Sunday, May 27, 2012

When me and my theology collide: put on a happy face?

Not sure what has been going on in my head this week, but there's been lots to write about. Some people's therapy is making music, others work, or work out (that's how I used to deal with it) I write. It's been a particularly busy week with balancing two jobs. So even though I have been on the go, random things have just been going on inside, and I have found myself jotting stuff down on paper as it comes to me. This isn't normal...but some ideologies and questions have popped up, surfacing new needs for me to work through and process. It's been a fruitful week to say the least. I guess my whole plan to "take a break from thinking" will have to wait. Geez. Ha.
Rain has never bothered me...especially now. After returning from Egypt, I figured I would thoroughly enjoy the rain at first, but then over time, get sick of it, like everyone else.  I am still waiting for when that will occur.

Last week, I found myself in a conversation with someone where we were discussing how we both love the rain. I decided to branch out for a sec and take things to a deeper more personal level with her when I stated, "I especially prefer it these days, when things are just tough. Sunny days make me feel like I should be full of energy and smiling. That's not really me right now, nor has it been in quite a while. The rain makes me feel okay about being honest with where I am at. The sun makes me feel guilty." She agreed, saying it was exactly the case for her as well.  :) My absolute favorite thing has been all of our thunder storms lately...

This afternoon, I was able to spend some one on one time with  my eldest sister... Lindy, who just gave birth a week ago. We were chatting about life, and she asked me some pretty tough questions...I did my best to answer honestly, trying to hold it together. I could feel the tears starting, and did not feel like breaking down would accomplish anything in that moment, especially since I really was interested in what it was she had to say. It's strange how tears can show up at the most inopportune moments, so I have been learning.

My sister has a lot of wisdom, but isn't one to offer it on a regular basis. Having been through some hard things herself, and knowing me, her little sister well, I value what she had to say. She generally doesn't offer advice to me about my personal life, so when she does, my ears perk up...immediately. One piece of the conversation stuck out to me, because it reminded me of a lesson I began learning in Egypt, but had sorta swept under the rug. I guess you could say circumstantially, I wasn't being forced to face it as much.  She was talking to me about the value of honesty...honesty with ourselves in accepting our weaknesses, and fully recognizing our humanity. Not "putting on a happy face" to be blunt. 

Basically the gist had to do with how some people struggle with the reality of their own emotions, not wanting to accept them as part of being human, wanting to "pray them away, or trust them away" as if they are a sign of weakness...or an inability to truly surrender to God. "It's okay to be unsure and angry about it. Sometimes people just need to get angry!" she said.  "Amen," I whispered to myself.

Prior to my move to Egypt, I had never really thought about this concept much. I mean I had, and that pretty much consisted of me sliding it into a box...a box labeled "sin." GULP.

It wasn't until I was introduced to my own struggle with anger, which surfaced in Cairo, that I had to choose where I stood on this issue.  See, to me, anger had always been considered an annoying thing "others struggled with." "CHILL", was basically my response. I didn't have patience for people who were overly angry, or even overly emotional. I was pretty judgmental with those who couldn't "get their emotions/feelings under control".   Then I moved to Egypt where 98% of the people are intensely's just how the Middle East rolls. They are a passionate people.

Then one day, I caught myself red faced, with my heart pounding out of control, I was being just plain nasty. Yikes! I was livid, and everyone around me knew it.  Within my first six weeks living in a male dominated society, I finally lost it with an Egyptian man, experiencing emotions I never had had before.  I was mad...intense...and was just being mean. And it just got much worse. I began struggling with putting all male Egyptians pretty much into the same category, because of what I was dealing with daily on the streets of Cairo.  My heart grew hard, my compassion became stale, my words became irritable and short. I put up my guard, I couldn't help being angry. I realized I had crossed the line, and the result was not okay...that it was consuming me.

This lasted about my first 18 months living there. But part of the problem was that I didn't want to admit to myself that I was angry...and then, I wasn't willing to accept that natural part of how I was feeling. I think there was a line where my anger did become sinful, but it did not begin that way. Nor was that always the case. I bounced back and forth over that line regularly. I was humbled, even in moments of righteous anger, that my emotions were so quick to show themselves, that I couldn't "hold it all together"...that I lost my sweet demeanor. I finally had to admit that it was a struggle...and that it wasn't always wrong to feel the way I was feeling.

