Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons I've Learned from the Bjorklund Family

So, my Mom and I have been devouring a series of books by Lauraine Snelling. They're all about a Norwegian family that immigrates to North Dakota and settles there in the late 1800's. This family (the Bjorklunds) are addicting. I'm very sad to be coming to the end of the books. The latest one was released in March of this year, so I'm crossing my fingers that she's not done writing about them though.

It's funny how we even came to know about these books. It was from one of Dad's nurses in the hospital. The fact that Dad is Norwegian brought up the topic one day while she was in his room drawing some blood. I went to the library and got the first one that night I think. Almost three months later, I feel like I'm part of the Bjorklund family.

My Mom says that reading these books is kind of like doing a Bible study, and she's kind of right. The author, a Christian, has created the Bjorklunds to be a very devout Christian family who quotes scripture and prays continually. Through all their blessings and hardships, they bring everything to God. Well, I have to admit it, I've learned a thing or two from the Bjorklunds. Or at least I've been doing a better job of waiting on the Lord lately because of the example I see by that family.

Waiting is hard. It's much easier to quickly pray about something and move forward on what you think God is saying (or would say). That's probably what I used to do. Rather than truly praying and waiting and praying some more...I would just pray some and leap into action. Now, admittedly, some things don't need to be waited on. Some things either require quick action or just aren't the kind of matters that require some big answer from God. But lately in our home, we seem to have a number of things where the right answer just isn't obvious. That's when we know it's time to wait on the Lord.

As I've been putting this into action, I've been so comforted by God. I mean, He doesn't just make us sit here in a completely anxious state as we wait on His answer. He gives us peace. He gives us little answers that guide us, ever so slightly, down the path He's trying to lead us to. I may not fully know where He's leading us quite yet, but I can look in the rear view mirror and see where we've been and where's He's already brought us. I know He's faithful and will continue to guide and direct us even more. Fact is, He's going to be guiding and directing us every step this side of heaven. This thing that today seems huge and is heavy on our minds, will someday be replaced by something new. That's just life. And, thankfully, that's just God.

So this week, if you have something weighing heavy on your mind, I encourage you to start the week out by bringing it all to God. Then wait. Trust Him for His complete guidance and perfect answer. Listen to the quiet leading He will give. Oh, and be prepared to have your socks blown off. Because our God isn't big on "comfort." He's big on change. I'm actually rather excited about that one! Per my last post, I'm looking forward to lots of positive changes before my 40th birthday. So let's get this Monday started, shall we?!

Here we go...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Giving Myself the Best Birthday Present Ever!

OK, I'll admit it. I am not all that happy about turning another year older tomorrow. The good news is, I still have an entire year before the big 4-0. The bad news is (and I do this every year) I feel like in many ways I haven't made much progress in my life this last year. Do you do that? Both at my birthday and on January 1st, I always get really sappy and start thinking about the year that has passed. Whether it's another year of my life, or another year on the calendar...I'm prone to let the aging effect get me down really easily. I guess even when my kids get older, it's kind of a bittersweet time. I hate how fast they're growing up! Aging and changing...that's just part of the cycle of life. Doesn't mean I have to like it though.

I took the kids to see Shrek 3 yesterday morning. The overall moral of the story is to appreciate where you're at and what you have. What a great reminder for me this week! Be thankful for today. Count all my blessings. What's that saying? "Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, but today's the day." (or some variation thereof)

Why is it so easy for me to beat myself up over the failures and disappointments of the past? I mean, even if it just happened last night or last hour...it's the past! If God can forgive and not hold these things over my head, what gives me the right to do that to myself?! So silly. Oh how the enemy has me in bondage in this area. He can mess with my mind and help me condemn myself  like it's his full-time job. Oh yeah...I guess it kind of is.

I'm reminded right now of when I did the study by Caroline Leaf called Who Switched Off My Brain?. She talked about how when these negative thoughts come into our minds, we have a choice. We can choose to accept them as true and let them grow roots in our mind, or we can call them out for the lies of the enemy that they are and banish them from our thought life. We have a choice! It's not that the condemning thoughts won't ever come into my mind. But I have a choice of whether to let them set up house there. Isn't that refreshing?! I have to remind myself of this on a regular basis, because I struggle with this so much.

So here's my birthday present to myself this year: a fresh start.

Grace. Forgiveness. Freedom. Peace. That's what a fresh start for this 39th year of my life means to me. Learning to live in the fullness of God's abundance! Accepting everything He offers. Not losing out on the benefit of breaking free from these chains. Oh how I can feel the peace and excitement growing in me already! Will you do me a favor though? When you think of me and this specific area...will you say a brief prayer? I know that this gift is going to take a lot of work and a lot of prayer and a lot of daily reminders to myself. If you're a prayer warrior, I covet your prayers for me on this. Thank you in advance for going to the Father on my behalf.

