Thursday, August 22, 2013

How do you Trust God?

This question has been boggling my mind for some time now.

Since my 30 day challenge, God has really been working in my heart and teaching me what it means to trust him. Everything I have read always says to 'just trust him,' and of course I want to! But the question I continue to have is, how? How do you actually do that? How do you trust God? Because just saying the words and attempting to will my heart to 'feel' that way, doesn't seem to work!

I am currently reading "Trusting God" by Sharon Jaynes, Gwen Smith, and Mary Southerland. Between this book, prayer, and God's word, I believe I'm starting to actually 'get' how to go about trusting him.

You know when you are going through a tough time, you almost get tunnel vision? It's as if all you can think about is what you are going through, the what-ifs, the worries, anxieties, heartbreak. It almost seems impossible to think about much else because you are so consumed by these trials in your life.

For me, my current 'trial' has been with my son. He has so many food allergies and intolerances that mean hidden (occult) blood in his stools and a rein on my diet while I continue nursing him. It has been tough! There are days I am so discouraged, wondering why God won't heal my baby, wondering why we are going through this, praying for healing, wisdom, and strength. I seem to do well (lately) with trusting God with the little things. But the big things? Like the healing of my son? That is an area I have trouble with.

So how do you actually trust God? 

Here is what I have learned:

1. Think on God's goodness - REMEMBER ways he has moved and been faithful in the past - this is why it's so important to write these things down!
2. Reading and meditating on scripture
3. Prayer - I recommend journaling some of your prayers
4. Worship music - fill yourself up with words and praise music that point to him

Basically in a nutshell:

FOCUS ON HIM. 

Lift your eyes from your situation, and put your focus on Jesus by doing some of those things listed above.

God is so much bigger than your situation and your circumstances. He is a big, powerful, God. And he can change things in an instant if it's in his will to do so. But sometimes, he allows us to go through things for a reason. We may not always know or understand what that reason could possibly be, but he always has a reason and he knows what's best for us.

It's like when you have children. In the book Trusting God, there is a chapter I read today that talked about a little boy who had a terrible case of the flu. He was crying out to his mother, pleading through tears, for her to save him, to not let the doctors hurt him, as they strapped him down to inject him with IV's. The mother was crying, her son was crying, and she tried to tell him that they weren't hurting him, that they were helping him to get better.

God feels our pain with us. When we hurt, he hurts. But he knows what's best, just like the mother knew that the doctors were helping her son and those fluids were what was best for him at that time. The journey to get well was littered with pain, but in the end it all came together. We can't always see the whole picture, like the boy who couldn't understand why he was going through what he was. But God can. He sees the end result. He is good. He is faithful.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

I have to make the decision to trust God with my son's health. I'm an organizer, teacher by nature, and so I prefer 'steps' to get to my acquired goal. By doing those 4 steps, I have seen my trust in God grow over this past month. I am learning to trust him in more areas of my life, and he is working on me with this bigger issue - the healing of my son. Even if he chooses not to heal him, God is still good and I will trust him no matter the path he decides to take us on.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." ~Isaiah 55:8-9

What areas in your life are you having difficulty trusting God? What can you do today that will help you to make that decision?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

30 Day Challenge

Discipline.

I hate that word.

Discipline, to me, means being punished for doing something wrong. Sometimes it means forcing myself to do something on a regular basis that I don't like, such as working out or avoiding chocolate (silly, I know!). To put it frank, it makes me cringe. I hate the word discipline.

But it's necessary in our walk with God.

Except this discipline reaps sweet rewards. It has grown my relationship with Christ, taught me how to trust, allowed God to work in my life, blessed me, gave me words of knowledge, excited me to do it over, and over, and over again. Want to know what I did different?

I spent time daily with the Lord, for 30 days.

I took the 30 day challenge.

And it was hard at first. I had a million and one other things I needed (and let's be honest, preferred) to do. I have a 7 month old child that demands constant attention. A husband that comes home demanding constant attention (not much changes as they get older, does it?). Dishes, laundry, cleaning, nurturing, teaching, growing, comforting, singing, listening, managing, organizing, cooking....things that only a mother and wife can truly appreciate. And me, when is there time for just 'me' time? Time for me to just 'check-out' for a little while?

To say it was tough is an understatement. It took effort to put my focus on Jesus during our quiet time, instead of all those other things that called my name. Most every day for 30 days (I did miss a day here and there, I am human afterall!), I devoted my son's morning nap to my quiet time with God. I read one chapter in the bible, one chapter in my devotional book, and I journaled out my prayer and anything that stuck out to me during my reading. I did this over the span of 30 days and I watched how God worked.

For the first 15 days, I was getting into the swing of things. I journaled, poured my heart out to God, my fears, anxieties, my loves, my gratitude, my pleas. Nothing monumental happened other than it began to become a habit of mine to meet him in this spot each day. Then, things changed.

God moments.

That's what I like to call them. God moments, or little blessings, answered prayers, times that I know without a doubt that it's God moving and not me. When things are clearly the Lord's work and the glory could only be his.