Working through that issue, plays into where I am today, in admitting my struggle with faith right now, and being okay with the fact that I am not grounded in being able to control how I feel. I have a lot of questions, varying emotions, and so many things I can't wrap my mind around. The reality is that I want to have faith, I want to trust 100% of the time, but that's not true of where I am. I am working through anger, disbelief, sadness, and trust..not just with God, but with trusting people.

Truly, I don't feel like I need to pretend that "I am confident things will be fine." Because even though I know God is faithful, my emotions don't always line up with my theology. Learning to pour out honesty, in the thick of trial is really hard, especially when people expect strength, and a smile. I don't know how to give either sometimes.
"God is sovereign, you'll get through it."  I want to throw up. Do I know it? I do. But truth sometimes best serves in silence, and prayer...not in the spoken word. 

  Choosing to accept my humanity was tougher than I thought it would be. Why am I so much quicker to accept the sinful side of who I am, over the emotional side? It's easy to sin....much more complicated to admit feelings and emotions sometimes.  It's tough to allow myself to feel a certain way, admit it, accept it, and let it be for a while.

Why? Do I think I should be "above this"...demonstrating the ability to "power through?" That's stupid.

Just because I know that God can redeem any situation for His glory, and that He provides what we need in the right moments does NOT mean that we won't face our humanity...nor does it mean we should ignore it. I do believe there comes a point where we can allow the way we feel to control us, obsessing over things that are out of our control, and giving dangerous power to our anger and grudges to reform our identities. Don't get me wrong, I am against all of that. I know well we can easily slip onto that course if we are not careful. It scares me how gray this line is, and how slippery things become when we allow ourselves to feel. But we can't escape emotion...or reaction.
Part of my own journey has been acceptance, in many forms. There are things I don't want to accept about myself...but need to. It's okay to hurt, it's okay to's even natural to question what He is up to...and pour out our frustration.  I believe Holy God in my head, I know Him in my heart, I see Him in the evidence of my life, but I don't always feel Him or His power. My flesh bucks His presence sometimes...and even though it's dangerous, I think it's okay. He doesn't expect us to have it all together...we are still on earth...we are still in the presence of a fallen world...we are still trapped in our bodies.

He gets it. 

But...our flesh does not necessarily always point us to sin.

Please don't take this entry to mean I don't have faith, know what is true, believe in what He is doing, or think emotion is always justified.  It's not. I simply am sharing that I am grasping onto being more real with who I am, on more of a carnal level than I normally do. So many of my other entries are about how my faith is growing, and it is. But that does not mean my flesh is not fighting with my spirit...that my emotions are under control...or that I don't question Him. I do.  In moments of peace, I know He is moments of pain, I waver in allowing that pain and being comfortable in admitting it's okay... to not be okay all the time.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Short Photo Journal...It's the small things...

Tired of my heavy blog entries lately? Me too. This one is different.

 Okay, so I am going on 6 months of the 1 year I promised Mama and Papa Seifert I would stay with them...What has that time looked like? Why don't you take a peek...

Below is a photo journal of the simple, everyday things I am so very grateful for, due to being near my family again, and living daily life with least for a little while. Enjoy...

Okay woops! Before I get started, let me explain. The pic above is me completely in my element...a pack on my the middle of some foreign adventure (I think this was in Israel). Basically, an example of me doing what I love more than anything. Now, the pics posted below are a switch. God called me away from my "comfort zone" for a while, to come home. Being near family for an extended period of time is brand new to me, cause I haven't "lived it" in a ten years. Here are some examples of the typical (but not so normal for me) things I am not taking for granted...and loving getting to experience for now. 

The captions for each pic are below it...

Shortly after my arrival home, I headed down south for a 5 week road trip, visiting "my community" all throughout the southern region where I had lived for 7 years prior to my move to Egypt. When I left in January for this trip, I was at a peak of some painful experiences emotionally, but was deeply ministered to and cared for by some incredible people I visited during my travels. That was my rental car...a safe haven...and a "good friend" where a lot of tears and verbal processing took place. The trip began in DC and continued throughout Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

This was the street I lived off of for 2 of my 3 years living in Charlotte, NC. Crazy, right? :)

This pic was taken on a birthday beach trip. We got stranded for several days and went a little in sane. This is a shot of us feeding the birds and my sister Mary screamin!  I can't believe I lived away from her for so long...

