I have been studying for a lot of exciting projects that are going to be happening in the new year. Psalm 139 is an important chapter that we study. So I thought I would start there. I didn’t get very far when Psalm 139:3 stopped me in my tracks.
You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.
I always knew about the “path” that I am continually trying to locate and stay on. But telling me where to stop and rest was something I don’t ever remember reading or learning before.
If I had to pin point my location on the path I would say that I am at a resting place. I have tried fighting against this rest stop. I can see the road ahead of me and I want to keep moving and reach for the goals that God has me striving for.
The more I fight the harder God tried to hold me in the resting place. Why would I want to fight rest?
Looking back on the last two years I am asking myself a lot of questions. Currently I am choosing to enjoy the rest. I now know that this is a time of “being still” and taking time to study and prepare for what God has next. I am enjoying it and treasuring this time that I get to spend with my Lord. I am learning and growing tremendously - I have learned to be thankful for this time.
The question arises again. Why did I fight this? Why did it have to come to the point of health issues for me to give in and give myself over to a period of rest.
As a society we are driven to succeed. A period of rest could look like laziness and lack of dedication to the calling that God has placed on your life. I was enjoying what I was doing for God, why would I want to stop? I was helping people-- encouraging people to live their lives with and on purpose. I won a National award for my book-- why would I want to stop when everyone was asking when my next book is coming out?
Now that I have chosen to stop and rest I have a clearer vision of what God has in store. It is bigger and greater than anything that I was striving for when I was fighting the rest, and something I would have never seen if I didn’t have this time of rest.
Every moment You know where I am and why I am there - may I continue to be obedient and trust that you know the path better than I may think I do.
I have been pondering a lot lately, it's not one specific thing - it is more thinking about our culture, our society and our direction.
I can't seem to spend enough time in the scriptures - seeking truth and hope.
Here is a little of what I have been learning:
I have studied the book of Esther several times and she is an incredible example in so many ways. So much is packed into only 10 chapters. As I was thinking about our current times and what the media is sharing with us - my mind kept going to those words that we hear often from Esther 4. As Mordecai is inspiring his young cousin he reminds her that there is a purpose for what is happening to her in this time and place, v.14 "Who can say but that you have been elevated to the palace for just such a time as this?" As I went back to study this scripture again I couldn't believe Esther's reply. Do you know what she said? She sends a reply to Mordecai to ask for help, she knew that she needed a support system and she knew she would find it in the faith of her family, now look in verse 16 - "If I must die, I am willing to die." Esther's wisdom and strength is far beyond her years. She understands that God can not be manipulated with fasting or any of our earthly techniques and yet she was willing to do what is necessary to save the Jews at the age of 15!
The next scripture that I studied is in the beginning of Acts. We studied this passage at church on Sunday as our pastor taught about fellowship, but as I turned to chapter two all I could focus on was the word "devoted" that I had highlighted and emphasized at some point in my previous studies. I like the word "devoted." I needed to learn more - who is devoted? what are they devoted to? why are they devoted? Whenever I study scripture I ask a lot of questions. I want to understand, just reading it does nothing for me - I need to take it apart and examine it. So let's start at the beginning of Acts - what is going on? We see the ascension of Jesus, Judas is replaced by Matthias and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Peter's sermon at Pentecost began in an exciting ministry as 3,000 believed and were baptized. Can you just imagine what that would have looked like? I love baptism weeks at my church - what a celebration!
It was this group of new believers that devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and they met together constantly and shared everything they had, They worshiped together, met in homes for the Lord's Supper and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. (v. 42-27) Wow! What an example.
I know that as new believers there is a lot of excitement and thirst for the Word of God, but we should never let that fade. It's not like we know everything there is and there is no more to learn, no more room to grow, no need to worship. It's such a time as this to be devoted to studying the truth found in scripture, to praise, to share meals with great joy and generosity.
Now we are going to travel a little further in Acts to chapter 17 where we meet the Bereans. The Bereans are my heroes. I wrote about them before, you can read the blog post here.
Paul and Silas were teaching in the synagogue and the people in Berea were open-minded and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas to see if they were really teaching the truth. As a result, many believed. (v. 10-12) Do you see why I like them so much!
