Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to Plan A∞

     Ever been reminded of a past sin? Thoughts rush back to that time and you think, if only...but we all know that nothing can change what has already taken place. Sometimes the consequences of our past behavior will exist for a lifetime. This truth can create an identity crisis if we are not careful.
     It's painful, I know. It's not an easy thing to talk about it, I know. It's scary, I know. It seems like no one else could possibly understand, I know. It seems like there is no solution, I know.
     So, why am I discussing it in my post today? Because there is something else I  know and that is that even though it may be painful, even though it's hard to talk about, even though it's scary, even though people may not understand, there IS a solution. The solution is a person and His name is Jesus Christ.
     I've heard many people say..."If you focus on forgiving yourself, then your healing will begin to take place." I have come to believe that instead of forgiving ourselves, we need to accept the forgiveness we have already been given through Christ. Do you see the tragedy in that? We punish ourselves over sin we have already repented of and for what? Christ has already paid the penalty for it! Not only that, He has given us a new identity! Romans 3:21-26 NKJ
     Grace is what it's all about! It is so hard. At least it has been for me. Think about it. When we are living in regret and shame and guilt over our sin, we are still operating under the law. We are basing our identity on who we are and what we've done instead of who He is and what He's done. That's legalism not grace.
     What if you have never accepted Christ? It's not too late. His grace is available to all who will believe, just as Romans 3:21-26 NKJ states. Your last day of bondage could be today! If you have thought up until now that there was no hope for is one that will tell you there is hope and it comes in the form of a Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that if you have never made the decision to follow Christ that today is the day!
     Salvation through Jesus Christ is God's Plan A for our lives. He loves us that much. You may think, well I'm probably working on Plan D, E, or F by now! I will say this to you and to myself: God's Plan A is available to us anytime we return to the cross. The cross does not require a back-up plan! Grace is found there. Forgiveness is given there. Mercy is found there. New beginnings and a new identity is found there.
      One last thought:  Grace could be considered risky business. By that I mean that a person could look at grace verses the law and think that may give them a license to sin Romans 6:15-19 NKJ. Our heavenly Father has poured out His grace on us all, BUT He paid a great sacrifice to do so. I pray that we never forget the price that was paid on our behalf and abuse the gift that was freely given to us.
     God knew before time began the rebellious nature of man. He knew that there would be those who would reject Him, despise Him, crucify His Son and mock His name. He was willing to do it anyway. He loves us that much.
     I think if God was willing to extend His grace to us even knowing what He knew then we can be willing to accept His grace and extend it to others. I would rather err on the side of grace if it means not missing out on an opportunity to love in the way I have been loved. Wouldn't you?
     Because of Christ we are a new creation as stated in  2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJ  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This is my prayer and my song for us all illustrated in the song titled "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North...

     He has wiped our slates clean, Songbirds!...Back to Plan A! Psalm 51 NKJ


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Peace Be Still...

     Rest...sometimes we treat it like a four letter word, if you know what I mean. It should be so simple, right? Then why does it seem so difficult to achieve? It may come easy to some, but not for me.
     Having multiple chronic illnesses like I do would make you think that I would have a handle on this subject....not! Allowing myself to rest is still one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make.
     This week is a good example. I so wanted to write this post before now! I also wanted to accomplish more than going to the grocery store as my main activity for the week. BUT, my body was not cooperating!
     My brain does not function properly on my "bad" days either. People with Fibromyalgia deal with what is termed brain fog. I know it sounds like it's right out of a science fiction novel, but it describes what it feels like while it's happening. On "bad" days it's even worse. It is as if my brain is half asleep, therefore I am pretty useless when it comes to accomplishing anything that might have to do with cognitive thinking which can include even carrying on a conversation....just ask my husband on that one!
     You would think having conditions that make a person feel fatigued would make it easier for them to rest. Nope. My instinct is to fight it! My dilemma is that I have to fight fatigue/pain everyday, so it is difficult to distinguish when I really need to stop and rest or pay the price if I don't. Sometimes it is obvious to me, sometimes it's not. I have had to say no to a lot of things in my life just to maintain some sort of normalcy.
     When you think about it, anytime any of us chooses to rest do we not feel as if we are missing out on something or that  we are letting someone down because we are not "picking up the slack?" At least it seems that way to me. We need it though! There are people like me that need it because of physical conditions, but we all  become weary from time to time Isaiah 40:27-31 NKJ.
     The good news is that God never grows tired. Not only that but He renews us with His strength, and that's a promise! Maybe you're in the midst of a battle right now, maybe the biggest one so far in your life. Do you know that it is okay to rest in the midst of what you're going through? I speak from the perspective of someone who has been in the midst of battles and found out the hard way that it wasn't until I became weak that He became strong  2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJ.
     What I realized was that when I feel I've reached my limit either one of two things happens, either God imparts me with His strength to continue on the same course OR He alters my course. Either way it is HIM and HIS power, not mine and therefore ONLY HE can get the glory for the victory that takes place. I think this may have been what Paul was speaking of in 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJ.
     The song by Al Denson titled Peace Be Still  became a lullaby of sorts for me twenty years ago in the midst of my marriage crisis. It ministered to me in such a powerful way at the time and it still does when I get battle weary. It is my prayer and my song for us all today...
2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”...AMEN.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


