This morning I went for a walk…

alone.

For most of you, a solitary morning stroll is nothing to write a blog post about.  Trust me, for me to go for a walk alone is enough to write the governor about! These days there’s a road that lies before me that looks absolutely impossible to travel.  During my morning prayer, I asked the Lord for navigation instructions.   To travel this road seems to require a faith greater than the faith I feel I possess, these days.

God’s answer to my morning petition was simple: “Go for a walk.”  I never go for walks alone.  Yet, for the past two weeks I’ve felt a distinct nudge working to prepare me for this moment.  For me, going for a walk alone is the equivalent of staring down the “boogey” man.  I knew this would be an exercise in facing my fear.  I hoped it would also be an exercise to reclaim my faith.  I was desperate.  I had no choice but to obey.

Although I knew “go for a walk” wasn’t the last of what my Lord would say to me this morning, I still grabbed my ancient iPod mini for some tunes to accompany me on the journey.  “I’ll listen to praise and worship,” I thought, as if that would make my attempt to drown out the voice of the Lord more acceptable.  To my surprise, or maybe not so much, the thing wouldn’t even turn on.  “Wow, Lord!  You didn’t have to kill my iPod,” I thought, as I parked the device on the shoe cubicle by the front door.

I locked up the house, then stood in the middle of the driveway.  Which way should I begin?  Trying not to delay the inevitable, I quickly chose to head off in the distance to my right.  The sky was sad, but I knew it would withhold its tears until my morning journey was complete.  Slowly, I put one foot in front of the other.  Left-right-left…  The sound of my Reeboks on the black asphalt only slightly disturbed the stillness of the 8 am hour.

I found myself looking back to see how far away I had gotten from home, from my safe place.  After a while, I could no longer see it.  I couldn’t see anything familiar, not my sister’s American sedan in the driveway, nor my brother-in-law’s German hatchback on the street.  Familiar was now somewhere far behind me, but I had to keep moving forward.  As I did, my heavenly Father began to speak:

Dad: “Monica, don’t forget without faith it is impossible to please me.”  Hebrews 11:6

Daughter: “Yes, Dad I know.  You know I’ve always stood on that word.  I used to think you’d given me the gift of faith, but lately it feels like I’ve done this “faith” thing all wrong.  I”ve been watching others who seem to have a “safer” approach, and I don’t know…  *sigh* I think I may like their way better.”

Daughter: “And another thing… I just don’t like walking alone.  I feel so vulnerable and exposed.  There’s no shield.”

Dad: “I am your shield.” Genesis 15:1

Daughter: “But I don’t know if I’m going in the right direction!  What if I’m wrong again?   Failure is just too painful!”

Dad: “Trust me with all your heart.  Stop thinking so much.  Keep your eyes on me, and I will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:5,6

There was so much I could say in response, but I knew He already “heard” me.  So, I kept walking.

There were birds up ahead.  Quite a few of them, I might add.  I’m afraid of birds.  However, as I approached, the birds scattered.

Dad: “Monica, did you notice how the birds fled as you approached?  The object of your fear scattered in all directions – north, south, east, and west.  You have no reason to fear.  Your enemies will flee, because I am with you.” Deuteronomy 28:25

Daughter: “I know! I know!  But I guess since I can’t “see” you sometimes I wonder if you’re really with me.  Lately, I feel so alone on this journey.

Dad: “Sometimes, as you take steps of faith, it will appear you are walking alone, and that’s ok.  That’s only in your natural world.  Remember, I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

So, I kept walking.  My comfort zone was no longer in sight, yet my faith and confidence in this new path were growing with each step.  My pace gave me away, as it quickened just a touch.

Dad: “You see Monica, having faith just means you obey me no matter what, you believe me no matter what and you trust me no matter what.  You keep moving even in the midst of your fears.  Give me your fears, and I’ll give confidence back to you.”

I rounded a corner, and suddenly out of nowhere a dog began to bark from his balcony, above my head.  Setting off a chain reaction, his next door neighbor now began to bark from his balcony.  They startled me.  I wasn’t expecting them, but as soon as I reminded myself not to be afraid, that the Lord was with me, the fear left.  And the dogs?  Well, I guess they returned to whatever they were doing before I arrived.  I never looked back.