These are my feet, above. I let my BFF's three year old daughter Lilah, paint my toes. It's nice that she sees me enough now to know who I am. :) 

Above, is my niece Sophia. I was in Egypt when she was born last July. It's been sweet to get to know her and watch her grow. I didn't have this luxury with my other nieces and nephews when they were babies. 

Above are my nieces Aubrey and Juliet. Most of our interaction has been via Skype...which I was so thankful for...but it's nice to know them in the flesh too. 

This first pic above is my sister Lindy when she was VERY pregnant with her son Jimmy. I was privileged to be around to walk through about half of this pregnancy with her...and was able to go to some doctor appointments with her too...a learning experience for me since I haven't had my own babies yet. Then, the night of the baby's birth...also something I always missed in the past. I had gotten used to waiting on the phone call to hear that the babies had been born...this time, it was different.  

 Being an auntie is a very important job :). I get to just have fun with them...

 Morning exercises with my niece Juliet....

Last minute random road trips with my daddy...

I never realized how gorgeous my home state was...

During the time I am back here in the States, I am missing important people and events in other places. Like for example, above are Marwa and Beth at Marwa's engagement party in Cairo...but if you look closely, you can see me in the pic too. I am on the i-phone, being skyped in for the event! Super sweet of Marwa to include me. 

Umm, I was so happy here cause I was out of the boat! If you notice the choppy water, you can imagine how lovely it was paddling up stream. My buddy Carolyn, (one of my besties during my time in Egypt), hosted me at her home in Savannah, GA., and graciously ended our excursion out in the water early. One of us wasn't really making much progress... :) The highlight of course  was reconnecting with Carolyn, on the other side of the country from her rather than a short taxi ride away has not been fun. :(

Remember that time your 2nd grade teacher called you up four years later and was like, "I am in town and I want to see you?" HA! Yep, I did that to this amazes me that he is now taller than me. Some kids just leave a mark on your heart. This kid is going to change the world...I am just waiting for it.

Yes, this is a pic I took of myself. But why? Cause now that I am near my fam, I can send texts like the one that went with this pic, to my sister Lindy. It went something like, "Hey Lindy, here is a pic of that scarf I was telling you it? If so, I can bring it by tonight." See? Now that is such a treat for me to be able to see my sisters whenever I want.

                                           Umm.. YES.

 Planning my next adventure...a few weeks away. British gal pal Beth, an incredible friend who I spent a lot of time with in Egypt, is meeting me in Phoenix and we are taking this on. :)

So that's what it's been like for me these past few months, just getting reacquainted with my family, and trying to take advantage of being near them for the time being. It's the small things that have been so good to me.

Monday, May 21, 2012

When we pray for change...

It wasn't necessarily my plan to continue blogging after leaving Egypt...mostly because I didn't expect that I would have anything to say.  Or any confidence that people would read it. But people have kept reading ... which is cool. It's one thing to journal, another to blog. I asked myself the following question: At what point do I decide to make certain writings public? Basically, If I think someone out there could benefit from a piece of my own journey through lessons, pain, challenges, or even my joys.

 On several occasions over the course of the last five months, I have tried to take a break from blogging...but all too often I catch myself mumbling things on repeat  (like in the car driving, where a lot of verbal processing takes place, ha!) , and occasionally decide it might be good to put it out there. Yes I realize they can get personal, but sometimes that okay. I don't publish it all. I am careful.

Based on the consistent challenges that have laced this period of my life, I am attempting to view this chapter in my story as a solid chunk of rich lessons. Not that life can't always be that, but I do think certain times we just slammed and bruised more than the norm. Bleh! I wouldn't choose some of the things I am dealing fact if there was any other way for me to learn these lessons, and this stuff about myself, I would probably do anything to select option B.  Yes anything. If I didn't know the love of my Heavenly Father, or trust in the power of His sovereign will, then I can't picture it being at all possible for me to get through some stuff.  People need Jesus...we all do...and not just for salvation. We need His power. We need His grace. We need His favor. We need His example. We need his discipline. We need His compassion. 

Choosing to walk with the assurance of salvation, minus the benefits of daily life with Him is a lonely road. Although there have been times I have willingly chosen that course. But that's for another time.

Back to now...