They looked in the Old Testament for final authority as to what Paul and Silas were teaching them. They were ordinary people who read eagerly and diligently with conscious dependence on God for help to understand His word and what they were learning from Paul and Silas. To put it plainly they used their brains to seek out the truth. With all the messages we receive everyday we need to be diligent to seek the truth.
So these are the lessons that I have learned this week:
I will leave you with a passage that is never far from my mind, found in 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.
This is my new lock screen on my phone.
I need this reminder.
I spoke with a group of Mom's this past week. As I was preparing I had this special message drop on my heart. We as Mom's are going to fail. We are going to say and do things that we regret. Whether it is toward our husbands or our children - some days we are going to go to bed with a heavy heart after a long, hard day.
But as the sun sets and as the sun rises on a new day we are given this gift found in Lamentations.:
It's hard to believe that my new favorite verse, that gives me so much hope and strength comes from a book about lamenting. About the destruction of Jerusalem, about poor choices. Lamentations is a hymn of sorrow and regret. How many nights do I crawl into bed thinking those exact things about myself, my day, my choices.
But the book goes on to show us that God's faithfulness and mercy is the key to a restored relationship with Him.
I live in Saskatchewan and we are known as the Land of Living Skies, which comes in part from the dancing Northern Lights in our night skies, but we also have the most amazing sunsets and sunrises. I have sat on my porch swing many nights enjoying the view of the setting sun.
When I meditate on the words in Lamentations, it gives that sunset new meaning. As the sun closes on the day that is now behind me, I have made many choices that day. Some amazing and maybe some not so amazing. But as the sun will rise the next morning I have the opportunity to wake up and be amazing. Why?
Because my Heavenly Father's faithful, loyal, constant and trusted love, combined with His patient and compassionate mercy restores my soul every morning. How overwhelmingly beautiful is that! Oh my word! Do you understand the magnitude of that! Dear Mama's - every sunset and sunrise presents another opportunity for us to experience God's grace.
What hope that gives this Mama's heart, as I passionately desire to be a godly example to my family, as I pray for wisdom and discernment in the parenting of our daughters, as I faithfully come alongside and do life with my husband - May my attitude become one of "I get to" instead of "I have to".
As you journey through life today I want to leave you with this promise found in Romans 15:13 - have a beautiful day.
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
** feel free to save the wallpaper to your phone and use it as your lock screen, it will change the way to you see today.
I did not realize how much I needed rest. I did not understand that the life I was living was not any kind of life at all.
I was so caught up in the mindset of busyness. Our daughters were involved in several activities, I was always running - involved in a dozen different activities, my husband was out most nights either working or at a music practice. While I was living in it, it seemed normal - natural. It's just the way life is. Right?
Then my accident happened - that was a wake up call to my mindset. I do not think that the drunk driver will ever fully understand the impact that he had on our family. I filled in my Victim Impact Statement and handed it in to the police. That was an interesting time of reflection - after months of physio and Doctor's appointments, it is incredible how much this accident continues to affect my everyday life. It is strange to be called a victim, and essentially I am - but it is up to me whether I allow this experience to make me a victim of my situation.
The drivers choice to drive drunk that Friday afternoon last fall was a choice that he made. Now I have to choose how I am going to allow it to affect me. The Victim Impact Statement breaks down the impact into sections: emotionally, physically and financially. I have been affected in all these areas, and with lasting impact in all.
This is my new reality. Each day that passes I get a little bit better. the important part is that I continue to move forward. Some days that choice is harder than others but it is a path that I have been placed on and I am going to choose to walk it with integrity.
The greatest lesson that I have learned on this new journey is that rest is important. We were not created for a life of busyness. Due to my injuries I was unable to do most things. It meant stepping away from boards and committees, closing my handmade online business, working less, my daughters had to say no to activities, my family had to step up to help around the home more and I had to slow down. I had to learn how to rest. I didn't know how to sit and just "be".
I didn't realize that busyness is a sin. As I have been learning to find rest in my life Hebrews 12 continues to come to mind.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin."