So here are 10 navigational tools I took away from my morning walk that I’ll carry with me as I continue traveling the, seemingly, impossible road that lies ahead:

  1. Fear and faith are adversaries.  Fear paralyzes.  Faith propels.  Moving in faith positions you to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
  2. God is your shield and protection; He will never leave you.
  3. When you don’t know where to go, just start walking.  Very often you won’t receive additional direction until AFTER you step out.
  4. Use your failures as a walking stick.  Approach each new journey with the same fiery faith with which you approached the last ones. To continue in faith in the aftermath of failure deals a mighty blow to the  enemy and fills your Father’s heart with pleasure.
  5. The farther you get from “familiar”, the more you must rely on your “faith”.  It’s faith that pleases God.
  6. Obey the street signs.  Street signs provide direction.  They tell you how to proceed, identify where you are, and inform you of where you’re going and what’s up ahead. Your “street signs” for your journey of faith come from the word of God.
  7. Enjoy the flat land, and store up your energy.  There’s bound to be a hill up ahead.  An incline requires more energy but returns more strength.
  8. Speed bumps are strategically placed to regulate your pace.  They keep you from speeding to your destination and enable you to arrive safely.
  9. Occasionally you will reach a dead end.  No worries.  Simply turn around, go back in the direction you came from, and then choose another path. (always consulting your “street signs”)
  10. Lastly, faith without works is dead.  Be willing to go for a walk alone.

It has always brought me great joy to offer God what I know brings Him pleasure, and that is my faith.  His word doesn’t say that without faith it is difficult to please Him.  It says that without faith it is impossible to please Him.  Quite a big difference, wouldn’t you agree?  Yet trials, missteps, mishaps, setbacks, and seemingly forgotten promises have been working to erode my faith, to tarnish my offering.

But, this morning I went for a walk, alone.  I knew my journey was about facing my fear.  I hoped it was also about reclaiming my faith.  And so it was, my friend.  And so it was.

P.S.  It takes only faith the size of a mustard seed to move any “mountain”.  I’ll bet you have that much already!

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What has God taught you so far this year?

If you’ve joined me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen me occasionally share posts from one of my favorite websites for Christian women online – Exemplify Online & Magazine.  If not, no worries.  You can click here (or on the title of the website, mentioned a couple of sentences ago. :-)) to check them out.

On this delightful Tuesday morning, I was pretty excited to find that today is “link up day” for the Sassy Single Bloggers on the Exemplify Singles Channel.  Woo Hoo!!  🙂  I missed the April link up, but May is here, and I am ready to share!  The question to guide our May post:  What has God taught you so far this year? My initial answer, “How much time do you have????”  LOL….

Seriously, though, I realize it is only month five of 2010 that’s coming to a close, but for me it feels like we should already be rounding out at least the third quarter.  Whew!  What a whirlwind, but I won’t digress this time.  Let’s dive in.  Here are 30 quick things God has taught me so far this year:

1.    I am not in control.

2.    My thoughts and ideas about who He is are often flawed.

3.    His love for me is not measured by how often I get it right, and He doesn’t strip me of blessings each time I mess up.

4.   With Him all things are possible.

5.    Everything isn’t a test.

6.    It’s ok to say no, even if someone else thinks I should say yes.

7.   Joy does come in the morning.

8.    to believe what He told me despite how things appear in the natural

9.    What grace and mercy really mean

10.  He will renew my strength if I wait on Him.  (Although, sometimes it may seem to take a minute.)

11.  If He withholds something from me, it really isn’t good for me, whether I believe it or not.

12.  Relationship is inevitable.  Commitment, however, is optional.

13.  He adores me!

14.  Faith without works is dead.  Works without faith is just exhausting.

15.  He really is the Dream Giver.

16.  My writing is one of His special gifts to me.

17.  my focus should be to please Him, not to please others

18.  to guard my heart

19.  He’s always there, even when it doesn’t feel like He is.

20.  Free will is real.

21.  Fear and love cannot co-exist.

22.  When things look strange, trust Him wholeheartedly anyway!  He will lead me where He wants me to go.

23.  to keep my word and follow through when I say, “yes”.