When we are struggling, feeling like our circumstances are spiraling completely out of "our" control, it can take a toll on several factors: our health, our faith, our relationship with God, as well as our relationships with those around us. Various individuals deal with the stress of pain differently. Some over reflect, spending too much time alone. Others can't stand the idea of being alone, and pour into their social lives, always needing to be interacting with people. Some throw themselves into distractions like their jobs, a hobby, or a relationship, whether with a significant other, or focusing their attention on a family member or friend. Some try to re-create themselves and what defines them. Whatever the circumstances, we all cling to some method of comfort that has served us well in the past, or gives us some sense of relief. We gravitate toward what numbs us. Then there are those of us that don't know where to focus, constantly altering our coping mechanisms...looking anywhere to take the focus off the frustrations, the chaos, the pain, the unknown.

No matter the person, we all can agree on one thing, We know we want change. Typically, we want the change to come in the form of changing our circumstances or changing the way we feel.  We know something needs to be like "this" just isn't an option. Well, I recently came to the conclusion that yes, there is something that needs to change. But it isn't necessarily circumstantial.

Maybe, I need to start praying that God changes me.

 I have chosen to trust in a sovereign God who has the power to do whatever He wants...whether it is in agreement with my desires...or not. Everything we encounter has an impact, and I fully accept the frightening reality that I will be effected...but how? Will I become bitter? lose my faith? become an angry person? become guarded and untrusting? hostile? or a pessimist? Will I lash out at others? Turn my back on those I cherish most? Stop pouring out? Stop praying? Or will I be a wall...refusing to let it all sink in and do the damage which  might be necessary to change me the way I need to be? Ouch.

 I want to be changed. If there is going to be pain, then I want it to be worth something as a key factor in my story. I want to release control, allowing it to do what it was designed to do in me. 

Now listen, I am not going to pick apart whether circumstances are purely results of my choices, His choices, or a combination of  both. It honestly doesn't really matter to me. The point is, I face what He chooses to allow. Whomever is responsible is beside the point. He allows it (or determined it) for a purpose. I believe that His goal is to pinpoint areas that need to be changed in us...and do it. 

As my prayers are shifting focus...things are still difficult, and some days are really tough, but my acceptance of what He is doing is growing, because of the changes I see taking place in me.  No, I am not in favor of what He has chosen to allow, but I accept that if He allows it, that the changes that take place in me are necessary. 

Ultimately, ideally we should desire change in ourselves. But we don't. Sometimes it's a looooong process due to one particular painful circumstance, or a little nuggets all linking together. At times it's change related to pain, change related to joy, or change simply as a gift of the Holy Spirit through the prayers of others for us, not even desiring change in ourselves, but a desire God places on the hearts of others to pray for change in us.

As I work through the issues I am currently facing, I can't help but ask that I be changed as a result. It's a yucky process, especially when the challenges bringing us to a place of brokenness are already painful ones, but I try to look at the whole picture and see it as the blessing part of the pain. I know it will be worth it at some point, even if I am struggling accepting that today. (That's what I have to keep telling myself).

And for the record, no I don't think that all of those areas will be "fixed." But hopefully evidence of changes taking place will occur.

When we ask Him to change us, we are trusting in His sovereign grace to put the pieces back together, forming a more useful and flexible tool for His glory. That is until He breaks us again. It is my experience that He breaks us and puts us back together sometimes multiple times.
Am I willing to be flexible for His purposes? Not generally. Yikes. Only if the calls He is placing on me fit into my box. I can see as I am writing this that I can't both surrender and control. ugh.

We need to stop focusing and obsessing so much on changing our circumstances, fighting His design, and allow Him to help shift our energy and prayers to asking Him to change us. Is it possible to simply acknowledge our need to change...and ask for it? I would say yes.

The night that Jesus was crucified, He knew that what He was about to face would be the ultimate pain. He knew it had to be done, but He still fought it. He asked if there was another way.  Clearly, nothing is worse than what He went through when God's back turned on Him. 

But that doesn't dismiss that what we face here on earth can be unbearable at times... excruciating...beyond repair in some perspectives.  Jesus knew the change that would occur for humanity as the result of His obedience in His love for the Father.  I think we often look at Him in those moments in the garden and see His Divinity, when really we should be focusing on His humanity... and how it was affected.

Change me...when joy is replaced and confusion lingers...change me.
When death swallows life and sin takes a ride...change me.
When I lose control seeking self before Thy will...change me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Divine Appointment

Remember that time a complete stranger asked you for what can only be labeled as "life changing advice?" You know what I mean, right? Seven minutes into a conversation and suddenly you hear the words:
"What do you think my husband and I should do? 
What does it sound like God is telling us? " 

It was at that moment I realized I didn't even know this woman's name. Gulp. 

