There are no words in the English language to fully describe or explain what has been going on in my life in recent weeks--months. God is doing SOMETHING in me, in my life, and in the lives of those around me. Freedom is the first word that comes to mind--as in, "My chains are GONE....I've been SET FREE!!!" I've sung that song for years now and felt the Holy Ghost move every time I sing it, but now when I sing it, I also experience the FREEDOM the song is all about! Wow.
My marriage is on its way to FULL restoration. My husband and I have reconnected (don't make me explain what that means). I actually LIKE seeing him and being in the same room with him again. I anxiously await his homecoming every day! I WANT to call him every day or hear from him! I can't wait to see him so I can share my day with him--my thoughts, my feelings, my hopes and dreams! It has been YEARS since I even wanted to be in the same room with him. I have hated my husband for a long time now. I blamed him for so much of what has happened to us. I am here to tell you that only God can take the negative emotions I've had towards my husband and turn them around. And God has done it!
Remember my deep, dark, horrible, scary cave? Remember the prophecy spoken over me a few short months ago?? See blog entry, "Word from the Holy Spirit." Guess what? Over the weekend, the Lord showed me that HE HAS ROLLED A GIANT STONE OVER THE ENTRANCE TO MY CAVE--AND HE HAS SEALED IT!!!! Can you see me doing the Dance of Joy outside my cave????
I received that prophecy and God has brought it to fruition! Just because it doesn't happen immediately does NOT mean that God has forgotten or that what He has promised won't be fulfilled. Remember that Joseph spent YEARS waiting for God to fulfill His Promise to make him (Joseph) a leader/ruler. And Abraham and Sarah waited something like 50 years for God to fulfill His promise to them [of a son of their union so they would have descendants to number the stars]. God has been working on healing me from the inside out for YEARS. And just because this particular promise has been fulfilled, that does not mean that He is finished with me.
My friends are telling me that God is moving in their lives, too! One tells me that she is happier than she has been in recent years and others have noticed to the point of commenting on how happy she has been lately. Another tells me that her spouse has found his own personal "prayer closet." Another tells me that she is able to put her family and home situation in God's hands in spite of the fact that she is in the midst of severe trials! And more and more stories of God's amazing work are coming in!
He is still working. I'm a little nervous about what He is doing but only because it is always nerve-wracking dealing with the unknown. I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I trust Him to finish His work in me. He's promised--His word says that "God, the within [me], will continue his until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6
I have been trying to figure out exactly what has helped bring about this 180 transformation in my life--what I have done to open the door so God could actually move and complete His work because, you know, it is important that we ourselves get out of His way. Otherwise, we as much as say we don't want what He has for us. Anyway, I have not come up with any one thing, but here is what I think has helped lead to my opening the window of my heart--and soul--to Him and what He is doing and wants to do in my life:
1. My study on JOY. I started my study on JOY in 2009 when I first bought a beautiful purple date book with JOY etched on the cover in wonderful calligraphy. Since then, I have read and studied everything I can get my hands one regarding JOY and the study isn't over yet. I keep a list of all the verses in the Bible on JOY and I refer to it quite often. As part of that, God gave me the verse, "You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else." (Psalm 45:7 & Hebrews 1:9) I received it and claimed it as my own. Many of my friends will tell you truthfully that God HAS anointed me and poured out His oil of JOY on me more than on anyone else!
2. I have also done several other Bible studies, mostly word studies: "Stand," "armor of God," "save/rescue/fight for," "strong," and "light." Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts has also had a huge impact as I have studied "gratitude" from the perspective of eucharisteo. I have even been keeping my own gratitude journal for over a year now and I continue to find amazing miracles in my life to be thankful for!
3. My Prayer Warriors. I don't think there will ever be a way to know for sure exactly who or how many people have been praying for me--and my family--over the years. I do know that they have been praying. Every so often, one of my Precious Prayer Warriors would send me a message just to let me know he/she was thinking of me and praying for me. (Guys, if God puts someone on your heart, listen and pray and then let that person know. OK?) Those words of comfort and encouragement have meant more to me than words can express.