24.  comfort zones can be dangerous; “on the water” is where I’ll find Him

25.  His desire is for me to have His best.  If I end up with something less, I need to ask myself where I got it from.

26.  He’s the only one who will ever love me perfectly.

27.  Obedience is indeed better than sacrifice, but it doesn’t mean sacrifice won’t hurt sometimes.

28.  to never, EVER give up on His promises

29.  He hears and answers prayers. When I asked Him to start my life over, He did.

30.  to follow His Spirit

So there you have it, folks!  This is just a sampling of the many things God has taught me, already, this year.  I don’t know about you, but I’m thirsty for more!  I’m expecting to learn even more as the days, weeks, and months continue.  Maybe He’ll teach me some things through you.  I want to hear from you.  What has God taught you so far this year?

P. S.  Don’t forget to check out Exemplify Online & Magazine.  If you’re a single sister with a blog, make sure you subscribe to Exemplify Online and be on the lookout for opportunities to share your blog with other sisters in Christ.

A Life Changing Understanding

Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [Therefore] get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7 NKJV

Over the weekend, while doing some online research, I made a discovery that I am already sensing had an immediate impact on my life.

I was working on a chapter (for the book I am FINALLY writing) where I share about a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship I was in for approximately 7 years, beginning in college.  I googled the phrase “types of abuse” and stumbled across a document entitled “Impact of Verbal and Emotional Abuse”.  I was certainly not prepared for what I would read.

“People often minimize the impact that a verbal abuse has on a person’s overall well being and happiness. A woman who is experiencing verbal and emotional abuse might feel the following emotions:”

  • A distrust of her spontaneity
  • A loss of enthusiasm
  • An uncertainty about how she is coming across
  • A concern that something is wrong with her
  • An inclination to reviewing incidents with the hopes of determining what went wrong
  • A loss of self-confidence
  • A growing self doubt
  • An internalized “critical voice”
  • A concern that she isn’t happier and ought to be
  • An anxiety or fear of being crazy
  • A sense that time is passing and she’s missing something
  • A desire not to be the way she is- “too sensitive,” etc
  • A hesitancy to accept her perceptions
  • A reluctance to come to conclusions
  • A desire to escape or run away
  • A tendency to live in the future, e.g. “everything will be great when/after…”
  • A distrust of future relationships

Wow….

Imagine my initial sadness to find that nearly a decade after God saved me from myself and delivered me from this volatile relationship that was ripe with negative potential, I have still been living under the impact of the abuse.  Of the 17 items listed above, I can relate to every single one of them.  The effects have been paralyzing.  *SIGH*  I’m sure that if I could turn red, my face would have adopted a nice hue of BEET!

Still, after reading the document, an unexpected peace began to blanket me.  Then I began to wonder.  “Where is this peace coming from?”  My guess is it comes from the fact that now I have an answer, an answer I wasn’t even seeking, but an answer God knew I needed.  He led me to understanding, and I could not be happier.

Happy [is] the man [who] finds wisdom, And the man [who] gains understanding; – Proverbs 3:13 NKJV

I applied my heart to know, To search and seek out wisdom and the reason [of things], To know the wickedness of folly, Even of foolishness [and] madness.Ecclesiastes 7:25 NKJV

It seems that as I seek out wisdom, the Lord honors my search and gives me understanding, as well.

I believe this simple document provided me with a life changing understanding.  I am now equipped with knowledge and empowered to say, “No more!” to the impact of this decade old abuse on my life.  Authentic, complete healing, that I didn’t even realize I needed, can now commence.  And to that I say, “Welcome!”

For me, the neatest part of it all is realizing that I opened the door to all of this by being obedient and walking out at least one of the Lord’s assignments for my life, writing my book.  I had to giggle as I thought, “Lord, is this why You’ve been bugging me about this book?”   LOL…

Now to make sure that credit is given where it’s due, click here to be taken directly to a copy of the document mentioned above.  You may want to use it with your women’s group, share it with a girlfriend, or keep it for yourself.  Click here to be taken directly to the Center For Relationship Abuse website.  The site is the online home for an organization out of California.  It contains a lot of valuable information regarding physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and academic abuse.

Lastly, as God teaches me and gives me new revelation I immediately think of and want to share it with you, my sisters.  Stumbling onto this information this weekend was like receiving a surprise invitation to a freedom party.  It’s my prayer that, from reading this post, maybe one of you will receive your invitation to the party, as well.  RSVP immediately, and let the healing begin.