Here's what happened.

I was asked by a woman I have recently met, if I would attend the baby shower of her soon to be born twin girls. I generally choose to only attend showers of people I know well, not random acquaintances, especially if I don't know ANY of the other guests.  Normally, these situations don't intimidate me in the slightest. I can make sure I know everyone by the time I leave, and I usually do. But I just wasn't feeling it today.  However, I was going to be in the area, so I decided the polite thing to do would be to stop by, eat a cupcake, win a prize (yes I did. I won pink hot chocolate mix cause I am a good estimator and guesser)...and then be on my way. The moment I walked in late, they stopped what they were doing, so I could be introduced, since no one had a clue who I was. It was extremely awkward, and the mom to be was rambling sweet things about me, which I am sure none of the other guests cared a bit about. I smiled politely, trying to get the attention back to what they were doing, already starring at my watch and thinking, "What is the minimum time frame I can stay and it not be considered rude to leave?"It was just plain awkward. They all knew one another, and I was tired, and not in the mood for small talk, or really talking at all.
It was a gorgeous day outside, and all I wanted to do was get to my nephew's baseball game. 

Then it happened. 

About 10 minutes before I was planning to sneak out, this beautiful woman with long black hair, and the largest blue eyes I have ever seen, made it a point to come and talk with me. I had noticed her earlier, cause she just seemed like a sweet person, and for some reason she caught my attention with the way she was interacting with the other guests.

"So you are quite the world traveler I hear," she said to me. 
"You just returned from a trip to Egypt?"
"Well, I lived in Egypt," I calmly replied.
"WHAT?" she stated.

I am used to people's responses...some funny, some rude, some ignorant, some sweet. Her's was in a category of its own.

"You know, the Ugandan Children's Choir was just in the area for two weeks and we hosted two in our home. We just started the adoption process for them," she said.

She then proceeded to tell me all about how she and her hubs were already the parents of four children, decided to pursue these adoptions, but felt God was giving them "mixed signals", and so they stopped the process.  I am sure she could tell by the look on my face I was a bit taken back by their decision to stop moving forward. Based on what she was telling me, I found it totally bogus to stop so suddenly...and I was hoping for the chance to politely tell her that (not using the word bogus of course), if she asked. She did. Multiple times...and had so many questions.

She asked me:
if I thought she and her husband were making the right decision...
if I saw their circumstances as a closed door...
if I thought it was wise as a home school mom to bring more kids into her home...
if adopting older kids was a bad idea...
if I thought she seemed too uptight...
etc etc...

I tried my best to encourage her to pray and move forward until there was a concrete reason to stop their plans. I mean, she and her husband agreed in their desire for these children,  the Bible is clear about our responsibility to help orphans, they have the resources to do so, it lined up with Scripture, and most importantly, they were truly seeking the Lord with this. They wanted His will. I tried to reassure her that as she seeks Her God, He will guide. 

I could see how much she wanted this adoption, but she was struggling. She kept saying, "I know I need to surrender." Her motive to "do the right thing" was clear to me. I respected that. 
But something seemed off. Could she be trying too hard to get a clear answer? I think so.

I sat there, a bit stuck, thinking, "This could become a HUGE theological discussion that I am not sure I am prepared for." I tried to get her to see things a little bit more simply, to just relax, and to take a deep breath. She was wound up pretty tightly, and was giving me a lot of power in those few moments that we shared. I was trying to choose my words carefully, praying silently for wisdom and clarity with how to effectively communicate with her. But the kicker for me was when she made the following statement.

"Christy, I know I am struggling with anxiety over this decision...and anxiety is a sin."
Umm "NO it is not," I quickly stated as I cut her off.

There it was. Clearly this woman was being fed a negative opinion about her struggle with anxiety, and if I did nothing else productive at that shower, I was going to make sure she heard the other side.

So there we sat, as the others opened up presents around us, and we just talked. 

I shared with her about her responsibility to acknowledge and surrender her fears and worries daily, knowing it could be an on going struggle, if not a moment to moment battle at times. 

We talked about her needing to never think she "had conquered it", remembering it might be something to surrender again and again...knowing it was through Christ alone she would be able to overcome her struggle.  