4. A refusal to give up. I may have sat on a rock in my cave for a long time, scared, alone, and ready to give up, but after a while, I did get up and start moving--looking for the light--God's light. And Hallelujah, I found it! In spite of the fact that I am bruised, broken, battered, torn, and even beaten down, I'm STILL STANDING IN THE LIGHT OF GOD and HE HAS RESCUED ME--He fought for me--He held me up and carried me when I couldn't take another step--He has held my hand when I needed guidance. And here I am, out of my cave, free, and FULL of the JOY of the Lord! "The joy of the Lord is my strength!" (Nehemiah 8:10) Here's a wonderful version of the song!
5. Going back to church. Yes, I stayed out of church for about a year. Yes, my husband is the pastor and he continued to be the pastor even while I was not going. Yes, I had my son to think about, but he just started getting up and going with his dad. But one day, I just went. And I have been back ever since. I have found a renewed joy and purpose in being a part of my church as the Pastor's Wife. Of course our "flock" has welcomed me back into the fold with open and loving arms.
6. Daily Bible Reading. I got back into reading my Bible on a daily basis. I started a Bible plan to read the Bible in a year two years ago, but when we went to Disney in August of that year, I allowed myself to get behind and I never caught up. Then last year, I finished the year having read my Bible from cover to cover! And this year, I'm doing it again!
7. Music, worship. I claimed "It is Well" (this link is only one of the many amazing versions available) as my life-song and I listened to it, sang it, worshipped with it at every possible opportunity. I have even learned to play it on the piano. I even read the background story on the writing of the song and that was powerful and moving. If you don't know how Horatio Spafford came up with the lyrics to this wonderful song, I highly recommend that you read the story. I simply began worshipping the Lord with my sacrifice of praise. In spite of the fact that I didn't FEEL like worshipping, I worshipped anyway. I truly learned what it means to bring to Him a sacrifice of Praise and in Praising Him through my hurt and pain, He met me where I was!!! (Shari Easter's "Praise His Name.")
8. Counseling. This was vital. Huge. When we can't fight the fight or walk the walk on our own, it is VITALLY IMPORTANT to get professional help. My counseling team has been CRUCIAL to my healing process. I could not have moved forward without any of them over the past several years. Of course, my own personal counselor who I've been with for about 10 years now has been my ROCK. I praise God for using her in each and every session. I ALWAYS left each and every session uplifted and able to see just a little more light than previously.
9. Writing. Journaling. Going through Mari McCarthy's Peace of Mind and Body and other journaling journeys. Because of Mari's influence, I also began writing (journaling) again every single day. I have now written a rough draft of my memoir that I hope to finish this year--as you know if you have been reading this blog since its conception back in September 2014.
10. Simply--focusing on God. I quit focusing on what was bothering me--what was hurting me and causing me anxiety. I began to look to Him in all things. I had to go away for a time to regroup and reconnect with Him because it was all just TOO much. When I couldn't find anywhere on my own to go, I called Focus on the Family. The counselor there directed me to Fairhaven. I called and was told they were all booked up. Then just before we hung up, the receptionist called out, "Wait! I do have something!" I was honest and told her that I had no money to pay for my visit. She said, "Don't worry about that. Just come on." So I did. God met me there and began the work in me that He is doing now!! I even had the honor of participating in a video they did for a tv spot! Polly
And now I am just STANDING back and watching Him work! He removed someone who was a living, breathing enemy! He has restored my marriage--and he's still working on it!!! He has given me PEACE that passes ALL understanding! He has broken my CHAINS--I am FREE!!! I WANT to do things again--clean, go shopping, hang out with friends, go to social functions, LIVE!!! He has restored my LAUGHTER that comes from deep in my soul and pours forth with no effort!!!
There is an old song from a play my uncle, brother, sister, and I were in way back in the late 1980s, Down by the Creekbank by Dottie Rambo: "Is there Anything I Can Do For You?" It was MY song. I don't think I got to sing it, but I loved it. I at least sang it at home all the time and I have learned to play it on the piano--well, I used to be able to play it! Anyway, I bring it up because I offer these words to my Lord and Savior from the depths of my being....
"Is there anything I can BE for You? Is there anything I can DO for You? Is there anywhere I can Go for You? I'm willing to be used by You, Dear Lord. For all the things You've done for me, is there anything I can do/be/anywhere I can go?"