Hang in there with me, Songbirds! I may not be able to post again until early next week. I so appreciate you joining me on this journey! BTW, is there a topic you would like for me to cover next time...or perhaps elaborate on one I have already posted? I would love your feedback! Thanks again for checking in on me from time to time! Until we meet again, remember He makes all things new!...Revelation 21:1-5 NKJ.
Songbird ♥

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Of Pride and Prejudice

     To be honest, I struggled as to whether I should even attempt to write this post. But after learning of the Invisible Illness Awareness Week and mulling it over, I was reminded once again, that this journey I have been on for 11+ years now is not about me. It is easy to think that it is, especially when I have a "bad" day. But then the small still voice I heard in those early days of my illness whisper to me once again that I am not alone and that there is STILL a purpose and a plan for my life.
     My journey began in January 2001. My diagnosis came in late April, 2001. Fibromyalgia. I had never heard of it. I was 42 years old at the time. My life as I knew it changed that January, sad thing is my whole family became affected. My husband often says when speaking of my illness that Fibromyalgia may not be life-threatening, but it is life-altering. My husband has been most directly affected by my illness as well as our three grown daughters and our eight grandchildren. No man is an island as they say. I try to make a conscious choice to be aware of this fact everyday.
     My struggle in the beginning was not only physical it was also spiritual. I was needing desperately to reconcile my beliefs and my circumstances and was led to John 9:1-3 NKJ.  When I read these verses I realized that I had viewed my situation legalistically. By that I mean I did not realize that deep inside of me I was thinking that I must have done something wrong (sinned if you will) and I was being taught a lesson as punishment from God. If you had asked me before I had read that Scripture if I thought that was going through my mind, I would have told you no, of course not!
     But God knows our hearts and I believe He was telling me through those three small verses that I was not being condemned, nor did I have the right to condemn anyone else for my illness. Better yet, that no one else had the right to condemn me for my illness! He allowed it and He allowed it for my good and His glory.
     John 9:1-3 also allowed my invisible illness to make visible my own pride and prejudice toward others. I cannot tell you how often I have reflected on these verses as situations have come up since I have been ill. Whether it be words or actions, omitted or committed toward me.
     The classic novel written in the early 1800's  Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen comes to mind. The two main characters had to come to grips with their own pride and prejudice in order to love each other. That still small voice reminds me that I too am guilty of jumping to conclusions and judging others and that I have no right to do so if I am to love them the way that Christ loves me. It is a humbling experience.
     It amazes me that the God of the universe would care enough about me to reveal Himself in such a way that I can discern His truth through all of the muck that someone with chronic illnesses goes through. He is with me and He is in control of my body, even though it seems my body is out of control. And I share just a glimpse of  my story with you in hopes that you realize that I am not unique by any means as is stated in I Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJ.
     These truths should be enough reason for all of us to have hope. He is our hope, He is the source of our joy, so we can indeed rejoice! Yes, even now in the midst of our daily struggles. This is my song and prayer for us all and it is why my blog is titled Songbird  and is offered as a source of hope no matter our circumstance.

May God bless you and fill you with His hope as you continue your journey,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Voice of Truth