We spoke of her need to rest in the assurance that the Lord would give her the strength she needed, and it was nothing to be ashamed of...she was to rely on His power, ask for His courage, and peace, and walk forward in confidence that He is with her...daily. 

We talked about how medication is not always a negative thing, and menopause can lead to hormone changes producing anxiety and depression. People need to extend grace with situations like this. It's case by case. It's not black and white.

We talked about how anxiety could become sinful, but so could so many emotions, and she needed to be careful and conscientious about those judgements, not putting God in a box, or sin.

I ended with this advice to her. "Don't over think it." Don't over think the adoption and don't over think your anxiety. Pray. Trust He will guide you and your family, and walk in chosen peace.

Sounds simple. It's not. I mean seriously, chosen peace? What the heck? What was I saying? That I think we have to choose peace? Yikes. 

But seriously...Yes. I think sometimes it's a choice for now, and in our control. Sometimes, it's delayed. Well, that is my experience, anyhow. But I guess that could go a whole other direction in regards to the question, "what is peace." Yeah, I am so not attempting to blog about that one. 

So getting back to my story...

As the words left my mouth, I felt a bit a freedom I haven't felt in months. It was evident to me, as I was speaking with her, that the Lord was giving me words I needed to hear. This lesson was for me. Maybe she too would take something away from our conversation, but I was thankful and encouraged by my own advice today. "Don't over think it."

It was at that moment that her face relaxed, and as the shape of her giant blue eyes changed,  she finally took a deep breath. It was almost like I was "giving her permission" to just stop for a moment...and trust, blindly. We ended on that sweet note.  I can tell you right now that I have NOT been taking my own advice, but I need to start.

..."Christy, don't over think it." In my search for clarity and direction, I finally gave myself permission to just stop thinking. It feels good.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What do I know?

I started this entry a few weeks ago...tried working on it several times, but was not able to communicate in words what it was I wanted to say. Something clicked this morning, and I was able to finish it. It's heavy, so please handle it carefully. Thank you
 This entry was base off Ephesians 6.

Recently, I was driving, and caught the ending part to a song. Although I only heard a few words, I knew I needed to find a way to finish it to completion.  I quietly whispered those few lyrics to myself as I drove, with the intention of Googling it the moment I walked in the door. 

I later learned that the song was titled "What Do I Know of Holy" by Addison Road, and it has pretty much been on repeat in my I-tunes ever since. In moments that the panic of stress sets in, I rush to a quiet place, and just listen to it, it has calmed me down repeatedly. What do I know of Holy? 
That pain is part of it. That pain can be good.

 It occurred to me that the reason I am so fascinated by this particular song, is because it brings me back to reality, sometimes multiple times a day when I find myself questioning God. Truth is  that He needs me to understand that I should never expect that I will ever be able to comprehend, as long as I am on earth. I don't think we are expected to know Holiness in its full form. I don't think we can.

Never in my life, have I caught myself challenging God and His intentions for me, as much as I am these days. I catch myself giving Him "advice" about things, making small suggestions,  getting angry, getting disappointed, or simply avoiding Him at times.  I find that although we are "fighting" more than ever before, we are closer too. That is what I am most thankful for right now.

What do I know of Holy? Apparently not much. The more I work through these past few months of being back Stateside (at least for a while), participating in a normalcy of life I was never attracted to, looking at things from a strange and new perspective, and swallowing my dreams of what I thought my life would look like, I am being forced to admit that the concept of Holiness, that I thought I "understood"...couldn't be more of a mystery. In fact, as my struggle increases and I try and catch a glimpse of what the Heavens are up to, He just re-directs my eyes to simply trusting...not searching. Huh? Not searching for God? That's right. It's the searching that is my problem right now.

Here is what He is teaching me:

I think looking to Him, and wanting to "see" Him in everything, can often distract me from feeling His presence, simply trusting He is there. It has come to my attention that even my own seeking trips me up. Sometimes I can feel Him gently turn my eyes from looking up,  back onto the day ahead, and the opportunities He has set before me... gently asking me to walk forward, knowing He is with me, even though He is choosing to make Himself invisible. When things begin to get even a little shaky, it is as if I stop moving, and search for His face, demanding He make Himself clear, seeking a tangible reminder of His presence. When I demand He prove himself visible, I find it distracts me from the journey, from the tasks I am supposed to doing. The truth is that I know He is there, guiding my steps, and at times carrying me. I need to stop insisting that I see Him. I see evidence, that should be sufficient. But in my human stupidity, it often isn't. The search can become a cold test...not Him testing me, but me testing His sovereign Holiness. But do I dare doubt His plan? I actually do all the time.

