit, (the gift that Jesus left us) nudged me at times of deep despair and when I had nowhere else to to turn, he entered into my conscience and I would turn to God!  Not fully, but with much curiosity and a childlike need for her Father.  You gotta love God’s plan because he works in mysterious ways.

I simply found this fascinating that people lived this way.  That their last ditch effort was to contact the one truth that is capable of magnificent possibilities within their lives.  That their only way to sanctity and peace was to ask for prayers or start seeking God when the going got rough.

“The greatest faith is born in the hour of despair. When we can see no hope and no way out, then faith rises and brings the victory.” – Lee Robertson

Yet I was able to see past this at a time in my life that not only did I have nowhere else to turn, I had unanswered questions regarding my purpose in life and a curiosity as to why people would turn to faith & spirituality only when they felt at their lowest of lows.  I thought this to be self-centered and I too was guilty.  Doesn’t God deserve better than this?  Or was there a bigger message I was missing?  Possibly God was ok with this selfish need for him?  I soon figured out he simply wanted a relationship with me and is a patient, patient God.

The ability to trust in God during the hard times and praising him through the good actually brings benefits, yes.  But that seemed like a lot of work.  Not that I’m lazy, I just didn’t feel capable or worthy.  Society says to turn to God and scripture during pain, suffering, depression, anxiety or fear.  You can even send a few prayer request through social media or family, or even surf the net for some hopeful inspiration.  If you are miraculously healed, God will just wait around until the next crisis.  After all, isn’t that what he is here for?  Not exactly.  When we are in periods of happy times we tend to get too busy to stop and say “thank you Lord”.  We are wired for this but we are a selfish generation with so many entitlements that we believe we are entitled to blissful happy lives; pain-free existences.  Not according to the bible.  Some of the most influential people in biblical history lived the most challenging lives.  Lives filled with heartache, despair, imprisonment, death, you name it.  Yet, they did have one common denominator.  Trust.  Trust that through any difficult circumstance, God had their back.  Pain was a secondary thought because their loyalty brought Gods loyalty with an added benefit; strength.  And with that came wisdom and an inner peace.  A peace that only God provides.  They too held onto gratitude during that peace, praising God through their storms.

What’s the benefit of keeping God in your good graces when it’s all good in your life?  Well, first of all, he keeps you humble.  You tend to have more empathy towards people and situations.  You might start considering people more and trusting more.  You actually consider forgiveness as a way for you to heal, not something you bestow upon others.  You become more intrigued with Jesus and Gods word and you start to want to express this through love and devotion.  You find church to be a place to worship and seek fellowship, not a tasking event to check off your weekly “to do” list.  And so on and so forth.

The best part of all, during ordinary days, hours and moments, you get this feeling of great pleasure and happiness.  Do you want to know what that is?  It’s JOY.  I believe Joy is a feeling, a gift if you will, from God that only people who truly love Jesus can actually feel.  I know first hand that I never felt joy until I found Christ.  I thought I was living a pretty good life filled with some happiness and pleasure, yet it was empty without Jesus.  That I know to be true.

John 15:11

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

My goal for this blog is to simply enlighten.  I don’t ever want to come off claiming I have all the answers and my life is now perfect since I became a believer!  Oh sweet sisters and brothers, it’s far from that.  I still deal with the same junk, sin and human emotions we were made to experience.  The only difference is I give it up to God and he gives me that peace I yearn for.  Peace he promises his children who trust in him and follow Jesus.  For that I am forever grateful.  And the good news is God wants to meet us where we are and totally understands why some of us take longer than others to see him more clearly.  Sometimes we just get lost in translation.

Love and Grace.