Fishing trip off the coast of Florida July 2012
     Family members of ours were fishing off the coast of Florida several months ago and captured this picture of an ominous cloud before a rainstorm. BTW no family members were harmed during the making of this photo! Amazing though, isn't it? Downright creepy if you ask me! 
     I have been afraid of storms ever since I can remember. Not a good thing in Texas. I have come to deal with my fear of storms up to the level of tornadoes. I have laid in bed at night reciting the lyrics of the Casting Crowns song Praise You in this Storm reminding myself that God is who He is no matter where I am and is greater than the literal storm that was beating down on our home. I have also been known to spend time in our front bathtub holding our dog Scout reciting Scripture and praying because the threat of a tornado seemed so imminent. Me, oh my!
     Come to think of it, fear has played a big part in my life. Just like the ominous storm cloud pictured above my life has been affected by my many fears. I am sure I could bring my childhood experiences into it, but that seems counter productive at this point in my life. What seems to matter most to me now is being able to release my fears as they arise to the One who made me...fears and all.
     One thing I have learned as I attempt to release my fears to God is that He then takes my fear and replaces it with His peace. This sometimes takes much longer than I would like and multiple pleas. I never know specifically when He will appropriate it, but He never fails to do so if I persist in my reaching out to Him at such times.
     Most recently this took place just this past week when my husband and I were ending our vacation in Florida and although hurricane Isaac was no longer a threat to us in Florida, when it came inland it was stationed right in our path back home to Texas. Not only that, it was causing flooding and spawning tornadoes, my nemesis when it comes to storms! 
     The night before we left I was still very anxious about leaving and that is when God stepped in with His peace that passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ. I have to be honest and tell you that I still had a "moment" at one point on our trip back when we were driving in some rain through Mississippi...but in reality it was not a threatening storm and I had to remind myself that God had given me His peace which told me He was with us and I knew if He was with us, then He was in control.
     I should have known was the Labor Day weekend marking the twenty year anniversary of when I first realized my marriage was in crisis back in 1992. A storm was on our horizon and my immediate response once again was fear. 
     To illustrate just how much the God of the universe knows His children, the Scripture He placed in my mind and heart over and over from the beginning of that trial was 1 John 4:18 NKJ which says this:  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. Be he who fears has not been made perfect in love. I interpreted that verse to mean that God was teaching me to love my husband more perfectly (Christlike) and that if that was my desire, I could not love him and allow fear to rule my behavior toward him.
     I could have very easily allowed fear to swallow me up during those months, and at times I wasn't sure if it wasn't going to. My biggest fear at that time was the fear of abandonment and God knew that. God loved me enough to allow me to face that fear so that I would know without a shadow of a doubt twenty years later and counting that I will never ever be abandoned by the One who loves me most.
     Another thing happened though, to my surprise quite honestly. The more I focused on my attempt to love my husband through that time, the less I became focused on the ultimate outcome. The fears would wax and wane, but as time went on God was finally able to bring me to the place of total release of my husband to Himself. It was hard, I won't lie. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life because when I made that decision I truly believed my husband would leave and never return.
     That morning my husband had left early to look for an apartment. As he drove off  I went to my sacred place which at the time was our bathroom (if you have kids I am sure you can relate)! After laying on that floor and crying my eyes out, I prayed and literally lifted my hands up to the sky and handed him over to God. I finally said Uncle! relinquishing any further attempts to control my husband and my circumstances.
     I would love to tell you that I stood up, opened the door of my restroom and was as strong as an oak the rest of the day. Not happenin'. I was a nervous wreck. I remember getting out and running errands with our girls that day...they were age 17, 15 and 12 at that time. The rest of it is pretty much of a blur until my husband returned that afternoon. When he did return, he had made the decision to move out. It was as if the several months of chaos prior to this day were culminating all at once. The storm cloud was getting ready to burst. 
     After the initial response of anger and pleading and then prayer, acceptance did finally come. It just so happened on that same day our youngest daughter, which was age 12 at the time had a birthday party to go to. My husband and I mutually decided it would best for her if we waited until she was picked up for the party before he left.
     In the meantime, my husband decided to go in and start packing some items. At this point I am still just a bundle of every emotion you can think of. He left the room and I started pacing and then it happened...God answered my prayer from that know, the one releasing my husband to Him? This peace washed over me that I could not explain except that it was the peace which passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ.
     My husband got packed and we waited for our youngest daughter to leave and then it came time for my husband to go. He says I told him I would be waiting for him when he returned...I vaguely remember telling him that. I remember distinctly though, as soon as the door shut taking my two remaining daughters over to our sofa and praying with them.
     Well several hours went by. Our youngest daughter was still at her friend's birthday party. It was December and I had put the movie "White Christmas" in to watch with our two oldest girls hoping to distract us from the day. I was laying on our sofa and I heard a vehicle outside and it sounded like my husband's truck...but I was not about to go to that window! I would not allow myself to think it might actually be him returning. Well, then I heard the door knob turn. Yes it was him, he had returned. He was still filled with uncertainty about our marriage but he was certain he was to come home and that was enough for me at that point. God had brought him home, not me. Nothing I did or said, it was God in him that moved his heart back toward his family.
     The rest as they say is history. We remained in counseling for nine months ( I compare it to the gestation period)! What was birthed was a new beginning for our family. It may not be pretty, but it's real and it's ours. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJ  Inspite of ourselves, God's will prevailed in our family...He can in yours as well.
     Oh, and BTW not only did our two older daughters see their prayers answered that day when their dad came back home, but our youngest daughter did not return from her friend's party until after my husband had returned. It was as if he had never left as far as she was concerned. That's grace.
     We all have storms that seem to be Goliaths and it is in those most desperate times...when we are most afraid and most vulnerable that God reveals His truth to us if we choose to listen....the song titled Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns illustrates this beautifully and it is my song and my prayer for us all...
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NKJ 

...Until next time...