Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Closet Chaos (Not What You Think)

Things are happening. My nerves are on overload. My mind is spinning a thousand miles an hour. My heart is overflowing. I'm sitting at the computer searching for some calm to my chaos.

Anyone looking at me right now would not characterize my current state as "chaotic." But inside my heart & mind...chaos is in overdrive.

For the most part, all of the things sending my nerves and brain cells into overdrive are good things. So, don't be alarmed that there's something wrong. There's really not. I mean, there's always some struggles in the midst of life. But I don't think it's those things that are causing these feelings.

I think my chaos has ensued this time just because of change. Unknowns. Variables. And I'm not talking the kinds of unknown variables that can be solved with a math problem. You know, the kind with one right answer. That's the only type of unknown variables I am a fan of. Math problems have ONE right answer. If you know how to solve the particular problem, then you should get it right. It's all very cut and dried. I like that. Life's variables are, well...confusing. Full of lots of grey.

I'm not here saying that I'm frustrated because life is full of unknowns. That's obvious. It's expected. I'm just walking through a moment where it seems like there are more unknowns than certainties. Multiple areas of my life are being stretched. Challenged. Changed. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. But do you know me? Have you figured out yet that I'm a really big fan of my "comfort zone"? Uh yep. BIG fan of that. But God isn't such a fan.

That love for my comfort zone has certainly kept me stuck in many a rut over the course of my 39 years.  Now again, I'm not trying to say that this has proven to be a good thing in my life. Actually, I think over the course of the last several months I've been asking God to help me achieve success in some specific areas. Well, guess what...He's answering my prayers. He's shaking my world. Breaking down the walls of my comfort zone. Bringing me into some uncharted territory.

My comfort zone is being shaken by its very core. From every angle. My heart is being broken for the hurting. My "plans" are being tipped upside down and changed at the last minute. God is doing a big work in me! I know I was put on this earth to be used by Him to help others. Exactly how and when and where is still being figured out. But He's definitely up to something good. I hope all along the path to wherever He's taking me, I keep my eye on the goal and don't lose sight of my everyday opportunities.

Philippians 1:6 ~ ...that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14 ~  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

As I sort through all the different things going on right now, I'm trying to pray like I've never prayed before. In fact, God is definitely teaching me a lot about prayer lately. That might have to be a future post. I'm praying. Searching His Word. Trying to be a good listener. And praying some more. Little by little, He's sending some answers and giving me peace on specific things.

So as the kids and I are drawing to a close of our 2nd year of homeschooling, God is giving me direction for what He wants me busy with this summer. I covet your prayers as I continue to work through all of this and wait to hear His direction. Oh, and if you have a specific prayer request that you'd like me to pray about, please e-mail it to me at maranka@sbcglobal.net. I know that there are many hurting people out there. People who, like me, might not look like anything is going on by looking at them. But deep inside, they are hurting. Or searching. Or just stuck in a rut. If that's you, I would be honored to pray for you.

Wishing you all a wonderful last week of May! Blessings friends...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Discerning God's Voice

Are you good at discerning God's voice? I think I'm getting better at it. Or at least, that's the way it feels. That's pretty much all you can ever really have is a "feeling" of discernment anyway. Right? I mean, no one ever hears the audible voice of God anymore. So how do you know when what you "feel" is Him? When is it really a nudge from the Holy Spirit (and not just you "feeling" good about the decision)?

I think the way you tell it's God, is when you feel a sense of spiritual peace. Oh but...be careful. The world tries to offer you peace sometimes too, so you have to make sure that's not the type of peace you're feeling.  It takes discernment to know the difference between spiritual peace and worldly peace. There's that word again (discernment). Oh boy. How do we do all of this discerning anyway?!