Previous to this chapter we find the examples of the Hall of Fame of Faith - it is interesting to study their lives which leads us to the verses entitled God's Discipline proves His Love. Hebrews 12 is so full of goodness.
We are to set aside and strip off the weight of sin that weighs us down, and run the race before us. I ran a 5K race once. It was hard. I could barely finish it. I could not imagine what it would have felt like if I was told that I had to run it with a 20lb weight laying on my shoulders. How can we run the race of life without the weight of sin? Keep our eyes on Jesus. Easier said than done - even Peter had difficulty with this one. We can't give up, this race is too important.
"And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
Many skip over these verses because let's face it - they talk about discipline and discipline is not a happy, feel-good topic. It is time to get over the thoughts that choosing to follow Christ is a joy-filled walk in the park. Yes you may experience days like that, but if I use my life as an example of this - those days a few and far between. Most days I experience pain, not always necessarily in my life but I see it in the eyes of so many around me.
The Greek work for discipline in this chapter refers to child-rearing through instruction, training and correction. As we travel through the painful discipline or lessons to be learned in our lives we do not always understand why. But that is not where our focus should be. The reason may not be a blinking sign in front of us, but in time we will have greater understanding. My husband and I went through a difficult time early in our marriage, I remember as he held me as I was uncontrollably sobbing - I said, "I can't wait for 10 years from now when I can look back and say what a great learning experience this was for us."
Our response during this time needs to come from a place of respect and submission. "Submission" another word that is just as popular as "discipline". But do you see what the rewards are? A peaceful harvest of right living - doesn't that sound wonderful! Then comes the encouragement - that where you are weak you will be strengthened. My body has been left weak from my accident, but I will be strengthened in more ways than I can fully know now.
I see things differently now, I recognize thankfulness in a new light, I am not the same person I was a year ago. I have found a place of rest that my soul was craving more than I recognized. I will not be weary, I will not give up, I am all-in for this race that is set before me. May I run with integrity, respect and submission.
More than 10 years have passed since that time my husband held me as I wept and I can look on that situation and see the healing, the lessons learned and how we have grown. It is experiences like that, that help me to not lose my focus and to endure.
I read this quote from A.B. Simpson a few days ago and I can't get it out of my thoughts.
With the pain and darkness that I see in the world today I have this feeling deep inside of me that heroes are now being equipped and built into - to take a stand. That we will no longer be silent, that we will speak truth and show love that the world so desperately needs.
It is time to delve into the scriptures like never before sisters. We need to long for its knowledge, that it would hide in the depths of our hearts and become rooted and grounded so that is available for when we need it's truth.
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Those verses found in 2 Timothy really touches a nerve. We have things that are wrong in our lives and by delving into His word it will correct us, prepare us and equip us - to be heroes!
It is not the easy road - it is the road less traveled. You will meet people along the path, some will build into you, some you will bless with your gifts and talents, some may even challenge you and your faith.
It is the most heart wrenching and rewarding journey that you will ever take.
Are you ready?
The world needs you.
You have been created for such a time as thing.
It is time.
"For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." 2 Timothy 4: 3-4
What are you searching for? Are you searching for approval? For agreement for the choices you are making? Are you searching for truth?
I have been searching. I have shared briefly over the past few years that I have really been struggling. I have wrote a lot of journal pages and wasted a lot of time scrolling on social media trying to figure out how to heal from the hurt.
My husband and I have dedicated our Saturday mornings to coffee and "discussion". My husband and I met on a missions program where we toured across Canada speaking in high schools. When you are travelling all the time stuffed inside mini vans you learn a lot about each other really quickly. After the tour we both went home to our different Provinces, thousands of kilometers apart. Our long distance phone bills were outrageous and many emails were exchanged. Our only form of building our relationship was with communication. At the time I resented it, but now I really appreciate that time because it built our relationship firmly on our ability to communicate well with each other and to express our thoughts and emotions through our words - there was no Facetime - it was a receiver, attached to a cord, that attached to the phone on the wall. Yes I am that old. I still remember the party line we shared with two of our neighbours. Don't judge.
