Have you ever heard the song~ “Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places”?.....
In the 80’s, we lived in a small, ranch style home from my 6th grade year through college~ you know~ the formative, boy crazy years, at least for me. My mom had this neat, strategically placed desk in the central room of that home. Easy access, because on that desk was our telephone. Not a cell phone. An old school, rotary dial, cord attached telephone. I used to live for the sound of that phone. Dreamily laying on the floor listening to “Just You and I”, anticipating the excitement of the ring. It was always the same~ me talking to my boyfriend, my brother yelling at me to get off so he could use it or my dad saying~ “someone might be trying to call, you’ve been on there long enough”. It had a super long, spiral cord attached to the receiver and I would stretch it around the corner and down the hall as far as I could in order to have more privacy. But then, that boy broke my heart. Laying on the floor listening to “I’m all out of love, I’m so lost without you”, the phone would ring and, knowing it wasn’t for me, I just cried harder. Of course this happened more than once during the years we lived in that house. Always excited for the call or sad over the lack of one, until I got a call from a certain boy. THE CALL that ended all the other calls but was the beginning of a lifetime of love that only gets stronger and stronger every day.
Just like that skinny, insecure, adolescent girl looking for love, there are times even now that she resurfaces. Not with boys, but with other things that call out to me. When I’m having a bad day or week or even month, there are times that my flesh looks for love and comfort everywhere except for “The Where” I should be looking. I’m a junk food junkie from way back and there are times (too many to count) I reach for food to comfort me. Or I drown my sorrows on binge TV and try to get lost in a show to remove my mind from my present state. There are times I sit and scroll. And scroll. And scroll. And after an hour of pinning too many decadent dessert recipes or house interiors I wish were mine or hair ideas, exercise routines and articles on being a better wife or mother, I don’t feel any better. I don’t feel better after the comfort food or the TV shows either. Maybe in the moment I do, after the first three or four Mallo Cups or an entire bag of Lays potato chips, but when that moment is gone, so is the feeling. And I’m still sad. And my Father is saying, “get off of all that. I’m calling out to you but I can’t get through because you are looking for love in all the wrong places”. Why does it take me so long to realize it’s THE CALL? The one that changes everything. And if I’ll just go down the hall and get alone with Him on a daily basis, His love only grows stronger and stronger. It’s life changing and the more time I spend with Him, the more I realize how silly I was to convince myself that these other things could ever answer my heart’s call.
My friend, the only One that can fill your heart’s void is your Heavenly Father. There is nothing this world has to offer that can replace Him. Answer that call today. His call. The excitement and anticipation of talking to your Savior cannot compare to anything else. I guarantee “Just You and I” will take on a whole new meaning and your life will forever be changed.
“Why can’t I be normal?” We were on our way to another Doctor. Another specialist. Something wrong with me AGAIN. Tears filled my eyes. “And it’s always something strange with me, something that the doctor can’t figure out”. I was pouring my heart out to Mike. I felt like a constant disappointment not only to him but also to my children and church family. And every time something was wrong, it resulted in me being flat on my back. No use to anyone. I wanted to hide. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run away. I was sure all the ladies at church thought I was a terrible pastor’s wife and my own children thought I was a huge disappointment as a mother.
Here’s the thing. Of all the posts that I’ve written, of all the stories I’ve shared of deliverance by God, of answered prayer, of trust in the Savior, at that moment I felt lost and completely alone again. In one tiny moment, just like that, it was all forgotten as I sat crying in pain. I am not some picture of Godliness, I have not arrived. I am human. I am weak. Ladies, that’s exactly where Satan wants us. He gets us to the point where we are so weak and so desperate that we begin to entertain thoughts that aren’t even true. We forget about every miraculous story of God’s deliverance and sit in our own pitiful pain and despair. We feel sorry for ourselves, and depending on the circumstance, maybe we have every right to, but we have absolutely no right to dismiss God and all He has done for us. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what we do when we allow ourselves to get to this point. God can do unexplained miracles in our life but all it takes is one Doctor uttering the words “way out of her league” or “abnormal” to scare us into thinking we are alone and forgotten. I guess that’s why the story of Moses and the Israelites has always intrigued me. How easy is it to read about the burning bush, the plagues, the Red Sea and judge the Israelites for their childish murmurings. How easy it is to say “how could they forget God’s miracles so quickly?” I guess one of the reasons we can be so quick to judge is because we can go back a few chapters and reread the miraculous story of God’s deliverance over and over and over. It’s a story that never gets old. My friend, your story will never get old. You just have to go back a few chapters and reread it. We have to push aside our childish murmurings and we have to mentally remind ourselves that He is OUR God of miracles and He has been, and always will be there for us. Take a moment today and write down one thing from your past that God helped you get through. Shut everything else out and focus on that. And then thank Him over and over throughout your day. Tomorrow, add another to your list and then the next day and the next and the next until one year from today you are adding the 365th way God has blessed your life. Your perspective will be completely changed. We can’t allow Satan to squirm his way in, because he will use any means necessary to take us away from our closeness with God. Focusing on ourselves is one of his best weapons.
God made me laugh at myself even today as I typed the words at the beginning of this post~”I was pouring my heart out to Mike”. When I went back to read what I had written I laughed out loud. Auto correct changed “pouring” to “pouting”. “I WAS POUTING.” I’m sure that was all God. Funny how He uses things to get our attention. Switch your focus today and place it on the Savior and all the crazy, unexplainable, miraculous, beautiful ways He has blessed your life. Grab a pen, because today is only the beginning of your story, a story that you will want to read over and over again. A story that will never get old.