Bye for now… 🙂

My Daily Devotion

I woke up around 7am, this morning, and began my normal time of devotion.  My daily devotion time normally includes God’s word, my journal, and prayer – not necessarily in that order.  Actually, what I enjoy most is the fact that either of these three items may spill out differently on any given day.

For example, this morning appeared fairly routine at first.  I started off in my journal, then I moved to read a chapter in Proverbs.  I try to read the chapter that corresponds with the date, so today I read chapter 12.  I completed the chapter and was about to read it again when I heard,  “Monica, write down the promises, the truths from this chapter in Proverbs.”  Hmm…  Ok, why not!

I was so encouraged as I wrote that I immediately knew I must share them with you:

v. 2:  A good man obtains favor of the Lord.

v. 3:  The root of righteousness shall not be moved.

v. 4:  A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.

v. 6:  The mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

v. 7:  The house of the righteous shall stand.

v. 11:  He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread.

v. 12:  The root of righteous yields fruit.

v. 13:  The just come out of trouble.

v. 14:  The recompense of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him.

v. 19:  The lip of truth shall be established forever.

v. 21:  There shall no evil happen to the just.

V.22:  They that deal truly are the Lord’s delight.

v. 24:  The hand of the diligent shall bear rule.

v. 25:  A good word makes a man’s heart glad.

v.28 (the chapter’s last verse and quite a culmination, I might add):  In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.

These words were like an energy drink for me this morning, and I hope they encourage you just as much!

P.S.  Make sure you share any promises of  Proverbs Chapter 12 that I may have overlooked. 😉

At Wit’s End of the Road Less Traveled

“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost penned these words as the closing stanza of his famous poem “The Road Not Taken“.  Lately, I feel I am at my wit’s end of my own “road less traveled by”.

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. – Matthew 14:28, 29 NKJV

It’s my fault.  I chose this road.  A few years ago I read the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg, and I said a simple prayer that started it all.  It went something like this:

“Lord, I don’t want to live an ordinary life of pseudo-comfort ‘inside the boat’.  Rescue me from my comfort zone and lead me to the extraordinary life You planned for me.  I want to walk on water.”

I suppose taking the road less traveled is somewhat like Peter’s steps on the water.  Choosing this road means choosing to live a life that is different from what we see around us.  (Romans 12:2) It’s standing in the face of fear and continuing to step outside our comfort zones.

For me, it means standing in the face of questioning stares as I trust and wait on the Lord for my mate.  It means seeking His plan for my life when everyone else is scribbling out their own life story.

Maybe you’re on the same road.  Or maybe, for you, it means raising your children to not do, not watch, not listen to or not say the very things most other kids are doing, watching, listening to and saying.  Maybe it means not raising them the same way you were raised.

But when he saw that the wind [was] boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” – Matthew 14:30 NKJV

“Lord, save me!!”

This wind and these waves seem determined to threaten the stability of my ordered steps.

It didn’t take long to realize the road less traveled is a rugged, winding road with steep hills, potholes and blind spots a plenty!  Let’s not even discuss the fact that my map interpretation skills seem to be severely lacking.  To be quite honest, trying to navigate it all is making me tired.  I’m weary.  I’m worn.  I’m at my wit’s end.

Wit: 1 a : mind, memory b : reasoning power : intelligence
2 a : senseat one’s wit’s end or at one’s wits’ end : at a loss for a means of solving a problem(taken from http://www.merriam-webster.com)

However, in this season of severe fatigue, I’m managing to crawl away with a couple of very important truths:

1.  Truth is, by definition, my wit represents my mind, my reasoning power, and my intelligence.  All of which shrivels to nothingness in comparison to the mind, reasoning power, and intelligence of our heavenly Father.

2.  Truth is I’m exhausted, because I’ve been relying too much on my wit (my strength) and not enough on His.  My wit is useless without God.  Proverbs 3:5,6 teaches me that, as it explicitly advises me to “lean not on” my own understanding.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5,6 NKJV

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 NKJV

So there you have it.  Here I am… at my wit’s end of this crazy road less traveled and I’ve come to one, surprising revelation that, well….it’s the very best place I could be.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

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