I am just so happy that my birthday falls on a Saturday this year. And the weather looks to be a pretty nice fall day. Maybe I'll see you at Robinette's or Art Prize or somewhere else around town. But in the morning you'll find me in my PJ's enjoying a nice lazy morning with my 4 favorite people. Oh it sounds heavenly! I am so blessed. And, may I say, I'm SO excited for what this next year of my life has in store. May it be more full of laughter and blessings, than tears and sorrow. I pray that is true for each of you as well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Change...It's One Bumpy Ride!

I feel like I'm inside an hour glass filled with sand, and someone just turned my world upside down. I can't stand up because my footing is slipping away...faster each moment. Life in our home is full of a lot of changes right now. Some are changes that have come upon family members and are just the inevitable sign of age, while others are changes that we as a family have begun to make because of the leading of God. But none of these changes are all that fun. All of them can fill me with fear and trepidation if I allow myself to get caught up into them and forget where my assurance lies. I'm having one of those moments right now.

The seemingly downward spiral of my Dad's health is filling me with such fear and even bitterness, I just don't know how to process it some days. Because my parents are the age of most of my friends' grandparents, I've always struggled with knowing I was going to walk this path earlier than most of my friends. And earlier than my brother. My brother and I grew up in practically two different generations. And no matter how long my parents live, I know that my brother will have gotten them 16 years longer than me. That has always bothered me (even though I know I can't change it), and with the current struggles of my Dad it's bothering me more than ever. I am extremely close to my parents, and the mere thought of losing them makes the floodgates open. Throw into that some actual health issues that are getting more and more a struggle for my Dad, and I turn into an emotional train wreck.

I think what is bothering me the most right now is the not knowing what we can do to help. His pulmonologist yesterday was a real jerk. The voice of doom and gloom. Doctors really shouldn't be pessimists, ya know?! Tomorrow he has another appointment with another doctor. I pray that doctor doesn't repeat the pessimism of yesterday. I pray for hope. God is the giver of hope. I pray for optimism. With God ALL things are possible. I pray for healing. God is our Jehovah Rapha.

My Dad turns 80 in a couple weeks, so I'm rounding up some older pictures to make a collage for him. They brought me back, that's for sure. I tell you what. Never mind that I'm going to be 39 in 3 days. I want my Daddy! I'm not ready to walk this path. I want my kids to have their Grandpa around for many more years. To be able to know him as well as my nephews do. I want him to kick this current problem in the butt and be around to see his 90th birthday! I want life to be normal again. Not this new normal. The old normal. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

The other changes going on in my family seem minute compared to this, but they're still fairly stressful. Change is often not fun. But I'm trying to remember that despite all these upheavals...God hasn't changed one bit. He IS my Rock and my Fortress. He has all these issues fully under control. I just need to cling to Him and let Him lead me to the next safe harbor. I know He will. That's how He rolls.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

FEAR Not!

I just love it when you see God moving (even when you can't tell just what He's up to quite yet). The last two days I've been one of 20 lucky ladies who got to be part of Lysa TerKeurst's studio audience. She was filming the DVD sessions for her brand new Bible study (coming out in December), called "Made to Crave." It was evident to me from the moment I found out I was going to be part of this that God was up to something. He ordained each of us to be there...and we each had our own personal reason of why.

My reason seemed obvious: my lifelong struggle with weight. The funny part though, is that when I offered to be part of this, I had NO idea what the Bible study was even going to be. I just knew I loved Lysa. Well, God has spoken to me in so many ways during the last two days, that I am still processing all of it.

Here's what really struck me on the way home: I was able to be refreshed. I mean, if you know me and have kept up with the happenings in my parents' lives this summer...you know I haven't had much of a "refreshing" summer. It's been a pretty emotionally exhausting one, to put it nicely. But over the last two days, I was able to have some "me" time. Time to be quiet and listen to God. Time to make connections with an incredible group of women. Time to be blessed by Lysa's teaching. Time to be without my children. (You knew I was going to include that somewhere.) Time. For. Me. Yeah! It felt great.

So as I'm going the short distance from the church to home, I was reflecting on all the snippets of conversations I'd had since yesterday. Some of these conversations were external and happened with the precious group of ladies I got to share this experience with (including things Lysa shared with us). Many of the conversations happened internally between me and God. Here are some of the things flying through my mind:
  • having the COURAGE to allow God to do an amazing work in my life in terms of my relationship with food
  • having the COURAGE to sign up for and attend the Proverbs 31 Ministries "She Speaks" Conference next summer
  • having the COURAGE to step out in faith in the direction I feel God leading me and not be held back by: insecurity, financial worry, moving away from my comfort zone
  • having the COURAGE to truly give all my gifts back to God and allow Him to do an amazing work through me
Are you seeing the pattern? Yes, I know. I made it pretty obvious. God hit me right between the eyes this afternoon with one simple fact: Fear is holding me back. In pretty much every aspect of my life. Fear! False Evidence Appearing Real. The opposite of faith. A giant roadblock sent straight from the enemy. Fear.

Well, guess what?! Not anymore it's not! I am ready to push off from the comfort zone of the dock, and set sail into some new areas with my Jesus. Oh friends. It's going to be scary! But it's going to be the most fun adventure.

Stay tuned as I pray and process my way through this. I just know God is up to something good! He always is.