Nine to be exact.

In 30 days, NINE amazing God moments. And each time one happened, it was like an amazing high and joy. It was like the pieces of the puzzle that were initially scattered, were somehow put together and it would all make sense.

So I want to share some of these moments. Some are private and not meant to be put in detail here, but others I want to shout from the rooftops!

1. Be Still and Rest. One day when I was doing my devotions and telling God about how I knew I needed to sleep train my son, but I didn't want to do the Cry It Out method (I was exhausted, to say the least), and I was praying about my son's food allergy and intolerance problems - I felt the Lord was telling me to be still, to stop doing what I was doing, and to rest in him. To stop sleep training (I had done this for his nap before my quiet time that day), and to stop trying to figure it all out with his allergies. At first, I thought that was crazy - why would I stop sleep training? I thought I had to partner with God with everything, why would he ask me to be still? I was tired and needed rest, as in sleep! But I stepped out in faith, hoping with everything in me that I really did hear God and it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me. Several days later, it all made sense when my son woke up with little tooth bubbles indicating he was getting ready to cut teeth. The Lord knew that he would need the extra comfort in the night, that I shouldn't ignore his cries or refuse holding him, but to continue giving him the comfort he needed. And miraculously, that weekend that I stepped out in faith, he ironically gave me 2 good nights with longer stretches of sleep (can I get an Amen?!). The Lord knew what my son needed before he even needed it. God is so good.

2. We need a hobby. I prayed that my husband and I would find a hobby that we liked doing together, instead of just watching TV or taking a nap. God blessed us with allowing us to re-do a piece of furniture, actually 2 pieces, and we had fun doing it! My husband used his many woodworking talents, and I used my creative ideas and refinished the pieces. I'm excited to see how this new hobby plays out and hope that it turns into something more over time.

3. I lost my wallet. It flew off the back of my trunk (thanks to a screaming child distracting me!), and my mom and I prayed that it would be returned. I did not have fear or anxiety, even though I had over $100 in gift cards, a little cash, my debit card, license, and a spare key to my car...written on the key what it was. I trusted God, no matter what happened, but prayed it would somehow be returned. On the day that I was planning on cancelling my card and begin the process of ordering new things, I was walking up to the mailbox and prayed that by some miracle the wallet would be in there. Well when I opened the box, there was a package, with my wallet in it! There was a very sweet note from a woman that had lost her purse before and knew what it felt like, and so she paid the postage to return my wallet to me. Everything was returned intact - praise God!

4. God gave me a word of wisdom concerning someone else's dream that it actually gave me chills when I said it aloud because both myself and the person who had the dream knew it was completely God.

5. God gave me a word of wisdom about someone else in my own dream.

6. For two days I journaled and prayed to find this christian trilogy set of books on the cheap for my sister (Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers - check it out if you haven't read it!). To buy all 3 books used on Amazon cost about $16, which I knew I couldn't spend on books at the time. So I prayed about it. On the 3rd day someone tagged me in a post on an online yardsale site on FB about one of her books, the 3rd book in the trilogy! When I told her what an answer to prayer that was, she told me that when she found it that day that she felt that she needed to offer it to me! Then, a few days later I was in goodwill and there was the 2nd book in the trilogy! The probability of that happening, with all the books in the world, is so so so slim - it's was totally a God moment. I'm still waiting on the first book in the trilogy, but I know God will come through and provide that also - he's done the other two already!

7. A friend of mine got pregnant. After months of prayer, she conceived this little life. The details surrounding it are nothing short of amazing, but, for the sake of privacy, I cannot get into those details. Let's just say it was so perfectly timed and planned, the Lord knew the absolute perfect timing for this to come about.

8. There were a few surrounding my husband and his work, but more private. But those were also awesome blessings.

So what did I learn?

Discipline.

I learned to discipline myself in spending time with the Lord daily. I reaped so many rewards and I look forward to my time with Him now, where before I would dread it, or worse, be worried that I would be bored to death when reading the bible. But he has lit a fire in me again, and he has blessed my time with him. I have learned that I need to write things down, that I need to remember. I need to remember ways he has been faithful, when he's provided, when he's blessed me. I need to remember it and allow those times to strengthen my faith and trust in him. I am learning to trust him more and more. It's a struggle sometimes, but it is always worth it.

Discipline isn't such a horrible word anymore. Like any discipline, it's not always easy at first, but it's always worth it in the end. When you work out, you have muscles and health to show for it. When you eat right, your body shows it with clearer skin, healthier hair, a better immune system to fight sickness. When you discipline yourself to spend time with God daily, your spiritual life grows, your relationship with God grows, you see his blessings, you are able to trust him...and with all of that comes more joy, and so much more peace in a world harried with unrest.

A little discipline in making God a priority really goes a long way.

What about you? Are you disciplined in making God a priority every day in your life? If not, I challenge you. Take the 30 day challenge of spending time with God in his word, praying and journaling. I can assure you, he won't let you down.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." ~Matthew 7:7-8