Anyway, back to our Saturday morning coffee - we have always been able to communicate well but we weren't always making the time for it. Now we do. I have been doing a lot of journaling and reading and self exploration over the past year. I was tired of struggling and it was time to move forward. I wasn't sure how but I took the first step on the journey. Last Saturday I was sharing with Dustin about what I have learned about myself over the past few months, about the people who have come into my life at the perfect time and how I am feeling lighter. I told him that I feel like sharing about what I am learning with others but I don't feel like I have the answers yet. Dustin then told me to start sharing. He said normal people don't share publicly about their struggles as much as I do (I think that was a compliment 😁), that many struggle through things alone. He gave me example after example of times I have stepped forward to share, and how it has helped others. We talked about a time in high school english class that my class was asked to write a page about ourselves. I was so honest in that page that I ended up in weeks of appointments in the student counselling centre. 😂 Dustin then told me that I was most likely the only one to write how I honestly felt, most would have written either what they felt like should write or what the teacher was expecting of them. I chose to be honest in my writing and that has never changed because it is who I am. My book became another example of that.
In my journaling workshops I ask people to write in their journal about who they are in the dark. Who are you when you are sitting in your room in the dark, with the door closed and your phone is in another room. No one is around, no one can see you - who are you?
The last few years have been a struggle for me. I do not have the answers but I know that my healing comes from me sharing and teaching. The hurt that I experienced went deep. It hurt to the core of my being. When you are hurt by something that is tied so close to who you are, it shakes everything.
I experienced a hurt that I still haven't been able to define. I was trying to figure out how to deal with it and I didn't even know the words to search on google.
It has been largely described as "being hurt by the church", or when "Christians attack their own".
Mine came in the form that it was a message from God that I needed to hear and it was one that left me feeling rejected, abused and hurt on such a deep level.
Trust me I have experienced church hurt in the past, we have pastored in two different churches that did not end well, I have had many experiences over the years that would be described as mental abuse and shaming. I know how hurtful Christians can be to one another - Christians are sinful just like everyone else. They have selfish agendas, they struggle with jealousy, they gossip, they are searching for validation. I know this can be the person sitting in the pew, the usher at the door, the person on the music team or the person behind the pulpit. I taught a youth Sunday School class where I told them not to believe anything the pastor says in the sermon that day, but to make notes and go home and search the scriptures for the truth.
I have struggled within myself because I know these things and yet I was so very hurt and didn't know how to heal. Over the last few years I have seen a deconstruction in my faith. I still attended church, but I didn't want to be there. My Bible that was once opened regularly, with worn pages and tons of highlights and notes written in the margins now sat on a shelf gathering dust. Worship music was no longer heard in our home. I just couldn't. It felt dirty. It felt like manipulation. My life of praying without ceasing didn't exist. It became words of rejecting God and anger for all the years I had devoted to serving Him and all I received was His rejection in return. I was in a very dark place.
Yet through that time, as much as I was pushing God away, there was still a desire in me that needed to figure it all out. I didn't understand why this person said these horrible things to me. I noticed that as my faith diminished, it did in my family as well. It was as I looked at my daughters that I knew I had to start figuring this out.
When COVID became a thing and the churches were closed, I was thankful. I struggled going to church, some Sundays I would go to church and stand in a location where a lot of people would pass by and they just passed by. I had no connections there, the people I did reach out to at the time of my hurt just dismissed it. I didn't understand how deep it would affect me, so I can't blame them for not knowing either. People have always said that I am such as strong individual, but everyone struggles, some just hide it better.
As months, then years of my struggle have gone by I have asked myself a lot of questions. Today my anger towards God is less, I don't hear His small still voice like I once did, but I feel His presence. I now search for truth. That is in the scriptures. That is always where I have found my hope, joy and peace. I am going back to the scriptures to search for healing on this journey. I am thankful for the deconstruction of my faith. It has helped me to develop roots that will become my strong foundation. I still have a lot of healing to do. But after a couple of years, I am beginning to feel more like myself. I am not scared about who I am in the dark. I am ready to give it light. I am ready to share more than I need to because that is just who I am.
I am ready to take the first step on this new journey and I am ready to start sharing about what many would like to keep in the dark.
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