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Friday, August 31, 2012

Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

I've battled internally on who and when to share what I'm about to tell you...I convinced myself I was not holding it in because of pride, if that was the case there would be no one who knew before I wrote this. I had to pray. A lot. I had to self reflect on the real reasons for sharing or not sharing and I had to find a way to glorify God no matter where I landed...and believe me, God's glory shines through in the most unlikely of places.

My husband, children and I are moving. Not big news, right? We're moving because the bank is getting ready to foreclose on our house. Yea, that's an attention grabber, huh?

I am imagining at least a hundred different reactions to that but here are the possible ones that stick out to me: 
     "How awful!" 
     "I'm sorry."
     "How can we help?"
     "How can this glorify God?"

The truth is that many people who read this have likely watched the news, seen the talks of foreclosures, unemployment and overall increasing poverty levels. They have said to themselves, "how awful" or maybe even "I'm so thankful that will never happen to me." For most people there is a disconnect, in this digital age where more and more is done on automation, via the internet or in otherwise impersonal manners, it is easy to loose sight of those 'poor people' on the television who lost their home, job, everything. 

I'm not sharing my news to be another one of those people, the ones you look upon with pity, compassion or remorse. I want to show you God's hand in my life and in my humble words attempt to shine a bit of His glory on your day. But Niki! No! No but's here, God's glory is alive and well...let me try to explain.

Someone close to me told me this morning, "I think to you, He (God) has given a great gift of spiritual blessings and those blessings are a sign of God’s grace to you to bear fruit for God and be a blessing to others." This person has been a blessing to me in many ways for most of my adult life but the most important way is that they have been a spiritual rock in my life. When I am struggling to see that I need to ultimately model my life to be a reflection of God's love to others, this amazing influence in my life has been an earthly mirror of God's image. I know they are reading this right now and I pray they realize how much of a blessing they have been not only to me, and to my family, but to countless lives they have touched and will continue to touch as long as they are here. 

So I read that and I asked myself, "How can I bear fruit for God? How can I be a blessing to others?" From my kitchen in North Carolina, hundreds of miles away from all but a handful of friends and nearly all of my family how do I go about spreading blessings and love? I guess it's obvious the answer I came upon? It always hits in the weirdest of times too, like when I am driving to the store to pick up free boxes. And me without my notebook! 

I am humbled and honored that God has blessed me with an ability to write. I want you to know that any good you see in it, my writing, or in me, that is not me but my Savior shining through me. I hope He continues to use me to share His love with you. It is a blessing to think that it's possible even one person would be touched, uplifted or inspired by my words. But it is not my glory, it is God's.

So far you are probably thinking that I make this sound good, what an amazing strong woman I must be to walk so closely with God. Wrong! I'm sorry but I have been a mess. I have screamed out "Why me's" and I have wallowed in self pity. I have cried at the gas pump while I put $5 into my tank, hoping it will take me to the grocery store to use my last $5 to buy milk and eggs for my kids. I have cried at the drop of a pin, countless minutes, hours, tears. This has not been a flowery, beautiful faith walk. Yet, God tells us through St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, "My power is made perfect in your weakness." Glory to God. My weakness shows His power, because my weakness has not overcome me, I am still here. Albeit I may be on my knees, going back and forth between prayers and tantrums, but I am a survivor. 

My amazing, inspiring person who prompted me to share my blessings also reminded me of Job this morning. I want to share with you the verse that was shared with me, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity? In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10 There are so many metaphors that come to mind that I would probably butcher if I tried to use so let me try to bring this back around without them...God's glory shines through the good and bad times in our lives when we allow Him to work in us and through us. 

God's glory is seen through our trials in so many ways; the lessons learned, the strength gained, the examples set, the love shared. I am just beginning to pack my house and already I have learned so many lessons, about myself, about my life and about my Lord. Each day I walk with God through the rubble, He strengthens me for another round on this roller coaster called life. The most amazing blessing, beyond God's love and His glory although completely intertwined within it and extending from it is the blessing of my friends and family. I have received moral support in spades and I cannot possibly ever explain how even just crying with me, answering my messages or sharing a bit of news that can help take my mind off things has helped me to pick up and carry on. Thank you. Thank you all for reading this, please feel free to share it if you feel it may help someone else. Please pray for all those who need to feel God's love and glory in their lives. Please know that you are in my prayers that God may grant you His favor, His protection and His many blessings. 

I hope you take away from this the important lesson that God' glory is all around us. He is with us even in the valleys of our lives and He will never leave our side. His glory is also in forgiveness, the gracious blessing that is our key, along with faith, into heaven's gates when our Father calls us home. 

May you find God's glory today and every day.

All my love,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

There's Always Good To Be Found

How does that saying because you never know what kind of battle the person you're smiling at is going through? Well, something like that, right?

How many times a day do we let the little things get under our skin? There's a great song by Francesca Battistelli where she talks about how the little stuff makes us forget how blessed we are. I'm not gonna go all Biblical on you but I will say this - God is good and how often do we take Him for granted?

Sure, we may struggle to pay our bills, we may have a loved one who doesn't see eye to eye with us, we may be struggling with a disease but are we alone? No. Are there others who are worse off than we are? Always. So why does it drag us down and pull us through the dirt? Simply put: because we let it.

I apologize if you're a long time reader of mine, this may sound a little redundant, but this needs to be said again and is our choice! Our attitude determines our mood. We can approach things by looking for the silver lining, the positive side, which is always there somewhere...or we can wallow in the pain and let it suffocate our lives.

It doesn't matter if we're talking off the Richter Scale pain here y'all, there is always a way to re-channel that energy into something positive. I'm gonna drop one more Biblical reference, God promised us in His word that He would work all things to good for those who love Him...if that's not hope to cling to I don't know what is. So cling to the good, search for the positive, push past the pain and see the blessings in your life.