Here's how I think you do it. Bring this thing before God in prayer. The thing being whatever it is that you need God's direction on. You bring it before Him in prayer, and then you wait. That's the key: the waiting. You don't rush into anything. You give it all to Him in prayer and then you watch to see what happens next. And while you're waiting on His answer, you keep praying. And you stay observant. Why would you do that? Because God will sometimes use other people or our circumstances to speak to us. It's amazing how often you can pray about something and then begin to see little answers from God start popping up all over the place.

The one thing I know for sure you don't do when wanting God's discernment is to make impromptu decisions. Which is part of our problem. We have to make a decision on something within the next few days. That feels really rushed to me! But I can't tell if God is just asking me to make a leap of faith, or if this is really me trying to be hasty about a decision that isn't supposed to be made that way.

Right now Dave and I are smack dab in the middle of deciding what homeschool curriculum we're going to use next year. I thought I had it all figured out. I wanted to go to the homeschool convention this weekend to see this particular curriculum in person. I had researched it online (it's called Tapestry of Grace) and I really thought this was the one. I mean, I have been incredibly excited about this! But then, God turned my world upside down. He brought this whole other curriculum to the forefront (it's called Classical Conversations). It's a curriculum that, prior to Thursday night, I was COMPLETELY not interested in. I mean, it's SO different from the direction I thought we were heading with our schooling. It just has me thrown for a loop and completely freaking out!

You should have seen me at the homeschool conference. I kept walking back and forth between the booths of these two programs. I still really love Tapestry of Grace, but also still really feel God pulling me towards Classical Conversations. This is where you want to hear the audible voice of God! But since we can't, I'm doing everything I know to do to discern God's direction.

So over the last 48 hours, Dave and I have been doing a lot of praying about this. We've asked a ton of questions from the CC people, and received a ton of answers. I was starting to feel like we had this figured out, but the more I think about it...the less sure I feel! I mean....AAHHHH! We have to make a decision on this ASAP! I hate that kind of pressure!!

And so I go back to my original question: are you good at discerning God's voice? Well, if you are, would you share with me your pointers? How DO you know when it's God leading you a certain way? I mean, both curriculum options are Biblically-based. Neither of them is bad. Just one of them is more right for our family right now. You know? Yet, it feels like a really big deal to be having to make this decision so quickly. Does my uneasiness mean that CC isn't the right choice? Or am I just feeling that way because I don't like being surprised and this feels way too much out of my planner's comfort zone?

Whew. If you think of it in the next couple of days, would you pray for us as we try to make this BIG decision? I'm praying that we'll be full of such peace on the whole idea that we can't help but know we're following where God is leading. I'd covet your prayers for the same thing.

Blessings friends!

PS: Dave and I finished the 10K last weekend with a smile on our face and holding each other's hands. He had to slow down for me (bless his heart...I messed up his previous two times), but we still finished in under 90 minutes (my first goal was 60 minutes, but my outside training runs quickly showed me THAT wasn't going to happen!). The pride in myself I felt after crossing that finish line was like nothing I've felt in a long time. Once we get this homeschool curriculum decision made, I'll try to come back here and write more of my thoughts on the whole race-running thing. It's significance is HUGE!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Praying for TRUTH

Is having another "bite-my-tongue" moment. I've had a lot of them over the last several months. My human nature wants to scream some truths from the rooftops so that others are aware. But God keeps telling me it's not my issue. I need to step aside and let Him handle it.

So what is the only thing I can do as I see lies continuing to be told & manipulations continuing to be tolerated? Pray. Pray that the person doing all these things gets convicted and repents. Pray that those under this person's leadership will have their eyes opened to the truth.

What makes me so angry is hypocrisy. I worry about those being led astray. I fear for the hurt that is still to be inflicted. Yet, God is clearly telling me to stay out of it. Let Him handle it in His way, His timing.

What's that saying, "The truth will set you free"? Well, I do think that's correct...but God is insistent that the TRUTH come from Him, not me.

So, I'll pray. And pray some more. And when my human nature flares up again like it is right now...I'll pray even harder.

Here's hoping my tongue makes it through relatively unscathed...