When He chooses pain...I can often remind myself that He is with me, but that doesn't always mean I believe He knows best. To put it simply, I usually don't believe Him.  I allow my emotions to take the lead and I often doubt His wisdom...His reasons, His purposes. When those closest to me are suffering, and I witness it, but can't change their circumstances, it produces anger in me. When anxiety rises, and I see that I am not as strong as I thought I was, I cry out, surrendering my weakness, and claiming His strength. When emotional or spiritual pain shows me a new low yet again, and I see new tests to overcome...I am learning to believe Him. Why is it that in those moments, I know He will come through, yet struggle immensely with the truth that His Holiness saturates those circumstances...the situations I fight Him most in? 

What do I know of Holy? I know that I don't know, nor should I expect to. If we caught even a glimpse of the spiritual battle going on all around us, would it matter? It might. But that is yet another example of believing things are significantly more involved, dangerous, and premeditated than we could ever even begin to understand. What makes me think that I should be allowed to comprehend Satan, God, their relationship...the dark power at work in destroying me, the sovereign Heavenly power at work in protecting me, and the evil that He doesn't allow at times or even let me see going on around me? It's dangerous. It's a secret. Let Him win it...and just trust Him. 

I am starting to see that emotions may be the result of my spirit grasping bits of the aftermath of a fresh war...a battle recently in motion for my attention, my life's course, my mind. Just because emotions get set on fire does not mean something is wrong. Feelings may simply be an indication that attack is near, either in the past or future. It seems that sometimes He allows us to sense an attack, but sometimes not. I wonder how many we are saved from, and never know of? 

There are times that drastic life changes are part of it all. Just because God removes us from the course we thought we should be set on does not indicate a mistake, but maybe a rescue. When our hearts want one thing, but He calmly says "no", it is a reminder of His Holiness in action.  He is saying "no" for a reason. That "no" is actually a "yes" to a blessing...but why is it that we rarely see it that way?

 We can fight Him, we do all time. But I am certain that if we were to witness even a sliver of true Evil in action in the spiritual realm, and what the Enemy looks like as he prowls around like a lion seeking to devour, we would think twice.  Would we still fight God at work? I am not saying those secrets of spiritual warfare should be visible to us. I would guess quite confidently that humans were designed differently from angels in glory and fallen angels, because we can't handle the reality of the spiritual world at work, and what is truly happening. We are only allowed to witness a small degree of it. 

It seems we are being protected from what we were not created to properly process in our flesh. Although it's very real, it's also significantly inappropriate for us. When I take the time to think of it this way, I stop questioning so much. 

I (like you) am a key character in these wars, a prey to vicious predators, and schemes are being made to destroy me. They linger, they wait, they attack...I think it's best I allow Him to take over calling the shots, summoning His angels to fight fire for me. It's probably best I never see it in action, at least while it's still happening. Maybe in Heaven, we will hear more of the invisible fights for our freedom that took place during our time on earth.  I forget about the unseen, the war, the evil, the Light. Surrender is the wisest option.

But often I don't remember this....and have to be reminded.

He wants us to surrender and tell him of our honesty...our anger...our mistrust. He expects it. He knows we don't know Holy, understand its course, its tactic, or even its place in a sinful world. What I am learning is that He even wants our dreams. I always said I understood this...I can assure you now, I didn't.  

His desire and will is for us is to allow Him to put the shattered piece back together in the correct form that He wants the freedom to design. Sometimes He breaks the vision we long for, so He can show us a better way...knowing we will fight Him....but still demonstrating patience and providing us with the proper amounts of peace and strength in certain and chosen moments. 

He knows. We Don't. That should pretty much sum it up.

Ephesians 6:12
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

I read this quote this morning Faith does not say "I see this is good for me, therefore, God must have sent it." Instead,  faith declares, "God sent it, therefore it must be good for me."

Below are the lyrics to the song. I ask that if you have not heard it, that you look it up on youtube or itunes, and read the lyrics as you listen...and then let me know what you think, if you want to.

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life "its" name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

What do I know of Holy?