Exodus 19:4 Ephesians 3:20 Proverbs 3:5-6
We used to call our youngest our “million dollar baby”. Six months after Kathryn was born and right as the school year was starting, Mike got a job two hours away from home. For a while, we only got to see him on the weekends. As each week went by, the days got harder and harder. Not only because I missed him so much, but also because our baby was continually sick. Kathryn would not sleep. With tears rolling down my face, I would pace the house all night trying to get her to calm down, looking out my window at the other home’s serene darkness and envying the sleep they were all getting. And then, when daylight came and she was finally asleep, it was time to get the other three up and take my two oldest to school. Loading them all into our car and driving on a half hour of sleep then coming home and crying some more. It was sheer exhaustion. Kathryn wasn’t just a fussy, colicky baby. She had continual fevers and rashes. Our doctor’s office was my second home. After many tests, we found out she was allergic to my breast milk. Our finances were very slim and after trying several formulas, the only one that worked cost us half of our grocery allowance each week. This was only the beginning with her. Among so many other things, she had a urinary tract infection and spent a week in the hospital. She also broke her collar bone when she was three, and the list goes on. Those first few years seemed so hard at the time. I was so tired and felt so alone. I looked at other families and envied them. I felt sorry for myself and asked God why He chose to make Kathryn so sick. But when I look back at those times, I can see the hand of God in each desperate moment I went through. I can see His answers to prayer as I cried out to Him. I can see the sweet fellowship I had with Him because there were long days and nights that I had no other adult to talk to. I can see how I learned to lean completely and totally on Him instead of leaning so much on my husband. I can look back and praise His name for carrying me through and strengthening me when I felt so weak, something I wouldn’t be able to do if those years had been an easy bed of roses. My God sustained me and loved me when I felt like I had nothing left to give.
I wasn’t pacing back and forth alone all those nights, Christ was walking with me. I wasn’t driving in my own strength back and forth to the school every day, Christ was driving for me. I wasn’t crying alone in the darkness of desperation. He was there next to me, holding me and wiping away my tears. He knew my pain and He carried me through it all.
Whatever you might be going through, know that your Savior is right there next to you. You are not alone. His tremendous love for you resulted in His crucifixion on a cross of anguish and pain. There is no one in this universe that loves you more and that wants to help you through your situation, whatever it might be. See Him next to you now as you read this? Let Him wipe away your tears and give you the strength your heart is desperately crying out for. He will continually sustain you, you need only lay your weary head on Him and find complete peace and strength in His understanding arms.
Philippians 4:13 Deuteronomy 31:6 Isaiah 41:10 Isaiah 40:31 Matthew 11:28 Psalms 31:24
I'm married to a man who already gives me scenarios and instructions for when he's on his death bed. A man who reads the obituaries and sees the negative way more than he sees any positive. A "cup half empty" kind of guy. On the other hand, I'm always trying to see the good and the positive, you know~Mike and I at a nursing home, rocking side by side and hitting the big "1-0-0" together. He laughs at me and says he is a realist. I argue and say "with God anything is possible". 😉 So, our first year of marriage when I was 6 months pregnant and we moved 800 miles away from our homes and families, I tried to see the positive. When we were first dating and Mike told me his plans to move out east, I was in La-La land. All dreamy and in love. But then the reality of it all sank in and I'll just be honest, I cried the entire way. All I could think about was my parents and how they would be so far away and what if something happened to them and I wouldn't even be around to say goodbye. I tried to be positive as our little U-Haul turned down a side street that looked like something from a COPS show. I tried to stay positive with each house we passed.... "That one could be cute...Nope. Well, that ones not bad....Nope.....no, No, NOOO, PLEASE... that can't be it". BUT IT WAS. We were moving into a duplex and living on the first floor. The owners were wannabe farmers who owned a flock of geese penned in their tiny, tiny, city backyard, a yard that looked like a dumping ground for old cars. I hugged my baby belly a little tighter. Everything seemed to be a hazy grey. In the two years we lived there they had multiple dogs and cats. A flock of chicks living in their bath tub and a baby calf living in their hallway above us. We had fleas, we had roaches and we had mice, but despite what seemed like the worst, my heart changed for the better while I lived there. I made friendships with those crazy farmers that I probably never would have and this spoiled little daddy's girl became best friends with my husband. To others (including my parents who were worried sick that we were going to catch some crazy disease) this situation looked awful, but God showed me the beauty of it all. My first home with my best friend.
When we look back on that time together, we smile and we even laugh. God knew it was exactly what we both needed. Not only did we learn to leave father and mother and seriously cleave to each other, we learned to trust in God completely, more than we ever had before and once we did, we were able to see beauty all around us.
Despite my tears at leaving home and family behind, as I took my first steps into the duplex that day, I took my first steps into my new home. My NEW family's home. God knew that this was exactly what my childish heart, that relied so much on mom and dad, would need. And in His perfect timing, when He knew that I was ready, He would bring us all back together again. He showed me that my own children had to leave as they got married, to start their own "homes", their own "families". He showed me that it is God's plan for them to be best friends with their spouses first, and not mom or dad anymore, and that was ok and He made sure that my own dad is now living only a block down my street.
At times it can be hard to look past the tears, past the now. At times it can be hard to trust in God and His plan. Hard to let go and give Him complete control instead of trying to control the situation for Him but if we don't, we will be missing out on so much of the beauty that's right in front of our eyes. If we aren't careful we might even be stealing some of that beauty away from our children. Allow your children to experience God’s beauty on their own. Don’t take that away from them no matter how hard you want to intervene and learn to look ahead at the beauty God has waiting for you. In the midst of what might seem the worst, God knows it’s for our best. Because He truly is our Father of miracles, miraculous beauty awaits you if you’ll learn to trust in Him.